A good pair of tights is one of the most versatile pieces of gear in any woman’s closet. They’re comfortable, flattering, completely unrestrictive, and work for a range of sports. Any time I go camping or take a trip that I know will involve a smorgasbord of outdoor activities, tights are the first item I pack.
My issue with them has always been durability. I spend a lot of time rock climbing in the spring and fall, dragging myself over granite and sandstone, and can’t even count the number of leggings I’ve ruined. So I was excited to try out Arc’teryx’s new Oriel ($89), women’s-specific bottoms made from a knit nylon-elastane fabric that’s thicker and tougher than what you’ll typically find in bottoms.
Initially, I was struck by how lightweight the Oriel is. It has the airy feeling of a tech tee, not the cottony heft or compressive fit of some other models. In addition to its stellar performance on rock, the Oriel protected my shins from cholla cacti during hot July days. The first few times I brushed against sharp branches, I held my breath and glanced down, expecting to see a giant rip. None appeared. Now, after more than four months of weekly use in the gym and on the gritty sandstone boulders near my home in Santa Fe, these bottoms hardly look worn.
Aside from the fabric, I love the power-mesh waistband, which helps wick sweat in hot weather. I would prefer a slightly higher rise in the waist—as is, the Oriel hits just at the hip, low enough that I have to tug it up before sit starts. But these tights are so comfortable that I keep grabbing them first over every other pair in my drawer.