The Best Snow Pants of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

These waterproof pants offer protection in snowy conditions
We tested the best snow pants.

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Snow pants are a crucial piece of gear for getting active in winter conditions. If you’re trudging through snow, skiing deep powder, or hiking in a storm, you need full body protection. These pants should be waterproof and durable while also being breathable and flexible enough for high-energy activities. Weatherproof bibs and pants are an investment, so it’s important to pick the right pair before dropping cash on ones that don’t fit well or lack important features. I took the best snow pants skiing and backcountry touring in Utah and Colorado to determine which are up to harsh winter weather.

How I Tested the Best Snow Pants

I wore all of these pants while skiing and backcountry touring in Salt Lake City, Utah, to evaluate each pair’s waterproofing, comfort, mobility, and features. Then I spent a week at Steamboat Ski Resort in Colorado, where three other testers skied in various pairs for alternative perspectives and more wear. Find the best snow pants determined by field testing below:

Best Snow Pants: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: Stio Environ Bib

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Key Features

  • Sizes: Women’s XS-XL, men’s S-XXL with short, regular, and long inseams
  • Pockets: Two zippered hand pockets and one zip thigh pocket
  • Vents: Side zip vents double as a drop seat
  • Construction: 3L
  • Shell
  • Adjustable suspenders

Pros

  • Fully seam sealed
  • Low-profile suspenders
  • Widest suspender straps
  • Trade-in program

Cons

  • Not the best pockets
The PeakProof three-layer 100 percent recycled polyester 150 denier fabric is topped with a DWR coating.
The PeakProof three-layer 100 percent recycled polyester 150 denier fabric is topped with a DWR coating.

Ashley Thess

The Stio Environs are the thickest three layer bibs on this list. These bibs are extremely water repellent with great beading as the moisture rolls right off. If you’re looking for the best protection in a do-it-all pair of snow bibs, Stio nailed it. The material is durable and extremely weather resistant, but stays breathable for both backcountry touring and resort riding. They feel heavy without being stiff or restricting. The low-profile suspender design makes them easy to get in and out of. And they have the thickest suspender straps on this list, which are very comfortable. 

The double zipper stays in place all day with the snap closure on the inside of the waistband.
The double zipper stays in place all day with the snap closure on the inside of the waistband.

Ashley Thess

The Environs feature dual zipper vents that double as a drop-seat on both sides. I love that the snap closure is on the inside of the waist rather than over the zipper. This allows you to snap your bibs back together to more easily zip up, while still keeping the zipper from accidentally getting pulled down while in motion. A recurring issue though is the bottom vent zipper gets stuck on the small bit of fabric designed to protect your skin or underlayer from the metal zipper.

Double check to make sure your vents are fully closed before entering deep pow.
Double check to make sure your vents are fully closed before entering deep pow.

Ashley Thess

I wish the integrated leg gaiters had more stretch, but there is a grippy texture under the elastic to keep them in place. The pockets are the shallowest on this list, but still capable of storing the essentials. The two hand pockets have microfiber lining, which sounds nice, but in practice I found it to be a bit of a hassle. It makes it harder to slide things inside the already narrow space, retains moisture, and tends to collect crumbs from half-eaten snacks. In the spirit of sustainability, which is hard to come by in performance apparel, Stio’s Environ bibs are climate neutral and come with a Second Turn program that allows you to trade-in and shop used gear to reduce waste.

Best Lightweight Bibs: Mountain Hardwear High Exposure Bib

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Key Features

  • Sizes: Women’s XS-XL with short, regular, and long inseams, men’s S-XXL with short, regular, and long inseams
  • Pockets: Small envelope style pocket at the top and two zippered thigh pockets with internal gear organization
  • Vents: Full side zips with drop-seat design
  • Construction: 3L
  • Shell
  • Adjustable suspenders

Pros

  • Dual zippered side vents that completely unzip
  • Low-profile suspender 
  • Lightweight 

Cons

  • Hook on leg gaiters
The Nano Puff kept me warm for six hours in snowy conditions.
Mountain Hardwear’s Gore-Tex C-knit 40 denier three layer bib pants are lightweight and efficient at blocking wind and water.

Ashley Thess

These bibs are incredibly lightweight and while the fabric may look like it’s starting to wet out in heavy precipitation, moisture never penetrated the shell. The low-profile suspenders are comfortable and allow you to maneuver in and out easily. There’s plenty of room for layers and great mobility. One tester fit a knee brace underneath while skiing. Both sides have 21-inch dual zippers that drop the seat completely down. Though they have snaps outside the zipper which I find myself fumbling with, making zipping them back up annoying. 

The High Exposure bibs are thin and lightweight, but they never wet out.
The High Exposure bibs are thin and lightweight, but they never wet out.

Ashley Thess

The envelope pocket on the left chest is too small to comfortably fit my phone, but it’s perfect for a ski pass or car key. The thigh pockets are deep with a mesh sleeve in the right pocket and an elastic band and fabric key loop inside the left for organization.

Whether I was earning my turns or cruising at the resort, these bibs kept me dry and comfortable.
Whether I was earning my turns or cruising at the resort, these bibs kept me dry and comfortable.

Brady Evans

The leg gaiters could have more stretch, and the hook is annoying if you adjust your boots frequently because it catches on the latches or straps of ski boots. The hems also feature a drawstring closure as well for any kind of footwear. Overall, these are great pants for touring, resort riding, and all other snow sports. 

Most Versatile Pants: MEC Helix Pants

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Key Features

  • Sizes: Women’s XS-XXL, men’s XS-XXL
  • Pockets: Two thigh pockets
  • Vents: Dual zippered outer thigh vents
  • Construction: 3L
  • Shell

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Fully seam sealed
  • RECCO

Cons

  • Runs large
  • Snow clings to kick patches
The bright yellow hue of these pants made them easy to spot in white-out conditions.
The bright yellow hue of these pants made them easy to spot in white-out conditions.

Ashley Thess

Mountain Equipment Company’s Helix pants are hardcore shell pants that are very comfortable. They’re extremely waterproof and moisture rolled right off. Perhaps due to the Canadian sizing, they do run a little large, but the generous elastic waistband and breathable 3L construction made me love wearing them anyway, just with a belt. 

These three-layer, DWR-treated pants had excellent beading and never wetted out.
These three-layer, DWR-treated pants had excellent beading and never wetted out.

Ashley Thess

The dual zipper vents allow you to dump heat efficiently, and the deep thigh pockets can store your essentials. The integrated leg gaiters have generous elastic to easily pull them over your boots. The band is lined with grippy material to keep them in place. These pants are also equipped with searchable RECCO tech if you’re lost or buried in an avalanche. 

The Helix snow pants are made of recycled nylon.
The Helix snow pants are made of recycled nylon.

Ashley Thess

Snow did tend to cling to the reinforced kick patches, but this is only a minor concern, as the moisture never seeped through. These shell pants are comfortable and utilitarian for spending time in the snow sledding, snowmobiling, resort skiing, backcountry touring, and more.

Best Shell Bibs: Helly Hansen Elevation Infinity Shell Bib Ski Pants

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Key Features

  • Sizes: Women’s XS-XL, men’s S-2XL
  • Pockets: One chest, one thigh, two hand pockets, and beacon specific pocket
  • Vents: Zippered outer thigh vents, right side doubles as a drop seat
  • Construction: 3L
  • Shell
  • Adjustable suspenders

Pros

  • Best pockets
  • Never have to reapply water repellency
  • Fully seam sealed
  • RECCO

Cons

  • Breathability
  • Minor durability concerns

The Elevation Infinity bibs use Helly Hansen’s Lifa Infinity Pro technology to achieve a completely waterproof shell that never needs to be re-waterproofed without using harmful chemicals like PFC. The fabric itself is porous enough to allow vapors to evaporate without allowing water inside. It feels thick and never wetted out, even while sitting in a puddle of melted snow or during storms. Though, I think these bibs feel less breathable when working up a sweat. One tester opted to wear them post-skiing for a six hour car ride home, so they aren’t uncomfortable.

My avalanche beacon is facing outward for the photo, but keep it facing your body to protect the screen from damage.
My avalanche beacon is facing outward for the photo, but keep it facing your body to protect the screen from damage.

Ashley Thess

My favorite features on these bibs are the pockets and integrated gaiters. The designated avalanche transceiver pocket has a D-ring to attach your device and the pocket above it is too small for a phone, which encourages you to keep your phone at least 20 centimeters away from your beacon while in send mode to avoid electronic interference. This tiny pocket is perfect for a granola bar, an energy gel, or stowing trash. The large left thigh pocket is deep enough for a small collapsible water bottle and gloves or neck gaiter. The chest pocket also has a D-ring, and I like to keep my phone there for easy access.

The integrated leg gaiters have generous stretch and a grippy lining instead of a clip or hook. I loved how easy these gaiters were to pull up and down over my ski boots. It makes adjusting your boots or heated socks easy and quick without a hook snagging on everything.

The wearer’s right vent has a dual zipper that doubles as a drop seat.
The wearer’s right vent has a dual zipper that doubles as a drop seat.

Ashley Thess

I’m 5-feet, 7-inches and my other tester is 5-feet, 4-inches; we both originally experienced some fit and mobility issues with the Elevation Infinity bibs. I had to hike the straps up pretty far to situate my hips in the right spot for full range of motion. Otherwise when I opened up my hips to ski skate on flat terrain, I was constricted. But, if you snug these bibs up, even curvier wearers can achieve full mobility. It just means you’ll have to reach up your jacket a little farther to utilize the drop seat feature.

The Elevation Infinity bibs sustained a few scrapes on the inside of the knees.
The Elevation Infinity bibs sustained a few scrapes on the inside of the knees.

Ashley Thess

After skiing in these for only a few days, the inside of the knees experienced a few scrapes. I tested to see if the waterproofing was compromised and it wasn’t, but I’m not thrilled to see even aesthetic damage on such a pricey piece of gear.

Best Shell Pants: Ortovox 3L Ravine Shell Pants

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Key Features

  • Sizes: Women’s XXS-XL, men’s S-XXL
  • Pockets: Two extended thigh pockets, with an additional mesh beacon pocket 
  • Vents: Outer thigh ventilation zippers
  • Construction: 3L
  • Shell
  • Adjustable waistband and belt loops

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Entire cuff is reinforced
  • PFC-free and climate neutral

Cons

  • Mesh beacon pocket is within another pocket
There is a small portion of merino wool worked into the waistband.
There is a small portion of merino wool worked into the waistband.

Ashley Thess

Ortovox markets that wool is in their DNA, so they put it in everything. All of their apparel contains merino wool, including these lightweight shell pants. The back of the waistband features a small section of merino wool. While this tiny addition might help you regulate some of that lower back sweat while hiking, climbing, or skinning, the important takeaway is that Ortovox is the only company making shells lined with merino wool. If you’re eager to include more wool in your gear closet, the Guardian line is fully wool-lined for extra warmth, temperature regulation, and moisture control.

The Ravines are super comfortable with an adjustable velcro waistband that works great, no belt necessary. These pants bead moisture beautifully, while being extremely lightweight and breathable. After the Patagonia Powder Town carnage (see The Rest of the Field), I loved to see that the entire hem of the Ravine pant legs are reinforced for abrasion resistance. The relaxed fit gives you full range of motion, and snaps at the bottom allow you to tighten or loosen the cuffs for different footwear. The elastic gaiter also has enough stretch to easily pull it over your ski boots and grippy material to keep it there.

The Ravine has a beacon specific mesh insert in the right pocket.
The Ravine has a beacon specific mesh insert in the right pocket.

Ashley Thess

The extended pocket is plenty roomy. Your beacon connects to a small carabiner and sits in the mesh pocket. I don’t love the idea of having other things in the same pocket as my beacon, for the sake of efficiency in an emergency and things rubbing or knocking the device. But at least the mesh is lined with a bright orange color to easily spot your transceiver. 

Best Insulated Bibs: Helly Hansen Powderqueen Bib Pant

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Key Features

  • Sizes: Women’s XS-XL
  • Pockets: One chest, one thigh, two hand pockets, and beacon specific pocket
  • Vents: Zippered outer thigh vents, right side doubles as a drop seat
  • Construction: 2L
  • Lightly insulated
  • Adjustable suspenders and belt loops

Pros

  • Best drop seat
  • Comfortable
  • Lots of pockets
  • RECCO

Cons

  • Heavier 2L construction

Helly Hansen’s Powderqueen bibs are extremely comfortable and waterproof. The Helly Tech material is breathable and the fit is great with plenty of room for layers and mobility. It’s easy to access the zipper for the drop seat, and there is a hook to easily connect the top for zipping up, then two snaps go over the zipper for security. The fit was fine for me without using a belt. The belt loops seem a little superfluous and would complicate the drop seat, but they are there if you want to keep your pants up without tightening the suspenders.

The Powderqueen bib pants have belt loops and adjustable suspenders.
The Powderqueen bib pants have belt loops and adjustable suspenders.

Ashley Thess

There are tons of spacious pockets on these pants for snacks, your phone, wallet, extra gloves, a collapsible water bottle, and an avalanche beacon pocket that zips and includes a D-ring. Just don’t put any electronics in the temptingly phone-sized velcro pocket overlaying your beacon’s pocket. The chest pocket is too small for my iPhone 13. The integrated leg gaiters aren’t as stretchy as I’d like them to be, but there are expanding zippers at the cuffs of the pant legs. Instead of a clip or hook that can snag, I appreciate the grippy material lining the gaiter elastic.

I love these bibs for resort riding, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them for backcountry touring, unless it’s very cold. They have a bulkier two layer construction and are lightly insulated, making them pretty heavy. They do feature RECCO, which allows searchers with a RECCO detector to find you if lost or buried in an avalanche.

Read Next: I Took an Avalanche Course to Learn How to (Probably) Not Die in the Mountains

Best Insulated Pants: Outdoor Research Tungsten II Pants

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Key Features

  • Sizes: Women’s XS-XXL with short and regular inseams, men’s S-XXL with short and regular inseams
  • Pockets: Zip hand pockets and zip right thigh pocket
  • Vents: Mesh backed inner thigh vents
  • Construction: 2L
  • 85 percent recycled VerticalX Eco insulation
  • Adjustable waist and belt loops

Pros

  • Fully seam taped
  • Insulated

Cons

  • Heavier 2L construction
  • Small vents

These insulated two-layer snow pants are cozy and bright. If you frequently encounter cold temps and long lift lines, these are a great option. The inside is quilted with insulation until just below the seat. These are the bulkiest pants on this list, thanks to their two layer construction and added padding.

The adjustable velcro waistband ensures these pants won’t sag throughout the day.
The adjustable velcro waistband ensures these pants won’t sag throughout the day.

Ashley Thess

Outdoor Research’s Tungsten II pants adequately kept wind and water at bay. The adjustable waist worked well and I didn’t need to wear a belt. The pockets are microfiber-lined, which isn’t my favorite because I tend to shove half-eaten granola bars and the wax from my individual-sized cheese snacks inside and things can get messy. 

The vents are located inside the thighs on these pants to keep snow out.
The vents are located inside the thighs on these pants to keep snow out.

Ashley Thess

The integrated leg gaiters have two holes where skiers can thread an aftermarket power strap to tighten boots while securing the gaiter against snow. I wish the elastic was stretchier, but the lining has grips for keeping it in place. The vents are inside the thighs and lined with mesh to keep snow out. Though, they’re very small, leaving only about 6.5 inches open to dump heat.

Best Lightweight Pants: La Sportiva Crizzle Evo Shell Pant

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Key Features

  • Sizes: Women’s XXS-XL, men’s XS-XL
  • Pockets: One front hand pocket
  • Vents: Zippered outer thigh vents
  • Construction: 3L
  • Shell
  • Adjustable waistband and belt loops

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Main body is seam taped

Cons

  • Only one pocket
  • No integrated leg gaiters
  • A bit tight in the thighs

The Crizzle Evo shell pants are lightweight, waterproof, and breathable. They are thin with no insulation, but the three layer construction blocks wind and moisture. Instead of gaiters, the cuffs of these pants have zippers and multiple snaps to control how tight the leg opening is. These are great for high intensity hiking, snowshoeing, and touring where you’re working up a sweat but need protection from the elements.

I wasn’t cold during a mild tour in 20-degree temps climbing around 1,200 vertical feet, and I felt light and speedy in these pants. I didn’t need to open the vents. They are a little tight if you have larger thighs like me, but I wasn’t inhibited while climbing or skiing down. They only have one pocket, but it is deep enough for a phone and small snack. These pack down small as an emergency layer, too.

The Rest of the Field

Here is the most offensive tear. It wasn’t able to penetrate the reinforced cuff, but I still expect more durability from the best snow pants.
Here is the most offensive tear. It wasn’t able to penetrate the reinforced cuff, but I still expect more durability from the best snow pants.

Ashley Thess

While I wanted to like the Patagonia Powder Town pants because they’re relatively affordable and have a comfortable fit, after just a few days of resort skiing the ends of both legs developed wear including abrasion marks and multiple actual tears. My personal skiing philosophy is that if you aren’t falling, you aren’t trying hard enough so the best snow pants absolutely have to hold up to a few branches and ski slashes.

Snow pants are expensive. There is no getting around it. There are budget pairs out there, but you’ll likely have to sacrifice some features, or performance. So I want to bring your attention to the rest of the field: gear you already own. I skied for years wearing a pair of bibs designed for sailing. They’re waterproof; aren’t they? Sure, they didn’t have vents, but it was still a quality shell that kept me dry. If you have cold weather fishing or hunting gear, that might work just fine. Even rain pants with enough room underneath for an insulative layer could do the trick.

Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Snow Pants

Tester sits in the snow in best snow pants.
The best snow pants are waterproof and allow for a full range of motion.

Ashley Thess

All of the snow pants on this list performed well during testing for waterproofing, breathability, and mobility, the most important qualities. They all feature reinforced kick patches at the hems to protect against skis, snowshoes, crampons, and whatever else they encounter. There are also zippered vents on all of these pants because temperature regulation during freezing conditions is no joke. If you start to sweat and can’t dump heat, you’ll likely be cold for the rest of the day. In the search for the best snow pants, these features are non-negotiables. But there are additional decisions to be made.

Bibs vs Pants

Plenty of the products on this list come in both pants and bibs models. When deciding whether you want snow pants or bibs, consider the advantages and disadvantages of both. Bibs will keep out more snow, even when you fall or make a snow angel. They can also keep your under layers tucked in and in order, and sometimes offer an additional chest pocket.

Pants are a little freer, with no suspender straps to deal with. This can be especially nice if you already have a backpack and avalanche beacon harness on. Though, oftentimes pants require a belt. Pants are also sometimes easier to deal with when nature calls. All of the bibs on this list have drop seat features, so you don’t have to completely remove your upper outer layer to take off your bibs.

2L vs 3L

You might have noticed the spec listed for each pair of pants noted ‘construction.’ This refers to two- or three-layer construction. When it comes to shells, two-layer construction means that there is no integrated liner to protect the shell from your skin. It is just the exterior fabric and a waterproof membrane. That means the manufacturer has to add a liner, creating more bulk with an entirely separate layer of fabric.

Three-layer construction is more streamlined and breathable because the exterior material, waterproof membrane, and liner are combined. This means there is no need for another liner. Both two- and three-layer materials can create great shells, but if you plan on spending a lot of time hiking, climbing, and skinning, snow pants with three-layer construction will be lighter and more breathable because your sweat doesn’t have to also travel through a separate liner.

FAQs

Q: Do snow pants need to be waterproof?

Yes, snow pants need to be waterproof. 

Q: How should snow pants fit?

Snow pants should fit you snugly enough that they aren’t falling down or inhibiting your movement. But they should be loose enough to accommodate your thermal underwear, and possibly another layer in extremely cold conditions.

Q: Can you ski without snow pants?

Yes, you can ski without snow pants, but you do need a pair of waterproof pants. If you already have boating, hunting, or hiking pants or bibs that are waterproof, you can make do. If your waterproof pants are just a shell, like rain pants, you may need to add an insulative layer or two underneath.

Final Thoughts

Enjoying time outside in the snow is inherently more gear intensive than recreating outdoors the rest of the year. It’s key to be prepared for cold and wet conditions, and likely working up a sweat, too. But our picks for the best snow pants can keep you active all year. 

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Ashley Thess

Assistant Gear Editor

Ashley Thess is the Assistant Gear Editor for Outdoor Life, where she edits and writes gear reviews. Originally from Missouri, she now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she keeps an unruly gear closet.

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