The Best Ski Pants in 2021

Ski pants may not seem like the most exciting part of your gear, somehow they don’t seem as flashy as your ski helmet or your goggles, but let’s be honest: you won’t be hitting the slopes without them! Snow pants are one of those essential items that we all need a great pair of.

On that note, not all ski pants were created equally – if you want the right fit, warmth, breathability, waterproofing and overall functionality for your personal needs and budget, then it’s worth investing some time in checking out the options. We have gone ahead and analyzed the pros and cons of some of the top ski pants available. Take a read and let us help you find the best ski pants for you!

arcteryx sabre ar snow pants mens
  • Outer Material: N80p-X Gore-Tex with Nylon Cuffs
  • Insulation: laminated fleece
  • Waterproofing: Triple Layer N80p-X Gore-Tex
  • Warmth: moderate
  • RECCO reflector
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These streamlined pants deliver excellent weather protection in top quality. They aren’t cheap, but they are going to keep you dry and comfortable no matter what Mother Nature has in mind. They are 100% water and windproof with sealed seams and zippers. The Arc’teryx Sabre’s fit well on a wide variety of body types and are simply well made: they feel great on and are very durable.

These aren’t the warmest ski pants available, although they fit with enough space for layering. The advantage of these mid-warmth pants is they are very versatile and can easily be used for mid-winter deep freeze conditions mid-winter to sunny spring skiing. Not only are they versatile, but they have really good ventilation with extra-long external legs vents.

The sleek design doesn’t have a ton of extra features, which actually makes them ideal for the backcountry since there are no flaps, large pockets or extra fabric that could get caught in the trees. They do have 2 pockets located on the thighs with enough space for your keys and phone. Powder cuffs also make these pants ideal for deep powder or groomed tracks – whatever you are up for!

Pros:
  • Excellent waterproofing
  • Very comfortable
  • Great ventilation
  • Powder cuffs, with straps
  • Lightweight
Cons:
  • Pricey
  • Limited features

Patagonia Snowshot Pants – Men’s

The Best All-Round Resort Snow Pants

patagonia snowshot pants mens
  • Insulation: hanging liner
  • Waterproofing: “H2N0” waterproof/breathable laminate
  • Warmth: moderate
  • Weight: 678g
  • RECCO reflector
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It’s hard to go wrong here: these pants deliver all around and won’t break the bank. They may not dominate with any particular feature, but they haven’t really got any weak points either. The Patagonia Snowshots are basic snow pants that are simply good at everything. They have great waterproofing including sealed seams, fit well and have basic features such as powder cuffs.

They don’t use Gore-Tex, but are highly waterproof thanks to Patagonia’s patented H2No fabric, although slightly less breathable than higher-end Gore-Tex pants would be. The external vents are located on the inner – upper legs, making them somewhat less effective than outer leg vents, but they definitely help shed some heat and welcome some airflow.

All in all these snow pants perform all around and are an ideal option for anyone who wants great quality and great performance without the bells and whistles.

Pros:
  • Great waterproofing
  • Good fit
  • Decent ventilation
  • Powder Cuffs
Cons:
  • Compromised breathability
  • Vents located on inner legs

The North Face Freedom Insulated Pants

The Best Value Snow Pants

the north face freedom insulated pants
  • Insulation: hanging liner, 60g Heatseeker Eco polyester
  • Waterproofing: 2-layer DryVent breathable fabric
  • Warmth: moderate
  • Weight: 780g
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These may not be the fanciest snow pants available, but if you are on a budget, you won’t find a product that offers you more value than the Freedom model. The material is highly waterproof and acceptably breathable; however, the pocket zippers aren’t sealed and the contents are therefore exposed to precipitation, especially the thigh pocket as it only has a Velcro closure.

They may be slightly bulkier than average, but they still provide a reasonable range of motion. They fit well and are pretty comfortable with their soft fleece lining. The mesh-backed external vents do provide some ventilation, but the mesh and the location on the inner legs prevent maximum airflow, although the mesh backing helps keep out the snow in deep conditions.

Standard performance, great price – and if that hasn’t sold you, they come in 10 colors!

Pros:
  • Great waterproofing
  • Good fit
  • Reasonable range of motion
Cons:
  • Seams and pockets not fully sealed
  • Ineffective vents

Patagonia Powder Bowl Pant – Men’s

The Best All-Mountain Snow Pants

patagonia powder bowl pant mens
  • Outer Material: 150-denier 100% recycled polyester
  • Insulation: hanging liner
  • Waterproofing: double layer Gore-Tex
  • Warmth: moderate
  • RECCO reflector
CHECK PRICES

These pants are an excellent choice for anyone who is looking for high-quality protection that will serve them all over the mountain and backcountry too. The Gore-Tex shell delivers exceptional waterproofing, including waterproofed zippers and protective flaps over the pockets, and the Powder Bowl pants are perfectly windproof as well. Mesh backed vents on the outer leg let the air in while keeping the snow out. While the narrow-weave mesh does somewhat reduce the airflow compared to open vent models, it also makes these pants well suited to the backcountry and deep powder adventures.

Designed by a company that excels in climbing and mountaineering gear, these snow pants are designed for movement and provide a great range of mobility with the tailored fit keeping close to the body without restricting movement. The only downside of the fitted style is that many skiers find it is a bit of a fight to get the powder cuffs over the ski boots, all-in-all a minor issue. In terms of fit, the Powder Bowl pants strike a great balance between being tailored but looking and feeling relaxed.

These are high-quality pants with enough mobility for the park and streamlined enough for the backcountry – and everything in between!

Pros:
  • Excellent waterproofing
  • Great fit
  • Tailored fit
  • Great durability
  • Powder cuffs
Cons:
  • Powder cuffs fit very tightly over the boots

Helly Hansen Men’s Legendary Insulated Pant

The Best Fully Insulated Snow Pants

helly hansen mens legendary insulated pant
  • Outer Material: HELLY TECH® Performance, 2-way stretch
  • Insulation: Primaloft® Black Insulation 60g
  • Waterproofing: Durable Water Repellence treatment (DWR)
  • Warmth: high
  • RECCO reflector
CHECK PRICES

Lightweight and warm, these snow pants are a very classic option. The subdued logo and simple design fit well with any jacket and the fit is a perfect mix between loose enough to feel roomy and narrow enough to still be streamlined. Not only do they look good, these pants feel good too: the wide-banded, adjustable waist, which also has belt loops, is super comfortable and fits all body types. With the reinforced knees and hems you can expect these pants to last as well.

The outer material is Helly Tech performance 2-way stretch fabric, which is lightweight and ensures unrestricted movement. Mesh-backed vents on the inner legs provide some airflow, but the location and mesh backing do limit the ventilation. The Legendary pants are very warm and the insulation does its job well without feeling puffy or bulky, making these our go-to insulated snow pants.

Pros:
  • Lightweight
  • Streamlined design
  • Adjustable waist with belt loops
  • Very comfortable
  • Very durable
Cons:
  • Minimal pockets
  • Inner leg vents only moderately effective

Columbia Bugaboo IV Pants Men’s

The Best Budget Snow Pants

columbia mens bugaboo iv pants
  • Outer Material: Omni-Tech™ Generation Dobby 100% nylon
  • Insulation: 60g Microtemp XF II 100% Polyester
  • Waterproofing: Omni-Tech™ waterproof
  • Warmth: moderate
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These pants offer all your basics packed into a comfortable, affordable package. Waterproof, with critically sealed seams, and breathable, you can expect to stay dry and comfortable on the ski hill. They are moderately warm, but not at all bulky thanks to Columbia’s Omni-Heat™ Reflective technology fabric.

If you are looking for a pair of comfortable, functional snow pants for those winter resort weekends but aren’t planning on skiing in extreme weather conditions or going on out-of-bounds adventures, then these could be a great fit for you!

Pros:
  • Adjustable waistband
  • Powder Cuffs
  • Zippered pockets
  • Decent waterproofing
Cons:
  • No external vents

Burton Avalon Bib Pants – Women’s

The Best Bib Style Snow Pants

burton avalon bib pants womens
  • Main Material: Stretch Polyester
  • Waterproofing: 2-Layer DryRide
  • Warmth: moderate
  • Weight: 862g
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These pants are styling’! Their super stretchy construction makes them feel as good as they look both on the hill and après ski. They are perfect for anyone who wants to soak up that Vitamin D on the hill, but they really aren’t designed to withstand harsh winter weather. With only moderate warmth and waterproofing, they will keep you comfortable on those bluebird days. The Avalon bib pants focus more on comfort and style than on-snow function.

Don’t let the focus on style fool you though, these snow pants have some great ski features including 2 fleece-lined handwarmer pockets as well as a zippered chest pocket. The adjustable bib straps and stretchy panel in the back of the pants make for a very customizable fit, even for taller women. The external legs vents work well and if you really need to shed some heat, the drop seat zippers can also be unzipped. There are drop seat zippers on both sides which means the wearer can decide which side to open, or both when nature calls.

Pros:
  • Awesome style
  • Great adjustability
  • Very comfortable
  • Drop seat zippers
  • Good ventilation
Cons:
  • Zippers are not waterproof
  • Drop seat zippers tend to slide down
  • No reinforced cuffs
  • Mediocre durability

Mountain Hardwear FireFall / 2 Insulated Pants

The Best Lightly Insulated Snow Pants

mountain hardwear firefall​ 2 insulated pants
  • Outer Material: 175 g/m² 140D x 160D 100% Nylon Plain Weave
  • Insulation: ThermalQ 40g/m2 (100% Polyester)
  • Warmth: moderate to high
  • Weight: 686g
  • RECCO reflector
CHECK PRICES

Here you have all the essentials packed into a simple pant with light insulation to keep you warm in a wide range of winter conditions. It may not be for everyone, but if low-rise pants are your thing, you will love the adjustable, low-profile waistline on these snow pants, complete with belt loops.

They come with 2 very standard, zippered hand pockets and 2 zippered vents on the inner legs help you shed some heat when necessary. The Firefall / 2 pants are relatively minimalistic and streamlined, but if you are looking for basic comfort and function for all-day laps at the resort then you can’t go wrong here!

Pros:
  • Adjustable waistband, with belt loops
  • Powder cuffs
  • Articulated knees
  • Good mobility
  • Reinforced hems
Cons:
  • Minimalistic design
  • Mediocre durability

Arctix Women’s Insulated Snow Pants

The Best Budget Snow Pants – Women’s

arctix womens insulated snow pants
  • Insulation: 85g ThermaTech
  • Waterproofing: ThermaLock coating
  • Warmth: moderate-high
CHECK PRICES

If you are looking for slightly warmer snow pants at a super affordable price then these are for you. Though fully insulated, these Arctix pants are not overly bulky and can be worn comfortably not only on the ski hill but for whatever other sledding, skating or winter activities you may have planned.

Basic features include 2 zippered pockets, powder cuffs and an adjustable waist that helps these pants fit most body types comfortably.

Pros:
  • Reinforced hems
  • Adjustable waist with belt loops
  • Boot zippers
  • Powder cuffs
Cons:
  • No vents
  • Mediocre waterproofing

What to Consider When Buying Ski Pants

Here are some basics to look out for when deciding which features you can’t do without and which ones are just nice-to-have. Your choice of ski pants will definitely need to take your personal style and budget into account, but make sure you take the functionality into consideration as well.

Waterproofing

No matter what kind of weather you are expecting or what kind of terrain you are tackling, waterproofing is probably the number one quality for great snow pants – being wet is never a good thing. The great news is that the technology behind waterproof coatings had become so advanced that indeed most ski pants and jackets are well waterproofed.

The main difference is the type of waterproofing. The crème de la crème are breathable, waterproof membranes, such as Gore-Tex: this means a fabric in which vapors can escape through the tiny pores but water cannot. Excess body heat can get out, but rain and snow cannot get in. The main advantage is that the waterproofness is a quality of the fabric itself and cannot wear off with time, although it can wear out.

The alternative is waterproof coatings. There is a wide variety of coatings, often called DWR (durable water repellent) coatings and they often consist of polyester urethane (PU), polyether urethane (PE), silicone or a combination thereof. All of the coatings can wear off with time, but most can be easily renewed with at-home treatments.

Today many outdoor clothing companies have their own unique, patented waterproof fabrics – combinations of membranes, waterproof coatings and other technologies – most of which perform quite well. The quality of the waterproofing determines how much water exposure a given material can withstand before leakage begins.

If you require your gear to be 100% waterproof then sealed seams and waterproofed zippers are essential!

Backcountry vs. Resort

Not to be overlooked, different features are better suited to different types of skiing. If resort laps are where it is at then you might love having lots of pockets, or a super cool baggy fit. If backcountry touring is more your jam you will likely lean towards a more tailored fit with no extra flaps or material that could potentially get hung up in trees or brush.

Most ski pants come with powder cuffs, also known as gaiters, which pull snugly over your ski boots and keep snow from going up your pants legs: an especially important feature in deeper snow conditions. If you know you will be spending a lot of time dropping into deep powder, then consider checking out if your ski pants and ski jacket are compatible: some actually snap together to provide one-piece protection with two-piece convenience.

Type of Skiing

The breathability and ventilation of your snow pants will become an increasingly important feature the more intense your activities become. If you are skiing hard or hiking uphill, external legs vents and breathable fabric are a must-have. If you are riding the lifts and cruising back down, then you may prioritize warmth or wind resistance over vents.

External legs vents are usually located vertically along the inner or outer thighs. Vents on the outer legs tend to catch more air and help shed heat faster whereas vents located along the inner legs are more shielded. Likewise, mesh-backed vents reduce the maximum possible airflow but have the advantage of keeping the snow out, whereas open vents allow for the most ventilation.

You will need to think about the range of motion as well, anyone spending time in the park or touring will want maximum mobility, whereas resort laps still require free movement, but generally not to the same extent.

Recco

Recco Avalanche Rescue Technology is the industry standard safety system and if you heading out of bounds, we would highly recommend that you choose gear which includes it. The Recco reflector is a tiny chip integrated into your gear: at just under 4g you won’t even notice it is there and it doesn’t require charging or any sort of care. The chip can be detected from up to 200m away through the air and 30m through the snow should a rescue team ever need to search for you.

Now, pull up your pants and hit the slopes!

About The Author

AthletePath Staff

We are a team of enthusiasts and professional athletes thriving to provide you with helpful advice on buying everything you may ever need to become a better athlete.

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