There’s some black magic brewing at the Outdoor Research headquarters in Seattle. What sort of chemistry would be needed to whip up the perfect climbing shorts? Well, Outdoor Research took the proven success of their Voodoo pants and chopped of 22″ of leg. The result? The 10″ Voodoo short.

Outdoor Research Voodoo Shorts Features:

  • Water-resistant, breathable, quick-drying fabric
  • High abrasion-resistance
  • Movement-mirroring stretch
  • Jeans-style pockets with zippered leg pocket
  • Brushed, tricot-Lined waistband
  • Gusseted crotch for added freedom-of-movement
  • Harness-compatible waist with belt loops
  • MSRP: $79.00
Outdoor Research Voodoo shorts

A little trad on Castle Rock in Leavenworth, WA.

Your favorite pants, in shorts form

Climbing shorts are an interesting breed. If you go to a big-name PNW destination, be it Smith Rock or Leavenworth, you’ll see everything from ripped-our jeans from the 80’s to high-tech stretchy wonder shorts. The OR Voodoo’s are definitely in the wonder short category, with an excellent fabric and a decidedly refined design. No matter what your style is, you can appreciate the Voodoo’s for their sheer performance and reasonably sharp looks.

Jumping into it, the base fabric is a 90D mix of nylon and spandex. It’s durable, but also light and stretchy. Naturally there’s a gusseted crotch, meaning you can do the splits in these things stemming between two pillars with no fear of a ripped seam. Overall, range-of-motion on these bad boys is excellent, with not real directions in which I felt impeded. Mind you, the shorts are cut a bit tighter through the thigh. For some, this is a desirable trait in climbing shorts since you don’t want extra material flapping around, getting bunched up in your harness or obscuring your view of your feet. But if you’re a cyclist/mountaineer with big thighs, you’ll feel the pinch. Take a high step and the shorts will stay bunched up high on the thigh.

Outdoor Research Voodoo Shorts

Great design for the belt loops

So much for the cut and fit of the shorts. The features are also carefully tailored to the needs of climbers. There are two zippered pockets, one on the butt and one on the thigh. Obviously, that’s a great place to zip up your phone or other valuables. Otherwise, there’s one conventional jean pocket on the other cheek and jean-style front pockets. These can be hard to get into with a harness on, obviously, so make use of the back pockets and thigh pocket.

The shorts feel great underneath a harness. The belt loops are wide, comfortable and made out of the same smooth fabric as the shorts. That means that they keep belts from digging into your waist while under a harness. They’re also very strong.

Outdoor Research Voodoo Shorts

1″ hole — yeowch.

In practice, I really enjoyed using the Voodos. Details like a DWR finish help the shorts shed water as you hike through morning dew on the approach; the fleecy-soft tricot waistband feels comfortable all day long. The overall cut and tailoring is perfect for a day in the harness, which is just what you’d expect from a pair of shorts designed by OR for this purpose.

I did have on surprise while testing the Voodoos. While the fabric is a 90D abrasion-resistant nylon, I still managed to put a pretty solid snag into the shorts. This happened sometime during a chimney at Castle Rock near Leavenworth, WA, and I have to say it’s probably not totally the fault of the shorts. My chimney climbing technique leaves a little to be desired, and there’s quite a bit more scraping and wriggling going on than I’d really like to admit. But still, a rip on Day 1 of dedicated climbing shorts? I was bummed. Fortunately OR’s Infinity Guarantee is a saving grace here – they truly have one of the best warranties in the industry, and I’m sure they’d happily replace these shorts if I submitted a request. But I’m not going to, since they’re still perfectly useable.

Outdoor Research Voodoo Shorts

Some abrasion near the logo.

The Good

  • Truly excellent fit and range-of-motion
  • Gusseted crotch will spread farther than you can
  • Pockets are easy to access and secure
  • Waist band and belt loops leave nothing to be desired
  • 90D fabric has a DWR and blocks wind too

The Bad

  • An abrasion hole on Day 1? Bummer!
  • Quite tight through the thighs; fine for climbing, awkward for graduation parties

The Bottom Line: OR Voodoo Shorts

If you want a stretchy climbing short, the Voodoos are at the top of the pack for your best pick. They’ve got a strong, stretchy fabric and the chops to stretch with you through anything. I was able to put a hole in them and you will too, but that’s true of anything made out of fabric. Overall, a great choice from the Seattle-based Outdoor Research.

Buy now: Available at Amazon

About Author

Kevin Glover is an outdoorsman living, climbing and biking in Spokane, WA. Originally from the Nevada high desert, he moved to the PNW for its mild winters and allergen-free summers. He has guided throughout the Cascades and Enchantments for Peak 7 Adventures.

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