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The 7 Best Snow Pants (Tested Out By An Expert)

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A good pair of snow pants is an investment, and with a variety of insulation levels, features, materials, and styles, it can be hard to choose the right pair for your activities. While every pair of snow pants need to protect against cold, wind, and precipitation, styles and intended use vary. I've been testing a few different pairs this season, as well as keeping my older sets in rotation for comparison. Your priorities might look different, but for me, fit, movement, and insulation (or breathability) are the top categories I look for when choosing a pair of the best snow pants. Let's break it down a little more below:

Pants For Every Type of Activity

A pair of hunting snow pants will serve a different purpose than snow pants for downhill skiing. Then again, a pair of snow pants for downhill skiing might look different than a pair used for backcountry skiing. And if you're planning to wear them primarily for shoveling your driveway and taking the kids to the sledding hill, those will look different too. For hunting, consider snow pants with a quiet face fabric, reinforced knees and seat, and a muted colorway or concealment pattern. For downhill skiing, you want a pair with articulated knees, good mobility, and plenty of insulation. Snow pants for backcountry skiing need to be breathable and protective, with venting features and easy access to gear. As for the best pair to wear when shoveling the driveway? Whatever pair happens to be closest to the door as you reach for the shovel. 

Pants Versus Bibs

The two main styles of snow pants are bibs and pants. Bibs offer excellent protection from the snow, and if you find yourself skis up more often than not, a pair of bibs will prevent snow from pouring down your back. Bibs also have great storage potential and easy access to chest pockets. On the other hand, pants are easier to take on and off without fussing with top layers, and for some people, they can offer more of a range of motion, as there's less material to get bound up in. Pants are also often more affordable than bibs. 

Breathable Versus Insulated Snow Pants

While manufacturers might claim their insulated gear is highly breathable, there's always compromise on breathability when you increase insulation. Some insulation allows for better venting than other materials, but if your primary goal is uphill/backcountry skiing or snowboarding, you'll be better off with unlined snow pants. Look for a waterproof material like Gore-Tex or eVent to keep you protected from the elements while allowing sweat to escape. You can always layer insulated pants underneath unlined snow pants for resort days. Furthermore, if you mostly resort ski, you'll be warmer in an insulated pair of pants or bibs — and you can always choose a pair with side zippers to increase airflow on warmer days. If possible, I recommend trying on snow pants before hitting the slopes or going outside for a full day. At the very least, know the style and fit you're going for, and you can also read reviews and look at consumer pictures carefully for fit and durability reference. Here are my own top picks:

1. The Best Snow Pants for Women


Burton Gloria Insulated Snow Pants - REI, $209.95 

These snow pants have a tailored feel — they're built narrower at the waist and widen through the hips for a fit that works well for women's bodies and doesn't hinder movement. These are a versatile option for different climates, with a moderate amount of insulation and fleece lining along with generous inner thigh vents that unzip to allow airflow for warmer ski days. The six total pockets (four in the front and two in the back) are more than enough to stash an energy bar, phone, keys, and a ski pass. I wear mostly high-rise pants, as they tend to stay over my hips better, so I'd like these to be a slightly higher rise to avoid slippage. However, some people prefer the lower cut so it doesn't feel pinched around the stomach, so these most likely will fit the preference of a lot of people.

2. The Best Snow Pants for Hunting


KUIU Proximity Insulated Pant - KUIU, $259.00

Built with a soft face fabric and stretchy insulation, these insulated snow pants are designed for cold-weather hunts at close proximity, whether you're in a tree stand or glassing across a snowy ravine. They use a heap of high-tech treatments and materials, including Synthacell wind-proofing, a Silvadur odor-resistant treatment, and a brushed face fabric that repels water but doesn't crackle when it rubs together. These pants use 3DeFX+ insulation, which is a terrible name for consumer understanding of a product, but you can read more about it here. This insulation is super stretchy to prevent feeling bound up while sitting or walking, and compact without losing insulation properties. These pants come in three concealment patterns and one solid color, with suspenders and waterproof zippered pockets as added features. 

3. The Best Resort Bibs 


Outdoor Research Snowcrew Bibs - REI, $279

These resort-ready snow pants from Outdoor Research are bib-style for extra storage and protection against plowing through powder, made with majority recycled materials on both the shell and the insulation. These are super warm without feeling bulky, and have adjustable suspenders for layering up or down depending on conditions. The outer material is reinforced for durability, but built with articulated knees and tailored enough to not impede range of motion. As these bibs are so insulated, I'd recommend them mainly for the resort, but they do have a clip for an avalanche beacon in the left pocket for those looking to head out of bounds. Find the women's version here

4. The Best Backcountry Splurge


Arc'teryx Rush Bib Pants - Arc'teryx, $650

These are my go-to backcountry bibs this season, and they're some of the most comfortable winter outerwear I've ever worn. The price tag is somewhat astounding, but if you're looking to go all in on a ski or snowboard setup, these are my top recommended snow pants. They have cross-woven reinforcement on the inside of the legs, adjustable suspenders, and more zippered vents and pockets than other bibs I've tested. The fit is sleek without impeding movement, and they're built with an 80-denier three-layer Gore-Tex material for wind protection, waterproofing, and incredible breathability for working hard on the uphills. Arc'teryx tends to run small, so I went one size up in these bibs and they fit perfectly. Find the men's option here

5. The Most Durable Backcountry Snow Pants 


Backcountry Cottonwoods GORE-TEX Bib Pant - Backcountry, $244.30+

These beefy snow pants are made for season after season of shredding. The shell fabric feels almost like canvas, and is built with a Gore-Tex membrane to maintain breathability without sacrificing waterproofing. The Backcountry Cottonwoods Bibs have removable suspenders, vented thighs, and easy-access pockets, plus body-mapped materials with a stretchy back panel so you don't feel suffocated reaching around. These are superbly comfortable with a tailored fit in all sizes for maximum range of motion, and no matter how many trees you find yourself skiing through, you'll be hard pressed to put a rip in these bibs. Find the women's option here

6. The Best Affordable Name-Brand Snow Pants


Columbia Bugaboo IV Snow Pants - REI, $90+

These snow pants from Columbia are a great all-around pair for multiple uses throughout the winter, whether you're hitting the sledding hill, taking the snowshoes out for a stroll, or riding the lifts at your local ski hill. These use Columbia's Omni-Tech thermal reflective technology and waterproof seams for reliable protection and heat retention, as well as 60 grams of insulation for moderate warmth that retains insulating properties even if it gets wet. These have zippered hand pockets and a classic fly-style adjustable waist, along with elastic internal gaiters (much like its more expensive competitors) that help keep the snow out of your boots. These also come with several inseam lengths, and you can find the women's option here

7. The Best Casual Snow Pants


Arctix Insulated Snow Pants - Amazon, $40.00+

Looking for the best casual pair of snow pants for the dog park, shoveling the driveway, or taking the kids sledding? Arctix Insulated Snow Pants have moderate sheet-styled insulation to prevent drafty spots, and the sturdy shell material is four-way stretch for easy range of motion. These snow pants aren't the most high-tech, so they wouldn't be my first choice for moderate to intense activity levels, but they're durable, have reinforced cuffs and hem, and fit true to size. Find the women's option here

READ MORE: The 5 Best Winter Hiking Boots for Women, Chosen by An Expert