13 best men's ski and snowboard pants
From lightweight bib pants to super-warm insulated trousers, if you’re hitting the slopes this winter, these are the best options for your lower half
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When you’re buying a pair of trousers to ski or snowboard in, the key things to remember are much the same as they are when you’re buying a snow jacket, that is are these trousers going to keep me warm and dry?
You might think you can ski or snowboard down a mountain in any old pair of jeans or tracksuit bottoms but we wouldn’t suggest you try, as freezing temperatures, icy air and wet snow require a specialised type of outerwear. And the brands below have all been chosen for their expertise in that field.
Waterproofing is especially important if you’re a snowboarder who sits down while putting their board on, as without top-level waterproofing you’ll be looking at a cold bum all day long. Stretch and flexibility of fabric are also key qualities to consider in your snow trousers, whether you’re doing learner laps on the nursery slopes or skiing or snowboarding at an advanced level.
We’ve included a mix of insulated and shell trousers; if you wear the latter you’ll need a base layer under them on colder days. Lightweight shell trousers are also a good idea if you plan to head off-piste and do any ski touring or splitboarding, or if you put in a lot of physical effort when you ski or snowboard on piste or in the snow park.
With dungarees and workwear so on trend at the moment, it’s not surprising to see a lot more brands doing bib pants this winter. These have the added benefit of keeping snow from getting up your back, though they can make going to the toilet a bit more complicated as you’ll need to delayer. Some brands have jacket-to-pant attachment systems, which could also keep snow out.
Traditionally, ski pants were always more fitted and slimline than snowboard pants, which were baggier, though the differences between the two have blurred somewhat in recent years, and most of the pants selected could be worn for either sport depending on the style you prefer. Though skiers should look out for extra fabric protection around the ankles to avoid tears from your boots or ski edges.
Key features to look out for include vent zips, so you can cool off quickly on the mountain, waist adjusters, so you can make sure they fit snugly around your waist or even loosen them after a big lunch on the mountain, and pockets, though be warned overloading them will change the trousers’ form and don’t put anything in them that would hurt if you fell onto it.
You want your trousers longer than you’d wear in normal life but not so long that they drag in the snow or worse muddy slush in resorts or ski station car parks. Though some brands such as Picture Organic get around this by having a drawstring in your pocket which pulls up the bottom of your pants.
1. Burton Covert Pants: £140, Burton
This shell pant from Burton, the world’s most popular and, in our opinion, dependable snowboard brand, represents great value for money, without compromising on the important stuff such as premium waterproofing. The patented “Living Lining” is designed to be extra-breathable when you’re warm, and to trap heat in when you’re feeling cold. The fit is relaxed but not super-baggy and it’s available in a range of colours including grey, black, beige, rust and bright blue, plus a pattern that can best be described as tiger print camo.
2. Helly Hansen Force Pants: £240, Helly Hansen
Norwegian brand Helly Hansen is perennially popular among skiers and with good reason. Its kit is reliable and technical and, though not cheap, it certainly doesn’t break the bank either. The Force pants are water and windproof and will keep you warm thanks to their top-quality PrimaLoft synthetic insulation. The fit is slim but relaxed, and they’re also available in other super-bright colours to keep you visible on the slopes including yellow, red and orange, and black.
3. Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Ski Pants: £549, Norrona
These are the most expensive ski pants in this selection. Are they worth it? If you’re a first-time skier or the type of skier who does a couple of quick runs either side of lunch, then probably not. But if you love adventurous off-piste skiing and exploring the mountain in all weather conditions then this serious investment makes a lot of sense. They are extremely waterproof yet breathable, with extra-long side zips for ventilation. The fit is slim but slightly relaxed. We especially like the fact the bib part can be zipped on and off. These also come in bright blue, navy blue and lime green.
4. Columbia Powder Keg Trousers: £225, Columbia
These are insulated trousers from Columbia that offer a slim fit for skiers and a strong level of waterproofing that will keep you dry in heavy snowstorms, even if the snow falling is on the wet side. They are articulated at the knee and we like the flexibility you get from that, and the scuff guards that protect the fabric on the inside of your ankles from tearing or wearing thin. Also available in black.
5. DC Nomad Snow Pants: £165, DC
With the Nomad technical shell pants, the California-based boardsports brand DC, is bringing some serious waterproofing and weather protection, plus a high rating of breathability to the slopes. We like the hand-warmer pockets and the fact it has a recyclable membrane. The fit is regular, and this brown colour fits this winter’s trend for natural, earthy hues, though the pants are also available in black.
6. The North Face Purist Trousers: £350, North Face
As you’d expect for the price, the Purist trousers have top-level waterproofing and breathability, but where they really stand out is in terms of their stretch and flexibility of fabric. This is an important consideration if you plan to ski or snowboard hard this winter, and certainly if you plan to go off-piste and do any climbing or scrambling over rocks along the way. These pants are also available in black, though you certainly won’t get lost in a whiteout in this super-bright sunshine orange shade. We like the “Fit Finder” website feature, which allows you to input your measurements and be told which size trousers you should get.
7. Picture Organic Naikoon Pants: £209.99, Absolute Snow
The Naikoon from French brand Picture Organic are top of the range pants but at a pleasingly mid-level price. They have a recycled membrane with a solid waterproofing and breathability rating, and an insulated lining, to keep you warm and dry. The fit is slimmer than standard but if you like your pants baggier you can drop the extra-high waistband down to style them accordingly. We like the drawstring pocket feature, which pulls up the bottom of your pants so they don’t drag on the floor. Also available in dark blue, dark green, brick red and black.
8. Patagonia PowSlayer Bib Pants: £500, Patagonia
Simply designed with a regular fit, these shell pants are made from eco-friendly recycled nylon. They’re also the most lightweight entry in our selection, which might not matter on piste but is something you’ll definitely notice if you’re ski touring or doing any hardcore hiking in the backcountry. The cutting-edge Gore-Tex fabric is triple-layered to keep you dry and protected from the wind in even the most serious of snowstorms. The pants are also available in black and green.
9. Salomon Icemania Pants: £160, Salomon
The Icemania is a classic ski pant from Salomon with a classic ski fit, which somehow seems to look good and feel comfortable whatever your body shape. The price is extremely reasonable but the trousers are warm and well insulated, with 10k/10k waterproofing and breathability. That’s the minimum you’d want in a pair of snow trousers, but certainly enough for the needs of most piste skiers. Available in a range of colours including black, red, navy blue, lime green and plum.
10. O’Neill 88’ Shred Bib Ski Pants: £139.99, O’Neill
These ones are the most fashion-forward inclusion on our list – an updated version of the brand’s original super-bright designs from the last century, albeit with updated tech to keep you snug and dry, unlike their original incarnation. The fit is relaxed; they’re super-comfy for skiing, snowboarding and busting out the 1980s dance moves in. Match it with the O’Neill 88’ Frozen Wave Jacket.
11. Arc’teryx Rush LT Pants: £379.99, Ellis Brigham
Tailored to the more advanced backcountry skier, the Rush pants are soft and comfy with a streamlined fit but they still have all the mobility you need for serious skiing and touring. They are extremely weatherproof hardshell pants but there’s plenty of room for a base layer underneath on colder days. They feel durable, which is important given the above average cost, and we like the fact they don’t rustle when you move. They are also available in dark grey with black panels.
12. KJUS Formula Pant: £409, Snow and Rock
The Formula, from former Olympic ski racer Lasse Kjus’s clothing brand, is a nicely shaped pair of insulated ski pants with a flattering fit. They’re more expensive than some of the others in our selection, mostly due to the highly durable fabric, which is designed to prevent tears and abrasion from your ski edges and boots, so the pants should last far longer than a regular pair. The Formula also scores high for stretch, warmth and water repellence; they’re available in lime green, bright blue, red, grey and black. These get bonus points for coming in a short length.
13. Schöffel Ski Bern Pants: from £132.34, Amazon
If you’re looking for well-insulated and waterproof ski pants at a decent price with a plain, simple style then these pants tick every box. The fit is snug and on the slim side but the trousers are comfy and stretchy enough in the right places, namely your knees and hips. Colours for this line include red, black, light and dark blue.
The Verdict: Snow pants
We recommend the Burton Covert Pants as the best-value reliably waterproof and breathable snow trousers on test, especially for first-time snowboarders or skiers and those who take one snow holiday a year. The Salomon Icemania is a good equivalent choice if you’re looking for a classic ski pant look. More serious skiers and snowboarders who like to go off into the backcountry, should consider Norrona, Patagonia, Arc’teryx and Picture Organic.