Who would spend the price of four pairs of jeans on one pair of specialty climbing pants? Perhaps tree climbers interested in the ultimate in toughness, comfort, functionality, and material longevity.
Stretch-Air pants were designed by tree and rock climbers and are made with the latest in nano-fabric technology. Not only is this special fabric as tough as sharkskin, but it also has a near-microscopic finish that imitates a leaf’s scaly surface to slough off dirt, oil, and water.
I first witnessed the extraordinary resilience of this fabric last year while visiting climbing friends in Germany, where a lot of climbers wear Stretch-Air clothes. At a store that sold the product, there was a fabric demonstration in the showroom. A foot-long section of 1-inch aircraft cable, terribly frayed on one end, was lying beside two squirt bottles, one filled with honey and the other with water. The clerk first took the aircraft cable and jabbed the frayed end into the fabric to the point that I could see the cable strands sticking out the other side. With that, he scraped down the fabric in a manner that would have destroyed comparable fabrics. When he pulled away, you could not detect even a minor disturbance in the fabric surface. Next, he squeezed a big glob of honey on his fingers and massaged it into fabric. After seriously overdoing this part of the demo, he used the squirt bottle of water to rinse the sticky mess off like dust from a windshield! That spoke to the durability and stain resistance of the fabric, but the real endorsement came from two climbers visiting the store that day (both in new-looking Stretch-Air pants). I asked them how long these pants generally last, and they both said the pairs they were wearing were more than a year old!
Made with Lycra, Stretch-Air pants stretch exceptionally well in use, making climbing movements free and smooth. They also have a reinforced and gusseted crotch for comfort and durability in an area of pants that’s often first to rip. Pockets with Velcro flaps on the thighs take advantage of an area not covered up by the harness, while hip pockets are zippered to keep the chips out of your change. Back pockets don’t exist, according to the designers, “because they’re useless to climbers.” Knees and ankles are reinforced with Kevlar patches for added abrasion resistance. The ankles are zippered and have Velcro adjusters to fit snugly over boots.