Pants made to look good, both at the crag and wherever you find yourself afterward. Patagonia’s Escala Pant, designed specifically for rock climbing, is an excellent piece of attire for the right body type. Soft yet durable material, attractive tailoring, and honed-in features culminate in the Escala. I found these pants to be too small and ill-fitting for my athletic stature, but for someone with a long and lean build they could be just perfect.

Patagonia Women’s Escala Rock Pants Features:

  • Organic materials that are both soft and durable
  • Low-profile Opposet adjustable waist
  • 2 front pockets and 2 back pockets — all backed with a breathable mesh
  • An additional thigh pocket to quickly stow valuables
  • Tapered cut in the legs
  • MSRP: $99.00
Review: Women's Patagonia Escala Rock Pant

The Escala Rock Pant in Feather Grey (photo from Patagonia.com)

Tough love for the Escalas

I’m not going to lie: I wanted to love these pants. Everything seemed to add up to the perfect pant. Adjustable waist, durable materials, and super cute? Sign me up. And all these things are true. But they were simply too tight. My movement felt inhibited, and I felt like I only grabbed these pants when I knew I’d be climbing mellow grades — or not climbing at all. Any time I wanted to work on my project, I would grab some leggings or my Arc’teryx Psiphons.

Review: Women's Patagonia Escala Rock Pant

So many pockets, too little stretch.

Truly, it just came down to the fact that the Escala’s were just too snug to be a climbing pant. Trying to get a high foot would result in discomfort where the material would cut into my hip or behind my knee. I was distracted by the tightness, and it caused me to be unable to climb comfortably. Despite being a 4 in most pants, after putting on the Escalas in a 4 I began to question if I was really that size at all. I went to my local outdoor store and tried on a pair in a 6, just to see how it’d feel. Certainly it wasn’t as tight in all the same spots. But it also wasn’t right. The legs were too long, the waist felt too roomy, and I still didn’t feel that the pants stretched enough to climb in.

Review: Women's Patagonia Escala Rock Pant

The articulated knee in action. The details of these pants communicate movement, but unfortunately the fit did not for my muscular legs.

Are these pants attractive? Absolutely. Functional? Well, maybe for someone with a different body shape than mine. My athletic legs (read: muscular and short) and wide hips meant trouble with the Escala. However, I could see them fitting someone with a more slender build and narrower hips in a way that enables them to move freely and put down that project.

The blend of cotton, polyester and spandex is at once thick without being suffocatingly hot. This is due to the integration of COOLMAX® CORE technology textiles, which wicks moisture away from the body during activity. It’s kind of wild to think of cotton as also cooling — unless of course you’re in a situation where the phrase “cotton kills” applies. Nevertheless, despite being a material with a thicker feel, the material stays surprisingly cool when compared to a denim of a similar density. If I were to climb in shoulder season weather these would be a great choice, and I know I’d be comfortable around camp and in activity.

Review: Women's Patagonia Escala Rock Pant

The “Opposet” adjustment in action

I adore adjustable waistbands in my outdoor pants. This is probably because it’s hard for me to find pants that fit right off the rack, but also because I’m guaranteed a fit even as the pants stretch throughout a given trip. The Opposet waist adjustment is easy to tighten and release, and the adjustment stays in place incredibly well. I was really impressed with the Opposet’s ability to remain snug and not loosen up. The cut of the waistline was a little low for my liking (ok admittedly I’m into the mid-rise fits over any other) but nevertheless I still felt secure while climbing in the Escalas.

The tailored and thoughtful cut of the Escalas is designed with climbing in mind. The low profile seams mean true comfort when paired with a harness, and the tapered ankle allows you to easily hone in on your footwork without being impaired or distracted by a baggy pant leg. I appreciated the tapered cut, as I had noticed that my Arc’teryx Psiphons — while not designed specifically for cragging like the Escalas — had an annoying excess of material at the ankle that I was especially aware of while climbing.

Review: Women's Patagonia Escala Rock Pant

The “Opposet” adjustment in inaction

The pocket integration is also reflective of the climbing-centric design of the Escalas. Two front pockets are backed with mesh, for increased breathability, plus two back pockets. But I feel that a dead giveaway for a climbing pant is a well-placed thigh pocket. Stash your goods in a convenient place while wearing a harness in the Escalas side pocket, which was just the right size for my iPhone 7. If you have one of the extra fancy (and extra large) phones, it may not fit. Nevertheless I felt that this pocket was really comfortable in use, and I didn’t even realize that my phone was in there.

I was surprised to find that my Escalas did display some wear on the legs, despite the seemingly indestructible face fabric. Mostly on the side of the leg I found several places of wear. The pant as a whole looked so new that I was really surprised to find damage like this, but it is ultimately inevitable in the name of testing. That being said, the durability of this pant certainly is there — it withstood impressive amounts of granite smearing and catching against indoor plastic. But nevertheless, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the reality that the Escala material is not invincible.

Review: Women's Patagonia Escala Rock Pant

Note the abraded wear near the seams

The Good

  • Flattering cut is great for casual wear and outdoor use
  • Tapered cut at the ankle and articulated knee
  • Opposet waist adjustment is secure and effective

The Bad

  • Too tight
  • Low waistline isn’t my ideal cut for a climbing pant

The Bottom Line: Patagonia Escala Pants

All in all, the Escalas are a great pant. But they weren’t great for me. These pants offer impressive durability, stretch, and are incredibly stylish. If they fit you right, you’re in for a treat. I found that my body type (athletic legs, about 140lbs and 5′ 4″) was ill-suited to the tailoring of the Escalas. I loved the aticulated knees and tapered hem, as well as the Opposet waist adjustment. But neither the 6 nor the 4 felt like the right fit, and so I’m left concluding that the Escala just wasn’t the pant for me. 

Buy Now: Available at Patagonia.com

About Author

Bella was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, and loves exploring it through backpacking, climbing, and camping. Although she adores the Cascades, she dreams of one day living in the desert. She works and guides for Peak 7 Adventures.

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