I was intrigued to test clothing by the German brand Maloja, whose fall 2018 line (stay tuned) I had a chance to preview at the winter Outdoor Retailer show in Denver earlier this year. A German company, they make high-end, stylish apparel for outdoor sports from mountain biking to climbing to running, and so on, with just enough flair to be clearly European but not the bright, flashy overkill you often see with Euro outdoor brands. The colors are more earth-tone than neon, though the clothes still have a slender cut and that certain dash of Continental style.
I tested the Pol pants during a wet, soggy Colorado transition from spring into summer, taking them out rock climbing on days that ranged from 40 degrees with biting, howling winds, to drizzly and in the 50s, up to 65 degrees and mild. The venues were local granite and sandstone sport, with a solid mix of sun and shade, and from climbs that ranged from mellow warm-up face-climbing romps to battle-to-the-death thrutchy bulges and hard, technical redpoint face climbs.
As per Maloja, the Pol have a “relaxed” fit and are “multisport” pants, positioned for bouldering, sport climbing, trad climbing, hiking, etc. They are made of a cotton cross-stretch fabric (97 percent cotton, 3 percent Spandex), have two deep front pockets, an elastic waistband with drawcord, and adjustable leg cuffs that work using an internal pull and toggle. I tested the pinetree color, an eye-pleasing dark green; there are five other colors on offer as well.
Out of the gate, I appreciated how light and airy the pants felt—the fabric is thin but not clingy, and stretches well while you move such that you don’t get the binding or bunching you might with heavier-duty climbing pants. As a result of their light weight, I’d consider these a three-season pant (all but winter), as you don’t get a ton of insulation with the thin material. On a nasty day in Dream Canyon, Colorado, with the sun out but a horrible, biting wind raging over the Divide, I found myself chilled from the legs up despite having a puffy on and multiple layers up top. Alpine/heavy-weather pants these are not; to me, they felt good down to about 50 degrees F, positioning them well for gym climbing, and summer bouldering and sport.
On the rock the Pol moves and climbs like a dream, fits well under a harness, and has that solid dash of style that lets you go from the crag to “normal life” without feeling like a scandalous hobo out on the town. I wore them on one route, a bouldery bulge with wild, traversing, heel-hooky, high-steppy moves that test your full range of motion, and was grateful for how well the Pol moved with me—no binding or snaggage. They also have just enough “grit” in the fabric to withstand the grinding and scraping along the rock we climbers ask of our clothing—I slapped them into a sharp-as-shit gneiss kneebar in Clear Creek Canyon, and did not ding the fabric one iota. Better yet, the kneebar stuck and I sent the stupid, 30-foot pile I was working on—second try, yo!
The one flaw I noted was the elastic closure on the ankle cuffs—it’s a little fussy to work with (it’s way easier to loosen than to tighten), and when cranking down one side I broke the cord and now basically can’t adjust that cuff anymore. That said, the cuffs are already pretty low-profile and hug the leg, so I’m not sure that you’d need to monkey with them while climbing anyway. I had no trouble seeing my feet below them, for example, or accessing my rock shoes.
If you’re looking for a versatile, lightweight, stretchy pair of three-season climbing pants, the Pol is a solid bet. I’ve really enjoyed climbing in them, and look forward to doing many more pitches together.