LAST UPDATED: October 10, 2019
Best Ski Pants: Cold Weather Protection On the Slopes
Stay warm on snow-covered slopes with these top ski pants
The Review Team
How We Decided
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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.
A pair of well-insulated, rugged men's ski and snowboarding pants that are both breathable and comfortable to wear all day.
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 with good-quality, functional cargo pockets.
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.
The material is spandex and polyester for a good fit, moisture absorption and water resistance capabilities. For comfort, the ski pants have an excellent lining, breathability, and elasticity around the knees. There are two zippered back pockets and two zippered hand pockets.
The pants may run a bit small and are too thin for some people. The pants can sometimes feel too tight and rigid, affecting movement.
Machine washable. Reinforced at the ankle and hem. They have an adjustable waist for a comfortable fit and to provide maximum flexibility. Feel less bulky than most ski pants. Feature large leg pockets. Available in a variety of colors.
Average water resistance. They can easily tear at the crotch area. The ankles may seem too wide on the medium size.
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Benefits of Ski Pants
- Keep warm. Ski pants are usually 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 your 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 ski pants have 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 activities.
Softshell Ski Pants
The primary material on softshell ski pants is a soft woven fabric. Unlike hard shell ski pants, the softshell pants rustle more and are highly breathable. This type of ski pants have 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 it specializes in apparel and footwear to keep you dry, warm, and comfortable, even in freezing weather. One of Columbia's popualar products is the Columbia Men's Bugaboo II Pant.
This high-end sporting goods and clothing company was established in 1939 in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Its 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. Its Arc'teryx Beta AR Men’s Pants are among the best ski pants available.
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. The North Face Women's Freedom Insulated Pant is one of its top products.
Ski Pants Pricing
- Up to $100: Ski pants under $100 are perfect for inbound skiing, especially 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 skiing. The pants feature excellent craftsmanship with materials that are insulating and waterproof or water resistant. They have scuff guards around the ankles, and the pants offer good protection.
- Over $450: The majority of skiers don't need ski pants that are this expensive. However, they’re a good option if you’re rough on gear and you love to test the limits in places where the weather is extremely wet and cold. These premium-priced ski pants have everything that professional or beginner skiers need.
Most ski and snowboard pants have built-in gaiters as a standard feature. They are an essential feature and are usually inserted under the cuffs. The primary function of the gaiters is to keep snow out of your boots. It wouldn’t make a lot of sense if ski pants were waterproof but lacked 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 common feature on most ski and snowboard pants. They usually open up to allow improved air circulation and to dissipate 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 snow from getting in
Some pants 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 boots to wear or remove them.
Some top brands have a system that connects the jacket and pants together, if they are compatible. This creates a barrier against wind and snow to keep them from going up the jacket or down the pants, especially if you are planning on having fun in deep snow.
Being wet and cold can be miserable 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.
One of the main things to consider when shopping for a new pair of ski pants is fit. Generally, ski pants will either be slim, regular, or loose. What type you select depends on the comfort level that you require. Of course, there may be a couple of differences between the different brands within the sizes, but consider the three categories as a starting point.
Ski and snowboard pants are vulnerable to wear and tear, especially around the cuffs. Without sufficient reinforcement, 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 and/or stiff fabric. There are also rubber reinforcements in ski pants. The cuff reinforcement are usually be on the inside to avoid contact with crampons or ski edges. Snowboarding pants 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 the waterproof capability in ski pants.
- Pockets: Pockets may seem like an inconsequential feature, but they have an essential role to play when it comes to ski pants. If you snowboard or ski with a backpack, then you may not need large cargo pockets because hand pockets are sufficient for small items. Make sure these pockets are not too shallow so you don't lose the contents. If you are the kind of person that doesn't like lugging a backpack around, then large cargo pockets come in handy. They can hold snacks and other essentials as you take a walk around a park or participate in other outdoor activities.
Best Ski Pants Reviews & Recommendations 2020
Our top pick is these well-insulated, comfortable, and rugged men's insulated ski/snowboard pants from Burton. They have fully taped seams to provide sufficient protection against cold and wind. To keep you warm, these men's pants have Thermolite insulation featuring hollow-core fabrics to encapsulate warm air. There are handwarmer pockets that are useful in keeping your hands toasty without the need for gloves.
The pants feature a large 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. There are also have cargo pockets for the essentials, such as your phone and wallet.
However, there are a few complaints that the pants run small or a little long. The pants may not hold up to rough riding, a disadvantage to snowboarders and skiers who want to test their limits.
These polyester and spandex softshell pants are breathable, moisture absorbent, and comfortable. They have good elasticity that allows them to stretch considerably to promote flexibility when performing different maneuvers. You can squat and bend whenever necessary without many restrictions. 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, these pants are comfortable even in hot weather. They are water resistant to keep water out so that you can focus on your outdoor activities. 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 have also complained about their sizing, finding them much smaller than expected.
These Arctix ski pants feature 85 grams of ThermaTech insulation that 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 snowboarding or skiing.
These ski pants have a highly adjustable waist for greater flexibility. They feel less bulky compared to some rival pants. Other features include O-rings and cargo pockets for essentials. You can use the boot zippers to take pants on and off effortlessly. The boot gaiters and grippers allow effective integration with the boots to keep moisture and cold at bay. The 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, 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.
Q: Do I need to wear anything under my 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 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. Pull at the seams to test if they are strong. 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.