What Are the Best Snow Pants?

Skiing, sledding, and snowboarding are a lot more fun when you’re dry and warm.

26.1.2020

“People are understanding not only the impact on our bank account of replacing gear year after year, but also the impact on the environment'

Skiing, sledding, and snowboarding are a lot more fun when you’re dry and warm.

Photo: courtesy of Warner Bros. If you’re headed to the slopes this season, there are a number of things that can ruin your day: rain, long lift lines, and, worst of all, your butt getting cold and wet. You can’t control the first two, but the third is entirely avoidable with the right snow pants. To keep you warm from toe to cheek on your next run, we talked with 10 professional skiers, guides, and shop owners to find the very best snow pants for whatever winter adventure you’re up to. Like buying a new pair of skis or ski boots, finding the right snow pants is a mix of technical features and personal preference. Think about how you’re going to use them. If you spend most of your time doing chairlift runs on cold January and February vacations, go with something insulated. But if you also want to ski in the shoulder seasons of December or March, or in California, where sunny days can get relatively warm, an uninsulated pair is more versatile and allows for layering. Another thing to consider is ventilation. Many snow pants have extra zippers on the leg that open up to let cool air in. These are useful if you plan on skinning up a mountain before skiing down, or if you know you’ll be lounging around by the fire après ski. To be sure, some of these options are an investment. But when you look at it over the life of your snow pants, you’ll actually be saving money — and, in small part, the world. According to Adam Fine, a ski expert at curated.com, “People are understanding not only the impact on our bank account of replacing gear year after year, but also the impact on the environment.” You pay for quality, and that quality lasts. Here are our, and the pros’, favorites. The best snow bibs Flylow Men’s Baker Ski and Snowboard Bibs From $336 at Amazon Buy $420 at REI Buy Flylow Women’s Foxy Bib From $295 at Amazon Buy $420 at REI Buy Bibs have extra coverage to keep your chest protected if any snow gets under your jacket. For Roy Tuscany, founder of High Fives Foundation, an organization that helps severely injured athletes return to their sports, these Flylow bibs are “probably the best ever made.” He likes their versatility, using them as “my ski pants, my shoveling bibs, and my drive-to-the-office-if-it’s-snowing-too-much-and-wear-for-the-day pants.” Unlike many snow pants, Flylows are comfortable enough that you’ll want to wear them après ski, too, thanks to inner- and outer-thigh vents to let out the heat when you prefer to be by the fire. One other benefit is the bib design, which has unique (and easy to adjust) over-the-shoulder straps that always keeps your pants up, even when you fill the pockets with maps and snacks. Mike Donohue, co-owner of Outdoor Gear Exchange in Burlington, Vermont, also loves these pants for their durability and protection: “We see people stepping up to this more expensive bib because they’re just super burly,” he says. Eddie Bauer Freshline Bib $287 (was $479, now 40% off) You might not be hopping in and out of helicopters, riding snowmobiles, or throwing yourself off cliffs, but KC Deane is. And he’s doing it in Freshline Bibs. His schedule includes more than 150 days of skiing each year, during which, he says, “you really find all the [pants’] weaknesses. And these didn’t have any.” This bib has kept him dry in every weather condition, and he likes that the back panel and longer arm length give it a slightly looser fit that won’t hold you back when you’re reaching to grab your skis as you drop 40 feet into powder (or, you know, just bending over to unbuckle your boots back at the lodge). $287 at Eddie Bauer Buy Burton AK Gore-Tex 3L Kimmy Bib Pant $580 at Backcountry Buy Burton Men’s AK Gore-Tex 3L Stretch Freebird Bib Pant $580 at REI Buy $580 at Backcountry Buy These are the go-to bibs for Nick Sargent, president of the Snowsports Industries America trade association. This high-cut bib is specially designed to protect you in deep powder, and the three-layer Gore-Tex fabric keeps you dry. Since they’re unlined, you can wear them on their own when it’s warm, or layer them over long johns for colder days. “They serve all purposes and functions,” he says. Although they’re specifically designed for snowboarding, Sargent says “they’ll take care of you in all activities.” The best snow pants Black Diamond Men’s Mission Pants $379 (was $499, now 24% off) From $379 at Backcountry Buy $337 at REI Outlet Buy Black Diamond Women's Mission Pants $337 (was $449, now 25% off) $337 at REI Buy $360 at Backcountry Buy Unlike bibs, pants start where you’d expect them to: your waist. Many skiers find them more flexible and comfortable, even if they don’t have quite as much coverage. When Jackie Kearney, a ski patroller at Tahoe’s Kirkwood Mountain Resort, isn’t in her work uniform, she wears Black Diamond Mission Pants. “I like to be able to change what level of layers I have,” she says. “We have days where the sun is super strong and it’s in the 40s and then it will be 15 degrees and blowing 100 mph on the ridge, snowing three inches an hour.” The uninsulated and waterproof Mission pants can handle all of it. When it’s warm, thin tights are all you need. When it’s cold, add heavy thermals. Articulated knees, huge pockets, and venting will also keep you comfortable in any situation. Patagonia Snowbelle Pants $199 at REI Buy Patagonia Men’s Powder Bowl Snow Pants $180 (was $299, now 40% off) From $180 at Backcountry Buy $299 at REI Buy When you pay for pants that will last many seasons, you want them to stay in style for many seasons. Mac Huelster, an NYC stylist who has worked with stars including Leon Bridges, prefers a “timeless look,” he says. “With technical outerwear, it can be hard to shop vintage, because most of the new fabrics and details are so much more functional than pieces from the past.” He recommends the Patagonia Powder Bowl pants, either in black or a single “pop” color like blue or green to match with all future jackets. He calls it a classic look with modern features, Including windproof, waterproof, and breathable 100 percent recycled-polyester Gore-Tex construction. Mountain Hardwear Women's Exposure/2 Gore-TEX Paclite Pants $199 at Amazon Buy $199 at Amazon Buy Mountain Hardwear Men’s Exposure/2 Gore-Tex Paclite Pants From $199 at Amazon Buy From $120 at Backcountry Buy These pants are perfect for winter trekkers or weeklong skiers — anyone who will find themselves living in snow pants for a long period of time, says Jeff Wohl, a guide for the National Outdoor Leadership School. When he leads winter treks, he wears the Exposure 2. “I need a pant that I can ski in all day and then build an igloo in without getting totally soaked,” he says. The best snow pants/bib hybrid Dynafit Yotei Women's Gore-Tex Pant $220 at Amazon Buy $220 at Amazon Buy Dynafit Men’s Yotei GTX Pant $428 (was $660, now 35% off) Instead of choosing between bibs or pants, Eric “Hende” Henderson — who, before becoming a brand representative, was skiing down Everest and guiding for 15 years in the big mountains of Wyoming and Alaska — prefers the Dynafit Yotei bibs, a hybrid of both styles. Thanks to ventilation zippers on the legs, adjustable hem and waist sizes, and a detachable bib, they can be customized to any activity. “They’re great for the all-purpose athlete — someone who is looking for something they can take to Japan but could also use to skin uphill at Killington,” he says. From $428 at Moosejaw Buy $440 at Backcountry Buy The best kids’ snow pants Stio Kids’ Rafferty Insulated Pant Even if they don’t fit into full-size pants, kids deserve full-size performance. For his own kids, Henderson likes the Stio brand. “Their stuff is amazing, from shells to pants,” he says. “The sizing is spot on.” We love these Rafferty pants, which are fully insulated and appropriate to wear to school or on the slopes. And the tough canvas shell fabric is fully waterproof and ready for any abuse a kid might subject them to. $149 at Stio Buy The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Read more: New York Magazine

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