What snow pants are best 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. Having the right snowboarding gear, especially snow pants, can make your time on the slopes much more enjoyable. Snow pants are an essential part of any snowboarder’s gear, as they provide insulation, waterproofing, breathability, and mobility. Choosing the best snow pants for your needs and style of riding can be tricky with so many options on the market.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through how to select the ideal snow pants for snowboarding based on critical factors like fit, fabric technologies, and features. We’ll also provide specific product recommendations in various categories and price points. With the right knowledge, you’ll be able to hit the slopes this winter in snow pants that keep you warm, and dry and allow you to shred in comfort.

Snowboard Snow Pants

Getting snow pants with the proper fit is the most important consideration. Ill-fitting pants that are too loose or too tight will be uncomfortable and hamper your range of motion as you snowboard.

When trying on snow pants, you want a slim fit that’s not constricting. The pants should sit comfortably on your hips without needing a belt. For length, the cuff of the pants should reach just past the top of your snowboard boots without bunching. This coverage will prevent snow from getting into your boots as you ride.

It’s also crucial to account for any base layers and mid-layers you plan on wearing under your snow pants. Trying pants on over just a single base layer may cause you to size down too much.

For optimum comfort and flexibility, look for snow pants that use articulated patterning and gusseted crotches. This mimics the natural movement of your body as you snowboard. Pre-shaped knee construction that curves slightly inward also enhances mobility.

Waterproofing and Breathability

Staying dry on the mountain is essential for comfort and avoiding hypothermia. Snow pant fabric technologies that provide waterproofing and breathability are vital.

For waterproofing, look for pants rated over 10,000mm that use membrane fabrics like Gore-Tex, eVent, or proprietary coatings. These will block external moisture from seeping through while wicking away internal perspiration.

Breathability is measured in grams and indicated by the “g” rating. For high-exertion snow sports like snowboarding, try to find snow pants with a breathability rating of 10,000g or more. This level of airflow prevents overheating and a clammy feeling inside the pants.

Higher-priced snow pants from premium outdoor brands usually offer the best combination of waterproofing and breathability. But many budget-friendly pants utilize similar membrane technologies at an affordable cost.

Insulation and Lining

The level of insulation needed for your snow pants depends on the climate and temperatures where you’ll be riding. Warmer and wetter conditions call for less insulation, while colder and drier areas require more insulation.

For milder resort temperatures around freezing, shell pants with little to no insulation are suitable. The shell provides the waterproof and windproof outer layer while your base and mid layers trap warmth inside. This is the most versatile system that you can layer up or down for varying conditions.

In colder climates and areas with more consistent snow, consider pants with 40-60g of insulation. This can come from synthetic insulation like PrimaLoft or downfilling. Insulated pants help retain heat while keeping weight minimal.

Snow pants intended for the extreme cold may have 80g insulation or more. These are ideal for riders who don’t overheat easily and for frigid locations. However, the heavy insulation can hamper breathability and restrict movement.

Many insulated snow pants have a fixed lining, but some feature removable liner pants. This modular design allows you to adapt to changing temperatures by taking the liner out as needed.

For padding and next-to-skin comfort, mesh and tricot linings wick moisture and prevent chafing. Fleece or synthetic fur adds plush warmth to your snow pants.

Features and Conveniences

Beyond the fabric, lining, and insulation, several other snow pant features affect your performance and enjoyment. Carefully consider the inclusion and execution of these design elements when making your selection:

  • Waist Adjustments – An adjustable waist helps you dial in the perfect fit. Look for pants with adjustable snap or hook closures, integrated waist gaiters with cinch cords, and partial or full waist belts.
  • Leg Zips – Long zips that run along the sides of the legs make it easy to put your snow pants on while wearing boots. Zips only at the leg cuffs can be difficult.
  • Boot Gaiters – Integrated boot gaiters with a closeable cinch cord seal out snow and wind where the pants tuck into your boots. This helps prevent moisture from seeping in.
  • Boot Hooks – Convenient clips on the leg cuffs grab onto your boot laces to prevent the pants from riding up as you snowboard.
  • Belt Loops – Pants with belt loops allow you to add a belt for a more secure fit if needed. Not all snow pants have them.
  • Reinforced Kick Patches – Durable fabric overlays in key areas like the inner thighs and rear add scuff protection. This prevents premature wear from repetitive board contact.
  • Vents – Strategically placed vents with zippers on the thighs or calves provide quick cooling airflow when you get too hot.
  • Cargo Pockets – Zippered cargo pockets give you access to stash small items and essentials. Just don’t overload them to avoid weighed-down pants.
  • Outer Thigh Pockets – Hand warmer pockets on the exterior of the thighs are handy for keeping gloves, hand warmers, or lip balm close at hand.
  • Inner Thigh Pockets – Mesh stash pockets sewn into the inner lining provide quick access to keys, passes, and other small essentials.
  • Fly Convenience – A fly opening facilitates using the bathroom without fully removing your snow pants or untying your boots.

Snow Pants for Snowboarding

Now that you know how to select the ideal snowboarding snow pants based on performance features, fit, and fabric technologies, here are our top picks in 5 categories:

Best Overall – Outdoor Research Skyward II Pants

  • Fully featured 3-layer Gore-Tex shell pants with top-notch waterproof breathability
  • Athletic slim fit with articulated patterning that allows a dynamic range of motion
  • Mesh lined with light insulation for comfort across varying temperatures
  • Convenient conveniences like zip thigh vents, leg zips, and boot gaiter cuffs

Best Insulated – Patagonia Powder Bowl Insulated Pants

  • Durable and breathable 3-layer H2No Performance Standard shell fabric
  • PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Eco for ample warmth down to -4°F (-20°C)
  • Articulated knees and gusseted crotch prevent restriction of movement
  • Mesh and tricot lining with adjustable waist, leg zips, and boot hooks

Best Budget – Arctix Insulated Snow Pants

  • Waterproof and breathable Thermatech insulation provides ample warmth
  • Adjustable waist tabs, belt loops, boot gaiters, boot hooks and cargo pockets
  • 600 Denier Ballistic reinforced ankle, scuff, and hem guards
  • Affordable price point ideal for beginners or those on a budget

Best for Women – Burton Gloria Cargo Snow Pants

  • Bluesign-approved 2-layer DryRide Durashell fabric is waterproof and breathable
  • Embossed taffeta lining with mesh vents adds breathability and style
  • Articulated knees and ergonomic boot gaiters enhance fit and performance
  • Waist adjusters, belt loops, and multiple pockets for convenience

Best Bib Option – 686 GLCR Hydrastash Bib Snow Pants

  • 3-layer Gore-Tex shell fabric offers premium waterproof breathable protection
  • Fully-featured bib design with shoulder straps and adjustable suspenders
  • 40g of PrimaLoft Black Insulation provides ample warmth
  • Large cargo and stash pockets, vents, and a convenient zippered fly

Frequently Asked Question

1. What are the key features to look for when choosing snow pants for snowboarding?

Look for waterproof and breathable materials, insulation for warmth, and durable construction. Additionally, consider features like venting, reinforced knees, and a good fit for mobility.

2. What’s the difference between regular snow pants and snowboarding-specific snow pants?

Snowboarding snow pants are typically designed with extra features like reinforced cuffs, gaiters, and more durable materials to withstand the specific demands of snowboarding.

3. How important is waterproofing in snowboarding snow pants?

Waterproofing is crucial to keep you dry in snowy and wet conditions. Look for pants with a high waterproof rating, typically measured in millimeters (mm).

4. Are insulated snow pants necessary for snowboarding, or can I wear non-insulated ones and layer underneath?

It depends on the temperature and your personal preference. Insulated snow pants provide warmth, but layering can also work if you have versatile non-insulated pants.

5. Should I choose bib-style snow pants or regular ones for snowboarding?

Bib-style snow pants offer extra protection against snow and keep your lower back warm. They’re a popular choice among snowboarders, but the decision ultimately depends on your comfort and style.

6. Are there any specific brands known for producing the best snowboarding snow pants?

Several reputable brands produce high-quality snowboarding snow pants, including Burton, The North Face, Patagonia, and Volcom, among others.

7. What is the ideal fit for snowboarding snow pants?

Snowboarding snow pants should have a relaxed, roomy fit to allow for freedom of movement. Ensure they have adjustable waistbands and articulated knees for comfort.

8. Can I use ski pants for snowboarding, or do I need specialized snow pants?

While you can use ski pants for snowboarding, it’s recommended to invest in snowboarding-specific pants for better performance and durability.

10. How should I care for and maintain my snowboarding snow pants to ensure longevity?

Follow the manufacturer’s care instructions, which usually involve washing with a gentle detergent, avoiding fabric softeners, and ensuring the pants are completely dry before storing them.


With this comprehensive guide detailing the key factors to consider when selecting snow pants for snowboarding, you now have the knowledge to choose the best model suited to your needs. Waterproof and breathable fabric technologies, proper insulation for your climate, articulated patterning, and ergonomic designs all affect on-hill performance. Conveniences like zippered vents, cargo pockets, and boot gaiters also enhance your experience. And getting the ideal fit is paramount to comfort and mobility. Use the specific product recommendations here as a starting point, and always try pants on while wearing your full layering system. With your new favorite snow pants, you’ll be shredding the slopes in warmth and comfort all winter long!

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