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5 Different Types of Ski Pants

Woman skier wearing purple ski pants in snow mountain area.

With so many different types of ski pants available on the market, it can be hard to find what’s right for you. But, it’s important to know the different types of ski pants so that you can make an informed decision about which ones to buy.

Here are some of the most common types of ski pants on the market today and what makes them unique.

Types of Ski Pants

There are many different types of ski pants to choose from. One major factor to consider is what type of skier you are.

If you only ski a few times each year, then your needs might be different than those who spend more time on the slopes. If you live in a cold climate and are looking for something warm, insulated pants will serve you better than lightweight pants.

It’s important to remember that even though there are many different types available, not all pants have all qualities and some could work well depending on what you need out of them.

1. Insulated

Arctix Women's Insulated Snow Pants, Black, X-Small Tall

Thick, waterproof pants that keep heat in during cold ski days. Some insulated ski pants can feel bulky and restrictive, but these ones have updated designs to improve mobility and make them more comfortable to wear.

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If you’re looking for warmth with maximum protection against cold conditions, an insulated ski pant is a great choice. As they’re meant to be worn over other layers, many insulated options have extra room in their design to allow space for several pairs of thick winter tights underneath.

2. 3-In-1

TSLA Men's Winter Snow Pants, Waterproof Insulated Ski Pants, Ripstop Windproof Snowboard Bottoms, Cargo Snow Pants Bottom Abstract Teal, X-Small

This type of ski pant is designed to be three garments in one. Typically, they are made with a solid outer shell, which makes them waterproof and warm, but not very breathable.

The pants also have an insulated lining inside that keeps you warm even when wet. Because there is no need for a removable liner on these pants, 3-in-1 ski pants are typically bulkier than other varieties.

These pants might be better suited for skiing powder or performing other outdoor activities that require being prepared for anything Mother Nature throws at you. They can be used in just about any type of weather condition and they’re less restrictive than some other options as a result.

3. Stretch

Obermeyer Hillary Stretch Pants Black 4 S

Many women who ski choose stretchy ski pants because they have a slim, form-fitting design. The stretchy fabric also allows for greater freedom of movement and more comfort while skiing, allowing you to ski longer and harder without stopping.

If you tend to buy women’s ski apparel, keep an eye out for models with stretch fabric. You might be surprised at how big a difference one small detail can make!

Stretchy fabric is often popular with men, too. However, many men prefer a looser fit in their ski pants; if that’s what you like, look for a model that’s also loose-fitting or has elastic ankle cuffs to keep things extra cozy.

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4. Shell

Oakley mens Crescent 2.0 Shell 2l 10k Pants, Black/Black, Small US

These are your most lightweight ski pants, best for keeping snow and wind out. Shell pants are typically made from a waterproof fabric like Gore-Tex or eVent. If you ski in places with harsh weather, shell pants will keep your legs toasty and dry.

If you’re looking for something more on-the-slope, shell pants will give you maximum mobility. Just remember to strap on an extra layer before you head out on your trip because there’s no insulation here.

5. Softshell

TBMPOY Men's Snow Ski Waterproof Fleece Lined Pants Outdoor Hiking Mountain Softshell with Belt 02 Thick Green S

A softshell ski pant might be just what you need to make winter more comfortable. Softshell pants are made of a stretchy, water-resistant fabric that is perfect for skiing or snowboarding in cold climates.

They’re warmer than a rain shell but less bulky than insulated ski pants, and they’re great for mid-season use—when temperatures are too warm for a rain shell but not freezing enough for insulated ski pants.

A softshell will keep you dry in light precipitation and, when combined with layering underneath, can provide warmth even when it’s really cold outside.

Fit

Regular, relaxed, or slim: Your fit is one of your most important considerations when purchasing a new pair of ski pants.

1. Regular

Arctix Men's Essential Snow Pants, Black, Small/30" Inseam

These are more likely to be slightly baggy. Men might want to consider ordering one size smaller than they normally would, while women should order their regular size, or one size up if they like a looser fit.

As their name suggests, these have a regular fit and are meant for any kind of skier or snowboarder. Whether you’re just learning or have been at it for years, if you don’t have an athletic build you probably want to opt for these pants.

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The added room will give your body some wiggle room but will still keep you covered enough that no skin is exposed when on your board.

2. Relaxed

Columbia Men's Rebel Roamer Pant, Black, X-Small x 32" Inseam

These ski pants are designed to be comfortable and allow for a full range of motion. This is a good option if you’re looking for casual pants that you can wear to dinner after skiing.

It is also a smart choice if you’re not sure how much time you’ll spend on your skis and don’t want to carry extra bulk. Plus, relaxed fit pants generally come in more colors and styles than other fits, so there are options no matter what your personal preferences are.

Be warned, though: relaxed fit pants aren’t always very flattering on bigger folks or those with curvier figures. Also, they tend to wear out more quickly than other types due to all-day activity on rugged terrain; budget accordingly!

3. Slim

BenBoy Women's Outdoor Waterproof Windproof Fleece Slim Cargo Snow Ski Hiking Pants,AN-SF1602W-Black-S

The slim-fit ski pants are slim-fitting pants that will give you a full range of motion while skiing. These pants will help you make quick and sharp turns on your skis without any interference.

If you’re looking for a pair of ski pants that will fit comfortably but still provide a full range of motion, these may be for you. Your size in men’s typically corresponds to your waist circumference, so use that measurement to find your corresponding size.

With women’s sizes typically running small, opt for one size up from what would normally work for you if you prefer an optimal fit.

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Warmth

The warmth factor varies from one pant to another depending on a number of factors, and have different insulation levels for a wide variety of rider preferences.

1. Ski Pants With No Insulation

Burton Men's Standard Covert Pant, Bison, XX-Small

This is the lightest style of ski pants, made with no insulation at all. They’re a great option for resort skiers who don’t plan on venturing far from the lodge or those spending most of their time skiing in spring and fall.

They also tend to be your most mobile type of ski pants, so they’re ideal for non-serious weekend warriors who like to ski across the resort every now and then. All jokes aside, it’s highly recommended to wear another layer with these.

2. Lightly Insulated Ski Pants

Helly-Hansen Womens Legendary Insulated Waterproof Ski Pant, 597 Navy, X-Small

These pants typically use more nylon, meaning they are lighter in weight and have less insulation to protect against cold. In general, it is still important to be prepared with layers when using lightly insulated ski pants.

Pairing them with long underwear and a long-sleeve layer beneath your jacket can keep you comfortable for most low-intensity conditions.

3. Insulated Ski Pants

Amazon Essentials Men's Waterproof Insulated Ski Pant, Black, Large

Insulated ski pants help you stay warm in cold weather so that you can remain comfortable while skiing or snowboarding. Because they use insulation, they typically have less breathability and water resistance than other types of ski pants.

These options are best for people who are looking for warmth and who don’t plan on spending a lot of time outdoors while it’s actively snowing or raining.

4. Synthetically Insulated Ski Pants

Arctix Women's Snow Sports Insulated Cargo Pants, Black, X-Small/27" Inseam

These are a good option for skiers who don’t want to worry about wetness but also don’t want to wear wool pants. These pants are generally going to be more resistant to moisture, meaning they’ll last longer than their wool counterparts and will require less care.

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Additionally, these ski pants usually feature a water-resistant coating on top of an insulating material. This layer prevents water from actually reaching your skin while allowing heat to escape as well as it can. In some instances, you may see waterproof or water-repellent technology being used in place of water-resistant coatings.

5. Insulated and Heated Ski Pants

Heated Pants for Women 8pcs Fast Heating Pad Electric USB Thermal Warm Soft Trousers 3 Heat Settings(Batteries Not Included)-M Black

If you’re an avid skier, chances are you know how important it is to be prepared for all kinds of weather conditions. If you want to keep your lower half warm while skiing, insulated and heated ski pants are a good option.

These pants have multiple layers that protect against wind and cold temperatures by trapping warm air inside and dispersing heat. The garments also feature a waterproof outer layer and insulation designed specifically for winter sports.

Waterproof Rating

FREE SOLDIER Men's Waterproof Snow Insulated Pants Winter Skiing Snowboarding Pants with Zipper Pockets (Black Small(29-30)/30L)

A waterproof rating can range from 0 to 20K. If you’re going to be skiing a lot, or have a bad track record when it comes to your rain gear, it’s best to go with something in at least the 15K range.

Otherwise, if you live in a warmer area and are only hitting up slopes here and there, you might not need as heavy-duty a rating. Rainy weather will have you wishing for better protection, so choose wisely; when wet clothing freezes, it can feel like wearing tiny knives on your body and is incredibly dangerous—but that only applies if they’re wet.

Plus, having wet ski pants is annoying no matter how cold it is outside!

Very High

Many garments now sport a 20K rating and call them water-resistant or water-repellent. The terms are confusing and don’t mean that your pants will resist water in any way.

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Instead, they simply mean that your clothing won’t soak through as quickly as it would with a 10K rating. In other words: you’ll stay dry longer but still end up wet at some point.

High

With pants in this range, waterproofing is achieved with a coating applied directly to the inside of your ski pants, as well as some natural wicking properties found in fabric technologies like Dryarn and Thinsulate. High waterproof ski pants have a rating of 15,000mm – 19,999mm.

Moderate

Moderate waterproof ski pants typically have a 10,000mm or higher waterproof rating, which means they offer decent protection from moisture in wet, snowy weather. They’re generally less expensive than other types of ski pants and are often made with lightweight materials like nylon and polyester that provide some stretch and range of motion for skiing.

If you plan to do most of your skiing on groomed runs at resorts, moderate waterproof ski pants are an excellent choice that won’t break your budget.

Mild

5,000 to 9,999 millimeters (mm) waterproofing is enough for most light and moderate snow conditions. Most ski pants in that range will also be breathable, allowing you to regulate your body temperature so you don’t get overheated as quickly or start sweating too much.

Water Resistant

Water-resistant ski pants are great for most outdoor activities, especially if you plan on getting wet. Water-resistant fabrics use a combination of a durable outer shell with tightly woven, non-permeable fibers that don’t let water seep through from underneath (so rain will bead up and roll off).

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This type of fabric also has taped seams to keep out moisture as well . Look for DWR coating to determine how much water your pants can resist before soaking through, with anything above 5,000mm being water proof and anything less than 5,000mm being water resistant.

Breathability Rating

clothin Men's Elastic-Waist Travel Pant Stretchy Lightweight Pant Multi-Pockets Quick Dry Breathable(Grey L-32)

Breathability refers to how well a material allows air to pass through it. This is an important factor in ski pants because you want your body to stay warm, but also to avoid getting sweaty.

There are two major aspects to consider when shopping for breathable ski pants: weight and breathability. Breathability is determined by how many grams per square meter (g/m2) a fabric can transfer, as well as its windproof quality.

If your ski pants are too breathable you’ll be cold on those long treks back up the hill. On the other hand, if they’re not breathable enough and don’t let enough heat escape from your body, then your legs will feel hot and sweaty when you sit still for a few minutes.

Very High

The highest level of breathability, over 20,000g, refers to how much water vapor a material can let pass through it in one hour. The higher your number, the more effectively moisture will be removed from your skin and evaporated into thin air, so you stay dry.

High

What’s a ski pant without breathability? When you’re working up a sweat on your skis, it can be good to have ski pants that can help you get some fresh air.

Because while they might look stylish, not being able to cool off when you need to is just going to make things worse. With high breathability ski pants at 15,000g – 19,999g, there’s no such thing as too hot. The material has been specifically designed for high performance activities – so they’ll be durable and sturdy enough for even experienced skiers, but still well-ventilated.

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Moderate

Moderate breathability is what you’ll want for low to moderate activity at 10,000 – 14,999g . A waterproof fabric will keep you from getting too sweaty and a nylon fabric will keep you from getting too cold. This is because nylon absorbs very little water, so it’s perfect for moderate activity. If your activity level increases, however, or if it becomes colder outside, consider the other options.

Mid

Lightweight and breathable, mid-range insulated ski pants like these are perfect for a snow day at your local resort. The material lets moisture escape, keeping you warm but not sweaty, and stopping excess moisture from entering.

Low

Low breathability means that sweat doesn’t dry quickly, which can lead to uncomfortable cold spots when you stop to rest or duck into a lift line. Some skiers feel that low breathability pants make them more likely to get wet during heavy snowfall because they don’t allow moisture vapor to escape while they’re skiing through deep powder.

In general, however, low breathability pants are geared toward insulation and weatherproofing features. They’re also a little more bulky than similarly priced high-breathability pairs.