Bouldering is a little different from climbing. It doesn’t involve ropes, and it happens only a few feet off the ground, typically on short routes. Those routes have small, technical holds that require a lot of power — and a lot of flexibility, both on the part of the climber and their pants.
Most bouldering pants either look like the technical gear that they are, covered in pockets and with double knee patches for durability, or look so casual, with a loose fit and large external sweater drawstrings, that they might as well be sweatpants. But Topo’s pants, which I found while popping into Topo’s flagship store in Fort Collins, Colorado, last year, suffer from neither issue. They have all the technical features you need, including super flexible fabric and a gusseted crotch — an extra diamond of fabric that increases mobility and eliminates the center seam that can catch on should you need to raise your leg above your hip (which you do, often) — without any of the embellishments that make you feel like a Sir Edmund Hillary wannabe or the lazy features that imply that your diet consists primarily of Funyuns.
At first, I thought of them simply as adventure pants, something I’d wear only while hiking or climbing. But after wearing them for the first time for a hike in Mt. Hood National Forest and realizing how comfortable they were, well, it was hard to take them off, even though I wasn’t hiking the next day. I’m usually wary of wearing technical outdoors gear in my everyday life. It feels a bit showy: “Look guys, I play in the outdoors! Let me tell you about my pants’ technical features!” But these pants are subtle and stylish. They have a slim cut and — maybe most important — a zipper fly that, despite the internal drawstring waist, makes it clear that you’re not wearing loungewear.
Along with hiking and grocery shopping, I’ve also worn them for biking, where the adjustable hems that are meant to keep you cool during hot climbs work perfectly to keep the chain side leg of my pants up. (The flexibility comes in handy for pedaling, too.) Once I even did some weight lifting in them, hitting full-depth squats in my friend’s home gym when it was too cold for shorts. The DWR (durable water-repellant) finish that’s meant to shed light rain also makes them the perfect WFH pants: super comfortable, with built-in coffee-stain prevention. Plus, they’re tough as nails. When I took a spill on an e-bike doing 28 mph, I scraped open my palms, my chest, my hip, and my knee beneath my pants. The actual pants didn’t even have a scuff.
When I moved across the country and couch surfed for two months last year, I had room to pack only one pair of pants. There was never a question which pair it would be.
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