Anybody can do climbing, man, woman, or child, and in any attire, but for the most effective outcomes in movement range and speed, you should probably consider getting some of the best climbing shorts that you can find in 2021.

I know it seems like, “what’s the point?” or “why to go through the stress when I can use any old pair of cargo shorts?” but the right pair of climbing shorts would make a lot of difference, particularly in the summer months. 

Because as important as improving your form and technique is, the right gear would make this process way easier.

I saved you the stress that I had to go through when I was shopping for my very own rock climbing shorts by compiling a top 6 list of the best climbing shorts you can currently find in online and physical stores in 2021. 

As a tip, I also included a concise buyer’s guide section to make your personal research less complicated and more straightforward.

6 Best Climbing Shorts on the Market in 2021

1. Prana Stretch Zion Shorts

Prana is one of the most reputable climbing shorts manufacturing brands, and they did a great job with the prana stretch “zion” shorts, which became extremely popular because they somehow found a way to make a pair of climbing shorts that look great whether you wear them to climb or just for a casual night out.

There is a wide variety of colors to choose from to make it more versatile for fashion-minded individuals. The shorts are made of premium quality nylon (97%) and spandex (3%), which combines the breathability and quick-drying properties of nylon with spandex stretchiness. 

Make sure to check the size of your current shorts in whatever notation it is (European or US) because getting the right size can be tricky, especially in online stores.

Pros

  • Very durable build material
  • Effectively keeps your thighs dry even during the summer months
  • Allows for a wide range of movement
  • Is esthetically pleasing and made in different colors
  • Quick-drying

Cons

  • Beginners may get confused with sizing

Takeaway

These climbing shorts are perfect for climbing and even casual, non-sports-related activities.  

2. Mountain Hardware Castil Shorts

It was hard to fault these shorts because they have it all. They are built ruggedly but did not compromise their breathability and flexibility for it and still found a way to look good casually. They also have enough pockets to make it more convenient to carry mandatory pocket gear.

They are not tailored specifically for climbing. I knew this because they also have an attractive esthetic outlook that makes them suitable to be worn for casual outings.

Even though this doesn’t add to the actual performance, I would like to emphasize how good these look. Feel free to choose any color from the many colors that they’re made in, which lets you express your individuality the most.

Pros

  • Durable fabric
  • High breathability
  • Rugged but doesn’t restrict movement in any direction
  • High value for money

Cons

  • I couldn’t find any

Takeaway

You can get these shorts from Mountain Hardware for whatever climbing activity you plan to use them for. As a plus, they are also very eye-catching for your leisurely night out. 

3. Cycorld Mountain Shorts

These shorts from cycorld are another pair of versatile men’s shorts for men who love the outdoors, whether climbing, biking, or just casual strolls, or even a picnic date. Even though they make perfect boulder shorts, many individuals in user and professional reviews say they work even better for biking.

The shorts are made from a highly durable, waterproof, and breathable fabric, so you can expect them to last for as long as you need to get a replacement. They also work well in all weather conditions apart from winter. 

All that being said, the feature that received the most praise on these shorts was the pockets. They are numerous and spacious, so you can ditch the backpack and carry as many essentials as you need without impeding your movement.  

Pros

  • Esthetically pleasing
  • Deep and wide pockets
  • Durable fabric
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Sizing is pretty confusing since they’re meant to be body-fitted

Takeaway

Cyclord made a stunning pair of shorts that should work well in a wide range of situations.

4. Columbia Women’s Sandy River Shorts

Climbers who are women would appreciate the effort put in by the guys from Columbia to make a pair of shorts that perfectly blends comfort and style while also completely protecting any sensitive body part from onlookers’ view.

The people over at Columbia made these shorts with climbers in mind, even if they can serve other non-sports-related purposes. These 100% nylon shorts have UPF 30 to protect you from the negative effects of prolonged sun exposure. They also have wide and spacious pockets for carrying climbing extras.

Pros

  • Loose-fitting so higher breathability
  • Highly versatile
  • Lightweight hence suitable for climbing for long periods
  • Durable

Cons

  • Mainly for more leisurely climbers

Takeaway

If you’re looking for a casual, versatile, loose-fitting pair of shorts that can be used for several activities, then these esthetic shorts from Columbia might be just right for you.

5. CQR Men’s Hiking Tactical Shorts

These shorts from CQR comes at a bargain and still finds a way to be packed full of features found in higher-end cargo climbing shorts. The shorts are very versatile and can be used in casual and professional rock climbing scenes.

They also have as many as six pockets! This lets you carry numerous stuff for the ascent without having to carry a backpack.

The only downside, however, is the relatively low breathability. The fabric is made up of 64% cotton, 30% nylon, and 6% spandex, which may not be so great in hot weather, and your legs may get sweaty faster than with most of the other products on this list.

Pros

  • Versatile use
  • Ruggedly built
  • High value for money
  • Numerous spacious pockets

Cons

  • High cotton content which reduces breathability

Takeaway

The CQR Men’s tactical shorts are right for you if you’re looking for an affordable, durable pair of climbing shorts that you can still use, even not on the terrain. You, however, have to get over the cotton fabric that causes heat in the summer months.

6. Arc’teryx Sabria Short

This is the second product on here from Arc’teryx, which shows consistency on the part of the people over at Arc’teryx, to say the least. It is the perfect softshell climbing pants for bouldering, mountaineering, or ice climbing. 

They are made up of a wide mixture of fabrics; hence they are used in various environments, even low-level cold environs. They are also very flexible, which allows all kinds of movement, even for prolonged periods. 

They don’t have too many pockets, but they have two zip-up pockets that should be enough to carry the bare essentials safely. 

Pros

  • Very durable material
  • Can be used for many climbing activities
  • Designed specifically for climbers
  • Flexible

Cons

  • They are not that versatile

Takeaway

These ruggedly built shorts would last you as long as you want and can be used for many climbing activities. It would be a perfect selection if all you use it for is climbing.

A Detailed Buyer’s Guide for Climbing Shorts

After going through my picks of the best mountain climbing shorts, I’m pretty sure that you already have a favorite or at least one that managed to catch your eye. But, not so fast. I would also like you to know the criteria by which I selected the recommended products.

All potential buyers would benefit from carefully studying this buyer’s guide but none more than the beginners who have little to no background knowledge. So, I also try to explain some terminologies you would come across while shopping for boulder shorts. 

The features here are features that you should always have in mind when making selections because it’s relatively easy to get lost in the sea of available products from all brands, materials, and budget brackets. But as long as you know what you want and should look out for in a pair of climbing shorts, the selection process becomes a whole lot easier.

Without further ado, the following features should be on your mind when making your final selection:

Ease of Movement

One thing you want to be able to do while climbing moves freely. Climbing requires that you assume some pretty awkward positions, sometimes moving from one hold to another that may be long distances apart, and you do not want your shorts that would rip or restrict any range of movement of your lower body. 

Comfort features

You need to feel comfortable in whatever shorts you use for climbing, especially if you have to travel long distances to get to the site. The last thing you want is to make this already strenuous activity even more difficult by putting on shorts that are either too tight or too heavy. The material of the short you choose should be completely flexible and lightweight. The length should also be just right, striking a balance between provision of adequate protection while also not getting in the way.

Climbing shorts already have the advantage over climbing pants in that they’re inherently very breathable. Still, excessively thick or tight shorts can restrict the flow of air down there, and this can cause heat and sweat, which can be very uncomfortable, especially during the summer months. 

Protection features

As much as sunlight is good for your skin and overall body health, prolonged exposure to UV rays from the sun predisposes you to some issues ranging from minor issues like sunburns to more severe diseases like skin cancer.

In addition to the mandatory regular use of sunscreen, the fabrics used in the design of some climbing shorts have some form of a protective coating that prevents or at best reduces the penetration of UV rays. 

Length

The length of your climbing shorts would depend mainly on the terrains you would be exploring and, to a much lesser extent, on your personal preferences. 

If you plan to climb mainly outdoors, you may want to consider getting climbing pants instead or at least very long shorts to protect against the inevitable scratches and bumps against the rock, some of which can be extremely painful.

In the indoor climbing gym, however, the choice of the length of shorts is a lot more flexible. You can go with whatever length of short you like, as long as you feel it covers you up completely, and there is no chance of exposure of sensitive body parts during some of the complex maneuvers during bouldering.

Durability

Rock climbing can be quite dangerous given the nature of some of the terrains you would have to explore. So, getting a pair of climbing shorts that would be able to stand a certain degree of assault by the elements of nature without getting damaged and leaving you exposed would be a really great idea. 

Pockets

You must be with all the necessary climbing and survival gear before attempting an ascent because it can distract you from going back and forth to pick up what you forgot. Also, climbing rocks or boulders with a backpack is ill-advised because it can significantly restrict your movement.

That being said, roomy pockets are a must since they help you carry the mandatory ascent gear while also allowing you the full range of movement. Most shorts come with at least two pockets by the side, while some have a variable added number by the sides and/or at the back. Pockets secured by zippers, velcro, or buttons are preferred because you don’t want the content of your pockets falling out when you assume some climbing positions. 

Weather-specific features

The weather would be a concern only to outdoor rock climbers. For indoor gym climbers, the gym’s weather would always be right and can be adjusted to complement the exterior weather conditions. 

Back to the outdoor climbers. The situation outdoors is a lot less controllable or predictable as the situation changes from day to day. You would need loose-fitting shorts made from thin mesh-like material that allows adequate breathability during the summer months. As for the colder months, you would need longer shorts made with thicker fabrics and multiple layers. 

Gender

Some brand manufacturers make specific shorts for men or women for obvious reasons. If you have a male or female build, you will want something that would suit you, both in terms of comfort and appearance. 

Esthetics

This is not important because the color wouldn’t really affect your performance so, it is entirely subjective. It, however, plays a role in your uniqueness and gives you an avenue for self-expression. 

FAQs

Why do climbers wear pants?

Pants offer higher durability and protection than regular climbing shorts do. For example, the denim in jeans would protect you from the cold and the rough/sharp edges of a rock a lot more than climbing shorts would during outdoor bouldering. 

Are climbing shorts worth the stress?

The good climbing shorts aren’t as mandatory as most other climbing gear like climbing shoes or harnesses. But they increase your comfort and offer a wider range of movement. They also offer protection to the parts of the body that are covered and make the climber look very serious and dedicated to the sport/hobby.

Can I wear shorts for rock climbing?

I don’t usually recommend only one climbing attire in order not to limit the climbers’ abilities. So, anything from shorts, loose pants, leggings, or any clothing that would let you move freely on the wall would do just fine. Light, breathable and flexible fabrics are recommended.

What material is best for climbing shorts?

I would say lightweight nylon is the best. Well, at least that’s what I use. The lighter the shorts, the more freely you would be able to move and the higher the breathability. The lightweight materials offer less protection than the thicker denim shorts. Still, they have the added advantages of getting dried quickly and free you from the stress of carrying the additional weight.

What is the best length for climbing shorts?

This is based on your personal preference, but I would advise that you take your height and body build into consideration. Also, it would help if you considered your primary climbing terrain. For instance, short shorts are best for indoor climbing, while if you predominantly climb outdoors, you may want to get something longer or even consider going for pants.

Conclusion

The best climbing shorts you can get in 2021 might just make all the difference in improving your climbing performance. Just ensure that you take your time preparing an okay budget and conducting research before you make a purchase you may regret.