After a proper winter jacket, your ski or snowboard pants are the most important piece of apparel to keep you warm and comfortable while you shred the slopes. Whether you’re skiing or snowboarding, they have a tough job to do — keep your legs protected from the elements, allow for unrestricted movement, and uphold serious abrasion during unavoidable wipeouts.
The exact type of pant you choose depends on a number of variables, most notably the climate and weather conditions of the area you’ll be riding, as well as your goals. Backcountry skiers will likely opt for a different style than strictly resort-goers. For colder climates, you’re probably going to want an insulated pair while in wetter climates, you’re going to need a pair with the best weather resistance. To help, here are our picks for the best ski pants on the market.
The best overall pick for men — Arc’teryx Sabre ($500)
Exceptional craftsmanship comes with a price but Arc’teryx has proven its products are worth every penny. These pants feature a 3-layer Gore-Tex construction for ultimate protection from the elements whether you’re carving through deep powder or riding on high windy lifts. The softshell fabric allows for unhindered movement while 40 grams of fleece insulation keep your legs warm during backcountry tours. These pants are stormproof, equipped with fully taped seams, a DWR finish, watertight zippers, and internal stretch cuff gaiters that fit over ski boots.
In addition to protection from the elements, Arc’teryx made sure these pants would uphold any degree of mountainside bashing. Keprotec instep patches prevent abrasion and ski cuts while Cordura Powder cuffs seal out snow. The Sabre is made to be breathable with big outer thigh vents for releasing heat. With high marks in every category and an abundance of features, including large cargo pockets, the Arc’teryx Sabre is awarded our top pick for men.
The best overall pick for women — Arc’teryx Sentinel ($500)
If you’re looking for high-quality performance and freeride style, the Arc’teryx Sentinel delivers both. Another all-around product, the company designed the Sentinel to shoot down the chutes of the backcountry and to just as efficiently take on daunting obstacles in the terrain park. Similar to the Sabre, the Sentinel features 3-layer Gore-Tex construction with a soft shell for excellent maneuverability. A light flannel liner provides for just enough insulation for backcountry runs — for extended expeditions, however, you’re going to want extra layers.
This is a go anywhere, do anything type of pant and the only one you’ll need in your arsenal for almost any activity in the snow. The Sentinel features fully taped seams, a women’s specific fit, and full stormproof protection. Cordura Powder cuffs prevent the snow from coming in and thigh vents allow unwanted heat out. The product offers articulated knees and a gusseted crotch for when the going gets rough.
The best insulated ski pants for men — The North Face Freedom Insulated ($160)
For colder conditions when you want added warmth — or if you just want to lose the base layers — The North Face’s Freedom Insulated pant is an excellent option with tons of features. The pants are bolstered by 60 grams of Heatseeker insulation and designed in true alpine style. Waterproofing and windproofing seals out the elements while breathability provided by a chimney venting system lets you lose the heat, allowing these insulated pants to also be worn on warmer days.
Keep your essentials on hand in the myriad of pockets included in the design. This product is reinforced with kick-patches and edge-guards so you won’t have to worry about contact with sharp edges. StretchVent gaiters with gripper elastic ensure a regular fit and provide for easy equipment collaboration and unhindered movement.
The best insulated ski pants for women — Marmot Skyline Insulated ($124)
If you’re looking to go big in sub-zero temperatures, the Marmot Skyline helps you get there. Designed to be stylish and sleek, the Skyline was made for women who shred. These pants feature Marmot’s trademark MemBrain waterproof/breathable fabric and Thermal R insulation. Fully taped seams prevent any moisture seepage and a brushed polyester tricot adds an extra layer of warmth where you need it most. The only downside might be the lack of a ventilation system but these pants weren’t designed to be worn in warmer climates.
Internal leg gaiters and and gripper elastic help keep the snow out and the heat in. This product features two zippered hand pockets and one back pocket with a flap closure for your hands and small accessories. Cordura scuff guards at the cuffs are designed to minimize wear and tear.
The best uninsulated ski pants for men — Volcom Articulated ($210)
Although uninsulated, these pants are designed to be worn in a variety of changing weather conditions. They keep you dry while providing the utmost comfort and a stylish look. An articulated fit gives you excellent freedom of movement while back flap and cargo pockets allow you to carry the things you need most. Volcom’s V-Science waterproof breathable membrane combined with the V-Science stretch twill face fabric offer excellent abrasion resistance coupled with breathability.
An adjustable waistband gives you a custom fit with or without a belt. These pants also excel at handling spring slush with their excellent waterproof rating and mesh-lined zippered vents for dumping heat. When it’s time to take on that mid-winter pow, the vents can be closed for immediate internal temperature control. Bonus features? A reinforced back hem and a butt patch for added comfort on chairlift rides.
The best uninsulated ski pants for women — Mountain Hardwear Boundary Seeker ($500)
The Boundary Seeker is meticulously crafted to withstand the wettest elements with its seam-sealed, waterproof Polartec NeoShell. These pants were designed so you can ski harder and longer without sacrificing any creature comforts. Two hand warmer pockets are complimented with a rear zip back pocket and a single zip thigh pocket for carrying small essentials.
These pants were engineered with comfort and efficiency in mind, offering an adjustable waistband in addition to jacket and powder skirt integration. The 40D NeoShell ripstop ensures excellent abrasion resistance even through the gnarliest of wipe-outs.
The best ski bib pants — Outdoor Research Skyward Bib ($300)
The Outdoor Research Skyward Bib was designed to do anything and everything, performing at high levels at resorts or while touring the backcountry. The AscentShell 3 layer fabric does a phenomenal job of staying comfortable, breathable, and waterproof all at once. The fabric is a combination soft shell, rain shell, and air ventilator, featuring completely taped seams, stretchiness, and air permeability.
As if this package couldn’t get any better, the Skyward bibs are equipped with stretch-mesh internal gaiters, a power strap slot, and an avalanche beacon pocket. These are the only pair of bibs you’ll need and the only pair you’re ever going to want.
The best ski pants for the budget-conscious — Armada Gateway ($150)
These non-insulated resort pants might be simple but they get the job done in a big way. The Gateway is 100 percent seam sealed with a 10K waterproof/breathable rating and a DWR finish. Their moderately tailored fit assures a style aesthetic and offers enough simplicity so you can focus your attention where it needs to be — on tearing up the slopes. Its features include an adjustable inner waistband, boot gaiters, lower boot gussets, and mesh lined inner leg vents. Keprotec cuff reinforcements ensure durability and YKK zippers are standard throughout Armada’s line.
Although lacking in insulation, its loose fit allows enough room for plenty of base layers. When you don’t want to spend a fortune but you need a pair of quality ski or snowboard pants, the Armada Gateway is an ideal choice — and you may never want to go back.
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