The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

The Best Ski Pants for Women

Ready to take some early season laps in the Hemispheres Bib.
By Sarah Sherman ⋅ Review Editor
Tuesday December 17, 2019
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Looking for the best dang women's ski pants on the market? With 6 years of testing and 30+ products reviewed, this review includes 10 top models, tested and assessed side by side. Spending hundreds of hours on the slopes, our ladies took face shots, suffered in cold weather, and grunted through slushy, wet conditions. We evaluated each ski pant based on six important metrics to score each one comparatively. Whether you're looking for a pant that'll go from the resort to the backcountry, keep you dry on your first days out, or simply leave a little more change in your pocket, we have the best options available for you to consider.


Top 10 Product Ratings

Displaying 6 - 10 of 10
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Best Overall Women's Ski Pants


Arc'teryx Sentinel AR Pants - Women's


Editors' Choice Award

$225.24
(55% off)
at Backcountry
See It

79
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 9
  • Fit and Comfort - 25% 8
  • Ventilation - 15% 8
  • Warmth - 15% 6
  • Features - 10% 8
  • Style - 10% 7
Insulation: Thin, brushed liner | Waterproofing: 3-layer Gore-Tex
Weatherproofing
Versatile for resort and backcountry use
Durability
Well-designed pockets
Color and size options (short, regular, tall)
Limited pockets
Price

If you are looking for a pant that can get you through the harshest of days, just as well as spring groomer laps, the Arc'teryx Sentinel AR is calling your name. It's our top-scoring pant for a reason; with bomb-proof construction and weather resistance, fleece lining for comfort and just the right amount of warmth, as well as pocket space for your essentials, these pants are ready for whatever you may throw at them. There's space to layer up underneath them for cold resort laps while also featuring huge external leg vents to dump heat while ski touring. They also have a sleek look that most of our friends and testers find appealing.

The catch? You pay for what you get. The price is high for a pant without many extravagant features, but we like the more minimal, less frivolous approach to ski pants. If it's performance you want, you'll be happy with the results with the Sentinel around your legs. Put it this way — investing in high-quality pants now may mean avoiding buying again next season. As far as women's ski pants go, we haven't found anything the covers all aspects as well as this pair.

Read review: Arc'teryx Sentinel AR Women's Pant

Best Bang for Your Buck


The North Face Freedom Insulated - Women's


Best Buy Award

$79.95
(50% off)
at Amazon
See It

71
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 7
  • Fit and Comfort - 25% 7
  • Ventilation - 15% 6
  • Warmth - 15% 8
  • Features - 10% 7
  • Style - 10% 8
Insulation: 60g Heatseeker | Waterproofing: 2-layer DryVent
Warmth
Color and size options (short, regular, tall)
Performance-per-dollar
Not for harsh elements
Not versatile for backcountry use

The North Face Freedom Insulated ski pant delivers more than it promises. For being low on the price range, it held up considerably well to its weather resistance testing, while garnering compliments on style around the resort. The pant offers a wide range of sizing and color options, and if you're someone who isn't on the slopes every week of the season, these could be just what you're looking for.

That being said, these pants are not perfect. They performed well economically, but are not meant to stand up to prolonged harsh elements, nor are they incredibly versatile in function. With limited venting and breathability, these pants are best for resort use only on days where conditions are relatively dry. Getting the correct fit can also be complicated, but if you can nail that, you'll be set.

Read review: The North Face Freedom Insulated - Women's

Best for Warmth


Patagonia Insulated Snowbelle Pants


Top Pick Award

$118.83
(40% off)
at REI
See It

75
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 6
  • Fit and Comfort - 25% 9
  • Ventilation - 15% 6
  • Warmth - 15% 9
  • Features - 10% 7
  • Style - 10% 8
Insulation: 100% Polyester Taffeta | Waterproofing: 2-layer H2No
Toasty!
Incredibly comfortable
Adjustable waistband
Not many stand-out features
Limited to resort use

Insulated pants are not for everyone, but if they are for you, then the Patagonia Snowbelle Insulated Pant should be high on your list for consideration. From first wear, these pants felt buttery smooth, light, and toasty warm. The adjustable waistband allows for a personalized fit to maintain comfort while on the mountain, and its inner-thigh vents mean that when conditions got warmer during testing, it was easy to increase airflow to regulate temperature. The Snowbelle is a clear upgrade in quality from our insulated budget recommendation.

But, other than their incredible comfort, there are few truly stand-out features on the Snowbelle Insulated Pants. Featuring only two pockets, these pants are designed to simply keep you warm and comfortable while out skiing or riding. If you want something with all of the bells and whistles, we recommend looking at more technical pants. However, if you are commonly too cold while sliding around the resort, this is our favorite option.

Read review: Patagonia Insulated Snowbelle Pant

Best for Bibs


Flylow Foxy Bib


Top Pick Award

$126.00
(70% off)
at Amazon
See It

76
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 8
  • Fit and Comfort - 25% 8
  • Ventilation - 15% 9
  • Warmth - 15% 5
  • Features - 10% 7
  • Style - 10% 8
Insulation: None | Waterproofing: 3-layer Intuitive stretch stormshell
Plenty of pocket space
Drop seat
Appropriate for many functions
Burly
Waterproofing

It's rare to find a product that lives up to the hype built around it, but that is the case when it comes to the Flylow Foxy Bibs. These bibs have everything you'd want for everyday use, while still excelling in a variety of conditions. With thoughtfully placed pockets (the kangaroo pocket quickly became a favorite), a drop seat for easy relief in the backcountry, and a variety of color options, these bibs did not disappoint.

The Foxy Bibs are still on the pricier side when compared to many options, but are reasonable considering their overall functionality. That being said, after longtime use, their DWR coating does seem to fade faster than others. Using a waterproofing wash to increase their longevity is suggested. If you're looking for bibs, these are the first place to look.

Read review: Flylow Foxy Bib

Best for Backcountry Skiing


Outdoor Research Hemispheres Bib - Women's


Top Pick Award

$418.93
(30% off)
at REI
See It

77
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 9
  • Fit and Comfort - 25% 8
  • Ventilation - 15% 8
  • Warmth - 15% 5
  • Features - 10% 9
  • Style - 10% 6
Insulation: None | Waterproofing: 3-layer Gore-Tex C-Knit
Backcountry-specific features
Very comfortable and stretchy
Pocket space
Price
Boxy upper-body fit

If the price isn't a variable, treat yourself to the Tesla of ski touring pants. The Outdoor Research Hemispheres Bib are a comfortable and weatherproof bib that has all of the features one could want while remaining lightweight and not fussy. Strategically placed three-way stretch Gore-Tex means that they move with you in all the right places. To top it off, they come equipped with ample pocket space—including an avalanche beacon pocket—plenty of venting, and top of the line waterproofing to be ready for any adventure.

So, why weren't they the overall favorite? While they come fully loaded with features and tech specs to match, the Hemispheres are one of the more expensive pants we tested. And while they certainly deliver for the price, many of the features are unnecessary for the average resort skier. These bibs are designed with a backcountry skier or rider in mind—if you're the one who sets the skin track, check these out.

Read review: Outdoor Research Hemispheres Bib - Women's


Our favorite testing days for ski pants -- knee-deep pow! The Sentinel AR held up without an issue in these conditions  and more.
Our favorite testing days for ski pants -- knee-deep pow! The Sentinel AR held up without an issue in these conditions, and more.

Why You Should Trust Us


For the past five years, Sarah Sherman has worked in the ski and snowboard industry as a ski and snowboard instructor, marketing professional, photographer, and journalist. Regularly spending more than 100 days a season on snow and a self-proclaimed "gear nerd," there are few things she enjoys more than shop talk and helping others find the right gear for their needs. Throughout her experience, she has learned what makes a product great, as well as which products suit different kinds of skiers and riders. She aims to provide all of the necessary information to get the right product in your hands so that you can have the best days out there, ever.

To accomplish this lofty goal, Sarah and a team of skiing and snowboarding friends spent hours researching the top pants and bibs on the market, finally narrowing down the selection to the top 10 featured here. We bought the pants and wore them sliding and riding for two months throughout California's Sierra Mountains, from Mammoth Mountain to Squaw Valley to Sierra-at-Tahoe, experiencing the whole gamut of skiing conditions. There were spring-like days, powder days, and days where the snow fell more like rain. To ensure each pant received a thorough inspection, specific tests were also conducted. For example, every single pair was put through a two-minute shower test for waterproofing. And throughout it all, notes were taken on their various attributes such as warmth, ventilation, comfort, features, and style.

Related: How We Tested Ski Pants for Women

The OutdoorGearLab shower test in full effect.
Getting some early season rips in the Lofoten ski pants.
Our favorite way to test pants for warmth... In fresh snow.

Analysis and Test Results


In order to effectively rate and test each pair of pants and bibs, we judged them on six different categories: style, weather resistance, fit and comfort, warmth, ventilation, and features. Be sure to pay attention to each rating and is reasoning as you go on, as different metrics may matter more or less to you. For example, if you know you want a pant for ski touring, you will not mind that a pant scored low on the warmth metric, as you probably want an uninsulated pant.

Related: Buying Advice for Ski Pants for Women


Value


When it comes to ski pants, it can be hard to discern what justifies such a range in price. What is the difference between a low priced product and a top-shelf, high dollar one? We dove into the question in our testing, trying out pairs across the price spectrum and analyzing what made them great, or not.

The results were pretty straightforward. If you are looking for a pair of pants to get you through a couple of days a season that will keep you warm and function well, then it usually doesn't make sense to spend a ton. Our Best Buy Award winner, The North Face Freedom Pants, will do you well. They might not be the most durable long term, but what you get for the price is undoubtedly worth it for some. For a small increase in price, the Patagonia Snowbelle provides a stylish and warm product for resort skiing. If you are looking to make a more long-term investment, we recommend the Arc'teryx Sentinel AR Pant. Though it is on the high side when it comes to price, the durability provides value in the long run. These are a pair you can expect to put through the wringer and still get quality performance season after season.

When it comes to insulated pants  we are big fans of the Snowbelle from Patagonia. We also appreciate the price point!
When it comes to insulated pants, we are big fans of the Snowbelle from Patagonia. We also appreciate the price point!

Weather Resistance


Weather resistance was the most important metric we considered during testing. No matter what kind of day you plan on having on the mountain, staying dry is a key factor in your overall comfort and happiness. Nothing ruins a fun day quicker than soggy pants.


To test weather resistance, we not only took the pants out in all kinds of conditions (sun, very wet snow, and cold powdery days), but put each pair through our "shower test"—2 minutes of constant water exposure in the shower, testing zippers, seams, and overall waterproofing.

There were few surprises in these test results. Simply put, the higher end pants generally performed better than the rest. Coming out on top was the Noronna Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Shell Pants. These pants seemed to shed water like an umbrella and, even after two minutes in the shower, seemed almost completely dry after a good shake off. Following close behind were the technical, high-end pants including the Arc'teryx Sentinel AR, OR Hemispheres Bib, and the Patagonia Snowdrifter Bibs. These pants all received 9's for weather resistance with zero leakage and limited absorption of water.

Shower testing the weather resistance of the OR Hemispheres. Our shower test didn't phase them at all  as the water simple beaded up and ran off the outer fabric  and didn't seep through the waterproof zippers.
Shower testing the weather resistance of the OR Hemispheres. Our shower test didn't phase them at all, as the water simple beaded up and ran off the outer fabric, and didn't seep through the waterproof zippers.

Both the Flylow Foxy Bib and Donna 2.1 pants had no noticeable water leakage on the inside, but the outer material seemed to absorb water and felt heavy to wear after exposure. The Burton Avalon Bibs did not bode well during testing, with water seeping through its zippers. Finally, and notably, our Best Buy pick, The North Face Freedom Pant, help up well for its price point with no leakage and minimal water absorption on the outer fabric.

Water seeped through the zipper seams into the inside of the pockets of the Avalon during our intense shower tests.
Water seeped through the zipper seams into the inside of the pockets of the Avalon during our intense shower tests.

Fit and Comfort


When you're on the mountain, the last thing you want to be bothered by is the way your outerwear fits and feels. You want something that feels like an extension of yourself, isn't fussy, and gets the job done. This was kept in mind throughout our testing, as well as mobility and adjustability. While this metric is inherently subjective, we had multiple people try on each pair of pants, comparing how they fit each body type, how the pants moved on and off the hill, and noting how often they needed adjusting.


Ranking at the top of this list are the Flylow Foxy Bib and the Patagonia Snowbelle Insulated Pant, though each for a different reason. The Foxy Bibs were not only simple to get on with easily adjusted straps, but once they were on, they did not feel fussy. The straps remained in place throughout rigorous testing and did not need constant adjusting, as other bibs sometimes do. The legs were roomy with plenty of room for layering, and the material was comfortable and soft. One tester with wider hips did note that she would probably size up, as the material tapers at the hips into the waist, so we do recommend trying on before purchasing to assess fit.

It's a hard job  but someone's got to do it. Out testing and shredding in the comfy and well-fitting Foxy Bib.
It's a hard job, but someone's got to do it. Out testing and shredding in the comfy and well-fitting Foxy Bib.

The Patagonia models ranked highly, thanks to their super soft, buttery, inner lining. Putting these pants on felt like putting on a cloud, and they remained comfortable throughout the day of skiing. A ranking that deserves explanation is the Burton Avalon Bibs, coming in pretty low. The material of the bibs felt stretchy and comfortable, even with the legs of the bibs being a tighter style, but they ultimately scored lower because of sizing and mobility. The pants fit longer compared to others tested and consistently unzipped on the sides when the tester bent at the waist.

Adjustable waistbands are a favorite feature among our testers  and the Snowbelle nails it.
Adjustable waistbands are a favorite feature among our testers, and the Snowbelle nails it.

The Norrona Lofoten Pant scored in the middle of the ranks — it remained comfortable with a baggy fit, but its stiff material means that it felt bulky at times. The Flylow Donna 2.1 Pant felt feather-light and soft, but also incredibly baggy. These would be a great pant for someone who needs room for a knee brace. The Columbia Bugaboo Pant was large at the waist, but thanks to its Velcro adjustable waist, we were able to adjust them to fit as needed.

Zipping up the top bib  which is removable on the Lofoten.
Zipping up the top bib, which is removable on the Lofoten.

Ventilation


Ventilation is the other hand of warmth, and those who ski tour or hike inbounds to less-traveled objectives should pay attention here. You know who you are! While some pants are designed to provide added heat to escape the elements, many are designed to provide merely a layer of protection from wind and precipitation while allowing you to regulate your body heat with vents. This is especially important while ski touring and even skiing on warmer days. To test the ventilation of different pants, we inspected the vents of each pant, the airflow channels, as well as try them out in practice.


Both the Flylow Foxy Bib and Donna 2.1 Pants ranked highly in this category, as they both had inner and outer vents, allowing for maximum airflow through the pants. Some skiers may never need this level of airflow, so we don't consider vents on both sides of each leg to be a must-have. However, for those who do need or desire this level of ventilation, the inner and outer leg vent combo is pretty awesome. Note that the Foxy Bib's upper body portion doesn't vent very well, resulting in a lower score in this metric than the Donna.

Max out your ventilation by opening the inner and outer vents of the Donna 2.1. On top of exceptional ventilation  the thin fabric is also very breathable.
Max out your ventilation by opening the inner and outer vents of the Donna 2.1. On top of exceptional ventilation, the thin fabric is also very breathable.

This is followed by the Norrona Lofoten Pants, which have vents that begin at the boot and go almost all the way up the side of the pant. This is complemented by two-way zippers, which allows for a customizable vent size. The Patagonia SnowDrifter Bibs also ranked highly, with large outer vents that can also be adjusted by dual zippers, similar to the long and sufficient vents on the Sentinel AR.

Our testers found these pants to dump all the heat we needed at the resort and on the way up in the backcountry.
Our testers found these pants to dump all the heat we needed at the resort and on the way up in the backcountry.

Finally, it is again worth noting that many of the insulated pants come with very basic venting, and thus score lower in this category. Ventilation openings on the inside of the leg provide less airflow than on the outside of the leg, and those vents covered with a mesh lining inhibit airflow as well. They do keep snow from entering in deep powder or in a tumble, but most of our testers prefer the free and open vents. Unless it's a particularly warm day, we generally zip up any vents when heading downhill. The Columbia Bugaboo Pant comes with no venting.

The vents are relatively long  but their location on the inner thigh and mesh backing inhibit ventilation.
The vents are relatively long, but their location on the inner thigh and mesh backing inhibit ventilation.

Warmth


On a cold, winter day, having a pair of pants that will keep your legs warm can make all the difference. However, not all pants are designed to be warm. Shell pants are meant to be lightweight and paired with base layers for warmth. That being said, insulated pants will inherently score higher in this category, and shells will score lower. Think about the typical temperatures at your favorite resorts when deciding what level of insulation and warmth you need. To measure warmth, we tested pants in a variety of conditions, including early cold mornings when temperatures reached well below freezing, windy chairlifts, and during hike sessions to get fresh powder.


The Patagonia Snowbelle Insulated Pants ranked the highest in this category, with its 100% polyester taffeta insulation providing warmth even in freezing conditions. This is followed up by the other insulated pants, The North Face Freedom Pants and Columbia Bugaboo Omni-Heat, both of which perform well in colder temperatures thanks to their insulation. The Burton Avalon Bibs are listed as a shell product, but are lined with a thick material that still provides some warmth. These models are the better ones for bitter, cold chair lifts.

The insulation packed into the Snowbelle makes all things cold a little more enjoyable.
The insulation packed into the Snowbelle makes all things cold a little more enjoyable.

The Arc'teryx Sentinel AR is lined with a thin, fleece-like fabric that adds just a touch of warmth. It also makes the pants feel less cold and more comfortable when worn without a pair of long underwear underneath. It is worth noting that, again, most technical shells scored low in this product, such as the Flylow Donna 2.1 Pant, which is incredibly lightweight and has no insulation at all.

Features


Sometimes it's the little things that separate a great product from a mediocre one. And when it comes to ski pants, this is certainly the case. A thoughtfully placed pocket, an added buckle, a key clip, RECCO technology — these are all features that make a difference in your overall experience when wearing a pair of pants or bibs. To rate this, each pair of pants was thoroughly inspected to note each feature that it offered.


The backcountry designed Outdoor Research Hemispheres Bib ranked high in this category, with all of the pockets one could want (both thighs, a kangaroo pocket, and a chest pocket), including an avalanche beacon specific space. They have a drop seat for necessary breaks in the backcountry, an easily overlooked, but greatly appreciated, feature.

The upper body portion of the Hemispheres Bib is well-designed with useful features.
The drop seat of the Hemispheres Bib.

The Hemispheres also feature a ski strap slot to adjust your boots without having to take off the internal gaiters—a thoughtful touch that was also found in the similarly ranked Arc'teryx Sentinel AR. The Sentinel Pant also comes equipped with a key clip and large, articulated pockets. It also has a low profile, removable belt that some of our testers really liked, but others could take or leave.

The removable  low-profile belt included with the Sentinel AR.
The removable, low-profile belt included with the Sentinel AR.

Both the Patagonia Snowdrifter Bibs and the Snowbelle Insulated Pant come with RECCO technology, and the bibs allow drop seat access from either the left or right side, but are fairly simple other than that. The Norrona Lofoten Pants come with a zip on attachment that allows them to be work as bibs, but they do not come with a drop seat nor a wallet specific pocket.

The Burton Avalon Bibs feature a chest pocket and two thigh pockets, but the thigh pockets do not come with zippers, which resulted in a lower score. The Flylow Foxy Bibs came fully equipped with plenty of pocket space, featuring a chest pocket, kangaroo pocket, and two roomy thigh pockets that could easily fit a beacon, a beer, or a phone for music. The other pants' features are generally basic, with maybe an extra pocket for aesthetic purposes.

Checking out features like pocket size.
Checking out features like pocket size.

Style


Feel good, ski good… Or something like that. At the end of the day, style is part of the game when purchasing a pair of ski pants, and matters in buying decisions more than we often acknowledge. While this is inherently a subjective opinion, we consulted with friends and current trends to identify pants that can take you from the slopes straight to the après scene and beyond, considering colors, sizing options, and overall look.


Topping the charts in this category is the Burton Avalon Bibs. These pants were clearly designed with style in mind, looking casual and similar to regular overalls. The Flylow Foxy Bibs, The North Face Freedom Pant and the Patagonia Women's Snowbelle Pant all come in a variety of different colors as well as different length options (short, regular, tall), meaning that there is sure to be an option for anyone's preference. The other pants were average in their style, offering a standard amount of color options and notable design features.

Calling a wrap on a fun day of skiing  AKA testing  in the stylin' Avalon Bib from Burton.
Calling a wrap on a fun day of skiing, AKA testing, in the stylin' Avalon Bib from Burton.

Conclusion


In the end, your personal preferences should take precedence in your purchase decision. But we certainly hope that by providing you with our detailed review, we can help you make the best-informed decision. Not everyone can be expected to rigorously test each pair of pants to find out what is best for them when buying, but we are happy to do it for you and share the results. We hope these reviews allow you to do so, so you can spend less time in the fitting room and more time on the mountain.


Sarah Sherman