The Best Ski Pants of 2021-2022

2021-2022, best, outdoor, pants, ski, the - 20 minutes to read


When suiting up to ski, it’s easy to neglect the lower half of the body. Jackets and upper-body layers may attract more interest and attention, but ski pants are equally important.

Ski pants are essential. They keep you warm, dry, and comfortable on the mountain so you can focus on crushing the downhill. On this list, we’ve compiled our picks for the best ski pants on the market in 2021-2022.

From classic hardshell designs to breathable softshells, we’ve included styles for every kind of skier and every kind of budget. At the end of the list, check out our comprehensive buyer’s guide where we’ve outlined key considerations for selecting the perfect pair of ski pants.

Scroll through to see all of our recommended buys or jump to the category you’re looking for:

The Best Ski Pants of 2021-2022

Best Overall Ski Pants: Flylow Chemical Pants

The Chemical Pant from Flylow ($360) can do it all. From steep trees to groomers and park laps, these durable pants will keep you protected and looking good.

With sealed seams, waterproof zippers, and Flylow’s proprietary “Intuitive” fabric membrane, these pants are thoroughly waterproof. In 2021, the brand introduced a new and improved OmniBloq DWR finish that beads water and lasts for multiple seasons. For extra weather resistance, these pants will button to a Flylow jacket’s powder skirt, resulting in head-to-toe protection.

Thanks to large thigh vents, the Chemical Pants can be worn comfortably in a wide variety of conditions. They aren’t insulated, but the three-layer construction still feels warm enough on most days without the need for thick underlayers.

Due to their stiff fabric and mildly restrictive loose fit, these pants will perform at their best within the boundaries of the ski resort. Still, many skiers wear them in the backcountry with excellent results.

Other notable features of the Chemical Pants include three waterproof pockets, reinforced knees, and elasticated powder cuffs.

Specs:

Fit: Regular
Material: Polyester with 3-layer Intuitive waterproof breathable membrane
Waterproof Rating (mm): 20,000
Breathability (g): 20,000
Insulation: None
Sustainable Features: None

Pros:

Durable
Stylish
Simple yet versatile

Cons:

Mildly restrictive when hiking or skinning

Check Price at REICheck Price at Backcountry

Best Overall Bib: Arc’teryx Beta SV Bib — Men’s & Women’s

In stormy weather and rugged conditions, the Beta SV Bib ($575) is the best of the best. This special piece of outerwear combines the classic impenetrable benefits of a bib with the notorious build quality of Arc’teryx. We confidently recommend the Beta SV to all skiers, but its true domain is beyond resort boundaries.

“SV” stands for severe weather, and the title is well-earned. This bib is built with GORE-TEX Pro, the most long-lasting and durable waterproofing technology on the market. Watertight side zippers allow for easy removal even with boots on.

For fair-weather resort skiing, this bib may ultimately be a bit overengineered and expensive. For ski mountaineering and touring, however, the Beta SV is among the best gear that money can buy.

For such a hardy piece of outerwear, this bib is surprisingly breathable. Even during grueling climbs, overheating in the Beta SV is rare — an impressive characteristic for a waterproof bib.

Other notable features include adjustable suspenders, a hidden RECCO reflector, and reinforced instep patches to protect against damage from ski edges and crampons.

Specs:

Fit: Athletic
Material: N80d 3-layer GORE-TEX Pro, 100D CORDURA PowderCuffs
Waterproof Rating (mm): Unknown
Breathability (g): Unknown
Insulation: None
Sustainable Features: Contains materials that meet Bluesign criteria

Pros:

Top-notch waterproofing
Durable
Easy-to-use drop seat design

Cons:

Expensive compared to similar options

Check Men’s Price at REICheck Women’s Price at REI

Best Budget Ski Pants: The North Face Insulated Freedom Pants — Men’s & Women’s

For skiers on a budget, The North Face Freedom Pants ($169) offer high-end durability and performance for significantly less money than major competitors. Designed primarily for the ski resort, these pants are well-constructed and stylish. While we’ve listed the insulated version of the Freedom Pants here, a non-insulated version is available and slightly cheaper.

Though we haven’t included many insulated pants on this list, we found the 60g Heatseeker insulation in the Freedom Pants adds a nice touch. Skiers who tend to run cold will especially appreciate the added warmth, which feels pleasant and cozy without excess bulk.

The slightly baggy fit of the Freedom Pants allows for comfortable layering, and the resulting style fits right in at the resort. Because these pants lack stretch, they do feel mildly restrictive at times, meaning they aren’t ideal for backcountry skiing. We like the large side vents, which successfully counteract the warmth of the insulation on balmy days.

While these pants won’t win any awards for high-end features or cutting-edge technology, they are fully deserving of a shout-out for their unbeatable value.

Specs:

Fit: Slim
Material: Nylon blend with 2-layer DryVent construction
Waterproof Rating (mm): Unknown
Breathability (g): Unknown
Insulation: Synthetic
Sustainable Features: Heatseeker insulation is made from 50% post-consumer recycled material

Pros:

Cons:

Not very breathable
Mildly restrictive

Check Men’s Price at AmazonCheck Women’s Price at Backcountry

Best for the Backcountry: Black Diamond Dawn Patrol — Men’s & Women’s

From the breathable fabric to the slim athletic fit, the Dawn Patrol Pants ($215) from Black Diamond have been thoroughly designed for backcountry skiing and riding. Instead of attempting to create a versatile do-it-all pair of ski pants without clear strengths, Black Diamond went all out with only the backcountry in mind. The end result is comfortable, durable, and impressively stretchy.

Because the Dawn Patrol is a softshell pant, it won’t keep moisture out as well as some of the hardshell styles on this list. However, the pant features a high-quality DWR coating, which most wearers find is sufficient for almost all conditions.

The benefit of softshell pants is increased breathability and stretch. While skinning or hiking uphill, the Dawn Patrol Pants feel cool and airy, wicking sweat and preventing discomfort. If you still manage to overheat, two large mesh side vents offer additional temperature control.

Other features of these pants include removable suspenders, roomy zippered pockets, and simple powder cuffs. If you’re seeking top-notch outerwear for regular backcountry missions, the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol checks all of the boxes.

Specs:

Fit: Regular
Material: Nylon, polyester, and elastane blend with DWR coating
Waterproof Rating (mm): Unknown
Breathability (g): Unknown
Insulation: Unknown
Sustainable Features: Bluesign-approved product

Pros:

Breathable
Comfortable
Relatively water-resistant for a softshell

Cons:

Mesh lining reduces the effectiveness of side vents

Check Men’s Price at Backcountry Check Women’s Price at Black Diamond

Best of the Rest

Arc’teryx Sabre AR Pants

These Sabre AR Pants ($549) from Arc’teryx represent the absolute top of the line for resort-leaning ski pants. In any conditions, their three-layer GORE-TEX construction offers dependable protection against any weather. In sleet, rain, or heavy snow, you’ll always be dry and comfortable while wearing the Sabre AR. All seams are sealed, and all zippers are waterproof.

The sleek styling of Arc’teryx is unmistakable, and these pants are among the best-looking on this list. The fit is slightly on the slim side, but there is still plenty of room for extra layers and unrestricted movement.

Though most wearers use the Sabre AR in-bounds at the resort, they’re well-equipped for the backcountry too. While the fleece lining may be a bit warm while skinning uphill, long external leg vents regulate airflow and keep you cool.

These pants are intentionally light on features. Two zippered leg pockets provide just enough storage space for a cellphone and a set of keys. Elastic powder cuffs are also included. Ultimately, the general quality of these pants makes up for their modest set of features. The main job of ski pants is to provide excellent and functional protection, and the Sabre AR certainly provides.

Specs:

Fit: Regular
Material: 80D nylon face fabric with 3-layer lo-loft softshell construction and GORE-TEX membrane
Waterproof Rating (mm): Unknown
Breathability (g): Unknown
Insulation: Unknown
Sustainable Features: None

Pros:

Nice-looking pants
Durable
Versatile enough for the resort and the backcountry

Cons:

Check Price at BackcountryCheck Price at evo

Mammut Stoney HS Pants — Men’s & Women’s

The Stoney Hardshell Pants ($299) are well-made with a versatile mixture of handy features. While cruising through powder or skinning up steep slopes, you’ll surely appreciate the fine balance of breathability and waterproofing.

Surprisingly, Mammut’s DRYtechnology Pro Material is both fully waterproof and reasonably stretchy. Though these are hardshell pants, they manage to offer plentiful freedom of movement. Waterproof zippers keep your phone and valuables safe — even in waist-deep powder.

For such lightweight ski pants, the Stoney Hardshells incorporate impressive durability in all the right places. For example, CORDURA reinforcements around the ankles provide protection against ski edges and crampons. When paired with a Mammut ski jacket, these pants form part of a full-body weatherproof system ideal for ski mountaineering.

We appreciate the sleek and understated look of these pants. All available color schemes are handsome and not overly flashy.

Other key features of the Stoney Hardshell pants include elastic snow gaiters, side vents, and an elastic waistband adjustment system. At a reasonable price, these pants are an exceptional value.

Specs:

Fit: Regular
Material: Polyamide and elastane blend with 2-layer DRYtechnology Pro membrane
Waterproof Rating (mm): 20,000
Breathability (g): 20,000
Insulation: Unknown
Sustainable Features: None

Pros:

Good freedom of movement
Versatile
Nice looking

Cons:

Minimal room in the crotch area

Check Men’s Price at REICheck Women’s Price at REI

Norrona Lofoten GORE-TEX Pro Plus Pants

Norrona is known for high-quality outwear, and the Lofoten Pants ($759) are no exception. These durable and thoroughly weatherproof ski pants are designed with mountain freeriding in mind. GORE-TEX Pro is the company’s most substantial waterproofing system. When combined with Norrona’s 200-denier outer fabric, the result is perhaps the most rugged pair of pants on this list.

When prayers are answered and the powder gets deep, the Lofoten Pants are ready with a lightweight and breathable zip-in bib. On both legs, large inner thigh vents offer amplified airflow. To avoid wear from ski edges and crampons, both ankle cuffs are fully reinforced.

These pants have a moderately baggy fit. Though they could feasibly be worn both in and out of bounds, backcountry skiers and riders may wish the outer fabric was more breathable.

GORE-TEX Pro, while excellent for keeping the weather out, can also feel quite stifling when hiking uphill. Ultimately, these pants really shine in cold, windy, and stormy conditions.

If your skiing style calls for ultimate weather protection, we highly recommend the Lofoten pants. Even when the wind is whipping at 25 mph, your legs will feel warm and sheltered all day long.

Specs:

Fit: Regular
Material: 200D partially recycled face fabric with GORE-TEX Pro membrane
Waterproof Rating (mm): Unknown
Breathability (g): Unknown
Insulation: None
Sustainable Features: Made from partially recycled materials

Pros:

Excellent waterproofing
Durable
High-quality zippers

Cons:

Check Price at Backcountry

Helly Hansen Legendary Pants — Men’s & Women’s

Compared to many options on this list, the Legendary 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. 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.

Helly Hansen’s Performance Fabric comes with taped seams and performs as well as just about any waterproof outwear on the market. Plus, it breathes fairly well and only sometimes becomes clammy on the inside. When the temps rise, two leg vents allow the wearer to get rid of excess heat.

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:

Fit: Regular
Material: Polyester face fabric with Helly Tech membrane
Waterproof Rating (mm): 10,000
Breathability (g): Unknown
Insulation: PrimaLoft
Sustainable Features: None

Pros:

Perfect for resort skiing
Comfortable

Cons:

A little heavy for warm conditions

Check Men’s Price at BackcountryCheck Women’s Price at REI

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Perfect Pair of Ski Pants

Ski pants come in a wide variety of styles. While some options on this list are built to prioritize burly weather resistance, others are geared toward breathability and minimal weight.

In this buyer’s guide, we carefully break down all of the factors that differentiate one pair of ski pants from the next. With the information provided, we hope you’ll be able to easily identify the perfect pair for you.

Types of Ski Pants: Hardshell vs. Softshell

There are two major categories of ski pants: hardshell and softshell. Choosing between these ultimately comes down to personal preference, and one category is not strictly better or worse than the other.

Hardshell ski pants feature a waterproof barrier between you and the surrounding conditions. Just like hardshell jackets, pants in this category often include taped seams and tend to feel thick and hardy to the touch. In a good pair of hardshell pants, you can sit down directly on the snow without worrying about a soggy bottom.

The main downside to hardshell pants is they tend to limit mobility. Hardshells are by far the more common choice for resort skiers. On this list, the Mammut Stoney Ski Pants are a fantastic hardshell option.

Because hardshell pants are generally more popular and more common than softshells, most of the pants we’ve included on this list are hardshell. However, in recent years, softshell technology has seriously improved. Major companies like Arc’teryx and Black Diamond have been working to create softshell pants that offer plentiful mobility without sacrificing waterproofing.

On this list, the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol pants are excellent modern softshell pants and a great example of where the outerwear industry is headed. Especially among backcountry skiers, softshell pants are growing in popularity with each passing season.

Pants vs. Bibs

To ski in pants or to ski in a bib? This is a fundamental outerwear question that divides the skiing world into two camps. Ski pants need little explanation, as they’re worn just like any other pair of pants — waist-high and secured with a button.

The primary downside of wearing pants while skiing is that cold and snow can find their way up the back of your jacket or down your pants, especially during a fall. Some of the best standard-style ski pants we’ve included are The North Face Insulated Freedom Ski Pants and the Flylow Chemical Pants.

Enter ski bibs. With a high waistline held up by shoulder suspension straps, bibs eliminate the fatal flaw of ski pants. When skiing deep powder, the joy of knowing you won’t get snow down your pants offers valuable peace of mind. If you’ve never skied in a bib, just know they do take a little getting used to.

Also, bibs tend to be warmer than pants, so they may not be the best choice for those balmy spring days. On this list, one of our favorites is the Arc’teryx Beta SV Bib.

Skiing Styles: Resort vs. Backcountry

While many ski pants are versatile enough for both resort and backcountry skiing, certain styles and features are better suited for one setting or the other.

For in-bounds skiing, we recommend pants with burly outer materials, reliable waterproofing, and a semi-relaxed fit that allows room for layers underneath. You won’t often be traveling uphill while resort skiing, so it’s generally okay to wear pants that mildly restrict hiking movement. On this list, our favorite pants for resort use are the Mammut Stoney Hardshell Pants and The North Face Insulated Freedom Ski Pants.

While skiing or riding in the backcountry, freedom of movement is a basic requirement. For maximum mobility, backcountry ski pants are usually crafted with stretchy materials that will comfortably accommodate a wide range of movement.

Breathability is also an elevated priority in the backcountry. Hiking can be strenuous, and large vents can prevent overheating. If you tend to run warm in the backcountry, be sure to look for a pair of ski pants with zippered side vents like the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol.

Compared to resort-leaning pants, backcountry styles tend to be more form-fitting and less waterproof. Of course, it’s always important to check the weather and snow conditions and dress accordingly no matter where you’re going to ski.

Warmth and Insulation

Our list of recommendations includes both insulated ski pants and non-insulated shells. Ultimately, the choice between these categories comes down to your personal preference. If you tend to run cold or frequently ski in frigid temps, you may want to seek out a warm insulated option like The North Face Insulated Freedom Pants.

For most skiers, we recommend going with shell-style pants due to their unmatched versatility. Shells can be worn on their own or combined with a variety of underlayers. Depending on the conditions of the day, you may choose to combine your pants with thin baselayers, fleece pants, or both to attain the perfect level of warmth and comfort.

(Photo/Black Diamond)

Durability

Ski pants will inevitably take a beating. After many days of skiing through trees, rubbing against boot buckles, and sitting on chair lifts, pants are going to show signs of wear. On this list, the Arc’teryx Sabre AR Pants stand out for their long-lasting durability.

For backcountry skiing and touring, thinner and lighter pants are common. On this list, the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol pants slightly compromise on durability in favor of mobility and comfort.

If you prefer to own a single pair of ski pants that holds up decently well in all settings without major sacrifices, check out the Flylow Chemical Pants.

Waterproofing

While wearing ski pants, you’ll likely sit on wet surfaces and move through falling rain and snow. For this reason, reliable water resistance is an absolute must. Many of the styles included on this list come with high-end waterproof membranes and outer fabrics.

Within the outerwear industry, GORE-TEX is generally considered top-tier waterproof protection. All well-made waterproof ski pants will come with taped seams, waterproof zippers, and a DWR coating.

In the backcountry, outerwear serves a slightly different purpose, and many options in this category only include waterproof materials in key areas. Because the backcountry involves more hiking and fewer lift rides, breathability and mobility are often considered more important than full waterproofing. On this list, partially waterproof pants like the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol are worth considering for backcountry riders and skiers.

Breathability and Ventilation

Every skier has a different comfort zone when it comes to temperature regulation and layering. For those who tend to run warm, breathable and well-ventilated outerwear may be absolutely essential.

In general, ski pants will offer varying degrees of ventilation and breathability depending on their intended use. While running laps on groomers at the resort, most skiers will be comfortable in heavier, less-breathable pants like the Arc’teryx Sabre AR. If you prefer more temperature control, The North Face Insulated Freedom Pants come with zippered vents to shed excess heat on the go.

When backcountry skiing or touring, grueling uphill treks call for air-permeable outer layers. Softshell designs like the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol are less water and windproof, but their increased breathability is a welcome asset on a steep skin track.

Fit

When selecting ski pants, a comfortable fit is all-important. Personal preference is the most important variable here. If you don’t know what kind of fit you’re after, we absolutely recommend trying on pants before buying them.

Most resort skiers go with a standard fit that’s semi-loose but not overly baggy. Conditions at the resort vary from frigid and stormy to sweaty and spring-like throughout the season, and slightly loose-fitting pants allow for versatile layering options underneath. On this list, the Flylow Chemical is a top-notch resort skiing design that conforms to the body, looks stylish, and feels great.

For backcountry skiing and touring, slim-cut pants are common. Stretchy materials combined with a leg-hugging fit are ideal for hiking uphill.

FAQ

Why Do I Need Ski Pants?

Ski pants are purpose-built lower body skiing outerwear. While specific-use ski pants are not strictly necessary, we always recommend using the proper tool for the job.

An average day of skiing includes inclement weather, rugged terrain, and thousands of mid-ski lunges and micro squats. High-quality ski pants are specifically designed to accommodate these unique circumstances. Other pants just aren’t quite up to the task — especially jeans!

What Are the Best Ski Pants for Beginners?

The best ski pants for beginners are comfortable, durable, and budget-friendly. Unlike skis themselves, ski pants don’t exist on a beginner-to-expert spectrum. Though some pairs are more expensive and more feature-packed than others, your choice of pants probably won’t make or break your skiing ability.

With that said, we recommend that beginners, especially at the resort, select a fully waterproof pair of hardshell ski pants. When learning to ski, you can expect to fall often and spend plenty of time sitting on the snow. A dry skier is a happy skier, and a happy skier is more likely to learn and progress.

What Are the Best Brands of Ski Pants?

All of the ski pants that we’ve recommended on this list are made by high-quality, reputable brands. In general, some of the top ski pant brands include Arc’teryx, The North Face, and Flylow.

Do I Need Layers Under My Ski Pants?

In almost any conditions, we recommend wearing a thin pair of base layer bottoms under your ski pants at the very least. When choosing a baselayer, we recommend close-fitting designs with soft and comfortable material such as merino wool or polyester.

On cold days, other layers such as fleece pants can provide additional insulation and warmth. If you tend to run cold, we recommend insulated styles such as The North Face Insulated Freedom Pants.

What Is RECCO?

Many high-end ski pants come equipped with a built-in RECCO reflector. These compact and passive units can be detected by devices frequently carried by ski patrollers and search and rescue.

When someone gets lost, the RECCO reflector becomes an additional safety measure that may aid in locating them. On this list, the Arc’teryx Beta SV Bib is equipped with a RECCO device.

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