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Black Diamond Shorts and Trousers for Casual Cragging Review

© UKC Gear

Although not the most technical of gear, or the most exciting to review, a good pair of outdoor shorts or trousers can serve you well for years, and if they're cut for movement you should be able to use the one pair for everything. Black Diamond have recently released a new range of legwear aimed at walking and climbing. We have had a look at four different models of shorts and trousers, one pair each for both men and women, and have enjoyed using them across the spring and summer months this year.

Men's Rocklock Climb Pants - £90


They may be priced quite high, but the Rocklock Climb Pants are really nice casual mid-weight trousers ideal for bouldering and single-pitch cragging. The cotton material provides good durability and stretch, while the cut allows for good freedom of movement. The materials and weight mean these probably aren't best for working up a sweat on a walk-in to a mountain crag or when you don't want your trousers taking on water if a spot of rain rolls in. However, their casual less technical look means they could equally be worn down the pub, which is reflected in the colour range that tries not to scream climber.

Fit

The overall cut is towards the slim end of the scale, with a fit that tapers slightly down the leg. I have pretty slim legs for my leg length and still have a good amount of space throughout so don't be put off if your legs aren't that slim. Thanks to the cut there's a good amount of freedom of movement, notably the articulated knees and gusseted inseam. I find the trousers can creep slightly up the leg on a high step or when outstretched but not enough to really cause me any major issues. Around the waist is an elasticated waistband which is comfortable and a drawcord can be tied to further tweak the waistline.

Gusseted inseam and articulated knees allow for freedom of movement.  © UKC Gear
Gusseted inseam and articulated knees allow for freedom of movement.

Fabric

The 97% cotton and 3% elastane mix gives the trousers a durable feel while still maintaining that stretch needed while climbing. For boulderers or cragging on rough rock where abrasion is common, the 225gsm material feels like it will be able to take a beating over the years. Durability is also increased by the ripstop pattern, which will stop any tear from spreading too far. Because of their weight and the high amount of cotton in the trousers, mountain use is probably best avoided as these could become sweaty on a walk-in or take a while to dry if a shower passes over.

Tough fabric will withstand abuse on rougher rocktypes  © UKC Gear
Tough fabric will withstand abuse on rougher rocktypes

Features

Two front hand pockets are harness compatible and relatively deep. If you need a smaller item, like a set of keys, stored more securely there is a mid-thigh zippered pocket on the right leg. Two back drop in pockets also provides some extra storage, although I never use rear trousers pockets.

Mid thigh zipper pocket  © UKC Gear
Mid thigh zipper pocket

Harness compatible front pocket  © UKC Gear
Harness compatible front pocket

For more info see blackdiamondequipment.com

Men's Sierra Shorts - £50


The Sierra are a lightweight pair of shorts for warm weather where you want a light breezy feeling whilst on a summer hillwalk, a sunny crag walk-in, or on a climb where you'll be working hard. After a hot day in the hills, the Sierra shorts will dry quickly if you also fancy a post-climb swim. These comfy shorts are ideal for adventures both on and off the rock.

Light feeling for a hot and humid day cragging  © UKC Gear
Light feeling for a hot and humid day cragging

Fit

The fit a regular, and pretty straight-cut down the leg. Those with larger thighs should still find these adequately spacious and for me there is more than enough space to feel unrestricted when moving. This is further helped by a gusseted inseam which avoids any restriction to leg movement when climbing. The waistband is elasticated and low profile which feels really comfortable below a harness or rucksack belt. However, I feel like I can't have anything too heavy in my pockets because then there isn't enough tension in the elastic in size medium to keep these from working their way down my 31-inch waist. The ability to add a belt would have been good.

photo
Light and unrestrictive when climbing

Cool enough for indoor use  © UKC Articles
Cool enough for indoor use

Fabric

The fabric is a 100% woven polyester which clocks in at 139gsm. For their weight, these shorts still feel like they will be able to take a good amount of wear. The fabric has a 4-way stretch to help movement further and not feel too restrictive. The quick dry finish also means these have dried off fast when taking them for a dip in a river on hot days. These synthetic shorts are also spot on for hillwalking, since they'll dry quickly if there's a shower during the day.

The fabric is light, but durable for its weight  © UKC Gear
The fabric is light, but durable for its weight

photo
Two front pockets and one velcro back pocket to store quick access items.

Features

On the features front, the Sierra is pretty basic - which is one of the reasons I like them. You get two harness compatible pockets at the front which are mesh lined for coolness, and a flapped back pocket with a velcro closure to keep something that bit more secure. Not much is needed here so they remain feeling light and airy when worn.

For more info see blackdiamondequipment.com

Women Technician Jogger Pants - £80


Built to move, the Technician Jogger is a durable, lightweight pair of trousers which (despite their name) seem tailor made for climbing. Featuring articulated knees and gusseted inseams, these joggers stretch and move with you through the crux, while remaining durable. Two front harness compatible hand pockets and a zippered thigh pocket round out the feature set on these send-ready joggers.

Perfect for the wall as well as the crag  © UKC Gear
Perfect for the wall as well as the crag

Fit

For the Technician Jogger Pant I opted for a size small - depending on the brand I tend to go for either small or extra small. In this case the size small is slightly too bit big for me and an extra small may have been a better fit. It does mean I have great flexibility and movement when using these trousers as they're a bit baggier on me than I strictly need them to be. The stretchy knit waistband sits mid-waist which is extremely comfortable but a bit looser then I would have liked, again possibly due to the size I selected. However, it does allow for ultimate comfort when wearing a harness or rucksack hipbelt, as it all sits flush. The tapered knit cuffs are also ideal for climbing as they reduce excess fabric around my ankles. Despite being too big, these joggers are so comfortable that I wear them around the house all the time!

Spot on for hillwalking  © UKC Gear
Spot on for hillwalking

...and equally good for bouldering  © UKC Gear
...and equally good for bouldering

Fabric

Both the Technician trousers and shorts are made with Bluesign approved PFC-free DWR fabric. This means not only are they water repellent but they are also more environmentally friendly. It's interesting to note that PFC-free clothes aren't oil or dirt repellent so you might need to wash and reproof these items more regularly than if the item was made with PFCs. Considering the amount of wear I've put them through so far, I haven't felt the need to do this just yet but something to keep in mind. The inside of this fabric is really comfortable against the skin while the outside is still durable enough to withstand some scrambling or rougher rock. The fabric is extremely lightweight, making it ideal for spring, summer and autumn outdoors, or for use in a stuffy climbing wall (not Ratho).

Features

My favourite part of the Technician Jogger pant are the pockets. The two front ones are deep and by having a more horizontal opening, the chances of things falling out are extremely low. This is quite unusual on woman's trousers. Hiking in to a crag, I could have easy access to my phone or a snack while ensuring I wouldn't drop it unknowingly. These pockets are also compatible with a harness, allowing for access without the waistbelt blocking them. There is a zippered thigh pocket should I want extra security and the two back drop pockets are a bit shallower, ideal for a snack or something small. The articulated knees and gusseted inseam ensure there is no sacrifice for movement or durability.

For more info see blackdiamondequipment.com

Women's Technician Shorts - £60


Lightweight, durable climbing shorts built for comfort, Technician shorts are made with the same fabric as the trousers. With a knit waistband for a comfy fit, well-placed hand pockets for easy harness compatibility, and a thigh pocket to secure keys or a phone, the Technician Shorts are ideal for the gym or at the crag.

They're ideal for bouldering in warmer conditions  © UKC Gear
They're ideal for bouldering in warmer conditions

Fit

I've got the Technician Shorts in a size small, and as for the joggers these are slightly too big. In common with most North American brands, BD seem to err on the roomy side, so if you are usually between sizes, possibly opt for the smaller size here. With a low profile similar knit waistband to the trousers, I've felt really comfortable both when bouldering and while wearing a harness for sports routes. The shorts fall to just above my knee which not a typical style I go for. However, this makes it very compatible when wearing a harness as the fabric doesn't bunch up or get caught, and you can still maintain a good range of movement.

I've been using them very happily for hillwalking  © UKC Gear
I've been using them very happily for hillwalking

And they pair well with a harness if you're climbing  © UKC Gear
And they pair well with a harness if you're climbing

Features

The Technician shorts also get it right when it comes to pockets. These have clearly been designed for climbing with a harness but also day-to-day functionality. The two front pockets are deep and despite not having a zipper, are still likely to keep your personal items safe. There are also two small back drop pockets. The light fabric allows these shorts to fold down quite small so you can put them in your rucksack without adding much extra weight or bulk.

For more info see blackdiamondequipment.com



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