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Climbing Shorts Buyers Guide

Are you looking to buy the best climbing shorts for yourself? Perhaps it’s time to consider a guide. Climbing shorts can drastically increase the appeal of the sport. You get utmost comfort with the flexibility to move as you like.

There are different types of climbing, not one. You have rock climbing, mountain climbing, gym climbing, trad climbing, and so on. Similarly, there are different types of shorts, as well. Hence, you have to choose shorts that can fit your requirements.

These shorts not only bring you the benefits but also adds a protective layer. Choosing the right type of clothing you wear can make all the difference in the world. Your endurance, stamina, recovery all relies on how comfortable your body can breathe. Therefore, you need to shuffle through countless options available in the market.

In this guide, you will learn everything you might have to consider to get the best pair of shorts available in the market. With some frequently asked questions and tips, we aim to help you make an informed decision. So, let’s begin!

Factors to consider when buying climbing shorts

We are going to start with the guide right away! But before you start, there are some things you have to consider. You need to decide the type of climbing, the season, and the frequency of climbing. It will enable you to narrow down the shorts according to their purpose. However, if you’re a beginner who’s exploring climbing, don’t you worry!

You will find some guidelines along the way to help you determine which one is fit for what kind of climbing. There won’t be any value on the ‘pricing’ aspect, but you will learn about some elements that impact the shorts’ cost.

Types of shorts

Shorts aren’t as easy to choose as they used to be. Before you could even get into color, designs, and applications, there are different types of categories. Primarily, you have to bother yourself with three classes as they will suit additional requirements.

Conventional shorts

These are the classic shorts available in the market. When looking for conventional shorts in the market, material integrity, sewing style, durability, flexibility, and fitting are the most prominent aspects to look for. Everything else comes second. You will mostly have these shorts as the basis in this article. In other words, you will primarily learn how to buy these types of shorts, but we cover different categories with them, as well.


These shorts are more like full-fledged pants that come with detachable sleeves from around the knees. Usually, you will find a zipper closure. Some come with snap-clips, while others may even come with buttons. The purpose of convertibles is to fit your needs all year round. You can wear them with other layering.

It enables you to have more protection for the skin in case of a rough trail. Similarly, if it’s getting hot, you can take off the lower end. When considering these types of shorts, you might want to get more in the ‘how to buy climbing pants’ consideration than shorts. There are some significant differences you will see when choosing pants.

For example, knee and groin articulation is one of the things. Then cuffs for ankles would be another thing to consider, and so on.

Wear any material

You might’ve thought that you would have to get into the material considerations. Indeed, almost everything in this world requires you to consider the material. Its purpose and integrity. However, for shorts, you’re primarily aiming for comfort and a feeling of ‘space’ or ‘openness’ as you move. You need to be at your best convenience. Whichever material suits your skin style and helps you feel most relaxed is what you should get.

However, if you want to feel more uptight and prepared, you can get a more tight or durable material, even stretchable denim that gets you going. Fabric is entirely up to your preference. However, you need to look beyond the standard materials and blends. There are many different qualities while looking for the right shorts with proper fabric.

In this segment, you will learn more about the properties to look for to make the proper material choice. As long as any material meets these criteria for you, it’s an excellent choice. You will mostly learn about the importance of these qualities. Hence, you can determine whether to prioritize it or not.

Proper ventilation

Of course, as you’re wearing shorts, ventilation would be a given. Despite that, there are chances you might not consider it because some shorts come with such a firm fitting that it might feel right around your thighs—the purpose of the shorts is to maintain optimum air circulation. Therefore, you shouldn’t compromise on that.

Air circulation might be a vital aspect, as it will also impact the breathability of your shorts. For example, if you have a material that lacks breathability due to waterproofing material, more loose-fitting for ventilation is required. If you have more breathable fabric, then you can compromise on the ventilation. That’s how the balance works.


The breathability of the material doesn’t mean it will allow you to feel the winds. It means that the fabric is more comfortable for your skin to wear. It won’t cause sweating and suffocation due to restricted airflow. The more breathability you have, the better it is. However, that’s only if you don’t have loose-fitting.

As mentioned above, you can compromise breathability for extra protection like water resistance if you have more ventilation. However, you can also stack up comfort. For that, you can get a highly breathable fabric with appropriate ventilation options. That could lead to the utmost comfort and relaxation you can feel in the shorts. Now, this would make the shorts a little too breezy and perfect for a hot climate.

However, if your requirement isn’t specifically a hot climate, you can work on the balance. Remember, breathability will also impact the drying capacity, and some breathable materials come with moisture-wicking abilities you will learn about below.


Almost all of us sweat, some more than others. We can also get wet from water, and a humid climate can undoubtedly make us sweat profusely. In all of these cases, moisture-wicking is a remarkable ability to look for in shorts. It determines the shorts’ ability to drain out the fluids and keep you dry. You might think that it is not essential, but as we sweat, it becomes evident that we need it.

Moisture-wicking isn’t just to get rid of sweat, but to keep you dry. See, if we are sweaty, then we have lubricating skin that can rub against the material to cause blisters and other serious problems. The fabric’s breathability certainly helps as long as you don’t sweat excessively or spend extensive hours climbing.

However, most of the climbing trails can consume a good chunk of an hour, so you might want to consider the moisture wick. It will also prevent you from getting sick in case of the cold breeze. To maintain utmost comfort, you don’t want to feel drenched, and that’s where wicking capabilities are crucial.


This works in combination with the other three factors mentioned above. If the material is wicking, it will be quick-drying as there won’t be excessive moisture to dry. Quick-drying is especially essential if you are prone to getting wet. Let’s say there’s rain and you get wet. The wicking of material can only work so much, and it would require you to dry off.

Let’s not forget that quick drying also helps with cleaning and maintenance. If your gear can dry faster, you won’t have to expose it to the sun for more extended periods. Thus, you can help your fabric retain its integrity and not wither away. These qualities combined undoubtedly make an appealing pair of shorts.

Often, people confuse between breathability, ventilation, moisture-wicking, and quick-drying. Here you have a proper distinction between the four factors. You can use them against each other to balance certain qualities of shorts. Alternatively, you can pair these together to boost each element significantly. Either way, now you know what matters the most in shorts.


The next factor that matters is the flexibility of your climbing shorts. It will impact your freedom of movement. How far can you stretch your legs or if you feel any restriction against the action depends on the flexibility. The flexibility of your shorts will also boost their durability.

Rigid materials are more prone to sustaining damage, especially rips and tears, while moving around. A little stretchability makes them shock-absorbent. They can withstand sudden movement, blunt force and even maintain tension in the fabric for an extended duration. Thus, your shorts will last longer.

Similarly, for fitting requirements, flexibility and elasticity are equally essential. The elasticity around the waist would determine the snug fit, so will the fitting of the shorts. More importantly, if you want to have an uninterruptible climbing experience, your shorts need to be highly flexible. It’s that simple.


While flexibility does matter, and other aspects are crucial, durability will determine your climbing shorts’ longevity. Climbing of any kind is a rigorous sport. Your shorts will rub against each other. There will be friction, stretches, and a lot of force. The type of rocks, their pointy edges might also become a problem. Hence, the survivability of your shorts strongly relies on the durability of the material.

How much wear and tear can it withstand and the kind of cleaning method it requires depend on the durability. Therefore, when looking for climbing shorts, make sure that you can get the highest amount of durability. However, it shouldn’t make the shorts less breathable (or ventilated) or rigid. Otherwise, it won’t matter what you do with the shorts. You won’t get the climbing support and performance you might need.

Extra protective measures

Next on the list are some qualities that can boost the protection for you and work for the climbing shorts’ longevity.

Sun protection

Climbing is usually done during the daytime. The scorching heat is one thing that your shorts can help with, but what about the intense UV rays? You might end up getting sunburns or tans. That’s where the UPF protection rating of shorts can come in handy. It will prevent your skin from any potential damage.

Similarly, anti-UV qualities and coating on the material of your shorts will protect it from the sun rays, as well. It won’t wither away, and you can wear it for a longer time. It can last you years, even multiple seasons if you have shorts with proper UV resistance.

Water protection

Water-resistance would prevent your shorts from getting wet from external factors. You might find it minuscule but sometimes, when you drink water, splashing it on your clothes is very common. Similarly, if you get waterproofing, it can help in case there is rain.

Weather can be unpredictable. You might want your shorts to be at least water-resistant to withstand some level of water before drenching. This is not a priority, though. So, you don’t have to consider it too deeply. Of course, it’s an entirely different case in a tropical climate.

Beachside waves will be full of saltwater moisture, which can corrode or harm our shorts. You might want waterproof shorts in this case to prevent the growth of mold and other elements.

Anti-microbial and anti-odor

Anti-microbial prevents the growth of bacteria, germs, and other microorganisms. It is the most sought-after property in sportswear. Even hikers prefer anti-microbial properties for their clothes. So, you might want to consider it as it will reduce the requirement to care for your shorts extensively.

Similarly, if you get anti-odor, it will prevent sweat and other types of smells from overwhelming your shorts. Thus, you can wear them for more extended periods. It also enables you to use them multiple times before the required washing. It could be something great to look for. However, it is not essential. You can substitute with the right talcum powder or deodorant.


It’s something you might not need for your shorts unless you’re getting leggings. Insulation is something that is usually for frigid or cold climates. If you’re wearing shorts, you might not want warmth all that much.

If you consider leggings-type shorts to wear under the pants for climbing in cold weather, choose at least 500 grams to 1,000 grams for frigid temperature. Anything less would be suitable for a cold climate.

Parts of the shorts

Here are some other final aspects you may consider as you get yourself climbing shorts.

Closure option

Snap closure, or is it a strap closure? Some even come with belt-buckle type closure. Most of the time, for best fitting, straps or laces for the waist would be better with an elastic.

Number of pockets

To keep different tools or items, especially things like sunscreen and devices, you might want multiple pockets. Ensure that you have an apt pocket to meet your exact requirement unless you carry a bag or pouch with you.

Pocket closures

With pockets, you might need robust closure options like zippers to secure your belongings. Don’t overlook or underestimate their importance. If you don’t want the zipper closure, then you can also get Velcro.


Around the groin area, you might need a zipper. It enables you to loosen up shorts when taking them off and helps with other activities like going to the washroom, especially for men.

The quality of the zipper also matters for pockets, closure, and other additions. The right material is essential for the longevity of the shorts.

Hoops and loops

Some shorts, specifically for an expedition, hiking, and climbing, come with hoops and loops. These can be to hold a belt or even put on a utility belt. However, if you find the proper use, you can use them to carry your tools and reinforce your stability with protective climbing gear by using them in sync with them. These small additions can be highly beneficial.

FAQs: Best Climbing Shorts

Q: Why do you need climbing shorts?

A: Climbing is a sport that requires maximum freedom of movement. You need to be in the comfort of your skin. There are no hard and fast rules regarding what gear you should wear specifically for climbing. Therefore, you have the freedom to do it as you like it.

Getting shorts would allow you to have that freedom of movement and maximum breathability. Shorts especially become important in a warmer climate. After all, climbing trails exist everywhere around the world. If you travel around or partake in rock climbing in humid or hot weather, you might want to wear climbing shorts.

Q: Are men and women climbing shots different?

A: It all breaks down to the right options and measures. You might notice that men’s shorts tend to be longer and even baggy. Meanwhile, women are shorter and can be a little snugger in the fit. However, that’s not precisely the case. But the benefits are according to the physiques.

In the world where we talk about gender equality, it’s a sensitive subject. However, biologically, our bodies are built differently, and both men and women have other parts that require individual comfort. Men’s shorts make it comfortable for them, while women’s shorts work to bring the utmost ease. Therefore, it is a good idea to look into these categories while shopping for climbing shorts.

Q: Should you wear knee pads with climbing shorts?

A: Knee pads and other protective gear seem to be the norm in many other sports. As a beginner, you may rely on them as you learn climbing. However, you will never see the pros of using knee pads because it dumbs down the climbing sensory aspect.

The climbing activity has a lot to do with getting feedback from different parts of your body. Therefore, you can’t sacrifice it by wearing protective gear, which can be more injurious than protecting your knees. However, if you’re worried about scraping or damaging your knees as a beginner, you can practice caution with knee pads.

Q: What kind of fitting and comfort to look for in climbing shorts?

A: Snug fit, especially around the waist, is paramount like any other clothing article. Similarly, your climbing shorts should provide you proper freedom of movement. You shouldn’t feel it restricting you in any manner.

However, it shouldn’t be too baggy or fluffy because that could make it get stuck on the rocks and other obstacles, leading to rip and tear. If you plan on wearing leggings or an inner layer, consider that as you buy your shorts.

Q: How to wash and maintain climbing shorts?

A: It would depend on the material and the quality of the shorts. You can read the directions the short comes with. Those are usually the correct directions for washing and caring for your climbing shorts. There isn’t any single method that would suit all types of shorts.

Q: How long do climbing shorts last?

A: They will last as long as any other clothing article. The more you wear or use them, the faster they will wear out. However, when you’re looking specifically for climbing shorts, they may last you a season or an entire year. Some may last for two seasons.

They never wear out, but their show, appeal, and ‘freshness’ might wear out. You can wear shorts for as long as they are comfortable.


That’s everything you need to know about how to buy climbing shorts! Now you can go out to the shop or browse online to find the best options. As long as you keep all of the above-given factors in mind, you will always get a value for money. Don’t forget the tips!

Always remember that climbing shorts are to bring you ease. You can choose any color or design without any fear of judgment, but they shouldn’t impair your performance. They should always boost you. So, if you’re a shorts person, go ahead and grab your perfect pair as you hop around and climb through the obstacles! / - © Copyright 2020