The Patagonia Powder Bowl pants almost match the performance and scoring of our Editors' Choice winner. At one point, in fact, an earlier version of these pants held our Editors' Choice Award. We have virtually no reservations in recommending these pants. The materials, warranty, and tailoring work together to make a product that will last a long time and serve you well. Colors may come and go, fashion-wise, but the performance and other style cues will last virtually forever.
Patagonia Powder Bowl Pants Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Fashionable, carefully tailored, excellent weather protection
Cons: Mesh-backed vents, doesn’t have all the bells and whistles
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Our Analysis and Test Results
These are solid, all-around ski pants that offer good, draping comfort and great weather protection. Patagonia's attention to detail, especially as it pertains to fit and to external water repellency, is unmatched and sets these pants near the top of our lists.
The Patagonia Powder Bowl pants were once our Editors' Choice winner. The Arc'Teryx Sabre currently holds that award, but the scores are very close.
Gore-Tex fabric and Patagonia's excellent water repellant treatment combine with careful tailoring to offer all the weather protection you might want. Only in warm and rainy skiing, over many many hours, might water work in through the cuffs or waistband. Even the excellent water repellant Patagonia applies to the Powder Bowl Pants will wear down with usage and time. There are various ways of regenerating this, but rest assured that your pants will still keep outside water out, even when the outer fabric is wetted.
Patagonia's use of waterproof zippers and pocket flaps augment the weather-proofness of the material. In short, these pants are as weather protective as you need them to be. The only thing that would make them a little more protective against the wind is to make the external fabric stiffer. Stiff fabrics are less likely to press against your legs while skiing or in windy conditions. Shells pressed against your body compress insulation beneath and shrink the internal insulating air space. The Arc'Teryx Sabre is a little stiffer, while the FlyLow Baker Bibs are the stiffest in our test.
Fit and Comfort
Patagonia started out making clothing for rock and alpine climbing. In those contexts, fit and mobility are key. They bring that knowledge and tailoring to the Powder Bowl Pants. These pants fit very well, moving with you and staying largely out of your way. As it pertains to fit and comfort, we are thankful for the fashion trends away from the ultra baggy ski resort gear of a few years back. More closely tailored legs on ski pants move better with the skier or rider and stay out of the way when walking around.
The only usability downside of the trend to narrower leg profiles is that pant cuffs are tighter over ski boots. The latest iteration of the Patagonia Powder Bowl has pant cuffs that take some work to get nestled over ski boot cuffs. All the pants we tested are similarly close fitting at the bottom.
Ventilation of ski pants is provided almost exclusively by vertically oriented zips along each leg. The most effective vents, in terms of exchanging air, are those that have no mesh backing and are oriented along the outside of the leg. Vents are backed with mesh and/or oriented on the inner leg for better protection from snow ingress. The vents of the Powder Bowl pants are on the outside of the legs and backed with mesh. They do the job, but non-meshed vents like those on the Arc'Teryx Sabre or Top Pick Patagonia Descensionist vent even better. Max ventilation is found in the FlyLow models, which have a vent on interior and exterior of each leg.
The highest praise we can give the style of the mustard yellow Patagonia Powder Bowl pants is to reiterate the feedback of one tester. While skiing together, one tester told the one wearing the Powder Bowl, "you kind of turn me on in those pants." These are svelte, smoothly tailored pants. Most ski pants aim for the "cargo" pant look, while the Powder Bowl and Arc'Teryx Sabre, among others, strike a simpler profile. We dig it, with like-colored zippers and minimal pocket accenting.
We tested the uninsulated version of the Powder Bowl. Most skiers and riders seem to prefer their resort pants uninsulated. This way you can add the amount of insulation, in the form of long underwear layering underneath, that you prefer. You can also wear the shell pants alone for the warmest or highest-aerobic-output activities. Even among uninsulated shell pants there are slight differences in warmth. The warmest uninsulated pants are constructed, like the Powder Bowl, with a separate hanging lining. Next come pants like the Ar' Teryx Sabre that are made with three layers of textile laminated into one piece. In this intermediate case, the inner-most layer of textile is fleecy for additional warmth. The least insulating pants are those laminated into one layer, with no fleecy lining. The Patagonia Descensionist and FlyLow Chemical Snow Pants fall into this latter, least-insulating category.
Of the major features we look for in ski pants, the Patagonia Powder Bowl is pretty well equipped. There are four pockets, two of which are lined with fleece for comfortable hand warming. There is a Recco reflector for avalanche rescue/recovery on the lower leg. We wish the Powder Bowl pants were better equipped for carrying an avalanche transceiver, but that is not at all important to many.
These are great, all-around ski pants for all kinds of applications. Warm climates, cold climates, and even some human-powered backcountry skiing are all appropriate in these pants. If you value great comfort and tailoring, look even closer. These are great. It is only in a few very subtle ways that the Editors' Choice winner edges ahead.
These are $300, but the performance, style, and materials will last. Patagonia's warranty and repair service further augment the initial value.
Powder Bowl ski pants are all-around high performers.
— Jediah Porter