Which ski pants for women are best?
Hitting the slopes can be the highlight of cold weather for many people, but waiting for the right skiing conditions can leave you on the edge of your chairlift. It’s a good idea to have all your gear ready before ski season hits so when there’s a perfect powder day all you have to think about is you and the snow.
Ski pants are an essential piece of equipment, but finding the right ones can be a bit daunting. For a high quality overall pick, consider this high-end pair from Arc’teryx Sentinel.
What to know before you buy ski pants
Pants vs. bibs
Many think of just pants and jackets when picking out ski gear, but bibs, which are the ski-pant equivalent to overalls, can be a useful alternative to ski pants for a variety of reasons. Bibs do a better job of keeping snow out, as the material is brought up to the shoulders, so a tumble to your bum won’t mean snow in the pants. Bibs also tend to have more storage options. Furthermore, bibs rest on the shoulders, which can allow for greater mobility and fit more body types comfortably. It is important to remember, however, that bib straps can interfere with backpack straps, and that wearing a bib instead of pants can make going to the bathroom and changing layers a hassle.
Insulated vs. shell
Whether you choose pants or a bib, you’ll need to decide whether you want a shell or extra insulation. Shell pants and bibs are composed of a few layers of waterproofing material with little to no additional insulation, while insulated bibs and pants will have extra insulation all over or at least in a few key areas. Insulated pants are certainly warmer, but they can feel heavier and restrict movement. If you live in an especially cold climate or you ride chairlifts frequently, you may prefer an insulated option. However, for warmer climates or skiers that like to walk to runs, shell pants are often preferred because they allow you the room to layer underneath.
Consistency and type of use
Before you pick out a pair of ski pants, it’s important to consider what type of skiing you’ll be doing and how frequently. If you are a consistent or competitive skier, or if you find yourself skiing in remote areas, you won’t regret dishing out more money for the top-of-the-line products. But if you ski once or twice a year, and primarily ski at resorts, you will be fine paying less for something that has just what you need. The frequency and type of skiing you do will also affect how important the weight, breathability and storage options are for you.
While fit often comes down more to preference, it is a good rule of thumb to have pants that aren’t very tight or very loose, as you want room to move but not room for snow to climb inside. If you have a hard time finding pants that fit you well in all the right places, maybe look into getting a snow bib instead. Additionally, many brands will also offer “tall” or “long” ski pants designed to fit lankier body types, so keep an eye out for that.
What to look for in quality ski pants
One of the primary purposes of ski gear is keeping you as dry and warm as possible. That said, ski pants have a quantitative metric for determining how waterproof they are. It’s technically called the water column rating, but what you need to know is that a higher number is a more waterproof material. For most people, 10,000 to 15,000 is a good level of waterproofing, but some skiers may want 20,000 or more if they ski in especially wet conditions.
Measured similarly to waterproofing, breathability is an important and often underestimated aspect of ski pants. Skiing is an athletic activity, meaning you are likely to sweat. If that sweat has nowhere to go, it will condense on your body, making it even colder. Once again, 10,000 is a sufficient breathability rating for most users, but those who sweat a lot or do especially intense skiing should look for ratings closer to 20,000. Also, be aware that sometimes an increase in waterproofing can lead to a decrease in breathability, and vice versa.
Some ski pants will have zippered vents for additional breathability, allowing you to unzip and open up the mesh material to air out, and then zip them back up when you need that waterproofing. If you expect to ski multiple runs in a day, consider pants with added vents.
Your hands are very occupied while skiing, and you aren’t likely to have a purse on hand, so it is important to look for ski pants or bibs with a good variety of pockets. If you’re preparing to go out on the slopes, the last thing you want is to realize that you only have room in your pocket for a tube of chapstick. Think about how your ski day will go, what you will want to have with you, and consider pants with different amounts and configurations of pockets accordingly.
Cuffs and kick patches
The easiest place for your pants to wear out and for snow to get on your body is where your pants meet your boots, so many ski pants have developed specialized solutions for these issues. Cuffs are fitted with an elastic and rubber grip on the inside of your pants to create something of a seal when you pull your pant leg down over your boot and keep snow out. Kick patches are material reinforcements at the bottom of the pant leg to keep the material from being worn out by the tops of your boots. In both cases, these are designed for your pant legs to be worn over top of your boots, not underneath.
How much you can expect to spend on ski pants
Depending on your needs and budget, you can spend less than $100 or more than $500 on ski pants. For average skiers, pants costing less than $200 will be more than sufficient, as they tend to have good waterproofing and breathability. If you are a backcountry skier, professional skier, or you ski very regularly, you may want to invest in a pair costing between $300-$500, as they will have top notch function and features and will keep you from having to buy a new pair each season.
Ski pants FAQ
Should ski pants be tight or loose-fitting?
A. Somewhere in between. You want your pants to be loose enough that your movement isn’t restricted, but tight enough that snow can’t get in. Always keep in mind the type of base layers you’ll be wearing when determining pant size.
Are snowboard pants different from ski pants?
A. Not really. There are definitely pants marketed as one or the other, but in general, if your pants work for skiing they’ll work for snowboarding and vice versa.
What is RECCO?
A. RECCO is an avalanche safety system that ski teams and rescue personnel use to help find people trapped in an avalanche. The two-part system consists of a reflector and a detector, though some ski products will only have a reflector. The reflector reflects light so you can be easily spotted in the snow, while a detector will actually transmit an active signal for rescue teams to latch onto to find you.
What are the best ski pants for women to buy?
Top ski pants for women
What you need to know: At the top of almost every list, these pants combine the best of everything you want in ski pants.
What you’ll love: With durable construction that feels like it would stand up to anything, comfortable and warm fleece lining that isn’t too heavy, well-designed pockets, large leg vents, top notch waterproofing and gorgeous color options, these pants have little competition.
What you should consider: There aren’t as many pockets as some skiers would like, and they are also rather expensive.
Top ski pants for women for the money
What you need to know: These comfortable, warm ski pants perform well in every category compared to others in their price range. They’re perfect for less committed skiers and resort use.
What you’ll love: The perfect combination of high performance and low price, these ski pants offer a good amount of pockets, effective two-layer weatherproofing, warm but not heavy insulation and vents on each leg for breathability, all available in a myriad of sizes and colors so you can find the perfect pair for you.
What you should consider: Customers had difficulty finding the right fit. They’re not meant to withstand extreme weather or backcountry skiing.
Best ski bib for women
What you need to know: This top-of-the-line bib is made by skiers for skiers and has everything, including a bit of a cult following. This is perfect for high-intensity skiers who love to have the best.
What you’ll love: The high-chested, streamlined design of this fan favorite bib is comfortable and very flattering. Packed with multiple pockets placed just where you want them, long thigh-vents for added breathability, 20,000 ranking for both waterproofing and breathability, a side zipper for convenient bathroom breaks and a cuff guard to protect the pant from abrasive skis, this bib feels like a dream and comes in a ton of beautiful colors.
What you should consider: Due to being a shell, this bib isn’t very warm. It’s also pricey.
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Collette Bliss writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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