Let me start off by saying this: what climbing shoes lack in comfort you get back in climbing trousers. They have got to be one of the greatest inventions ever: fun colours, relaxed fit, higher waist, full range of movement… Does it get much better? Exactly. Which is also the reason why I am ditching both my hiking and my loungewear and am replacing it with climbing clothes (not shoes).
Now, if you have ever been at a climbing wall you will know that boulderers and climbers can be seen wearing anything ranging from leggings over climbing trousers to (climbing specific) denim. So why did I choose to go for the classic baggy trousers option? To be honest, I was just looking for comfort and fun colours. The Patagonia Venga Rock pants looked great and I wanted something yellow so my decision was made.
Fit + Sizing
First of all, let’s talk about the fit and sizing of these trousers. The Venga Rock pants are fairly baggy but slim with a medium rise. They are not cuffed at the ankles or have drawcords like some climbing trousers do. Instead, I tend to roll them up a couple of times to get my preferred length. The sizing runs large so I found the US 4 to still be quite big (I often wear a UK 10). If you do buy them, I recommend you size down at least one size, maybe even two if you have a slimmer waist.
However, I haven’t returned my slightly baggy trousers because they have one unique and neat feature: a simple adjustment system at the waist called the OppoSet®. By simply pulling a little cord to the right (not forwards) you cinch in the waist of the trousers and they will stay put even throughout a bouldering session. If you want to loosen the fit up again, simply tilt the button to the left and lightly tug on the fabric.
I find this absolutely genius because it’s so simple. At first I was considering at least getting the trousers altered a little but the OppoSet feature has left me completely satisfied. Additionally, even if I wasn’t rolling them up, the length of the Venga Rock Pants works well for my 5’4″ frame and short legs.
One of the things I love most about this pair of Patagonia trousers is that they don’t look like they are climbing trousers. I wear mine on the way to and from the bouldering gym but sometimes even for lounging in. I might even eventually get a more neutrally coloured pair to wear hiking.
The yellow that I’ve got is part of the 2016 colour range but this year there are some lovely dark blues and I am sure Patagonia will add more colours in the future. Climbing gear is often fun and bright and Patagonia gear is also known for their colours.
When I chose the Venga Rock Pants I was looking for a simple pair of trousers that wouldn’t be overloaded with features. Aside from the standard pockets that are big enough to hold a phone, they have a handy bartack that works great as a brush holder. On the right thigh you also get a snap pocket. I sometimes keep some cash or my gym membership card in here and never notice them during a workout.
The trousers are made from a light organic cotton fabric which is made up of 98% organic cotton and 2% spandex. The latter is great to further increase your range of movement. The fabric washes well and is durable thanks to its plain weave.
To give you even more movement, the knees are darted and the crotch is gusseted. This way, the trousers even hold up on a big stretch.
In addition to the full length “Pants” version which comes in a men’s and women’s version, Patagonia also sell the Venga style trousers in a “Capri” length for women and in a “Knickers” length for men.
Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to test my Venga Rock Pants on rock yet. They work great for bouldering indoors and I am definitely not careful with them. Every weekend they end up in the laundry basket because they are usually covered in chalk, dust or stains after a few sessions at the bouldering gym and have not lost any of their vibrance.
The rear pockets increase durability and the weave of the fabric keeps them from snagging on branches or thorns. When I’ve had the chance to test these on some rock I will definitely come back and update this post.
In summary, I absolutely love my Venga Rock pants for their comfort level, colour range and style. I feel very comfortable in them when I am bouldering and like to be able to finetune my fit using the OppoSet system.
I wish the sizing was a bit more true to size as I often find Patagonia to run larger. However, this won’t stop me from loving their products. One tip is to compare the sizes of your chosen retailer with that on the Patagonia website. You might have to order directly from Patagonia if you need a very small size.
In the end the Venga Rock Pants like many climbing trousers are fairly expensive for a simple pair of hopefully durable trousers. I do always believe that you get the quality you pay for in Patagonia though and I would always prefer quality over quantity. I plan on wearing these trousers for a long time and am very happy with them.
My rating for the Patagonia Venga Rock Pants is an 87/100.