There are several factors to consider when it comes to choosing waterproof rock climbing pants fabric for rock climbing gear. To begin, be aware of two main categories: water-resistant fabric or material and waterproof rock climbing pants fabric or material.
The former, water-resistant, refers to a material that is more water-resistant than regular garment material, i.e., it will “resist” rain and dampness for a time. But will eventually give up. It normally dries fast, so if you get wet, don’t worry.
That is, under acceptable temperatures, it should dry faster than conventional cloth. Water-resistant cloth is used in a variety of trekking accessories. Hiking trousers, hiking jackets, hiking shirts, and various tees and tops are all available. Find out top rock climbing indeatil with Cruxcrush, here!
The latter, waterproof, refers to a material that is as totally waterproof as possible, i.e. water is kept out and saturation occurs only at extremely high levels of water or moisture exposure. It should be mentioned, however, that nothing in terms of rock climbing gear, in my humble view, is truly waterproof.
Waterproof fabric is commonly used in rock climbing gear that is exposed to the weather. A rain jacket and rain pants, for example, would naturally be constructed of waterproof material. Waterproof clothing is often used as an outer layer over other interior garment layers.
To offer a practical example, you may be wearing hiking pants that have some ‘water resistance’ in the material used to construct them, but in heavy rain showers, you would put on “waterproof” rain pants over them to add tougher rain protection.
Following on from the waterproof aspect of hiking clothing, there is also the topic of breathability to consider. For example, a hiking shirt that is only waterproof and doesn’t let air in or out may not be the best choice.
The reason for this is that the non-breathable waterproof fabric is excellent at keeping exterior water out. It does not allow moisture from the inside to escape. Climbing requires you to move at a moderate to high effort level.
Because of this, sweat and moisture build-up inside your climbing clothes, and the material needs to be able to let this moisture out instead of keeping it in. True waterproof fabrics will do the opposite and act like an oven, trapping your body heat and sweat against your skin and under your clothes.
Consider a simple rain jacket with no fabric breathability or ventilation characteristics to better show this. This makeup should be effective at preventing external water, such as rain, from entering. But it will not be effective at allowing interior moisture to escape.
It’s OK for strolling from the workplace to your car, but it’s not great for hiking since it creates a stuffy and unpleasant atmosphere around your torso if you wear it while trekking. Because your perspiration cannot escape, you become moist on the inside.
On the other hand, it isn’t all bad. A poncho, used for relatively brief but severe bursts of heavy rain in humid circumstances, is an example of something created from this harder type of non-breathable cloth that serves a beneficial purpose when climbing.
These are made of robust materials that allow water to just roll off of them. fine for a hard blow in a warm tropical area, but perhaps not the ideal answer for a cool autumn day in Scotland’s Highlands. But it all depends on the substance.
It’s worth mentioning that strong breathability in clothing usually means good drying capabilities. From my perspective, if I get a little wet but my clothing is breathable enough to dry off reasonably soon, I’m not too concerned. Obviously, there is a cap on how much can be done. Better breathability, as far as I can tell, allows the cloth to dry faster.
Finally, when it comes to mixing breathability with waterproofing, such as in basic rock climbing pants, the breathability of the material is typically not great, and I haven’t found it to be particularly functional. This is where features like pit zip-on rock climbing pants come in handy for direct ventilation and getting the air moving in and out.
However, when the quality of rain pants construction improves, e.g., 3-layer construction pants, breathability improves. However, there is a trade-off because these coats are significantly more costly and thicker, and heavier than conventional rain pants.
Most major companies have their own version of waterproof and breathable technology that serves the same purpose. The North Face, for example, created its Hy-Vent technology specifically for this reason.
Let’s look at performance metrics next to assist in understanding how to evaluate and analyze the functional capacity of different materials. In truth, I’m not sure how much you can take these metrics as gospel, but they can provide some assistance when evaluating a rock climbing pant’s performance capabilities.
OK, now for the science, which I will attempt to describe in layman’s terms so that even I can comprehend! Common performance measurement ratings are used to grade or quantify waterproofness and breathability.
Waterproofness can be assessed in two ways: I’m/24hours’ terms, this relates to how much rain a cloth can resist in a single day. In PSI (you may know PSI from your car tires), PSI-This is the amount of water pressure (rather than air in tires) that a cloth can sustain. The higher any of these scores, the greater the water-resistance of the clothing. For example, entirely waterproof clothing will be in the 40-50 PSI range.
Breathability can be measured in one of two ways: In g/m2/24 hours: This is the garment’s capacity to allow moisture to travel through it from the inside. This works by creating a dense network of small pores per square inch of cloth. These pores are tiny enough to keep water liquid, such as raindrops, out while allowing water moisture and vapor molecules, such as perspiration, in.
There is a lot more science behind this, but it’s enough to make a pretty educated purchasing decision. To summarise, the higher the grade, the more waterproof and breathable the clothing. I’d aim for 15,000-30,000 mm of waterproofness (mm/24 hours) and 20,000-30,000 g/m2/24 hours of breathability (g/m2/24 hours).
I found the brief video below, and while the guy is speaking about snowboarding, his explanation of waterproof and breathable ratings in jackets applies and is simple to follow.
Because of the unique properties of water-resistant and waterproof fabrics used in hiking gear, particular care is required to maintain them. Always read and follow the maintenance recommendations for your specific piece of hiking gear as a general rule! This will guarantee that you get the most usage and longevity out of your equipment.
There are good cleaning and reproofing (reinforcing the waterproofing/resistance qualities of your rock climbing gear) products available. These were developed particularly for washing, cleaning, and maintaining your waterproof gear and are worth investing in to aid with the aforementioned lifespan.
So that’s it for now! These are simply some broad principles to help you have a better knowledge of rock climbing pants that is a waterproof and breathable fabric, as well as the many factors to consider when selecting waterproof rock climbing gear.
As I indicated at the outset, I don’t believe any climbing gear clothing item is actually 100% waterproof. It will eventually dry out. For rock climbing, I recommend a nice pair of rock climbing pants as the best option for the path. They are lightweight, dry quickly, are simple to store, and will not break the bank.