For many, the ski pant is one of the most overlooked items in their ski arsenal. Whilst you are charging through those tree lines or lapping the mountain, you ski pants are working hard to keep your lower body dry and comfortable.
The majority of ski pants will have a waterproof rating between 5,000 and 20,000 mm (5-20K), the higher the number, the more waterproof the ski pants will be. High end fabrics, such as Gore-Tex, eVent and Black Magic do not post specific waterproof ratings. How waterproof you ski pants need to be depends of your skiing ability, skiing type, location and the time of year you are skiing.
Another key area, other than fabric, that contributes to the waterproofness of a ski pant, is the seam taping. Seams that are not covered with tape will allow moisture seep through. There is two type of seam taping that a ski pant will either have.
Critical taped seams, means that only some of the seams, most commonly exposed to moisture, are taped. As long as you do not spend a prolonged time in wet weather, critical taped seams should be adequate enough to keep you dry.
Fully taped ski pants on the other hand, have every stitched seam taped for additional waterproofing. Waterproof tape is glued to the interior and exterior of the seam in order to protect areas that are prone to moisture seeping through. Full taped seam is the best option for skiers would spend their time in extreme weather conditions.
The importance of how warm of a ski pant should be, varies between person to person. The most versatile ski pant, is an uninsulated pant that features a shell with some type of lining for a little extra warmth and comfort. You can wear an uninsulated ski pant over a baselayer, or multiple layers, depending on how much you feel the cold and the weather.
Technical backcountry ski pants come unlined, to help reduce weight and allows maximum breathability, which is key for when you are on long treks in challenging conditions.
Insulated pants generally feature a light, low-profile synthetic insulation to add some extra warmth. It is not as crucial to keep your legs as warm, as your core, this is why ski pants have less insulation than jackets. Although your legs may feel cold on the first chair lift up, once you start skiing they will warm up.
We sell a wide range of brands, who offering multiple ski pants, many with different materials and insulations, and many with different features. Although not all features will be relevant to you, there are some important features to look for that may help you narrow down your choice.
Found under the cuff of the pants, snow gaiters are the most common feature found of ski pants. They may be designed differently, with hooks to connect to buckles or hook and loop systems but, worn correctly snow gaiters will keep snow out of your boots and lower extremities.
Often ski pants will have reinforced cuffs to protect the pant from wear and tear. Normally found on the inside of the leg, the cuff will be reinforced with a stiff, extra durable fabric to protect against contact with ski edges and crampons. If you have ever sliced open your ski pants with the edge of your ski, you will know how valuable this feature can be.
Vents are another common feature found on ski pants. These vents open up to promote air circulation, in order to shed heat when you are overheating. Most often found on the inner leg, these vents feature a mesh lining to keep snow out. Technical backcountry ski pants will often have full length side zips for maximum ventilation.
Whilst it may seem an obvious feature, its benefits are regularly overlooked. If you usually ski with a backpack, then you may not need anything more than a standard hand pocket, however if you’re like myself and want to leave that backpack in the hotel room, then you might consider a ski pant with a cargo pocket to carry snacks and other essentials.
A selection of ski pants that Snow + Rock stock come with suspenders, these are a personal preference when it comes to wearing them. Suspenders will come if different shapes and forms, some with back bibs, some zip off and some are button fastened.
Style and Fit
Fit and style is all a personal preference, there is no right or wrong decision. The main element to consider when thinking about style is fit. Fit can be broken down into 3 categories, slim, regular and loose. Although these fits will vary in name and cut between brands, these are a good starting point to finding the best fit for you.