GearJunkie editor Morgan Tilton testing women's ski pants at Crested Butte; (photo/Jason Hummel)

The Best Women’s Ski Pants of 2022-2023

Whether you frequent backcountry mountains or a local resort, we’ve found the best ski pants for women.

Ski season is upon us, and we couldn’t be more excited. We’ve researched, tested, and rounded up our choices for the best snow pants in all the top categories. And we’ve also provided a breakdown on how to choose the one that will best fit your skiing as well as other winter needs from sledding to shoveling the walkway. While many women’s snowboard pants are tailored to the sport’s style and boot fit, some of these ski pants work for snowboarders as well.

Ski pants need to fit well and work year after year. From useful pockets to leg vents and waterproofing, we outline the best features of each pant. And while there isn’t a single best pant for every woman, we’ve organized this list into categories to help you find the best skit pant 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.

Below, we break the article into sections:

The Best Women’s Ski Pants of 2022-2023

Best Overall Women’s Ski Pant: Helly Hansen Switch Cargo Pant

helly hansen switch cargo 2.0

Among Helly Hansen’s staple ski pants, the Switch Cargo ($225) is a low-rise, hardshell snow pant complete with PrimaLoft insulation.

Lightweight and built for performance, the Switch Cargo pants have a two-layer, PFC-free DWR-coated fabric. They also have articulated construction at the seat and knees for comfort during higher levels of activity. And they have an embedded RECCO rescue reflector.

We really liked the extra cargo pockets and stylish boot-cut flare. These are great insulated ski pants. Due to the insulation, they’ll be hot for backcountry skiing, so they’re not a great choice for earning your turns.

Skiers love the insulation, warmth, and great fit of these pants. And the majority of reviews mentioned that the pants work well in many different conditions on the mountain. Read our full review. 

Specs:
  • Shell: 2-layer HellyTech Performance fabric with DWR finish
  • Insulation: PrimaLoft
  • Pockets: 4
  • Seams: Fully taped
  • Zippers: 2 YKK AquaGuard zippers on the front pockets
  • RECCO: Yes
  • Fit: Low-rise, standard
  • Cuffs: Yes
  • Our favorite perk: Its all-day comfort lapping runs
  • Best for: Resort skiing or side-country skiing on lift-served terrain
Pros:
  • Warm
  • Stylish
  • Embedded RECCO reflector
Cons:
  • Too warm for uphill travel

Check Price at REI

Best Budget Women’s Ski Pant: The North Face Freedom Insulated Pants

The North Face Freedom Pant women's

The North Face’s Freedom pants ($169) are definitely a crowd-pleaser — and for good reason. The pants are well-insulated (a light base layer will do the trick even riding lifts on cold days) and have deep, fleece-lined hand pockets. The pants use The North Face’s in-house insulation and a mesh-backed venting system on the inner thighs.

They might not have all the bells and whistles of more technical backcountry pants, but we really like this pair as a resort ski pant. The comfort combined with basic features like interior gaiters will keep you happy at the mountain all day long. The Freedom Pant keeps us dry on days with wetter snow, though the face fabric doesn’t feature a DWR (durable water-repellent) treatment.

These pants are an excellent choice for anyone who wants to stay warm and dry on the mountain while sticking to a budget.

Specs:
  • Shell: 2-layer DryVent fabric
  • Insulation: The North Face Heatseeker
  • Pockets: 3
  • Seams: Critically sealed (unsealed pocket seams)
  • Zippers: Non-waterproof zippered front pockets and vents
  • RECCO: No
  • Fit: Regular
  • Cuffs: Yes
  • Our favorite perk: The venting system
  • Best for: Enthusiastic resort skiers
Pros:
  • Fleece-lined pockets
  • Thigh vents
Cons:
  • No DWR treatment

Check Price at BackcountryCheck Price at Amazon

Best Lightweight Ski Pant for Women: Arc’teryx Sentinel LT Pant

arcteryx sentinel lt pant in muse green

Designed with big-alpine skiing in mind, these pants are a great choice for the committed skier or rider. The Arc’teryx Sentinel LT ($499) has a GORE-TEX waterproof laminate with a C-Knit backer. This backer helps keep weight down and breathability high. We liked the performance fit and the pant’s multitude of features like side vents, touring cuffs, and gaiters.

The Sentinel LT is built to be minimalist and lightweight (hence the “LT” label), and we were definitely surprised by how feathery the pants felt for their durability. Being uninsulated and fairly breathable with mechanical venting, the pant performs well on both the uphill and downhill. Whether you frequent the backcountry bowls or long days off-piste, this is a solid choice and quality pant.

The Sentinel LT are super lightweight, and we love the feminine style, soft fabric, and durability. That being said, these are definitely an investment that will better serve the more advanced skiers. If you’re keen on backcountry travel, these pants do a great job maximizing breathability during steep climbs, while providing plenty of protection to keep you dry on the way down.

Specs:
  • Shell: 3-layer nylon fabric with GORE-TEX
  • Insulation: None
  • Pockets: 2
  • Seams: Fully taped
  • Zippers: YKK WaterTight zippered pockets
  • RECCO: No (although the matching Sentinel LT Jacket does)
  • Fit: Trim (consider going up a size)
  • Cuffs: Yes, CORDURA PowderCuffs
  • Our favorite perk: Durability and versatility
  • Best for: Ripping turns all-day
Pros:
  • Super lightweight
  • Waterproof
  • Breathable
Cons:
  • Not warm enough for cold resort days

Check Price at Arc’teryx

Best Backcountry Ski Pant: Outdoor Research Skyward II

Outdoor Research Skyward II Ski Pants

For backcountry skiing and riding the lifts on warmer days, Outdoor Research’s women’s Skyward II ($299) wins our top pick. Its AscentShell electrospun membrane gives the pant a good balance of breathability and lightweight. The four-way mirror stretch means you can wear the pant on the uphill or downhill while maintaining great range of motion.

If you do need to shed some heat, the pant has two-way zippered venting on both sides. But the pant’s coolest feature is the designated beacon mesh pocket. You can easily stash your safety accessory and go.

We also really like the boot-adjusting power strap. It’s a slot added in the gaiters so you don’t have to remove them to tighten your boots. If you spend most of your time in the backcountry, this pant is your best bet.

Specs:
  • Shell: 3-layer polyester AscentShell fabric
  • Insulation: None
  • Pockets: 4
  • Zippers: YKK AquaGuard zippered hand and thigh pockets
  • RECCO: No
  • Fit: Standard
  • Cuffs: Yes, with edge guards
  • Our favorite perk: Range of motion and breathability
  • Best for: Earning your turns
Pros:
  • Ample ventilation
  • Internal gaiters
  • Large, easy-access beacon pocket
  • Plenty of stretch
Cons:
  • Not as breathable as some Gor-tex options

Check Price at AmazonCheck Price at Backcountry

Best Uphill Workout Ski Pant for Women: La Sportiva Excelsior Pant

La Sportiva Excelsior Pant

Soft and breathable, the La Sportiva Excelsior Pant ($179) is a go-to pant for uphilling at the resort, especially when intervals or a speed workout are involved.

The cut is super streamlined but stretchy and easily pulls over our quads, glutes, and hips. For extra air passage, there are two side ventilation zippers that stretch nearly a foot, offering a heat dump.

Two hand pockets and one front thigh pocket offer space to hold goods, but since we tend to use these pants for uphill exercise at the ski area or in non-avalanche terrain, we don’t usually like extra weight in our pockets anyways. And the zipper teeth on the hand pockets are not the most comfortable to slide our hands through.

Also a standout is an adjustable hem, which has a zipper and three snaps to tighten or expand depending on the placement over your ski boots.

Specs:
  • Shell: Midweight soft shell made of recycled polyamide and polyester plus elastane (bluesign-certified) and PFC-free DWR coating
  • Insulation: None
  • Pockets: 3
  • Zippers: Not available
  • RECCO: No
  • Fit: Streamlined yet stretchy
  • Cuffs: An inch of reinforced cuff around the entire parameter and a 8.5″ high patch inside the leg
  • Our favorite perk: Slender-fitting for exercise without any rub points or tight spots
  • Best for: Uphilling, speed workouts, skimo races
Pros:
  • Breathable softshell fabric
  • DWR treatment sheds wet snow
Cons:
  • Seams not sealed

Check Price at La Sportiva

Best of the Rest

Helly Hansen Legendary Insulated Pants

Helly Hansen Legendary Pant

Compared to many options on this list, the Legendary Insulated Ski Pants ($200) from Helly Hansen stand out for their simple, classic design. For skiers looking for a clean, understated look that also performs well, look no further than these stellar resort skiing pants.

With a form-fitting shape that still offers room for underlayers, the Legendary Pants are fully compatible with both ski and snowboard boots. The articulated knee joints offer freedom of movement, and the reinforced bottom hem holds up to abuse from ski edges.

For insulated ski pants, these still manage to feel lightweight and breathable (thanks to venting). The 60g PrimaLoft Black insulation reduces the need for excess underlayers, even when the temps drop into the low teens. Appearance-wise, the insulation is only slightly noticeable. We’re glad that these don’t have the fluffy “Michelin Man” look of some other insulated styles.

The Legendary Pants are perfect for the occasional skier looking for simple yet high-quality pants for resort skiing. They’re not the cheapest options out there, but they can easily justify their price tag in the long term.

 

Specs:
  • Shell: Polyester face fabric with Helly Tech membrane
  • Insulation: PrimaLoft
  • Pockets: 3
  • Seams: Fully sealed
  • Zippers: YKK Aquaguard zippers
  • Cuffs: yes, reinforced
  • Waterproof Rating: 10,000mm
  • Fit: standard
  • Best for: durability and quality on a budget
Pros:
  • Sleek appearance
  • Well-insulated
  • Reasonably priced
Cons:
      • Not breathable

Check Price at REI

Dynafit Beast Hybrid

dynafit beast hybrid

For those who spend more time going uphill than down, the Beast Hybrid ($350) is a great choice. This hybrid pant offers the breathability of softshell pants. But Dynafit added waterproof fabric in the knees, thighs, legs, and butt — places most likely to let water in during wet conditions.

Ventilation zips with water-repellent zippers extend from knee to hip to dump heat at any moment. These are a high-performance pant for recreational skimo or touring athletes who get their cardio on the skin track. Note: The fit on this pant is definitely on the slimmer side, so consider that when choosing a size.

Specs:
    • Shell: 3-layer Dynashell polyamide-nylon fabric with DWR finish
    • Insulation: None
    • Pockets: 2
    • Seams: Fully sealed seams
    • Zippers: Water-repellent YKK zippers
    • RECCO: No
    • Fit: Athletic
    • Cuffs: Yes
    • Our favorite perk: Great performance in lots of different conditions (thanks to the ventilation zips)
    • Best for: Those who like to tour
Pros:
      • Built for strenuous uphill travel
      • Waterproof knees, thighs, and seat
Cons:
      • Not completely waterproof

Check Price at BackcountryCheck Price at Amazon

Arc’teryx Sentinel AR Pant

Arc'teryx Sentinel AR Pant

“AR” stands for all-around, as there’s not much this pant can’t withstand. The biggest difference between the Arc’teryx Sentinel LT and Sentinel AR pant ($549) is this super-premium build is intended to be more tenacious for big mountain freeride tours compared to mellower backcountry tours and missions. The tradeoff? The design weighs 520 g (compared to 475 g), and the beefier build is reflected in the cost.

The sides have double zippers along the vents, which reach 14 inches in length, offering ample room for catching a breeze. But they don’t have mesh inserts, which we wish were added for a bit of protection and privacy.

On each thigh, the wide, deep pockets are super spacious for holding a big phone or snack bars. There’s also a small, hidden stash pocket in the right hand pocket. The hand pocket zippers are water-resistant (but not waterproof). Both a comfortable integrated waist belt plus wide belt loops provide the opportunity to adjust size and fit.

To protect the fabric of the interior pant leg against ski edges, crampons, and abrasion, the stout Keprotec interior patches on the cuffs stretch 8 inches across and 8.5 inches high at their peak.

These waterproof-breathable pants with taped seams are as durable and as comfortable as ski pants come, so they’re a perfect option for mission-oriented and avid skiers that want to invest in a single pair for the long haul.

Specs:
  • Shell: 3-layer N70p GORE-TEX with Lo-Loft soft shell construction (nylon plain weave fabric with DWR finish)
  • Insulation: Brushed-knit polyester liner
  • Pockets: 3
  • Zippers: Not available
  • RECCO: No
  • Fit: Standard
  • Cuffs: 100-denier Cordura cuffs with Keprotec instep patches
  • Our favorite perk: High-reaching, stout interior cuffs for hem and pant leg protection
  • Best for: Avid backcountry enthusiasts, blustery resort days, environments full of changing weather conditions
Pros:
  • Durable
  • Big side vents
  • Waterproof
Cons:
  • No mesh backer on the side vents

Check Price at REI

Columbia Bugaboo Omni-Heat Snow Pant

columbia bugaboo omni-heat snow pant

The Bugaboo Omni-Heat pants from Columbia ($110) win for both comfort and style. They are lightweight at under a pound and have internal gaiters, fully taped seams, and an adjustable waist to help with custom sizing.

While they lack a couple of key features (like vents), for waterproof snow pants, you can’t beat the price. The pants’ soft insulation adds warmth without sacrificing waterproofness. These pants are definitely a better option for resort skiers and beginner riders.

We don’t recommend these for backcountry travel, but if you’re an occasional skier looking for a pant that can also handle wet, wintry weather while working in the yard or sledding, the Omni-Heat pants will do the trick

Specs:
  • Shell: 2-layer nylon Omni-Tech fabric
  • Insulation: Microtemp XF
  • Pockets: 5
  • Seams: Fully taped
  • Zippers:Zippered front pockets and zippered leg pocket
  • RECCO: No
  • Fit: Active
  • Cuffs: Yes, with snap closure
  • Our favorite perk: Good performance for the price
  • Best for:Beginner skiing in resorts
Pros:
  • Warm
  • Waterproof
  • Inexpensive
Cons:
  • No ventilation

Check Price at REI

DSC02851 copy
A good pair of ski pants will keep you ripping laps on storm days and bluebird days alike; (photo/Jason Hummel)

Why You Should Trust Us

The GearJunkie team is made up of amateur 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. Over the years, we’ve tested many different ski pants, and this list comprises the best of the best.

While testing women’s ski pants in the field, we assessed durability, overall fit, ease of movement, protection, fabric feel, breathability, ventilation, and functionality. We’ve tested ski pants while carving turns in ice-cold temperatures, blizzards, blustery wind, intense sun, and even rain from far-out tours to parking lot tailgating.

Beyond our team’s experience, we also considered the most popular and bestselling women’s ski pants on the market as well as a broad range of price points and a variety of features and applications.

DSC03352 copy
(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 towards 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.

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.

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

Which Fabric Should You Choose?

For powder days or backcountry travel, it makes a lot of sense to invest in a GORE-TEX or similar fully waterproof fabric.

The climate where you venture outdoors is also an important variable. There are three general snowpack zones: maritime, closer to the ocean; transitional; and continental with lower humidity and colder temperatures. The maritime snowpack has more water content and will be more wet, such as on Vancouver Island. Comparatively, Colorado’s continental snowpack typically has less water content and is much dryer.

Furthermore, two-layer and three-layer fabrics have different weights, waterproofness, and breathability ratings.

Ask yourself whether the pant will work for what you want. The goal is to find a pant 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.

 

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Interior gaiters help keep snow out of your boots on deep powder days; (photo/Jason Hummel)

Ski Pant Pockets and Features

Every pant 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. Ladies, you know what we’re talking about. That inch-wide chapstick pocket just doesn’t cut it.

Thigh pockets are especially great if you don’t like pocket items (like a cell phone or beacon) bunching up near your hips. Another important feature to consider getting in your pant is a RECCO reflector for safety in avalanche terrain.

Budget and Price

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 a higher-quality pant that will ultimately perform better and last longer on the mountain.

 

FAQ

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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 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!)

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.

What Is RECCO?

RECCO is an avalanche safety system used by ski teams and rescue professionals to help find people trapped in an avalanche. The first part of the system is a reflector 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.

Should Ski Pants Fit Loose or Tight?

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.

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.


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