After a proper jacket, your pants are the next most important piece of kit to keep you warm and comfortable while you shred the slopes. They have a tough job to do: a good pair of ski or snowboard pants keeps your legs protected from the elements, allows for unrestricted movement, and prevents abrasion during inevitable wipeouts.
The exact type of pant you choose depends on several variables, most notably what kind of conditions you’ll find yourself in regularly. Backcountry enthusiasts need a different pant than casual resort-goers. Insulation is more important for colder climates, while East Coast skiers and riders will probably benefit more from better waterproofing thanks to typically “wetter” snows.
Here are some of the best options we’ve found for the 2019-20 ski season, based on user reviews and personal experience.
Exceptional craftsmanship comes with a price, and Arc’teryx is one of those brands that put a dent in your wallet. But we think an option like theis potentially one of the best ski pants on the market today. Here’s why: the Sabre features a three-layer Gore-Tex construction for ultimate protection from the elements, and softshell fabric allows for unhindered movement. The 40 grams of fleece insulation will keep your legs warm during backcountry tours. The Sabre features 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. These pants will last you for several seasons and still look and perform like new.
The North Face Freedom
Given the usual pricing you see with The North Face, the is fairly cheap. But don’t confuse the low price with lower quality: this pant is one of the company’s best sellers. The waterproof and breathable DryVent shell keeps you dry in a variety of conditions, while a 60g layer of Heatseeker insulation ensures you stay warm.
North Face’s Chimney Vent cooling system directs airflow from StretchVent gaiters to vents located near the inner thigh, keeping you comfortable on warmer days. Freedom pants are durable: reinforced kick-patches and edge guards defend your investment from all kinds of hazards, whether the edge of your board or a gravel parking lot. As a side note, there is also a version of the Freedom pant for women as well.
686 Smarty 3-in-1 Cargo
686’s Smarty 3-in-1 jacket made our list of best jackets this season, so it’s only logical to recommend to this list. Like the jacket, you can wear the infiniDRY waterproof and breathable shell and zip-in fleece liner together on the coldest of days, and remove it to wear during those warmer springtime runs.
Open the zippered leg vents to give yourself some added airflow if you feel too warm. BOA-compatible boot gaiters make adjusting your boots possible without exposing your legs. The cargo pant design means more pockets than your average snowboard pant (a huge plus). Reinforced kick panels add durability, so your pants don’t get damaged when clicking into your skis or snowboard bindings.
Helly Hansen Legendary Insulated Pants
Our next recommendation from Helly Hansen is actually an insulated pant that has both and — the Legendary. True to its name, these pants are some of the best available on the market at the moment, and have been for a while. The shell is waterproof and breathable, while PrimaLoft insulation provides just enough warmth for those midwinter early morning bluebird runs.
Too hot? Open up the inner thigh vents for some additional ventilation. The pant cuffs feature scuff guards to prevent wear due to boot rub, and gaiters around the ankles keep snow out when you’re waist-deep in fresh powder. While they’re not the cheapest pants out there, we certainly think they’re more than worth plunking down a little extra money for, and a host of color options allow you to match them to just about any jacket in your wardrobe.
If you’re just starting out, you’re going to be putting out quite a bit of money all at once.is a good place to start, offering a mix of affordability and functionality. While this particular pant isn’t the most waterproof nor the most insulated, chances are when you’re learning neither will be too much of an issue. But just because its one of Burton’s lower-end options doesn’t mean it cheaps out on any necessary functionality.
The Society, like the rest of Burton’s women’s line, includes mesh-lined inner thigh vents for added ventilation, and snow-blocking boot gaiters and cuff elevators to protect the bottom of your pants from mud and pavement. Are your hands cold? Just slip them into the zippered handwarmer pockets to warm them back up before your next run. And with a variety of color options, you’re sure to find one that matches the rest of your outfit.
Roxy Cabin Pant
Roxy’s Jetty jacket made our list of best jackets for its great mix of style and quality, andis on our list of best snowboard pants for a similar reason. Their monotone color matches up with Roxy’s typically busier jackets, and if you own Roxy’s jacket, you can attach the pant to them to help keep snow out and keep you dry. The cut is slim and flattering, and with waist adjustment, you can ensure your pants stay tight even after the inevitable spill in the terrain park.
The Cabin features DryFlight technology, fully sealed seams, boot gaiters, and what Roxy calls “four-way mechanical stretch.” That’s a fancy way of saying you won’t feel constricted in these pants in any way. For the ladies who like to show up the boys in the park, this is good news. Women’s snowboard pants sacrifice mobility for style too often, but Roxy didn’t here. One thing to keep in mind is that these pants aren’t insulated, so those who ride in colder climates may want to look elsewhere.
Did you buy the Patagonia Snowbelle jacket? Why not purchase as well? Like the jacket, the pants feature the same H2No waterproofing and eco-friendly insulation, the latter of which has been improved for the 2019-20 season. You even get a moisture-wicking waistline and inner-thigh venting, both of which should make the Snowbelle a comfortable pair of pants to wear all season long.
Other features include an adjustable waist to customize the fit, reinforced gaiters, and a sustainable manufacturing process — not surprising considering Patagonia’s efforts to help save our environment. You can look and feel good on the slopes, all while protecting our planet at the same time.
How to choose the right pants
So how do you go about choosing the right pants for the slopes? You’ll want a few things out of a good snowboard pant, in our opinion: waterproofing, comfort, and durability. Especially if you’re a snowboarder, you’re going to find yourself on your butt in the snow regularly unless you’ve mastered the art of latching your bindings standing up (not everybody can). Nothing’s going to make you more miserable than a wet behind. All of our options above meet this requirement.
Comfort is the next thing you’ll want to look for. Especially when it comes to women’s pants, often style ends up taking precedence. In the park and even on the slopes, you want pants that are flexible and allow for movement. If you’re a West Coast skier, you’ll want insulation, too.
While these pants will be more expensive, they will lessen the need for multiple layers underneath, which only add bulk. We think East Coast-centric folks won’t need insulation as much — although we’ve gotten pretty cold in non-insulated pants out East on some midwinter runs. Insulation might come down to personal preference.
Choose your pants and jacket at the same time. You don’t have to buy the same brand, but there are advantages in doing so. Not only will you have a jacket-pant setup that matches well, but a lot of brands feature methods to attach your pants directly to the jacket.
This is helpful in deep powder or on snowy days. Snow will find a way inside your pants and jacket if you don’t have everything sinched together tightly. These systems work pretty well to prevent that, although most jackets these days come with powder skirts, which do provide some degree of protection.
Durability is also a concern. Your pants are going to go through a lot more than your jacket likely will. Most of our options above have some type of reinforcement in the ankle cuff area to prevent damage to your pants, which could ruin their waterproofing and insulation properties. If the pair of pants you’re looking for doesn’t have something like this, we recommend you look elsewhere.
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