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Welcome To Our Advice Center Pages

Ski Pants & Snowboard Pants

Introduction

Throughout this guide, the terms ski and snowboard are generally interchangeable as both sports require pants that are made from the same materials, and need to perform to the same level. The only real difference between the two is style. Skiers tend to have a tighter fit pant whereas the fashion in snowboarding has always been, and still is a grungier, baggy look.

Choosing your ski pants might seem more straight forward than when buying a ski jacket but you should still keep the emphasis on function over fashion, thankfully manufacturers technology is getting better with each passing season; also today’s manufacturers have recognised the importance of fashion, with the variety colours and styles to choose from you shouldn’t have a problem finding one that suits your individual taste.

Your questions verse shop assistants

When you are looking to buy your first pair of ski pants you will already have a few ideas of what you will expect.

Listed below are the usual questions a person thinks to themselves when looking for the first time

  • Will I find any I like it?
  • Will they keep me warm?
  • Will they keep me dry?
  • How much?

Now add this to the questions the shop assistant may ask you

  • Do you want shell or insulated ski pants?
  • Do you want critical or fully taped seams?
  • Where are you intending to ski, on piste, backcountry or park?
  • What waterproof and breathable rating are you after?
  • What features do you require?

Don’t worry they are not speaking a foreign language. A question is only simple if you know the answer. There are numerous lists of features for ski and snowboard pants some of which can be quite bewildering if you don’t know what they mean.

So before you get bamboozled by a shop assistant throwing out different technical terms and features at you, let us help you make a more informed choice by answering some of the questions you have and some you haven't thought of yet about your next ski or snowboard pants.

The Basics – What are ski pants and what do they do?

In its simplest form ski pants or salopettes are a technical pant worn as the outer layer; designed to protect you from the wind and cold whilst allowing excess heat and sweat to escape by way of moisture wicking fabrics and additional vents; as well as protect you from the occasional bump and scrape.

Ski pants differ from your regular pants in the choice of fabrics used and the construction techniques applied. The fabrics are high performance tightly woven materials designed to withstand extended exposure to the weather conditions of the mountain whilst regulating heat and moisture. Examples of how the construction differs include waterproof seams, moisture wicking linings and specific features such as leg cinch cord and gaiters at the ankle.

Types of pant – Insulated, Hard Shell or Bib

Each type of pant has its own benefits as the technology used will differ between styles and unfortunately in some cases so does the price.

Insulated

Insulated pants as the name suggests contain some kind of insulation. The amount of insulation is measured in grammes, with a higher number equalling warmer clothing.
These are the most common type of pant and are ideal for those that feel the cold and for the times spent not moving, such as riding the chair lifts or when you have to stop and wait for people to catch up.
Although slightly heavier than other pant types, you may not feel the need to wear a base layer with an insulated pant.

The insulation can vary depending upon the manufacturer, typically is made from synthetic fabrics such as Primaloft, Thinsulate or Thermacore. This is then trapped between a weatherproof and windproof outer layer and a moisture wicking inner liner.
Synthetic insulation is tougher than natural down insulation and will still keep you warm when your pants get wet.

Hard Shell

Hard shell pants are just that; a shell. They create the waterproof, breathable and windproof barrier between you and the elements; however, they do not contain any insulation.
Having no insulation makes hard shell pants lighter than but not as warm as its insulated counterpart. It is therefore usually worn over your base layer when it’s cold, but can also be worn on its own on the hotter days.
It’s this versatility that appeals to those who partake in intense physical activities such as cross-country skiing or those who get warm easily.

Note: Over exerting yourself in a hard shell can lead to condensation and sweat. Even though the materials used state breathable, this may not be enough for the active user, so look for pants with additional vents such as inner thigh zips to allow more moisture to escape.

Bib

Bib ski pants are an alternative style of ski pant. They have an added piece of fabric that extends up from the waist to cover the back and chest areas held in place with shoulder straps – imagine the styling of a pair of dungarees.
Bib ski pants come in insulated or shell just like regular ski pants, it’s just a matter of personal taste.
The obvious benefits to bib style pants are that you are better protected from snow going down your pants when you fall or when you are tracking through deep powder and the extra material provides warmth to your core area.
However the downside can be the shoulder straps slipping (although crossing the straps certainly does help!).

What do the numbers mean?

Whenever you look at a ski pants you will notice numbers like 10,000g waterproofing or 10k breathability. These numbers help you determine the level of protection the pant offer as explained below.

Waterproofing

Waterproofing for ski pants and snowboard pants is essential but doesn't have to be the most expensive one available on the market. 5,000mm will keep most people dry throughout the day even when you have been sitting in the snow. However as snowboarders tend to sit down more than skiers a rating of 10,000mm might be preferred.
Waterproofing is measured by a "mm/24 hours" rating. This rating refers to the amount of rainfall in millimeters a fabric can withstand over a 24 hour period without letting moisture in. This number is generally between 5,000mm and 20,000mm. The higher the number the better waterproofing the pants have.

Never make the mistake of wearing normal pants for skiing and snowboarding as they will eventually get wet and you will be very cold and uncomfortable.

Breathability

Breathability of the material for ski pants and snowboard pants is important so that perspiration can be moved away from the body more effectively whilst skiing or snowboarding. Again 5,000g is enough for most people as their legs don't sweat as much with it being cold and the fact that most pants have additional venting for when you get too warm.
Breathability is measured by "g/m²/24 hours". This is the rate at which water vapour passes through the material (from the inside out), in grams of water vapour per square meter of fabric per 24 hour period. This number is generally between 5,000g and 20,000g. The higher the number the better breathability the pants have.