Best Ski Pants: Cold Weather Protection On the Slopes
Stay warm on snow-covered slopes with these top ski pants
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.Read more.
PUBLISHED ON October 10, 2019
If you want to stay warm in the snow, you better have thermal-insulated ski pants. It’s never too late to get your snow gear ready for a weekend getaway where you can ski and hike the snowy mountains. Our buying guide offers an in-depth look at some of the best-rated ski pants on the market that you should be on the lookout for.
- Best OverallBurton Men's Insulated Covert Ski/Snowboarding PantSummarySummary
A pair of well-insulated, rugged men's covert pants that are both breathable and comfortable to wear all day.ProsPros
A combination of breathable and waterproof fabrics keep you comfortable throughout the day. They have a fresh feel on the skin. The reinforced cuffs, fully taped seams, and elevators hold up well to daily abuse. Also, they come good-quality, functional cargo pockets.ConsCons
The pants may have sizing problems and can either run small or very long. They may also not hold up to rough riding with the possibility of ripping wide open at the knees.
- Best ValueCAMEL CROWN Women's/Men's Snow Ski Fleece PantsSummarySummaryA pair of waterproof and windproof pants with excellent breathability, flexibility, and moisture absorption for comfort and protection.ProsPros
The material is spandex and polyester for a good fit, moisture absorption and water resistance capabilities. For comfort, the ski pants have excellent lining, breathability, and elasticity around the knees. There are two zippered back pockets and two zippered hand pockets for your items.ConsCons
They may run a bit small and thin for some people. The pants can sometimes feel too tight and rigid, affecting movement.
- Honorable MentionArctix Men’s Sports PantsSummarySummaryA pair of breathable ski pants that’s 85 percent thermal-insulated to keep you warm at temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.ProsPros
Machine-washable. Reinforced at the ankle and hem. Has an adjustable waist for a comfortable fit. It offers maximum flexibility. Feels less bulky than most ski pants. Features large leg pockets. Available in a variety of colors.ConsCons
Average water resistance. It can easily tear at the crotch area. The ankles may seem too wide on the medium size.
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, and practical experience with each product we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Ski Pants
- Keep warm. The ski pants are mostly insulated to prevent heat loss and the cold from reaching your skin. They are breathable to keep you dry and free from freezing water and wind when skiing down the mountain.
- Keep dry: Ski pants are water-resistant or waterproof to keep water, ice, and wind from the skin. Most of them are a good fit around the waist and they feature boot closure to prevent water from sneaking in.
- Feel comfortable and stylish: Most of the ski pants have various features such as side pockets and boot zippers that make them stylish and comfortable. The waterproof or water-resistant material does not get dirty quickly and you can look neat and elegant even while skiing down your favorite slopes.
Types of Ski Pants
Insulated Ski Pants
The outer shell of insulated ski pants is waterproof to keep moisture and water away from your skin. It also consists of an insulating layer that may vary between different ski pants to contain body heat. Insulated ski pants can be quite useful in keeping you comfortable as you participate in winter games.
Softshell Ski Pants
The primary material on softshell ski pants is a soft woven fabric. Unlike the hard shell ski pants, the softshell pants rustle more and are highly breathable. The ski pants offer greater flexibility and are especially ideal for those with high amounts of energy on the slopes. They are best when conditions are relatively dry.
Columbia Sportswear Company
Established in 1938, Columbia Sportswear Company has considerable experience in making sportswear for people that enjoy the outdoors. The company's headquarters are in Portland, Ore., and they specialize in apparel and footwear to keep you dry, warm, and comfortable, even in freezing weather. Columbia is the maker of Columbia Men's Bugaboo II Pant.
The high-end sporting goods and clothing company was established in 1939 in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Their name and logo refer to Archaeopteryx, which is one of the earliest known birds. Arc'teryx has more than 3,000 retail locations and 32 brands in 40 different countries. Their Arc'teryx Beta AR Men’s Pants are among the best ski pants.
The North Face
The North Face was established in 1968 in San Francisco, Calif. The outdoor recreation product company specializes in clothing, outdoor equipment, and footwear. Together with its corporate sibling, JanSport, The North Face is headquartered in Alameda, Calif. Their top winter sports and outdoor clothing include The North Face Women's Freedom Insulated Pant.
Ski Pants Pricing
- Up to $100: Ski pants under $100 are perfect for inbound skiing, and especially so if you don't often go deep into the backcountry. The ski pants may not be waterproof and can feel a bit baggy to some people, but you can still get away with a good quality pair of ski pants from a top brand in this price range.
- Around $350: Ski pants in the $350 range are high-quality and perfect for both inbound and outbound skiing. The pants feature better craftsmanship with higher quality materials for insulation and waterproofing or water resistance. They have scuff guards around the ankles, and the pants offer better protection.
- Above $450: The majority of the skiers don't need ski pants that are this expensive. However, they’re a good fit if you’re rough on gear and you love to test the limits in places where the weather is wet and cold. These premium-priced ski pants have everything that professional or beginner skiers would want.
The majority of the ski and snowboard pants will have built-in gaiters as a standard feature. They are an essential feature and are usually under the cuffs. The primary function of the gaiters is to keep the snow out of the boots. It wouldn’t make a lot of sense if the ski pants were waterproof but lacking practical gaiters.
Gaiters may have different features, such as buckles and hooks, but they all have the same function. Typically, zippered gaiters are easier to get into and use.
Zippered vents are another shared feature in most ski and snowboard pants. They usually open up to allow improved air circulation and dumping of heat when it gets a little bit hot. In most cases, you will find the vents on the inseam of the inner thigh. They usually have a mesh lining to keep the snow from getting in
Some pants will have the zip vents along the outer seam or across the front. The technical ski pants mostly feature full-length side zippers and usually give you more control over ventilation. You don't have to remove the boots to wear or remove them.
Some of the top brands usually have a system to allow a connection between the jacket and pants, if they are compatible. This creates a barrier against wind and snow from going up the jacket or down the pants, especially if you are planning on having fun in deep snow.
Being wet and cold is the worst nightmare for skiers and snowboarders, and it can get worse if snow penetrates inside the waterproof pants. If this happens, it can make it hard to regulate body temperature. A good jacket and pants connection will keep the wind and snow out when you slide or fall—something that will happen quite often.
Pockets may seem like an obvious feature, but they have an essential role to play in ski pants. If you usually snowboard or ski with your backpack, then you may not need large cargo pockets. The typical hand pockets will be sufficient for the small items. Make sure these pockets are not too shallow that you will lose some things along the way. If you are the kind of individual that doesn't like lugging the backpack around, then large cargo pockets come in handy. They can hold your snacks and other essentials as you take a walk around the park or other outdoors.
Ski and snowboard pants are vulnerable to wear and tear, especially around the cuffs. Without sufficient reinforcement, the ski pants can end up with multiple tears and even put you at risk of injury. Tons of snow can get in through the cuffs and make you uncomfortable.
Some form of reinforcement around this area is necessary, and it can be made from extra durable of stiff fabric. There are also rubber reinforcements in ski pants out there. The cuff reinforcement will usually be on the inside to avoid contact with crampons or ski edges. On the other hand, snowboarding pants will have a cuff band on the back.
- Waterproof. Waterproof ski pants should at least have a hydrostatic head rating above 1500. Anything below this may not be sufficient, especially if you're going to be actively skiing in the mountains. The hydrostatic head test is the primary unit of measurement for waterproofing in ski pants.
- Length: Ski pants will only provide protection and warmth up to the waist and leave the rest to the jacket. You will need to consider if you generally feel cold or warm and sweaty in the mountains before picking a pair of ski pants.
- Fit: One of the main things to consider to get the best ski pants is fit. Generally, ski pants will either be slim, regular, or loose. The most appropriate for you depends on your comfort level. Of course, there may be a couple of differences between the different brands within the sizes, but the three categories are a good starting point.
Best Ski Pants Reviews & Recommendations 2020
Best Overall: Burton Men's Insulated Covert Ski/Snowboarding Pant
The best ski pants are these well-insulated, comfortable, and rugged Burton men's insulated ski pants. They have fully taped seams to provide sufficient protection against cold and wind. To keep you warm, these men's snowboarding pants have Thermolite insulation featuring hollow-core fabrics to encapsulate warm air. There are handwarmer pockets that can prove useful in keeping your hands toasty without the need for gloves.
The ski pants feature a larger surface area for effective moisture evaporation so that you don't end up wet and cold. The insulation has a mesh lining to ensure an adequate flow of air and cool venting to keep you dry and comfortable. You also have cargo pockets for the essentials such as your phone and wallet when skiing.
There are a few complaints of the skin pants running small or very long. The skiing pants may not hold up to rough riding, a disadvantage to skateboarders and skiers who always want to test their limits.
Best Value: CAMEL CROWN Women's/Men's Snow Ski Fleece Pants
These polyester and spandex softshell pants are breathable, moisture absorbent, and generally comfortable. They have good elasticity that allows them to stretch up to eight times to allow sufficient flexibility when performing different maneuvers. You can squat and bend whenever necessary, without any barriers. The zippered back pockets and hand pockets keep your essentials securely in place, no matter how intensely you move.
Given the excellent breathability and moisture absorption of the polyester material, the pants are comfortable even in hot weather. They are water-resistant to keep water away from your skin so that you can focus on skiing. A premium fleece lining protects you from the chilling cold and wind. The elastic material makes the pants appear slim and stylish, regardless of your leg size.
On the downside, the pants may feel a bit too rigid around the waist area. A good number of users also complained about the sizing of ski pants, finding them much smaller than expected.
Honorable Mention: Arctix Men’s Sports Pants
These Arctix ski pants, offering 85 grams of ThermaTech Insulation will keep you comfortably warm in temperatures between -20 and +35 degrees Fahrenheit. They are lightweight and comfortable with sufficient reinforcement around the knees and hems. Around the ankles and knees is 600 Denier material to take the abuse associated with skateboarding or skiing.
These ski pants have a highly adjustable waist for greater flexibility. They feel less bulky compared to the other skiing pants on the market. Other features include the O-rings and cargo pockets for the essentials. You can use the boot zippers to take pants on and off effortlessly. The available boot gaiters and grippers allow effective integration with the boots to keep the moisture and cold at bay. The ski pants are available in more than a dozen colors.
Unfortunately, these ski pants have some quality issues. They can easily tear around the crotch area, and the water resistance is average. Also, they may seem too wide around the ankle area, especially the medium-sized pants.
- Pair your ski pants with other thermal-insulated clothes like a ski jacket, gloves, socks, and a winter hat.
- To protect yourself from cuts, bruises and injuries, ensure that you wear the correct snowboard boots, ski helmet, and knee protectors.
- Wash the ski pants according to the manufacturer’s recommendations to avoid thinning the fabric and damaging it.
- Every time you remove your gloves, clip them together in your ski jacket to avoid losing them.
- If you are skiing with your family at a ski lodge, assign different closets for each person to avoid mixing up the sizes for skiing gear.
Q: Do I need to wear anything under ski pants?
A: It depends on how warm you want to be and how much freedom you need when moving around. You can wear something such as leggings under the pants if you want to feel warmer. Just make sure it’s a thin material that doesn’t limit your movement or make you uncomfortable.
Q: Are snowboard pants different from ski pants?
A: Most companies sell their winter gear as skiing, walking, and snowboarding pants. However, snowboard pants are typically baggier than ski pants. That’s because you need to have enough room for maximum leg movement when you are swerving and maneuvering your way down the slopes.
Q: What can I do to prevent my ski pants from wearing out too fast?
A: Buy high-quality pants with well-stitched seams. Try to pull at the seams to test if they are strong enough. Also, dry the pants near a fireplace before storing them to prevent mold, which can lead to faster wear. Avoid performing expert stunts if you are still new to skiing because you may rip your pants.
Our top pick is the Burton Men's Insulated Covert Ski/Snowboarding Pant due to its thermal insulation and durable construction that keeps you warm and safe as you speed down the slopes.
If you want a more budget-friendly option that’s still comfortable and warm, consider the CAMEL CROWN Women's/Men's Snow Ski Fleece Pants.