Wearing the wrong pants for skiing or snowboarding can result in a wet and cold day. You want to make sure you’re wearing the correct snow pants according to region, weather, and type of riding. For example if you are riding in the northwest in Oregon you’ll want to focus mostly on waterproofing due to the thicker more wet snow, and less waterproofing in drier areas such as Colorado. For riding backcountry where you’ll have fresh powder spraying all over you, you’ll want a more waterproof pants apposed to riding groomed runs where your legs won’t get as wet. When buying snow pants you want to keep, waterproofing, warmth, breathability, gaiters, pockets, venting, jackets to pants connection, seams, and bibs in mind when shopping.
Waterproofing is probably the most important part of your snow pants. If your legs aren’t dry, it is going to be difficult to stay warm and comfortable the rest of your day on the slopes. Waterproofing is rated on a scale of 5,000mm- 20,000mm. The higher the rating the more waterproof the material is. If your going to be riding up north in Oregon Washington area, you’ll want more waterproofing to keep you dry from the more wet snow. If your going to be riding in drier areas such as Colorado or Utah you won’t need as much waterproofing. For riding backcountry where your legs will be in ungroomed snow a more waterproof material will be best. Typically, the higher the waterproof rating, the more expensive the material will be.
Snow pants are generally going to be less insulated than your snow jacket because your legs don’t need to be as warm as your torso. Thicker snow pants will keep your legs warmer on colder days and thinner snow pants shells will keep your legs cooler and breathe easier on warmer days. I usually wear a good waterproof snow pants shell typically and for colder days I layer up on pants under my snow pants.
Breathability will be measured between 1k- 20k with the higher the number the more breathable the material will be. It is measured on grams of water evaporated out of the material per 24 hours. For example a 10k breathable rating will evaporate 10,000 grams of water in 24 hours. More breathable pants will be most suited for warmer days or more physical activity such as hiking backcountry or cross-country riding.
Snow pants gaiters help keep snow out of your boots by having a cuff that wraps tightly around the outside of your ski/snowboard boots. The outside of the snow pants will have a zipper or button on the side near the bottom of the pant leg that when undone will expose to pants gaiters.
Pockets on your snow pants will be completely up to you. Depending on how much stuff you will be needing to bring with you will depend on whether you will want pants with less or more pockets. If you are going to be carrying a backpack with you, you might be fine with just two hand pockets on your pants. If you don’t want to carry a backpack, but still have stuff you want to bring with you, then a snow pants with more pockets will work best.
Snow pants with vents can be a game changer on a super warm day. Some snow pants come equipped with zipper vents typically located on the inner thighs of the pants. Unzipping of the vents will allow your pants to be more breathable and let hot air out, cooling off your legs.
Jacket to Pants Connection
Certain companies will make snow pants and jackets that are specifically meant to button or zip together to create a one piece. This can come in handy on colder days or for riding in deeper snow so when you fall snow dosn’t get down your pants. Brrrr. typically the jacket will either button all the way around the waist or zip together to the pants.
Seams on your snow pants can be a target for moisture to get in if not seamed correctly. There are three types of seams on snow pants, each one having a different level of waterproofing and price.
- Critically Taped: Waterproof material is covering seams that are exposed to the most moisture
- Fully Taped: Waterproof material is sealed over all the seams
- Welded: Instead of seamed the material is bonded together to create a fully waterproof connection. This is the most waterproof
Bibs are a sort of overall type of snow pants that have straps over the shoulders and cover the lower torso area. Bibs are very handy in colder weather and riding in deeper snow. They offer more warmth and don’t let snow down your pants when you fall. Only downside is it can be a little more work to get undressed quickly to use the restroom.