What are Salopettes?
Salopettes, also known as ski suits or one-piece snowsuits, are essentially coveralls specifically designed for skiing and snowboarding. The term "salopettes" comes from the French word "salopette" meaning smock or overalls. Unlike regular snow pants that only cover the lower half of the body, salopettes provide coverage from the shoulders down, incorporating built-in suspenders and bibs. This extra coverage helps seal out snow and cold air for greater warmth and weather protection. The extensive coverage also means less potential for snow to sneak in compared to pants/jacket combinations. Women's salopettes usually have an adjustable waist belt, adjustable shoulder straps, and sometimes adjustable leg cuffs to help get the optimal fit. They are designed to be worn over your base and mid layers, potentially along with a thin top layer depending on the warmth and breathability of the salopette fabric. High-end salopettes may be specially contoured to better suit the female form. Quality women's insulated salopettes utilise technical fabrics and insulation materials to be fully waterproof, windproof, and breathable for the ultimate in weather protection and comfort.
Benefits of Salopettes for Women
Several advantages make salopettes a great choice for women engaging in cold-weather outdoor activities:
- Full Coverage for Warmth: The extensive coverage of salopettes seals out drafts and snow is far better than pants and a jacket. Bibs overlap jackets to fully enclose the core, while inner leg zips allow easy on/off without exposing the body.
- Weather Protection: Women's salopettes are designed to be fully waterproof and windproof, keeping you dry in snowy and wet conditions. They protect from rain, sleet, and snow.
- Versatility: Salopettes can be worn for skiing, snowboarding, and many other cold-weather activities. The full coverage provides warmth and protection across various pursuits.
- Comfort: Quality salopettes utilise flexible, breathable fabrics that move with you. Features like articulated knees and gaiters improve comfort. Suspenders distribute weight better than pants.
- Ease of Use: Salopettes are easier to get on and off compared to pants and jackets. They also prevent snow from sneaking in between layers.
- Flattering Fit: Women's salopettes are shaped to flatter the female form. Adjustable features allow you to customise the fit.
For women regularly engaging in cold weather outdoor activities, salopettes can provide better coverage, comfort, weather protection and warmth compared to pants and a jacket. Their versatility also makes them a sound investment for those looking to stay active throughout the winter.
Key Features of Women's Salopettes
When shopping for women's salopettes, there are several key features to look for to ensure you get a high-performing and comfortable garment:
Waterproof and Breathable Fabrics
The outer shell of women's salopettes needs to utilise a completely waterproof and windproof fabric to prevent snow and moisture from seeping in. Top-end models use proprietary waterproof membranes and fabrics like Gore-Tex and eVent that are also highly breathable, preventing overheating and condensation build-up during activity. For salopettes meant for especially cold and wet winter pursuits, look for models that incorporate fully taped seams throughout to seal out any moisture penetration. Women's waterproof salopettes specifically utilise these types of advanced waterproof yet breathable fabrics such as Gore-Tex to keep you dry while also allowing sweat and internal heat to escape. Women's breathable salopettes incorporate strategically placed mesh ventilation panels and highly breathable membrane constructions to facilitate moisture and heat transfer. The optimal women's salopettes combine fully waterproof exteriors that prevent external snow and moisture from soaking in while also utilising breathable fabrics and venting features to maintain interior comfort and prevent overheating.
Insulation Type and Rating
Many women's salopettes incorporate insulation to provide inherent warmth against cold conditions. Both down and synthetic insulations like PrimaLoft can provide excellent warmth for their weight. The insulation's fill rating, measured in grams, indicates the level of warmth provided, with higher fill ratings equating to greater insulation and heat retention. For maximising warmth without excessive weight and bulk, look for women's insulated salopettes that concentrate insulation placements in key areas most prone to heat loss like the torso, thighs, and knees. Concentrated insulation mappings retain warmth while preventing overheating in areas like the armpits and backs of knees during active use.
Venting Zips and Breathable Panels
Since salopettes provide extensive coverage of the body, they can lead to overheating during aerobic winter activities. Look for women's salopettes that incorporate strategic venting areas, such as underarm zips, inner thigh vents, and mesh-lined pockets, to allow heat and moisture to escape. Models with breathable stretch panelling concentrated in typical sweat zones also greatly improve ventilation and cooling. Women's salopettes with zippered pockets allow you to easily open and close built-in vents as needed for cooling while keeping essentials securely stowed. Optimal women's salopettes combine underarm, inner thigh, and back ventilation features along with breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics to both retain warmth and prevent overheating when active in cold conditions.
Articulated Knees and Gaiters
Quality women's salopettes feature articulated knees that mimic the natural shape of the knee when bent. This reduces fabric bunching for freer movement and comfort. Integrated inner knee pads provide cushioning and abrasion resistance when kneeling in snow. Lower leg gaiters keep snow out of boots and seal in warmth around the calves. Additionally, women's salopettes with articulated knees provide an even better range of motion by mimicking the natural shape of the bent knee. Women's salopettes with boot gaiters help keep snow out of your boots when trudging through deep powder.
Adjustable features like waist belts, shoulder straps, and leg cuffs allow you to customise the tailored fit of women's salopettes for both comfort and sealing out the elements. Integrated suspender straps also help evenly distribute weight and support compared to regular pants. When shopping, look for women's salopettes offering adequate adjustability through the waist, shoulders, and leg cuffs to achieve your ideal personalised fit for intended conditions and allowed layering. Dialling in a secure and sleek fit ensures maximum weather sealing and mobility.
Helmet and Backpack Compatible
For women's salopettes meant for vigorously active winter pursuits like backcountry skiing, look for models incorporating a higher-cut design that can readily accommodate wearing a helmet and backpack. A higher-cut silhouette ensures the salopettes integrate and provide full coverage around the waist when bending and manoeuvring. This helps eliminate gaps between the salopettes and jacket that can lead to snow and moisture sneaking in. The additional rise or length also allows the upper portion of the salopettes to overlap the helmet and backpack straps and hardware. Overlapping coverage is key to fully sealing out the elements when engaging in activities requiring a helmet and backpack, especially for pursuits like backcountry skiing where you are immersed in deep snow. For very active winter sports, seek women's salopettes providing sufficient rise and adjustability to ensure complete integration with helmets and backpack straps.
Pockets and Access
Convenient cargo pockets smartly placed on the thighs or hips provide easily accessible storage while on the move. Opt for women's salopettes featuring waterproof zipped pockets to protect essentials like phones, passes, and snacks from moisture. Inner thigh zippers running from cuff to crotch allow easy on and off without needing to remove boots or skis each time. These inner-leg zippers are especially convenient when wearing ski or snowboard boots. Durable water and windproof zippers are essential for maintaining weather resistance while enabling practical access. The optimal women's salopettes combine cargo pockets strategically placed for activity reach and access with waterproof zippers to protect stored contents. Inner thigh zippers retain convenience while reinforced waterproof zippers maintain the integrity and performance of the salopette shell.
Types of Women's Salopettes
Women's salopettes come in a range of types and designs suited for different winter activities and conditions. When selecting salopettes, consider the specific features that best match how and where you plan to use them:
Insulated vs Shell
Women's salopettes come in both insulated and shell versions, each offering distinct advantages. Insulated salopettes have built-in insulation, usually down or synthetic fill, that provides inherent warmth. The insulation rating, measured in grams, indicates the level of warmth provided. Higher fill ratings equate to more insulation and warmth. Insulated salopettes are designed to retain heat and maintain comfort in cold conditions without requiring as many underlying layers. This makes them popular for activities like resort skiing and snowboarding where exertion levels vary. The integrated warmth also allows shedding layers as you heat up without exposing your skin to the elements. Shell salopettes lack integrated insulation and are designed as a weatherproof outer barrier layer. They are essentially a waterproof and breathable "shell" that requires wearing insulated mid-layers underneath for warmth. The benefit of shells is adaptability - allowing you to add or remove insulation layers in tune with your exertion level and the outside temperature. Shells also breathe better than insulated versions. Women who run hot or participate in very aerobic winter sports may prefer the versatility of shell salopettes paired with customisable insulation underneath. Both insulated and shell salopettes have merits, so base your choice on your style of winter adventure.
Skiing and Snowboarding Specific
As skiing and snowboarding are prime activities done in salopettes, many designs have specialised features to optimise performance on the slopes. Articulated knees that mimic the shape of your bent knee prevent restrictive bunching of fabric, allowing freer movement for carving turns and manoeuvring through powder. Mesh-lined inner thigh vents let you release built-up heat and moisture when working up a sweat, while still keeping your legs covered for warmth. Cargo pockets on the thighs give quick access to essentials like lift passes while being easily reachable while wearing skis or a board. A higher cutback accommodates wearing a backpack for backcountry skiing. The longer rise also leaves no gap when bending over so snow is less likely to sneak inside. Many ski and snowboard-focused salopettes also come in bright colours and prints to stand out on the hill and show your winter sports style. While not mandatory, if your main cold weather activity is skiing or snowboarding, opting for a model with these specialised features can enhance fit, ventilation, and overall performance.
Backcountry and Freeride
When you leave the groomed slopes and venture into the backcountry and deep snow, salopettes require greater weather protection, warmth, and coverage. Backcountry and freeride models utilise the most rugged, waterproof, and breathable fabric technologies to hold up to repeated exposure to snow, wind, cold, and brush without wetting through or tearing. They feature full or bib-height waist gaiters with gripper elastic around the waist and integrated powder skirts to seal snow out when riding deep through fresh powder. Higher fill lightweight down or synthetic insulations retain warmth when immersed in cold and snow all day. Helmet-compatible hoods integrate with coat shells and provide added protection. For lugging gear into the wilderness, they have a higher rise back to ensure gaps don't form when wearing a backpack. Finally, backcountry-focused women's salopettes allow greater articulation and come in athletic fits to ensure maximum mobility when hiking to lines and exploring off the grid. While overkill for resort use, women's backcountry and freeride salopettes provide the ultimate weather protection for winter's most die-hard deep snow explorers.
Stretch vs Standard Fit
Women's salopettes come in both stretch and standard fit versions, each providing its advantages. Stretch panelling and stretch woven fabrics add mobility and a sleeker fit. Strategically placed stretch zones allow greater freedom of movement, making stretch salopettes popular for active winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, and mountaineering. The streamlined fit also looks more flattering. Stretch side panels aid stride, inner knee stretch prevents binding when crouching, and articulated stretch backs enhance agility. Standard-fit salopettes use tightly woven solid fabrics with no stretch. This focuses purely on providing weatherproof barriers and sealing out the elements. The non-stretch fabrics tend to have a looser, more casual fit. Standard fit salopettes work well for less aerobic activities like winter dog walking, snowshoeing or spectating outdoor sports where freedom of movement is less important. If your winter activities demand maximum mobility, the articulation and flexibility of stretch panel salopettes make them a better choice. For more casual use, standard fits provide ultimate weather sealing.
Bibbed vs Suspender
Women's salopettes come in two main styles - full-bibbed and suspender/over-the-shoulder strap versions. Bibbed salopettes have a full-height front bib section that comes up to the chest and attaches to the shoulders. This provides maximum torso coverage and overlaps with your jacket, helping seal out snow and wind. The full bib also feels warmer, trapping heat better than suspenders alone. Suspender or strap salopettes have over-the-shoulder straps more akin to coveralls or overalls. The straps allow greater flexibility and insulation options for layering upper body warmth. You can readily strip down to base layers up top as you heat up while your legs remain protected. For maximum coverage and warmth, bibbed women's salopettes form the best barrier to the elements. But suspender versions provide more versatility in variable and highly aerobic conditions.
Women's Specific Fit
Many outdoor brands now offer salopettes specifically engineered for the female form. Women's specific salopettes incorporate contours and cuts tailored to flatter and enhance mobility for the female body shape. For example, the hips and waist area are designed to curve in and cinch while allowing flexibility. Articulated shaping through the backside and knees mirrors a woman's natural stride and range of motion. Adjustable features like women's salopettes with adjustable suspenders and waist belts allow dialling in the perfect fit for your proportions. Compared to unisex models, women's specific salopettes move and feel sleeker while providing coverage and weather protection. The articulated design prevents bagging and binding, creating a more streamlined silhouette. However, unisex salopettes can still work well for many women depending on your build and proportions. The key is to focus on the features that align with your planned winter activities when selecting women's salopettes. For very active pursuits like skiing and snowboarding, the articulation and contouring of women's specific models enhance freedom of movement and comfort. More casual fits may provide ample mobility for activities like winter dog walking or spectating sports. Avoid excessive features if you don't need specialised performance. Focus on the coverage, warmth, and weather protection required for your planned use. With some trial and error, most women can find excellent fitting salopettes for their winter adventures.
Women's salopettes deliver greater coverage, weather resistance, warmth and comfort compared to pants and jackets when facing cold winter elements. Their extensive coverage seals out drafts, wetness and snow far better than separate garments. High-functioning technical fabrics like Gore-Tex and quality insulation ensure waterproofing along with the breathability needed for active endeavours like skiing and snowboarding. Versatility across winter activities, ease of movement, and flattering designs add to the popularity of women's salopettes. When shopping, be sure to consider your planned uses and the features that align. Ski and snowboard-specific designs provide articulation and venting for an active day out, while casual fits maximise coverage and warmth for more leisurely activities. Match the weatherproofing and insulation level to your climate and exertion. Trying on various models and sizes ensures you get great coverage without restricting mobility. With the right salopettes, women can stay warm, dry and comfortable across a plethora of winter adventure