Black Diamond Traverse Pants
These are excellent 3-season climbing pants – they breathe well, dry quickly, are fairly durable, and are cut in an athletic fit. Those four qualities are pretty much what makes a pair of pants adequate for climbing, but the Traverse pants include some subtle, thoughtful features that give to make them particularly well adapted to rock climbing.
First of all, the fit is excellent for climbing (although the inseam could be longer for lanky guys, see below). A gusseted crotch, articulated knees, and a cut that just hugs my hips, without being tight, allows for unrestricted high-stepping and stemming.
It’s nice to climb without a backpack, but I often want to carry small items with me. The Traverse pants have five pockets – two in the hip crease, two on the thigh, one behind – and they all close with low-profile zippers. Not only are the zippers secure (can’t be dropping things up on the wall), but their slim design avoids the rub spots that form on pants with thick zippers and pockets.
On multi-pitch climbs, I usually fit a Gu packet or small bar in one of the upper hip-crease pockets, and a folded route description and another bar in the thigh pockets, which are easily accessible while hanging in a harness. The thigh pockets also fit an iPhone (in a case), which is handy if you’re using your phone for route info.
I didn’t think this would be a big deal, but the adjustable ladder-lock waist tightener is a great feature. It does the work of a belt, is quite easy to adjust, and 100% cannot slip over the course of the day, unlike elastic or toggle-style waist tighteners. As someone who needs to wear a belt, but forgets to move my belt between all my pants and shorts, I love this feature.
The Traverse Pants are constructed out of a lightweight, slightly stretchy nylon that is durable enough for what I’d consider a 3-season pant. Lightweight and breathability trade-off against durability, and these lean more towards the light side, which makes them suitable for summer temps, however, the tight weave of the nylon blocks wind quite well. The result is a pair of pants that didn’t feel too hot on a hot, muggy day at Index, Washington, but also kept my legs warm enough on a cold, breezy day in the shade on Mount Evans in Colorado 2 weeks later and 30 degrees cooler.
The only thing these pants aren’t well suited for is sustained abrasive climbing – if you wear these on off-width cracks in Vedauwoo or Utah sandstone, you will probably wear through them. The pants have a DWR (Durable Water Repellency) applied, but in my experience, DWR rarely lasts long on pants because they are always being abraded by the rock, scrubby brush, the rope, unfortunate cactus encounters, etc.
Black Diamond Traverse Pants sizing
My only disappointment with these pants is that BD doesn’t make a size that fits tall, skinny legs (e.g. 30” waist, 32” inseam). With only Small, Medium, and Large to choose from, I have to go with Small to fit my 30” waist, but the pants ride kinda high above my ankles. I would love to see a 32” inseam option next year for us scrappy guys. $149
See Drew’s review of the awesome Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoody to go along with the Traverse Pants.