The Best Ice Climbing Pants (Review) in 2021 – Top 8 Picks!

Ice climbing is not a sport for the faint of heart. It requires skill, determination, and the right equipment. Not surprisingly, basketball shorts aren’t going to do a climber much good out in the wild.

One of the most (if not the most) important parts of an ice climber’s gear load is the pants. Having the right ice climber pants will make a huge difference in not only comfort, but they’ll give a climber the ability to get the most out of a climbing session.

The pants need to have the right mix of practicality, durability, and general comfort.

To make things a little easier, we’ve looked at all the best ice climber pants and considered various criteria, like budget, material, maneuverability, price, others’ ratings, and overall quality.

Let’s take a look!

What Kind of Pants Do Ice Climbers Wear?

Ice climbing pants are usually made from nylon, polyester, and spandex mix for protection, warmth, durability, and movement. They’re weather-resistant and breathable, and they can either be softshell or hardshell.

Hardshell

Hardshell pants are more rugged. They’re more resistant to the elements and tend to be more durable outdoors. They’re also noisy and don’t provide additional warmth. But if you’re going rugged, hardshell is the way to go. They are also noisy.

Softshell

Softshell pants are going to be better for more casual excursions. They’re more comfortable and less noisy and generally warmer. You sacrifice the wind and water resistance, however, in a pair of softshell pants.

Are Ice Climbing Pants Worth It?

Whether or not it’s worth it to buy ice climbing pants depends on a few factors.

How Often – How often are you planning on hitting the ice climbing spot? If you’re just going out once a year, it might not be worth it to spend the extra money on a more expensive pair of ice climbing pants. If you go more than once a month, it’s going to be worth it because the mountain will put some real wear and tear on regular pants.

It’s Different – Ice Climbing is different from every other type of climbing, things are wet and slippery, and it’s a touch more dangerous. Your pants are going to get wet and cold.

Protection – One of the main things that pants offer is protection from not only the elements but from the potential dangers of climbing. It’s easy to get cut or scraped, and a good pair of pants will lessen the chances of that happening.

Necessity – If it was just rock climbing, you might be able to get away with a good pair of Levi’s. Ice Climbing is such a specific endeavor that buying a pair of pants is probably not a bad idea.

What Are the Best Ice Climbing Pants?

Fair warning. The best pants are not going to be the cheapest. The best ice climbing pants are going to keep you dry, warm and give you the ability to climb and move with ease. They’re going to be long-lasting and rugged as well. Look for comfort, but that shouldn’t be at the top of the list.

Lightweight pants are always a good option, and breathability is also a factor to consider. The level of weatherproof ability is also something to think about. Some pants only offer moderate protection from the wind and rain, while others are super protected. There are going to be sacrifices and tradeoffs when considering what to buy. The more protected against the elements, the less comfortable the pants are going to be. And for ice climbing, the tougher, the better.

Comparison Chart:

Image Product Technical Spec Price
Best Comfort

Outdoor Research Men’s Cirque II Pants

Outdoor Research Men’s Cirque II Pants
  • Material: 50 percent nylon, 43 percent polyester, 7 percent spandex
  • Average weight: 617 grams
  • Lining: Unlisted
  • Water resistant: Yes
  • Wear resistant: Unlisted
Check Price
Best for Cold

Gash Hao Men’s Snow Ski Waterproof Softshell Snowboard Pants

Gash Hao Men’s Snow Ski Waterproof Softshell Snowboard Pants
  • Material: 95 percent polyester
  • Average weight: 750 grams
  • Lining: Polyester fleece lined
  • Water resistant: Yes
Check Price
Best Versatility

Outdoor Research Men’s Skyward II Pants

Outdoor Research Men’s Skyward II Pants
  • Material: AscentShell
  • Average weight: 645 grams
  • Lining: Unlisted
  • Water resistant: Yes
  • Wear resistant: Yes
Check Price
Best All Around

TBMPOY Men’s Outdoor Quick-Dry Lightweight Waterproof Hiking Mountain Pants

TBMPOY Men’s Outdoor Quick-Dry Lightweight Waterproof Hiking Mountain Pants
  • Material: 88 percent nylon, 12 percent spandex
  • Average weight: Unlisted
  • Lining: Unlisted
  • Water resistant: Yes
  • Wear resistant: Yes
Check Price
Best Value for Kids

CATERTO Fleece Snow Hiking Pants

CATERTO Fleece Snow Hiking Pants
  • Material: 100 percent cotton
  • Average weight: Unlisted
  • Lining: Fleece
  • Water resistant: Yes
  • Wear resistant: Yes
Check Price
Best Value

YSENTO Men’s Skiing Pants

YSENTO Men’s Skiing Pants
  • Material: Polyester
  • Average weight: 540 grams
  • Lining: Fleece
  • Water resistant: Yes
  • Wear resistant: Yes
Check Price
Best for Kids

Youth Snow Pants with Reinforced Knees

Youth Snow Pants with Reinforced Knees
  • Material: High end fiber fabric
  • Average weight: 322 grams
  • Lining: Fleece
  • Water resistant: Yes
  • Wear resistant: Yes
Check Price
Best to Keep You Comfortable

NATUVENIX Men’s Straight Fit Lightweight Hiking Pants

NATUVENIX Men’s Straight Fit Lightweight Hiking Pants
  • Material: 93 percent polyester, 7 percent spandex
  • Average weight: 209 grams
  • Lining: None
  • Water resistant: Yes
  • Wear resistant: Yes
Check Price

8 Best Reviewed Ice Climbing Pants for 2021

Let’s see what makes each of these ice climbing pants stand out from the rest.

Best Ice Climbing Pants

1. Best Comfort – Outdoor Research Men’s Cirque II Pants

Outdoor Research Men's Cirque II Pants

Technical Details and Specifications

  • Material: 50 percent nylon, 43 percent polyester, 7 percent spandex
  • Average weight: 617 grams
  • Lining: Unlisted
  • Water resistant: Yes
  • Wear resistant: Unlisted
  • Wind resistant: Yes

These softshell pants are stretchable but also hardy, perfect for any outdoor weather. They’re ideal for any situation, from the coldest winter snap to a sunnier day, and are built to mirror your movements and have articulated knees for easy mobility.

The crotch is gusseted to help with range of motion, and general comfort. Thanks to an avalanche beacon pocket and strong scuff guards, you’ll have extra protection against damage from poles, boot rubbing, and edges from skis.

They’re a good combination of stretch, breathable and durable, while also being water-resistant from light rain and most snow. Gusseted ankle zippers are made for a variety of boots, and the waist is adjustable to keep things comfortable but fitting.

Pros
  • Maneuverable
  • Gusseted crotch
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Softshell for comfort
Cons
  • Not the most weatherproof
  • Isn’t ideal for hot weather

Final Thoughts

This is a good all-around pair of ice climbing pants that gives a lot of value for its price. It offers protection for most outdoor conditions, and it’s a good starting point if you’re just getting into the sport.

2. Best for Cold – Gash Hao Men’s Snow Ski Waterproof Softshell Snowboard Pants

Gash Hao Men’s Snow Ski Waterproof Softshell Snowboard Pants

Technical Details and Specifications

  • Material: 95 percent polyester
  • Average weight: 750 grams
  • Lining: Polyester fleece lined
  • Water resistant: Yes
  • Wear resistant: Yes
  • Wind resistant: Yes

Of all the pants on this list, this is one of the more budget-friendly. They’re 95 percent polyester with button closure, and they’re insulated and windproof. They’re softshell pants and feature quick-drying fabric and an adjustable waist that stretches.

As for pockets, there are two on the front with plush fabric to protect against cold items. There’s another zip pocket in the back for valuables.

The pants stay dry for about 10-15 minutes in the rain and are waterproof enough for skiing. What’s more, the fabric over the knees should insulate them completely from the wind and rain.

Pros
  • Budget-friendly
  • Versatile
  • Waterproof
  • Windproof
Cons
  • Tighter than average snow pants
  • Need a base layer for full warmth
  • Short ankle zipper
  • Not a traditional ski pant

Final Thoughts

If you’re on a strict budget but still need a pair of ice climbing pants, then this is your best option. Not only will it protect you well from the cold, but you won’t be spending oodles of cash on them.

3. Best Versatility – Outdoor Research Men’s Skyward II Pants

Outdoor Research Men's Skyward II Pants

Technical Details and Specifications

  • Material: AscentShell
  • Average weight: 645 grams
  • Lining: Unlisted
  • Water resistant: Yes
  • Wear resistant: Yes
  • Wind resistant: Yes

The Skyward II pants are breathable and lightweight. They’re perfect for skiing and climbing, and they feature an Avalanche Beacon Pocket with a clip. The pants are extra stretchy for more maneuverability. Inside, there’s a stretch-mesh gaiter and the knees are articulated.

Pros
  • YKK AquaGuard zippers
  • Versatile
  • Lightweight
  • Waterproof
Cons
  • Expensive
  • No bib

Final Thoughts

If you plan on doing intensive climbing that will stretch both your limbs and your abilities, then this versatile pair of pants may be your best choice. To give you a better range of movement, you may want to consider this option before you head out on your next excursion.

4. Best All Around – TBMPOY Men’s Outdoor Quick-Dry Lightweight Waterproof Hiking Mountain Pants 

TBMPOY Men's Outdoor Quick-Dry Lightweight Waterproof Hiking Mountain Pants

Technical Details and Specifications

  • Material: 88 percent nylon, 12 percent spandex
  • Average weight: Unlisted
  • Lining: Unlisted
  • Water resistant: Yes
  • Wear resistant: Yes
  • Wind resistant: Yes

These pants are fairly thin, come with an adjustable waist, and are made of a nylon-spandex mix and feature a zipper closure. They’re water repellant, quick-drying, and include a belt. All pockets are zipper closed, while there is a flexible knee design.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Wellmade
  • Comfortable
  • As advertised
Cons
  • Not great for ultra cold weather
  • Baggy fit
  • Long in the legs

Final Thoughts

Sometimes, you need a good pair of climbing pants that will handle any situation. These pants are lightweight, resist water and wind, have anti-friction and static properties, and will keep you warm on an ice climb, making them a solid choice for climbers who focus on multiple climates. They aren’t the warmest option, but they tick all the boxes you’re likely to look for in a pair of outdoor seasonal pants that don’t wrinkle.

5. Best Value for Kids – CATERTO Fleece Snow Hiking Pants

CATERTO Girls/Boys Fleeced Snow Hiking Pants

Technical Details and Specifications

  • Material: 100 percent cotton
  • Average weight: Unlisted
  • Lining: Fleece
  • Water resistant: Yes
  • Wear resistant: Yes
  • Wind resistant: Yes

The Caterto pants are an ultra-affordable option designed with children in mind. They’re made of cotton and polyester and are softshell winter pants that are water repellent, windproof but still breathable. The knees are constructed to be flexible and also offer extra protection. Finally, the lining is a premium fleece that offers ample warmth.

Pros
  • Breathable
  • Warm
  • Slim fit
  • Great for cold weather
Cons
  • Large waist
  • Weird proportions
  • Slim fit

Final Thoughts

While there are better options out there for children, these are your best choice if you know your child won’t use them frequently, or if they are simply trying out ice climbing. You won’t break the bank, but you’ll still keep your little one warm in relatively cold environments.

6. Best Value – YSENTO Men’s Skiing Pants

YSENTO Men's Skiing Pants

Technical Details and Specifications

  • Material: Polyester
  • Average weight: 540 grams
  • Lining: Fleece
  • Water resistant: Yes
  • Wear resistant: Yes
  • Wind resistant: Yes

These pants are made of softshell polyester on the outside and have a fleece lining on the inside. The waist is adjustable, and they’re waterproof, windproof, and quick drying. The zippers are also waterproof, and they’re suitable for all kinds of activities, including skiing and mountain climbing. They’re also fairly affordable and won’t break the bank.

Ysento’s pants have three front pockets with a waterproof zipper to keep your items safe while moving. Elsewhere, there’s one welt pocket on the right back. Thanks to its versatility, Ysento’s skiing pants are suitable for almost all occasions, including hiking, camping, fishing, skiing, climbing, snowboarding, mountaineering, running, or even just out traveling.

This pair of pants has a belt closure with a partial side elastic waist with belt for an adjustable fit. Lastly, it offers 3D design on the knees for enhanced flexibility.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Versatile
  • Quick dry
  • Warm
Cons
  • Look like space pants
  • Insulation isn’t 100 percent
  • Not great for extreme cold

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a functional option to keep you warm and dry while you try out ice climbing, these are a good option. For someone who isn’t sure whether they’ll continue with climbing or not, these make a good entry point into ice climbing pants.

7. Best for Kids – Youth Snow Pants with Reinforced Knees

Youth Snow Pants

Technical Details and Specifications

  • Material: High end fiber fabric
  • Average weight: 322 grams
  • Lining: Fleece
  • Water resistant: Yes
  • Wear resistant: Yes
  • Wind resistant: Yes

These Caterto pants, which are slim fit and quick drying, are catered to young boys and girls. The surface of the pants is waterproof, windproof, and breathable while the inner fabric is a fleece. They’re elastic for a large range of motion and have a boot gaiter built-in. Fly is a zipper and pockets are made for hands to be warmed.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Great for kids
  • A variety of different colors
  • Hand warming pockets
Cons
  • Runs small

Final Thoughts

If you’re taking your child with you on an ice climb, and you want to ensure that they stay warm in all kinds of weather, then Caterto is your best bet. There is another pair that is a little more affordable, but these will likely do a better job at keeping your young ones warm and comfortable as you spend your day outside in the snow and ice.

8. Best to Keep You Comfortable– NATUVENIX Men’s Straight Fit Lightweight Hiking Pants

NATUVENIX Men's Straight Fit Lightweight Hiking Pants

Technical Details and Specifications

  • Material: 93 percent polyester, 7 percent spandex
  • Average weight: 209 grams
  • Lining: None
  • Water resistant: Yes
  • Wear resistant: Yes
  • Wind resistant: No

Natuvenix hiking pants come with a belt, are water-resistant, and dry quickly. They’re made for the outdoors and are mostly polyester but have seven percent spandex for stretchability. The belt is a simple pull and lock design. They’re extremely sturdy and feature a fluorescent-colored zipper on the side to help with nighttime visibility.

The pants also have several different pockets. Use these pants for camping, hiking, hunting, and climbing.

Pros
  • Versatile
  • Lots of pockets
  • Water resistant
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Not made for ultra cold weather
  • Shallow pockets
  • Thin material

Final Thoughts

While these may be the most comfortable pants on the list, they won’t keep you nearly as warm as some of the others. They’ll hold up well doing outdoor activities, like camping or even climbing, but if you’re going to be spending a bulk of the day doing ice climbing or in a frigid environment, these are not your best option. Instead, look to another pair that will do a better job at keeping you warm and safe.

Factors to Consider Before Buying a Ice Climbing Pants

We’ve covered quite a bit when talking about ice climbing pants, but there’s still a lot to consider. Let’s look at some factors to think about before you decide on exactly what pants you’re going to buy.

Ice Climbing Pants

Location

Where you’re going to be climbing is going to have a large bearing on what type of pants you need to buy. Some ice climbing pants are so well insulated and so warm that they’re going to roast in even moderate weather.

Check the regular temperature of your climbing location to see what you’re going to be dealing with. Conversely, pants that are too thin and flimsy are not going to hold up to the rugged conditions of ice climbing.

Skill Level

Are you a beginner at the sport of ice climbing? It’s one of the hardest outdoor activities there is, and not for someone who’s not particularly in shape. It requires a good amount of core and upper body strength too. There are a lot more things that can go wrong on the side of a mountain that’s iced out, and there’s a certain degree of difficulty baked in every time you go out to attempt.

What does this have to do with pants? Well, if you’re a professional, or just used to the sport and its rigors, then a rugged pair of pants is probably not a bad purchase. If you just want to test out the sport and get a feel for it, maybe buy a pair of pants that’s more affordable. You might not even like doing the activity at all.

Features

There’s a lot of equipment that’s necessary when going ice climbing. You’re going to need hooks and rope and a place to store belongings. When it comes to ice climbing pants, make a list of priorities. Is it going to be used for storage? Is extra warmth more important than extra pockets?

Once you figure out what you can and can’t live without, then search out those features to help you make your selection. There are some things you shouldn’t compromise on, however:

  • Fluorescent stripes so that you can be found easily in case something goes wrong on your climb
  • Water resistance
  • Wear resistance
  • Flexibility
  • Durability

Design

Not all pants are created equally. Make sure the design of your pants is something that you can live with. Because ice climbing pants are so tailored to one use, some of them can be fairly garish when it comes to colors or styles.

Decide what’s more important to you – looking good or having a reliable pair of pants that can handle the cold weather.

Bright colors can be good if they serve a purpose, but not if they just exist for their own sake. While there is nothing wrong with a pair of ice climbing pants that look stylish, you must make sure they also do their job: keep you safe and warm while you’re out, exposed to the elements.

Weight

The weight of your ice climbing pants is very important. The truth is everything should be weighed. Every ounce matters on the side of the mountain, and the lighter you are, the easier it’s going to be to climb. The trade is that warmer pants are going to be heavier, and the lighter pants aren’t going to offer as much protection against the cold, so you need to decide what’s more important and go in that direction.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

Of course, you may still have questions about ice climbing beyond which pants are best. We’ve answered the most-asked questions regarding ice climbing below!

How Should You Dress For Ice Climbing?

Ice climbing is a stop-and-go activity, meaning there’s going to be a lot of movement followed by periods of stillness.

Dress in layers, usually long underwear underneath and an upper fleece layer. The outer layer should be lightweight, maneuverable, and most importantly, waterproof.

What Should You Wear on Your Feet When Ice Climbing?

Ice climbing boots have grooves in the rubber soles to make room for crampon strips, which are necessary to hold the crampons in place.

The crampons and boots should feel like one complete unit and not two separate parts. The boots should be sturdy and waterproof, and warm. Hiking and ski boots are not made for ice climbing.

What Is Ice Climbing?

Ice Climbing is rock climbing on ice with a little bit of different equipment, and a slightly higher level of difficulty, just due to logistics.

Still, the danger level is relatively low and there’s always the chance of seeing beautiful locales in their winter dress.

Is Ice Climbing Expensive?

There are a lot of inherent costs baked into ice climbing, mostly due to the equipment you need to purchase.

New gear can run almost $3000, and even lessons are going to run about $200 a day on average. Consider picking up used equipment which at $1500 on average is still pricey, but slightly lower than new.

What Skills Do You Need for Ice Climbing?

Climbing requires three basic movements: squatting, standing, and swinging. It is possible to train for this on regular brick walls or a tree with low-hanging branches.

Cardio skills are also important. If you live in a place with stairs, throw on a heavy pack to train.

Conclusion

There are a slew of different ice climbing pants out there, so you want to make sure you buy ones that are going to be worth the money and also protect you in the cold. If you want a quality pair of pants that’s going to go the distance, the Outdoor Research Men’s Cirque II Pants are a great choice.

They have knee protection, gusseted crotch, fiber mix for warmth and also maneuverability, and a simple look to them. The only drawback is they’re not the cheapest pair of pants, so it’s a bit of a commitment financially.

Another quality choice is the Outdoor Research Men’s Skyward II Pants. They’re ideal for climbing an ice wall or skiing down a mountain. They also feature articulated knees to facilitate movement and are extra stretchy.

Whatever pants you decide to buy, remember to stay safe and follow all of the rules when climbing an icy mountain or a frozen waterfall. Safet is the most important part of the whole thing.

Calvin Rivers

Hey, I’m Calvin Rivers, a climbing veteran with 10+ years on crags and walls around the world. I can’t wait for you to explore our site and fall in love with the outdoors just like I have.

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