The Prana Axiom Jean is comfortable, durable, and looks good. It is the best-selling jean for Prana and has the stamp of approval from Prana ambassador Chris Sharma, who says: "I'm always wearing the Axiom Jean. It is a great durable pant that is really comfortable to climb in and I can go straight from the crag to dinner at a restaurant." Obviously Chris' is a biased perspective, but we tend to agree with him here.
Weight and Materials
The fabric on the Axiom jean is a blend of 98% cotton and 2% Spandex, which allows for some stretch. The Axiom jean seems to have struck the balance just right between cotton and spandex, with the jean still having the appearance of casual jeans, but with enough stretch to allow for full range of movement. The material is definitely not waterproof, so definitely don't expect much in that respect, but the it does allow for a significantly faster drying time and greater breathability that your typical jean. The extra thickness of the blended material also comes in handy when your knees and legs are exposed to rough granite. The jean, after many days at the office and at the crag, shows no real signs of wear and tear.
The general cut of the pant is slightly relaxed through the hips and thighs with a slight widening at the cuff (boot cut style). The inseam length seems to be accurate. The fit is very comfortable, and was probably the pant I chose to wear the most around town.
The Axiom Jean is definitely the most fashionable pant that we tested. Brush off the chalk and head to the barbecue!
Pockets and Features
The features on this pant are divided between climbing focused and fashion focused. On the climbing side is the gusseted crotch, which is what differentiates this pant from a whole category of jeans and casual wear. This feature, along with the substantial stretch in the fabric, means that the pant will never hold you back from the highest high step or the wildest heel hook. The fashion-focused features include stylized rivets on the pockets, zig -zag stitching on the outer thigh, and faux-leather trim on both the back pocket and the stash pocket. The pockets (2 front, 2 rear) are all large, functional, and well placed, with the exception of the mini stow pocket that is a fashion concession. None of the fashion additions take away from the overall function of the pant.
The 98% cotton blend is not appropriate for when you might encounter inclement weather; these pants will become heavy and bulky when wet. They are also not going to ventilate as well as a thinner synthetic pant so they are less than ideal for long approaches in warm climates.
In terms of the durability, I was disappointed to see that after only a few months of usage, some of the stitching starting coming undone in two different locations, on the outside side seam on the left leg (just below the "contrast zig zag stitch"), and on the inside seam on the right leg, just above the hemline. However, I think this is an exception rather than the rule, and Prana agreed without hesitation to replace them when I spoke with their customer service department.
The fit at the waist is large. One tester normally wears a size 33 waist, and with the size 32 we needed to wear a belt. Another tester who normally wears a size 32 ordered the size 32 and it was huge on him, but the size 30 was way too tight. They run about one size large at the waist and you still may need a belt.
Max Neale and the Prana Axiom jean in action at Sunny and Steep wall, Red Rocks, Nevada.
For the amount of time you'll almost certainly spend in this pant, we think the $85 price tag is fairly reasonable. In comparison to stretch jeans that you can buy from Target or Costco at half the price, $85 does seem steep, but you are getting a well-designed pant with an inseam gusset and fit that is tried and true for climbers. We think it's worth paying the difference.
The Axiom comes in both Antique Stone Wash or Dark Wash. It comes in even sizes from 28 to 38, as well as size 33. If you get the chance to try this pant on, do so, or buy from a retailer that allows easy returns since sizing is a bit tricky.