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The Best Women’s Ski Pants of 2024

Whether you frequent backcountry mountains or a local resort, we've found the best women's ski pants for ladies to help maximize your day on snow.

Female skier testing ski pants at Crested Butte Mountain Resort; (photo/Jason Hummel)
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From first chair to après, ski pants are an integral piece for staying happy and protected outside this winter. On the slopes. Exploring the backcountry. But also around town. While driving. Shoveling the walkway. Walking the dog. Women’s ski pants are utilitarian and the ultimate tool for staying warm and dry. With plenty of women’s-specific options, countless pairs are fun and fashion-forward, too.

Women’s ski pants need to fit well, move well with zero restriction points, and work year after year. From smart, useful pockets to leg vents and waterproofing, we’ve outlined the best features of each ski and snowboard pant. While there isn’t a single best snow pant for every person, we’ve organized this list into categories to help you find the best choice for your downhill turns, uphill adventures, and other favorite winter activities.

To learn more about ski pants and how to choose the perfect pair, check out our buyer’s guide and FAQ section at the bottom of this article. Also, have a look at our comparison chart to steer your decision-making.

Otherwise, scroll through all the options for the best ski pants for women in 2024.

Editor’s Note: We updated our Women’s Ski Pants guide on April 10, 2024, to spotlight recently tested and launched products including the Rab Women’s Khroma Diffuse GORE-TEX Pants and Helly Hansen Women’s Powderqueen Ski Pants. We also overhauled of the awarded outerwear.

The Best Women’s Ski Pants of 2024

Best Overall Women's Ski Pants

Rab Women’s Khroma Diffuse GORE-TEX Pants


  • Fit Regular (not narrowly athletic, not baggy freeride)
  • Material 3-layer GORE-TEX shell with 100% recycled face fabric
  • Pockets 4
  • RECCO No
  • Best for Resort days (stormy and sunny), ski touring, ski mountaineering
Product Badge The Best Women’s Ski Pants of 2024


  • Soft, durable fabric
  • Belt loops or external integrated velcro belt to cinch waist
  • Functional pockets


  • Not the most quiet material
  • Top-shelf investment
Best Budget Women's Ski Pant

Columbia Bugaboo Omni-Heat Insulated Ski Pants


  • Fit Regular
  • Material 2-layer nylon Omni-Tech fabric, Microtemp XF
  • Pockets 5 (two hand pockets, two back pockets, side leg pocket)
  • RECCO No
  • Best for Resort skiing, budget skiers
The Best Women’s Ski Pants of 2024


  • Warm
  • Waterproof
  • Inexpensive


  • No ventilation
Most Durable and Flannel-Lined Women's Ski Pants

Arc’teryx Sentinel Pant


  • Fit Standard
  • Material 3-layer N80p GORE-TEX with Lo-Loft soft shell construction (nylon plain weave fabric with DWR finish), brushed-knit polyester liner
  • Pockets 3 (two zippered thigh pockets, one flap stash pocket)
  • RECCO No
  • Best for Avid backcountry enthusiasts, blustery resort days, environments full of changing weather conditions
The Best Women’s Ski Pants of 2024


  • Durable
  • Big side vents
  • Waterproof


  • No mesh backer on the side vents
Best Non-Insulated Budget Women's Ski Pants

Eddie Bauer Women’s Chair Six Shell Pants


  • Fit Standard
  • Material 3L 100% polyester treated with StormRepel Plus DWR
  • Pockets 4
  • RECCO No
  • Best for Resort days
The Best Women’s Ski Pants of 2024


  • Reinforced hems and interior leg with tenacious CORDURA
  • Economic price


  • No zipper on the extra thigh pockets; only Velcro flaps
  • Not much give in the waistband, so consider sizing up
Most Roomy and Sustainable Ski Pants

Picture Seen Pants


  • Fit Straight, regular, baggy
  • Material 100% circular polyester (20K/20K waterproof/breathability), PFC-free DWR, recycled thermal STD 40 gsm insulation, Coremax tricot lining
  • Pockets Two hand pockets, one thigh pocket
  • RECCO No
  • Best for Cold, blustery, mid-winter resort days
The Best Women’s Ski Pants of 2024


  • Extremely comfortable lift rides and freezing days thanks to the insulation
  • Deep thigh pocket to-the-rescue
  • Adjustable snapped cuffs with innovative cinch for hem stowaway (accessed via hand pockets)
  • Super comfortable and stylish
  • Circular polyester upcycles textiles to avoid landfill


  • At 770 g, the pants might feel a tad heavier than other pairs
  • Insulation could be a bit much on super sunny, warm spring days
  • High-reaching waistband might not be everyone’s choice style
Best Insulated Ski Pants for Resort Days

The North Face Women’s Freedom Insulated Pants


  • Fit Regular
  • Material 100% recycled 2-layer DryVent fabric with 100% recycled Heatseeker Eco insulation
  • Pockets 3 (two zippered hand pockets, one thigh cargo pocket)
  • RECCO No
  • Best for Cold resort days
The Best Women’s Ski Pants of 2024


  • Fleece-lined pockets
  • Thigh vents
  • PFC-free DWR and 100% recycled face fabric and liner


  • Insulated might not be everyone's top choice
Best Uphill Workout Ski Pants

Dynafit Women’s Beast Hybrid


  • Fit Athletic
  • Material 3-layer Dynashell polyamide-nylon fabric with DWR finish
  • Pockets 2
  • RECCO No
  • Best for Racers, uphill workouts, endurance tours
The Best Women’s Ski Pants of 2024


  • Built for strenuous uphill travel
  • Waterproof knees, thighs, and seat


  • Not completely waterproof
Best of the Rest

Helly Hansen Women’s Powderqueen Ski Pants


  • Fit Freeride, baggier side
  • Material 2-layer certified bluesign proprietary fabric insulated with 100% recycled 40g PrimaLoft Black Eco
  • Pockets 3
  • RECCO Yes
  • Best for Resort hounds, cold days
The Best Women’s Ski Pants of 2024


  • Pockets are roomy and functional
  • Belt loops or an integrated/interior velcro belt help secure waist
  • Insulation keeps you cozy on lift rides and gusty days


  • Insulation could be too much for warmer and spring days
  • Zippered vents are a tad short and on exterior leg (some prefer interior placement)

Flylow Fae Pant


  • Fit Regular (not too fitted or in the athletic category)
  • Material 2-layer polyester hardshell with DWR and 20K/30K waterproof and breathability; 60g Greenloft recycled polyester (previously 40g PrimaLoft Eco)
  • Pockets 3
  • RECCO No
  • Best for Chilly resort laps
The Best Women’s Ski Pants of 2024


  • Malleable material
  • Not-too-tight fit
  • Lightly insulated


  • Folks looking for a more athletic or backcountry-esce pant can look elsewhere

Halfdays Alessandra Pant


  • Fit Fitted, athletic (but stretchy)
  • Material 100% recycled polyester with 20K waterproofing (breathability unavailable), 40g PrimaLoft ECO 100% PCR Black Insulation
  • Pockets Two (softly lined hand pockets)
  • RECCO No
  • Best for Cold days with errands or après afterward
The Best Women’s Ski Pants of 2024


  • Very well insulated to keep you warm on freezing, blizzardy, and windy ski lift rides
  • Zippered, gusseted hems
  • Stylish


  • The interior ventilation zippers are a bit stunted in length

Helly Hansen Switch Cargo Insulated Pant


  • Fit Low-rise, standard
  • Material 2-layer HellyTech Performance fabric with DWR finish; PrimaLoft (100% recycled polyester)
  • Pockets 4 (two zippered hand pockets, two thigh pockets)
  • RECCO Yes
  • Best for All-day comfort lapping runs
The Best Women’s Ski Pants of 2024


  • Warm
  • Stylish
  • Embedded RECCO reflector


  • Too warm for uphill travel

Flylow Nina Pant


  • Fit Regular
  • Material Three-layer Oxford polyester fabric with DWR and 20K/20K waterproof breathable membrane
  • Pockets Four (three on the front)
  • RECCO No
  • Best for Resort days
The Best Women’s Ski Pants of 2024


  • Stretchy enough
  • Roomy, comfortable fit for layers beneath


  • Not streamlined for those looking for well-fitted ski pants

La Sportiva Women’s Excelsior Pant


  • Fit Streamlined and athletic yet stretchy
  • Material Midweight soft shell made of recycled polyamide and polyester plus elastane (bluesign-certified) and PFC-free DWR coating
  • Pockets 3 (two zippered hand pockets, one zippered thigh pocket)
  • RECCO No
  • Best for Uphilling, speed workouts, skimo races
The Best Women’s Ski Pants of 2024


  • Breathable softshell fabric
  • DWR treatment sheds wet snow


  • Seams not sealed
  • Not the 3-layer pant you need for huge storms

Helly Hansen Legendary Insulated Pants


  • Fit Standard
  • Material 3-ply, 2-way stretch polyester face fabric, 2-ply Helly Tech waterproof/breathable membrane, DWR treatment to repel moisture, Bluesign-certified materials, PrimaLoft Black 60g
  • Pockets 4 (two zippered hand pockets, two back pockets)
  • RECCO No
  • Best for Durability, quality on a budget
The Best Women’s Ski Pants of 2024


  • Sleek appearance
  • Well-insulated
  • Reasonably priced


  • Not the most breathable
Side vents are one of our top product details we consider when we choose a ski pant; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Women’s Ski Pants Comparison Chart

Scroll right to view all of the columns: Price, Shell, Insulation, Fit, RECCO.

Ski PantsPriceShellInsulationFitRecco
Rab Women’s Khroma Diffuse GORE-TEX Pants$4453-layer GORE-TEX shell with 100% recycled face fabricNoneRegularNo
The North Face Freedom
Insulated Pants
$1692-layer DryVent fabricThe North Face HeatseekerRegularNo
Halfdays Alessandra Pant$245100% Recycled PolyesterPrimaLoft BlackFitted, Athletic (but stretchy)No
Helly Hansen Switch Cargo Insulated Pant$2252-layer HellyTech Performance fabric with DWR finishPrimaLoftLow-rise, standardYes
Eddie Bauer Women’s Chair Six Shell Pants$2293L 100% polyester treated with StormRepel Plus DWRNoneStandardNo
Picture Seen Pants
$249100% circular polyester40g Recycled Thermal STD
 Straight, regular, baggyNo
Arc’teryx Sentinel Pant$4993-layer nylon fabric with GORE-TEXBrushed-knit polyester linerStandardNo
Flylow Fae Insulated Pant$3502-layer polyester hardshell with DWR60 g Greenloft recycled polyesterRegularNo
La Sportiva Women’s
Excelsior Pant
$179Midweight soft shellNoneStreamlined yet stretchyNo
Flylow Nina Pant$365Three-layer Oxford polyester fabric with DWRNoneRegularNo
Helly Hansen Switch
Cargo Insulated Pant
$2252-layer HellyTech Performance fabric with DWRPrimaLoftLow-rise, standardYes
Dynafit Women’s 
Beast Hybrid
$3503-layer Dynashell polyamide-nylon fabric with DWR finishNoneAthleticNo
Helly Hansen Women’s Powderqueen Ski Pants$3002-layer certified bluesign proprietary fabricRecycled 40g PrimaLoft Black EcoFreeride, baggier sideYes
Helly Hansen Legendary
Insulated Pants
$2003-ply, 2-way stretch polyester face fabric, 2-ply Helly Tech membranePrimaLoft Black 60 gStandardNo
Columbia Bugaboo
Omni-Heat Snow Pant
$1202-layer nylon Omni-Tech fabricMicrotemp XFActiveNo
Gearjunkie editor testing women's ski pant
GearJunkie editor Morgan Tilton testing women’s ski pants at Crested Butte; (photo/Jason Hummel)

How We Tested Women’s Ski Pants

The GearJunkie team is made up of intermediate to expert alpine and backcountry skiers. We’ve skied runs in-bounds and hut-to-hut all over North America, including bell-to-bell resort powder days, ski-to-surf trips such as on Vancouver Island, backcountry hut adventures, skimo races, and cross-country laps on the Nordic trails.

Women’s ski pants are essential for staying comfortable and dry while in motion, riding the lift, or taking a snack break through sunshine and storms. Over the years, we’ve tested many different ski pants, and this list comprises the best of the best. GearJunkie’s Snowsports Senior Editor Morgan Tilton has more than 32 years of snow pant experience living and playing outside in the high-altitude mountains of Colorado.

Contributing gear tester Kaylee Walden is an American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) Advanced Ski Guide, year-round mountain guide, and avalanche course instructor based primarily out of Southwest Colorado. Walden spends as much time on snow as possible, and has been skiing since she was one year old chasing her ski patroller dad, growing up in Montana. She has a gear obsession and is always seeking out the best and highest-performing equipment for the mountains.

While testing women’s ski pants in the field, we continuously assess durability, overall fit, ease of movement, protection against the elements, fabric feel, breathability, ventilation, and functionality. We take a look at specific features from pockets, zippers, vents, and gaiters to the waistband and cuff design.

We’ve tested ski pants while skiing fast in sub-zero temperatures, blizzards, blustery wind, intense sun, and even rain from far-out tours to parking lot tailgating.

Beyond our team’s experience with each pair of pants, we also consider the most innovative, sustainable, legacy, popular, and bestselling women’s ski pants on the market. These ski pants represent a broad range of price points and features for a variety of applications and needs.

Skiers test ski pants at Crested Butte Mountain Resort during a stormy day; (photo/Jason Hummel)

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Women’s Ski Pants

Snow pants aren’t hard to find, especially if you live in a colder climate. But finding the right pair can be harder than you think. So here are a few tips to get you started.

Consider Activity and Usage

Chances are, if you’re looking for a pair of snow pants to wear for a specific winter sport such as backcountry skiing, alpine skiing, or snowboarding, they’ll each have slightly different design features, fit, and style that make those pants more comfortable and functional for the day’s winter activity.

That being said, many ski pants do work for other winter activities such as sledding, shoveling, fat biking, ice climbing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, winter hiking, dog walking, building snow caves, snowball fights, pow surfing, ice skating — you name it.

As you narrow down your top activity, consider the average temperature, conditions, and your personal body heat. Do the temperatures hover at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or up toward 30 degrees, and is there often windchill? Do you expect dry or wet snow? Will you be consistently moving, or do you anticipate being sedentary such as on the ski lift or while watching the kids play in the snow outside? And do you generally tend to run hot or cold?

Depending on the activity and output, you’ll want either insulated or uninsulated pants and ventilation as well as waterproofness. Each of those factors influences the price tag.

DSC03352 copy
Ski pant vents can be placed on the exterior or interior of the upper leg and range in size; (photo/Jason Hummel)

Type of Fit

Do you prefer a relaxed or more athletic fit? While this is a personal preference, a more streamlined fit is often more comfortable and ergonomic for skinning uphill as well as activities like fat biking.

If you want an unencumbered range of motion, maybe go with a relaxed fit. And if you run cold and wear more or thicker base layers, consider an insulated pant or going up a size.

It’s also important to note sizing sometimes differs depending on the pant’s style. And fit will also depend on your frame — if you’re taller or shorter than average or wear plus sizes, look for pants that offer accommodations or sizes for those builds.

Most of the ski pants on our list have some form of adjustable waist.

Traditional hand pockets provide a nice spot to warm up the hands when you’re not descending slopes; (photo/Jason Hummel)

Waterproofing and Breathability

For powder days, riding lifts, or while wearing in a particularly wet snow climate, it makes a lot of sense to invest in a GORE-TEX or similar fully waterproof fabric.

The climate where you ski is also an important variable. There are three snowpack climates: maritime, which is closer to the ocean. There’s intermountain. And then the continental zone has lower humidity, more sun, and typically colder temperatures. The maritime snowpack has a higher water content and will thus be more wet, such as coastal BC, Alaska, or Washington. Our top picks for those climates would be a more waterproof hardshell GORE-TEX pant, like the Arc’teryx Sentinel or Flylow Nina Pants.

Comparatively, Colorado’s continental snow climate typically has less water content and is generally much dryer and sunnier.

Furthermore, two-layer and three-layer fabrics have different weights, waterproofness, and breathability ratings. Breathability is the fabric’s ability to encourage perspiration and excess heat to move through to equalize temperature. Breathable fabrics, like DWR-coated softshells, are ideal for backcountry skiing in dryer climates. Look for pants like the Dynafit Beast Hybrid and La Sportiva Excelsior for maximum breathability. 

With more breathability, you understandably and inevitably sacrifice some waterproofing capability and protection from wind. The goal is to find pants with a fabric that will protect you and complement your activity level on the mountain or in the backcountry whether you’re taking resort laps for a couple of hours or skiing hut-to-hut for a few days. Consider your goals, primary pursuits, and home snow climate to find the best pants for you.

Senior Editor Morgan Tilton alpine skiing at Crested Butte Mountain Resort
A good pair of ski pants will keep you ripping laps on storm days and bluebird days alike; (photo/Jason Hummel)

Ski Pant Pockets 

Every pair of ski pants has different features, but we have two must-haves for snow pants: They need to have internal gaiters that secure well over boots (gaiters with boot adjustment access are a plus) and functional, deep, wide, easy-to-open-and-close pockets. 

Thigh pockets are especially great if you don’t like pocket items (like a cellphone or beacon) bunching up near your hips. Some designs have a well-constructed beacon pocket that comfortably fits an avalanche transceiver, and we didn’t feel it inhibited movement on the uphill, which can be especially useful for backcountry skiing. 

Unfortunately, pockets on women’s pants are often an afterthought and are not the most functional. Ladies, you know what we’re talking about — that inch-wide chapstick pocket just doesn’t cut it. The utility of pockets depends largely on their placement.

The Arc’teryx Sentinel, and Helly Hansen Cargo Switch Pants among others have roomy and useful thigh pockets that are made with enough space to store a snack bar, cellphone, or other essentials. Some pants, like the North Face Women’s Freedom Insulated Pants, feature fleece-lined hip pockets to quickly warm up your hands. 

Reinforced cuffs are topped off with a tenacious material like Cordura and the size of the kick patch greatly varies from pant to pant; (photo/Jason Hummel)

Reinforced Cuffs

The hem of your ski pants is more important than you think. Reinforced cuffs are what set ski pants apart from alpine mountaineering pants or snowboard-specific pants, and they provide massive returns in the durability department by protecting the base of the pants from your sharp ski edges. 

Often, when skiing downhill, skinning, or climbing with crampons, sharp metal ski edges can easily slice into your pants, causing hundreds of tiny cuts over time. Snowboarders can also occasionally experience edge dashes while skating in the lift line or when their board swings on the lift.

To prevent these tiny cuts from being tears that ruin your pants, most ski pants integrate “kick patches” or reinforced cuffs made from a more robust material than the rest of the pants. The most common reinforcement is a fabric called Cordura, which is an incredibly durable and abrasion-resistant synthetic material made from nylon. Cordura ranges in weight and at its most robust is used for military-grade body armor.

These patches are usually sewn into the inside bottom hem of your pant legs, to protect the cuffs from your inside ski edges, and usually extend to the top of your ski boots. Look for ski pants with reinforced cuffs to reduce wear to vastly increase the longevity of your pants.


Integrated gaiters are a fairly standard feature on all ski pants, and are an essential piece for helping prevent snow from getting in the top of your boots — especially when bootpacking or on a powder day.

Rather than outer gaiters that can be added to pants to help keep snow and debris out, ski pant gaiters are integrated on the inside of the pant, invisible from the outside. The gaiter is inside the exterior of each ski pant leg and slides over the top of the boot. 

Gaiters are made from elastic, which keeps the bottom of the pants cinched down around your boots. Gaiters help block out the elements and help keep your legs dry when snow might otherwise sneak into the tops of your boots. 

As a bonus, they can block snow and ice from building up on a portion of the boot’s buckles, compression strap, BOA dial, or on some snowboard boots, laces. 

We’ve noticed that the circumference of gaiters can vary from pant to pant, so don’t be surprised if some are snugger than others, especially with a boot that has a larger shaft circumference. 

Ski pants are either insulated or non-insulated and certain types of insulation are made from recycled materials; (photo/Jason Hummel)

Fully Taped Seams

Fully taped seams may seem like a minor detail, but they’re an important design feature to look for in your ski pants. The name is self-explanatory: Fully taped seams note that all seams on the pant are backed up with additional tape to increase waterproofing and wind protection, so that the elements can’t sneak through any of the thousands of tiny holes where the pants are sewn. 

Seam taping is an important feature of any waterproof gear, and you can find this manufacturing technique employed on everything from the best rain jackets to backpacking tents. Fully taped seams means that every part of the garment is sealed, so that you can expect superior waterproofing and protection. 

Built-in Velcro waistbands allow skiers to easily adjust the tightness of the ski pant; (photo/Jason Hummel)


A feature to consider when buying ski pants is an integrated RECCO, a small reflective patch — which consists of a diode and an antenna — sewn into your ski pants that search and rescue personnel can use to help find you in the event of an avalanche burial or getting lost.

Keep in mind that RECCO is not a replacement for an avalanche transceiver. RECCO reflectors are searchable beneath the snow — but only when used in conjunction with a professional radar detector (imagine a beam from a flashlight). When the signal hits the reflector, it bounces back to the rescuer, letting them know the location of a person in need. The range is a total of 80 m by air (262 feet) or a 20m burial (65 feet) under snow.   

If there is elevated avalanche hazard and you plan on riding steep terrain — especially in a place like the Alps where anything ungroomed is often not explosive mitigated — RECCO is a great additional piece to add to your gear to increase your chances of being found in the event of an avalanche burial. RECCO is a great backup option for additional security for both in-bounds and in the backcountry. What’s helpful, is that the reflector doesn’t age and doesn’t need activation. 

These days, you’ll find RECCO in ski pants as well as ski jackets, ski boots, ski packs, and ski helmets. 

Some ski pants are offered in short or tall sizes in addition to regular and a handful of companies have created plus-size runs; (photo/Jason Hummel)


Many brands are doing their best to implement environmentally friendly, Fair Trade certified sewing and recycled materials whenever possible. Unfortunately in the past the ski industry hasn’t been the most environmentally, or human friendly in this regard. Patagonia is leading the charge in this realm, striving to incorporate recycled materials into their outerwear whenever possible and utilizing all Fair Trade-certified manufacturing, which eliminates unjust labor practices like child labor.

For winter 2023-24, Patagonia has launched many 2-layer and 3-layer ski pants, jackets, and bibs constructed entirely without harmful PFCs (including the membrane, material, and topical treatment) with either Patagonia’s proprietary fabric or the ePE GORE-TEX that integrates 100% recycled materials. Flylow is also integrating sustainable methods whenever possible.

The Flylow Fae Pant, our top pick for insulated ski pants, has “Greenloft” insulation, made from 100% recycled, post-consumer plastic. Halfdays Alessandra Pant is also constructed with 100% recycled Primaloft insulation.

Helly Hansen’s offerings are also more and more eco-friendly, as they’ve cut the chemicals from their water-repellent clothing, making them PFC-free. For more ways to make your kit more eco-friendly, check out our recent article on the most sustainable ski gear.

Belt loops are helpful if skiers prefer to wear a belt while they ski to secure their pant placement; (photo/Jason Hummel)


Depending on how often you hit the slopes, price is a factor. If you’re still starting out in a snowsport, or only make it to the mountain a couple of times a year, consider a more budget-friendly pant. As you gain experience, you can always invest in higher-quality pant that will ultimately perform better and last longer on the mountain.

Quality snow pants range in price from $120 (the Bugaboo Omni-Heat Snow Pants from Columbia) to $499 (the Arc’teryx Sentinel Pant ) — benchmarks of superior design, protection, fit, feel, and long-lasting quality.

On the lower end, you’ll also find the North Face’s Freedom Insulated Pant ($169) and La Sportiva Excelsior Pant ($179), which serve different purposes: one is tighter for athletic pursuits and the other is more robust for everyday work.

A tier up in price you’ll find the Switch Cargo ($225) and Legendary Insulated Ski Pants ($200) both from Helly Hansen, the Eddie Bauer Chair Six Pants ($229), and the Halfdays Alessandra Pant ($245) which are excellent picks for avid resort skiers and riders. Next, you’ll see higher quality snow pants that are more robust for backcountry, race, or mountaineering pursuits like the Dynafit Beast Hybrid ($350), the Flylow Faye Insulated Pant ($350), and the Flylow Nina Pant ($365). The Arc’teryx Sentinel Pant will cost a premium of $499.

Female skier stands with skis at ski area
Morgan Tilton testing women’s ski pants at Crested Butte Mountain Resort; (photo/Jason Hummel)


How much should I spend on ski pants?

The answer to this question largely depends on the type of skier you are. Have you never been in a winter climate and are skiing for the first time? Do you only ski on vacation? Look for a pair of pants that are more budget-friendly initially — you can always upgrade later.

Or, do you engage in winter activities that require a durable layer for much of the year? Make sure you get pants that have all the features you need — you may need to spend a little extra for technical features.

Our answer is always first, set yourself a budget. Check out all the pants on this list and find the one or two best for you, and then check to see if it’s on sale. Lots of times, seasonal apparel like ski pants and ski jackets go on sale after the season ends, so spring/summer is a great time to shop.

If you are able, we strongly encourage trying ski pants on, whether buying online with a return policy or shopping in the store. (We’ve included notes on the fit of each pant for this very reason — finding the right-fitting pant is hard!)

A close-up of an internal gaiter on women's ski pants pulled over ski boots
Interior gaiters help keep snow out of your boots’ upper buckles on deep powder days; (photo/Jason Hummel)
What’s the difference between ski pants and insulated ski pants?

Regular, non-insulated ski pants are a protective, waterproofed fabric. Insulated ski pants are the same, but with (usually) synthetic insulation added between the fabrics for warmth. Do you need pants with insulation, and how much?

The answer all depends on what type of skiing you are doing, and where. How cold is it? Will you be traveling uphill, in the backcountry, or at resorts? Do you expect to be sedentary, in which case, your body temperature may drop, such as on the ski lift or while getting the kids booted up in the parking lot.

You may want to buy a cold-weather-specific insulated pant for those really snowy days on the mountain and a non-insulated shell pant for warmer days and backcountry use. Especially if you run cold, consider insulated options. Our best overall pant, best budget pant, and best resort pant all have insulation for instance. (PrimaLoft insulation is the standard in many ski pants.)

Let’s face it, you may not think about pant insulation while making turns on your favorite run. But when faced with -10-degree windchill on a chairlift, suddenly you’ll be wishing for some extra warmth on your bottom half. For more coverage, you could also consider ski bibs rather than pants, which provide a bit more warmth and protection from powder sneaking up underneath your jacket.

The hems on ski pants can have snaps to adjust the circumference, which helps with sliding the pant leg over boots and securing a narrower fit; (photo/Jason Hummel)
What is RECCO?

RECCO is an avalanche safety system used by ski teams and rescue professionals to help find people buried in an avalanche. The first part of the system is a small metal reflector plate sewn into outerwear apparel to help a buried skier be detected in the event of an avalanche.

A RECCO reflector doesn’t transmit any signals or need any batteries, but it’s great to have in an emergency. A RECCO detector transmits an active signal, with a range up to 120 m through the air and 10-20 m through snow.

Note that a RECCO reflector does not replace an avalanche transceiver, also known as an avalanche beacon. If you plan to go into the sidecountry (slackcountry) such as out the boundary gate at your local ski area, or into the backcountry, be sure to wear and know how to use your avalanche transceiver. Likewise, be sure that your ski partners wear and know how to use their avalanche transceiver.

Some kick patches reach far up the interior of the lower leg from the hem to the ankle and above the calf muscle; (photo/Jason Hummel)
Should ski pants fit loose or tight?

It depends on your preference, but usually somewhere in between. Not so tight that they restrict movement, but not so loose that there’s extra space between the pants and your body (you’ll lose heat and get cold more easily plus it will feel too cumbersome or potentially get caught). If you wear thicker or more baselayers down below, consider sizing up to ensure that the pants fit properly.

Always try on ski pants with a thicker layer underneath — essentially, what you’d wear out in the cold. Especially if you are buying shell pants (uninsulated), you may want to size up or down, depending on the type of base layers you wear underneath.

With pants, it’s also super important to check the size and length — and see if they offer short, tall, or petite sizing for women who run short or tall.

Side vents can have a mesh layer between the body and outdoors or go straight through to your base layer; (photo/Jason Hummel)
Is GORE-TEX good for skiing?

GORE-TEX is a waterproof, windproof breathable membrane that is part of the fabric. For a long time, GORE-TEX has been the gold standard in waterproofing.

However, there are lots of other similar apparel membranes out there. Many major brands have their own version of waterproof-breathable fabrics.

Whichever ski pants you buy, make sure they are waterproof. Fabrics have degrees of waterproofing, from 5,000mm to 10,000mm to 25,000mm water column ratings. Generally, a handful of our GearJunkie team likes to shoot for at least a 10,000-15,000mm water column rating based on where we live and what kind of snow we experience in Colorado.

However, the highest level of waterproofing will sacrifice a little on breathability. In mild to medium — not extreme — winter climates, you’ll want a balance.

YKK zippers are considered standard across ski pants though some designs are totally waterproof while others are not and the size of the pulls and teeth can vary; (photo/Jason Hummel)
Can I put my avalanche transceiver in my ski pants pocket?

Many backcountry skiers eventually opt to put their avalanche transceiver (aka beacon) in a pocket, rather than the manufacturer’s approved chest harness. It’s generally better to have your beacon in the harness, as you’ll naturally protect your core in the event of an avalanche, which can prevent the screen from shattering and keep the device functional.

However, the pocket method can be more comfortable, and can enable quicker access if you need to go into search mode. If you do put your transceiver in a pocket, make sure that it’s meant to be used for that purpose, that the pocket is fully sewn in and integrated into the pant, and that you have the device attached back to you by a secondary attachment point, like an integrated transceiver leash or belt loop.

What type of pants should I wear for backcountry skiing?

Skiing uphill demands more breathability from your ski pants than resort skiing. For that, we tend to prefer something that allows for better temperature regulation. Softshell pants like the Dynafit Beast Hybrid allow us to exert ourselves while going uphill without overheating. 

In certain snow climates, like the Pacific Northwest, it’s more important to choose ski pants that still have high waterproof qualities for protection from the elements in the backcountry. However, for most backcountry skiing, breathable, lightweight hardshell or softshell pants are most ideal. We always look for venting capabilities in a backcountry pant, as well.

Waterproof zippers on ski pants can help keep moisture away from your phone, ID, or cash; (photo/Jason Hummel)

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