Best Women's Ski Pants & Bibs for Every Budget (2020) - Urban Outdoors
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Let’s face it – one of the most essential purchases every skier or snowboarder has to make is a pair of waterproof pants for the slopes. Pants are one of the most critical pieces of clothing protecting you from the snow, the cold, and the elements. Determining which are the best women’s ski pants can feel overwhelming because of the sheer number of options, but don’t worry: we’ve done the hard work of researching and vetting several pairs to bring you our best recommendations.

The perfect ski pants will keep your legs dry and comfortable, and will likely cost a bit more than you may be used to paying for an item of clothing. Despite being an investment, the best women’s ski pants will last several years, as many seasoned skiers and snowboarders still have some of their decades-old gear on hand when they hit the slopes each year.

This guide is meant to help you narrow down the vast number of ski pants and bibs out there to a handful of really fantastic options. To do this, we sifted through dozens of products and reviews, tested out several models ourselves, and settled on a handful of women’s ski pants that will provide the warmth and comfort you need on the slopes at any price point.

Click here to jump down to our reviews of the best women’s ski pants

What to Look for In Women’s Ski Pants

Weatherproofing

Weatherproofing, along with warmth (see below), is one of the most important features to look for in a pair of ski pants. Weatherproof pants will protect your body from all of the usual winter suspects – wind, snow, cold air, and moisture. The materials used in the pants’ outer shell, as well as its construction and weatherproofing features, are what will keep you warm and toasty inside.

Material is key when it comes to weatherproofing. The outer shell of any pair of ski pants should be waterproof and windproof, using a synthetic or waxed material to keep cold air out and warm air in. Some of the most popular outer shell materials include:

  • Gore-Tex
  • Polyurethane
  • Nylon

The ski pants’ construction is also a huge contributor to its weatherproofing capabilities. Many pants come with cinches for your ankles that are designed to keep cold air out by adjusting the fit of the pants to your own body.

Warmth

Depending on where and how you ski or ride, another important feature in women’s ski pants is warmth. Wind and frigid air are par for the course when it comes to skiing and snowboarding, and it’s critical to have pants that will keep your legs warm and comfortable in sub-freezing temperatures. Some of the most common insulation types you’ll see include:

  • Primaloft (& variations)
  • Thinsulate
  • Wool or Merino wool
  • Fleece

Depending on where you live and ski/ride, different pants may make sense. For example, the alpine temperatures of the Rockies differ from the extreme lows of the Midwest and the Northeast, which will differ from the warmer temperatures of California and Mid-Atlantic resorts. Additionally, if you’ll be resort skiing, you may need a different level of warmth and insulation than backcountry skiing, which provides less access to the indoors for warmth.

Note that some ski pants are non-insulated – these are for skiing in warmer temperatures or for using on top of separate mid-layers and base layers. If you prefer to layer rather than having one thicker pair of pants, a non-insulated pair of shell pants may be a good choice for you.

Breathability

While it may seem counter-intuitive, breathability is an essential feature of a good pair of ski pants. Why? Because non-breathable pants will hold in sweat and moisture, and will make you feel like you’re swimming in a swamp the whole time you’re wearing them. (If you’ve ever spent hours sweating in a cotton t-shirt in 80+ degree weather, you’ll know what this feels like.)

Materials and construction also play a huge role in the breathability of a pair of pants. Breathable fabrics like Merino wool and certain synthetics wick sweat and provide air to flow freely through. Adjustable cinches and zippers provide fresh air in places that need it throughout the day. In our review of each pair, we’ve tried to gauge breathability from the specific features built for moisture wicking and distribution of air.

Comfort, Fit, & Style

Although it’s highly individualized, the comfort and fit of the ski pants should absolutely factor into your decision. You’ll want a pair that fits your specific body well without being too tight or too baggy. If you’re planning on wearing lots of layers underneath your pants, you’ll want to factor that into your buying decision by looking for a pair that provides space inside to wear whatever you’d like. Here are some of the comfort elements people look for:

  • Internal lining material softness
  • Fit of the pants on your body
  • Number of pockets and storage areas
  • Style and color

While it might seem silly, color and style should be a part of your purchasing decision, too. Some people prefer muted tones and dark colors, while others enjoy wearing bright colors or patterns. If you’re going to spend hundreds of dollars on a pair of women’s ski pants, you’ll definitely want to make sure it matches the aesthetic you’re looking for! Just make sure that you’ve considered the other functional aspects – weatherproofing, warmth, and breathability – first.

Price

While we aim to keep price out of the equation when we’re evaluating each of the individual products, it’s absolutely an important factor to consider when you’re choosing a ski helmet for yourself.

There’s no sugar coating it: ski clothes can be expensive. Typically, you’ll find that high-quality ski pants range from $100 to over $500, with premium materials and features stacked in the higher end of that range. However, just because a pair of pants costs less does not mean that it isn’t suitable for your needs.

For the purposes of this review, we’ve grouped these pants and bibs into three price tiers:

  • $ = Less than $200
  • $$ = $200 to $400
  • $$$ = Over $400
Best women's ski jackets: woman skiing in red jacket with chairlift in the background

Best Women’s Ski Pants for Every Budget

To narrow down our list of the best women’s ski pants, we performed our research just like any customer would before making a buying decision to bring you the most practical, down-to-earth, and realistic information about each pair. We know research can be time-consuming and overwhelming, so we sifted through hundreds of reviews and tested several products in-store, at home, and on the slopes to bring you this list of fantastic women’s ski pants.

Our main goal with this guide is to help you make an informed decision on the best ski pants for your own activities, budget, and style. Here are our picks:

The North Face Freedom Pants
Our Top Recommendation

  • Price: $
  • Materials: DryVent outer shell, 60g Heatseeker insulation (insulated version only)
  • Notable Features: Zipper vents, built-in gaiters, 4 zippered pockets for added storage
  • Pros: Affordable, high-quality construction and materials, fantastic resort pants
  • Cons: Ventilation systems not as suitable for backcountry, slightly baggier than some other models

For those wanting a solid pair of ski pants at a decent price tag, there’s no better option out there than the North Face Freedom pants. These pants come in two different versions – insulated and non-insulated – and provide great weatherproofing for cold, snowy conditions. Additionally, they’ve got the most useful features you may need on the slopes, including plenty of pocket space across 4 pockets, zippered vents for warmer days, and boot gaiters to prevent snow and moisture from entering.

We love the North Face Freedom pants for a few reasons: they’re well-constructed, affordable, and come in a variety of sizes and lengths that are suitable for the variety of women’s body types. We didn’t find any other pants that boasted such spectacular weatherproofing, warmth, and ski-specific features at a price tag that’s accessible to most skiers.

The bottom line? While there are definitely more high-tech and weatherproof pants out there, the North Face Freedom Pants have our vote for the best women’s ski pants because they offer the most superior value for the price. Despite what many ski websites will have you believe, not everyone needs the highest-end, most tricked-out ski gear. If – like most people – you are a casual skier or rider who hits the slopes a handful of times each year, the North Face Freedom pants are the perfect companion, and you won’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get your hands on a pair.

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR NORTH FACE FREEDOM PANTS:


Arc’teryx Sentinel AR
Best For Serious Skiers & Best for Backcountry

  • Price: $$$
  • Materials: 3-layer Gore-Tex with 70D nylon, flannel lining
  • Notable Features: Zippered side vents, watertight seams and zippers, Gore-Tex hardshell construction
  • Pros: Weatherproof, comfortable, fantastic ventilation system for backcountry exploring
  • Cons: Very expensive, overkill for a lot of casual skiers

For serious skiers and snowboarders who ride in a variety of conditions, the Arc’teryx Sentinel AR pants are the absolute best women’s ski pants on the market. With top-of-the-line Gore-Tex construction and fantastic ventilation, these pants are perfect cold and snowy days, whether you’re crushing the resort slopes or hitting up the backcountry. Its superior features do command a hefty price – these are some of the most expensive pants on the market – but for avid skiers and riders, these durable, versatile pants provide the best in comfort and weatherproofing for years to come.

The bottom line? We’d recommend the Arc’teryx Sentinel AR pants for advanced practitioners who ski or ride several times each year in a variety of terrain and conditions. Because of the sky-high price tag, we’d definitely consider these pants as a multi-year investment, suitable for folks who know they love snow sports and are willing to spend money on the best-in-class gear to accompany them. That’s not to say beginners and first-timers won’t benefit from these pants – they’ll surely still love the comfort and weatherproofing – but the value for money may not be worthwhile unless you plan to use the pants often over the course of many years.

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR ARC’TERYX SENTINEL AR:


Flylow Foxy Bib
Best Women’s Ski Bib

  • Price: $$$
  • Materials: Intuitive & stretch Stormshell
  • Notable Features: Hip and thigh ventilation, drop seat, waterproof seams
  • Pros: Thorough ventilation, lots of pockets, stylish
  • Cons: Expensive, bib construction not for everyone

For those bib aficionados out there, there are few better options on the market than the Flylow Foxy Bib. Weatherproof, comfortable, stylish, and durable, we recommend the Flylow Foxy as one of the best women’s ski bibs. It’s got all of the best features in a bib, including lots of pockets, a dropseat, waterproof seams, and fantastic ventilation on warmer days or in the backcountry. Plus, it’s designed specifically for women and has a stylish fit that lots of women absolutely adore.

We absolutely love the Flylow Foxy bib, and couldn’t find much we didn’t like about it. The fit is stylish but loose enough to provide plenty of space for layering and moving around in the pants. However, it’s a steep price to pay if you’re not absolutely sure you like the bib-style pants. Some customers say the thighs fit tight, so we’d recommend trying this bib on and moving around in it before committing to it on the slopes.

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR FLYLOW FOXY BIB:


Columbia Bugaboo Omni-Heat
Best Budget Ski Pants

  • Price: $
  • Materials: Omni-Tech 3-layer outer shell, polyester insulation & internal lining
  • Notable Features:
  • Pros: Very affordable, good insulation provides lots of warmth on colder days
  • Cons: Bulky, waterproofing leaves something to be desired, some customers complain of poor fit

Snow sports can become costly really quickly, especially when you need to buy a whole new wardrobe! Luckily, the Columbia Bugaboo Omni-Heat pants are some of the best women’s ski pants on a budget. With hefty insulation and a water-resistant outer layer, these pants will keep you warm on sunny slope days at a very reasonable cost. They also come with boot gaiters to ensure minimal snow and ice enters the pants, and have zippered pockets for storage on the slopes.

However, be warned – with outdoor gear, you often get what you pay for. The waterproofing on these pants is poor compared to others on our list, and the construction is bulky due to the thick insulation, making them a little harder to move around in. Additionally, they’re considerable less breathable than some of the more technical options on our list. They’ll keep you warm on most days, but in inclement weather or for spending time sitting directly in the snow (snowboarders, I’m looking at you!), there are better options out there.

The bottom line? We’d recommend this pant to those on a tight budget with a few caveats. The Columbia Bugaboo Omni-Heat pants are an affordable option for skiing in mild conditions, but don’t expect spectacular performance or fit. The weatherproofing on these pants is okay, but if you’re a beginner who anticipates falling a lot or if you ski often in inclement weather, we’d recommend paying a bit more for pants with superior weatherproofing. Overall, if you have some wiggle room in your budget, we’d recommend going with The North Face Freedom pants over these.

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR COLUMBIA BUGABOO:


Burton Gloria Gore-Tex
Best Women’s Snowboarding Pants

  • Price: $$
  • Materials: Gore-Tex outer shell, Burton Living Lining insulation layer
  • Notable Features: Gore-Tex construction, 4 pockets for plenty of storage, weather sealed seams
  • Pros: Fantastic weatherproofing, comfortable lining
  • Cons: Runs large, low rise construction is not suitable for all body types

Snowboarding gear doesn’t differ too much from ski gear, but pants can make a huge difference. Why? Because snowboarders generally spent a LOT more time sitting (and wiping out…) in the snow than skiers do. A good pair of snowboard-specific pants will help you keep your legs perfectly warm and dry, without inhibiting edge movement. Burton is the king of snowboard brands, and their Gloria Gore-Tex pants are the perfect companion for snowboarders looking to step up their game.

Gore-Tex is the best of the best in terms of weatherproofing, so these pants will help snowboarders keep moisture and snow at bay without sacrificing warmth or comfort. The slim fit is really flattering for many body types, and we found these to be some of the most comfortable snow pants we tried on! Some customers have cited issues with fit – that these pants run large or that the rise is too low are a few of the chief complaints. As we always say, it’s critical to try these on before committing if you can!

The bottom line? Serious snowboarders should consider investing in a pair of very weatherproof pants, and the Burton Gloria Gore-Tex pants are the best option, in our opinion. Note that the Burton Gloria comes in a non Gore-Tex version, but we’d recommend spending a little extra to get the real deal!

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR BURTON GLORIA PANTS:


Helly Hansen Aurora Shell 2.0
Honorable Mention

  • Price: $$
  • Materials: DWR-treated Helly Tech fabrics
  • Notable Features: 4 zippered pockets, weatherproof shell, outer thigh ventilation
  • Pros: Very breathable and weatherproof, comfortable
  • Cons: Cargo construction is not for everyone

Helly Hansen’s ski gear is some of the best in the market, and for good reason – it’s comfortable and practical since it’s built specifically for skiers. Their Aurora Shell 2.0 pant is a lightweight shell option that offers weatherproof protection from the elements at a much more reasonable cost than other high-end women’s ski pants.

These cargo-style pants offer lots of pocket space, while maintaining a slim, non-baggy appearance. With ventilation zips on the outer thighs, it’s a solid option for backcountry activities or warmer weather resort days. For colder and wetter days, the DWR treated Helly Tech fabric will keep your legs nice and warm and dry when paired with a good set of base layers.

The bottom line? The Helly Hansen Aurora Shell 2.0 is an absolutely solid option – one of the best women’s ski pants out there. However, we’d consider the materials just short of Gore-Tex in terms of weatherproofing. Otherwise, these ski pants would have been a serious contender for our Best for Backcountry & Best for Serious Skiers categories.

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR HELLY HANSEN AURORA 2.0:


Arctix Women’s Insulated Snow Pants & Bibs
Honorable Mention

  • Price: $
  • Materials: Thermalock outer shell, 85 g of Thermatech insulation
  • Notable Features: Zippered side pockets, reinforced ankle and hem guards, boot gaiters
  • Pros: Very affordable, warm
  • Cons: Not waterproof, bulky, no ventilation options

We’d be out of touch if we didn’t consider the #1 most popular budget snow pants on Amazon – the Arctix Women’s Insulated Snow Pants. At under $50, these are some of the best women’s ski pants on a super tight budget, as they are by far the cheapest option on our list. They’ve also got over 13,500 reviews on Amazon (mostly 4 and 5 stars), so you know they’re a super popular choice.

So, we bought and tested a pair and, frankly, we didn’t love them. While they felt well-insulated and relatively comfortable, there are no ventilation zips and the materials seem cheap and poorly constructed. Additionally, the manufacturer claims that these pants are “water resistant,” NOT waterproof, so you’ll definitely end up damp if you spend too much time in the snow in these.

If they’re not great snow pants, why did we include them on our list? We’re huge advocates for trying things out, and snow sports have a HUGE financial barrier to entry. In some cases, not having to buy $100+ pants for a few days a year on the slopes can make the difference between planning a ski trip or not. For complete beginners wanting to try out snow sports without shelling out too much cash upfront, these pants are a suitable budget option. They’re not the greatest women’s ski pants, but they’ll get the job done and if you find you really enjoy skiing or snowboarding, you can invest in a better pair later.

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR ARCTIX SNOW PANTS:


Outdoor Research Hemispheres Bib
Honorable Mention

  • Price: $$$
  • Materials: Gore-Tex shell
  • Notable Features: Stretch panels, drop seat, outer thigh vents
  • Pros: Fantastic ventilation, top-notch weatherproofing
  • Cons: Extremely expensive, overkill for most casual skiers and riders

Designed specifically for the backcountry, the Outdoor Research Hemispheres Bib is a well-made bib for advanced skiers and riders looking to upgrade their equipment. This Gore-Tex outfitted bib is fantastic for keeping snow and moisture out, given its reinforced seams and tough construction. However, for sweaty backcountry adventures or warmer days on the slopes, there are ventilation zippers on the outer thigh that move hot air out. The stretch fabric construction provides optimal movement, which can sometimes be difficult to find in shell pants designed for durability.

The bottom line? The Outdoor Research Hemispheres Bib is the best fit for experienced skiers and riders looking for a high-end bib to use in the backcountry. In our opinion, it’s probably overkill for resort skiers or beginners, especially given its colossal price point. However, if you’re looking for a best-in-class bib that you can take with you everywhere there’s snow, the Outdoor Research Hemispheres Bib is a fantastic choice.

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR OUTDOOR RESEARCH HEMISPHERES BIB:


Best Women’s Ski Pants: Side-By-Side Comparison

PRODUCT NAMEPRICE
The North Face Freedom$
Arc’teryx Sentinel AR$$$
Flylow Foxy Bib$$$
Columbia Bugaboo$
Burton Gloria Gore-Tex$$
Helly Hansen Aurora 2.0$$
Arctix Insulated Snow Pants & Bibs$
Outdoor Research Hemispheres Bib$$$
WARMTHWEATHERBREATH
544
355
455
432
554
445
421
355
*Scores are rated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest possible

Choosing the Best Women’s Ski Pants For You

If there’s anything you should take away from this guide, it’s that there is no “one size fits all” option for everyone. While we’ve listed our recommendations some of the best women’s ski pants on the market here, some will work better for you than others depending on your circumstances, activities, personal preferences, and body type.

With that said, it’s important to order from reputable websites that enable returns, so you can try on your pick(s) before fully committing to them. For making any big gear purchases, we love REI and Backcountry – both have generous return policies and offer great seasonal sales where you can get many of these items at a discount.

Only you can decide which one of these is the best pair of ski pants for you, so make sure what you go with fits you well, is comfortable and stylish, and keeps you warm and dry.

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Kay Rodriguez is the founder of Urban Outdoors. She's also the writer and photographer behind Jetfarer. When she's not writing furiously on her laptop or editing photos, you can find Kay running, hiking, surfing, or playing in the snow.

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