The best women’s ski pants, or snow bibs, or salopettes, or whatever you call them (we hear some strange people even call them trousers) are just as important as a decent ski jacket and ski gloves when you’re planning a trip to the slopes. The best ski pants perform two functions: they keep you warm when you’re zooming down a mountain slope and they keep you dry if you end up in a pile of snow at the end of said slope.
Even for beginners, or those trying out a dry slope for the first time, a decent pair of salopettes is a must, as they’ll keep you warmer and more protected than other waterproofs. And, if you look after them, the best ski pants will last for many seasons. Salopettes also double up well as insulated winter outdoor trousers for hiking, camping and working outside.
Snow bib or no bib? Insulated or shell? There’s more to choosing a good pair of salopettes or ski pants than you may think – our buyer’s guide below has lots of useful insights into how to decode the jargon and pick the best women's ski pants, snow bibs or salopettes for you.
Best women’s ski pants
Columbia Kick Turner
Not too baggy, not too slim and marrying a good balance of warmth and breathability – Columbia’s Kick Turner may be the most versatile ski pants we tested
RRP: $166 (US) / £125 (UK) | Colors: White / Black / Navy / Yellow | Sizes: XS / S / M / L / XL / XXL | Waterproofing: Omni-Tech waterproofed | Insulation: Omni-Heat thermal reflective lining | Compatibility: A great all-rounder of a snow sports pant
Not too skinny, not super-baggy – if you’re after a nice happy medium from a pair of ski pants, Columbia’s Kick Turner could suit you nicely.
These ski trousers feature a comfy, warming high waist, but are a little baggier around the legs – great for all day comfort and for popping over thicker thermal leggings, and style-wise this design will suit both skiers and snowboarders.
The Kick Turners feature less insulation than some ski pants we tested, but also use Columbia’s innovative reflective lining, designed to trap in body heat, so you still get welcome warmth with less bulk – ideal if you don’t like ski bottoms so bulky they make you look like the Michelin Man.
Zipped legs make the Kick Turners easy to pop on and off. We also found them more breathable on test than most other ski pants, so they’re more versatile for a week of skiing in changeable weather, or for a spring snow sports holiday.
Arc’teryx Shashka Stretch Pant
A snowproof but breathable softshell designed with fast-paced backcountry explorers in mind
RRP: $399 (US) / £300 (UK) | Colors: Phantasm / Muse | Sizes: XS / S / M / L / XL | Waterproofing: Gore-Tex | Insulation: None | Compatibility: The perfect shell pant for backcountry skiing
Heading to the back of beyond? The Shashka pant was designed to be breathable and flexible keep up with all your backcountry adventures.
Arc’teryx describe the Shashka as “water-resistant”, but on test we found its Gore-Tex membrane effectively repelled water, making this design pretty snowproof. This pant is also highly windproof, so despite not boasting insulation you won’t easily feel the cold on a mountain side.
The softshell outer material and a lined inner material feel lovely to touch and against the skin, and are very flexible to wear – these trousers are a far cry from stiff, plasticky waterproofing shell pants, and were the comfiest trousers to move in overall on test thanks to a slight stretch.
We like the integrated belt for a snug fit at the waist, and good zipped pockets that hold essentials or a lift pass. The pant legs are great too, with tough kick panels on the inner ankles and stretchy gaiters inside (although a zip would have been handy for adjusting the Shashkas over ski or snowboard boots).
Mountain Warehouse Avalanche
A slim cut meets great flexibility and decent snowproofing in Mountain Warehouse’s good-value Avalanche pant
RRP: £140 (UK) | Colors: Navy / Black | Sizes: XXS / XS / S / M / L / XL / XXL | Waterproofing: Water repellent, not waterproof | Insulation: Thermal lining | Compatibility: Affordable and comfortable choice for beginner to intermediate skiers
The slimmer design of Mountain Warehouse’s Avalanche pants will suit skiers who are after a streamlined fit. Some thoughtful design has gone into this ski pant, which is stretchy and forgiving to wear, with a great, snug high waist lined with soft fleece for extra warmth.
The Avalanche is true to size and fits well over base layers, with a flattering, almost legging-like look – ideal if you don’t like bulky or baggy snow sports kit. They are water repellent, not waterproof, but extra features include a Recco reflector (a battery-free transponder which makes you searchable to professional mountain rescue team, and which is often only found on pricier ski kit) and zipped pockets, although the front pockets are a tad small and hard to use.
If you’re really counting the pennies, Mountain Warehouse has more budget-friendly options on offer, including the functional Moon (opens in new tab) ski pants.
Helly Hansen Odin Mountain Softshell Pants
A versatile mountaineering-meets-ski trouser, the lightweight Odin Mountain is a good quiver-of-one winter outdoor pant
RRP: $293 (US) / £220 (UK) | Colors: Black / Grey | Sizes: XS / S / M / L / XL | Waterproofing: Water repellent, not waterproof | Insulation: No | Compatibility: Swap to these for warm spring skiing and ski touring
If you’re a skier who also loves to hike, climb, scramble and generally be out in the mountains all winter long, you may be more keen to invest in a pair of outdoor trousers that can tackle any adventure, but that double up nicely as ski pants, rather than a one-trick-pony snow bib.
Enter Helly Hansen’s Odin Mountain Pants. Lightweight, stretchy and very comfortable to move in, they’re also a good choice if you’re looking for added freedom of movement and less weight when you’re skiing. A durable outer material treated with water repellent will repel snowfall (but you may need to swap to something more waterproof for off-piste skiing through deep powder), and they’re more breathable than your average pants, so are well-suited to warm spring skiing, ski touring or popping to the terrain park.
Zipped ankles give a good snug fit around ski and snowboard boots, and we love the well-placed roomy pockets and side zips for keeping your cool.
Off the snow, the Odins double up as sturdy hiking trousers that can tackle bad weather, making them a versatile choice for your money.
OOSC 1080 Ski Pant
OOSC goes to the top of the style stakes with the pastel-pretty 1080 pant, which is snowproof and comfy enough to tackle long ski days
RRP: $233 (US) / £175 (UK) | Colors: Pink / Lilac / Mint / Black / Peach / Leopard Print | Sizes: XS / S / M / L / XL | Waterproofing: Recycled polyester (10,000mm HH) | Insulated: Yes | Compatibility: Style-focussed skiers will love these sustainable pants for resort skiing
Fancy standing out in the snow? OOSC’s whole collection is acid-bright, patterned and generally great fun, and their 1080 ski pant, available in a range of pastel colorways, is no exception.
We also love the fit of these pants, which sit high at the waist (adjustable with Velcro) and are on the slim side without looking too figure-hugging, but still offer good flexibility of movement at the hips and knees, and features what OOSC proudly call a “comfy bum”, lined with fleece (great for sitting on long gondolas or for stopping for an alfresco snow picnic).
These pants may stand out for being pretty, but they still mean business in the snow, with 10,000mm of waterproofing and taped seams to keep water at bay from first lift to last lift. These trousers are also fully recycled from plastic bottles, and if you want to go matchy-matchy, OOSC sell color-coordinating jackets and base layers. These pants do fit snugly, and curvy women may need to go for a size up.
The best ski bibs and salopettes
DC Snowboarding Collective Shell Bib Pant
Urban styling and a good range of movement make this bib a good choice for more advanced snowboarders
RRP: $293 (US) / £220 (UK) | Colors: Cathay Spice / Watercolor Tie Dye / Black | Sizes: XS / S / M / L / XL | Waterproofing: Weather Defence 15K (15,000mm HH) | Insulation: None | Compatibility: Laid-back snowboarders will love the Collective’s looks and freedom of movement
DC have long been the cool kids on the snowboarding kit block, and these Collective pants definitely win style points – in a smart burnt orange colorway and with zebra-striped braces, it’s definitely the most Instagram-friendly snow bib we tested out.
Good waterproofing (with hydrostatic head of 15,000mm) and taped seams should keep heavy snowfall at bay. This is a “shell” pant with no insulation, so it’s ideal worn over thermal base layers on warmer days, and the added range of movement and breathability you get when you lose the insulation will suit more advanced snowboarders and snow-park lovers.
We like the zipped legs and generous pockets, including a handy vertical chest pocket, and the wide side zip for popping the bib on and off easily. DC describe the Collective as stretchy, but we’re not sure we’d call it that – this bib has quite a tailored fit so you’ll need to get the sizing right. The bib’s hardwear also feels on the flimsy side, and may need replacing after regular use.
Picture Organic U10 Snow Bib
Eco-friendly innovation meets great waterproofing and fit in these good-looking bibs
RRP: $300 (US) / £226 (UK) | Colors: Black / Tan Brown / Rose Taupe | Sizes: XS / S / M / L / XL | Waterproofing: 20K / 20K Dryplay membrane with a Teflon EcoElite PFC-free durable water repellent treatment (20,000mm HH) | Insulation: Coremax lining | Compatibility: A high-performing bib both on-piste and off in warmer weather
This snow bib is as sweet as candy – quite literally. Picture Organic’s winter 2021–22 snow sports collection is made using an innovative and eco-friendly material – sugar cane waste, which avoids the need to use fossil fuels to make activewear.
Quite apart from its environmental credentials, the U10 is a brilliant bib – on test we loved the dungaree styling and the fit, which is adjustable and features a stretchy lycra back panel. This pant is also highly waterproof (with a hydrostatic head of 20,000mm) and very breathable – ideal if you’re going off-piste and into the backcountry, working up a sweat while you do so.
All the extra details we usually look for are here, including taped seams, well-placed pockets (we like the chest pocket for storing a phone) and snow gaiters. The U10 is only lightly insulated (think more than a shell but less than a bulky salopette) but teamed with good thermals it’ll work for most winter conditions, although it’s still on the heavy side at 1kg.
While we’ll always put performance before looks when buying ski gear, we have to compliment the U10’s smart utility styling, and we love the earthy, neutral shades it’s available in.
Montane Extreme Salopettes
Stay snug in extreme conditions in these well-named unisex salopettes
RRP: $213 (US) / £160 (UK) | Colors: Black | Sizes: XS / S / M / L / XL / XXL | Waterproofing: Pertex Quantum Outer | Insulation: Dryactive deep pile lining | Compatibility: For various activities in the coldest conditions
Extreme conditions call for Montane’s unisex Extreme bib, designed with Arctic weather in mind and worn by members of the British Antarctic Survey.
These zip-off pants would be too warm for balmy snow days but come into their own in bitterly cold conditions thanks to a thick insulated lining and a reliably water- and snow-proof outer material.
If you’re wearing outdoor pants in the toughest conditions or for long days of working in icy weather you’re going to want something comfortable, and these bibs really are like a hug to wear, lined with thick soft fleece and designed with flexible articulated knees for great ease of movement.
The Extreme bib is on the heavy side at 1.1kg (around 2.4lb), and so is better used for mountain adventures, touring and working rather than for fast-paced skiing. ideal for long days outdoors, or for seasonnaires and workers in need of high-performing winter gear they can wear day-in, day-out.
Our only quibble is that the braces don’t fully allow you to adjust the chest bib for a snugger fit, and – as this is a unisex design – petite or tall women may need to try a few sizes to work out which suits them best.
TOG24 Trinity Ski Pant
Functional ski wear available at a reasonable price point
RRP: £100 (UK) | Colors: Black / Grey Marl | Sizes: XS / S / M / L / XL | Waterproofing: 10,000mm HH | Insulation: Thermal padded lining | Compatibility: Beginner and casual skiers will love these comfy, fuss-free pants
There are a lot of high-performing but eye-wateringly pricy salopette designs on the market, but if you’re a beginner skier or tend to head on a snow sports holiday just once or twice a year, there’s really no need to go for the spendiest snow pants on sale.
TOG24’s collection of women’s salopettes are some of our favorites when it comes to comfort and fit, and their reasonably priced Trinity salopette is an ideal first snow pant. It’s waterproof enough to take on snowfall, insulated enough to keep you cosy on chilly chair lifts (although not warm enough for really freezing days) and features braces and an adjustable high waist for a comfy and flattering fit.
We like the reinforced snow gaiters and the thigh zips for added breathability. TOG24 call this design “practical ski wear without the sky-high price point” and we couldn’t sum it up better.
Haglöfs Vassi GTX Pro Pant Women
Advanced skiers pushing their ability need look no further than the tough-as-nails Vassi bib
RRP: $679 (US) / £510 (UK) | Colors: Dark Ocean / Tarn Blue & Tulip Pink / Black | Sizes: XS / S / M / L / XL / XXL | Waterproofing: Gore-Tex | Insulation: None | Compatibility: For the serious skier
Haglöfs don’t beat around the bush – these highly technical shell pants are “made for the dedicated off-piste skier”, and beginners enrolled in their ski school sessions need not apply.
These high-performing bibs might be overkill (and overly expensive) for casual winter use, but if you regularly ski the backcountry or work outdoors in tough conditions they’re an excellent choice, with features and technology we simply can’t fault.
Like all of Haglöf’s outdoor gear, designed in Sweden, the Vassi bibs are packed with lovely stuff, including a Recco reflector and reliable Gore-Tex waterproofing that will keep you dry even if you ski through a snowstorm or into deep powder. The Vassi is clad in an outer material that proved very tough and rip-proof as well as fully waterproof, windproof and highly breathable – these pants are bomb-proof, basically, so will suit anyone pushing boundaries with their skiing.
The adjustable bib is one of the best we tested, sitting snugly high on the chest. The Vassi isn’t insulated, so you’ll need to pick warm thermals for underneath. If you do splash the cash on these pants, they’ll also do you proud for mountaineering and winter hiking excursions.
What to look for when buying the best women’s ski pants
So, what are best: ski pants or salopettes? And what features are essential? We walk through some attributes to look out for in the best ski bibs available today.
The best ski pants, salopettes and bibs should, of course, be fully snowproof, so shop for a pair with a waterproof outer shell. Look for technology such as GoreTex or for a pant’s waterproofing rating – the higher the hydrostatic head (HH) rating the more waterproof they will be. Ideally you want to go for at least 10,000mm, so you can sit or fall in snow without getting damp. Taped seams make pants even more water and snowproof. For more on this subject see: waterproof versus water-resistant.
The best ski bibs and pants are usually either insulated, have a “shell”, or both. The former are padded with synthetic insulation (see down vs synthetic insulation for the reason why) and are ideal for cold conditions and for resort skiers who need reliable warmth in between ski sessions. They’re usually designed to be popped over a pair of base layer leggings, and should suit most skiers heading to the mountains on holiday.
Shell pants don’t feature insulation, and are more like waterproof hiking trousers. They tend to be the most waterproof ski pants on offer, and allow for more breathability and range of movement, so they’re well-suited to athletes and for warmer spring skiing, and they double up nicely as hiking and mountaineering trousers. You can also pop a few pairs of thermal base layers underneath uninsulated ski pants on colder days.
If you’re planning a lot of ski days this winter, it might be wise to invest in both insulated and uninsulated pants.
Fit and style
The terms “ski pant” and “salopette” have become nigh-on interchangeable, but as a rule, salopettes are high-waisted and may feature a bib or braces to hold them in place, while ski pants are trousers, often more baggy and low-slung. (Salopettes sometimes get called pants, but trousers/pants don’t pass for salopettes.)
Some of this is just a style or a sport statement – very skinny, slim-fitting salopettes/pants are usually worn by speedy skiers, while some snowboarders will opt for something a bit looser. The happy medium is a pair of well-fitting salopettes/pants with plenty of room to wear a base layer underneath and that feels comfy and secure when done up at the waist – high-waisted trousers/bibs help avoid any snow seeping in if you do fall.
Salopettes or snow bibs with braces definitely help to provide a good fit, and help keep your salopettes in place all day long, however much you move (or fall over).
Try before you buy
Don’t forget to try on your new ski pants before you hit the slopes. The right pair should feel a little long when you try them on in socks, so that they sit well when worn with ski or snowboarding boots, and have integrated gaiters that fit over your boots. Try on a few pairs and see how lifting your legs and squatting down low feels, as you need plenty of flexibility and freedom of movement.
An award-winning travel and outdoors journalist, presenter and blogger, Sian regularly writes for The Independent, Evening Standard, BBC Countryfile, Coast, Outdoor Enthusiast and Sunday Times Travel. Life as a hiking, camping, wild-swimming adventure-writer has taken her around the world, exploring Bolivian jungles, kayaking in Greenland, diving with turtles in Australia, climbing mountains in Africa and, in Thailand, learning the hard way that peeing on a jellyfish sting doesn’t help. Her blog, thegirloutdoors.co.uk, champions accessible adventures.
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