Best Ice climbing pants
MAs with every winter sport, the key to dressing comfortably for ice climbing is dressing in layers. There’s a lot of “stop and go” when ice climbing, so proper layers are especially important to prevent overheating while climbing and freezing while belaying. Here are some suggestions and tips to help you be as comfortable as possible on your next ice climbing trip.
One could argue that a proper base layer is the most important part of any layering system. Material choice is particularly critical here; when picking out your long underwear for the day, do not choose cotton! While the waffley cotton long johns and tops of yore (do they even still make those?) were certainly cozy for wearing around the house or ski lodge, they’re no good for actually doing anything active.
Instead, it’s best to go with a midweight synthetic or merino wool baselayer. These materials offer what we like to call “superior moisture management, ” which means that they don’t soak up your sweat and hold onto it the way cotton does. With a synthetic or wool layer next to your skin, your perspiration will be wicked away to the surface of the material to evaporate rather than staying on your skin and making you feel cold and clammy. EMS Techwick, Icebreaker, and Smartwool base layers are all excellent choices.
When choosing a mid layer (or insulating layer...whatever you want to call it), there are a lot of options. You could go with a light- or midweight fleece, a (thin) down or synthetic down jacket, or a lightweight Powerstretch. What you choose will depend mostly on your personal preference and a little bit on what the weather will be like throughout the day.
On a warmer day, a lightweight fleece or Powerstretch mid layer should keep you plenty warm. On colder days, you’ll probably want to stick with a midweight fleece or down/synthetic down mid layer. You also have the option of wearing a vest instead of a jacket, with the obvious benefits of less bulk and better range of motion (which is kind of important when your arms will be spending a significant amount of time above your head).
Unless you tend to get very cold, you should be able to forgo a mid layer on your bottom half. The combination of midweight long underwear and proper shell pants is enough to keep you comfortable in most cases.
Your final layer when ice climbing should be lightweight, waterproof, and easy to move around in. Whether you choose to go with a traditional “hard” shell jacket and pants or a softshell jacket and pants, you need to have as much range of motion as possible in order to climb efficiently.
You may be wondering, How do I decide between a softshell and hard shell? Maybe this chart can help you out:
Not completely waterproof