The 8 Best Men’s Ski Pants of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

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Best Men’s Ski Pants

Tripsavvy / Kristin Kempa

TripSavvy's Picks

Patagonia’s Powder Town Pants are our top overall pick as they excel inbounds but are versatile enough to handle sidecountry missions and light backcountry tours. Stio’s Environ Pants are a close second and a solid resort-first option.

Ski pants might be the most critical piece of clothing in your skiing kit. While most people focus their shopping efforts on their jacket, the fit and function of your pants or bibs significantly impact your experience on the hill. In a leg-driven sport such as skiing, the fit of your pants may also affect your abilities—too tight or stiff and it can hinder movement, but too loose or big can also be an issue. The weather resistance, durability, and breathability are also more critical, whether that’s just your lower half’s general proximity to the snow surface, sitting in the snow (or being snowed upon) on a chairlift, or falling on the hill.

To help you make this critical buying decision, our panel of testers evaluated 18 different ski pants and bibs over several weeks on snow in different parts of the country. We tested for comfort, fit, warmth, weatherproofing, breathability, quality, and value. Below are our top picks for the best ski pants based on dozens of miles and thousands of vertical feet of downhill skiing in various conditions.

Our favorite pants from the testing pool were the Patagonia Powder Town Pants which our testers loved for their comfort, functionality, and sustainability. Read more about the Powder Town Pants, and our other top picks below.

Best Overall

Patagonia Powder Town Pants

Patagonia Men's Powder Town Pants

Patagonia

What We Like
  • Excellent fit

  • Fully waterproof

  • Top-shelf sustainability

What We Don't Like
  • Nothing yet

Patagonia’s Powder Town Pant is our new favorite all-around pants for hitting the slopes. Primarily resort pants, they also get the job done in the sidecountry and backcountry. The pants feature a two-layer 100 percent recycled polyester fabric with Patagonia’s proprietary H2No PFC-free DWR repellent. Our testers found these pants breathable, making them sufficient as your body heats up on powder runs or backcountry tours. They also have two mesh-lined vents on the outer thighs when you need to dump heat.

We like intelligent features like the adjustable waist and soft microfleece on the seat for warmth. A webbing loop helps attach these pants to any of Patagonia’s snow jackets, helping seal out snow and cold. They also have a concealed RECCO reflector. Lastly, these pants have four pockets for snacks and ski passes, tough scuff-guard gaiters at the bottom, and come in five colors.

Price at time of publication: $249

Sizes: XS to 3XL, Regular or Short | Materials: H2No 2L recycled polyester | Insulation: polyester tricot mesh lining (front) and polyester brushed tricot (back panels) | Waterproofing: DWR finish | Sustainability: 98 percent recycled materials, Fair Trade Certified sewn, PFC-free DWR

Best Overall, Runner-Up

Stio Men's Environ Pant

Stio Men's Environ Pant

Stio

What We Like
  • Recycled materials and a climate-neutral company

  • Extremely lightweight materials don’t weigh you down

  • The included belt helps secure the fit at the waist

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive for casual skiers

Jackson Hole-based Stio produces higher-end outerwear for some of the most demanding skiers in the world, and the Environ pant is their signature all-mountain, any-condition pant for both men and women. The 150-Denier face fabric is durable, waterproof, and breathable, but the 3L construction using their proprietary Peak Proof membrane keeps the construction thin and light. Our tester put the Environ to the test at Park City Ski Resort in Utah and appreciated their light build, saying they're "extremely comfortable because they are so lightweight, so you can move around easily without the bulk that comes with other ski pants."

The waterproofing starts with a water-repelling DWR they call their 80/20 DWR, which promises 80 percent of the original water repellency after 20 washes, which for most is long enough for the realistic lifespan of a pair of ski pants. Behind the DWR is the Peak Proof membrane integrated into the 3L construction, which promises 20,000 mm water resistance which is all most winter sports will require. The breathability is solid at 10,000 g/m2 but nods to the fact that these are more resort-oriented pants than backcountry-specific. Our tester evaluated the waterproofing in the field and using spray testing at home and said, "Water and snow absolutely slid right off the surface. I definitely fell a few times while skiing, but my pants did not hold on to any of the ground's moisture."

The Environ model name is a nod to the sustainability story behind the pant and the company. The face fabric is 100 percent recycled polyester, but Stio attacks sustainability from a few other angles as well, offering a trade-in program to repurpose used products and let skiers on a budget shop for used gear. They also maintain a climate-neutral stance by offsetting carbon emissions footprint for all their operations. We're all for it.

Price at time of publication: $419

Sizes: S to XXL, Short, Regular, or Long | Materials: 100 percent Recycled Polyester, CORDURA Nylon (kickpatch) | Insulation: 20 Denier Tricot Backer | Waterproofing: 80/20 DWR Finish | Sustainability: 100 percent recycled polyester

Best Budget

Arctix Insulated Snowpants

Arctix Insulated Snowpants

Amazon

What We Like
  • The sub-$50 price point is attractive for occasional skiers

  • 85 grams of insulation for skiers who run cold

  • Attractive fit and design for a budget option

What We Don't Like
  • Heavily insulated, so it may be too warm for some days or aggressive skiers

Budget snow pants are often too bulky and too heavy to be effective ski pants, but the Arctix Insulated Snow Pants offer a more stylish, practical budget option for the occasional or vacation skier that doesn't want to spend $300 and up for outerwear they might use a few days a year. With 85 grams of insulation, these pants are extra-warm for the colder regions or casual skiers that don't generate as much body heat, though they may be too warm for more aggressive skiers and warmer days.

Our tester sprayed the pants down and poured a 16-ounce cup of water down the legs to assess the DWR coating and said, "water runs right off, and my leg underneath was not wet at all. There were no visible wet spots or streaks afterward (even on these white pants)." The DWR has a 3,000mm waterproofing rating, which is below the standard 10,000mm or higher rating of most pants from established ski outerwear brands, but it appeared more than adequate in our testing.

The insulation from ThermaTech is substantial but doesn't make the pants bulky, and our New York-based tester was impressed with the Arctix pants' aesthetic and relative lack of bulk. "They're roomy without looking comically oversized, and the short length option is greatly appreciated as they fit at the perfect part of my foot with ski boots on (versus bunching up like standard-length ones would)," she said. The Arctix pants are available in Short, Regular, and Tall inseams and are sized small through XXL.

Still, the highlight here has to be the price which is around $50 for most colors and sizes. While there are plenty of cheap snow pants in this price range, the Arctix delivers a more stylish and effective product that doesn't look the way it costs and could be an excellent option for an infrequent, casual skier.

Price at time of publication: $20 to $70, depending on size and color

Sizes: S to XXL, Short, Regular or Tall | Materials: 100 percent polyester, 600-Denier kickpatch | Insulation: 85 grams ThermaTech insulation | Waterproofing: ThermaLock W/R + W/P 3000mm Coating | Sustainability: N/A

Best Backcountry Pants

Outdoor Research Skyward II Snow Pants

Outdoor Research Skyward II Snow Pants - Men's

REI

What We Like
  • Contoured fit with stretch for active ascending

  • Dedicated beacon pocket

What We Don't Like
  • Too light to serve double-duty as a resort pant in colder regions

  • Some online reviewers complained of difficult zippers

Taking some cues from softshell snow pants, these lightweight and highly breathable snow pants are for the heavy-exerting backcountry skier that doesn’t want to sweat through their snow pants. The rapidly growing market for backcountry-specific gear has led to innovation and new product lines that address the specific needs of backcountry skiing which is a much more aerobic sport than lift-served terrain, and Outdoor Research’s Skyward II is one of the more popular options for dedicated ski mountaineers.

These will be a departure for skiers used to traditional ski pants, which are generally much baggier and heavier-duty. The Skyward IIs are a slim, fitted pant somewhere between hiking pants and ski pants. Our tester found them accommodating despite the snugger fit saying, “these are incredibly comfortable and, despite being fitted, feel like they allow for easy movement on the slopes.”

Despite a more athletic cut and breathable materials, this is still 3-layer construction, as is used in most higher-end ski pants and jackets to provide maximum waterproofing and breathability. But whereas most 3L ski pants feature a stiffer material, the Skyward II is a blend of nylon and spandex to provide stretch to accommodate movement despite the slimmer fit.

There’s no reason you couldn’t wear these at the resort in addition to the backcountry, but keep in mind the slimmer fit will make it tighter for layering warm baselayers underneath when needed. They’re windproof, but if you regularly ski in sub-freezing temps at a ski resort, you may want a more substantial pant for resort days and reserve the Skyward for backcountry touring.

Aside from the backcountry-specific cut and materials, there are lots of tech features that skiers will appreciate. There are plenty of pockets, including one specifically designed to holster your avalanche beacon when recreating off-piste. Like any good ski pant, there are scuff guards around the ankles to protect the high-wear zone and extend the life of the pants.

While these retail for over $300 and certainly aren’t the cheapest ski pants available, they’re actually middle-of-the-road for the ski-specific features and quality, which often push backcountry gear into the premium price category.

Price at time of publication: $329

Sizes: S to XXL, Short, Regular or Tall | Materials: 88 percent nylon/12 percent spandex; 50-denier stretch plain weave; nylon 420-denier oxford scuff guards | Insulation: none | Waterproofing: 3L Gore-Tex | Sustainability: N/A

Best Bibs

Mountain Hardwear Boundary Ridge Bib

Mountain Hardwear mens Boundary Ridge Gore-tex Bib

Amazon

What We Like
  • Smart pocket options and placements

  • It can be worn on-resort and in the backcountry

  • Extremely high 28,000mm waterproof rating

What We Don't Like
  • Face fabric wetted out in places after a few uses

  • Stiffer 3L construction binds a bit in a full squat

Bib enthusiasts like myself are passionate about their advantages: overlap between the bottom and top outerwear keeps snow out better, freedom of movement around the waist, extra warmth, and more. But bibs can have drawbacks, and the fit can be much trickier, bathroom breaks can get complicated, and some models get too hot. I’ve worn Mountain Hardwear bibs for years, and the Boundary Ridge is their best all-arounder, and it magnifies what’s great about ski bibs and minimizes the negatives.

The weatherproofing is serious, with an impressive 28,000mm waterproof rating and 20K breathability from 3L Gore-Tex, the industry standard for waterproof and breathable membranes. But, smartly, Mountain Hardwear stopped the heavier face fabric at the waist, and the upper is a more flexible, breathable stretch material, making it more suitable for heavy exertion hiking sidecountry or even ski touring in the backcountry. These bibs will be a bit much for warmer spring touring, but they were just light enough for in-bounds hikes in Utah and cold January backcountry tours in Colorado. My only gripe was that the face fabric on the front of the right thigh began wetting out (i.e., water not beading up) after only seven ski days, indicating that the PFC-free DWR coating had already deteriorated in that area. The underlying Gore-Tex still did its job and kept my baselayer dry, but the uneven water repellency raised some quality control concerns for me.

While it may seem minor, my favorite part about the Boundary Ridge bibs is how Mountain Hardwear finally nailed the pockets. I’ve used many bibs, and they always seem oddly sized or placed too low or too high, and somehow the main chest pockets are never the right size for a smartphone. The Boundary Ridge bibs have one main zippered central pocket that’s perfect for your phone and keeps it secure and close to your body where the cold is slower to zap its battery. There’s also a mesh stash pocket that’s great for temporarily holding gloves and other items, plus zippered hip pockets and hook-and-loop front cargo pockets that are high enough not to knock against your knees.

While bib sizing can be tricky since you need a good fit from shoulders to ankles instead of just waist down, Mountain Hardwear offers small through XXL, and each comes in Short, Regular, or Tall inseam versions, which is clutch.

Price at time of publication: $400

Sizes: S to XXL, Short, Regular, or Tall | Materials: 100 percent polyester | Insulation: none | Waterproofing: Gore-Tex 75D 3L Plain Weave | Sustainability: N/A

Best Backcountry Bibs

Trew Capow Ski Bib

Trew Gear Capow Bibs

Evo

What We Like
  • Ski touring-specific build and features

  • Best-in-class breathability and waterproofing

  • Slim fit for uphill strides

What We Don't Like
  • Oversized “bell bottom” cuffs

  • They are expensive and may still want to buy resort-specific bottoms

Ski bibs can help you stay warmer than pants thanks to the overlap with your jacket, but when exerting on the uptrack in the backcountry, that feature can become a bug. Trew’s Capow bib pulls out all the stops to make a bib that doesn’t become a sauna when you start heating up. I have used the Capows for ski touring for about 50 days a year for the past two ski seasons, and not only have I not seen a decline in performance, but I’ve also found very few flaws.

The Dermizax 20K/20K membrane sheds moist air while keeping water out, but as one of our other testers noted, “there are massive zip openings on the inner and outer thighs. As someone who tends to overheat easily while on the skin track, I really appreciate all of the massive ventilation.” Breathability is excellent, but sometimes you’re so hot that nothing short of blowing the vents wide open will do. Thankfully, there’s no mesh behind the zips (as there often is with resort-oriented pants and bibs) to keep the vents small and ineffective.

The fit is slim, and while I tend to like the freedom of a looser bib on the resort, the stretch in the fabric keeps it from feeling restrictive. The 3L construction is on the stiff side, but the material is so thin and has enough stretch that it doesn’t bind when you bend your knees deep, absorbing impacts.

The details are also taken care of with smart pockets, including a dedicated transceiver pocket to which you can clip your beacon. I do wish the two chest pockets were a tad larger to make stashing the phone and beacon easier. The stretch-woven nylon upper aids breathability and flexibility, while extra durable cuffs help extend the realistic lifespan of the bibs by reinforcing that high-wear zone. One of our other testers also noted one of my only other gripes with the Capow bibs: the almost comically wide “bell bottom” cuffs. While they’ve never caused me any real operational difficulties, they seem unnecessary and are the only thing keeping me from calling these the perfect backcountry ski bibs.

With a retail cost of nearly $500, it’s hard to call the Capows a value, but given their durability and performance, you certainly get your money’s worth in the long run. The purchase won’t make sense unless you’re a diehard backcountry skier since they aren’t an ideal bottom for the resort where I’ve tested them extensively and felt cold on subzero midwinter days where a heavier bib or pant makes more sense.

Price at time of publication: $479

Sizes: XS to XXL, Short, Regular, or Tall | Materials: Dermizax, nylon | Insulation: none | Waterproofing: Dermizax | Sustainability: N/A

Best Value

Helly Hansen Men's Legendary Insulated Ski Pants

4.8
Helly Hansen Legendary Pants

Helly Hansen

What We Like
  • Classic, fitted ski pant design

  • Flexible, softer 2L construction makes them more comfortable

  • Limited lifetime warranty

What We Don't Like
  • Too warm for more active skiers

  • Only three pockets

The Legendary pants add some insulation compared to Helly Hansen’s Switch Cargo pants above for skiers that live in colder areas or just plain run cold and don’t generate as much internal heat. The Legendary pants are a streamlined, fitted classic ski pant with time-tested Helly Hansen quality backed by a lifetime warranty.

Where the Switch Cargo pants have 40 grams of PrimaLoft insulation in the seat and knees, the Legendary pants bump that up to 60 grams and add 40 grams of insulation in the front of the thighs, which are exposed to wind and cold air both on the chairlift and on the hill. Still, this is targeted insulation in specific spots, so the non-insulated areas retain breathability from the HellyTech Protection membrane. The Legendary pants also feature mesh-lined zippered vents for when you start to get too hot. Still, these won’t be a good choice if you’re an active, aggressive skier or ski in warmer conditions frequently.

The 10K/10K waterproofing/breathability of the 2-layer face fabric and HellyTech membrane aren’t top of their class performance, but this type of material is less stiff that more pro-grade fabrics and results in a more comfortable, easy-wearing garment.

The three zippered pockets help keep the fitted pants streamlined, but skiers accustomed to big cargo pockets may be left wanting storage on their bottoms. Velcro adjustment straps on the waist help dial in the fit, and there are wide belt loops if you want to add security. The basics are there at the ankles, with elastic gaiters underneath and cuff reinforcements outside.

Price at time of publication: $200

Sizes: S to XXL | Materials: 100 percent polyester with DWR coating | Insulation: 60 grams PrimaLoft insulation in seat and knees, 40 grams in front thighs | Waterproofing: HellyTech Protection membrane | Sustainability: N/A

Best for Extreme Cold

Arc'teryx Men's Macai Pants

4.6
 Arc’teryx Macai Pants

 Arc’teryx 

What We Like
  • Maximum insulation for the coldest resort days

  • Air permeable insulation maintains breathability despite the extra material

  • Lightweight and not bulky for insulated pants

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Only three pockets

High-end outerwear brand Arc’teryx has developed a reputation for extreme performance by pushing outerwear tech. They’ve brought their engineering to these heavily insulated pants and created an ultra-warm pant that still feels like a softshell.

Our tester complimented how thin and lightweight the pants remained despite having more insulation than any other pants we tested, saying, “They’re not as thick or bulky as other ski pants I’ve owned, which often felt like wearing a body diaper.”

One thing to note: because the fit is so tapered, insulated, and fitted, you may not need or want a baselayer, but that may feel weird if you’re accustomed to having a baselayer bottom underneath your ski pants, and our tester noted that she recommended wearing them with something underneath.

The 2-layer Gore-Tex is entirely water- and windproof, and the WaterTight zippers are water-resistant but not fully waterproof. The cuffs and instep guards bring next-level durability to the high-impact zones around your boots and prevent cuts in the fabric from well-tuned skis.

The biggest drawback is the price, but there’s value to be found in the Arc’teryx lifetime warranty and customer service.

Price at time of publication: $575

Sizes: S to XXL | Materials: N40p-X nylon face fabric | Insulation: Coreloft Compact 80 100 percent polyester | Waterproofing: 2L Gore-Tex | Sustainability: N/A

Other Pants We Tested

Patagonia Men's Powder Bowl Pants: Our tester loved these insulated ski pants, but we felt other options offered better value for similar performance.

Columbia Men's Bugaboo IV Pants: A solid, basic ski pant option that stands out most for affordability.

Trew TREWth Bib: These bibs have a cult following and only didn't make our top picks because other bibs provided better value for similar performance.

Flylow Baker Bib: Despite Flylow's reputation for great bibs, our tester had fit issues that made them hesitate to recommend these.

Flylow Chemical Pants: Our tester loved how lightweight and weatherproof the Chemical Pants were during testing.

Black Diamond Recon Stretch Pants: Our tester appreciated the performance but wished the fit was more relaxed to permit layering when needed.

Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Pant: High-performance shell pants with a price tag to match.

Burton Gloria Pant: Our tester didn't love the fit and felt the material was bulky, which contributed to a clumsy feel.

How We Tested

Our more than ten testers evaluated 18 pairs of ski pants and bibs, evaluating fit, performance, style, durability, and ski-specific features. All pants were inspected for build quality and subjected to the same tests, including spraying the pants in a shower or with a hose and pouring 16 ounces of water directly onto the face fabric. Most pants were also tested on the slopes from Vermont to Colorado to Utah and evaluated for warmth, comfort, stretch, and ease of movement while skiing and riding chairlifts. Backcountry-oriented models were also tested while ski touring.

What to Look for When Shopping for Ski Pants

Materials and Insulation

It’s easy to get lost in the jargon and trademarked processes and fabrics used by ski pants manufacturers, but there are a few key words to look out for that can help you evaluate a potential pair of pants. Most ski pants are made with polyester, but the exact type of fabric isn’t super-important. Most face fabrics will have Durable Water Repellent (DWR), which helps bead water up before it can soak the fabric and make your pants heavy. If you’re concerned about chemicals in your garments, many brands now offer PFC-free DWRs, but other than that, you mostly just want to confirm that your pants have some kind of DWR coating.

Insulation volume is usually listed in grams and is generally less than 100 grams but at least 20 grams. Where the amount of insulation falls in that range can give you an idea of how warm a pair of ski pants might be in practice. Like many things in ski outerwear, insulation is often branded because it comes from a third-party material supplier such as PrimaLoft or Thinsulate. Each brand has several different types of insulation, so it’s hard to claim that any one brand of insulation is better than another. Any brand of insulation will provide warmth, so it’s usually more helpful to look at the overall amount of insulation rather than the brand.

Weatherproofing

Most ski pants will be described as either 2-layer or 3-layer (sometimes 2L or 3L), and if you know that three-layer jackets are generally more durable, more breathable, and more expensive, you’ve learned most of what you need to know. 3L jackets and pants are often higher-end technical shells, while 2L garments are less expensive and somewhat lower-performing in terms of breathability and durability though they are often also more comfortable than stiff 3L options.

Gore-Tex is the most recognizable name for the waterproof-yet-breathable membranes used in ski pants, but many manufacturers use other third-party tech or have their own in-house solutions, which may or may not be branded. Examples include Helly Hansen’s HellyTech, Mountain Hardwear’s Dry Q, and The North Face’s Futurelight.

Fit

This is a very subjective and individual factor in your buying decision. A pair of pants may fit one skier’s body type perfectly while they’re unwearable in any size for another. Luckily many ski pants come not only sized but with different inseam options such as short, regular, or tall to account for a range of leg lengths. Product descriptions may give clues such as “slim fit” or “relaxed fit,” but there’s still no substitute for stopping into your local ski shop and trying pants on in person.

Cost

Like so many products in the ski industry, ski pants and bibs aren’t cheap. Expect to pay at least $100 and probably closer to $300 for name-brand performance products. Cost can be an effective shorthand for the level of performance in a particular pant, but keep in mind that you may not always need “the best.” For example, I ski primarily at high elevations in the Colorado Rockies, where the temps are low, and the snow is cold and dry most of the year. Because of those conditions, I don’t need to spend extra on the most waterproof pants on the market, but someone skiing the much wetter and warmer Pacific Northwest may have different priorities.

Be realistic about how much you will ski in a year, as the higher-cost products often deliver value in the form of increased durability that’s only truly valuable to high-volume skiers. If you only ski a handful of days each year, a more affordable pair of pants may serve you just as well.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How should I care for and wash my ski pants?

    The specialty fabrics, membranes, and treatments used in ski pants require some special handling as washing can start to break down the effectiveness of the garments. Most ski pants manufacturers will offer cleaning instructions specific to their garments, but in general, you probably want detergents and treatments specific to performance outerwear. Nikwax has been a popular brand for cleaning ski outerwear for years, but several other companies are now making similar products. Nikwax’s Tech Wash is a cleaning solution meant to preserve chemical coatings such as DWRs as much as possible during washing. You can then use products such as Scotch Guard or Nikwax’s Tx.Direct Spray-On after letting the pants dry.

  • Are ski pants the same as snow pants?

    The terms are often used interchangeably, but ski pants usually have ski-specific features and are more technical garments, while snow pants may indicate a more general winter pant. This type of pant may be cheaper, but they’re often heavily insulated, which can be overkill for active skiers.

  • Are pants or bibs better?

    This question could start a fight in a ski town bar, so I’ll choose my words here carefully and admit upfront that I’m a bib guy. I live and ski in the West and like the security and powder protection created by the overlap between bibs and jacket, especially if you utilize the powder skirt. There’s just something about bibs that feel like they’re a uniform for getting a job done right, but I also like that there’s not yet another mass of fabric around my waist where I need to constantly hinge while skiing.

    Pants proponents will point out that pants are easier to get on and off and make trips to the bathroom more straightforward since you can drop the pants without removing upper body layers. They also don’t add fabric to your upper body, which can be significant on warmer or more active ski days where shedding body moisture is key to staying dry and warm. Pants are also usually a bit cheaper than bibs since they require less material, and if you struggle to find well-fitting outerwear, bibs can create additional fit challenges since they need to fit you from shoulders to ankles.

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, offering a wide range of conditions for testing gear. His current go-to pants are the Trew Capow Bibs.

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