This article originally appeared on Outside
Ski jackets get more attention, but we think it’s much harder to find a great pair of ski pants. And more important, too. Your legs do a lot more moving in skiing than your upper body, so if your pants are too tight, too baggy, or just don’t sit right, you are going to notice. Plus, pants spend more time in contact with other surfaces–sitting on the chair, soaking in the slush, kneeling in the snow–so durability and weather resistance really matter. We sorted through two dozen new ski pants and bibs to find these six standouts that will fit better and help you stay out longer.
The Winners at a Glance
Editor’s Choice: Stio Figment Bib
Best For Frigid Conditions: Flylow Baker Insulated Bib
Best Universal Fit: Orage Exodus Insulated Pant
Most Eco-Conscious: Patagonia Stormshift Pant
Best Budget Buy: Eddie Bauer Chair Six
Best Weather Protection: 686 Gore Pro 3L Thermograph
The Reviews: The Best Resort Ski Pants of 2024
Editor’s Choice: Stio Figment Bib ($479)
Weight: 2 lb
Usually, the first time wearing a bib pant involves a few stops to make adjustments. Not with the Figment. Adjusting the fit required just a quick tighten or release of the Velcro tabs on the suspenders and a pull on the waist belt. Done! Whether sitting, carving, or picking his way down the steeps off of Whistler’s Peak Chair, category manager Ryan Stuart didn’t notice the pants again. “They felt like a custom fit,” he says. Articulation in the knees, gusseting in the crotch, and stretchy shoulder straps that stayed put played a big role in ensuring everything sat as it should. Beyond fit, the proprietary weatherproof-breathable membrane was impenetrable, even sitting in a chairlift puddle for a 20-minute ride. The pocket layout was equally dialed for resort riding. The two hand pockets were accessible sitting or standing, the bellowed thigh pockets easily carried extra gloves, and the chest pocket could hold a beacon or other valuables. Finally, Stio beefed up the recycled polyester face fabric in the knees and seat to a burly 150 denier. With a relaxed, but not too baggy look and a timeless color-blocked style, these bibs are ready for years of abuse.
Bottom Line:With an inner thigh vent and an uninsulated design, these bibs are optimized for the resort but ready to play beyond the boundary line too.
Best For Frigid Conditions: Flylow Baker Insulated Bib ($430)
Weight: 2.2 lb
These insulated bibs were designed for skiers like tester Paul Karchut, who skis fast, works hard, and breaks things. Flylow took their popular Baker Bib shell pant and stuffed it with 40 grams of recycled insulation. “It’s just the right amount to cut the cold, but not make them unusable once the weather warms up,” says Karchut, who tested them in temps ranging from -30 to 20 degrees F skiing in the Canadian Rockies around Banff. Heating up on bootpacks and skin tracks, he cracked the mesh backed thigh vents. There were pockets in all the right places: hands, thigh, back, and two on the chest. And the fit was dialed for an athletic guy like Karchut, though stockier skiers might find the bibs snug. As a mostly reformed telemark skier, Karchut also appreciated the durability. The 150-denier polyester was already stout, then Flylow cranked it to 1,000 denier around the articulated knees and the cuffs. His only gripe was that pack straps overlapped with the oversized bib buckles. Small quibble for Karchut, who happily wore these all winter long.
Bottom Line:A tough bib for resorts skiing in colder zones.
Best Universal Fit: Orage Exodus Insulated Pant ($325)
Weight: 1.7 lb
Tall, short, stocky, or thin, these pants were body inclusive, shape-shifting to fit every tester. Velcro tabs on the waistline played a big role, providing several inches of adjustment. Four-way stretch throughout the pants also helped. The Oeko-Tex waterproof-breathable membrane, recycled polyester exterior fabric, and synthetic insulation had plenty of stretch. Add articulation through the knees and gusseting in the crotch and even a tester whose massive quads filled out the pants said he never felt restricted. The fit is narrower than some might like, but the 60-gram insulation seemed just right for typical winter conditions. No tester complained about them being too warm–they are super lightweight for insulated pants. And “the pockets are perfect,” reported Ryan Stuart. Sitting on a chairlift, he could pull his phone out of the hand pockets without contortion and he could stuff the thigh pockets without them bouncing around or feeling bulky.
Bottom Line: Best for resort skiing in cold weather and a good choice if your waist size tends to vary through the winter. Hello, apres beer gut!
Most Eco-Conscious: Patagonia Storm Shift Pants ($400)
Weight: 1.6 lb
Size: Regular, short, XS-XXL
Comfortable wear and fit
Bulky two layer design
Some fit concerns
We were rooting for these pants even before testers reported loving them. They feature the new Gore Tex ePE membrane, which is the first waterproof-breathable barrier from the industry leader that includes no perfluorinates, or PFCs. These forever chemicals have long-term health and environmental concerns. Patagonia went even further and eliminated PFCs in the DWR and the rest of the two-layer design. The change resulted in no loss in performance: We stayed dry all day during a soggy, above-freezing snowstorm in the Coast Range near Whistler.
The lining is a comfort booster. It feels soft next to your skin (and wicks moisture, too), slides over the roughest of base layers, and adds a hint of insulation. That’s welcome on cold days, but not an issue in warmer weather. Overheating on the bootpack up to Blackcomb’s Chimney, tester Ethan Sjogren said that opening the mesh-lined outer thigh vents instantly dumped heat. “But they didn’t let snow in when I forgot to close them.” After 20 days of use, he reported that the pants were still in good shape, with no signs of wear around the cuffs thanks to oversized scuff guard patches. Some testers reported inconsistencies in sizing, but with multiple length and size options, everyone should be able to find a pair that fits.
Bottom Line:Casual resort pants that will ease (some of) your environmental worries.
Best Budget Buy: Eddie Bauer Chair Six Shell Pant ($229)
Weight: 1.3 lb
Size: Regular, tall, S-XXL
The Chair Six Shell Pant is all about value. Normally, $200 will get you ho-hum quality, but Eddie Bauer outfitted these pants with a three-layer fabric for more packability, better weatherproofing, and superior breathability. The membrane is EB’s proprietary Weatheredge Pro, which boasts 20,000 mm of water resistance. “I was shocked when I saw the price,” reported tester Chris Baikie. “The pants performed about as well as the Gore Tex pants I’ve owned, but cost about half as much.” He tested the weather resistance during a full day of skiing in the drizzle at Vancouver Island’s Mount Washington Alpine Resort.
In nicer weather, the hot-running tester appreciated the inner thigh vent, which ran right through the crotch with two-way zips. “I could use it as a regular vent or unzip it all the way,” he said. “It’s a unique design that would be welcome on hot ski tours.” He found the 75-denier polyester fabric with a hint of stretch was burly enough for the ski hill, but not too bulky for slackcountry laps. His one complaint: Packing too much into the big thigh pocket made it floppy. Otherwise, these are an awesome deal for shell-loving skiers.
Bottom Line: Budget shell pants with top-shelf quality and materials.
Best Weather Protection: 686 Gore Pro 3L Thermograph Bib ($600)
Weight: 2.9 lb
These bibs proved that believing in science will lead to more skiing. 686 paired Gore Tex’s most durable Pro waterproof-breathable membrane with a 150-denier face fabric that feels like rhino skin (which is the name of the gray fabric color). Then they added panels of Polartec Alpha, a synthetic insulation developed for U.S. Special Forces, to the seat and knees, where research shows the body feels cold the most. They also placed vents on either side of each leg to engineer a cooling cross breeze. And they built a water bladder system into the lumbar area, because the human body performs best and stays warmer when properly hydrated. “I don’t know if it’s the insulation, the Gore Tex, or actually being hydrated, but I felt more energetic all morning,” said Ryan Stuart, who tested them during several soggy days of skiing. “These are the most waterproof pants I’ve tried.” Testers reported the fit on the baggy side of the spectrum and running a little large for the size. But unlike most 686 pants, these are made for skiers, with a scuff guard around the bottom of the legs and a gaiter that played well with ski buckles. They are pricey, but then science and technology is never cheap.
Bottom Line: When staying dry is your biggest challenge, these are the bibs you should own.
How to Buy
Consider these six factors when buying ski pants.
Waterproofing: Because pants spend more time in contact with the snow and potentially wet surfaces like chairlifts, waterproofing is even more important than in jackets. Pick pants with a waterproof rating higher than 15,000 mm with sealed seams to prevent water from seeping in.
Breathability: While it’s crucial to keep water out, you also want your ski pants to be breathable, so sweat vapor doesn’t leave you wet from the inside. Look for pants with breathable membranes and venting zippers. For the resort, mesh-backed vents are best, so you can ski with them open.
Insulation: Consider the level of insulation you need based on the conditions you typically ski in and your personal preference. Uninsulated shell pants paired with base layers offer versatility. Insulated pants will always be warmer and are good for colder regions. For reference, between 40 and 60 grams of synthetic insulation offers a versatile warmth.
Fit and Mobility: To help fine-tune the fit, look for pants and bibs with adjustable waistbands and shoulder straps. Articulated knees, gussets, and stretchy materials help with mobility, which plays into fit. Finally, check that boot gaiters and venting zippers are compatible with your boots and body shape.
Durability: Metal edges, kneeling in the snow, and sitting on chairlifts, all take their toll on ski pants. To add longevity to your gear, look for pants made from higher-denier materials and reinforcements in key zones, like knees, seat and, especially, around the boot cuff.
Features and Extras: Consider additional features that may enhance your skiing experience, including the number and placement of pockets, integration with jackets and powder skirts, and RECCO locators.
How We Test
Number of testers: 16
Number of products tested: 26
Number of chairlift laps: 5,000-plus
Most vertical skied by a tester: 1.7 million feet
Testing ski pants is all about vertical. The more time our testers spend sitting on chairs, turning on snow, and hiking to the goods, the better they can judge whether a pant is good or great. To make our test team, testers have to log at least 30 days per season. We recruit from across the continent and try to find a variety of skier types and interests to give us as diverse feedback as possible. We send them each several pairs of pants to test and ask them to put in at least a couple days with each item. We also ask them to hand each pair off to friends and ski buddies to try, too. Once the flakes start melting, we check back in with our test team to record their feedback and find out which ones stood out from a winter of testing. These are the top six.
Meet Our Lead Testers
Ski buddies of Ryan Stuart, our Lead Tester and category manager, say it’s tricky to keep track of him at the resort. Not so much because he skis so fast, but because he’s always wearing something different. Is it the red jacket and black pants today or the yellow jacket and gray pants? His helmet doesn’t help either. As the technical editor at Ski Canada Magazine, he also tests lids and other ski gear. When he’s not on the slopes or traveling the world to write about skiing, Ryan’s at his desk on Vancouver Island. He’s a full-time freelance writer focused mostly on the outdoor world and is working on his first book, a history of skiing in Canada.
Other integral testers include Canadian Broadcast Corporation weekend radio host Paul Karchu, whose flexible weekday schedule allows him to chase storms around western Canada. He visited nine resorts last winter, the highlight being a 20-inch day at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
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