Climbing has its roots as a counter-culture sport. Climbers embody free expression in movement, appearance, and lifestyle. When it comes to climbing attire, there are no rules. Wear those hipster jeans. Slip into those hand-me-down cargos from your great uncle who climbed Mount Rainier 60 years ago. Embrace the multi-color patterned tights craze. You’re a climber – go for it! But, do you know what are the best climbing shorts for you and your style of climbing?
If you’re looking for something light, airy, and reliable for those sweaty days in the gym or that Smith-Rock-in-June trip you’ve planned, we can help! In this article, we’ll walk you through how to choose the perfect pair of shorts for you. We’ve also distilled a list of the very best climbing shorts for men and women of the year.
For more of our top climbing gear recommendations, check out the Best Climbing Pants.
Quick Answer - The Best Climbing Shorts
- Prana Stretch Zion
- Arc’teryx Parapet Women’s
- Prana Mojo
- Arc’teryx Perimeter
- Black Diamond Credo
- Mountain Hardwear Castil
- Black Diamond Credo Women’s
Comparison Table - Best Climbing Shorts
|Prana Stretch Zion||12”||97% nylon, 3% spandex||Zip and Button||$$||4.8|
|Arc’teryx Parapet Women’s||5”||94% nylon, 6% elastane||Zip and Snap||$$$||4.7|
|Prana Mojo||10"||100% recycled polyester||Elastic Waistband||$||4.5|
|Arc’teryx Perimeter||11”||89% nylon, 11% elastane||Zip and Snap||$$$||4.7|
|Black Diamond Credo||14"||97% cotton 3% elastane||Internal Zip and Button||$$||4.5|
|Mountain Hardwear Castil||11”||100% nylon||Zip and Button||$||4.8|
|Black Diamond Credo Women’s||9”||97% cotton, 3% spandex||Internal Draw Cord Waistband||$||5.0|
Reviews - The Best Shorts for Rock Climbing
Prana Stretch Zion
Arc’teryx Parapet Women’s
PROS: Articulated patterning, gusseted crotch, durable, and quick drying with sun protection
CONS: Expensive, does not provide much leg coverage
PROS: Mid-weight, air permeable, quick drying, articulated with gusseted crotch, three available colors
CONS: Expensive, some users report fit to be quite slim
Black Diamond Credo
PROS: Soft and stretchy, climber specific design, long with good coverage
CONS: Some users report lower than expected durability
Mountain Hardwear Castil
PROS: Lightweight and durable ripstop fabric with a DWR finish
CONS: Not specific to climbers, reduced stock for winter, only one available color
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST CLIMBING SHORTS
Climbing shorts occupy a unique niche in the climbing world. They are a popular choice for gym sessions and summer-weather climbing. Climbing gyms are crowded and sweaty these days, so if you’re in for a work-out, shorts will be a comfortable choice. Wearing shorts to climb outside in the summer is a great way to stay cool too, but be wary of knee-to-rock contact.
A massive benefit of climbing shorts is their inherent breathability over pants. Fabric and tightness can further add to how well the air is moving down there! Cotton and synthetic blends have great breathability.
All of the shorts we’ve highlighted have great flexibility. Ease of movement in your shorts is super important for climbing. Climbing movement is very three-dimensional; you need to be able to high step, heel hook, drop-knee, stem and more without restriction.
Length is more of a consideration when you’re climbing on real rock. Climbers often wear pants to protect themselves against the inevitable bumps and scrapes. As climbing is not an aerobic sport, leg sweatiness is generally a non-issue except on the hottest days of summer. If you’re a lover of shorts when climbing, keep in mind that more fabric means less rock to skin contact.
In the climbing gym you’ll have no problem climbing in whatever length shorts you love! Our advice is to remember that gym climbing, especially bouldering, often lends itself to dynamic movement and horizontal body positions. If you love these sorts of moves, tighter or longer shorts might be a good choice to prevent accidentally flashing your friends.
Color is completely subjective, but for those of you who are photo savvy, we have one tip. Color pops! If you’re looking to boost the quality of those sweet climbing shots you’ll be posting to Instagram, consider adding bright colors to your outfit. Your look will be more unique and you will definitely stand out better against the rock.
MEN’S VS WOMEN’S
This one goes without saying. Men and women can be built differently, and we often have different tastes in fashion. We have selected the best climbing shorts for you to get you started.