The ultimate ski pants are probably the most underrated part of your on-piste ensemble. They're not just there to look good (although they are too), but choosing the right ski pants will keep you warm, dry and comfortable all day, every day on the mountain. Here's what you should look for when choosing your ski pants.
Your ultimate ski pants should be waterproof to protect you from bad weather, snowfall or, in the worst case, snowmelt. Some pants have a waterproof rating, usually between 5000 and 20,000 mm (5K - 20K); the higher the number, the more waterproof the pant. However, some ski pants are made from specialized materials, such as The North Face's GORE-TEX or DryVent, which are waterproof but are not rated according to this system.
The most versatile type of supreme ski pants is an uninsulated shell with a liner for a little extra warmth and comfort. You can choose insulated pants with synthetic insulation, but if you get cold easily, we recommend shell pants and base layer thermal leggings instead - layers are always the best way to stay warm. For extra warmth and protection from the elements, consider high-waisted or bib pants. Cross-country skiers do a lot more aerobic exercise than downhill skiers, so ski pants designed for touring are usually lightweight and unlined.
Keep these common features in mind when choosing your ski pants.
If you love the retro racing glamour of a slim fit pant, opt for a four-way stretch for total freedom of movement and a perfect fit. Loose-fitting pants always offer freedom of movement and a more relaxed, urban feel.
For an even more personalized fit, the snow pants are available with different leg lengths to suit all skiers.
A snow gaiter is a waterproof seal that most ski pants have, designed to fit over your ski boots to keep snow and water out. The gaiters can have hooks that attach to the buckles of your ski boots for extra protection, and they will all be adjustable to ensure a perfect fit.
Unlike snowboard pants, ski pants are usually reinforced where the inside edge of the ski is likely to wear away the pants fabric. Extra durable fabric is used to reinforce the cuffs and protect the pants from contact with the edges of the ski and crampons.
Some ski pants have openings on the inner thighs for air circulation and temperature regulation. The material and length of these vary depending on the pant design; technical backcountry ski pants often have full-length side zippers for maximum ventilation.
Different types of supreme ski pants have different numbers and styles of pockets, from baggy overalls with cargo pockets to slim-fit pants with pockets just big enough for your ski pass. Think about what you'll need to climb the mountain with you when choosing ski pants. It's always better to have everything you need than to have to end your day early because you don't have enough pockets.