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Retailer Review: The North Face's North Dome climbing pants

Our gear tester at California's Gear Coop found a pair of technical pants that he actually wanted to wear all day.

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If you were to combine the style of chino pants and the comfort of pajama bottoms into a single pair, you would get the North Dome pants from The North Face

But, there’s more to the story: They’re actually climbing pants.

Made of a cotton blend, these pants are comfortable and soft compared to other climbing pants, but they’re still tough enough to scrape against rock and stretchy enough to accommodate heel hooks and splits. I wore these pants everywhere, from up on the wall to down in my sleeping bag.

Aside from the stretch, there are many other features that specifically target climbers. First of all, the legs are articulated, or stitched in a curve, so you don’t cut circulation while edging on a high hold. And the continuous gusseting at the crotch and darting at the knees also improve movement.

Ryan Chase climbing in The North Face North Dome pants
Ryan Chase tests the stretch and durability of The North Face North Dome climbing pants.Courtesy

An inside waist drawstring replaces the need for a belt. The chalk bag loop in the back makes clipping a chalk bag more convenient for bouldering. A boulder brush pocket in the back left pocket holds a standard-size brush and keeps it out of the way, but brushes with a wider handle won’t fit as well. 

However, I didn’t use the ankle cinches because the pant legs fit well around my calves. I also discovered that the front pockets are shallow compared to other men’s pants—they they kept my phone safely inside, but it dug into my pelvis.

Normally, I overheat in cotton pants, but I stayed cool in this pair—and didn’t even sweat through, even around the harness straps—on a warm 80ºF day. The fit is mostly true to size, with a slight need to upsize the waist by about an inch. The pant legs hang well—not too baggy, not too tight. As a shorter person (5’7”), the short pant legs ended up being a perfect inseam length for me.

Overall, I really like the North Dome pants. They are a lot softer than I expected and have some great climber-specific elements. Either at the office or on a weekend climbing trip, these North Dome pants fit in everywhere.

How will the North Dome pants sell in stores?

These pants typically sell better in our store during the winter climbing season because our customers see the thicker cotton material and think these are best suited for winter desert climbing. Should they choose the North Dome pants, they’ll discover that they are great for year-round wear.

Although they are priced similarly to other climbing apparel at $90, there are few climbing pants with as many features. Along with the durability, they are definitely worth the cost. Our climbers who prefer bouldering love these pants, with good reason. They fulfill a good variety of needs and are extremely comfortable.