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Whether Backcountry Skiing or Hitting Groomers

What is there to an adventure? What does one need in order to engage in a skiing adventure? Lots of wet snow? A mountain to conquer, racing down its sides on skis made for mad carving. Sending waves of cold snow into the air behind you.

The scene above is reminiscent of our best ski days, but there is something missing. The sensations of the wet weather. Cold and fluid, able to sink into the fabric of our clothes and drench us down to the bone. The beginner skiers know the pain of being underdressed.

To answer the first question posed, what is there to an adventure? Many things, but for one, it’s having the right clothes, the best snow pants. Want to go on an adventure, then you need to be prepared.

That is what the nine ski pants listed below are for. Weather resistance for the toughest days.



Best Overall

Helly Hansen

  • Manufacturer:Helly Hansen
  • fabric:Polyester

Best Budget Ski Pant

The North Face

  • Manufacturer:The North Face
  • fabric:Nylon

Best Breathable Fabric

Arc’teryx Sabre AR

  • Manufacturer:Arc’teryx
  • fabric:Nylon

Best For Versatility

Outdoor Research

  • Manufacturer:Outdoor Research
  • fabric:100% Nylon

Best Ski Bib

Flylow Gear

  • Manufacturer:Flylow
  • fabric:100% Polyester

Best Powder Guard

Patagonia Powder

  • Manufacturer:Patagonia
  • fabric:100% Recycled Polyester

Best Fit

Black Diamond Recon

  • Manufacturer:Black Diamond
  • fabric:100% Nylon

Best For Backcountry Skiing

Outdoor Research

  • Manufacturer:Outdoor Research
  • fabric:100% Nylon

Most Durable

Flylow Chemical Pants

  • Manufacturer:Flylow
  • fabric:hardshell Surface 3-layer

Heavy Duty Outdoor Gear

Norrona Lofoten

  • Manufacturer: Norrona Lofoten
  • Fabric: Synthetics

Best Bib Style Pants

Mammut Haldigrat

  • Manufacturer: Mammut
  • fabric: Nylon

Perfect For Backcountry Trips

Trew Gear TREWth

  • Manufacturer: TREWth
  • fabric: Outerwear – GORE-TEX

Best Ski Pants – Top 12 Picks

Best ski pants come in all shapes and sizes, and this is why I’ve done you the liberty of sorting out the best ones. Everything here was made with top-quality materials for the best weather protection that money can buy.

Consider the Helly Hansen ski pants with their Primaloft insulation. Toasty and yet lightweight. There are also Patagonia Powder Bowl pants. Made with all the safeguards needed to keep that fresh pow out of your pants and under your skis.

That’s just a sneak peek. Below you’ll find everything from softshell pants to insulated pants. Skiing is a diverse sport, so are your needs, and so is our selection of the best ski pants.

1. Helly Hansen Legendary Pant

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These lightweight ski pants deliver across the board. It’s this design excellence that saw them climb to the top spot. While the breathability and waterproof ratings could have been higher, a lot higher, it was attention to detail that carried these pants to the winner’s circle.

Where They Stand-out

A majority of the Helly Hansen Legendary pants are made from polyester. All the time that I’ve spent engaging in different extreme sports has shown me the importance of polyester fabric.

Polyester is incredibly quick to dry. Resort skiers will note that despite the cold temperatures, getting wet is a very common occurrence. Skiing while wet, is not great, but that is where polyester saves the day.

The fully taped seams of this pair of ski pants prevent water from getting into your clothes in the first place. Despite this complete lockdown against the elements, the Legendary still manages to get a decent breathability rating.

All thanks to the zippered thigh vents. It feels great to be able to shut your vents closed as needed. I don’t care if your pants have outer thigh vents, this should be the norm.

The Legendary truly lives up to its name.

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  • Fit: Regular
  • Material: Polyester
  • Seam Sealing: Fully taped
  • Belt Loops: Yes
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime


  • Solid breathability and a waterproof rating of 10,000.
  • Inner thigh vents that are zippered. Allowing you to decide when to vent and conserve body heat.
  • The fabric around the knees is articulated for an increased range of movement.


  • Would have loved to have seen an improved waterproof rating.

Helly Hansen Legendary Pant

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2. The North Face Freedom Pants

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I love it when budget options are quality enough to rank on one of our lists. It’s just a win-win for the consumer. You get great ski gear at a low price. As far as budget ski pants go, there isn’t anything better out there than the North face freedom pants.

Freedom For Who?

Freedom for you, of course, but a better question would be, “Freedom from what?”. The answer is freedom from pants that rip and tear on you with the slightest touch. The nylon and polyester work in tandem to keep you dry and your pants intact.

Throughout the interior of the Freedom pants is a chimney venting system that is excellent for shooting out hot air and bringing in a fresh breath. Rounding off this comfort king is an adjustable waist. Ideal for getting that custom fit.

What more could you ask for? How about a killer price and a dual-layer DryVent fabric membrane to keep you nice and warm!

  • Unfortunately, a compatible North face jacket is needed to take advantage of the jacket-to-pants connection.
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  • Fit: Regular
  • Material: Nylon and polyester
  • Seam Sealing: Fully taped
  • Belt Loops: Yes
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime


  • Dual build of both durable nylon and quick-to-dry polyester materials.
  • Chimney venting system throughout the freedom pants for excellent moisture control.
  • Adjustable waist tabs for dialing in that perfect fit.


  • Unfortunately, a compatible North face jacket is needed to take advantage of the jacket-to-pants connection.

The North Face Freedom Pants

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3. Arc’teryx Sabre AR Pants

ski pant reviews

My body heats up incredibly fast. Sometimes I feel like I’ve got a furnace running within me. I need breathable clothes, and you won’t get much more breathable than the Sabre ARs.

A Set of Lungs

Breathability isn’t just about poking a few holes within a piece of clothing and calling it a night. Having the option to engage or disengage the breathability of your clothing is important.

Conditions outside are hardly ever consistent. Sometimes it’s best to shut those vents and insulate. The Sabre AR have vents that are zippered. You get to decide when to let the fresh air in.

Of course, at the front lines of the breathability department is the Gore-tex membrane, and the scores of pores spread throughout this fabric. Brushing aside breathability, I’ve said that word far too many times now, my favorite feature of these pants had to be their pocket design.

The pockets are designed to push the contents within them away from high-impact zones. Safeguarding your valuables even as you tumble. I wish my life as a whole had a similar feature.

lightweight ski pants


  • Fit: Regular
  • Material: Gore-tex and nylon
  • Seam Sealing: Fully-taped
  • Belt Loops: Yes
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime


  • An incredible amount of water protection, with a waterproof rating of 28,000.
  • Zippered vents have waterproof zippers for that extra degree of security and breathability.
  • Pockets are designed to push your items away from high-impact zones.


  • Not the best pants to stay warm in due to lack of insulation.

Arc’teryx Sabre AR Pants

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4. Outdoor Research Skyward II

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Trifecta design, nylon for its resistance to tears, polyester for its comfort and drying properties, and spandex for that touch of flex that skiing requires. Fully tape the seams for an excellent water guard lining and slap on a few pockets for good measure.

The Outdoor Research Skyward IIs are damn good.

Skyward and Beyond

Three-layer designs always bring with them the strengths of their materials, but that’s not all. Durability also skyrockets for obvious reasons. If you’ve got three layers, it’s going to take three tears to get to you.

Beyond the tri-layer stack-up is an internal gaiter, mesh. This gaiter was included for an additional layer of protection for the lower leg and ankle of the lucky skier to wear these pants. It could be you.

I really felt as if this gaiter did make a difference. Feeling drier than usual even after a lengthy ski session. I also enjoyed the number of pockets spread throughout these pants. Having these storage options is handy when needing to carry a few additional items.

The Skyward IIs are versatile pants that are up to the task with whatever skiing sends their way. You won’t be caught lacking with these on.

top ski pants


  • Fit: Regular
  • Material: Nylon, polyester, and spandex
  • Seam Sealing: Fully taped
  • Belt Loops: Yes
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime


  • Nylon and polyester are great for durability, but the spandex makes these pants able to stretch to fit your skiing style.
  • Three layers of fabric construction for extra-strength durability.
  • Stretch-mesh internal gaiter for lower leg and ankle protection.


  • Not the best-looking ski pants in terms of color.

Outdoor Research Skyward II

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5. Flylow Gear Baker Bib

best ski pants 2020

Bibs, I love bibs. They’ve got everything that you could want from regular ski pants and much more. They offer more in way of protection, more in way of convenience, and more in the way of fitting and accommodating layers underneath.

A Baker’s Dozen

Fully taped seams are nothing special. Don’t get me wrong, I consider this feature to be a must, but all of the ski pants on our list have fully taped seams. However, while this may be a common occurrence among pants, this certainly isn’t the case for bibs.

And so we get to the first great thing about the Baker bib, its fully taped seams. Combined with a polyester middle layer and three layers of hardshell 150 denier oxford weave, you won’t get better protection anywhere else.

The bib also has an anti-water coating and a waterproof rating of 20,000. This brings us to the next Baker bib top feature. The breathability rating of 20,000. If there is one thing that bibs short sell, it’s their breathability.

Having a loose fit does not equate to breathability. Baker knows this, and it’s why their bib comes with a nylon tricot membrane for moisture-wicking goodness. If you have never owned or worn a ski bib before, the Baker bib is the perfect place to start.

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  • Fit: Regular
  • Material: Polyester
  • Seam Sealing: Fully taped
  • Belt Loops: Yes
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime


  • The three-layered face fabric has a one hundred and fifty denier weave. Sturdy.
  • DWR coating was applied on the entire exterior of the bib.
  • 20/20 breathability and waterproofing technologies.


  • The bib’s loose fit won’t be comfortable for all skiers.

Flylow Gear Baker Bib

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6. Patagonia Powder Bowl Pants

best insulated ski pants

Awww fresh pow. All snowboarders and skiers are hunters of the good stuff but that good stuff can have a bit of a mean streak. As soon as some of it makes its way into your clothes, you are in for a wet and rip-roaring time.

On a hot summer’s day, this is great. Not so much when surrounded by white gold. But Patagonia has the answer, and it comes to us in ski pant form.

Powder no More

We should begin with the gore-tex membrane of the Powder Bowls. There is so much that can be said about this stuff. It’s a breathable yet waterproof fabric that is no slouch in the durability department.

These pants are made from two layers of Gore-tex material. Double the protection, twice the satisfaction. At the outer-most level, the face fabric is made from one hundred percent recycled polyester. Eco-friendly and dependable.

Your upper thighs and lower legs would be enjoying their own sets of different lining materials. Brushed polyester mesh for the upper thighs and a polyester taffeta for the lower legs. Design royalty if you ask me.

Patagonia as always, knocked it out of the park thanks to their very detailed and targeted design practices. They set out to create the perfect pair of powder-focused ski pants, and they succeeded.

best budget ski pants


  • Fit: Regular
  • Material: Polyester and Gore-tex
  • Seam Sealing: Fully taped
  • Belt Loops: Yes
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime


  • Incredibly eco-friendly face fabric made from one hundred percent recycled polyester.
  • Two different kinds of lining materials for the upper thighs and lower leg.
  • Regular fit allows these pants to be worn over other pants.


  • Only a two-layer build.

Patagonia Powder Bowl Pants

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7. Black Diamond Recon Stretch Ski Pants

best pants for skiing

All the protection in the world won’t mean a thing if you can’t fit comfortably into your pants. Black Diamond knows this, it’s why the Recon Stretch is even a thing. They didn’t just stick any elastic material into these pants. That would’ve been too easy.

The Best of the Best

Spandex is the go-to material for manufacturers that want to make stretchable clothing. Black Diamond wasn’t satisfied with the default option, they wanted to get the best material possible. It’s why the Recon Stretch was cooked up with elastane.

Elastane is the alpha and the omega of stretching. Do you want to know what the main ingredient in elastane is? Say yes. The main ingredient is polyurethane. Polyurethane is a synthetic material that is equal in its stretch prowess to rubber.

It doesn’t matter how intense the skiing that you engage in is because your pants will always revert to their original form, thanks to the elastane. But that wasn’t enough. There’s an integrated belt that comes with the pants. It can even be removed if you so desire.

The seams are fully taped, and nylon was also incorporated into the face fabric. Stellar quality all around. One thing to note is that the elastane results in these pants having a relaxed fit. They aren’t too baggy, but they also aren’t close to a regular fit.

top rated ski pants


  • Fit: Relaxed
  • Material: Elastane and nylon
  • Seam Sealing: Fully taped
  • Belt Loops: Yes
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime


  • Jersey backer lining material.
  • Incredibly stretchable thanks to the elastane material.
  • Integrated belt that can be removed.


  • With some amount of insulation, these would have been perfect.

Black Diamond Recon Stretch Ski Pants

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8. Outdoor Research Trailbreaker II

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Backcountry skiing can get rough. You know how it is out there and for those who don’t, put on the Outdoor Research Trailbreaker IIs before you head there. These are the pair of pants for the diverse terrain conditions that one would find when backcountry skiing.

Spandex and Next

The two gold standard ski pant materials can be found here. The ever-so-durable nylon and the quick-to-dry water-extinguishing polyester. But alongside both is something new. Spandex. The good stuff.

Spandex is stretchable and comfortable. High-level skiing involves some crafty maneuvers. If your pants can’t accommodate your bend, then you can kiss that kind of experience goodbye.

Perhaps the best part of these ski pants is the waistband. It’s adjustable but that is to be expected. What is out of the ordinary is the thermoregulating technology of the waistband.

It adjusts to your body temperature. Keeping you cool, moisture-free, and most importantly comfortable. Perfect riding conditions. But it’s not just the waistband on water duty.

Running throughout the entirety of the pants is a Pertex shield membrane. This Pertex shield has one hundred percent water protection. And to top it all off, you’ve got three layers of this stuff.


  • Fit: Regular
  • Material: Nylon, polyester, and spandex
  • Seam Sealing: Fully taped
  • Belt Loops: Yes
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime


  • The face fabric of these pants is made up of three parts. Each with its own benefits.
  • 100% total waterproof protection thanks to the Pertex shield membrane.
  • Great pocket design that comes with a clip.


  • Would have liked for the shield membrane to extend toward the upper thighs as well.

Outdoor Research Trailbreaker II

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9. Flylow Chemical Pants

top rated snow pants

Yes, the name of these pants is not very inspiring. But just like our number one pick, the Helly Hansen Legendary pants, there is some truth to their name as a whole. The Flylow Chemical pants have got to be some of the most durable ski pants that I’ve ever come across.

Chemical Engineering

These loose-fitting polyester-filled titans have 1000 denier Cordura cuffs. Avid skiers and unfortunate others know that those ski edges can tear your pants to shreds. Over time, the intense skiing takes its toll and your cuffs end up looking like butchered messes.

But not with the Chemicals. Resort skiing has never been so harmless. It’s not just the cuffs that have been reinforced, but the knees as well. With the same 1000 denier Cordura from before.

The rest of the Chemicals are made from three-layered Oxford fabric. This fabric has fully taped seams and most importantly, excellent waterproof and breathability ratings. In case you were wondering, a 20,000 rating for each category.

On top of all of this extra strength, high tensile goodness is an Omnibloq DWR coating. This coating is the first bit of resistance against the harsh winter elements.

These are some incredibly durable pants and a must-buy for me. Ski gear can get expensive, this is why I always prioritize the gear that can go the extra mile.

affordable ski pants


  • Fit: Loose
  • Material: Polyester
  • Seam Sealing: Fully taped
  • Belt Loops: Yes
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime


  • Incredibly durable pants with three-layered Oxford fabric.
  • 1000 denier Cordura cuffs and knee reinforcements.
  • OmniBloq DWR coating was applied to the pant’s exterior as the first line of defense.


  • Top quality pants but at a high price.

Flylow Chemical Pants

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10. Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex

Lofoten GORE-TEX Pant - Men's

Venture off the trail. With the exotically named Norrona Lofoten pants any terrain can be handled. Completely waterproof what’s more, despite their breathable shell fabric exterior, cold days are tempered. Surpassing any good pair of ski pants, the Norrona Lofoten felt like an entire ski kit had been applied to my walkers.

While not a budget-friendly option, this being their primary downside, the Norrona Lofoten ski pant is stuffed with handy features. Fully waterproof thanks to their seams. These seams have been completely sealed off from the outside weather. Fort Knox level security.

Despite this, you can still dump heat. How?

Extending from the waist to your thighs are ventilation zippers. Zippers that are also water resistant. Two thigh pockets give you all the easy access storage that you need. Topping off this rider-friendly banquet is a waist section that can be fully adjusted.

Dial-in that custom fit. Without the need for a belt! I love features like this. Being able to personally set how the waist clings onto me saves me from a world of trouble. Have you been there? You know, ready to go but without a belt. Sagging pants. A true tragedy!

Despite their built-in waist-fitting solution, the Norrona Lofoten does come with belt loops. They hang above two waterproof pockets. With this much water protection, a bomber pant? Not quite. Acting as the bedrock of the Norrona Lofoten is Gore-Tex Pro material.

This material is as durable as it is breathable. Bomber pants, in my opinion, are more of a “none shall pass” option. Anything breathable occupies a very different domain.

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Usually, with pants of this style, properly fitting my ski boots with them is a hassle. However, the Norrona Lofoten have got wide boot gaiters. I’d be surprised if you couldn’t stuff your footwear into them.

Finally, should these wonderful pants tear, they come with a five-year warranty ready to engage.


  • Fit: Custom-fit waist adjustment
  • Material: Gore-tex pro
  • Seam Sealing: Fully sealed seams
  • Belt Loops: Yes
  • Warranty: Five years


  • Elastic gaiters rim the ends of each pant leg. The pants are perfect for an increased range of motion.
  • Not your typical resort pant(s) for resort skiing despite its quality boot gaiters. Ski and snowboard boot ready.
  • Heavy-duty construction made for the winter season. Surprisingly breathable fabric for a ski mountaineering shell pant.


  • I wish I could tighten the boot gaiters. Although this would compromise their moderately baggy fit.

Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex

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11. Mammut Haldigrat HS 

Haldigrat HS Pant - Men's

Dyneema-reinforced seams caked over with DryTechnology Pro. Not even ski jackets and the Patagonia Stormstride pants have this level of detailing. Protection shouldn’t be an afterthought. It’s why the Mammut Haldigrat has such a “take no prisoners” design.

Leave something up to chance? Why bother? Your snow pant of choice should be more than just comfortable. If comfort was the be-all end-all of ski gear, you’d be ending every single run soaking wet. Especially when sending wave after wave of deep powder into the air.

The Mammut Haldigrat does not have an athletic fit. By keeping itself loose, you are better able to accommodate a thin pair of pants underneath them. Wouldn’t this cause excess heat issues? Much like the Flylow baker bibs, the Mammut Haldigrat comes replete with exterior vents.

Ventilation zippers throughout the outer shell help create a more comfortable fit. The ventilation system not only grants the Mammut Haldigrat with excellent breathability, but it also acts as an additional safety measure.

When you are able to prevent overheating and make the most out of the extra layers, your security and comfort are assured.

Specifically designed for pow freeriding and frigid conditions. This doesn’t mean that backcountry skiers can’t use the Mammut Haldigrat as pants for resort skiing. However, wouldn’t it be better to utilize their full waterproofing and extra protection to scale the Canadian Rockies?

Too extreme? At the very least, put them through a few sidecountry hikes in varied snow conditions. I’m not trying to get you killed. I pinky swear! All I am trying to do is show you what a great pair of ski pants the Mammut Haldigrat are.

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We are huge fans of the durable materials and light insulation used to construct these skinning uphill wonders. However, all that gold comes at a price. A steep price. Traveling uphill but don’t want to desert your wallet? There are other options at a more affordable price.


  • Fit: Loose fit
  • Material: DryTechnology Pro
  • Seam Sealing: Dyneema-reinforced seam edges
  • Belt Loops: Yes
  • Warranty: Two years


  • Waterproof rating of 20,000mm. The best overall ski pants (snowboard pants) for any ski hill.
  • Handy zippered chest pocket and gaiters that will accommodate any pair of ski boots.
  • Even the occasional skier can make use of the Haldigrat’s beacon pocket and removable elastic bib.


  • Casuals consider, these are the right pair for ski racers and ski patrollers. Not so much for the spring skiing sort.

Mammut Haldigrat HS 

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12. Trew Gear TREWth Bib

TREWth Bib Classic

Many skiers are woefully unaware of the dangers that a mountain possesses. Carelessly slapping on a backcountry ski pant and believing it adequate enough. A lot can happen in a short amount of time. Suddenly you’re lost. Unable to make heads or tails of the pines.

An insulated ski pant will keep you warm. However, only the TREWth Bib will aid your rescuers. With a built-in RECCO reflector, premium ski pants wish they had this level of visibility. All the vibrant oranges and reds could never compete with this feature.

What’s more, you won’t need to bring a second pair of ski pants when you backcountry travel. Forget a drop-seat. Extending throughout either side of the TREWth Bib are long zippered sections. Unzip them for easy bathroom access.

Zippered entries and a built-in reflector. Don’t tell me it comes with a stick of lip balm too! It truly seems like the TREWth Bib was made to handle emergencies of all kinds. Furthermore, thanks to its three-layered construction, multiple seasons of wear won’t drag it down.

Frigid temps are also a non-issue. Even without an insulated version!

Both the inside and outside have side vents. Perfect for dumping heat. Keeping those inner thighs cool. Not bad for a slim fit (articulated fit) bib. Speaking of articulated, most skiers will be overjoyed with the articulated knees and outer fabric of the TREWth Bib.

The increased range of motion makes even chair lifts more comfortable. Extra heating? Could this bib have benefited from extra warmth? Sure, but that can be said for carbide bibs and any bibs Rei Co ever pumped out. Inclement weather will always be a big issue for this style of wear.

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That is if you don’t have any extra inner leg layers to keep you warm. Velcro tabs helped secure the areas needed. As did the scuff guards. If you are looking for negatives, then the only one I could find was a matter of personal preference.

My favorite ski pant (or bib) is one with removable suspenders and a tailored fit. My upper legs feel more comfortable with a tighter fit. Of course, being a bib, the TREWth bib is loose-fitting.


  • Fit: Semi-loose fit
  • Material: Waterproof zippers and construction
  • Seam Sealing: Fully seam taped
  • Belt Loops: Yes
  • Warranty: Yes


  • Recco reflector built-in. Resort riders will definitely appreciate this safety feature.
  • All the pants put together couldn’t compete with the three-layered fabric construction of these best ski pants of 2023.
  • Easy access for bathroom emergencies. Long side vents can be unzipped for easy bib pull-down.


  • I enjoyed its construction and zippered pockets. However, the loose fit was too shaggy for me to ride comfortably in.

Trew Gear TREWth Bib

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Our Buying Guide: For a Knowledgeable Purchase

Here’s where you become an expert on all things ski pants. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been eyeing up some softshell pants or backcountry ski pants, top quality options have a few things in common with each other.

Bear in mind, that while one form or feature may make the perfect pair of ski pants for one skier, that doesn’t mean that it’ll be the same for you. Identify the issues that dampen your mood as you ski. Find the feature below that would alleviate these problems.

High-end ski pants offer top marks in the categories listed below. Study them, learn them, and then find what you’ve been looking for.

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Hardshell vs. Softshell: Choose Your Type

Fabrics have several different benefits that they should bring to the ski pants themselves. Namely, weather protection, durability, and comfort. I’ll be going over what fabrics and materials bring durability with them in a later section.

For now, let us discuss the shell fabrics that you’ll encounter and their uses.

Hardshell Pants

Most resort skiers will be familiar with hardshell ski pants. They are the tanks of the ski pants world. Ready-made for breaking up cold gusts and the wet snow-filled slaps that the slopes throw at you.

These pants are durable and are built to last. Well then, what’s the downside? The issue with hardshell pants is that they are not flexible. Sure, stretchable options like the Outdoor research skyward ii exist,but they are far and few in between.

This kind of fabric is not breathable fabric. But fear not, this is why most hardshell pants come with thigh vents.

Softshell Pants

Softshell pant is much more comfortable to wear than the option listed above. The difference is massive. For one, your skin won’t chafe when wearing pants that are made from a softshell fabric.

This is because this fabric type is soft. Breathability is also greatly improved and you’ll feel much more capable of letting out your inner high-flying daredevil. Sounds like a match made in heaven. But there is one issue.

Softshell pants are not the pants for those that live in wetter regions. They absorb moisture and lack the hard defense that hardshell pants offer.

Pants vs. Bibs: Which One Is Best?

Yeah, I’m still stuck on this one. Pants and bibs have a strong rivalry. Ardent supporters on each side. Further fueling the debate. While I may not have a strong preference for either one, I do know enough about their pros and cons to help you decide.

More so than soft and hard shell pants, pants and bibs overall are vastly different. It’s difficult to pinpoint what kind of skier likes either one. I’ve met free riders draped in either option.

Ski Pants
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Ski pants are all about mobility. Let’s look past protection… for now. Freestyling and park riding requires a high level of maneuverability. Flips are far easier to pull off in tight and form-fitting clothing. At least in my opinion. Personally, I can’t freestyle and shred if I feel like a clothes hanger.

Besides their tight-fitting form, pants are also warmer. As a standalone article that is. Due to their loose nature, bibs are unable to retain much of your body heat. This is evident by the lack of vents that most bibs have. I’d say a vast majority of bibs lack a proper ventilation system.

Pants also tend to be less cumbersome.

Ski Bibs
best ski bib

Well, how can a ski bib possibly match up? The previous section clearly shows that pants are better than bibs. Right? Wrong! Ski bibs have their own advantages. Are they warmer than ski pants? Not on their own but they provide you with adequate room.

That loose fit lets you slip in an extra layer or two of legwear. What’s more, as the inclement morphs into the docile, the loose fit of a bib makes for increased airflow. Perfect for spring skiing. Additionally, many bibs have suspenders that let you adjust your fit.

Not only can you control how cool or warm you want to be, but how ventilated as well. And of protection? It should go without saying. When it comes to water, the snow, and the wind, bibs protect way more of your body than pants do.

Resort vs. Backcountry: Tamed or Untamed?

Perfectly groomed… groomers? Or do you prefer the wild and unpredictable? The savage lands. Regardless of your terrain, you’ll need to wear pants. No, you can’t go out without them. Why scare your fellow man?

Well then, if pants are a must, which pair is the one to rule them all?

That depends on your arena. Often repeated, terrain influences your wear. If it doesn’t, it should. Especially when it comes to skiing. Resort and backcountry skiing are two wildly different beasts.

Resort Skiing

Ahhh resort skiing. Free of chunder, some of the time. Replete with all the little nuances that any old skier will enjoy. Comforting, secure, safe. What more could you ask for? Well, with such great conditions, what kind of ski pants or bib should one wear?

Frankly, resort skiing is best done with hardshell pants on. Even if the conditions are tepid. Why? Lifts. Ski lifts. Those suckers get wet. Wet snow piles up on them. As much as it does on the slopes themselves.

Unless you are lucky enough to use the lift right after someone else. Let their tush get the mush. However, how often is one so lucky? Hardshell pants have a sturdy nonabsorbent exterior to safeguard you from the resort’s worst.

Backcountry Skiing

Alright, ski lifts are bad. However, savage lands are worse… right? Yeah, for the most part. Some backcountry runs are so intense, you’ll be hanging on by the ends of your boot buckles. Skin track and all. Best pack an avalanche beacon.

But where would you stuff your beacon? How about within the hand pockets of a quality ski bib? Like the Spyder Dare. A bib is perfect for backcountry rip riding. This is because they are loose-fitting. with the backcountry being so dynamic, being able to take off and put on additional layers is very important.

Ski bibs also protect much more of your body than a pair of pants. Not to mention that they typically have higher waterproof ratings.

The Fabric of Your Snow Pants

ski pants

Fabrics have several different benefits that they should bring to the ski pants themselves. Namely, weather protection, durability, and comfort. I’ll be going over what fabrics and materials bring durability with them in a later section.

For now, let us discuss the shell fabrics that you’ll encounter and their uses.

Hardshell Pants

Most resort skiers will be familiar with hardshell ski pants. They are the tanks of the ski pants world. Ready-made for breaking up cold gusts and the wet snow-filled slaps that the slopes throw at you.

These pants are durable and are built to last. Well then, what’s the downside? The issue with hardshell pants is that they are not flexible. Sure, stretchable options like the Outdoor research skyward ii exist,but they are far and few in between.

This kind of fabric is not breathable fabric. But fear not, this is why most hardshell pants come with thigh vents.

Softshell Pants

Softshell pant is much more comfortable to wear than the option listed above. The difference is massive. For one, your skin won’t chafe when wearing pants that are made from a softshell fabric.

This is because this fabric type is soft. Breathability is also greatly improved and you’ll feel much more capable of letting out your inner high-flying daredevil. Sounds like a match made in heaven. But there is one issue.

Softshell pants are not the pants for those that live in wetter regions. They absorb moisture and lack the hard defense that hardshell pants offer.

The Waterproof Qualities of a Pair of Ski Pants

Waterproofing, you are going to need it if you don’t want the winter weather to make quick work of your legs. Waterproof zippers are also a great idea. They’ll act as a shield, not letting a single droplet get to your precious valuables.

warmest snow pants

Waterproof pants, at least the great ones, will usually have a durable water-repellent coating applied on their face fabric. This is of course on top of whatever waterproof materials they are already made of.

Gore-Tex and Seams

Again, hardshell ski pants provide excellent up-front protection from the wet weather. Gore-tex and similar materials are also fantastic anti-water features to have. But you can have three layers of gore-tex and a DWR coating, and it still might not be enough.

If you ski in the Pacific North-West, then you’ll also have to pay attention to the seams of your pants. Fully taped seams are the way to go. Critically taped seams leave cracks that can leave you exposed.

It may seem like a lot to take into account but water is an incredibly sneaky thing. It can get through even the tightest corners and cracks. If solid waterproofing is necessary, then stick to a hardshell insulated pant.

Durability and Your Insulated Ski Pants

This is another category where hardshell pants will get the highest marks. You won’t want to skimp on this feature because if you do, whatever shell pants you select will be chopped to bits by the rest of your ski equipment.

Your buckles, bindings, and skis themselves all have the sharp points and edges needed to tear up the fabric of your pants. While I have been harping on about materials. As well as the importance of having pants that are made from quality materials, there is one thing I left out.

The density or thickness of your pants. It doesn’t matter if you have gore-tex membrane pants if they don’t have multiple layers of the material. Even the best fabrics will tear apart if not provided with adequate support.

If you want a dense pair of pants, then proper resort pants should be your go-to. The Flylow Chemical pants are a fantastic option because they have Cordura-reinforced knees and cuffs. As well as three layers of hardshell fabric.

Fit & Style

If your skiing style and personal preference lead you to seek out loose-fitting pants then consider not getting any pants at all. No, this doesn’t mean that you should ski in your underwear, I’m not judging. Just saying, what I mean is that you should opt for a ski bib instead.

Ski bibs for women offer fantastic near full-body protection. Their loose fit is perfect for those that want to slip in an extra layer underneath. If the cold weather isn’t that much of an issue for you, then just enjoy the freedom of movement.

The Flylow Gear Baker Bib is one such option. Held up by suspenders and with enough pockets to make you ditch your backpack altogether. The Baker bib feels like a one-stop solution to the difficult decision of choosing between fit or style.

There are loose-fitting and relaxed-fit ski pants, such as the Black Diamond Recon Stretch pants. If bibs aren’t your style, then the Recons should be your pick of the bunch. But what if you aren’t comfortable with loose-fitting clothing?

Get a pair of backcountry skiing pants. Pants like Outdoor Research Trailbreaker II have a leaner fit. For the precision-conscious folks.

How Much Insulation and How Warm?

The amount of insulation that your pants have determine how bulky and how warm they are. Insulated pants have many different types of insulation to choose from. Top-level insulation manages to be warm without adding too much bulk.

The Helly Hansen Legendary Pants are a prime example of this. Primaloft is their insulation of choice. You get all the warmth you could want without any of the setbacks. Keep in mind that your temperature will change as you continue riding.

Sure, when you first get to the resort, lots of insulation sounds great but what about after an hour of skiing? You’ll sweat and all that insulation won’t help cool you down.

If you’ve got a pair of Helly Hansen Legendary Pants, then you’ll be fine. They just so happen to have a breathable membrane for such an occasion. You also need to know how to wash ski pants.


Why Do I Need Ski Pants?

Ski pants are a must for three reasons: their durability, the elements, and your comfort. When skiing, you are liking to tumble a bit, even if you are an expert. Regular pants would be ripped to shreds by the end of a ski session.

If the environment doesn’t tear them apart, the elements sure will. The elements, plural, because you’ll have to contend with the snow, water, and wind. Depending on where you ski, the severity of each will vary.

Imagine doing anything with wet clothes on. It’s not fun and certainly not comfortable. Being comfortable allows us to fully immerse ourselves in skiing. Why do you need ski pants? For your security, comfort, and safety.

What Are the Best Ski Pants for Beginners?

Beginner skiers should opt for the kinds of ski pants that are flexible. These are the pants like the Black Diamond Recon Stretch pants listed above. The more stretch that your pants have, the less restricted you’ll feel as you ski.

Beginners already have great difficulties getting used to using their new ski pole size and standing on skis. They shouldn’t have to contend with their own ski pants as well.

What Are the Best Brands of Ski Pants?

While there are some standout ski brands, such as Helly Hansen, the North Face, and Outdoor research, this question depends on what kind of ski pants you are looking for.

Want something flexible and comfortable? Then Black Diamond would be the best brand for you. Patagonia makes great ski pants with quality powder cuffs. It all depends on a number of factors but you can’t go wrong with anything listed above.

Do I Need Layers Under My Ski Pants?

Depends. Are they softshell or hardshell? If you are wearing soft-shell pants, additional layers may be unnecessary. Provided that conditions aren’t too wet. Soft-shell pants are loaded with insulation. Warm and fluffy insulation.

Why would you want to suffocate your thighs with anything more? Hardshell pants will require an extra layer underneath if you are feeling cold. Hardshell pants lack insulation. However, for those skiing in warmer temperatures, you could go without the extra skin.

What Is RECCO?

Recco? Never heard of ’em. Kidding aside, Recco is a small transponder that can be integrated into your clothes. It’s battery-free. One less thing to worry about I suppose. This transponder makes it much easier for rescue teams to locate you in the event of an avalanche.

Scary but better safe than dead!

Final Thoughts

Skiing is a multi-faceted sport. Due to its depth, it is truly a different experience for everyone. This is why getting the right ski gear (like ski pants for example) can become such a hassle. Not to mention, our own bodies. Some of us heat up too quickly while others get cold and stay cold.

This leads us to wonder whether we should be wearing insulated ski pants or not. If yes, how much insulation would be the right amount?

Of course, cool ski pants like the Helly Hansen Legendary pants, have got the membrane to sort out any moisture and the insulation to keep you comfortable. But what if you prefer backcountry skiing? Wouldn’t the Trailbreaker ii pants be a much better fit?

Categories: SkiingGear

Adrian Salazar

My name is Adrian Salazar and I have been wrapped up in the world of water and other extreme sports since the first time I went kayaking. When I’m not working hard trying to deliver the best writing that I can, I am usually out on a lake or hiking up a mountain. My world is completely dominated by writing and the mix of adrenaline and peace of mind that can be achieved while engaging in new sports. I will use my knowledge, experience, and mistakes, to inform you about the best ways that you can become a part of the world of extreme sports. You can count on me to give you my informed and unbiased opinion about any sporting equipment you may need. I know from personal experience that extreme sports are something that you need to head into completely and accurately informed. Let my experience guide you.


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