There are several climbers that only climb in summer. Completely legit, there is nothing wrong about it and even better, everything works: no t-shirt, climbing in swim trunks, cut-off jeans, sweat pants….
However, if you keep the hook on as to consider crushing big routes on those fresh wintery days, or perhaps you just want to rock that Joshua tree look on your climbing gym, then it’s about time to consider purchasing some proper climbing pant.
Let’s go through the important details to look for and let’s do it with the help of the Mountain Hardwear AP pant.
The main requirement, obviously, is that it allows us to climb properly, but there is more to it.
The whole climbing atmosphere has a lot of lifestyle around it. It’s been a long while since I don’t buy a proper “normal” street pant. Hence, aside from training on the gym, diving on a wall and travelling, I also expect from my climbing pants to look good as for taking for a beer, a business meeting or as the pants for cycling in the city.
To climb properly.
Well, everyone has it’s own little fixations. Regarding myself, one of the first things I look for is the fit on the hips. I want them to stay in place and have good flex around the groin so it doesn’t interfere when rising the legs. I climb a lot with my legs. When you don’t like to crimp you better find high feets and bring your body upwards with the hips, hence good flex is key for me.
In this particular case, I get really good fit with the Hardwear AP on my legs and groin, but not excellent in my hips. I’ve used size 32, and even though it’s my size (31 is far too tight on my legs), i’ve missed one of those adjusting straps on the hips that other manufacturers have for that final fine-tuning.
I tend to wear them with a shoe string as a belt. It’s a good trick because it doesn’t bother on the hips, scratches your skin, become uncomfortable with the harness or add any weight.
I like that they don’t have bulky pockets in the front that become uncomfortable when moving the legs. If it was on me, I would take all front pockets away from climbing pants. Simple is best.
Most of the climbing pants are designed in cotton stretch, that’s the generic name of different blends of cotton and synthetic fibers like elastan or nylon.
The blend of fibers is the key to a successful climbing pant. A tough fabric will last longer, hold friction, be more solid on mountain terrain, but on the other hand it will be heavier and less flexible as well. We tend to become especially picky when climbing indoors where we are on a protected environment and we are focusing on our marginal level of skills doing very ninja-ish moves.
As a general rule, the more elastan, the more flexible the fabric will be. However if we put over 3%, the mix will become too soft, will loose structure and break soon. The most used blend in the industry is 97% cotton and 3% elastane.
the classic cotton stretch (97%-3%) is very cozy in the city in the fall, works well on the gym and it’s a winner choice for the outdoors on those “perfect conditions” days of fresh and dry. However I do most of my climbing in fjord Norway or on the northern coast of Spain, where humidity and rough climate from the ocean are not exactly scarce. Moreover such blends tend to be too warm as to climb in summer.
Lately it’s becoming popular climbing pants that are ultra light and quite flexy. They are very fresh and I love them for summer and indoors; however, when we get deeper in the fall, temperatures drop under 12º and it may be close to 5º on north facing walls, then I’m just not confident taking those pants out.
The Hardwear AP pant has a blend of 75% cotton, 23% nylon and 2% elastane and I have to admit that I’ve been quite pleased from this fabric.
At first, it fullfils perfectly my standards of flexibility; not all the way because the fabric, but especially because the seams are cleverly placed where they don’t interfere in the movement. The pants are tough enough as to be taken on proper mountain activities, even on moody weathers, but at the same time remaining light and comfy as to pull hard moves on rock.
You can feel the 23% of nylon because the pant absorbs less humidity and dry faster than if it was cotton.
During the activity.
They have gone pretty much through everything. From the conglomerate of Riglos, the chimney of Atxarte, norwegian glaciers and alpine ridges, my times of suffering on hard sport climbing in rodellar and Bergen…
After all, it just has a tiny hole on my knee. I didn’t made it after a one time scratch but after many tries on a 7b sport route that has a knee bar rest. I never achieved to sent the route and after all those horrible times spent on the “rest”, the hole finally came.
Regarding the aesthetics, I really like the pant, it’s colour and it’s fit. It has an athletic cut and I use them pretty much as jeans on my day to day life.
When it comes to climbing pants, it’s quite common to see loose cuts or even baggy. Some people claim, that when the cut is loose, legs will be able to move more free and so on. It is true that we can see that style more often on the bouldering scene than on walls, but still, I’ve never been convinced by loose cuts. It just feels kind of easy that they get stuck on a ledge, dihedral or a mantle move and that’s actually the last thing I will like to see happening when my last piece of protection is an old python four meters below.
Moreover, that can only work with soft and light fabrics, otherwise we would feel the weight of the extra fabric on our quadriceps and you don’t really want to take a soft pant to the mountain, right?
As the Hardwear AP is resistant and ventilated it works well for hiking in the mountain and forest. For sure it has passed the Norway fjord test, however I always keep my rain pants in the backpack. Norway is still Norway.
As a last detail, the Hardwear AP has two clever tricks. On the bottom of the legs, you have a clip for keeping it slightly rolled up. That’s clever when it comes to biking for not getting stuck with the chain, but as well in climbing. I lways do it for never stepping in my pants while heel hooking or when I have to match feets on a small crimp. When the pants are rolled up, they have a reflective bar, so you have extra visibility while cycling on the city, doing your approach to the wall, or in case of emergency.