There’s a significant difference between the just good and the best ski pants:
The best ski pants are not only comfortable, warm and will keep you dry. They are also highly breathable and sold at an affordable price.
In other words, the products we recommend ticks every box. Prepare for the Wild is an independent skiing site. This means we have no hidden agenda and all our options are based on extensive research and facts. We’re not afraid of telling you everything about the products we recommend, both the good and the bad.
So, without further ado, here are the best ski pants of the 2019-2020 ski season:
How to Choose the Right Ski Pants
Before you buy a pair of ski pants, there are several things you must consider so you can be sure you make a good purchase. In this guide, we’ll go through everything from getting the right fit to cool design features.
Size & Fit
Ski pants usually come in sizes slim, regular and loose. The first thing to make sure of is that the ski pants fit properly in the waist. If they are a bit too large you can always tighten them with the drawstrings or wear a belt, so better go for a bit too large than a bit too small. Belts can often be cumbersome so I would recommend trying to get a good fit from the get-go.
Make sure they are long enough so they cover the ski boots so you don’t get any snow in them. Another thing to keep your eyes for is a higher back. It will keep the draft off and if you fall you won’t get snow in your back or pants.
Some people prefer baggy ski pants for the added maneuverability and a more relaxed fit. Other people prefer a more slim style. In the end, it comes down to personal preference. No matter what style of ski pants you decide to go for, make sure to go for a bit wider fit than you would with regular streetwear. Here’s why:
Remember you want to layer under the ski pants so make sure you at least have space for a pair of thermals. A wider fit will also give you better mobility and trap more air so you’ll stay warmer longer.
Once you know what size and fit to go for, think about what weather conditions you are going to ski in. There are big differences in the types of ski pants best suitable for warm spring days and cold midwinter days. Three major things will decide the warmth of the ski pants: the material, the vents, and the insulation.
When it comes to insulation there are two ways to go. Either you choose shell ski pants or choose insulated ski pants.
Shell ski pants act as a breathable and windproof outer layer, but they lack insulation on the inside. They are perfect if you want a more lightweight alternative and will allow you to go for a more layered approach. Shell pants provide better agility and are the best option for warmer weather (such as spring skiing).
If you are going to ski in cold conditions or if you just prefer having insulation in the ski pants, insulated ski pants are the way to go. Insulated ski pants have, just like shell pants, an outer breathable and waterproof layer. On the inside of the insulated ski pants, you’ll find insulation usually made of fleece or Primaloft. The amount of insulation is measured in grams. The more insulation the pants have the better the warmth. However, more insulation also means a higher price. In ski pants, there are not as many insulated alternatives compared to ski jackets. This is because the legs generate more heat and don’t hose the internal organs.
Ski pants are usually made of some kind of waterproof breathable fabric (WPB fabric) such as Event, Hyvent or Gore-Tex. The general advice is to go for comfortable and lightweight materials. Heavier ski pants will be warmer, but it’s usually recommended in most conditions to go for lighter ski pants and wear another layer underneath for warmth.
The vents are the key to cooling you off. It will release excess heat. You usually find vents on the inside of the leg. Zippered vents will allow you to regulate airflow and if you feel it’s getting too hot, you can just open up the zippered vents for better airflow.
It’s crucial that the ski pants don’t leak any water. You’ll usually find a waterproof rating between 5000mm and up to 20000mm+ in ski pants. Be aware that the waterproof rating is not standardized so it can differ between brands and even models. The brands won’t often reveal exactly how they determined the waterproof rating. However, if you aim for a rating of over 10000mm, you can be sure to get waterproof ski pants.
The more waterproof a ski pant is, usually the more expensive it is. If you are going to ski in really wet conditions, don’t hesitate to go for ski pants in the upper 20K range.
Two other features you’ll see in ski pants for even better water protection is seam taping and a DWR finish. A DWR finish means that the ski pants have a water repellent coating so water rolls off the material. Seam taping means that all seams where water could leak in have been sealed with waterproof tape.
A good pair of breathable ski pants will help to transfer the sweat from your legs through the fabric and out in the air. If the ski pants have poor breathability you can easily get cold. The sweat will get trapped inside the pants and cool you down.
Picking breathable ski pants is about finding a good compromise between warmth and breathability. Warmer ski pants have generally worse breathability. To find out how breathable your ski pants are, look for a breathability rating.
How breathable ski pants you need depends on your ski style. If you are a resort skier that takes regular breaks in the chair lift or at the lodge, a breathability rating of 5000-10000 will be fine. However, if you are an active skier that usually break a sweat from your skiing, aim for a breathability rating of 15000-20000. If you are a backcountry skier that skin or boot thousands of vertical feet a day go for ski pants in the 20000+ range.
The look of the ski pants is of course important. Who doesn’t want a nice color that goes well with the rest of your ski gear? But when it comes to the design of the ski pants there’s much more to consider than the style. Many ski pants have some really neat features that can help you with everything from reducing the pressure of the knee to keeping you warm.
One often overlooked feature ski pants is the pockets. The placement of the pockets is crucial. You don’t want to have the pockets somewhere you’re likely to fall on, especially if you have valuables such as your phone in the pocket. Some ski pants have pockets made of fleece or another warm material so you can warm up your hand in the pockets.
If you are skiing in the backcountry make sure you have a Recco reflector. Over 600 ski resorts and rescue teams all over the world use the Recco rescue system to pinpoint a person exact location. Many ski pants come with a Recco reflector that can save your life if you get stuck in an avalanche or a tree.
Another cool feature available in some ski pants is articulated knees. Ski pants with articulated knees are sewn in a way so they already have a natural bend. This makes wearing the ski pants more comfortable in a normal skiing stance and will help taking pressure off the knee.
Best Ski Pants Reviewed
Helly Hansen Legendary:
The Helly Hansen Legendary is a lightweight ski pant that comes in 10+ different color options.
It has a two-layer fabric design. The outer face is made of 100% polyester and in the inner face is made of 100% Polyurethane. It comes with two hand pockets and one back pocket. All pockets have zippers, to keep your items safe and secure. The hems are reinforced to keep the pants from fraying.
One of the main reasons I recommend the Helley Hansen Legendary ski pant is the excellent protection it provides for any weather. It’s fully seam sealed so you don’t have to worry about any leakage in the seams. Even the zippers are water resistant. The outer layer is made of the Heolox++ rainwear fabric and has a water protection rating of 10000g.
On the bottom of the ski pants, you have a nice boot gaiter to keep snow out. Along the inner leg, you have a vent that will regulate how warm the ski pants are.
With a 60g WarmCore insulation by Primaloft, you’ll get lightweight insulation that breathes well. If you wear a thin layer underneath you can ski most temperatures without freezing. The fit of these pants is a bit snug, especially if you layer, but you will still have enough space for a pair of long johns or a pair of tights. You can adjust the fit with a velcro strap, and it has belt loops if you prefer to adjust the fit with a belt.
The Helly Hansen is an excellent ski pant, that is definitely worth its price.
|Excellent protection from water and snow|
|Good stretch that moves with you|
|Lightweight without any excess bulk|
|Not much space for layering|
|You need to layer for really cold days|
Dynafit Mercury Ski Pants: The Ski Touring Choice
If your key priorities are breathability and agility, then one of the best ski pants you can get is the Dynafir Mercury Ski Pants.
These ski pants are all about maximum freedom of movement. It’s made of Dynastretch which consist of 65% Nylon, 26% polyester and 9% Elastane. This combination of materials makes it very durable with good protection from the wind. One thing to consider is that these ski pants are only water repellant. If you are going to ski in wet snow, these are not recommended. The thing that makes this material stand out is how breathable it is. It moves moisture away from the body with ease and is perfect for high-intensity activities such as ski touring.
This is a pair of softshell ski pants with no added insulation. There is however plenty of space to layer.
On the leg, there’s a ventilation zip so you can open it up to cool your legs down on warmer ski days. If you want to wear suspenders, there are loops for Dynafit suspenders. It has good ski boot compatibility and goes nicely over the ski boots.
Even if these ski pants are not suitable for all conditions, I would still recommend them to some skiers. If you are a skier that want maximum movement and do high-intensity activities that require excellent breathability, definitely consider these ski pants.
|Maximum freedom of movement|
|Only water repellant|
Columbia Artic Trip: Best Weather Protection
The artic fit ski pants made by Columbia is made of 100% polyester. It comes in 6 different colors. On the back of the right knee there’s an Omni-Tech logo, and on the bottom left knee, there’s an embroidered Columbia logo. There are two pockets that can be closed by zippers that are warm enough to warm up your hands.
You can adjust the fit with the adjustable waist thanks to the zip closure with double snap at the waist. One disadvantage with the fit is that it can be hard to layer underneath the pants. There is enough to fit a pair of leggings or long johns but not much more than that.
These ski pants have been critically seam sealed. This means that the seams most prone to leakage have been sealed with water resistant tape. Another great feature that will keep snow out is the snow gaiters and boot cuffs, that will seal any gap between the ski boots and the ski pants.
The thing that makes these ski pants stand out is the breathable and waterproof Omni-Tech material. Water seems to just roll off these pants and thanks to the seam-sealed design it’s unlikely you’ll get wet in these pants. One reviewer sat in the snow for an hour with these pants and remained completely dry. They will also keep you warm and will hold the temperature even in sub-zero temperatures.
|Excellent weather protection|
|Not much space for layering|
Burton Insulated Ski Pants:
Made from a dual layer of Burton’s Durashell fabric, the Burton Covert provides a soft but durable ski pant, that can handle any weather. The outer layer is made of polyester and has a waterproof rating of 10000mm. It’s a highly breathable material with a breathability rating of 10000g.
You can be assured to stay dry if you get the Burton Covert ski pants. Every seam is sealed with waterproof tape, and the boot gaiter is elastic and fits perfectly over the ski boot. The bottom of the pant is the area most susceptible to tear so Burton has reinforced it with Cordura nylon. Cordura nylon is a very durable material that will prevent it from frying.
The fit of these pants is what Burton calls its signature fit. The signature fit is a roomy fit without being too baggy. It’s meant to work for all body types and leave plenty of room for layering. One complaint some reviewers had was that there was a big difference between sizes. For example, one person claimed small was too small and they had to wear the medium size with a belt.
To take the edge of the really cold days, Burton added some insulation to the ski pants. You get 40g of Thermolite insulation. Thermolite is very lightweight insulation so the pants won’t get bulky. 40G of insulation is a bit low to handle sub-zero degrees. However, thanks to the roomy fit, you can layer and stay to stay warm even on the coldest skiing days.
There isn’t a women-specific model of the Covert ski pants. The women’s equivalent is called the Burton Women’s Society Ski pants. The Women’s Society is made of the same durable, waterproof and comfortable material as the Covert. The big difference is the fit. The women’s Society has a more feminine fit suitable for women that want a fit that is not too baggy but with plenty of room for layering.
|Comfortable and roomy fit|
|You can lift the hem to avoid mud and dirt|
|Large difference between sizes|
|Only 40g insulation|
White Sierra Toboggan Ski Pants: Warmest Ski Pants
If you are looking for well-insulated ski pants that can handle cold weather, one of the best choices you can make is the White Sierra Toboggan Ski Pants.
It has 120 grams of polyfill insulation. This means it will keep warm even on the coldest days.
The outer layer is made of nylon, giving it a good stretch On the sides of the pants, there are zippered pockets, convenient if you want to store something. To keep away snow from getting into the pants, it features an elastic and reinforced scuff guard.
With the high amount of insulation, you might think these pants are rather bulky, but they have a nice roomy fit. There is plenty of space to layer, and if you layer correctly it can handle really cold days.
The biggest drawback with the Sierra Toboggan Ski Pants is the average water resistance. In most days, they will keep dry just fine. But if you are skiing in wet days, such as when it’s snowing wet powder they tend to get a bit damp.
To adjust the fit there’s an adjustable waistband. Most reviewers felt that they had a good overall fit but a few felt it was a bit smaller fit than expected. For a more natural fit in the pistes, it comes with articulated knees.
|Plenty of room to layer|
|Convinent zip pockets|
|Not suitable for skiing in wet conditions|
|Womens model is a bit tight in the croutch area|
Choosing a pair of ski pants can be overwhelming at first. But there are some things you can do to find the perfect product for your needs.
First, decide if you are going to get a pair of insulated ski pants or shell ski pants. Insulated ski pants provide better warmth, but they are also heavier and are harder when you use a layering approach. Unless you want maximum warmth, a pair of softshell ski pants is recommended due to the improved layering and the better agility.
Once you know what type of ski pants to get, consider how waterproof and breathable you need the ski pants to be. Just remember that the more breathable and waterproof a ski pant is the more it will generally cost.
Lastly, consider what features your ski pants need. Some features to consider is good zippered pockets, articulated knees, and Recco reflectors.
To help you choose the best possible ski pant, we reviewed 5 of the best ski pants you can get today. So if you haven’t already, check the mini-reviews and find your favorite.