Looking for the best ski pants for your upcoming ski season? Then, you've come to the right place!
Ski pants and bibs are arguably the most IMPORTANT piece of equipment you can wear while skiing.
In other words, investing in a good pair now will ensure you have years of happy, comfortable riding ahead of you.
Today, there are a myriad of options available, as pants differ in design, warmth, waterproofing, etc.
Making the best choice for you will depend on your preferred skiing style and budget.
If you tend to stick to resorts, then you’ll probably want resort pants that are well-insulated to keep you warm on chair lifts.
If you're a backcountry skier, then the best ski pants or bibs for you will be ones with greater mobility and breathability.
That being said, the sheer amount of options on the market can be a LITTLE overwhelming, which is why we’ve put together this buyer’s guide to help you make the best choice!
Below is a list of the top 15 insulated ski pants and bibs available for purchase in 2021.
The Arc'teryx Sabre AR ski pant is designed for ambitious skiers with state-of-the-art weather protection and next-level mobility for maximal performance on the slopes.
The durable yet agile Gore-Tex 3-Layer construction of the Arc'teryx Sabre AR expels moisture while maintaining flexibility and allowing you a full range of motion.
Even on the snowiest of days, the Arc'teryx Sabre AR has a Slide n Lock attachment points, which means you can fit your pants to any compatible Arc’teryx jacket in order to keep snow out and keep you bone dry.
On colder days you can enjoy some insulation from the flannel backer. You can also layer up underneath for extra warmth in winter temperatures.
The dual side zippers on the Arc'teryx Sabre AR provide you with rapid ventilation when needed to make sure you can keep cool even when you’re exerting yourself to the max.
Keprotex inserts also help to protect the garment from any boot or ski edge-induced abrasions.
Overall, these Sabre AR pants are a fantastic purchase for even the most seasoned rider.
If you’re on a lower budget but don’t want to compromise on quality, the North Face Freedom insulated pants are one of the best ski pant options out there.
The North Face Freedom insulated ski pant provides excellent protection from precipitation, rain and wind so that you can stay warm and dry even on the snowiest of days.
This ski pant also has a 2-layer DryVent coating on the North Face Freedom insulated pant provides additional waterproofing to ensure you don’t get soaked.
The North Face Freedom pant has a tailored fit to keep you looking stylish. Plus, there are storage pockets to make sure you can keep your essentials on you, and inner thigh side vents to help you cool off on strenuous descents.
To keep you comfy and warm, you can’t go wrong with a classic pair of North Face Freedom insulated pants.
While the North Face Freedom pant is a great value option, be aware that some of the features aren’t as brilliant as more premium ski pants.
For example, the zippers and seams around the zippers aren’t waterproof, and neither is the thigh pocket.
In other words, The North Face Freedom ski pant can leave your valuables vulnerable to the elements.
However, if you’re willing to leave your phone and other essential items somewhere else while you ski, the North Face Freedom pants are still one of the best ski pants out there in terms of value!
A reliable brand, Arc’teryx makes a second appearance on our list of the best ski pants with their Cassiar Pant.
Unlike the North Face Freedom pants, the impeccable design of this garment means you can benefit from a protective 3-layer Gore-Tex membrane, which will keep you protected from the wind and snow, as well as a supple 4-way stretch fabric, which allows you to move as freely as you please.
Like the Sabre AR pant, the Cassiar has a brushed flannel backer for extra insulation and comfort while skiing.
Internal adjusters allow you to tighten or loosen the waistline as needed, in addition to giving you an attractive, streamlined look.
Mesh-lines PowderGuard vents let you expel heat rapidly on hot days or after a particularly strenuous ride. PowderCuffs also prevent snow from slipping in your boots, while Keprotec insteps protect your hems against damage from sharp ski edges or boots.
Arc’teryx prides itself on designing simple and high-performing ski wear, and the Cassiar pants are no exception. If you’re in a position to invest in a pricier pair of insulated ski pants, then these certainly won’t let you down.
Fans of Arc'teryx are going to love these Beta SV bibs
Arc’teryx Beta bib is tailor-made for adventurous riders that love backcountry skiing.
With a design that emphasizes protection from abrasions, cold water, ice, snow, rain and wind, this bib is perfect for tough alpine ventures.
The 3-layer Gore-Tex layer provides breathable, waterproof protection against the elements, while the relaxed fit still allows for a full range of motion.
The garment also comes with reinforced areas that are prone to abuse and abrasion, making it extra sturdy and durable.
To prevent wear and tear from boots and crampons, the Beta SV incorporated Keprotec instep patches and a 100D Cordura PowderCuff which can be fixed onto boots.
WaterTight Zippers ensure no melting ice or snow can enter the garment on extreme weather days, and a drop seat is at your disposal for when nature calls.
A central bib pocket is there to keep your essentials safe, and a flapped thigh pocket is available for extra convenience.
All pockets are optimally placed so as not to get in the way of climbing harnesses.
If you’re more of a bib person, then this is your premium option.
The big advantage of the Arc’teryx Beta bib over the same brand’s Cassiar or Sabre is the additional warmth and protection you obtain simply from having more coverage.
Plus the bib has slightly more storage pocket space, making them one of the best ski pants on our list.
If you know you get chilly or like to carry a number of items on you while you ski, then you might be better off opting for a bib over pants.
The Helly Hansen Velocity Insulated Ski Pants is designed for versatility. With the Primaloft synthetic insulation, you get plenty of extra warmth on cold days, plus you have ample waterproofing courtesy of the Helly Tech Performance fabric.
The boot gaiters will also ensure you keep snow out, and the garment even comes with a RECCO Advanced Rescue System making sure you’re extra safe when tackling the slopes.
The pants are a regular fit, i.e. neither slim nor oversized. They’ve also got a 2-way stretch meaning you will have freedom of movement while wearing them.
The 60g Primaloft Black insulation works by efficiently trapping heat using apricots created by ultra-fine fibers in the fabric. Synthetic material does not absorb water, so you'll remain warm and dry, even if the pants become wet.
The pants have two zippered inner thigh vents for dumping heat when it starts to get humid in the garment, and there are dual zippered handwarmer pockets to keep your mittens toasty.
Additional features of the pants include belt loops, articulated knees and fully taped seams.
The Outdoor Research Blackpowder II pant is one of the most innovative designs on the market. It’s created to be versatile, and perform optimally in subzero temperatures with blue skies as well as single-digit temperatures and rainfall.
A lot of research has gone into making this garment from Outdoor Research as streamlined as possible while keeping it functional and highly protective.
These Outdoor Research pants are made with a wind and waterproof membrane that’s as breathable as it is durable.
You’ll have ample protection whether the wind gusts or powder climbs up to your waist. If you decide to do a bit of backcountry skiing, the articulated knees on the pants will help you make unhindered strides and the avalanche beacon pocket will remind you not to go out of bounds without you avalanche safety gear.
For extra durability, these Outdoor Research pants come with reinforced scuff guards, and the stretch gaiters make sure snow doesn’t get in.
If you like skiing in all kinds of conditions, then these pants are a perfect choice.
The Strafe Outerwear Capitol is another pair of pants designed with an emphasis on versatility. The Polartec Neoshell fabric is extremely waterproof and will keep you dry as a bone even on the deepest powder days of winter.
Despite this, they’re still highly breathable and will keep you comfortable dry and ventilated on long ski days with strenuous activity.
The fabric is also adequately stretchy, so it won’t get in your way when it comes to agility.
When you need extra ventilation, the thigh and hamstring vents allow you to dump heat and keep you cool and comfortable even when exerting yourself to the max.
The pants also come with an adjustable waist for the perfect fit, and a Cordura reinforced hem to protect the garment against abrasion from ski boots and ski edges.
The heavy-duty pants are constructed with a sturdy three-layer Gore-Tex build with fully taped seams and a water-resistant DWR coating to ensure not a drop of water can get through the garment onto your skin.
The double powder cuffs are also reinforced in the inner legs to prevent any wear and tear from ice, snow, boots or ski edges.
The internal gaiter forms a water-tight seal around your boots and stays in place thanks to gripper elastic and tie-down loops. When things start getting strenuous and you start to swear, the full-length side zips allow you to rapidly dump heat and let cool air in.
For extra flexibility and ease of movement, the pants also come with an articulated pattern and gusseted crotch.
Patagonia is a trusted brand for all snow sports gear, and the Triolet Pant is no exception.
With 40g of Primaloft Eco lightweight insulation, these pants come with extra warmth without any of the bulk.
Plus, it’s constructed with post-consumer recycled materials making it a highly ecological option as well as a practical one.
The intuitive Ripstop Membrane is breathable and waterproof, keeping you dry and protected throughout your alpine venture. The outer thigh vents also allow you to dump heat when things get sticky on strenuous or extra-warm spring days.
If you like freeride skiing, then you’ll know that your gear needs to be as tough as you are.
The Woodrow Insulated Pants are made to be resilient so you can take a tumble without risking any damage to your ski pants.
The pants also have handy storage space with a total of 4 pockets so you can keep all your essentials handy while on the slopes.
The Spyder Sentinel Pant is another solid option for a versatile, high-performing pair of ski pants. The regular fit can be adjusted to fit you perfectly, with adjustable suspenders and waist.
The thigh ventilation zips make it quick and easy to dump excess heat when needed, and the articulated knee construction and reinforced powder cuffs make the garment extra sturdy, durable and resistant to abrasion.
Gore-Tex is highly breathable and waterproof fabric, keeping you dry and comfortable throughout your time on the slopes, while the 40g Primaloft Black Insulation means you can stay cozy and warm while on the chairlift.
Additional features of the pants include inner snow gaiters with gripper elastic, fully taped seams and articulated knee construction.
The Patagonia Powder Bowl Pants are a favorite among seasoned skiers, and it’s easy to see why.
The zippers on the Powder Bowl pants are all watertight and the pockets all come with protective flaps. The DWR coating is water repellent and keeps out any moisture that tries to seep in. The pants are windproof and the gaiters keep snow out from the ankles.
While the standard pants come uninsulated, it’s possible to purchase insulated versions at a slightly elevated price.
The insulated version of pants will keep you warm and dry even in subzero temperatures with just a base layer on underneath.
However, in warmer, springtime conditions it’s better to opt for uninsulated to avoid getting too hot.
If you find yourself overheating, the side vents allow you to drop heat instantly.
However, they are lined with mesh to protect from incoming snow and this can result in reduced airflow. In my opinion, this is a small price to pay for staying warm and dry!
With a 2-layer Gore-Tex construction and scuff guards at the base of each leg, the pants are designed to outwit the elements. Even after a lot of use, these pants will remain in tiptop condition.
The AltoStratus Gore-Tex bibs come with the reputable Gore-Tex membrane to keep you dry from both perspiration and powder.
The recycled fabric membrane is stretchy and comes in a relaxed fit so that you have ample flexibility for all manner of movement, including any wild stunts you might have up your sleeve.
To top it off, the high top and suspenders will keep you protected up to the chest as well as looking stylish.
Burton is a great go-to brand for casual skiers on a budget, and the Gore-Tex Reserve Bib proves why that’s the case.
The 2-layer Gore-Tex is highly waterproof and breathable keeping you protected on the outside and dry on the inside.
The relaxed fit is comfortable and gives you plenty of room for movement.
The total sealing on the garment keeps out snow and moisture, while the storage pockets allow you to stash essentials like snacks and devices.
The Obermeyer Force Snow Pants come with ample warmth due to the 40g synthetic insulation. The 2-way stretch fabric along with Full-Motion articulation also allows for flexibility agility on the slopes.
The Skier Critical seam sealing means you are protected from the elements in the most crucial areas.
The Durable water repellent (DWR) finish forms an extra protective barrier against moisture trying to seep into the garment.
The pants have Control Zone Ventilation with mesh gussets to dump heat when things get steamy and hem gussets help keep snow out.
The pants also come with a reinforced seat and knees for extra durability, and the adjustable waist means you can get a perfect fit, perfect for a skier of any skill level!
Obermeyer are so confident in their designs that they offer a limited lifetime warranty, which is a sure sign of durability and quality.
Designed with Volcom’s modern articulated fit, the Articulated Pant has a higher rise and a slimmer leg to give a more ergonomic feel to the garment.
Beyond appearances, the premium waterproofing and breathability means you’ll be cool, comfortable and dry in the pants even after extended use.
The fully taped seams work to further prevent snow and moisture from getting in, and the zip tech pant to jacket interface and breathable lining system mean you can easily attach the pants to a compatible jacket and get extra protective coverage.
The Stretch Twill and Stretch Oxford fabrics also allow for ease of movement when making turns and twists down the slopes.
The fabric as well as the interior taffetas are made using REPREVE recycled yarns which are made from at least 95% post-industrial and post-consumer waste. This makes them a great choice for the ecological buyer.
Before you make any definitive choice about which of the buyer’s guide pants to opt for, here’s a quick guide as to what to consider when making your purchase.
The shell of your ski pants is an important factor to consider. Here’s an explanation of the key differences between the two.
A hard shell provides far more weather protection than a soft shell. They are fully windproof, waterproof and breathable.
Often, ski pants are made of Gore-Tex, as it provides maximal weather protection while remaining breathable.
Softshells are flexible and air permeable. This means they will protect you from the elements, but will not shelter you.
They are best suited for skiers in mild weather, that isn't going to be too humid.
Soft shells are good at keeping your temperature down during strenuous skiing and they are more flexible than hard shells too.
Whether they're made with Gore-Tex or not, 3-in-1 Ski Pants have an external waterproof and weatherproof layer, as well as an insulating layer that can be fitted inside the pant for extra warmth.
This allows for more versatility as you can opt to wear just the shell on warmer days and add your inner layer when the temperatures drop.
|Waterproof Rating||Performance & Protection|
|0 - 5,000 mm||Little to no protection against moisture|
Drizzle and light dry snow
|5,000 - 10,000 mm||Rain- and waterproof under light pressure|
Light rain and normal snowfall
|10,000 - 15,000 mm||Rain- and waterproof under medium pressure|
Average rain and normal snowfall
|16,000 - 20,000 mm||Rain- and waterproof under high pressure|
Heavy rain and wet snow
|> 20,000 mm||Rain- and waterproof under very high pressure|
Very heavy rain and wet snow
Waterproofing is one of the most important factors to consider when it comes to buying a pair of ski pants.
Different brands and designs will come with different waterproof fabric ratings.
The rating indicates how much water a fabric can deflect before it starts letting moisture seep in.
Conveyed in millimeters (mm) the point at which water penetrates the material determines the rating. The higher the rating, the more waterproof the garment is.
For a pair of pants to be considered waterproof, it needs to have a rating of at least 1,500. Gore-Tex, however, with its advanced technology, has a much higher rating.
If you like skiing in all types of weather conditions and for long durations of time, then it’s a good idea to opt for pants with a high waterproof rating to make sure you don’t get soaked at the end of each day.
However, usually the price of a garment increases proportionally to its waterproof rating.
The seams of your pants will help determine how waterproof they truly are.
For instance, if you're a fan of backcountry ski trips, you'll want fully sealed seams, which are more durable water repellent.
As the name suggests, fully taped just means that the entirety of the seam is taped. This makes a garment extra waterproof as it doesn’t allow any moisture to seep in.
This is achieved by placing a waterproof taping material on both sides of a seam. If you want to be fully protected from moisture while skiing, then go with full taped seams.
However, this will usually hike up the price of a pair of pants.
Critically taped seams are usually less expensive than fully taped ones. In this case, pants are only taped at the most vital areas to keep so as to you dry where it really matters.
When skiing, you are very exposed to the elements. For this reason, fully taped is usually the better option.
However, if you’re on a lower budget, then critically taped will suffice.
You'll often hear of ski pants referred to as either bibs or pants. Let's take a look at each.
Ski bib enthusiasts prefer the style as it provides good all-round protection, simply because it has larger coverage and protects the chest and torso as well as the legs.
Ski bibs also have more storage space, principally due to the front torso pocket. They can also be more comfortable as you don’t ever have to worry about them falling down.
Many skiers simply prefer how bibs look compared to pants as well.
Some skiers prefer the style of pants and the ease in getting them on and off compared to bibs.
They’re also more lightweight than bibs.
|Breathability Rating||Breathability Level & Use|
|0 - 5,000 grams||Low breathability|
Useful for wearing around town and low-intensity activity
|5,000 - 10,000 grams||Medium breathability|
Good for medium intensity activities like hiking or biking
|10,000 - 15,000 grams||High breathability|
Ideal for demanding activities like skiing or snowboarding
|> 15,000 grams||Extra high breathability|
Excellent for long periods of high-intensity work with no breaks
Breathability is another very important feature to look for on a pair of pants or bibs. That’s because it tells you how much the pants will allow you to expel sweat and water vapor while skiing.
How well a garment can do this is determined by fabric pores which, in materials like Gore-Tex, are the perfect size for blocking outside water moisture and still allowing sweat molecules out.
The breathability rating is conveyed in grams (g).
It’s calculated by finding the Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate (MVTR) and seeing how many grams of sweat can be expelled per 1 square meter of material.
The higher the number, the more moisture was expelled and thus the more breathable a garment is.
A higher breathability rating will help you keep your temperature comfortably stable, so it’s a very desirable attribute of ski wear.
Ski pants with a very high breathability rating, i.e. greater than 20,000g, will keep you cool and dry in nearly all conditions. These pants are so breathable, you will stay dry even after intense physical activity.
Ski pants with a high breathability rating, i.e between 15,000 and 20,000, are a good option for skiers who get sweaty occasionally.
Generally speaking, these pants will keep you dry throughout the day.
Pants with moderate breathability ratings, i.e. 10,000-15,000g, are the most common as they still provide decent breathability but aren’t made of high-cost advanced fabrics.
These pants will keep you dry and comfortable so long as you stick to moderate activity with only occasional outbursts of more intense movement.
Pants with mild breathability, i.e. 5,000-10,000g will be perfectly comfortable for light to moderate exertion, but if you really work up a sweat you might get uncomfortable.
As you might expect, the higher the breathability rating, the more expensive the ski pants.
Uninsulated pants come with zero insulation and you will need to make sure you layer up underneath your pants to stay warm in very cold temperatures.
Insulated pants will have either fleece or a synthetic material like Primaloft lining the interior of the garment. Some will just be insulated in critical areas.
Many skiers opt for pants with 3-in-1 pants which come with a removable insulation layer. This way they can adapt their level of insulation to the day’s weather conditions.
Insulation is measured in grams. The higher the number in grams, the more insulation the fabric provides. The range is usually between 30 and 800 grams for skiing pants.
The powder cuffs of your pants will usually show the most wear and tear as they come into contact with ski edges.
Look for pants with reinforced powder cuffs or scuff guards on the hem as they will provide some protection against abrasion.
This feature is particular to ski pants, as snowboard pants don’t require them. Internal gaiters, also known as powder cuffs, will keep snow out of your boots for an extra protective feature.
Ski pants usually come with smaller cargo pockets just like you’d find on your favorite pair of jeans.
Pants without pockets are typically less bulky in appearance but are not ideal when it comes to stashing your things.
So if you like to keep your essentials on you, then opt for cargo pants or pants that state they come with ample pocket space.
Even highly waterproof pants can get soggy when you’re sat on a wet chairlift for a long time.
Look out for pants that have reinforced fabric in the seat and knees and other places where you have the most contact with wet surfaces.
This will help keep you extra dry throughout the day.
Vents are very important for expelling excess heat on hot days.
Look for ski pants that come with either inner and outer thigh vents, or even both.
This will help you cool down rapidly when you start to feel yourself overheating.
Finally, before you make your choice, let’s review some of the most frequently asked questions that might still be lingering on your mind.
The way your ski pants fit should be one of the most important concerns when looking for a new pair. But the trick is that they shouldn't be too tight or too loose.
Ideally, you want to find a pair of ski pants that will fit properly and feel comfortable when you're crouching or moving around on the slopes.
Snowboarders usually prefer going with slightly looser or baggier pants. However, when it comes to skiing, your pants should be loose enough to allow for a broad range of movement, but tight enough that they won't put you at risk of getting caught on things.
In short, no, you don't NEED to wear anything under your ski pants. However, I highly recommend wearing either pajama pants or long underwear, especially if you're wearing a pair of uninsulated ski pants.
Having this extra layer ensures that you'll stay warm on those chilly winter days, and you'll be less likely to feel the effects of the wind-chill on those blustery days.
For more info, check our guide on what to wear under snow sports clothing.
Once again, the most important thing here is that your ski pants fit properly.
However, you'll generally want your ski pants to be slightly longer than your everyday pants. This is mainly because you'll want them to cover your ski boots, which will prevent any snow or ice from getting inside.
I recommend aiming for ski pants that are about 4 or 5 inches longer than your everyday pants to ensure a proper fit.
Although which style of snow pants is better truly depends on your preference, there are certain pros and cons to wearing either ski pants or bibs.
For instance, bibs generally offer better protection from the cold. Not to mention the fact that they usually offer more adjustability and usually come with more pockets and storage.
On the other hand, ski pants are sometimes more comfortable since they're less bulky.
They're also more lightweight than bib-style pants. However, with ski pants you won't get as much protection from the cold, and there are generally fewer pockets available for storage.
Although both ski pants and snowboard pants are similar, there are a few subtle differences between the two. For instance, snowboard pants are generally designed to provide of looser, baggier feel, which allows for greater freedom of movement, ideal for taking jumps and performing tricks.
On the other hand, ski pants are usually snugger and form-fitting. This allows for less wind resistance and means you won't have to worry about getting your pants snagged.
In the end, you can theoretically use ski pants for snowboard or snowboard pants for skiing. But the important thing is to purchase a pair of pants that you feel comfortable wearing while you're out on the slopes!
The right ski or snow pants are an absolute necessity when it comes to optimizing your next ski trip.
Not only do ski pants keep you protected from the cold on these windy winter days, but they'll also keep you protected from melting snow and ice, and with the right pair, you'll have the ability to open your vents to cool off or warm up when needed.
With that said, there are literally hundreds of ski and snow pants from dozens of different manufacturers currently available on the market.
Therefore, it's best to shop around, learn about the different makes and models available, and to look for a pair of pants that you're going to love wearing for many years to come!
Whether you’re on a low budget or looking for a premium product, it’s always worth taking the time to do your research and find the best pair for you.
Hopefully, this buyer’s guide has assisted you in your search for your dream ski pants.