• July 18, 2024, 11:08 pm

The best snow pants for 2023 SoftAIT

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Update : Monday, November 27, 2023


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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 have been some serious strides in snow pants design, with breathability, insulation, and style innovations. But that also means it’s easy to become overwhelmed with choice, and it’s often unclear which pair will be best for you. The best snow pants are designed with waterproofing and warmth and comfortable wandering in mind.

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 a snow blower or 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.

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, snowshoes, and various other outdoor activities available today.

Best overall: The North Face Freedom Snow Pants


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


  • 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


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


  • The short inseam is long at 30 inches

With waterproof fabric and plenty of storage (and air vents), these North Face insulated snow pants are the perfect fit for any winter activity. Recycled insulated lining keeps you warm even if you 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 Snowcrew Pants

A person wearing an orange pair of Outdoor Research Men's Snowcrew pants


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


  • Size range: S-3XL
  • Inseam: 29.5 inches (short); 30 inches (regular); 33.5 inches (tall)
  • Pockets: Zip hand pockets
  • Waterproof: Yes


  • Durable
  • Inner thigh vents for temperature control
  • Reinforced scuff guards


  • Zippers prone to snagging when closing pockets

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. A beacon pocket is designed specifically to include an avalanche beacon for peak safety. These pants prove you don’t have to sacrifice mobility and range of motion for style and durability.

Best for snowboarding: Burton Men’s Insulated Covert Ski/Snowboarding Pant

A brown-gray pair of Burton Men's Insulated Covert Ski/Snowboarding Pant on a plain background

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


  • Size range: 2XS-3XL
  • Inseam: 30.5-34.5 inches
  • Pockets: Zippered hand warmer pockets, zippered thigh pocket
  • Waterproof: Yes


  • Tapered seams
  • Not too tight, not too baggy
  • Vents for breathability


  • Waist runs small
  • Reviews note that the crotch is tight

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 Burton Men’s Insulated Covert Ski/Snowboarding Pant are meant to maximize performance, no matter the weather. They’re also designed to be more fitted and stylish for men who want to look fly while flying down the slopes. 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: Stio Women’s Doublecharge Insulated Pant

A person wearing Stio women's snow pants in front of a tree with snow on the ground


Why it made the cut: Fitted, flexible, and GORE-TEX 2L insulation allows these pants to outlast every snow bro on the mountain.


  • Size range: XS-XL
  • Inseam: 32 inches
  • Pockets: Hand pockets, zippered cargo pocket
  • Waterproof: Yes


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


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. Combined with the Smartwool Women’s Classic Thermal Merino Base Layer Bottom, these pants proved up to the task of keeping these legs warm even during a January jaunt in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. However, if you don’t like a low-waisted fit, these might not be the right pants for you.

Best for mountaineering: Arc’Teryx Alpha SV Men’s Bib

A black Arc'Teryx Alpha SV Men's Bib on a plain background


Why it made the cut: You’ll be warm sans puff when you splurge on these sporty snow pants.


  • Size range: S-XL
  • Inseam: 31.5-33 inches
  • Pockets: Two zippered thigh pockets
  • Waterproof: Yes


  • Made for severe weather conditions
  • Easy to move in
  • Lightweight


  • Limited size range
  • Expensive

If you’re looking for something that’s built for hardcore outdoor activities like ice climbing and alpine exploring, there’s no better place to look than Arc’Teryx. The company’s Alpha SV Men’s Bib is made of durable GORE-TEX for extreme waterproofing and windproofing while maintaining breathability. Locking severe weather out without locking sweat in, the bib is built for climbing and alpine-focused systems with a warm base layer, which also means you won’t have to figure out how to get into a harness with your gear on. An articulated fit moves with you as you traverse up the mountain, removable knee pads provide impact protection, and an embedded RECCO reflector could aid in search and rescue if that movement is curtailed (our editor has an Alpha jacket he swears by, and while he really doesn’t want to get caught in an avalanche, he likes feeling prepared). It’s a splurge, but something for this level of technical performance is worth the dough.

Best ski bib: Stio Men’s Environ Bib

The Stio Men's Environ ski bib on a plain background


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


  • Size range: S-2XL
  • Inseam: 30-34 inches
  • Pockets: Zippered handwarmer pockets, zippered thigh pocket
  • Waterproof: Yes


  • Outseam vents
  • Moisture wicking
  • Machine washable


This high-waisted, suspender-snappin’ Stio 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, outseam venting allow for extra breathability.

A pair if Arctix children's snow pants on a white and blue gradient background

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


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


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


  • 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

A person wearing Arctix Mens Snow Sports Cargo Pants on a plain background

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


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


  • Wide size range
  • Machine washable
  • Adjustable waist


  • 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.

What to consider when buying the best snow pants

At this point, you might wonder: 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, 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.

How to measure your body for snow pants

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 decide and leave the tags on until you’re sure. Et voila! Crisis averted.


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?


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’ll 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?

As 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.

Q: What should I layer underneath my snow pants?

We recommend putting something thin and warm under your snow pants. That can be a merino wool base layer or your favorite pair of leggings. We’ve done both, and we prefer the wool base layer thanks to merino wool’s natural temperature-regulating properties.

Q: Should I choose insulated or uninsulated pants?

It depends on the temperature of the mountain. Our ethos is that it’s easier and more comfortable to vent your pants than to try and squeeze into your pants with an extra layer. Go for uninsulated if you’re using the pants for shoveling the driveway; reach for insulated if you’ve already bought your season-long ski pass and are waiting for the first fall of snow.

Q: How important is waterproofing for my snow pants?

How much do you like a soggy bum? In all seriousness, waterproofed pants mean rogue snow won’t get in your boots (thanks to the gaiters) and you’ll stay warm and comfortable as you go up and down the slopes. No one wants to cut their ski day short because they’re a sad, soppy mess from pants that are snowproofed.

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 features matter 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!

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.


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