13 Best Ski Pants in 2022

Testing of ski pants on snow

See all pictures

​When you’re rounding out your layering system, it pays to give some extra attention to your ski pants. No one wants to have a wet ski chair leak through your shell, to sweat through your heavy non-breathable pants on a spring day.

There are waist-high ski pants and overall-style ski bibs to look out for, both with their own appeal.

We’ve done the work for you, and assembled this list of our favorite picks from the 2021 season.

The Top 10 Ski Pants in 2022

All the Ski Pants We've tested

patagonia-powder-bowl-ski-pants-featured
Read full review

Sustainable production is on the high rise, which has caused many companies to reevaluate their approach to developing pieces of apparel. Patagonia, perhaps, is one of the greatest examples of a company that took the issue seriously and implemented recyclable materials into the production of its sports apparel. The Powder Bowl snow pants incorporate a GORE-TEX infused 2-layer fabric that has excellent windproof, waterproof and breathability ratings. With a Durable Water Repellent coating on the outer layer, there is no chance for snow to come any close to the skin. For your safety when snowboarding or skiing in the mountains, this model is equipped with a reflective RECCO detail. It works as a warning system for occasions like an avalanche when the speed of the rescue time has to be quick. If you are into backcountry skiing, it is crucial to have either a jacket or pants with a RECCO reflector that takes your safety to the next level.

Specs & Features

  • Material: 150-denier recycled polyester with DWR finish with Polyester taffeta
  • Insulation: No
  • Waterproofing type: 2-layer GORE-TEX waterproof and breathable laminate
  • Weight: 1 lb. 9.9 oz.
  • Recommended use: skiing, snowboarding, snow sports

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.9

Reasons to buy:

  • check-mark
    The DWR coating helps in keeping the moisture away from the pants throughout the entire day out in the snow
  • check-mark
    The mesh-lined vents on the thighs allow for the temperature regulation
  • check-mark
    The built-in webbing loop enables you to hook the pants to the jacket’s powder skirt

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markNo insulation
Read full review

Where to buy:

patagonia-powder-bowl-ski-pants.jpg

Patagonia Powder Bowl Pants

Capable Technical Shell

outdoor-research-carbide-ski-bibs-featured
Read full review

The Carbide pants from Outdoor Research are another 3L hardshell bib that can take you anywhere you need to go when paired with a solid layering system. Aside from being another contender for our favorite dedicated touring bib, the Carbide Pants have a great fit and a few unique features that make them an easy choice for looking to optimize comfort and climbing capabilities.

The Carbide Bibs are more akin to a technical layer than a pair of snow pants. They’re not that warm when worn alone, but do a great job of keeping water out, and when paired with a dialed layering system you can trust them in the worst of conditions.

Outdoor Research reached out to Arcade for the webbing suspender straps. The result is a low-profile nonintrusive fit that retains its elasticity over time. As a whole the bib errs on the side of the sleek and slimmer fit that it seems things are trending back towards.

The right side of the bib extends from the top of the chest all the way down to the knee, so it’s easy to get on and off should the need arise. They also feature a two side pockets, a chest pocket, and a dedicated beacon pocket with a clip. These should be considered if you want a perfect shell to round out your cold weather layering setup.

Specs & Features

  • Full side zip that extends to the knee to put it on
  • Fully taped seams
  • Dedicated beacon pocket
  • Integrated power cuff slot on the gaiter

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.7

Reasons to buy:

  • check-mark
    Low profile fit on a sleek pair of bibs
  • check-mark
    Non Intrusive suspender straps that are the best in the business
  • check-mark
    Ample pockets with a dedicated beacon pocket

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markNot warm enough to be worn on their own in most cases
  • check-markA little more restrictive than other touring bibs in the stride
Read full review

Where to buy:

outdoor-research-carbide-ski-bibs-display.jpg

Outdoor Research Carbide Ski Bibs

outdoor-research-skyward-ii-ski-pants-featured
Read full review

There’s a lot in an inspiring name like the Skyward. The Skyward II is a versatile and very weatherproof pair of pants perfect for extended tours or days at the resort. Their proprietary shell technology offers top of the line weatherproofing, excellent breathability, and a little bit of stretch, to boot.

The Skyward II is a well-rounded touring pant, suitable for use in all but the worst weather conditions. It’s not as wind resistant when compared to some of heavier or Gore-Tex options like the Arc’teryx Sabre AR. In unrelenting wind, you might find yourself getting cold, but it retains it’s weatherproof qualities nonetheless, it does well enough for most people’s tastes.

They excel in the breathability category. Other pants will have bigger vents, or have more in total. But they have a hard time matching the Skyward II in terms of the breathability. Their proprietary Ascent Shell is more permeable than the rest, making it a great option for skiing hard in the spring or climbing in any conditions. They also have one the better functioning beacon pockets in the market.

Specs & Features

  • 3L Ascent Shell
  • 4 pockets
  • Fully taped seams
  • Outer thigh vents
  • Beacon pocket on the hip

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.6

Reasons to buy:

  • check-mark
    As far as pants that are focused specifically on being a resort crossover, they’re about the best around
  • check-mark
    Comfortable without being waterproof
  • check-mark
    Top in class breathability

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markThigh pockets are disappointing volume wise
  • check-markDon’t work well in high winds
Read full review

Where to buy:

outdoor-research-skyward-ii-ski-pants-display.jpg

Outdoor Research Skyward II

Best Wet Weather Bibs

flylow-baker-bibs-featured
Read full review

The Baker Bibs are an uncompromising outer layer that looks more at home on the farm than the slopes. Their robust construction makes them the best upgrade for skiers like me whose previous gear has been pieced back together with dental floss stitching. They’re also the go-to powder choice for a lot of steep and deep freeride skiers.

There’s no secret to success, just a lot of fabric and some solid ergonomics. Their 3L weave feels like a pair of heavy work pants rather than the crunchy material like most hardshell ski pants. The knees and the cuffs are further reinforced with Cordura fabric.

The fit is looser around the legs than much of the competition, and don’t restrict your gait at all. They also come in a few extra sizes. Tall skiers finally have a bib that won’t ride up like a pair of high-waters.

The only drawback of its robustness is a hit on breathability. Flylow compensates by adding nearly leg-length zippers on both the inside and outside of the pants. It’s not the most optimized option for the backcountry but isn’t a terrible option for aggressive resort skiers who occasionally head off-piste.

Specs & Features

  • 3 Layer Oxford Fabric
  • 20k/20k waterproofing and breathability
  • 6 total pockets
  • Fully Taped Seams
  • Inner and outer thigh vents

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.5

Reasons to buy:

  • check-mark
    Some of the best built bibs in the business
  • check-mark
    Huge vents on both sides of the thigh
  • check-mark
    Sizes for tall skiers
  • check-mark
    Exceptional powder performance

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markToo thick to be very breathable
  • check-markFits too snugly around the chest for some
  • check-markIf you don’t like baggy pants, these aren’t for you
Read full review

Where to buy:

flylow-baker-bibs-display.jpg

Flylow Baker Bibs

Best for Daily Use

fly-low-firebird-ski-bibs-featured
Read full review

If the Baker Bib interested you, but you don’t want to commit to something with that weight or price level, the Firebird is a lighter and a little more practical option than that very overbuilt model. They’re still a 3L Intuitive stretch shell capable of handling any condition you throw yourself into, you just have to be a little more careful with your edges than you would with the Baker bibs.

While they’re not specifically built for touring, they are a reasonable choice for a lightweight uphill kit. The back has a jersey knit to help keep you cool, and the thinner material used for the shell gives you a taste of breathability that you don’t see out of other hard-working pants. In a similar manner, they have a wide side zip to make them a little easier to get on, or give you a looser fit if you don’t need to worry about powder.

Between the tailored knee box for movement, and ample pocket space for all the extra gear and snacks, the Firebird is a safe bet for a daily driver, the resort and occasional trip to the backcountry.

The biggest issue that we see with the Firebirds is the fit. Despite having the entry side zip, some people are going to have trouble fitting into the slim torso. There’s also complaints of the legs being a little too long and baggy, but both of these aspects speak to my body type.

Specs & Features

  • 3L Intuitive Fabric
  • Fully Seam Taped
  • Long exterior zip
  • Articulated knee box
  • 6 waterproofed pockets

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.5

Reasons to buy:

  • check-mark
    Lighter weight alternative to the Baker bibs
  • check-mark
    More breathable than other burly bibs
  • check-mark
    Solid leg stretch

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markThe fit is difficult to get right unless your long and thin
  • check-markNot as solidly built as a lot of other heavy hitter options
Read full review

Where to buy:

fly-low-firebird-ski-bibs-display.jpg

FlyLow Firebird Ski Bibs

virtika-signature-ski-pants-with-detachable-bib-featured
Read full review

Virtika is the product of career skiers’ frustration with the price and the performance of consumer-level outerwear. From an outside perspective, Virtika’s gear has a flashy and freeride look, with one of the most creative color and pattern palettes in the industry. But Virtika pants are packed with features that could only be devised by those who spend more time on the slopes than anyone else.

Overall their construction is sound. It’s up to par with anything you’d expect from a pair of 3L pants, but Virtika also throws in a little fleece insulation and a waterproof outer shell as a means to increase their resilience without adding a ton more fabric.

They’ve also double stitched high-risk zones to keep you from blowing out the legs. In addition to this, the fabric around the legs is thick enough to prevent critical tears.With a whopping 8 zippered pockets and a removable bib, the Virtika signature pants are already at the front of the pack when it comes to versatility.

Their pockets have magnetic closures to keep snow off of the seams, and the zippers along the cuff vents can be locked in place simply by flipping the pulltab flat against the tack, so you can adjust for your boot fit. True to their freeski roots, the fit is relaxed and is great for tall skiers or those who favor the loose style. As a whole, they’re a great independent manufacturer and provide a solid alternative to the industry mainstays. You can find their products directly on their website.

Specs & Features

  • 3L Fabric with a weatherproof shell
  • Fully taped seams
  • Interior meshed zippered vents
  • Locking zippered cuffs
  • 7 Zippered pockets

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.3

Reasons to buy:

  • check-mark
    Detachable bib
  • check-mark
    Best patterns out of all the competition
  • check-mark
    Products are manufactured in limited runs
  • check-mark
    Huge amount of pockets
  • check-mark
    Has as many features as any other product on the market

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markYou’re locked into the baggy freeski look, which is a deal breaker for a lot of skiers
  • check-markThe patterns are so wild that they can come off as gregarious
Read full review

Where to buy:

virtika-signature-ski-pants-display.jpg

Virtika Signature with Detachable Bib

arcteryx-sabre-ar-ski-pants-featured
Read full review

Skiers of the water-laden maritime snowpack of British Columbia are no strangers to going out on days just to spite the weather. The Arc’Teryx Sabres AR are also built for ascending the big technical lines of the Canadian Rockies. The Sabre AR is a highly celebrated luxury option for frontside and backside skiers alike. Simply put, they’re the best performing pair of pants on the market, but they come at a price

They’re a sleek, low profile pair of pants, that look good without inhibiting a full stride. The 3L Gore-Tex shell has a little stretch in it as well. The meshless ventilation system is generously large, and dumps heat nearly as well as double sided vents like the Baker.

The highlight by far is the plush liner, which is comfortable enough to leave the baselayer at home on warm days.

The only design flaws of the Sabre AR is it’s limited pocket space, and an awkward cut for some body types. But by far the biggest drawback of the Sabre AR is the price. Still, if you want the highest quality product available for frontside and backside skiing, and if the fit is right for you, there’s no beating the Sabre AR.

Specs & Features

  • 3 Layer Gore-Tex shell
  • 2 Pockets
  • Fully taped seams
  • Meshless outer thigh vents

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.2

Reasons to buy:

  • check-mark
    Highest quality pants you can buy
  • check-mark
    Super comfortable fleece liner
  • check-mark
    Look great and allow a full range of motion

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markLimited pocket space
  • check-markCan have a weird cut depending on your body type
Read full review

Where to buy:

arcteryx-sabre-ar-ski-pants-display.jpg

Arc’Teryx Sabre AR Ski Pants

Affordable Resort Bib

north-face-freedom-ski-bibs-featured
Read full review

Specialization and price inflation go hand in hand. If you need a utilitarian piece of gear, something that works without too much optimization, the North Face Freedom is this. It’s not made for the big backcountry days or sidecountry hikes, but is an affordable option good for a couple of seasons skiing the resort.

Call it a fault or a feature, the North Face built the Freedom with mesh gaiters that allow for continuous air flow through the zippered vents on the inner thigh. iGood resort pants at a good price. It’s an economical way to provide more airflow and keep these pared-down pants from getting too hot and muggy, even in warm conditions. They’re a little colder than the rest of the pants you’ll see in the competition.

What they make up for in practicality they lack in the fine-detail finishing touches that you’d get from top quality contenders. The seams aren’t sealed, and the pockets have a tendency to leak through into the interior liner. They’re a little too restrictive, not anything that you can take dancing.

But in terms of performance alpine ski pants the North Face Freedom checks all of the requisite boxes to be avoided in places with consistently wet weather.

Specs & Features

  • 2L Nylon shell
  • 3 pockets, (2 zippered, 1 velcro cargo)
  • Partially taped seams
  • Zippered thigh vents and ”Chimney” gaiter vent system

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.2

Reasons to buy:

  • check-mark
    Among the most affordable snow pants of a performance quality suitable for heavy skiing.
  • check-mark
    Manages to have a couple of features despite the low cost

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markChimney venting system tends to be too cold in bad weather
  • check-markThe fit can feel a little restrictive
  • check-markDoesn’t hold up well in wet weather without significant post-factory adjustments
Read full review

Where to buy:

north-face-freedom-ski-bib-display.jpg

North Face Freedom Bibs

Best Hybrid Touring Bib

armada-delway-gore-tex-ski-bibs-featured
Read full review

Armada is another one of those big early arrivals to the Freeride scene, and have since garnered a reputation for products that can play hard. Their Delway Gore-Tex pants are an alternative to the Baker that holds up under scrutiny much more when viewed in terms of backcountry performance. If you need a hard-working bib that goes uphill as well as it goes down, the Delway is not to be ignored.

The Delway has a little lower of a rise than other options. Keeping with the ethos of blending freeride and touring options and they run the line between the slimmer style of snow pants and the classic baggy Freeride look.Their built to pair with a suitable technical shell, and have a dependable compatibility system with Armada brand jackets, more than capable of keeping the now out of your pant.

It’s not the warmest piece of gear on its own, but with a proper layering system the Delway can take you pretty much anywhere. Gore-Tex is an industry favorite for not only its breathability, but it’s ability to protect from biting winds and repel water.

The cuff of the Delway bibs are reinforced all the way around, which is a big difference compared to most snow pants. Combined with a 4-way stretch and interior and exterior vents, it has all the features you could need for a light and fast charge uphill.

Specs & Features

  • 3L Gore-Tex shell
  • Meshless leg vents
  • Waterproofed thigh pockets
  • Completely seam sealed
  • Cuff reinforcement

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4

Reasons to buy:

  • check-mark
    Lightweight and breathable bib
  • check-mark
    One of the most rugged uphill bibs in production
  • check-mark
    Cuff reinforcement is exactly what you want for touring
  • check-mark
    Gore-Tex has a great reputation for performance in bad weather

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markIsn’t as warm as thicker bibs
  • check-markMeshless design can let snow in if you’re not careful
Read full review

Where to buy:

armada-delway-gore-tex-3l-ski-bib-display.jpg

Armada Delway Gore-Tex 3L Ski Bib

Best Lightweight Bib

strafe-nomad-bib-featured
Read full review

The ski industry as a whole, not just the textile elements of it, is clearly a pretty flooded market place with more options than one person could reasonably be expected to decide between. Strafe’s classic Nomad bib fills a niche for those who miss the baggy, freestyle inspired baroque outerwear for touring the backcountry. They bring that style to a more utilitarian piece of equipment that can find its home on or off piste.

The Nomad’s shell is made of a proprietary polyester blend and is a breathable alternative to materials like Gore-Tex that are commonly used in shells. They also feature a lot more stretch than similar heavily waterproof pants of this looser style, which have typically relied on excess material to make them more practical for moving around. This breathable material is backed up by long-zipping interior and exterior vents, though their mesh lining is prone to snagging and leaves something to be desired.

At first glance, it seems a little bit light on features to justify the price. But the features that it does have are dependable and useful enough for pretty much any adventure.

The bib is removable to suit your daily preferences, and they have the very slick magnet closure overtop of their zippered pockets. While their DValpine material isn’t as totally bombproof as Goretex, this can be easily overlooked for their airy qualities.

They’re a great slim, touring bib for any backcountry explorer who wants a solution for sweating out their shells.

Specs & Features

  • 3L fabric with DWR waterproofing on the outside
  • Front zip to make it easier to get on
  • Meshed interior and exterior thigh vents
  • Cordura guards on the hems and the cuffs for durability
  • Four total pockets

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4

Reasons to buy:

  • check-mark
    Great piece of technical gear for dedicated backcountry explorers
  • check-mark
    The ventilation mesh is way less prone to snagging than in other models
  • check-mark
    Flexible and comfortable with a relaxed fit

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markThe cuffs are prone to getting cut up if you’re not careful
Read full review

Where to buy:

strafe-nomad-bibs-display.jpg

Strafe Nomad Bib

686-glcr-hydrastash-quantum-thermagraph-ski-bibs-featured
Read full review

In a unique approach to reducing the number of disposable water bottles seen on-mountain, 686’s Hydrastash series is a line of ski goods with integrated hydration systems. Their Quantum Thermagraph Bib is that technology applied to a pair of touring bibs that hold up as well as any other product on this list. You see a ton of single use plastic water bottles at resorts, and while there’s no excuse for not bringing your own, now there’s one less reason.

Bringing your water-bladder backpack out for a day on the resort or inside of your touring pack is a great idea in theory. But unfortunately it takes very little time for the small amount of water in your hose to freeze solid, leaving you thirsty and frustrated with the weight of your pack.

It has the additional benefit of keeping weight centered around your body is a huge step up from a performance aspect. There’s also a hydrastash jacket and a pair of pants, but the bibs have the benefit that they can be worn without a jacket when you get too warm while skiing.

The Quantum Thermagraph Bib is packed with the additional features that you’d expect from a quality bib. It’s strategically insulated to add a little thermal fortitude considering you’re carrying around water. Their fabric also has some stretch so you can still maintain a full stride in them. It might just be my layering preferences but the Hydrastash is my favorite solution to my poor backcountry hydration habits.

Specs & Features

  • 2L Infidry 2-way stretch fabric shell
  • Strategic Thermaloft insulation
  • Bib pocket and dedicated beacon pocket
  • Hydrastash Hydration system
  • Inner leg vent system

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

3.8

Reasons to buy:

  • check-mark
    Unique solution to the hydration system problem in the backcountry
  • check-mark
    Bibs are great for working hard in deep powder
  • check-mark
    Insulation around the core to keep you warm

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markThey can start to feel really warm, and you don’t always want to have to take off your jacket to cool off
  • check-markHaving a built in hydration system makes them heavy
Read full review

Where to buy:

686-glcr-hydrastash-quantum-thermagraph-ski-bib-display.jpg

686 GLCR Hydrastash Quantum Thermagraph Ski Bib

wildhorn-bowman-mens-ski-pants-featured
Read full review

The Bowman Snow Pants are a pair best suited for very cold, dry days. The producer, Wildhorn Outfitters, belongs to a new generation of adventure brands that market their affordable and serviceable products toward burgeoning enthusiasts on a budget

Alongside brands like Glade and Outdoor Master, we’ve had a chance to compare some of these up-and-comers to their name brand counterparts and found that while some exceed our quality expectations, others leave us wanting more.

Last winter we took a closer look at Wildhorn Outfitters Dover Ski Jacket and came away impressed. This season we’ll be doing a similar investigation into their cold weather, Bowmans Snow Pants to see if their outerwear lineup is as consistent as we hope.

Specs & Features

  • 2L Polyester Stretch Build
  • 12k waterproofing with DWR finish
  • 10k breathability with additional zip ventilation
  • Zippered boot cuff and gaiter
  • Critically taped seams

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

3.8

Reasons to buy:

  • check-mark
    Warm, tough, and affordable build that will serve anyone on a destination ski trip in good conditions
  • check-mark
    Features like the belt and adjustable cuffs have a lot of utility value when you’re not sure what the day might bring

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markTheir waterproofing precautions leave something to be desired in wetter weather
  • check-markBreathability could be better
Read full review

Where to buy:

wildhorn-bowman-snow-pants-product-picture.jpg

Wildhorn Bowman Mens

picture-organic-yakoumo-ski-bibs-featured
Read full review

The Yakumo Bibs from Picture Organic are a technical ski bib also manufactured with a high degree of consciousness for their environmental impact. More than half of the polyester is sourced from recycled materials. It’s a solid technical layer that has a removable bib, and adjustable suspender straps that allow for a wide array of fit styles.

The Yakoumo are a good option, but not a great one. For all but the wettest days on the resort they should be more than enough to keep you warm with a good layering system. But for more technical endeavors where you need to be able to lean on your gear a little more heavily. In terms of features, they have drawstrings in each of the pockets that let you adjust the height of the cuffs without rolling them up.

Between the removable bib and the drawstring cuff adjustment, the Yakoumo Bibs have some interesting features that a lot of big names in the industry aren’t featuring in their flagship models.

But the overall quality is a little bit lacking, maybe it’s just the drawback of including that much recycled material and using alternative waterproofing. But if those aspects are important to you, the Yakoumo are a product that will hold up if you don’t mind putting in the work afterwards to keep it water resistant.

Specs & Features

  • 2L recycled polyester fabric
  • Zippered inner thigh vents
  • Huge cargo pockets for storing larger items
  • Partially taped seams
  • Lycra stretch siding on the bibs

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

3.7

Reasons to buy:

  • check-mark
    Huge commitment to sustainability with a large amount of recycled material
  • check-mark
    Big cargo pockets are great for storing extra face layers
  • check-mark
    Length adjustment from the pockets is a great unique feature

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markThe integrity of the waterproofing definitely takes a hit from the recycled materials
  • check-markPartially taped seams leave something to be desired
Read full review

Where to buy:

picture-organic-yakuomo-ski-bibs-display.jpg

Picture Organic Yakoumo Ski Bibs

Related Reviews

GUIDE TO SKI PANTS

 

This ski pant guide–including bibs too–will go through the points mentioned above to provide a better understanding of what’s needed for the different conditions on different hills. Check out the different styles, materials and features that go into any pair of ski pants.

Pants vs Bibs

Choosing pants versus bibs is a stylistic choice, and you’ll get a different opinion depending on who you ask and what their preferences are. But if you ask my opinion, bibs are objectively the better choice. But here are some of the differences so you can form your own opinion.

If you’re a “fast and loose” type of skier, or are anticipating needing to quickly and frequently remove your layers for some reason, then the standard pant design might be the way to go. There’s a ton of variation among the designs, and by nature they’re going to be more affordable than directly comparable bib styles.

Bibs are better than pants firstly because they look cooler. Everyone knows the first rule of skiing “look good, feel good, ski good.” They also typically offer a wider degree of ventilation, because you can unzip the legs to a much greater degree. They’re a good way to prevent snow and from ending up down your back if you sit down or take a fall.

There are also some options like the Yakoumo Ski Bibs or the Virtika ski pants have the option to remove the bib. These detachables can give you both ski pant and ski bib!

Finally, bibs oftentimes come with a kangaroo pocket, which is my favorite place to keep things I need to access quickly while on the resort or in the backcountry.

Hardshell vs Softshell

The main determinant for the kind of ski pants you’re going to want is the type of skiing you’ll want to be doing. But it’s not as straightforward as wanting hardshell pants for resort skiing and softshell for touring. As with many aspects of the ski industry and the outdoor industry at large, things operate on a sliding scale.

Hardshell options are going to be the most resistant to weather, be it precipitation or wind. An insulated hardshell pair of pants will be the warmest option there is, and is great for long days on the resort in the dead of winter. Uninsulated hardshells make great technical layers, and are more versatile because you can choose how aggressively you want to layer.

Softshell pants are closest to the old stretchy models that you’ll see in 80s ski movies, much improved. Fortunately, more than just their looks have changed. Softshell pants are either a stretchy luxury resort item or a technical layer for backcountry trips where you’re sure you won’t get rained on. They have the edge on hardshell models for increased breathability and flexibility.

Insulated Vs Shells

The most critical decision points in your search for the best pair of ski pants is whether or not you want them to be insulated. Given that skiing is a typically “cold-weather” activity, it makes sense that you’d want the warmest possible option right?

But it’s not as simple as that. Just because your pants aren’t insulated doesn’t mean you’ll be any colder. Conversely, sometimes overheating in your ski gear can lead to dehydration and hypothermia after you sweat through your base layers.

Features

RECCO Reflector

You wouldn’t typically think of your pants as something that could save your life. Nonetheless RECCO technology is quickly becoming a standard feature within high-end sporting equipment for its ability to help rescuers find a lost or buried person. RECCO transceivers are passive strips that reflect signals directionally and allow people to zero in on your specific location

RECCO transceivers aren’t a substitute for your traditional avalanche beacon, but they are a nice additional resource and layer of protection for resort and backcountry skiers alike. For resort skiers, particularly if your resort has gate accessed extreme terrain these RECCO reflectors are easy passive insurance. I’ve been caught in an inbounds slide before, and in the Northwest there are tree wells and plenty of hazards to be had.

Hydration System

Skiing with a hydration pack in cold weather is a mistake that you’ll only need to make once. After your hose freezes and you realize that you’ve been lugging around extra water weight that you can’t even drink, you’ll quickly make the switch to water bottles.

Some bibs and jackets are now coming with integrated water bladders, or at least are compatible with your own. Keeping the water, and more importantly the hose, close to your core prevents freezing and means you won’t have to stop and take your water bottle out of your backpack.

Ventilation System

As terrible as it is to be cold when you’re skiing, overheating is somehow worse. No one wants to feel suffocated by their gear, and removing layers is a tedious and prolonged affair, and you’ll more likely than not have to put them back on as soon as you get on the chairlift or a cloud passes overhead.

Having a dialed ventilation system is key for any skier. Most snow pants will at least come with a zippered and meshed inner thigh, but bibs and technical shells in particular will typically have more aggressive options. With some models, you can basically have your entire leg exposed in a few seconds, and zipped back up again just as quickly.

Pockets, (i.e. beacon pocket)

Pockets are a great example of “more is more”. Whether you’re lugging around an extra buff, thinner gloves, crushed cans, or the ever trusty pocket sandwich- dependable zippered pockets are only going to aid you in the long term.

Backcountry-minded pants will oftentimes feature a dedicated beacon pocket, which–like many alternative takes on touring–is a polarizing topic. If the idea of putting your beacon in anything but a dedicated chest harness sounds blasphemous, you can always use the tether in the beacon pocket as an added measure of security for your skis.

If you already have ski pants or you just bought one, leave a comment in the comment section below and share your experience with it.

FAQ

Frequently asked questions

What are the best ski pants?

The best ski pants will be the pair that do what’s needed in the particular weather and for the conditions of the ski hill. For resort skiing the best ski pants are:

  • Arc’Teryx Sabre AR Ski Pants
  • Outdoor Research Skyward II Ski Pants
  • Patagonia Powder Bowl Ski Pants
  • North Face Freedom Bibs

For off-piste and backcountry, the best ski pants are:

  • Flylow Baker Bibs
  • Fly Low Firebird Ski Bibs
  • Strafe Nomad Ski Bibs
  • Armada Delway Gore-Tex 3L Ski Pants
How to Layer Underneath my Ski Pants?

Figuring out what to wear underneath your ski pants in large part depends on what kind of pants you have and what the weather looks like. Insulated ski pants (eg. Patagonia Powder Bowl Pants) are going to retain your body heat much better than shells (eg. North Face Freedom) will, but offer less versatility when springtime comes around. If you only wear your technical outer layer in the dead of winter, chances are you’re going to get cold pretty quickly.

The basics of layering are pretty simple. You want a base layer that primarily acts as a way to divert moisture away from your body, a midlayer that will keep you warm, and an outer layer that acts as a barrier between you and the wind and moisture you’re certain to eventually encounter in your endeavors.

At the very least, you should probably be wearing a base layer to protect your ski pants from getting too funky from sweat. I’ve worn only basketball shorts under my shell before, and while it feels strangely liberating, my pants definitely did not smell great afterwards. Your midlayer choice is going to depend largely on your outer layer and what the weather’s doing. But no matter what style you opt for, you can be certain that the answer is never jeans.

How do I keep your ski pants waterproof?

When you buy a piece of gear like the technical shells listed in this guide, you’re investing more than just your money, you’re also investing a few additional hours of maintenance a couple of times each season. No matter how nice your pants are, eventually you’ll notice water sneaking in some day.

This can be easily remedied by some spray-on or washable weatherproofing. Nickwax is easily one of the industry favorites. It’s great because all you need to do is wash your gear with the solution and you should have adequate waterproofing for most weather. Short of this, I personally recommend a spray on variation of waterproofing. It lets you focus on particular seams and trouble areas, rather than just applying a uniform coat of protection over the whole garment.

How to wash your ski pants?

Surprisingly, washing your ski pants and or jacket isn’t as complicated as you might initially think. Most of the actual cleaning of your ski pants can be done on a spot by spot basis throughout the season, and provided you have a good layering system to protect your gear, you shouldn’t need to commit to a full wash more than once or twice a season.

When the time eventually does come around for you to give your gear the big scrub, we first recommend taking a look at the washing instructions included on the tag of the garment. You’ll want to use a gentle soap, there are specific brands out there for outdoor gear but so long as you’re not bleaching it or pouring in fabric softener generally you should be alright.

I always recommend air drying your ski gear, the tumble cycle of a dryer tends to be a little rough on the mechanical components. Afterwards, you have a great opportunity to re-waterproof your gear while it’s clean.

How to wear your ski pants?

Ski gear can feel suffocating and overwhelming, especially when you aren’t entirely sure how your kit is supposed to fit together. At the risk of stating the obvious, your ski pants should always be the outermost thing on your body, they’re the barrier between you and the elements. Keep this in mind and it will help you figure out how they should be worn.

One of the cryptic features is the gatier. These are designed to fit overtop of your boots and create a snow-proof seal between you and the environment. Take care to keep your gaiters outside of your boot, because tucking them in will quickly lead to discomfort.

Related Reviews

On this page

Comments

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
2 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments