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The Best Ski Pants for Resort and Backcountry Riding

See our guide to the best ski pants of 2022-2023, with options for every skier's style.

collage of three ski pants

Snow is a harsh and unforgiving mistress, tempered only by its beauty and infrequent serenity. Even on the best bluebird days, there aren't many outdoor enthusiasts that would head out for a day on the slopes without some sort of protection from the elements. One of the most fundamental pieces in your ski kit is undoubtedly the snow pant, and whether it's a lightweight shell or a heavyweight insulated option, there's a wide variety of fits and styles, one for every skier's budget and game plan. In this guide, we'll break down what to look for in ski pants, how to choose the right fit for you and highlight our top picks for this winter season.

What to look for in ski pants

So: what makes good ski pants? Waterproofing, stretch, durability, insulation, vents - there are so many factors that go into a successful day in the resort (or in the backcountry) that it can be difficult and confusing to know where to begin. A ski pant worth its salt should have waterproofing built into the fabric, whether that's 2-or-3-layer Gore-Tex fabric, or a DWR treatment applied to keep the weather at bay. If you're going the insulated pant route, make sure it's synthetic; down won't play nice with snow after a couple hours on the hill, especially if you're still learning (aka, spending a lot of time on your butt).

If you're looking for ski pants to backcountry tour in, you'll want to make sure there's stretch in the material, so you can have a full range of motion without being uncomfortable. Venting is also critical — thigh vents in particular will help you manually regulate temperature in shifting conditions, and if you run hot, you'll definitely want to make sure there's a way for you to dump heat. Durability is also a key component to any ski pant: many brands will advertise abrasion-resistant scuffguards and hems, but make sure to confirm durable fabrics have been built into the pants if extra protection is top of mind.

How to choose the right pair for you

Picking the right ski pant is dictated primarily by two factors: what kind of skiing you'll be doing, and what kind of conditions you'll (typically) be riding in. If you're going to be resort riding, insulated pants are probably a good call: you'll stay warmer on the lift, and with open vents, can still dump heat when necessary. Backcountry touring is all about stretch and breathability, so if you're heading out into the wild, pick a pant that will move with you. Of course, there are pants that will toe the line between warmth and stretch, and if you're planning on getting after in-bounds and out, pick a pair that can adapt to your chosen riding conditions.

The Best Ski Pants of Winter 2022/2023

Norrøna Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Plus Pants

Best Splurge Ski Pant

Norrøna lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Plus Pants

  • Fabric: Gore-Tex Pro, 200D Vectran fabric
  • Waterproofing: Gore-Tex
  • Weight: 988 grams

    If you're getting more than 100 days in on the slopes, it pays dividends to invest in quality ski gear and apparel. Norrøna understood the assignment and crafted the Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Pants for the most dedicated of skiers. Thoughtful features, buttery-soft fabric and dare we say, style, come together in these highly capable pants.

    Durability-focused features include taped seams, waterproof zippers and of course, premium Gore-Tex Pro fabric. The pants are made with the durable 3-layer 200D Gore-tex Pro, the brand's most rugged (RET 6-9) fabric with a recycled face fabric, which offers optimal heavy-duty protection. The bottom leg is reinforced with a 200D Vectran fabric to increase durability where the pants experience the most rubbing against boots or steel edges.

    Norrøna didn't stop there though: the custom-fit waist system with 3D mesh reduces moisture, while the thighs feature a mesh lining ventilation system with two-way zippers: the pants are built to retain heat while reducing moisture, and do so while maintaining comfort (and plenty of pocketing). If you're going to splurge on one item for your ski kit this year, make it these pants.

    Helly Hansen Legendary Pant

    Best Relaxed Fit Ski Pant

    Helly Hansen Legendary Pant

    • Material: Helly Tech Performance membrane, Polyester face
    • Waterproofing: Helly Tech Performance
    • Weight: 1 pound, 4 ounces

      Ski pants tend toward the slim side of pant silhouettes, but sometimes, a slightly baggier fit is just what the doctor ordered. This insulated take on Helly Hansen's best-selling ski pants promises warmth, protection from the elements and performance, all for two hundred bucks.

      The Legendary Insulated Pant boasts synthetic Primaloft insulation, two-way stretch fabric and thigh-vent zippers so you can hold onto heat when you need to, dump it when necessary and stay comfortable and mobile all day long.

      Arc'teryx Sabre Pant

      Best Overall Ski Pant

      Arc'teryx Sabre Pant

      • Materials: N80p-X Gore-Tex with Cordura Nylon 3L cuff fabric
      • Waterproofing: Gore-Tex
      • Weight: 1 pound, 6.8 ounces

        Arc'teryx knows a thing or two about the balancing act that is creating outdoor apparel that is both functional and minimal in its approach, and the Sabre Pant is a prime example of that restraint. Our favorite ski pant is lighter on features than other pants on this list, to be sure, but what it lacks in extensive pocketing and customization, it makes up for with premium fabrics, impeccable fit and top-of-class weather protection.

        Revised for 2022, the Sabre features durable, breathable N80p-X 3L Gore-Tex face fabric. Inside, a flannel lining adds a light layer of insulation that won't restrict movement or cause overheating. Thigh vents dump heat, and the embedded RECCO reflector adds an extra element of safety.

        REI Co-op Powderbound Insulated Snow Pants

        Best Budget Friendly Ski Pant

        REI Co-op Powderbound Insulated Snow Pants

        $104.29 (30% off)
        • Materials: Bluesign-approved nylon face, Bluesign-approved recycled polyester lining
        • Waterproofing: 2-layer waterproof breathable laminate
        • Weight: 1 pound, 9 ounces

          So, you've spent your entire ski budget on your season pass, but last year's pants just aren't going to cut it for another season on the slopes. If this sounds like an insurmountable problem, worry not: REI is here to help out.

          Whether you're a beginner unwilling to shell out your savings on an entire ski kit, or an intermediate skier who ran out of dough this season, the Powderbound Insulated Snow Pants will get the job done for most days on the slopes. Featuring REI's proprietary, 2-layer waterproof, windproof, breathable nylon shell fabric — seam sealed for extra weather protection — plus 40g polyester insulation, these pants are rich in features, at an affordable price. And at less than $200, you may even want to pick up two pairs.

          Patagonia Stormstride Pants

          Best Backcountry Touring Pants

          Patagonia Stormstride Pants

          $223.99 (50% off)
          • Materials: 3-layer, 3.5-oz 40-denier Pertex Shield nylon (54% recycled) plain weave with two-way stretch, a soft polyester knit backer
          • Waterpoofing: DWR
          • Weight: 15.6 ounces

            Stride your heart out with Patagonia's Stormstride Pants. Our tester wore these backcountry skiing in Telluride this past January and was impressed with the pants' stretchiness, comfort and ability to dump heat.

            Backcountry touring is rife with demands that resort skiing doesn't consider, and can leave skiers feeling overheated on the ascent, and shivering on the descent without the right outerwear. Patagonia's most active waterproof shells feature 3-way stretch fabric, a concealed RECCO reflector and gaiters to seal out snow. One word to the warning: these run large, especially if you've got a narrow waist. If you've got a smaller frame, consider sizing down so you're not swimming in excess fabric.

            Obermeyer Nomad Cargo Pant

            Best Cargo Pant Style

            Obermeyer Nomad Cargo Pant

            • Materials: HydroBlock Sport polyester Ottoman weave
            • Waterproofing: HydroBlock Sport 10k/10k waterproof breathable fabric
            • Weight: ~1 pound

              Not many articles of clothing are as divisive as cargo pants — more specifically, cargo shorts — and our hunch is you've probably never considered the style for skiing. It's time to rethink our abhorrence to the efficient, if stylistically starved, style, and Obermeyer has just the ski pants to do the job.

              The Nomad Cargo Pant is a slimmed-down take on the traditional style but doesn't skimp in the way of durability (or pocketing, a hallmark of the cargo aesthetic). It comes in Obermeyer's classic, tailored fit, with paneling that emphasizes the articulation necessary for all-mountain riding. The Nomad Cargo Pant features 40gm of insulation — just enough to keep you warm on colder days, without overheating you on bluebird runs — and also comes with abrasion-resistant scuffguards, hems and reinforced inseams for extra durability.

              Flylow Magnum Pant

              Best Design Details

              Flylow Magnum Pant

              • Materials: Polyester surface 3L hardshell, recycled polyester Tactic 3L softshell, 20k/20k waterproof breathable membrane
              • Waterproofing: DWR
              • Weight: ~ 16 ounces

                What stood out to us about Flylow's Magnum Pant is the full-length zipper that runs along the outer side of the leg, which allows you to get in and out of the pants, without changing out of your boots. While this innovative feature may only truly benefit ski racers, patrollers or hut trippers, the non-niche skiers among us can still appreciate the functionality of the design detail — as well as the others Flylow decided to incorporate. Those include a recycled, stretchy three-layer fabric in the upper legs and seat, providing enhanced articulation and movement, as well as a bombproof hardshell on the lower leg for added durability.

                Flylow designed the Magnum Pant to perform both in and out of bounds, so if you're looking for a detail-oriented and well-built pair for this season, we recommend these.

                Halfdays Alessandra Insulated Ski Pants

                Best for the Fashion Set

                Halfdays Alessandra Insulated Ski Pants

                Halfdays nordstrom.com
                • Materials: 100% recycled polyester; Primaloft insulation
                • Waterproofing: Water-resistant
                • Weight: 16 ounces

                  These water-resistant, insulated ski pants feature a flattering fit, recycled fabrics and at least 30 percent sustainably-sourced materials — and they're some of the best-fitting options for women on the market. Halfdays doesn't create the most technical or core skiwear on the market, and that's the point: the brand serves the needs of the aesthetically-minded skier, a woman who wants to ride the resort and look good doing it. Primaloft synthetic insulation maintains warmth even while wet, and secure zippered pockets keep essentials on hand.

                  Spyder Dare

                  Best Insulated Pants

                  Spyder Dare

                  • Materials: 360º Stretch Exo Shield Recycled Nylon, PrimaLoft Silver ECO Insulation
                  • Waterproofing: Dermizax and DWR laminate
                  • Weight: ~ 1 pound

                    If you're looking for extra warmth around your legs, this is the pair of ski pants for you. Sure, there are other insulated options on this list, but none come close in terms of warmth like Spyder's take on the classic ski pant.

                    Although the Dare lands on the lower end of Spyder's proprietary warmth scale, it'll still keep in plenty of heat on colder days. The Dare features 40g of PrimaLoft Silver ECO Insulation — a sustainable and hard-working filler where a little goes a long way. Spyder paired that with fully taped seams, articulated knees, a reinforced scuff guard and a 20k Dermizax Laminate and DWR waterproofing treatment. Extended sizing means there's a fit for almost everyone —although they do run a bit small — and plenty of colorways mean you can stand out on the hill — if you so choose. Either way, you'll be warm and comfortable.

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