Ski Pants, Salopettes and Ski Trousers are all names used to describe clothing which will help keep your legs warm and dry on the slopes. There are a lot of factors which need to be considered when skiing, which can make choosing the best ski pants for you difficult. In this guide, we will outline everything from the types of ski pants, to important features so you can ensure you’re warm and comfortable when you hit the slopes.
Steps to Choosing Ski Pants
Ski pants can be made of many different types of fabric that affect the look, feel and often the waterproofness of the trousers. The type of skiing you will be doing will effect what ski pants will be most suitable.
Shell (hardshell) ski pants are normally made from polyester or nylon. They are often waterproof, windproof and highly breathable. Although they will be lightly insulated they won’t offer the same level of warmth as insulated ski pants.
Shell ski pants are lightweight and less bulky than insulated ski pants, so are often the preferred choice of those looking for added mobility. They are also suited if you are a naturally warm person, where base layers can be added for extra insulation.
They are not recommended for very extreme cold temperatures or if you will be inactive outside for extended periods of time.
Insulated ski pants consist of a waterproof “shell” outer layer with an inner insulated layer, this would normally be fleece, down or synthetic insulation. The level of insulation will often be measured in grams, the greater the number of grams the warmer they will be.
If you feel the cold more or are skiing in very cold areas, insulated ski pants might be the preferred choice over shell pants. Insulated ski pants are however too heavy and warm for Spring skiing, especially as they are also less breathable.
Softshell ski pants are made from a soft woven fabric, in contrast to hardshell ski pants that will ‘rustle’ more.
Softshell ski pants will offer a greater freedom of movement and are highly breathable. For these reasons they are well suited if you are particularly energetic on the slopes. They are more suited if conditions are likely to be relatively dry as they don’t offer the same amount of waterproofness as hardshells. Look for softshell pants that are waterproof if conditions are likely to be wet.
Slim Ski Pants
Cross country skiing is a highly aerobic activity so breathability is key. Freedom of movement is also important. Salopettes designed for cross country skiing will often have articulated knees and be made in a flexible fabric. Although downhill ski pants would be suitable, opt for a slimmer fit pair for ease of movement.
Tights are popular for professional cross country skiers. Regular fleece lined tights that you might wear for cycling or running might also be suitable. However, if it is very cold, leggings might not be warm enough.
Softshell Ski Pants
Softshell salopettes are ideal for touring as they are more flexible than shell ski pants. As you won’t be sitting in chairlifts (where you might get damp) a water resistant pair will be sufficient.
Shell Ski Pants
Lightweight and less bulky than insulated ski pants, shell ski pants will give you more flexibility. Breathability and air vents are important for when you are on the hike up.
Shell Ski Pants
Shell ski pants are ideal for spring skiing or if you are a naturally warm person. They will provide protection from the wind and worn with the right layers, will keep you warm. Choose waterproof ski pants if you intend to be sitting in the snow a lot.
Insulated Ski Pants
If it’s cold, you will need added insulation to keep you warm, especially if you will be standing around a lot waiting for lifts or if you feel the cold easily. Insulated salopettes are too heavy and warm for spring skiing, especially as they will also be less breathable.
It is important that your ski pants are a good fit. This means they should not be so tight that your movement is restricted or too loose you have to pull them up often. They should be loose enough to allow freedom of movement especially around hips and knees (remembering to take into account any layers you may wear underneath.) Adjustable waistbands are useful for adjusting the fit based on the layers you may/may not be wearing.
The fabric of your ski pants will have a water repellent coating to prevent water coming through should you fall or be caught in a snow storm.
There are different levels of waterproofness. For ski pants to be fully waterproof they will also need to have taped seams (sealed seams that prevent water entering through the stitched area of the fabric). Snowproof or water resistant salopettes will protect you from light snow fall but will not keep you dry should you sit or fall in the snow.
Ski pants may also have a waterproof, breathable membrane to prevent water soaking through but let perspiration out. This is especially important if you are an energetic skier or snowboarder. Combining waterproofness and breathability will keep you dry, warm and comfortable out on the slopes.
Whether you are a first time skier or a regular on the slopes it is important that you wear ski pants, rather than regular trousers or jeans. Ski pants have many different features specifically designed with snow sports in mind. Below are some of the key features you might expect to see.
Our Extreme ski pants have a waterproof rating of 10,000 and a breathable rating of 5,000, the highest in the Mountain Warehouse range. The waterproof fabric, waterproof and breathable membrane and taped seams mean they are fully waterproof.
Key features include reinforced scuff guards, zipped ankle openings and integrated snow gaiters. The fleece lining adds warmth and the soft lined waistband makes for a comfortable fit. Our Extreme ski pants also include Recco technology, no other ski pants in our range include these reflectors.
The Extreme ski pant range includes the Voss for men and the Hydro for women and the Falcon for kids (please note our kids Extreme ski trousers are 3,000mm waterproof and 3,000 breathable and do not include Recco reflectors or scuff guards).
Our fully waterproof ski pants are rated as waterproof to 3,000mm (see How is Waterproofness Measured for what this rating means) and have taped seams, as well as being breathable.
Features include integrated snow gaiters, zipped ankle openings and scuff guards. These pants do not have RECCO® reflectors.
The fabric of snowproof jackets has been treated with a water resistant coating that repels water, ideal should you get caught in a light snow shower. As they do not have taped seams they cannot be classed as fully waterproof.
Our snowproof pants have many of the great features of our waterproof ski trousers including integrated snow gaiters, zipped ankle openings and adjustable waistbands.
Choosing the right ski pants is crucial to enjoying a good day on the slopes. Now you have the knowledge, click the links below to check out the Mountain Warehouse salopettes range.