ski trousers

Ski Pants Buying Guide

When preparing for a ski holiday, having the right ski clothing is essential to keeping warm and comfortable on the slopes. One of the most important items to consider is your ski pants. Choosing a good quality, well-fitting pair of ski trousers can make all the difference to enjoying your time skiing or snowboarding in cold winter conditions. This guide will explore everything you need to know about buying the best ski bottoms for your next trip to the mountains.   


What to Look for When Choosing Ski Pants

When deciding which winter sports pants to purchase, there are a few key features to consider based on the type of skiing or snowboarding you will be doing and the conditions you'll face.


Ski pants come with different insulation ratings measured in grams. Look for insulation of 40-80 grams for cold destinations or snow trousers with little to no insulation if skiing in warm climates or doing high-output activities like backcountry skiing. Shell pants with no insulation allow you to layer underneath.


All ski bottoms should have waterproof fabric rated between 5,000 to 20,000 mm to keep you dry in snow and rain. Fully taped seams boost weather protection. While waterproof, ski pants should allow moisture vapour to escape through vents and breathable fabric rated in g/m2, usually between 5,000 to 15,000 g/m2. This prevents overheating and dampness inside. 


Durability is another key factor to consider. Look for ripstop nylon or solid twill weave fabric that can handle scrapes over ice and rock, plus reinforced kick patches in high-wear areas. Ski wear should fit slim and close to the body for warmth and comfort without restricting motion. Features like stretch panels, gaiters and zippered hems allow for layering and accommodate different boot sizes.


Handy details include zippered pockets, thigh vents, integrated belts, reinforced cuffs and snap or Velcro waist closures. These ski specific features boost functionality on the slopes.


Types of Ski Pants

When looking at snow trousers, there are a few categories that offer different features, fit and performance. Consider what type of skiing you will use them for. The warmest option, insulated ski wear combines inner insulation with a waterproof and breathable outer shell. The level of insulation is measured in grams. Heavier insulation keeps you warmer in frigid conditions but can be too warm for high-output activities. They are best for resort/groomed terrain skiing, frigid destinations like Canada and Northern Europe, and colder body types 


Softshell ski pants use the stretchy fabric to create ski bottoms that move with you, providing warmth, wind resistance and water repellency. They lack the weather protection and insulation of hardshell pants but allow for more flexibility and heat venting. Choose softshell ski trousers for warmer destinations, backcountry touring and hiking, and layering under hardshell pants.


Made from waterproof and breathable fabric but often lacking insulation, hardshell ski trousers block moisture and wind while allowing sweat to vent. They require base- and mid-layers for warmth and are best suited to stormy or wet conditions, backcountry and off-piste skiing, and active resort skiing with lots of layering.


Bib snow pants use built-in shoulder straps to keep them held in place, covering your jacket and layers for maximum protection from snow and wind. They prevent snow going down your waist but allow less heat venting. These are great for deep powder skiing, stormy resort days, and preventing jackets riding up.


Trusted Ski Pant Brands 

When looking for quality alpine apparel, it's worth considering some top skiwear brands that specialise in functional and durable ski gear. Snow + Rock stocks a wide range of ski trousers from some of the most trusted brands in the industry. Let’s delve into some of our key names.


Poivre Blanc

French ski and outdoor brand Poivre Blanc offers functional and rugged ski pants perfect for resort and backcountry skiing. Founded in 1996 and based in the Rhône-Alpes region of France, a mecca for European snowsports, Poivre Blanc draws design inspiration from harsh alpine conditions while balancing practicality and sustainability.


Their ski trousers utilise proprietary technologies to provide wet-weather protection, breathability and warmth for stormy mountain environments. What sets the brand apart is their attention to ecological responsibility by using Bluesign-certified fabrics, PFC-free durable water repellents and solutions-dyed polyester made from recycled plastic bottles harvested in the Mediterranean. 



A renowned German ski and outdoor apparel brand with over 200 years of heritage, Schöffel supplies refined, high-performance snowsports kit including premium ski pants. Based in Schwabmünchen at the foothills of the Bavarian Alps, Schöffel fuse tradition with innovation to create elite cold weather trousers ideal for resort and backcountry skiing.


Features including Hybrid Knit and Flexible Seam Construction augment freedom of movement and weather protection within the brand’s range of ski trousers. From resort focused insulated ski pants to lightweight softshell options, plus insulated bib ski pants, Schöffel offers a comprehensive collection. Known for premium stitching and fabric quality control, the brand’s ski pants deliver refined athleticism with the processing rigour and functionality demanded by Germany's alpine environs.


Toni Sailer 

Toni Sailer is an iconic Austrian ski brand named after legendary alpine ski racer Toni Sailer, who famously won all three gold medals in the 1956 Winter Olympics at just 20 years old. He remains the only skier to achieve this triple gold feat.  


Carrying his name and ski pedigree, Toni Sailer Skiwear continues his legacy of innovation and performance in their popular ski pants collection designed for racing, freeriding and icy resort conditions. Blending fashion and function for the slopes, Toni Sailer ski pants integrate high-tech materials to aid flexibility, protection and warmth.


What gives Toni Sailer standout slope-side cred is their continuity of style, performance and association with Austrian skiing superiority via the legendary namesake Toni Sailer, making them an iconic snowsports brand.


Black Diamond

Founded by climbers but built for the mountain, Black Diamond brings their heritage of high-performance outdoor gear to an exceptional range of ski pants purpose-built for resort and backcountry pursuits. Made with qualities such as BD.dry waterproof yet breathable fabric and progressive patterning allowing unrestricted movement, Black Diamond ski trousers are built to last. 


The brand's ski expertise translates through the attention to detail present across their ski pants collection, from swiftly opening side thigh zips allowing rapid ventilation to the seam welding preventing water ingress, plus ice clipper kick patches shielding scuffs.  


How Ski Pants Should Fit 

Choosing the right size and fit is key to comfortable ski trousers. A slim fit is snug while enabling flexible movement without impeding your stride when skiing. They also allow you to add mid- and base-layers to your ensemble. Slim fit ski pants should fit neatly over your ski boots, and wider cut and bib pants should fit over larger alpine boots. Look out for snap closures to allow for width adjustment.


The hem of your ski pants should stop at the top of your boots without sitting under your foot leaving snow to be pushed in. Pants should also accommodate your thighs with room for wool long johns without feeling tight. The seat and hips allow you to crouch when skiing. 


Elastic, snaps and belt loops tailor the waist for comfort and prevent snow going down your front, while suspenders provide additional security. Articulated knees and stretch fabric ensure downhill mobility without resistance or tightness over your knees.  


How to Wear Ski Pants Properly

To maximise comfort, functionality and warmth from your snowsports legwear, there are various guidelines to choose from. Layering is key. Wear merino wool or synthetic long underwear like long johns as a base layer underneath your ski bottoms to wick moisture while trapping heat. Silk liners can be used for extra warmth.


Then there’s the footwear. Thin liner socks under thicker ski socks with a snug fit absorb less moisture and provide insulation and cushioning within your ski boots. Always put on ski boots before pulling up and fastening your snow trousers over them to create a seamless protective layer between jacket and boots.


Wear ski pants high enough so they are covered fully by your ski jacket preventing snow entry and maintaining heat circulation. Making use of thigh and side vents and adjusting zipper lengths can help prevent overheating and sweat build-up, which can lead to chilling.   


Caring for Your Ski Pants 

When investing in high-quality ski bottoms, it is essential to follow proper care and maintenance procedures to ensure many seasons of use. Refresh water repellency seasonally by washing then treating with a DWR spray like Nikwax TX Direct


Follow manufacturer instructions when it comes to washing. Use technical washes like Granger's or Nikwax then reapply waterproofing treatment afterwards. Allow 24 hours for DWR to fully activate. Treat stains and dirty areas promptly using a technical cleaner and small brush rather than fully washing if possible. This preserves durable water repellency for longer.


Avoid heat drying and opt for line drying instead, as tumble drying can degrade membrane fabric performance and damage insulation. You should also avoid things like bleach and fabric softener, which can impede breathability and water repellency. A non-bio technical detergent is best. 


Lastly, always pack ski pants loosely to avoid creasing the fabric, and never compress for storage as this can damage insulation.


By considering fit, fabric technologies and intended snow sport uses, you can determine the ideal ski pants to provide warmth, weather protection and comfort on your alpine adventures.

Related articles

Let us know you agree to cookies

We use marketing, analytical and functional cookies as well as similar technologies to give you the best experience. Third parties, including social media platforms, often place tracking cookies on our site to show you personalised adverts outside of our website.


We store your cookie preferences for two years and you can edit your preferences via ‘manage cookies’ or through the cookie policy at the bottom of every page. For more information, please see our cookie policy.