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Updated Sep 14, 2022 9:42 PM

Snow pants are the ultimate winter weather accessory: they keep you warm, don’t encumber movement, and fit right on top of the clothes you’re already wearing (meaning, if you live in a snowy area, you’d be remiss not to own a pair). Whether you’re backcountry skiing, flying down the slopes on a snowboard, or walking the kids to school in a blizzard (uphill … both ways), insulated pants are the way to go to prepare for the inevitable frigid days. Owning the right winter gear can make the outdoors bearable in icy temperatures, so you don’t need to sit inside all season long. While you might be imagining the vibrantly colored snow gear popularized in the ’60s and ’70s, there has been some serious strides in snow pants design, with innovations in breathability, insulation, and style. But that also means that it’s easy to become overwhelmed with choice, and it’s often unclear which pair will be best for you. Thankfully, we’ve narrowed down some options for the best snow pants.

How we chose the best snow pants

The best snow pants should keep you warm with enough space to move around for action-packed activities (or just breaking out the ole snow shovel). With that in mind, we looked at critical reviews, peer recommendations, performed user testing, and conducted heavy research to narrow down our options.

What to consider when buying the best snow pants

At this point, you might be wondering: Is there a difference between snow pants and ski pants? While both will work on the slopes, there are important differences when it comes to fit—namely, ski pants are more fitted, while snow pants are baggier, and thus allow for more movement. With that in mind, ahead, we’ve curated the best snow pants money can buy (and if you’re wondering what else to wear to keep warm, check out our guides to the best heated vests, best heated insoles, and best heated socks). Here’s what else to look for in your search for the best snow pants:

You’ll want a pair fit for backcountry skiing

When you’re shopping for snow pants, it’s important to take note of reputable, trustworthy brands, and that’s because they’ve done the work to establish a legacy of clothing design backed by research and reviews. Case in point: Outdoor Research, founded in 1981 by bonafide outdoorsman Ron Gregg. For this winter sport, you’ll want to prioritize protection, comfort, and durability, so that you can focus on skiing and rely on your snow gear sans stress.

What if you partake in more than one winter sport?

We get it: Not everyone is born on one side of the skiing versus snowboarding debate and, regardless, some people want to dip their toes in both sports (to which we say, the more, the merrier). Obviously, there is ideal winter gear for each sport, but that doesn’t mean that more versatile outdoor apparel doesn’t exist. On the contrary, there are plenty of brands that offer snow pants for the avid generalist—but, sometimes, that means you’ll be shelling out for the perfect pair.

What about women’s snowboarding pants?

While lots of outdoor gear is unisex, snow pants are not. It’s like buying a pair of expensive trousers—the fit is so important, and the chasm between how men’s and women’s snowboarding pants fit is just too wide to make it work. It’s like finding the perfect pair of jeans: the waist and hip measurements are key, and when your performance depends, in part, on the shape and material of your gear, you want it all to fit just right.

When to consider a ski bib instead of snow pants

We know what you’re thinking: Are snow bibs actually better than snow pants? The answer is, of course, that everyone has their preference—and there is no end-all-be-all answer to this conundrum. So, if you’re feeling indecisive about this all-important gear decision, just know that you’re not alone. The basic difference is this: ski bibs are like overalls (they definitely won’t fall down, but they might hamper movement) while snow pants are, well, pants (they totally could fall down, if they don’t fit correctly). You’ve likely tried on both types of garments in your lifetime, so use that prior knowledge to make a decision, and leave the tags on until you’re sure. Et voila! Crisis averted.

Budget

You know as well as we do: not everyone wants to spend $500 on a pair of pants, even if they have the means to do so. Of course, like most purchases, you get what you pay for when it comes to winter clothing—and when you want a good deal, you might miss out on things like high-tech performance fabric, or extra features like thigh vents and hidden pockets. Luckily, that won’t really deter you on the slopes—but it could mean that some snow is able to sneak in, and your gear isn’t as waterproof as it could be. That said, it feels really good to save upwards of $300, right? These are the best snow pants we’ve found for less.

The best snow pants: Reviews & Recommendations

When it comes to finding the best pair of snow pants for you this winter, it’s important to consider a few specific factors: fit, versatility, breathability, and price. With those categories in mind, we’ve pinpointed the best snow pants for skiing, snowboarding, for snowshoes, and various other outdoor activities available today.

Best overall: The North Face Men’s Freedom Snow Pants

The North Face

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Why it made the cut: Breathable and waterproof, these insulated snow pants will keep you warm through snowball fights to shredding gnar.

Specs

  • Size range: XS-2XL
  • Inseam: Short (30″), Regular (32″), Long (34″)
  • Pockets: Hook and loop cargo pocket, zip hand pockets, side-entry zip pocket
  • Waterproof: Yes

Pros

  • Gaiters keep snow out of boots
  • Lots of storage
  • Breathable, waterproof fabric

Cons

  • The short inseam is long at 30 inches

With waterproof fabric and plenty of storage (and air vents), these North Face insulated snow pants make for the perfect fit for any winter activity. Recycled insulated lining keeps you warm even if you take a fall in wet snow, and gaiters with tough elastic keep snow out of your boots and pant legs.

Best for skiing: Outdoor Research Men’s Blackpowder II Pants

Outdoor Research

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Why it made the cut: Windproofing and seam taping mean you’ll stay warm as you zip down the mountain.

Specs

  • Size range: S-2XL
  • Inseam: 32.5 inches
  • Pockets: Zip hand pockets and zip thigh pocket
  • Waterproof: Yes

Pros

  • Durable
  • Gaiters prevent snow from sneaking in
  • Reinforced scuff guards

Cons

  • One inseam length

Whether it’s a sunny winter’s day or the snow is coming down hard, these ski snow pants will get through a full day on the mountain, with no adjustments required. Waterproof fabric, combined with a breathable shell, makes them both reliable and comfortable. Stretch gaiters stop the snow from sneaking in and reinforced scuff guards provide additional durability.

Best for snowboarding: DC Squadron Men’s Snowboarding Pants

Why it made the cut: A “just right” fit and a jacket-to-pant attachment system keep snow out for more time outdoors.

Specs

  • Size range: S-XL
  • Inseam: 31-33 inches
  • Pockets: Zippered hand warmer pockets, zippered back pocket, transitors packable pocket
  • Waterproof: Yes

Pros

  • Tapered seams
  • Not too tight, not too baggy
  • Jacket-to-pant attachment system

Cons

  • Limited size range
  • Not insulated

These men’s snowboarding pants are not kidding around: created for those of us who like to leave it all on the field (or, more accurately, on the slopes), the DC Squadron pants are meant to maximize performance, no matter the weather. Breathable, mesh-lined fabric cut to provide an excellent fit makes for an unencumbered ride, while fully tapered seams keep the chill out.

Best for women: Burton Women’s Gloria Snow Pant

Burton

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Why it made the cut: Fitted, flexible, and Thermolite insulation allows these pants to run with the boys—and even outlast a few of them.

Specs

  • Size range: 2XS-2XL
  • Inseam: Short (30.5 inches), regular (33 inches), tall (34.5 inches)
  • Pockets: Handwarmer pockets, zippered cargo pockets
  • Waterproof: Yes

Pros

  • No-snag inner thigh vents
  • Fitted and flexible
  • Expandable snow-proof gaiters

Cons

  • Low-waisted fit might not be best for everyone

These women’s snowboarding pants do everything the men’s pants do, and then some. Toeing the line between fitted and flexible, they’re also waterproof and boast hidden inner thigh vents, articulated knees, and expandable snow-proof gaiters. If you don’t like a low-waisted fit, however, these might not be the right pants for you.

Best ski bib: Oakley Men’s Tnp Shell Bib

Oakley

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Why it made the cut: This ski bib is machine washable and breathable, making your snow days less of a headache.

Specs

  • Size range: S-2XL
  • Inseam: 32 inches
  • Pockets: Zippered handwarmer pocket, zippered thigh pocket
  • Waterproof: Yes

Pros

  • Thigh vents
  • Moisture wicking
  • Machine washable

Cons

  • Runs large
  • Limited inseam range

This Oakley bib works for snowboarding and skiing, so if you’re just dipping your toes into the world of bibs, this is a great place to start. Its high-tech fabric actually repels moisture for all-day warmth, and if you work up a sweat, inner thigh vents allow for extra breathability.

Best for kids: Arctix Kids Insulated Snow Bib Overalls

Arctix

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Why it made the cut: Reinforcements on ankles, scruff guards, and hems prevent wear and tear for seasons of use.

Specs

  • Size range: XS-XL
  • Inseam: 21-30
  • Pockets: Zippered hand warmer pocket
  • Waterproof: Water resistant

Pros

  • Husky sizes included
  • Machine washable
  • Lightweight and low bulk

Cons

  • Not completely waterproof

Kids are notorious for growing quickly and bulldozing through clothes. A range of sizes and inseams means there’s something that will fit your child, and its wallet-friendly price point means it won’t cost a fortune to replace. However, this affordable ski bib is reinforced on the ankles, scruff guards, and hems to prevent tears and rips. An O-ring helps hold important items like gloves and keys, and ThermaTech insulation keeps them warm sans bulk. A variety of colors means your kid can be the most stylish child on the ski lift.

Best budget: Arctix Men’s Snow Sports Cargo Pants

Arctix

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Why it made the cut: You don’t need to break the bank to find a quality pair of warm, durable snow pants.

Specs

  • Size range: S-4XL
  • Inseam: Short (30 inches), regular (32 inches), long (34 inches)
  • Pockets: Cargo pockets, zippered hand warmer pockets
  • Waterproof: Water resistant

Pros

  • Wide size range
  • Machine washable
  • Adjustable waist

Cons

  • Not completely waterproof

Available in both men’s and women’s styles, these incredibly budget-friendly snow pants keep you warm in temperatures down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit, thanks to 85 grams of ThermaTech insulation. Articulated knees allow for the full range of motion, plus boot zippers and gaiters seal out snow.

FAQs

Q: Is there a difference between snow pants and ski pants?

Ski pants are designed to have a snugger fit, though not snow leggings snug, while snow pants are looser and more flexible in sizing—meaning that for the former, you’ll want to find a pair that fits really well. No one wants to go down the mountain in too-tight pants.

Q: How much do snow pants cost?

Like most clothing made from technical fabric(s), snow pants generally cost in the $100-$200 range. There are budget options available for less than 100 bucks, however, that still offer insulation and durability.

Q: What are some other top ski brands to buy snow pants from?

While we listed quite a few brands above, you’re sure to see plenty more on the slopes. If you don’t find a perfect match from the likes of Patagonia, The North Face, or Arc’teryx, consider Helly Hansen, Flylow, Stio, or Fawk.

Q: Are snow bibs better than snow pants?

Like we’ve already said, it all comes down to personal taste: do you prefer the flexibility of pants or the security of overalls? If you’ve got a jacket in mind, too, consider buying a matching set, where the top latches onto the bottoms. Or maybe you want more variety with the bib, which will fit under basically anything you wear up top. It’s up to you!

Q: Can you put snow pants in the washing machine?

Generally, yes. The washing instructions will most likely instruct you to wash them in cold water on the delicate cycle and hang dry. Double-check the laundry tag inside the pants or the manufacturer’s website for complete washing and drying instructions.

Final thoughts on the best snow pants

Snow pants, like the best snow boots, are an essential piece of winter gear if you’re headed to the slopes, and they also come in handy around the neighborhood when a big storm hits (think: you’re sledding down the hill or walking the dog in 2 feet of snow, and you don’t want to get soaked). When you’re shopping for the best snow pants, it’s important to consider your options, and figure out what feature matters most to you, like fit or material. Find a pair that you love enough, and you might actually be sad to say goodbye to winter. You never know!