The 11 Best Men’s Ski Pants of 2021

Stay warm and dry on the slopes with the right pants

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown

Best Overall: Patagonia Men's Powder Bowl Pants at Backcountry

"A reasonably priced all-around waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex two-layer pant."

Best Budget: Columbia Men's Bugaboo IV Pants at Amazon

"A simple, classic snow pant with a time-tested design at an affordable price."

Best for Ski Racers: Arctica Adult All-Mountain Side Zip Pants at Arctica

"An all-around ski pant with some welcome race-specific features for racers and coaches alike."

Best Bibs: Trew TREWth Bib at Evo

"A standard-bearer bib design that’s versatile and durable enough to be used all season long."

Best for Wet Snow: Flylow Baker Bib at Backcountry

"Keep both wet snow and deep powder at bay with these heavy-duty bibs."

Best Eco-Friendly: Picture Organic Track Pants at Evo

"A performance pant with industry-leading manufacturing and materials for the planet."

Best for Cold Weather: Arc’teryx Macai Pants Men's at Backcountry

"A well-insulated, durable pant with excellent venting to cool down when the cold lets up."

Best for Spring Skiing: Black Diamond Recon Stretch Ski Pants - Men's at Backcountry

"The Recon Stretch pants are like a softshell jacket for your legs."

Best Splurge: Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Pant at Backcountry

"A high-end pant that can convert to bibs and features top-of-the-line weather-proofing."

Best for Backcountry: Trew Capow Bib at Evo

"An ultra-lightweight bib that performs in cold pow and hot spring descents."

Best Roomier Fit: The North Face Men's Up & Over Pant at Evo

“Move freely while staying warm and dry in this freeride two-layer pant.”

Getting the wrong ski pants for your body, climate, and style of skiing can lead to a host of problems from being too hot, too cold, or wet. Some skiers prefer bibs while others like pants. Some climates demand aggressive waterproofing while others prioritize breathability.

We’ll help you understand the different features and metrics by which men's ski pants are judged and share our picks specific to different common types of skiers and uses.

Here are the best men's ski pants for your next skiing adventure.

Best Overall: Patagonia Men's Powder Bowl Pants

Patagonia Powder Bowl Pant

Courtesy of Backcountry

What We Like
  • Durable

  • Lifetime warranty

  • Waterproof

  • Breathable

What We Don't Like
  • Limited color options

Gore-Tex has been the industry standard in breathable weather-proofing in outerwear for decades. And while there are more competitors than ever, it’s still leading the way with brands such as Patagonia. These Powder Bowl pants are a step up from budget pants in terms of their water repellency and breathability. That makes them comfortable in a broader range of temperatures and conditions.

The durable 150-denier face fabric lets you use and abuse these pants for years. And the lifetime Patagonia guarantee ensures you can get them repaired or replaced if anything goes wrong outside of normal wear and tear. The cut and design are simple and streamlined for a style that will last as long as the pants.

Best Budget: Columbia Men's Bugaboo IV Pants

What We Like
  • Breathable

  • Waterproof

  • Retains heat

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note sizes run large

Columbia has been a ski-slope fixture for decades thanks to a reputation for affordable performance that’s transcended fads in the industry. Their Bugaboo model pants and jackets have been around since the '90s and with good reason. The Bugaboo IV pants build on this lineage with an insulated pant that features Columbia’s Omni Tech breathable waterproofing and Omni Heat reflective lining designed for optimum heat retention.

These are great pants for casual skiers who need to stay warm even if they’re not taking their heart rate to the extreme every run. They’re also designed to be comfortable, so you can enjoy their warmth for aprés.

Best for Ski Racers: Arctica Adult All-Mountain Side Zip Pants

Arctica All-Mountain Side Zip Pants

Courtesy of Arctica

What We Like
  • Offers knee padding

  • Durable

  • Stretchy

What We Don't Like
  • Limited color options

If you’ve seen these pants in the lift line but not at the sporting goods store, that’s because they’re aimed at a somewhat niche ski racing audience. But they’re great all-around pants for any skier. There are race-specific features such as padded knees with extra-durable Cordura, which will benefit anyone working in the snow, like instructors, technicians, and ski racing coaches.

The pants also zip off fully and slide on easily—important to racers who need to slip on and off pants quickly and often—thanks to a special silky liner. The fabric also incorporates stretchy Lycra for active racers and other skiers that need freedom of movement laying down aggressive turns.

Best Bibs: Trew TREWth Bib

Trew Gear TREWth Bibs

Courtesy of Evo

What We Like
  • Comes in various colors

  • Breathable

  • Durable

  • Includes transceiver pocket

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note that sizing is tricky

Trew has built a name in the ski industry on their bibs, which are stylish and function-first. Created in the Pacific Northwest Trew has a cult following from bib-lovers worldwide. The proprietary PNW 3L construction is the first defense against water and provides breathability to match. Weak points such as seams and junctions get tape-sealed and reinforced. Plus, the ankle cuffs are armor-plated by their rubbery SuperFabric.

The TREWths have always attracted backcountry users, but the latest version includes a dedicated avalanche transceiver pocket, making these a viable option for deep winter days outside the resort. The fit is relaxed just enough to let you move and offer a freeride look without being impractically baggy. We dig the multiple colorways from black to a variety of neon pastels allowing you to customize your style without losing function.

Best for Wet Snow: Flylow Baker Bib

Flylow Baker Bib Pant

Courtesy of Backcountry

What We Like
  • Waterproof

  • Breathable

  • Limited lifetime warranty

What We Don't Like
  • Limited color options

True to the Pacific Northwest mountain they’re named for, these bibs are built to withstand wet conditions as well as deep pow days in Colorado where Flylow is based. The three-layer polyester build features matching 20k breathability and waterproofing ratings, plus a water-repellent coating they claim lasts three times longer than standard coatings.

The baggier fit ensures freedom of movement on the slopes and a modern style for aprés, while the generous pockets provide ample storage. There are plenty of other little touches to sweeten the pot such as inner and outer thigh vents, ankle cuff reinforcements, and a high back to keep your pants up.

Best Eco-Friendly: Picture Organic Track Pants

Picture Organic Track Pants

Courtesy of Evo

What We Like
  • Waterproof

  • Made from recycled materials

  • Breathable

  • Well-insulated

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note that sizes run large

Climate change is a hot topic in the ski industry where the weather can make or break a season. Many outdoor companies are transitioning to greener practices. Picture Organic Clothing is a relatively new ski clothing brand that has grabbed fans by the fistful, thanks in large part to an “as green as possible” approach to making gear. The Track Pants don’t sacrifice waterproofing, but they employ a PFC-free Ecolite water-repellent coating from Teflon. Additionally, the membrane is recyclable and composed of 36 percent recycled polyester. The remainder is blended from sugarcane industry waste.

There are also some unique features beyond their green pedigree. The I Fit system permits a snug boot fit via snaps without a cuff that can unzip or pop wide open. Twenty-five grams of insulation add enough to grant you some warmth without sacrificing too much breathability or relegating the pants to only the coldest days.

Best for Cold Weather: Arc’teryx Macai Pants Men's

Arc'teryx Macai Pant

Courtesy of Arc'teryx

What We Like
  • Well-insulated

  • Breathable

  • Dries quickly

What We Don't Like
  • Sizes run small

Most insulated ski pants offer extra warmth at the expense of versatility. Likewise, breathability is often sacrificed in the name of extra insulation. High-end outerwear maker Arc’teryx lets you have your proverbial cake and eat it, too, with the Macai pants. The Macais feature 80 grams of Coreloft Compact synthetic insulation that’s designed to be air-permeable to preserve the inherent breathability of the 2L Gore-Tex construction of the shell. 

Using synthetic insulation means the layer will dry quickly and keep you warm even if it gets wet. The pants feature a slimmer fit, but you won’t need as much room for layering underneath given the built-in insulation.

Best for Spring Skiing: Black Diamond Recon Stretch Ski Pants - Men's

Black Diamond Recon Stretch Pants

Courtesy of Backcountry

What We Like
  • Waterproof

  • Stretchy

  • Great ventilation

What We Don't Like
  • Not as heavy-duty as other options

Spring means longer days, higher temperatures, and higher sun angles which all conspire to heat up skiers and render their midwinter gear overkill. If you’re outside frequently rainy areas such as the Pacific Northwest, a softshell pant may be all you need for protection and warmth in warmer weather. The Recon Stretch pants are like a softshell jacket for your legs and use a blend of nylon and elastane for a weather-proof layer that’s still soft and flexible.

And while they may not offer the same resistance as a heavy-duty Gore-Tex hardshell, these are still water-repellent pants equipped with a DWR coating. If you’re looking to go lighter for the backcountry, there’s also a dedicated transceiver pocket.

Best Splurge: Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Pant

Norrona Lofoten GORE-TEX Pants

Courtesy of REI

What We Like
  • Durable

  • Breathable

  • Waterproof

  • Made from recycled materials

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Norwegian outerwear company Norrona started making ski gear in the '90s, and their Lofoten line introduced baggier freeride styles to the high-end ski market. The Lofoten pants marry the Gore-Tex pedigree and European reputation for durability and quality with modern styles for a pant that’s both luxe and cool.

Beyond the cachet, these pants are highly breathable and waterproof and come in an insulated version for extra-cold days. They employ a rugged 200D fabric for maximum durability and go beyond that with reinforcements in key places. The cost also covers certified green and sustainable business practices such as using recycled materials and limiting chemical use in production.

Best for Backcountry: Trew Capow Bib

Trew Gear Capow Bibs

Courtesy of Evo

What We Like
  • Includes transceiver pocket

  • Stretchy

  • Waterproof

  • Great ventilation

What We Don't Like
  • Limited color options

Trew took their beloved TREWth bibs (which already nodded to the backcountry) and made a bib specifically for skiing outside the resort. A slimmer fit prioritizes your uphill steps, preventing efficiency-robbing friction between the legs. The same avalanche transceiver pocket is retained from the TREWth bibs. And a lighter, yet still durable face fabric with a Dermizax EV Membrane provides more stretch than stiffer hardshell materials, making the slimmer fit more mobile.

There are plenty of different pockets—from the chest-area transceiver and phone pockets to above-the-knee zippered cargo pockets to water-resistant slimmer hip pockets at the waist perfect for a quick hand-warming. Perhaps the greatest features for backcountry travelers are the ample ventilation zippers on the inside and outside of the thighs that blow wide open. Meaning they aren’t encumbered by mesh so you can shed steam quickly and in bulk to avoid overheating or sweating and dampening your base layers.

Best Roomier Fit: The North Face Men's Up & Over Pant

What We Like
  • Waterproof

  • Affordable

  • Integrated belt

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't include transceiver pocket

Many skiers have grown to appreciate a baggier fit in their pants that allows freedom of movement. Freeride and terrain park skiers, in particular, tend to prize range of motion as they perform actions much different from a more static race-style skier. 

These pants use TNF’s DryVent weatherproofing tech in a solid two-layer build that keeps them performing while remaining affordable. A longer inseam is part of the looser fit, but elastic cuffs and a fairly tight ankle diameter mean the pants won’t drag or get caught in your bindings.

Final Verdict

The Patagonia Men's Powder Bowl Pants (view at Backcountry) provide high-end waterproofing and breathability in a timeless minimal style. If you prefer bibs, check out the Trew TREWth Bib (view at Evo) for resort skiing or their backcountry-specific cousin, the Capow Bib (view at Evo), if you spend more time off-piste.

What to Look for When Shopping for Ski Pants

Fit

None of the bells and whistles on a pair of ski pants matter if they don’t fit and aren’t comfortable. If you don’t live near a ski shop, trying on pants may not be an option before buying. Luckily many manufacturers offer detailed measurements for waist, hip, thigh, and other key areas that you can measure at home to estimate how a given model and size will fit.

If you normally prefer relaxed or tailored fit clothing, you will likely prefer that cut in your ski outerwear. So try to start with models that are in line with your preferences before you start looking at other less-important features.

Venting

When skiing in extreme cold, air and snow incursions are the worst and are why most pants include ankle gaiters. However, when the sun comes out and the body heats up, it’s important to have the option to let out some of that hot, humid air away from your body. At the very least, look for pants that have inner thigh venting. Ideally, you also have the option of opening up large vents along the hip and thigh area, especially if you plan to use your ski pants in the backcountry.

Reinforcements

Ski pants tend to wear asymmetrically in a few key places such as the insides of the ankles, the knees, and the butt. If you ski a lot or are just generally hard on gear, look for reinforcements in these areas. 

Many higher-end pants and bibs will have rubberized or extra-durable fabric additions on the insides of the ankles. Snowboard-specific pants can be great for skiers, too, but beware as many don’t have ankle patches since they’re not important for snowboarders.

Knee reinforcements are essential for ski racers but can also be helpful for instructors or parents that may spend more time off their skis and kneeling.

Rear-end reinforcements are more essential for snowboarders but are nice to have for skiers that aren’t afraid to end up on their backsides once in a while. These make more sense for resort-only skiers as the extra weight and fabric aren’t usually worth it to gram-conscious backcountry skiers.

Pockets

Don’t underestimate the importance of pockets on your ski pants or bibs. In general, you’re more likely to swap your upper body layers than your pants or bibs, so it’s a good idea to stash essentials such as lip balm, keys, phone, ski passes, goggle wipes, and snacks in your pants, not your jacket.

We recommend a mix of zippered, secure pockets with sewn-in hooks for things such as keys as well as larger fast-access hook and loop (Velcro) pockets for short-term storage of things like gloves, goggles, and snacks.

Many backcountry-specific pants and bibs now include pockets specifically designed to house your avalanche transceiver (beacon). 

FAQs

I hate being cold. Should I get insulated pants?

Lots of skiers think warmth when they start shopping for ski pants. However, more warmth isn’t always better. And many skiers are better off layering for warmth than just buying the most heavily insulated pants they can find. 

Insulated pants may make sense if you live in a colder ski climate (think New Hampshire) or you ski enough to have more than one pair of pants and can select your pants based on the weather and time of year. But for most skiers, a non-insulated or lightly insulated pant combined with smart layering underneath is a more adaptive, smarter strategy to stay warm.

I ski both resort and backcountry. Can I wear one pair of pants for both?

Technically, yes, you can. But we wouldn't recommend it. Because you exert yourself hard and for long periods of time going uphill in the backcountry, many traditional outerwear products just aren’t practical outside the resort. With the explosion of side-country and backcountry skiing, however, there are more options than ever for the hybrid resort-backcountry skier. 

Look for bibs or pants that are highly breathable (the Capow Bib from Trew has an ultra-high breathability rating) and feature aggressive venting on the insides and outsides of the legs. The best way to stay cool when heating up is to allow air to flow in and out of your pants. 

Just make sure you have heavier-weight base layers to use under these lighter pants for those extra-cold days riding the chairlift at a resort.

Should I ski in bibs or pants?

Bibs have grown in popularity for skiers over the years and with good reason. Bibs help keep snow out by creating more overlap between the pants and the jacket, and they also permit fewer drafts for cold air. Many skiers enjoy bibs because they provide more freedom of movement, more pockets, and some just prefer the look.

Still, bibs aren’t for everyone, and there are some drawbacks that may make pants a better choice for you and your skiing style. First, bibs can have more fit issues than pants due to more points of contact with your body. Bibs for an athletic pursuit such as skiing have to fit well around your legs, waist, hips, core, shoulders, and chest. And just one of those being out of line can ruin the fit of an otherwise perfect pair of bibs. It’s much easier to get a pair of pants to fit well. 

Bibs also run hotter, so they can feel like overkill on sunny spring days and thus may not be as good of a choice for someone looking for pants they can use all season long. Insulated bibs especially have a relatively narrow range of conditions where they make sense.

Last but not least, bibs are generally more expensive than equivalent quality pants. It’s difficult to find many ski-specific bibs for less than $200.


What do two-layer (2L) and three-layer (3L) mean?

These confusing terms refer to the construction of outerwear such as jackets and pants. They do not indicate the inclusion of insulation but rather the production process and layering used to create a waterproof and breathable outer layer to a garment.

Understanding the manufacturing isn’t very helpful, but if you know that three-layer jackets are generally more durable, more breathable, and more expensive, you’ve learned most of what is useful as a consumer. These 3L jackets and pants are often higher-end technical shells, while the more common 2L garments are less expensive and somewhat lower-performing in terms of breathability and durability. 

If you’re a fairly infrequent or budget-conscious skier, it may not be worth the extra spend for a 3L pair of pants. If you’re looking for insulated pants, they are most likely going to employ 2L construction and even if they don’t, the distinction will matter less.

Why Trust TripSavvy

Justin Park is a lifelong skier based in Breckenridge, Colorado. He’s skied in everything from jeans to snowmobile bibs to the latest tech pants. He logs about 120 ski days each year between resorts and backcountry terrain that offer a wide range of conditions for testing gear. His current go-to pants are the Trew Capow Bibs.

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