Up Close - The Flex Climber Pants
The Flex Climbing Pants have been a firm favourite in the Manastash roster for a while now—and for good reason. They’re comfortable, they’re built to last, and thanks to that relaxed fit they work well with everything from down jackets and boots to t-shirts and trainers.
First created back in 2004, they’re our take on the classic climbing pant design, made from hard-wearing 300gsm cotton (along with a touch of elastane), with a built-in nylon belt and that all-important extra panel in the crotch for added leg-reach.
This time around we’ve also made some slightly roomier versions, known as the Flex Climber Wide Leg Pants (for fairly obvious reasons). These feature all the details of the regular Flex Climbers, with a looser, even more relaxed fit.
Both designs follow a tradition of climbing legwear which stretches back to the 1970s. Back then the outdoor clothing industry was still in its ‘primordial soup’ stage, and with little in the way of dedicated pants for climbing in, invention and ingenuity was needed. For the legendary Stonemasters of Yosemite, painter pants and fatigues were the order of the day, whilst in the UK, an equally hodge-podge blend of hardy army-surplus wares and running trousers were a regular sight on rock faces.
This reappropriated legwear worked to a point—but it had its limitations, and as things progressed, with a move towards routes conquered quickly with less equipment, a few climbers took it upon themselves to create their own clothes. With the same DIY spirit that had them hand-forging their own pitons and crafting bespoke portaledges, they hunted down second-hand sewing machines and canvas fabric in order to create trousers to their own spec.
These pioneers laid the basis for the climbing pants of today—with a heavy focus on movement and functionality. An extra panel in the crotch allowed for extra leg reach, whilst canvas cotton sat nicely in the middle of ‘lightweight’ and ‘tough’ on the venn diagram. Heavy trousers were no fun, but neither was constantly patching them up.
Founded in 1993, Manastash was amongst the new wave of clothing companies based around real time in the great outdoors—with founder Robert Jungmann adding details devised whilst hiking in the Pacific NorthWest. Functional legwear has been part of the picture since the early 90s, and the Flex Climbers followed in Manastash’s tradition of tough, useful gear, made for the wilderness.
That said, it’s probably important to mention that it doesn’t really matter whether you actually intend to wear these for scrambling about on rocks or not. Just as bomber jackets are seldom worn by actual aviators, the humble climbing pant is one of those true design gems that’s appeal lies well beyond the activity it was originally created for. The Flex Climbers may have been made with climbing in mind, but their ultra-useful design means they work well right across the board, whether you’re cycling down the canal path or just booting a football around in your local park.