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I’ve been a fan of prAna’s Stretch Zion pants for years. My previous pair was a staple in my climbing wardrobe. The fabric is comfortable and stretchy enough for anything. The duel-access zippered cargo pocket works well below a harness, no matter what position you’re in. The built-in adjustable waistband prevents the waist from stretching out. The material is durable. A DWR coating provides a small amount of water repellency. They just might be the perfect climbing pants. Unfortunately, my Stretch Zion Pants met an untimely end in a glissading accident coming down from a failed attempt on the Diamond this August. This was not prAna’s fault. They can’t be blamed for my poor decision, and I’m lucky my only permanent injury was a big hole in the butt of my pants.
Since the incident I’ve upgraded to a pair of prAna’s new Stretch Zion Straight pants. While the only major difference is the cut of the pants, it really does feel like an upgrade. Whereas the original Stretch Zion pants wear like flowy yoga pants, the straight-cut version feel svelte and stylish. We’re not talking painted-on skinny jeans tight. You won’t look like a unicycle-riding Portland hipster in these. The fit feels just right (and true-to-size). And while the cut is tighter, prAna’s stretch zion fabric, made of 97% nylon and 3% spandex, is so flexible that the pants are never restrictive, no matter how high your heel hook.
I tested the Stretch Zion Straight pants over the past couple months climbing on granite in Colorado’s Front Range and Yosemite. The fabric survived without a scratch, even after I ground the material into the rock figuring out how to chimney up The Dagger at Lower Yosemite Falls. The tighter fit was the most notable on cracks. Previously, the cuff material could get in the way when doing foot or toe jams close together. Now it’s not an issue. And as a bonus, they look more stylish than their flowy counterpart. Unless you opt for the orange “bronzed” color, they just look like normal pants—perfect for the gym or the crag, around town, or at the office.