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The complete guide

Buying ski pants / snowboard pants

If you have decided to get a new pair of snowboard or ski pants, you surely want to find the best ones. But even as an experienced rider, it is not always easy to know what you actually need. This guide will go through all the essential factors to consider when buying your next pair of ski pants or snowboard pants. If you still have questions or prefer to talk to someone, don’t hesitate to contact us!

What is the difference between ski pants and snowboard pants?

Skiing and snowboarding are undoubtedly very similar activities, so what is the difference between snowboard pants and ski pants?

From a technical standpoint, there is very little difference; both are made to protect you from the weather. Instead, the difference is rather in design and fitting.

Snowboard pants tend to be looser and baggier to give more space to move when doing tricks and jumps. Ski pants have traditionally been more form-fitted. But today, there are also several cross-trends, so don’t feel bound to buy snowboard style pants just because you are snowboarding; purchase a pair of pants that feel good to you.

What material should my ski pants / snowboard pants be made of?

Apart from looks, your first decision should probably be what material your pants should be made of. Their main goal is to keep you warm and dry (and, of course, fabulously looking), and there are a few things to consider. In general, you can divide ski and snowboard pants into the following categories:

Hard shell pants are just what they sound like; Just a shell. This means that they provide water protection and breathability, but no insulation. Their advantages are that they are lightweight and give you flexibility in how many layers to wear, but on the backside, you will need more base/mid-layers on cold days.

  • +Flexibility
  • -Need to complete with mid-layers on cold days 

Softshell is a pretty popular material for jackets, as they give you softness, stretch, and excellent breathability at a fair price. When it comes to pants, soft shells are less frequent, and most pants are made of hard shell or functional fabrics (insulated pants). However, one area where the softshells are popular is for tighter, not insulated ski pants. They are stretchy and move with your body, which is great for pants with a slim silhouette. As they are generally not heavily insulated, these pants are for sunny days rather than cold ones.

  • +Soft & stretchy
  • +Great for a slim silhouette pant
  • -Less water protection than hard shell
  • -Generally low insulation

Insulated pants, or functional fabrics pants, are made of multiple layers to deliver the best possible specifications. An outer layer for durability and water resistance, a membrane for breathing, and a layer of insulation to keep you warm. The insulation is generally less than in jackets, simply because you need it less. (While jacket insulation regularly uses 40-80 grams of insulation per square meter, pants generally have no more than 40 grams per square meter.) Insulated pants usually are great versatile pants that will take you through most weather conditions.

  • + The most “complete” pants if you need a pair of waterproof, breathable, and warm pants
  • – Insulation might make it too hot on very hot days

The verdict: If you don’t know exactly what you are looking for, but rather a good pair of pants, you should probably go with insulated pants, as they are suitable for most conditions. If you are specifically looking for a pair of lightweight pants with excellent waterproof ratings, then hardshell pants are what you need. For the slim silhouette look, go with the softshell pants.

Waterproof/breathability ratings

The system for measuring the ski pants’ and snowboard pants’ breathability and waterproof ratings is the same as ski jackets’. It is described with two numbers, for example, 10k/10k.

The first number describes the waterproof and the second one the breathability. Technically, the waterproof number defines how much water pressure is needed to penetrate the fabric (measured in the height of a water cylinder). Breathability is measured in grams and represents how much water vapor can move through 1 square meter of fabric over 24 hours.

If you don’t want to dig too deep into the technical details, the general logic is simple: The higher the number, the better. Translated to weather conditions, this is what you need, speaking in general terms:

  • 5k-10k: Light rain or average snow
  • 15k: Moderate rain or average/wet snow
  • 20k: Heavy rain, very wet snow


If you are riding on hot days, it can be nice to cool down through leg vents, which are zips on your legs, either on the outside or the inside of the pants.

Placing the venting on the inside or the outside is more or less a matter of taste. For example, it is impossible to put it on the outside for a model with cargo pockets.


It is always nice to have some pockets in your pants, as you might not always have your ski jacket on (for lunch / at apres ski or other events).


Braces will ensure that your pants stay in place during more action or if you would like to loosen up in the waist. A lot of models have detachable braces so that you can use them only when needed.

Polycotton lining on knees and seat

When sitting down (or sitting on your knees), it is very comfortable to have an extra lining of a soft material that keeps you warm and comfortable.

Cordura reinforced bottom hem & inside leg

As you walk around with big boots, your legs bump into each other now and then. This is why you want your pants to be reinforced in this area; it simply adds a lot of time to their life span, which is good for you and the environment.


Fitting is of course very personal, but there are a few aspects to keep in mind.

First of all, look for the fit in the ski pants’ / snowboard pants’ description. A regular or straight fit often gives you some space for underlying layers of clothing. If you go for a tight or slim fit, keep in mind that it will be harder to add mid-layers under your clothing. When trying the pants on at home, don’t forget to try it with a base layer underneath as well.

Was that all?

At least a great start. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.