Why Doesn’t Anyone Climb in Knickers Anymore?

rohan super striders

The latest post in our from the blogs series features a very interesting question from Rock and Ice – The Climbers Magazine  devoted to rock and ice climbing and mountaineering. It was first published in 1985 in Boulder, Colorado USA.

Why Doesn’t Anyone Climb in Knickers Anymore?

(For knickers read breeches)

“Their loose fit provides more freedom of movement than conventional trousers, which can bind at the knee or groin during critical movements. Because knickers are short, they minimize the chance you’ll get a pant cuff snagged by a crampon point, and slide to your death, arms outstretched as if to beseech The Maker for mercy—and knowing there will be none.

Most critically, knickers let you casually see your feet when you are rock climbing…” read more

This is a really interesting question for Rohan who’s first eight years, way back in the early 1970’s, was all about making breeches. Striders, Super Striders, Salopettes, Super Salopettes, Black Striders, Nemises, Splashers and Yes Knickers all finished just below the knee.  All are now a treasured part of Rohan Heritage.

Outdoor world moved from breeches to trousers probably about the time performance fabrics could offer freedom of movement, a high degree of wind proofing, quick drying and durability the hall mark of any good outdoor leg wear. Pushed along by the fact outdoor trousers became multi-pursuit, something breeches could never be. But it’s true you can’t see you feet when climbing when you are wearing most high performance trousers. But it’s my guess that does not appear high on the purchasing radar now. Tell me if I am wrong.

Rock and Ice concludes…

“I suspect that people don’t wear knickers because they can’t find them—most clothiers don’t rack knickers in the logical place, alongside full-length pants. Instead, you must seek them in the beret and scarf section. Don’t forget the accessory belt…” read more

Any thought’s on this one?

Anyone like to see (let’s call them breeches) back on the shelves?

Rohan Heritage


  1. Mark Stephens says:

    I’ve always been a fan of breeches for winter activities. Without the lower leg portion they don’t compete for space with the knee length socks and gaiters, and once you remove the aforementioned at the end of the day you are not left with soggy lower trouser leg as you try to get warm in a bothy. Socks are easily changed and gaiters hung up to drip away the worst of the wet. Temperature regulation is easier to, when the sun comes out take off and the snow (or frozen mud) is hard enough the gaiters come off and the socks rolled down.

    My first pair of breeches were made by Rohan and were a variant of Hot Bags (Airlight fabric lined with a knitted modal with an insulating polyester wadding adhered to it (Insuflex?). The had short zips and elasticated hems at the knee, and in a burnt orange colour. I bought them off Paul Howcroft at one of the Rohan sales where often what seemed to be experimental products and short runs were sold off.

    Fantastically warm, light and comfortable in snowy Scottish highlands.After a few winters use, abrasion resistance was the relative weak point with the inside of the knee and some other contact points eventually wearing thin before tears appeared. I mean tears (rhymes with cares) and not tears (rhymes with fears) because I am very manly and would never shed a tear at a tear no matter how much I loved my Rohan breeches.

  2. Richard Winter says:

    I would certainly welcome breeches becoming available again. Some years ago Rohan offered some heritage items including breeches; I was beside myself with excitement and pre-ordered a pair. When they arrived I returned them as they had a massive design fault in that the Velcro tabs on the bottoms were not long enough so they were always loose which was useless. Very unusual for Rohan and sorry they’ve never tried them again.

  3. Samuel James says:

    I am still using my Super Striders & Salopettes
    Wouldn’t be without them both.
    Somebody offered me a good price the Salopettes
    I didn’t take it.

    • In my youth I could never afford the Rohan Super Striders & Salopettes but used examples are now available on Ebay at very keen prices. I bought a pair of each a few years ago, both in excellent condition. The total cost was less than a pair of new “technical” walking trousers and they’re the best walking legwear I’ve ever owned.

  4. John B Winterburn says:

    I would love to be able to buy breeches back on the shelves. Perhaps not the heavy tweed variety but an updated concept made with a technical fabric.

    Breeches and long socks have always been my favorite attire for hill walking and climbing.

    Come on Rohan…..lead the way

  5. Peter Clinch says:

    The last pair I used much were my original Superstriders, and I stopped using them because I bought Super Salopettes which kept my back warmer in Proper Winter conditions. By that time (early 90s?) the breech-length version was discontinued.
    But it was stretch fabrics that, at least for me, reduced the desirability of breeks. With stretch you don’t get the drag over the knee, and you can have a close cut so you can see your feet, and also have less need of gaiters and long socks (and means of keeping them up).

    I did pick up a pair of the more recent Superstrider breeks, and while there was nothing really wrong with them I just didn’t find myself pulling them out and I sold them on to someone who couldn’t find any breeks anywhere that weren’t tweed. Having them but not using them suggests I wouldn’t worry abouyt getting another pair so no great desire to see them back, but that’s thanks to Tracksters, Troggings etc. taking their place as Weapons of Choice.

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