Ice climbing can be an exhilarating experience, but it comes with its own set of challenges.

Extreme temperatures and unpredictable weather conditions require the right gear to keep you safe and comfortable.

Among the essential gear for ice climbing are pants that can withstand harsh environments and provide the necessary protection and insulation.

Finding the best ice climbing pants can be daunting, considering the variety of options available in the market.

From waterproof and breathable fabrics to durable and flexible materials, there are many factors to consider when shopping for ice climbing pants.

As professional climbers, we understand the importance of having the right gear to tackle the toughest terrains and conditions.

We have compiled a list of the best ice climbing pants available today.

This blog post will explore the most popular and reliable ice climbing pants, their features, and the factors to consider when choosing the right pair.

What Are the Best Ice Climbing Pants This Year
What Are the Best Ice Climbing Pants This Year?

List of the 8 Best Ice Climbing Pants

We have examined and reviewed 8 pairs of ice climbing pants to determine which pairs were the most durable, comfortable, and versatile.

We looked for the best ice climbing pants at various price levels—from $50 to $300.

We looked for ice climbing pants that offered heat, warmth, and protection from wind. We tested pockets, too.

Some pants had standard pockets, and others had zippered or zippered hand pockets with secure closures.

We also looked for pants that stayed dry, which in bad weather can be a challenge since ice climbing is often a messy sport.

1. Outdoor Research Cirque

Outdoor Research is a reputable brand in sport climbing thanks to the quality of their climbing gear, and the Cirque is no different.

Its design and added features make it one of the best ice climbing pants. First, the low waist design allows the pants to fit under a climbing harness without any problems or a bunch. 

That design and the Velcro also make a perfect and comfortable waist fit. The pocket zippers also add to the pants’ utility as you can store all manner of tools and accessories inside without the risk of them dropping.

The company also treats its zippers with water repellent to prevent any water leakage in wet weather. 

The bottoms of the Outdoor Research Cirque ice climbing pants contain a scuff guard whose function is to stop crampons from tearing the pants.

The bottoms also feature metal shoelace hooks that hook onto your shoelaces, further securing your pants. 

There are also drawcord cuffs which, along with zipper closures, ensure the pants do not fold up the boots causing snow to pile up in them.

As such, you will not need any gaiter. These aspects make the Cirque excellent for all kinds of use. 

Outdoor Research Cirque Specifications: 

  • It uses a zipper fly, a button, and a Velcro waist you can adjust for closure
  • It’s wind and water-resistant
  • Uses a softshell

Outdoor Research Cirque Features:

  • It comes with bootlace hooks that secure the pants in position
  • It uses movement-emulating stretching to provide comfort
  • It comes with a strengthened scuff guard

2. Arc’teryx Gamma AR

Arc’teryx’s Gamma AR is a premium ice climbing pants that delivers the top-notch performance you expect from its price point.

You get durability from the double weave fabric that is also highly burly and both wind and water-resistant. This nature of the pants also protects them from abrasion from ice or rocks and keeps them warm. 

The burly material also gives the pants an excellent stretch. The waist is low profile and comes with a belt, all of which ensure a secure and comfortable fit even under a harness or climbing pack.

There are several pockets on the pants with zipper pockets for both hands under the harness lines. You also get a thigh zipper pocket to store all the items you want to reach quickly. 

The bottom of the Arc’teryx’s Gamma AR is equipped with boot hooks and cuffs you can adjust, all of which ensure a tight fit.

It also prevents the pants from climbing and trapping snow, necessitating the use of gaiters to remove snow from the boots. 

Arc’teryx Gamma AR Specifications: 

  • It uses a zipper fly, a waist belt, and a snap for closure
  • It is water-resistant
  • Has a softshell

Arc’teryx Gamma AR Features: 

  • It uses double-weave fabric, which helps block weather elements
  • It has a trim that enables it to fit under a hard shell
  • Its design features a gusseted groin area and detailed patterning, which provides a full motion range

3. Outdoor Research Iceline

The Outdoor Research Iceland ice climbing pants are a highly specialized pair of pants by Outdoor Research.

It has a unique design for ice climbing, especially alpine climbing. Unique features like the zipper vents on the thighs, for example, set it apart and aid your comfort even in dry climbs. 

Another unique feature is the provisions for using your styling suspenders. The pants also come with Grommet shoelace hooks which hold pants into place, preventing them from moving up your legs and collecting ice.

The drawcord cuffs at the lower section of the pants also ensure you do not worry about the crampons tearing the pants while walking on ice.

The Outdoor Research Iceline pants also feature a scuff guard and have durable material, all of which add to the pants’ shelf life. They also protect it from abrasions. 

Outdoor Research Iceline Specifications:

  • It uses a zipper fly and snaps along with belt loops for closure
  • It is water-resistant
  • Uses softshell

Outdoor Research Iceline Features: 

  • It comes with a suspender attachment to hold the pants up
  • It has zippered vents on the outer thighs, which cool you down as you climb
  • It comes with strengthened scuff guards to stop crampons from ripping the pants

4. Mammut Tatramar SO

The Tatramar SO by Mammut is an excellent pair of ice climbing pants if you want an emphasis on warmth.

It has a sleek look and is also lightweight, but it still manages to be both water-resistant and keep you warm. Should the extra warmth be too much, you have side zipper vents that cool you down. 

The Tatramar ice climbing pants also feature a pre-shaped knee design, which makes movement easy and comfortable, especially on your climbs. You do not have to worry about snow and ice filling your boots.

The pants come with an inbuilt gaiter to prevent this, and also, a Velcro cuff holds them tight on your booth, preventing them from climbing up.

Mammut Tatramar SO Specifications:

  • It uses a double snap and zipper for closure
  • It is water-resistant
  • The pant has a softshell

Mammut Tatramar SO Features: 

  • It comes with a fleece lining, providing extra warmth
  • It has thigh zippers that provide extra ventilation
  • Its features are an inbuilt gaiter that prevents snow and debris from the ice from getting into your boots
  • The design has a knee shape which provides excellent mobility; for your knees

5. Black Diamond Alpine

The Black Diamond Alpine is one of the best ice climbing pants, especially for mild adventures. You are sure to use this pair for several seasons thanks to the durable nylon and elastane blend material.

The construction material also allows the pants to stretch enough so you can move freely, especially when performing technical climbs while on ice.

The Black Diamond Alpine is also weather-resistant and breathable at the same time. The built-in adjustable belt on the waist works with drawcord cuffs at the ankles to securely hold the pants in place from top to bottom. 

The pants come with zippered thighs and hand pockets for storage of items. The thigh pocket also serves as a vent should it get too warm for you. 

Black Diamond Alpine Specifications:

  • It uses a zipper fly and a snap for closure
  • It is water-resistant
  • It has a softshell

Black Diamond Alpine Features:

  • It comes with an inbuilt waist belt
  • Men’s pants feature a two-way zipper
  • The 4-way stretch material provides full-range motion

6. Outdoor Research Skyward II

If your ice climbing activity is largely in snowy conditions, then you should consider the Outdoor Research Skyward II. This pair of pants has several ingenious features which make it one of the best ice climbing pants on the market.

For example, the softshell construction allows it to function like a hard shell which provides extra protection against any weather elements.

The pants are also waterproof, and the patented AscentShell from Outdoor Research also provides breathability while keeping you dry.

The built-in gaiter provides all the snow protection you need without having to carry extra gear. This feature is vital for anyone seeking to ice climb in deep snow. 

If you need added ventilation, you can open the provided zipper vents on the thighs. Outdoor Research Skyward II ice climbing pants come with a built-in avalanche beacon clip which is ideal, especially when ice climbing in the backcountry for extra security. 

Outdoor Research Skyward II Specifications:

  • It is waterproof
  • It has a softshell
  • The pant uses a zipper fly and belt loops with a snap for closure

Outdoor Research Skyward II Features: 

  • It comes with a built-in gaiter to prevent snow and ice from getting in your boots
  • It has a built-in avalanche beacon clip that provides extra safety
  • The pants have zippered thighs for ventilation

7. Mammut Masao

The Masao HS is an ice climbing line of Mammut unique in this list because it is the only one with a hard shell.

This aspect gives it extreme durability and offers protection against both weather elements and abrasion. The pants’ other unique feature is the 2-way zipper, which serves two functions.

First, it serves as a ventilation system. Secondly, it allows you to remove the pants easily, and at the same time, you can pull over your pair of soft-shell pants without removing your boots.

The front zipper pockets are above the waist allowing for comfortable use even when you have a harness.

The Mammut Masao ice climbing pants also come with a map pocket at the bottom of the leg for easy access should you need directions. The built-in gaiter in the pants is adjustable to provide a tight fit on any boot.

You thus get protection from snow build-up regardless of any shoe you are wearing. You also do not need extra snow removal gear. 

Mammut Masao Specifications:

  • It has a zipper fly and a snap with a waist belt for closure
  • It is waterproof
  • It uses a hard shell

Mammut Masao Features: 

  • It has a waterproof map pocket
  • It comes with a suspender attachment
  • It has a zipper running from the cuff to the hip to aid removal

8. The North Face Summit Pants

The North Face 7 Summits Himalayan Fleece Suit delivers high performance and guarantees comfort, durability, and mobility with its range of features.

These include adjustable cuffs which hold the pants in place at the bottom, preventing them from climbing up your leg. 

You also have three zippered pockets (two hand pockets and one chest pocket) for easy and safe storage of items. There is also a pouch pocket allowing further easy-to-access room, especially if you are wearing a harness.

The two adjustable shoulder straps secure a comfortable fit of the pants from the top while providing enough movement room.

The pants use 350g of classic fleece, which provides all the warmth you would need out there in the cold of snow. There is also a woven overlay on the pants, chest, and knees for added protection and durability.

The North Face Summit Pants Specifications:

  • It uses a zipper and snap for closure
  • It is water-resistant
  • It uses a softshell

The North Face Summit Pants Features: 

  • It has a heavy-duty design for warmth and durability
  • Its construction uses a wind-resistant fabric
  • It comes with removable Velcro patches on the chest and knee
  • The pants have scuff guards to protect them against tearing if you are using crampons

Things to Consider Before Buying Ice Climbing Pants 

If you are on the hunt for a pair of ice climbing pants, consider the following.

1) Cost

Be ready to pay more for a quality pair of pants that offers excellent insulation. Such a pant is also warmer and has better weather resistance.

You also get better abrasion protection meaning it is cost-effective in the long run. 

2) Shell Type

The type of shell you use determines which pants you would wear for which weather.

However, innovation now allows customers to use softshell pants even for harsh weather as they now offer wind and water resistance.

Their performance in this regard is similar to that of hardshell pants, with the advantage of only needing one pair. 

3) Material

Cotton is not an excellent fabric for making the best ice climbing pants.

You want a fabric that will offer durability, stretch for easy movement, and maximum warmth. 

4) Weather Resistance

You have two options here, waterproof and water-resistant.

Waterproof pants are impenetrable to water but lack breathability.

On the other hand, water-resistant pants absorb some water because they are designed to have some breathability.

The pants you choose will depend on the conditions of ice climbing and the season. 

5) Breathability

Hardshell pants and softshell pants differ in their breathability.

Hardshells are impenetrable and thus will trap moisture inside, which is dangerous in cold weather as your legs get cold and wet.

Softshell, on the other hand, while being water-resistant, allows some airflow, and thus the moisture can evaporate. 

For weather resistance and breathability, you can always double up if you want the advantages of both a softshell pair of pants and a hardshell pair.

You have the softshell pair inside, and when conditions change, you put the hardshell pant on top. 

Ice Climbing Pant Features Explained

You have to understand the meaning of these features: to make the right choice when buying ice climbing pants. 

1) Cuff

The ankle area of the pant covering the top of the boot

2) Waist Profile

This feature describes how a pair of pants fit on your waist.

It is important if you are going to use a harness or climbing gear, in which case you want a low profile since it is less bulky. 

3) Waterproof

Pant fabric that is impenetrable to water 

4) Water Resistant

This fabric can resist water, but it is not fully impenetrable.

Ice Climbing Pant FAQ

What are the key features to look for when choosing ice climbing pants?

When choosing ice climbing pants, the key features to look for include:

  1. Waterproof and breathable material to keep you dry and comfortable in wet and snowy conditions.
  2. Reinforced knees and seat for durability and protection against wear and tear.
  3. Articulated knees and gusseted crotch for ease of movement and flexibility.
  4. Adjustable waist and cuffs for a snug and comfortable fit that can accommodate layers.
  5. Zippered pockets for storing small items like snacks, gloves, or a phone.
  6. Tapered or slim fit to avoid excess fabric that may snag or impede movement.
  7. Thermal insulation or lining to keep you warm in colder temperatures.
  8. Reflective details for visibility in low-light conditions.

How important is insulation in ice climbing pants, and what are some popular materials used for insulation?

Insulation is very important in ice climbing pants as it helps to keep the body warm in cold temperatures.

Without proper insulation, the body can lose heat quickly, leading to hypothermia and other cold-related injuries.

Some popular materials used for insulation in ice climbing pants include synthetic materials such as PrimaLoft, Thinsulate, and Polartec, as well as natural materials such as down feathers.

These materials are chosen for their ability to trap heat while also being lightweight and breathable.

Can you recommend any ice climbing pants that are particularly durable and long-lasting?

Some durable and long-lasting ice climbing pants that are highly recommended by experts and users include:

  • Black Diamond Stance Belay Pants
  • Arc’teryx Gamma LT Pants
  • Patagonia Simul Alpine Pants
  • Mammut Base Jump Advanced SO Pants
  • Rab Vapour-Rise Alpine Pants

It’s always best to do some research and consider factors such as material, fit, and features before making a purchase.

Are there any specific design elements that make ice climbing pants more comfortable or functional for climbers?

Yes, there are several design elements that make ice climbing pants more comfortable and functional for climbers.

Some of these elements include reinforced knees and seat for durability and protection, articulation in the knees and hips for ease of movement, adjustable waistbands for a secure fit, and breathable and moisture-wicking fabrics to keep the climber dry and comfortable.

Additionally, some ice climbing pants may feature built-in gaiters to keep snow and ice out of the climber’s boots, as well as zippered pockets for storage of small items.

What are some tips for caring for and maintaining ice climbing pants to ensure they last through multiple seasons of climbing?

Some tips for caring for and maintaining ice climbing pants to ensure they last through multiple seasons of climbing include:

  1. Follow the manufacturer’s care instructions: Always read and follow the instructions to ensure you wash and care for the pants properly.
  2. Use a gentle detergent: Avoid using harsh detergents or bleach, as they can damage the fabric of the pants. Instead, use a gentle detergent that is specifically designed for technical clothing.
  3. Avoid fabric softeners: Fabric softeners can clog the pores of the fabric and reduce its breathability, so avoid using them when washing your ice climbing pants.
  4. Hang dry: Avoid using a dryer, as the heat can damage the fabric and cause shrinkage. Instead, hang your pants to dry in a well-ventilated area.

How do ice climbing pants differ from regular outdoor pants?

Ice climbing pants are specifically designed to meet the requirements and demands of ice climbing, which are different from regular outdoor pants.

Ice climbing pants typically have reinforced knees and seat areas to withstand the abrasion of ice and rock.

They also have a waterproof and breathable membrane to keep the climber dry and warm.

The pants often have a slimmer fit to prevent snagging on ice axes or crampons.

Additionally, ice climbing pants may have built-in gaiters to keep snow and ice out of the shoes, and they may also have adjustable cuffs to accommodate different types of boots.

What materials are commonly used in ice climbing pants and why?

Ice climbing pants are typically made from durable and flexible materials such as softshell and hardshell fabrics.

These materials provide protection against abrasions, cuts, and tears, while also allowing for a wide range of movement.

Additionally, many ice climbing pants feature water-resistant and breathable membranes to keep the climber dry and comfortable in wet or snowy conditions.

Some pants may also have reinforced knee and seat areas to withstand the friction and wear associated with ice climbing.

How do you ensure a good fit for ice climbing pants, especially when wearing multiple layers underneath?

To ensure a good fit for ice climbing pants, especially when wearing multiple layers underneath, it is recommended to try on the pants with all the layers you plan to wear while climbing.

Look for pants that have adjustable waistbands, cuffs, and suspenders to ensure a snug fit.

Additionally, check for the range of motion in the pants, especially around the knees and hips, to ensure they do not restrict movement.

It is also essential to consider the material of the pants, as they should be durable and able to withstand the harsh conditions of ice climbing.

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