Are ski pants OK for snowboarding?

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Written By Dominic Howard

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Snowboarding is an exhilarating winter sport that involves sliding down snow-covered slopes on a snowboard attached to your feet. To enjoy snowboarding safely and comfortably, having the proper gear, including your snowboard pants, is essential. But can you wear regular ski pants for snowboarding or do you need special snowboard pants?

The short answer is yes, ski pants generally work fine for snowboarding. However, there are a few factors to consider when choosing the right snow pants for snowboarding.

In this blog post, we’ll go over the key differences between ski and snowboard pants, the features to look for and provide tips on selecting the best snowboard pants for your needs.

Ski and Snowboard Pants

While ski and snowboard pants are fairly similar and interchangeable, there are some key differences:

Fit – Snowboard pants tend to have a looser, baggier fit to allow more freedom of movement. Ski pants are often more fitted and tapered.

Insulation – Snowboard pants offer less insulation than ski pants, prioritizing breathability and waterproofing. Thickly insulated ski pants can get too hot when snowboarding.

Articulation – Snowboard pants emphasize articulated knee construction that doesn’t restrict movement. Ski pants focus more on keeping snow out than maximizing motion.

Cuffs – Snowboard pants have scuff guards or gaiters at the cuffs to protect from board contact. Ski pants lack this extra reinforcement.

Pockets – Snowboard pants have cargo pockets and loops to securely carry items. Ski pants pockets are more minimal.

So in essence, snowboard pants are cut looser, and offer more mobility, ventilation, and durability for freestyle riding. But for casual resort riding, regular ski pants can suffice as long as they aren’t too restrictive.

Key Features to Look For

When selecting snowboard pants, either specific ones or dual-use ski pants, here are the top features to look for:

Waterproof and Breathable Fabrics – Quality snow pants will use fabrics like Gore-Tex that block moisture while allowing sweat and heat to escape. This keeps you dry without overheating.

Pant-to-Jacket Interface – Look for a smooth transition between your jacket and pants to keep snow out. Some pants have inner waist gaskets.

Venting Zips – Zips on the thighs or rear allows you to adjust airflow and cooling as needed. Useful for very aerobic snowboarding.

Reinforced Fabric – Durability features like ballistic nylon overlays and scuff guards shield high-wear areas from abrasion and damage.

Pockets – Having multiple cargo pockets provides easy access to snacks, phones, lift tickets, etc. without needing a backpack.

Adjustable Waist – A waist belt, fitted pant liners, and velcro adjusters give a secure, customized fit to prevent snow from going down your pants.

Gaiters/Cuff Systems – Inner gaiters with gripper elastic and cuff reinforcements protect pants from getting caught on and shredded by snowboard edges.

Fit for Layering – The cut and sizing allow fitting base layers underneath without constricting mobility.

So focus on snow pants that have the right mix of waterproofing, breathability, freedom of movement, weather protection, and cargo capacity. Extra reinforcement and ventilation features are ideal for snowboard-specific pants.

Tips for Choosing Ski Pants for Snowboarding

If you don’t want to buy separate snowboard pants, ski pants can work well too as long as you know what to look for. Here are some tips for selecting ski pants that translate well to snowboarding:

  • Choose ski pants with a loose, relaxed fit and articulated knees that don’t limit your range of motion. Avoid very fitted designs.
  • Look for ski pants with ventilation zips to prevent overheating while riding. Vents on the inner thighs are ideal.
  • Ensure the waist is adjustable so you can tweak the fit. A belt, removable bib, or velcro straps allow personalized tightening.
  • Select ski pants with scuff guards and reinforced fabric on ankles and inner cuffs to handle abrasion from your snowboard.
  • Pick pants with durable, waterproof fabric like Gore-Tex to withstand snow and moisture while riding.
  • Seek cargo pockets and loops to have storage capacity for your snowboarding essentials.
  • Try sitting down and strapping into your snowboard to test the mobility before purchasing.
  • For extra protection, you can always use snowboard-specific shell pants over your insulated ski pants.

By following these tips, you can find ski pants that have the right features and unrestrictive fit to also work for casual to intermediate snowboarding.

Top Snowboard Pant Brands

If you want purpose-built snowboard pants with all the best features optimized for riding, these top brands are worth checking out:

Burton – The top snowboard brand, Burton offers high-performance snowboard pants in regular and relaxed fits with features like Vent Zips, Gore Seam tape, and slick style.

686 – Known for durable, articulated snowboard pants with innovative waterproofing like Hydrastash pouches. Offered in a variety of insulation levels.

Volcom – Provides a wide selection of stylish snowboard pants with V-Science 2-layer waterproofing, Zip Tech pant-to-jacket interface, and Powder Skirt.

Dakine – Rugged Gore-Tex snowboard pants with thigh vents, side zips, and tailored fits to allow maximum mobility on the slopes.

The North Face – Trusted outdoor brand with 3-layer hard shell and synthetic insulated snowboard pants featuring reinforcement, vents, and cargo capacity.

Patagonia – Known for eco-friendly yet high-tech snowboard pants focusing on freedom of movement and made with bluesign-approved fabrics.

So for the best combination of breathability, unrestricted mobility, weather protection, and snowboard-specific features, these leading brands have you covered.

Budget vs. High-end Snowboard Pants

Like most performance outdoor gear, snowboard pants come in a wide range of price points. Typically they range from:

Budget (Under $100) – Basic waterproof and insulated snow pants are best for beginners. Lack of some features and durability of pricier options.

Mid-range ($100 – $200) – Offer good performance and features at an accessible price point. Ideal for casual to intermediate riders.

Premium ($200+) – High-end snowboard pants with top technology and construction. A worthwhile investment for frequent riders pursuing advanced freestyle tricks.

On the budget end, major brands like Burton, Volcom, and The North Face offer more affordable snow pants with decent waterproofing and versatility. These are fine for casual resort riding.

In the mid-range, you get all the expected features like vents, scuff guards, cargo pockets, and articulated knees in a durable package from top brands.

For advanced all-mountain riding, the premium, high-end pants offer maximum breathability, unrestricted mobility, and weather protection for aggressive tricks and backcountry. Highly technical fabrics and designs optimize performance.

So consider how often you snowboard and the types of terrain and tricks you take on. Then decide if budget, mid-range, or high-performance pants best match your needs and budget. Any quality snowboard pants will outperform basic ski pants.

Matching Your Snowboard Pants and Jacket

For the most seamless fit and weather protection, you’ll want snowboard pants and a jacket that are designed to work together. Here’s what to look for to match them up:

Same Brand – Getting pants and a jacket from the same brand often means they’re engineered for integration.

Pant-to-Jacket Interface – The waist or inner bib connects smoothly to your jacket with minimal gaps.

Waterproof Zippers – Allows easy zipping pants to jacket without leakage or moisture seepage.

Powder Skirt – Prevents snow going up your backcountry by sealing the jacket to the pant interface.

Insulation Levels – Match the warmth rating of your pants and jacket so one doesn’t negate the other.

Venting – Both pants and jackets offer venting zippers in similar locations to maximize breathability.

Weather Sealing – Storm flaps, wrist gaiters, and other seals create an unbroken barrier.

Hood and Helmet Compatibility – The jacket hood fits over your helmet and connects well to the collar.

Following these tips, you can find a pants and jacket combo that truly functions as a unified system for optimal comfort, weather protection, and versatility when snowboarding in varied conditions.

Caring for Your Snowboard Pants

To get the longest life from your snow pants, whether specific snowboard pants or dual-use ski pants, be sure to care for them properly:

  • Wash in cold water and hang dry after each day of snowboarding to remove dirt, oils, and sweat.
  • Use a waterproofing spray like Nikwax TX Direct regularly to maintain the DWR coating that repels moisture.
  • Avoid soaps, fabric softeners, and dryers, which can degrade waterproofing and breathability.
  • Store snow pants clean, dry, and loose rather than compressed so the fabric isn’t damaged.
  • Repair small holes, seam leaks, and tears with waterproof adhesive patches before they expand.
  • Replace worn-out elastic waistbands to maintain a snug, snow-proof fit.
  • Consider re-waterproofing treatments like Gore-Tex Revivex if the fabric loses effectiveness over time.

With proper care and maintenance, quality snowboard pants can provide many seasons of comfortable shredding before needing replacement.

Finding the Right Fit

Dialing in the right fit is critical for snowboard pants to allow unrestricted movement:

  • Try them on over the base layers you’ll ride in for a real-world fit test.
  • Look for room to layer under the pants while still achieving full mobility.
  • Bend your knees deeply and squat to ensure the pants don’t limit your range of motion.
  • Seek a loose, relaxed fit through the legs rather than a tight, tapered cut.
  • The waist and cuffs should seal tightly over boots and jackets to repel snow.
  • Ensure pants are long enough to prevent riding up and exposing skin.
  • Break in pants before the season for maximum comfort.

Taking the time to assess the fit and allowing room to layer without binding will ensure your snowboard pants move with you, not against you.

To recap, ski pants generally work fine for casual to intermediate snowboarding. But for the best fit, performance, and durability, snowboard-specific pants are recommended. Look for articulated knees, venting, reinforced cuffs and scuff guards, waterproof and breathable technology, and a roomy fit. Match with a compatible jacket for a complete cold-weather riding system. With the right snowboard pants, you’ll stay warm, dry, and unhindered when shredding powder or catching big air.

Frequently Asked Question

1. Are ski pants suitable for snowboarding?

Yes, ski pants can be suitable for snowboarding. Many ski pants are designed to provide warmth, protection, and durability, which are essential for snowboarding as well.

2. What features should I look for in ski pants for snowboarding?

Look for ski pants with features like waterproof and breathable materials, reinforced knees and seat, adjustable waistbands, and ventilation zippers to ensure they meet the demands of snowboarding.

3. Can I use my regular snow pants for snowboarding?

Yes, you can use regular snow pants for snowboarding, as long as they provide adequate warmth, waterproofing, and freedom of movement. However, dedicated snowboarding pants often have added features specific to the sport.

4. Are insulated ski pants better for snowboarding?

Insulated ski pants can be better for snowboarding in colder conditions, as they provide additional warmth. However, in warmer weather or for more active riders, non-insulated or shell pants may be preferred.

5. Do I need specialized snowboarding pants, or can I use ski pants interchangeably?

You can use ski pants interchangeably for snowboarding. Many ski pants are suitable for snowboarding, and vice versa. Just ensure they meet your specific needs and preferences.

6. What’s the difference between ski pants and snowboarding pants?

While there’s overlap, snowboarding pants often have a looser fit, additional reinforcement in high-stress areas, and more style-oriented designs. Ski pants may focus more on a sleek fit and might not have as much emphasis on certain snowboarding-specific features.

7. How do I choose the right size for ski pants for snowboarding?

Refer to the manufacturer’s size chart, consider trying them on if possible, and ensure they allow freedom of movement without being too loose or tight. Adjustable waistbands can also help fine-tune the fit.

8. Are there gender-specific ski pants for snowboarding?

Yes, there are gender-specific ski pants available for snowboarding. They are designed to accommodate the differing body shapes and preferences of men and women.

9. Can I wear jeans or regular pants for snowboarding instead of ski pants?

It’s not recommended to wear jeans or regular pants for snowboarding because they lack the necessary waterproofing and insulation. Ski or snowboarding pants are designed to keep you dry and warm on the slopes.

10. What should I do if my ski pants get wet while snowboarding?

If your ski pants get wet, try to dry them as soon as possible. Hang them indoors, away from direct heat sources, and avoid wringing them out. Properly maintaining your waterproofing will also help prevent this issue.


In conclusion, ski pants can indeed be suitable for snowboarding, provided they meet the essential criteria for warmth, waterproofing, and durability. While there may be some differences between ski and snowboarding pants in terms of fit and style, many ski pants on the market today are versatile enough to accommodate the demands of both sports. Whether you choose to use dedicated snowboarding pants or multi-purpose ski pants, the key is to prioritize your comfort, protection, and freedom of movement on the slopes. Be sure to select pants that align with your specific preferences, the climate you’ll be riding in, and the type of snowboarding you’ll be enjoying, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable experience in the snow.

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