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Outdoor Research Carbide Bib Review

These are great bibs that keep the weather out and fit well, at an affordable price
outdoor research carbide bib ski pants review
Credit: Outdoor Research
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Price:  $300 List | $299.00 at REI
Pros:  Good weather resistance, fits great, plenty of ventilation, inexpensive
Cons:  Not warm, short on features, muted style
Manufacturer:   Outdoor Research
By Jeff Dobronyi ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 2, 2021
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 12
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 8.0
  • Fit and Comfort - 25% 8.0
  • Ventilation - 20% 8.0
  • Warmth - 10% 4.0
  • Features - 10% 6.0
  • Style - 10% 6.0

Our Verdict

The Outdoor Research Carbide is a comfortable and weather-resistant bib that performs well in a variety of conditions, and does so at a great price. Skiers wear bibs for one main reason: to keep out snow, water, wind, and anything else that tries to make its way under the jacket's hem. These pants effectively keep the user's torso protected on deep powder days and wet chairlift rides. They don't provide too much warmth, other than the air they trap in their extended height, and they are a bit short on features with only three pockets. But, they look pretty good and fit very well with an articulated cut. There are a few pairs of better bibs out there, but these have the best balance of price and performance.

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Price $300 List
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Good weather resistance, fits great, plenty of ventilation, inexpensiveGreat performance at a low price, tons of features, weather resistant, breathableGreat value, warm, comfortable, relaxed vibesStretchy, soft, comfortable, many pockets, breathableAffordable, warm, comfortable
Cons Not warm, short on features, muted styleLacks good style and warmth, average comfortLimited seam and pocket sealing, less effective vent designNot waterproof, thin material, climbing styleLight on the features, fit is a bit loose, unremarkable style
Bottom Line These are great bibs that keep the weather out and fit well, at an affordable priceAn affordable hardshell that provides great weather resistance, ventilation, and featuresA good insulated ski pant for budget-minded resort skiers who don't need a technical pair of pantsDurable softshell pants for most days on the backcountry skin trackAn affordable and warm pair of ski pants with a bland style
Rating Categories Outdoor Research Ca... Outdoor Research Sk... The North Face Free... Outdoor Research Tr... REI Co-op Powderbou...
Weather Resistance (25%)
8.0
8.0
6.0
3.0
6.0
Fit and Comfort (25%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
Ventilation (20%)
8.0
9.0
5.0
10.0
6.0
Warmth (10%)
4.0
4.0
9.0
3.0
8.0
Features (10%)
6.0
8.0
6.0
8.0
6.0
Style (10%)
6.0
6.0
7.0
4.0
5.0
Specs Outdoor Research Ca... Outdoor Research Sk... The North Face Free... Outdoor Research Tr... REI Co-op Powderbou...
Main fabric 100% nylon 40D 88% Nylon, 12% Spandex 100% Nylon 87% nylon, 13% spandex Nylon
Insulation None None 60 g Heatseeker Eco Polyester (50% Recycled) None Recycled polyester
Waterproofing Pertex Shield 3L AscentShell DryVent (2-layer) Pertex Shield+ (partial) 2-layer waterproof breathable laminate
Waistline construction (elastic? snaps?) Bibs Snap/zipper fly with external velcro adjustment, belt loops Snap and zipper, Velcro tabs for adjustment, belt loops Snaps. Velcro tabs for adjustment, belt loops Button zip fly with hook/loop adjustment
Weight (in pounds) 1.64 lbs 1.32 lbs 1.32 lbs 1.69 lbs 1.64 lbs
Weight (in grams) 744 g 599 g 599 g 767 g 744 g
# of Pockets 3 4 3 4 3
Vents? Exterior thigh Inner thigh zips Inner thigh zips, with mesh Exterior thigh zips, with mesh Interior thigh zips
Ski-specific features Bibs, power strap-compatible cuffs, beacon pocket, scuff guards Scuff guards, powder cuffs, articulated knees, beacon clip Scuff guards, elastic powder cuffs beacon clip and sleeve, scuff guards, touring cuffs, cuff zipper Scuff guards, elastic powder cuffs, elastic waist
Recco? No No No No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

These bibs perform well in the weather resistance and ventilation departments, but they separate themselves from other bibs in the Fit and Comfort metric. Where other bibs come up short, the Carbide pulls off a feat of garment engineering in terms of comfort and tailoring.

Performance Comparison


outdoor research carbide bib ski pants review - the carbide is at home on the resort slopes or deep in the...
The Carbide is at home on the resort slopes or deep in the backcountry, in fair or foul weather.
Credit: sam willits

Weather Resistance


Weather resistance is the most important metric in ski pants generally, and it is also the primary reason why bibs were developed in the first place. The Carbide performs well in this category compared to most other ski pants on the market. These bibs use Pertex Shield as the hardshell material. In our experience, this fabric is almost as waterproof and breathable as the more commonly-known Gore-Tex, while enabling a garment to be sold at a much more reasonable price. In our testing, water never penetrated the pants through the shell fabric. The pocket zippers are not waterproof, which is disappointing, but they are covered by effective storm flaps. In our 5-minute shower test, water eventually started to seep into the pockets through these zippers, but since the pockets are made of Pertex Shield as well, water never made it into the leg compartments.

outdoor research carbide bib ski pants review - the carbide's pertex shield shell fabric effectively blocks all...
The Carbide's Pertex Shield shell fabric effectively blocks all liquid water from penetrating through to the inside of the shell.
Credit: sam willits

Fit and Comfort


We are blown away by the comfortable and sharp fit the Carbide brings to the table. These bibs fit through the leg like nicely tailored pants do, and only open up above the waist, making the legs feel sleek and contoured, while the torso feels comfortably loose, to the point where we forget that we are even wearing bibs. The shell fabric is not as crinkly and stiff as Gore-Tex or other heavy-duty proprietary hard shells, feeling soft on the skin of the user's' legs or through lower body base layers. If you are in the market for hardshell ski pants and haven't considered bibs, put these on your list. You will barely notice that they are more than just ski pants regarding comfort.

outdoor research carbide bib ski pants review - the carbide's legs fit almost perfectly, not too loose and not too...
The Carbide's legs fit almost perfectly, not too loose and not too tight. They are cut with a bent leg in mind, making them more athletic and comfortable in motion. Most importantly, they are not stiff like most hardshell bibs.
Credit: Sam Willits

Ventilation


Most ventilation is accomplished with zippered vents that open the pant to the outside environment and through breathable shell materials that allow airflow through the fabric itself. The Carbide Bib features long external thigh zippered leg vents. These vents are very effective at promoting airflow and venting out warm air from the interior of the pants. Since bibs cover the user's torso, which is one of the warmest areas of the body, it is extra important that bibs have good ventilation to provide comfort on warm days and during high-output activities. The Pertex Shield fabric feels relatively breathable compared to other technical hardshell materials that we've tested.

outdoor research carbide bib ski pants review - large external thigh leg vents help ditch heat quickly when the day...
Large external thigh leg vents help ditch heat quickly when the day heats up.
Credit: sam willits

Warmth


The Carbide's Pertex Shield fabric is soft and thin, especially when compared to Gore-Tex and proprietary membranes found in other bibs. It makes these pants feel less warm because there is less of a physical barrier preventing the conduction of heat away from the skin on, say, cold chairlift seats. The phenomenon also makes the fabric feel more breathable, although the cooler temperatures could very well be due to more heat being conducted away from the body and less due to the fabric being ultra-breathable. Either way, these pants don't retain much warmth, which could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you layer underneath.

outdoor research carbide bib ski pants review - the carbide bibs reach high up the user's torso, trapping warm air...
The Carbide bibs reach high up the user's torso, trapping warm air around the body and giving the bibs some warmth. This doesn't provide too much heat overall, though, in our opinion.
Credit: Sam Willits

Features


The Carbide is on the minimalist side for a bib pant. This helps keep the weight down for backcountry versatility, but it also means that these bibs come up short compared to the competition for inbounds bibs. It has two large hand pockets that are very deep, and one has an internal mesh sleeve and clip for an avalanche transceiver. There is also a chest pocket on the torso panel, which is less useful because this pocket is often buried beneath upper body layers. The pants have belt loops and one side zip that extends from the top of the bib near the armpit down to near the knee for easy entry. The suspenders release with a click, and the bibs also have a front crotch zipper for making bathroom breaks more convenient. The cuffs have large scuff patches to aid in longevity, and the elastic powder cuffs have small slots so that power straps can be adjusted without pulling up and down on the powder cuffs. This also adds to the durability of the pants, as the powder cuffs are often the first thing to be destroyed through normal wear and tear.

outdoor research carbide bib ski pants review - the carbide's hand pockets are very deep, sometimes to a fault...
The Carbide's hand pockets are very deep, sometimes to a fault, because whatever you put in there will slide down and rub on the middle of your thigh, including an avalanche transceiver.
Credit: sam willits

Style


The Carbide is less baggy and loose than other bibs that we have tested in the past, which is a good thing. Still, they don't quite look as "cool" as we wish they did. The fit of the Carbide is the most notable attribute to their style, which is relatively slim and athletic in appearance. The legs are gently tapered from the hips to the knees without producing too much of a curvy appearance. There isn't too much extra material throughout the thighs, knees, and boot cuffs, preventing a baggy and loose look. We wish the color schemes were more intriguing, as the pants are only offered in navy/purplish-blue, burnt red, and black.

outdoor research carbide bib ski pants review - the carbide features a nice and sleek style, but it doesn't look as...
The Carbide features a nice and sleek style, but it doesn't look as "core" as other bib options.
Credit: sam willits

Value


For the performance, these bibs are a great value. They combine excellent weather resistance, a comfortable and athletic fit, and decent style and features into an affordable package that swings well above its weight in terms of price. After testing these bibs, we expected the price tag to be significantly higher. If you are looking for a more stylish pant, you'll have to spend more money.

Conclusion


The OR Carbide Bib is weather-resistant and a comfortable option for both resort and backcountry skiers. It also scores highly for ventilation and has enough features and style to get by on the hill. And despite this high performance, it also comes at an affordable price. If you are looking for protective pair of ski pants for regular use on the hill, even if you don't think you want a bib, consider the Carbide.

outdoor research carbide bib ski pants review - the carbide is a great bib for all types of weather, and feels...
The Carbide is a great bib for all types of weather, and feels equally at home in the backcountry or on the frontside.
Credit: sam willits

Jeff Dobronyi
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