When you hit the winter slopes or trails during skiing season, you can expect cold temps and wet snow. Staying warm and dry is essential to having fun, so you need the right jacket, gloves, and boots.
A great pair of women's ski pants or a bib is also important! If you don’t pay attention to features like waterproofing, insulation, and breathability, you can end up cold, wet, and uncomfortable. There are seemingly countless options for ski bibs and ski pants for women, which makes it hard to choose. We’ve made things easier by picking our top ten best women's ski pants of 2021!
From the best overall to the best value to the best looking, here are the top ten women's ski pants:
The Arc'teryx Sentinel AR is the ski pant that checks all the boxes. It has a 100% nylon face fabric and Gore-Tex membrane. This material is the gold standard for many skiers because of its superior waterproofing and breathability ratings.
The Sentinel pant also boasts fully-taped seams, instep guards, WaterTight external zippers, and PowderCuffs. These features contribute to both waterproofing and durability. We also like the Slide 'n Loc attachment that works with compatible jackets and the removable waist belt.
There's no insulation in this 3-layer pair of pants, so you'll need a base layer or two to keep you warm. To stay cool when you work up a sweat, there are double side zips for ventilation. Other features include thigh pockets, a smaller stash pocket, a gusseted crotch for mobility, and a micro-seam allowance that reduces bulk. Lightweight, durable, and impressively waterproof, the Arc'teryx Sentinel AR are great shell pants.
The Outdoor Research Hemispheres bib isn't cheap, but it comes with top-of-the-line features that put it above the crowd. This shell ski pant is made from materials like a nylon main body, Kevlar scuff guards, and 3-layer Gore-Tex fabric.
The lining is made from GORE C-KNIT backer technology, which is lightweight, windproof, breathable, and waterproof. It's a great fit for all types of skiers, from resort skiers to backcountry fans. The adjustable suspenders, articulated knees, and gusseted crotch add comfort and mobility.
There are zippered outer thigh vents, as well as zip hand and bib pockets. Other features include YKK AquaGuard zippers, Avalanche beacon pocket with a clip, and stretch-mesh internal powder skirt with powder cuff. If you have the budget and love skiing, the Outdoor Research Hemispheres bib is worth the investment.
Want the best value for your money? The Avalon shell from Burton combines solid features with a reasonable price, so whether you're on a tight budget or don't ski enough to justify a higher price, these snow pants are a good option.
They're made from DRYRIDE 2-layer fabric and fully taped seams for waterproofing. The lining is Living Lining, which is a special lightweight fabric that expands when you're too warm and shrinks when you're cold. Maintaining a comfortable body temperature is also helped by the mesh-lined leg vents.
For pockets, there's a chest pocket with a media port and microfleece-lined handwarmer pockets. Other features include a zippered drop-seat construction, elasticized center back panel, and a slim fit that's perfect for a base layer and light mid-layer. The Burton Avalon uses bluesign materials.
This pair of pants offers three layers of stretch fabric (specifically Stormshell Intuitive polyester) with OmniBloq DWR. Durable water repellent coatings are essential to water resistance, and with the OmniBloq, you end up with something that’s three times better than most DWR. Waterproofing is also aided by fully-taped seams and waterproof zippers.
There’s no insulation, which makes the Flylow Foxy bib a shell. You get a convenient kangaroo chest pouch, two thigh pockets, and two chest pockets. To stay comfortable on the slopes, there are inner thigh vents. Powder gaiters and seamless cuff reinforcements keep snow away from your body.
The barn door zipper makes going to the restroom much more convenient, so you can wear these pants all the time and not get frustrated with untangling yourself from the bib every time you need to go. The straps are nice and stretchy, too, so you don’t need to unbuckle them every time you get in and out of the Flylow Foxy shell.
Many types of ski pants are shells, but there are insulated options, as well. This regular-fit pair from Columbia keeps you warm with 60 grams of 100% Polyester Microtemp XF insulation and Omni-Heat reflective taffeta.
This is a breathable material designed with tiny silver dots that reflect your body heat. The waterproof membrane is Omni-Heat, as well. The seams are critically taped, so the most important seams are water-resistant. To keep snow out of your pants, there’s a snap gusset on the lower leg, internal gaiter, and reinforced hem.
For storage, there are zippered hand pockets. The waterproofing on these pants isn’t as good as some of the other options on this list, but if skiers are prioritizing warmth and insulation, the Columbia Bugaboo pant is a good choice.
If you’re on the shorter side, it can be tricky to find pants that fit you. This pair of women's ski pants has an option with a short inseam, as well as a tailored performance fit, articulated knee construction, and adjustable waist.
The face fabric is polyester with a PFC-free DWR treatment. Bonded to that is a Gore-Tex laminate, so you get superior waterproofing and windproofing. Fully-taped seams keep every seam protected. Inside, there are 40 grams of Thinsulate insulation, a lightweight, warm material.
For storage, there are hand and leg pockets. Other features include a reinforced scuff cuff and internal snow skirts with gripper elastic. If you’re a short skier looking for insulated ski pants made from Gore-Tex, these are the perfect fit!
This ski bib shell is designed for harsh mountain conditions and the frigid winter season. It’s made from reinforced 3-layer Gore-Tex Pro for superior waterproofing, breathability, and durability. The WaterTight 2-way zippers come with drop seat options, so when nature calls, you don’t have to struggle out of the bib.
To protect the pants from your boot friction, there are Keprotec instep patches. The pants are further guarded against the snow with a powder cuff that comes with lace hooks that let you attach the pants to your boots.
To adjust the fit, there are adjustable suspenders. Need storage? There are two zippered pockets. Thanks to the regular fit and micro-seam allowance, skiers won’t feel constricted or weighed down. For safety, there’s a hidden RECCO reflector. If you’re a fan of tough backcountry skiing in harsh conditions, this bib shell is built to last and keep you well-protected against the elements.
We know that “best-looking” is a relative term, but with its unique high waist, we couldn’t ignore the Bogner Fire + Ice. It’s a sleek pair of regular-fit pants with straight legs and two snap buttons and a zipper.
The waistband has contrasting touch-fastening tabs, so you can get the perfect fit. There are also stretchy inserts at the side and shaping seams on the legs. These pants aren’t just good-looking, though. They have a water-repellent finish, sealed seams, and insulating 2-layer construction.
For storage, there are two side zipper pockets and two seat pockets with a zipper. The waterproofing and breathability aren’t super high, but they’re perfectly good for a mild winter season. The seams are critically taped. There are 60 grams of insulation, too, which helps keep you warm and comfy. If you’re in the market for a more unique pair of women's ski pants, consider the Fire + Ice Borja2-T.
These shell pants are made from a nylon and elastane softshell and HydroBlock Sport membrane. This membrane has a DWR polymer coating and has been independently tested, so you can feel confident when you hit the slopes.
While the waterproofing and breathability aren’t as high as other pants on this list, they are good enough for dry snow days. The Obermeyer is also designed with Full-Motion Articulation, making it perfect for comfort and flexible movement. The waistband is contoured and high-back. There isn’t insulation, but it’s lined with fleece to add some warmth.
Other features include lumbar pockets, YKK zippers, hem gussets, and powder cuffs with gripper elastic. The critically-taped seams and hems are reinforced, too, for increased durability. How the pants look is interesting, too. They come in a handful of colors and prints, like dark denim camo.
The Helly Hansen Legendary is made from 2-ply, bluesign-approved fabric with a DWR finish. The membrane is Helly Tech, which has a high waterproof rating and lots of breathability. On the inside, you can find 60 grams of Primaloft Black insulation.
It’s soft, warm, and lightweight. These women's ski pants are designed with a regular-fit style and the adjustable waist comes with belt loops. For pockets, there’s one on the back and two hand pockets. Maintaining a comfortable body temperature can be tricky, but the inner leg vents help a lot.
Other features include fully-taped seams, RECCO advanced rescue system, and water-resistant zippers. At a fairly affordable price, these could be considered a contender for best budget women's ski pants, especially if you find them on sale.
When we chose the best women's ski pants and bibs, what considerations did we have in mind? We looked at nine:
There are two types of ski pants: a normal pants style and a bib style. Both have their pros and cons, so what’s best is up to your personal preference. Regular pants tend to be more lightweight because you’re wearing less fabric on your body.
They also allow for better mobility and are more convenient when you need to use the restroom. Bibs, which look like overalls, have more storage space and better protection from the harsh elements. It’s harder for snow to get into a bib. Bibs can also be more comfortable because they don’t hug your waist.
|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
When it comes to staying dry, the waterproof rating is the most important factor. This rating is determined by filling a tube with water and holding it over the snow pant’s fabric. How many millimeters of water does it take before the fabric starts to get wet? That’s the rating a company puts on the pants.
Pants with ratings between 5k-10k mm are suitable for light rain and normal snow levels, while 10k-15k is good for average rain and snowfall. For heavy rain or snowfall, you’ll want pants with a rating of at least 16k, ideally 20k and higher. Gore-Tex is famous for its waterproofing, but there are other materials out there with good waterproof ratings, too. Generally, the price of the best women’s ski pants increases with higher waterproof ratings.
Ski pants and bibs can come with or without insulation. If they don’t have insulation, they’re called shells. A shell pant tends to be better at water resistance, though it will sacrifice a bit on warmth. You’ll need to wear a good base layer to stay warm.
Insulated snow pants use fleece or synthetic materials measured in grams. They’re a bit bulkier than shells for this reason. Most insulated pants have at least 30 grams of insulation. If you’re skiing in very cold temperatures, insulated pants may be the better option for you.
The seams on your ski pants affect its water resistance. There are two main types: fully taped or critically taped. With fully taped seams, there’s waterproof tape on both the inside and outside of the seams.
These seams tend to come on the best women's ski pants, so you'll pay more. Critically taped seams are more affordable, but there’s only tape on important parts of the snow pants. If you’re in very wet conditions, critically taped seams won’t protect you as well.
|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 on a snow pant is very important for your comfort. You want your sweat to evaporate or you’ll get wet and then cold. Breathability is measured in grams because the rating tells you how many grams of sweat per square meter evaporates in an hour.
The higher this rating, the more breathable the material is. For an active sport like skiing, we recommend a breathability rating of at least 10,000 grams. If you sweat a lot, you’ll benefit from higher breathability around 20,000 grams.
How many sizes are the pants available in? What fit options are there? The best ski pants will fit your body well, but won't be too tight. If they’re too snug, it’s uncomfortable and harder to move around. If they’re too baggy, you’ll be less aerodynamic and - in the case of regular pants - they’ll start slipping down.
Regular fit and slim fit are common options for women's ski pants. You can also find tall and short styles. If you aren’t sure what works best for your body type, check around for reviews to see if people are satisfied with the sizes and fit they got. Always double-check a brand’s return and exchange policies.
When it comes to a comfortable body temperature, a snow pant’s breathability rating isn’t the only consideration. Most women's ski pants and bibs these days have zippered vents on the inside or outside of the thighs. Some have vents in both places.
If you get too warm, you unzip the vents and let your body heat escape. When you get cool again, zip them back up. Vents lined with mesh are better at keeping out snow.
Good pockets are important. You’ll carry various gear like your keys, phone, and more, so you want to make sure they’ll be safe while you ski. If you tend to carry a lot of stuff with you, look for pants with generous storage space. Zippered pockets are ideal as they’re more secure. The benefit of bibs is that they have chest pockets for your phone.
If you get regular pants, you can buy a jacket with a chest pocket, so you don’t have to get a bib if you want to keep your phone near your chest. If you are backcountry skiing, make sure to look for a pair of ski pants with a beacon pocket. These beacons - which are radio transceivers - are necessary for emergencies.
Snow can easily get into the area between your pants and boots. When a pair of pants has elastic inner cuffs, they’re able to grip the boot and keep snow out. This cuff area is also prone to wear-and-tear, so look for pants with reinforced material. You can find scuff guards (or kick patches) which protect the bottom of the cuffs and help the snow pants stay durable for longer.
Size and fit are two buying considerations, but what works best for women's ski pants? At the end of the day, it’s up to your personal preference, but baggy snow pants will not give you the best experience.
If they’re baggy, that means they’re too big and there’s too much material for your body. They’ll weigh you down. The pants shouldn’t be painted on either, so a size that falls between too tight and too baggy is the way to go. Because skiing is a very active sport, the best women's ski pants let you move easily and quickly.
You don’t wear your pants right against your skin. Base layers are very important, even if you're using a pair of insulated pants. Under your ski pants, you want something snug and thin like leggings, so you can easily move without added bulk. Very tight pants, like compression leggings, probably won’t feel great.
The material you choose matters, too. Moisture-wicking fabric is a must. This includes wool and synthetic fabrics. Many people wear synthetics because they’re more affordable. Cotton is not a great choice because it doesn’t wick moisture very well. When you sweat in cotton, that sweat stays against your skin and quickly makes you cold.
The same rules apply to socks. Stay away from cotton. Cushioning is also a factor for socks. A light to medium cushion is nice for added warmth and adds some padding to protect your feet and front of your leg from rubbing against your ski boots.
The main difference between ski and snowboard pants for women is fit. Snowboarding involves different movements like crouching, so pants for this sport are designed with a looser fit. Ski pants, on the other hand, have a snugger fit.
Ski pants also tend to have more subtle patterns because they’re designed for speed and practicality. Snowboarding, which has always been more about tricks, embraces bolder patterns.
Today, there isn’t as much divide between skiing and snowboarding styles, but you can still see some differences in how the pants are designed for either sport. So, is it okay to get ski pants for snowboarding or snowboarding pants for skiing? If you find a pair of snow pants you feel will work for both, go for it! If you want a separate pair of snowboarding pants, check out our list of best women’s snowboard pants.
Do you need to buy a pair of women’s ski pants if you’re a woman? Not necessarily, but there are a few design differences between men’s and women’s pants.
Pants sold for women tend to have smaller waist sizes and wider hips. If you have narrow hips, pants designed for men might work better. The key is to find pants with a secure waist and fitted, but not tight, legs. The snow pants that let you move the most comfortably are the pants best suited to you.
Most of the time, the leg opening of your ski pants is meant to go over your ski boots. This makes it less likely for snow to spill into your boots. To help secure that gap, you’ll want pants with a sturdy, rubberized snow cuff. This acts as a seal.
There are snow pants that are meant to tuck into your boots, but it’s much easier for snow to fall in. If you prefer to tuck in your pants, you should consider getting boot gaiters, which are “sleeves” that go over your boots and keep out debris and snow.
What ski boots should you get? Check out our picks for the top ten best ski boots of 2021.
When you're shopping for ski gear, it's easy to spend more time focused on the "cooler" pieces of clothing like helmets, boots, and jackets. If you were under the impression that the snow pants you wear don't really matter, hopefully, you think differently now! How do you pick ski pants? Look for the same features you would with a jacket, like waterproof and breathability ratings, size and fit, taped seams, pockets, and more.
Our top ten included the best overall women's ski pants, best premium, best value, best insulated, and more. The best ski pants will keep you warm and dry and comfortable for hours whether you're resort skiing, exploring the backcountry, or cross-country skiing.
If you're looking for a bit more protection, check out ski bibs. If mobility and convenience are more up your alley, regular ski pants work. When you pick your pants as carefully as you would your jacket or gloves, you'll have an awesome skiing season experience!