Best ski pants 2021: flexible, comfy, protective trousers for the slopes

We've tried and tested the best ski pants to tackle everything from piste to powder

Included in this guide:

best ski pants: skiiers walking on the snow
(Image credit: Curt Nichols on Unsplash)

Welcome to T3's guide to the best ski pants. Ski pants come in as many styles as ski jackets, with specific design features depending on where you intend to use them – obviously it will be on snow, but the requirements of recreational skiers looking to cruise the blues and reds will be different from those of backcountry freeriders or ski tourers.

Not surprisingly, the less demanding your skiing the less you'll have to shell out – one-week-a-year skiers can save their hard-earned for the après-ski action with a perfectly acceptable pair of budget strides such as Decathlon's Wedze 580, whilst the more choosy backcountry brigade will probably prefer something like Picture's eco-friendly Demain or Ortovox's hard-core Pordoi, despite the premium pricing.

Read on for some expert advice on the features to look for, followed by our pick of the best ski pants around right now. Pair any of these with one of the best ski jackets (or the best women's ski jackets), stay cosy with the best ski base layers, and hit the slopes in style.

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Black Friday ski gear deals 2021
We often see decent price-drops on outdoor kit, including winter sports gear, amongst the best Black Friday deals. If you're in the market for some new ski pants, jackets, gloves and so on, we'll be keeping a close eye on prices and reporting on any worthwhile offers as soon as they appear.

How to choose the best ski pants for you

In your hunt for the best ski pants, there are a few key things to look for. Check out the basics first – you need to ensure your ski pants are constructed from fabrics that are waterproof, windproof and breathable for obvious reasons, as well as deciding whether you want insulation (bulkier, heavier and warmer) or just a shell (lighter, looser but cooler – you'll need a decent base layer too with shell pants).

Then you'll need to consider the features – a bib-and-brace can be warmer and more versatile than 'regular' pants but not so convenient when nature calls, whilst pockets with zips are essential to stop your stuff from falling out and snow from getting in. But how many do you need? Some ski pants may have just a couple, others might have several including cargo pockets.

If you're an energetic skier you'll probably prefer the typically looser fit of freeride pants to the usually more snug styling of pants designed for piste skiing, and if you plan to head out into the backcountry vent zips are useful to help you keep your cool. Zippered bottoms make it a lot easier to get the pants over the top of your ski boots, whilst an elasticated boot gaiter is essential to keep snow out of your boots.

The best ski pants you can buy right now

Helly Hansen Legendary ski pants

(Image credit: Helly Hansen)

1. Helly Hansen Legendary ski pants

The best ski pants for most people

Specifications
Insulation: Primaloft Black 60g/m2
Material: Helly Tech Performance breathable, waterproof, windproof
Vent zips: yes
Reasons to buy
+All the essential features+Not too expensive+Men's, women's and junior versions
Reasons to avoid
-No cargo pockets-Too plain for some

Topping our ranking of the best ski pants is the Helly Hansen Legendary. These provides a nice mix of essential features and understated good looks, and at a price that won't break the bank. The 60g/square metre Primaloft Black insulation provides warmth without bulk and at the same time the cut is loose enough that you can easily wear a thick base layer under them on really cold days (our best ski base layer guide can help you out here), whilst the pants' outer fabric keeps the elements at bay at the same time as providing breathability. Features include a Velcro-adjustable waist with belt loops, three zippered pockets, vent zips on the inside of the legs and elasticated boot gaiters – essentially all you need and nothing you don't, and all at a pretty reasonable price.

Ortovox Pordoi ski trousers

(Image credit: Ortovox)

2. Ortovox Pordoi pants

The best premium ski pants

Specifications
Insulation: Merino wool
Material: 4-way stretch breathable, waterproof, windproof
Vent zips: yes
Reasons to buy
+Lots of features+Highly technical construction
Reasons to avoid
-Style won't suit everyone-High-end pricing

The Pordoi is essentially designed as a ski touring/mountaineering pant, but will work fine for other types of skiing, especially more demanding stuff. That's thanks to the combination of a merino wool lining and Schoeller 'C Change' membrane for moisture and temperature management (when it's cold, the membrane closes – as soon as the body becomes too hot, the pores open to release moisture) along with side ventilation zippers to help you stay comfortable whatever the conditions. These ski trousers have a reasonably loose fit and a good selection of zippered pockets, all rounded off with useful features such as burly scuff guards and integrated boot gaiters, which are coated with silicone on the inside. 

Decathlon Wedze downhill ski trousers 580

(Image credit: Decathlon)

3. Decathlon Wedze downhill ski trousers 580

The best budget ski pants

Specifications
Insulation: recycled 60g/m2 wadding
Material: polyester
Vent zips: yes
Reasons to buy
+Lots of features+Great price
Reasons to avoid
-Slim(ish) fit won't suit everyone-Quite plain looks

If you're on a tight budget, the best ski pants for you might well be the Wedze 580, which manage to squeeze pretty much everything you need in a pair of ski trousers, for an extremely low price. They feature a breathable membrane with 8,000mm waterproofing and taped seams, plus recycled wadding for warmth, whilst you can also regulate your temperature with ventilation zips on the inner thighs. There are also several zipped pockets, Velcro waist adjusters and braces and elasticated boot gaiters, and other than the fit perhaps not being loose enough for some riders and a limited range of colourways the 580 really does offer great value for money.  

Picture Demain ski pants

(Image credit: Picture)

4. Picture Organic Clothing Demain ski pants

The best eco-friendly ski pants

Specifications
Insulation: None
Material: Bio-sourced stretch hardshell, breathable, waterproof, windproof
Vent zips: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Good build quality+Eco-friendly+No built-in insulation
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Only two pockets

The first thing you need to know about the Picture Demain pants is that they provide no insulation, so you'll need a good ski base layer beneath them. However, they will make you feel worthy since they're constructed of the company's Xpore nano-porous sustainable membrane made with recyclable polyolefin, and treated with a PFC-free and solvent-free DWR coating to give superior waterproofing and breathability. Their bib design gives added protection from the weather, and features on these loose-fitting pants include taped seams, generously-sized thigh zippers, hem adjusters, super-tough scuff protectors and elasticated boot gaiters with laces hooks. There are only two zippered hand pockets, however, but they are generously sized.

Arc'teryx Sentinel AR ski pants for women, in three colours

(Image credit: Arc'Teryx)

5. Arc'teryx Sentinel AR Pant Women's

The best ski pants for women

Specifications
Insulation: none
Material: N70p GORE-TEX fabric with lo-loft soft shell construction
Vent zips: yes
Reasons to buy
+Belt keeps everything secure+PowderCuffs keep out snow+Slide'n'Loc attachments mean you can link them up with compatible jackets
Reasons to avoid
-Not insulated

If it's a women's cut you're after, the Arc'teryx Sentinel AR ski pants are well worth a look. Reviews praise the fit and freedom of movement, as well as the handy inclusion of a belt to make minor adjustments – say, if you've had too much fondue the night before. GORE-TEX keeps the water firmly out while letting the air in, double side zips provide as much ventilation as you'd like, while powder cuffs stop the snow from making its way into your trouser legs. The Arc'teryx Sentinel AR ski pants aren't insulated – although they do have brushed inner designed to provide a comfy amount of warmth – so these are for milder ski locations or anyone who tends to overheat on the slopes. Finally, there are 'Slide'n'Loc attachments that enable you to link these pants with compatible jackets to create one unified snow suit. 

Dainese HP Hoarfrost ski pants

(Image credit: Dainese)

6. Dainese HP Hoarfrost

The best rugged ski pants

Specifications
Insulation: Primaloft Silver 60g/m2
Material: Dermizax EV stretchable membrane, breathable, waterproof, windproof
Vent zips: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Rugged construction+Removable braces
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Heavy

The Dainese HP Hoarfrost pants will go down well with skiers who give their kit a lot of stick – build quality is excellent and includes padded leg inserts for protection when things get hairy, whilst breathability and waterproofing are great and it's nice to see the combination  of braces, Velcro waist adjusters and belt loops which gives you loads of options for keeping them in place. Additional features include two zippered pockets, zippered thigh vents, zippered hems and elasticated boot gaiters in these well-insulated pants that will keep you warm on the coldest of mid-winter sessions.

Alf Alderson
Alf Alderson

Alf Alderson is a freelance adventure travel journalist and an 'ambassador' for the ski resort of Les Arcs.