I will no doubt get me in trouble for saying this, but Carhartt’s go well with lumbersexuals and La Sportiva Mythos. But for any type of non-gumby rock climbing that involves a high step, they are as unforgiving as trying to swim the backstroke in a straight jacket.
“But … Carhartt’s are so durable!”
Yeah, yeah. We get that you are a “workin’ man,” but if you are wearing Carhartt’s to go climbing then clearly you don’t care about performance or, god forbid, actual sending.
Well, if you are like me in that you have an affinity for a heavyweight cotton canvas pant that shows off your true skill-saw-wieldin’, buck-killin’, job-doin’ masculinity, yet still allows you to get out onto the rock and take a doo-doo on your projy-proj, then look no further than the new ArcTeryx Aristo Pants.
Not only will these pants hold up to all the offwidth and multi-pitch groveling you can dish, but they are designed for real rock climbing. High steps, knee-bars and stemming splits are no problem thanks to a generous, if baggy fit complete with articulated knees and a gusseted crotch.
The bad thing is that they are more than twice as expensive as Carhartt pants. That said, they actually work for rock climbing. Carhartt’s don’t.
My favorite feature is the integrated belt with a metal hook. I hate it when my pants stretch over the course of a climbing day, leaving the waist stretched out and drooping; yet, I don’t have a belt. This feature takes care of that so that my Aristo pants always fit well, no matter how many days it’s been since I’ve last washed them.
For multi-pitch routes, where you often keep your topo/camera on your phone, this is a benefit. One cool feature on the Aristo Pants are the thigh pockets, which are adequately sized to fit an iPhone 6 Plus. You can keep an iPhone or route topo just an easily accessed zip away on top of your thigh.
Last year, I wore some Patagonia pants on an alpine rock route in Chamonix. The phone pocket for these pants was placed on the side of the thigh. Not ideal. Of course, I was liebacking a 5.11+ corner, and forgot my iPhone was in my side-thigh pocket. By the top of the pitch, I had shattered the glass. Keeping the phone on top of the thigh seems to offer a good balance between protection, easy access and being out of the way of your climbing.
Are the Aristo Pants allow more flexibility than wearing a pair of 1980s Sport-O tights? No … Or, so I “assume.” But for what they do offer—a good climber fit, enough flexibility, high durability, an integrated belt, and 6 very useful pockets—I’ll take them and enjoy then for years to come.