Winter Pants - What You Wear In The Cold Matters
All pants are not created equal. If you've ever gone skiing or snowboarding in jeans, you would know this firsthand. In this instance, it's okay to leave the denim at home and swap those for some serious winter pants. Features like reinforced insteps to prevent your edges from cutting up your pants or zippered vents to help dump heat when things get a bit toasty. Winter pants aren't just good for skiing and snowboarding, though. Activities such as snowshoeing, snowmobiling, hiking, and ice climbing can all be improved with a solid pair of winter pants.
So trust us. Your legs are in good hands. Wait. That came out wrong. I mean, your legs are in the good hands of the people who make great winter pants. No, wait. I mean, we have great pants for you. No one here is touching your legs.
Ski and Snow Pants
So what makes skiing pants or snowboarding pants different from hiking or ice climbing pants? There are a few key features to look for that are extremely beneficial when on the slopes versus frolicking in the snow. So let's break it down:
Gaiters: Do your pants have a second pair of mini pants around your shins and ankles? If so, then you are the proud owner of a pair of pants with gaiters! This extra layer prevents snow from creeping up your legs and getting into your boots, a huge game-changer on those deep powder days. Gaiters can have additional features such as zippers for easy opening and closing, hooks to clip on your boots, or elastic at the ankle to keep the gaiter in place. Are any of these features absolutely necessary? Maybe not. These additions definitely help, and you can find them in most ski or snowboard-specific snow pants.
Vents: Whether they be on the inner leg, outside leg, or zips along the entire length of the pant, having some form of ventilation can be nice whether you spend most of your time at the resort or in the backcountry. Being able to regulate heat can be crucial. Get too hot, and you'll sweat, and once sweat cools down, it’ll just leave you wet and cold, a perfect recipe for being miserable or even hypothermic. Keeping those vents open will help prevent that and help keep you from getting too toasty.
Fabric Material: The real meat and potatoes of winter pants. Without a wind and waterproof layer to keep the elements out, then what's even the point in wearing pants in the first place? Well, other than the obvious reasons, and because you probably should wear pants. There are many types of waterproofing agents and materials to choose from, some being specific to each brand and others used across the industry. The main thing that these waterproof materials are trying to accomplish is maintaining a waterproof layer to keep the elements out while maintaining a level of breathability.
Materials such as Gore-Tex, FutureLight, and eVent are great at staying breathable while maintaining monsoon-proof water repellency. There are other options in the market, such as PreCip, Waxed Cotton, Pertex, OutDry, DryVent, and on and on. So what's the difference? What makes PreCip better than Waxed Cotton? Or OutDry preferable over DryVent? The main factors are performance, pricing, and intended use. More durable or breathable materials will command a higher price. Depending on your activity, it could be worth the extra money. Casual resort skiing or a little hike here and there may not be something that warrants the most fancy pants.
Additional Features: Looking for extra features to trick out your pants? Add-ons such as pockets for an avalanche transceiver, integrated belt, reinforced insteps to prevent your pants from getting ripped up, or a bib or snow-skirt are all additional features that greatly enhance your comfort and ability while out in the elements.
No matter what you end up getting yourself into out there - breakneck speeds while snowboarding, rappelling down the side of a steep cliffside, or crushing it during an all-night polar badminton tournament - you can't be held down by bulky outerwear. Flexibility and maneuverability should go hand in hand, which is what makes softshell pants so ideal. By sacrificing weight savings, a pair of softshell pants will have more stretch, breathability, and durability than almost any hardshell pants making them ideal for ice climbing, cross-country skiing, or backcountry touring.
Winter softshell pants are the answer to your unbearable dilemma, bringing you the ability to be as spry and agile as possible without compromising your ability to fight the elements. Made of a specially woven fabric built to match your extended range of motion, the sweet, sweet action poses you insist on busting out down the slope will look better than ever. Softshell pants are built to provide your first level of defense against moisture, working well at breaking upwind and whatever other backcountry forces you come across out there.
The best outdoor sports tend to require some dreadfully chilly weather, and an unwelcome case of frozen legs probably won't help you zip down the slopes. Fact is, your standard, everyday wardrobe isn't that great at holding in heat, so getting into a first-rate pair of insulated pants can be incredibly helpful in keeping you nice and toasty while you brave the coldest of cold weather.
How you do that is entirely up to you: Classic tried-and-true down insulation uses water-repellent treated feathers to block cold temps without adding any unnecessary bulk making this a great choice for weight savings and packability. But maybe you’d prefer an insulation method that isn’t susceptible to losing warmth when the rain or snow hits – synthetic insulation is a killer alternative, providing the same sort of confident protection, sans-feathers. Most insulating layers can be found under a layer of waterproof material such as Gore-Tex or eVent technologies keeping that soft fluffy goodness warm and dry. Whether you choose to have pants with integrated insulation or choose to layer a-la-carte is up to you. Having the ability to don insulation as you please can add a level of customization to your wardrobe, ensuring that you have the right amount of warmth in any situation.
Sweet Winter Pants Brands
Outdoor Research: With over 30 years in the biz, Outdoor Research has been making top-notch gear sure to keep you warm and dry. Each piece of clothing and gear is precisely engineered to cover every need, whether out ice climbing or backcountry skiing. Super stretchy technical softshell pants to bombproof bibs utilizing state-of-the-art Gore-tex technologies that’ll make even mother nature think twice. You'll be up for anything thanks to functional features such as superior breathability, mobility, and fit.
Norrona: Norrona consistently pushes the performance limits on new and revisited products in climbing, ski touring, snowboarding, mountain biking, and hiking. Critical features like Gore-tex, PrimaLoft Silver, and responsibly sourced premium down are all high-quality materials used in their insulated and shell pants. Seam-sealed waterproof pants with strategically placed zippers and vents will keep you comfortable on the uphill, while Gore-tex and insulated nickers will keep you toasty on the lift and the downhill.
Columbia: From the occasional skier to hardcore hikers, Columbia Sportswear offers technical and casual clothing and gear for outdoor lovers of all levels and ages. They have continued to develop innovative technologies that keep you warm, dry, cool, and protected. Their multi-layer system, Omni-Tech, is guaranteed to be waterproof and breathable even during the wet winter season. It's often paired with the ingenious Omni-Heat Reflective ski jackets, gloves, and pants. Based on emergency thermal survival blankets, it reflects body heat to keep you up to 20% warmer in frigid temperatures, gets rid of excess moisture, and is exceptionally durable, even after being thrown in the washer.
Marmot: From scorching heat to bone-chilling cold, torrential rain to white-outs that make you feel like you're inside a ping-pong ball, Marmot outwear and pants will keep you warm, dry, and protected whatever the weather. With sustainable practices and earth-conscious materials, you can feel good both because you are helping protect the environment and because you are wearing some of the most rad pants that money can buy. So whether you’re looking for snow pants for your next winter expedition or shorts for paddleboarding, Marmot’s pants are built for performance and comfort.