Gear Review: Boulder Denim 2.0 Men’s Athletic Fit Jeans

I gave up on jeans in 2011.

No thanks to Boulder Denim, I’m reneging on that position.

Why? Simply, they are the most comfortable pair of climbing pants I own, and the best jeans I’ve ever had. They are lightweight, ultra-stretchy, and make my butt look good (probably). What’s not to like?

Boulder Denim jeans. Great for climbing and just hanging out.


Overview

The company, Boulder Denim (BD), has helped popularize the climbing-specific jeans trend. The basic blues have long been a staple of pebble wrestling, from old painter’s pants and Levi’s to Prana’s yoga-centric styles. However, these options weren’t designed for climbing, they were good enough options for the job. In dirtbag parlance that pretty much means climb on, because they are pants, and they cost me $5 at Savers.

Climb people did, not realizing what they were missing out on.

BD was started to change the palette from pants that were palatable to downright delightful. They launched on Kickstarter back in 2016 to wild success (raising over $90k), then had a second campaign of wilder success for their updated 2.0s, in 2018 (raising over $267,000).

People dig them. And I wanted in.

So I reached out and asked if I could test a pair of the 2.0s, and Taz and Brad were kind enough to oblige.

Anywho, I’ve been wearing them non-stop for over a month, making up for lost time since the last jeans to grace these thighs was over 8 years ago.

They’ve been worn on Rumney schist, Lynn Woods granite, Hammond Pond puddingstone, Smuggler’s Notch gritty schist, shitty schist, switch foot schisty and other such New England varietals. The climbing has consisted of a lot of bouldering, some sport, and a little trad.



Performance

My #UnecessarilyHighHeelHooks are NBD in these. They stretch in a variety of ways, from aggressive step-ups and twisty drop knees to split-like stemming IF I have them rolled up to below my knees.

I experience some restriction in movement when the legs are full-length (two rolls at the cuff, they sit just above the ankle). My knee gets caught in the fabric on big movements–which doesn’t prevent the action–though it does slightly encumber the motion. This is not experienced when they are rolled up (same two rolls, pushed to knee). They have much greater stretch horizontally and diagonally (i.e., pulling the pant leg apart width-wise) than vertically (i.e., trying to stretch them down the length of the leg).

Bouldering near Bolton, VT, with the pant legs rolled down.


It is unclear if they need to be broken in more because I’ve primarily worn them pushed up in the summer heat.

With that said, they are surprisingly elastic. If I pinch and pull, the jeans have the same give and bounce-back as my running tights, except these look better and don’t hug my junk. 

The seams are reinforced and solid so far, whereas I popped some stitching on my Outdoor Research Ferrosi pants when doing squats. I would squat in these.



Fit and Look

They are stylish in a relaxed, I just woke up and grabbed these, rumpled, off the floor kind of way. And they look good.

I received the 2.0 Men’s Athletic Fit in Newmoon Blue, the darker of the blueish options, and they go well with my wardrobe which mostly consists of tank tops at the moment. Because summer.

When I can get away with it, I wear these all day, from town to crag and back again.

The 2.0s come in two sizes: Slim and Athletic fit.

Slim on the left, Athletic on the right. Original photos taken from boulderdenim.com


The Athletic cut provides a slightly roomier leg circumference, but still maintains a thinner, tapered look common these days.

BD recommends sizing down one to two inches from your normal waist measurement. I got a 29″ (normally a 30″ or 31″) and they fit perfectly, resting at the top of my hip bones. The inseam comes standard at 32″.

The original Kickstarter video claims the fabric has “a 92% stretch retainment, compared to an industry average of just 60%.” I’m curious if the waist will bag out over time, as it is quite stretchy.

One minor complaint is about the hidden zippered pocket (which sits inside the front left pocket). The extra fabric doesn’t lay completely flat–given the additional material and bartack–which was noticeable in an, oh this is a little niggly here isn’t it? manner. The zipper also feels a bit stiff as it pressed on the crease where my thigh inserts at the pelvis (the area of the pectineus muscle and adductor brevis; look it up if you feel inclined). I feel a trifle like the Princess and the Pea with this fussing, but maybe it’s just flat pockets or bust for me.

The jeans out in the wild. Photo source: @smellybagofdirt


Durability

So far so good. Though this will take time to really tell.

One downside of the stretch is that the jeans sometimes snag on sharp rock, such as when knee barring. After a climb at Rumney where my thigh scraped against the schist, a thread was pulled out from my quad area. I snipped it off, no big deal.

The fabric is about as thick as found on Prana Brions, though more breathable and with a more attractive cut.



Uses

All climbing, though especially bouldering.

Bouldering because they can keep your legs from getting torn up. Way back when two months ago, my ankles, shins and knees were ivy draped in scrapes and scratches because I would wear shorts while climbing. The leg feature of the pants has helped bring the number of dings and dents down dramatically.

When the weather cools, these will make excellent travel pants because they don’t seem to carry stink (unlike my synthetic pants) and they have stain resistance. Sometimes I drink and sometimes I spill, but that’s been no my problem at all in these. 

Hardly a scratch to be found.


Features

The following is pulled from the Boulder Denim website:

  • Proprietary 360° EDS technology (extreme diagonal stretch)
  • Memory-Shape Denim
  • Trap Pocket (hidden zipper pocket)
  • No-Gap Waistband
  • Vegan-Approved
  • Stain/Water Resistant
  • Reinforced stitching
  • More durable
  • Ethically-made
  • Pre-Shrunk



Recommended?

Yes. They are a bit pricy (MSRP is $109), but if you are investing in a functional, multi-use pair of pants that you only have to wash every so often, it’s hard to go wrong here.

Note: If you’re an American Alpine Club member you get 15% off. Also, BD will give you a 5% off coupon for signing up for their email list.

To learn more about the company or to order your own pair, visit boulderdenim.com.

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