It doesn’t take long for winter sports enthusiasts to perk up and understand the value of a good pair of ski pants (or learn their lesson the hard way). Ski pants that are too baggy, too long, too thick, or too frail undoubtedly lead to less emphasis on the snow and more focus on how uncomfortable your legs and rear feel. Luckily- for those with snow in the veins yet still wanting to stay comfortable off and on-piste- some inspiring brands continue to rise to the occasion, combining cutting edge technology with affordable value.
Regardless of your personal preference and desired utility, a brand on the list below will fulfill your needs. From recreational skiers that enjoy sauntering blue runs to backcountry experts who demand more of their gear, the brands below make it their mission to set the par for the course and provide their customers with the best value possible.
The difference between a ski pant and a ski bib might not be evident for those less familiar with the ski apparel jargon. Ski pants are secured only around the waist, similar to your favorite pair of jeans. On the other hand, a bib has suspenders that secure the pants over the shoulders, allowing for a higher fit and a more fixed placement. For backcountry skiers who find themselves waist-deep in dreamy powder, a bib will help keep the snow from sneaking down the waistline.
If you are looking for the best ski pants and bibs, why not combine them with a pair of world-class skis? Renoun is the first ski manufacturer to bring non-newtonian materials to stabilize skis and reduce chatter. Renoun has developed VibeStopTM technology which adapt instantly to snow conditions and ski style. Check out this year's line of up award winning skis by Renoun.
With further ado, let’s get into it. Here are our top picks for the best ski pants and bibs for 2021.
This Portland-based ski company prides themselves in astute environmental stewardship, and their well-designed products reflect those deeply ingrained values. From supply chain transparency to community development, Trew Gear puts just as much passion into the ski community as they do their quality gear.
Their flagship ski pant, the Trewth Trouser, is a sophisticated ski pant (a trouser, in fact) that is designed to take you effortlessly to the top of the mountain and comfortably back down, With water-resistant zippers, SuperFabric® cuffs and kick patches, and a 3-layer seam tape- the Trewth Trousers balance performance with comfort. For those who aren’t in the market for the best technical backcountry gear, the Trewth Trouser is a more breathable, more flexible design.
If you are a powder dog looking for one of the best, heavier bib options, the Trewth Bib is a comfortable and safe counterpart to more intense adventures. With a similar design to the Trewth Trousers, the Trewth Bib also comes with stretch suspenders, a chest cargo pocket, and a purpose-built zippered beacon pocket. And lest we forget, the Trewth Bib comes in some very fashionable color variations.
While this Arc’teryx Sabre ski pant may be one of the most expensive products on this “best-of” list, the value far exceeds the cost.
Like many Arc’teryx products, the Sabre ski pants (men’s or women’s) once again set the bar high and combine industry-leading technology with outstanding quality and comfort.
The Sabre AR pant holds a minimalist aesthetic but is packed full of the best tech. Double-sided zippers offer temperature monitoring, GORE-TEX storm protection protects from even the most dramatic elements, and Keprotec™ instep patches provide even more protection from cuts and tears.
These features plus many more consistently land the Arc’teryx Sabre AR at the top of many skiers’ wishlist.
Flylow was started by two skiers who struggled to find a pair of ski pants that held up in the backcountry. The entire reason the apparel line was created was the lack of adequate ski pant design, so it’s not a surprise that Flylow makes our list with their Flylow Smythe Bib explicitly designed for versatility and backcountry madness.
While the Smythe Bib has features specific for backcountry adventures, its incredible breathability and versatility make it an option for anyone craving quality gear that won’t hinder their progress.
The Smyth Bib is ultralight, “supremely breathable,” and crafted to be used with harnesses and ski backpacks. A versatile size range is also good for big, tall guys.
North Face has fast become a household name when it comes to the best outdoor gear. While the company profile covers various markets, they have always produced high quality, well-valued snow gear for those who need it.
While the North Face products might not be as technically inclined, their Freedom ski pants are an excellent option for recreational skiers.
The Freedom ski pants and bibs all come with a Chimney Venting™ system to prevent overheating and a DryVent™ 2 Layer fabric for extra comfort.
As the name suggests, the Freedom series aims to ensure freedom of movement around the thighs and knees while providing the necessary comfort and tough hardshell protection.
Here we have it, the hybrid to beat all hybrids. Reviews of the Outward Research Skyward II stress one key point above all others- versatility. This ski pant is so well balanced that it almost thinks like a bib.
With its AscentShell 3 layer fabric design that breathes and acts like a softshell, the idea that waterproof pants can’t be breathable no longer holds merit.
For resort skiers, this product is comfortable, durable, and secure. For backcountry experts, the Skyward II pants have been equipped with 420D scuff guards to protect against wear and tear and an easy-to-access avalanche beacon pocket for those knock-on-wood scenarios.
Not only does Patagonia make high-quality gear that’s built to outperform and outlast that of their competitors, but it’s crafted on the tenets of sustainability and responsibility.
Patagonia has brand values that are easy to support and gear that lives up to the hype. Among many other formidable products, the Patagonia Men’s Snowdrifter Bib showcases some of the best technology and sustainable practices.
This lightweight bib was designed with performance and comfort in balance, versatile enough to take on a vicious backcountry run or a cruisy Sunday afternoon tour. In addition to its 3-layer H2No® protection made from 70% recycled fabric, they come ready to go with built-in RECCO® reflectors and a drop-seat configuration to provide ultimate mobility and venting.
Switching gears back to the resort skier, the Colorado-based company Spyder has a well-valued product in their men’s Lech softshell pants. With its Aquaguard YKK zippers and 360 stretch softshell fabric, the Lech ski pants are tailored to function at a high standard while maintaining breathability and comfort.
For those with a more fashionable eye, the men’s Lech pant offers a “heritage styling” with all the modern technology trimmings.
For those looking for good value, efficient design, and a unique style, the Spyder Lech pants could be a good fit.
The Helly Hansen Legendary pants have been a crowd favorite for years, and with the recent addition of the insulated lining, they have now become even more formidable.
The spec list on these pants is quite impressive, given the value and design: fully waterproof, completely PrimaLoft® insulated (not just the seat and knees), and mechanical venting to moderate temperature from too hot to too cold.
With a 2-layer stretch fabric construction, these pants represent the epitome of hybrid design, perfect for resort skiers who like a bit of side country action.
As a consumer, if you are looking for a variety of options within one brand, look no further than Columbia gear. With various ski pants styles to appease any skill level, skiers can find the perfect product that suits their needs.
That being said, our favorite Columbia ski pants for the 2021 season is the men’s Powder Keg III pants. These pants are packed full of great features and built to last long days on the slopes.
This model features all the necessary reinforcements (knees, cuffs), as well as an internal leg gaiter, interior stretch panels, and various zippered pockets in all the right places. With the OmniTech™ waterproof seals, you remain fully sealed yet able to breathe.
For those looking for a safe, secure option in the popular $100-$200 range, the Marmot Refuge ski pants offer all the necessary features and the credibility of a great brand.
These pants are hardshell, offering more protection from the elements and more durability for those icy falls. They are lightweight and breathable and provide lower leg zippers to secure the boot fit.
While there is a diversity of products within the same price range, the Marmot Refuge offers an ideal option for resort skiers who want a durable and secure product without a backcountry bib’s unnecessary technical features.
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Cam Hookey grew up in the mountains of Canada and is an avid skier, snowboarder, and adventure sport enthusiast. He’s a ski instructor, SCUBA instructor, freediving instructor, and certified outdoor guide. When he is not enjoying the crisp mountain air or the salty ocean breeze, he is writing about it.