Which snow pants are best?

If you want to stay warm, dry and comfortable when spending time in the snow, you need a high-quality pair of snow pants to keep your lower half protected. Whether you’re skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling or just sledding with the kids, these pants are weatherproof for nearly any activity.

Snow pants are made in several styles, which work better for certain activities than others. If you’re looking for a highly durable, versatile pair of snow pants, The North Face Men’s Freedom Insulated Snow Pants are an ideal choice. 

What to know before you buy snow pants

Type

Snow pants are available in several styles or types that affect how warm they are and what activities they work best for. 

  • Basic: Basic snow pants have a design similar to regular pants, so they have an elastic waist or a zipper fly. Instead of traditional fabrics, they’re made of a waterproof, breathable material that keeps water from seeping inside the pants. 
  • Insulated: Insulated snow pants are like regular snow pants, but they have a layer of insulation within the waterproof material to provide additional warmth. As a result, they have a slightly puffy, bulky feel and appearance. You can’t remove the insulation, so these pants only work well for extreme cold. 
  • Snow bibs: For skiing and snowboarding, snow bibs are your best bet because they come up the chest and have built-in suspenders that prevent the snow from getting inside your pants when you’re moving around. Bibs make it challenging to use the bathroom because they’re more difficult to take off than basic snow pants. 
  • One-piece snowsuits: One-piece snowsuits feature bottoms and a top connected in a single piece. They’re extremely warm and trap body heat well, but they don’t usually lend themselves to layering. It’s also very challenging to use the bathroom in a snowsuit. 

Waterproofing

The fabric used for snow pants features a membrane to provide water protection or a waterproof coating on the exterior that keeps moisture out. Some snow pants have a waterproof rating that ranges from 5,000-20,000 or 5-20k. 

The higher the pants’ waterproof rating, the more waterproof they are. For example, a pair rated 20k can hold 20,000 millimeters of water per 1 square inch of fabric without becoming saturated. On the other hand, a pair rated 5k can only hold 5,000 millimeters per 1 square inch without dripping. 

Keep in mind that some snow pants made of patented, specialized materials like GORE-TEX are waterproof, but they don’t use this waterproof rating system. 

Fit

Snow pants offer a somewhat loose fit that allows you to layer them over other pants. For skiing, snowboarding and other activities, a slimmer cut may work better because it won’t slow you down when you’re in motion. 

Some snow pants offer an adjustable waist so you can customize the fit. They typically have a drawstring cord or Velcro strap to allow you to tighten or loosen the waist. 

What to look for in quality snow pants

Seam design

If the seams on your snow pants aren’t correctly sealed, moisture can seep in. Some pants have fully taped seams, so they’re sealed with waterproof material along their edges. Others have critically taped seams, which means the waterproof material is only applied to seams that are likely to experience heavy moisture exposure. These pants are more affordable.

You can also find snow pants with welded seams, where the edges of the fabrics are bonded to one another to eliminate the seam. These are the most waterproof, but you’ll pay more for pants with welded seams. 

Reinforced backside and knees

Some snow pants have extra material in the seat and knees for added protection from water. Reinforcing these areas can help keep you dry if you fall in the snow or wind up sitting on a wet surface. 

Built-in gaiters

To keep snow out of your pants, snow pants often have boot gaiters at the bottom of the legs. The pants have an elastic band that helps secure these cuffs to your boots so snow can’t work its way inside. 

Scuff guards

You can find snow pants with scuff guards at the inside of the ankle. They’re made of extremely thick, durable material that protects the hem of your snow pants from getting damaged by your boots. 

Venting

Some snow pants feature vents that allow for better air circulation to help regulate your body temperature. Many snow pants have vents inside the thighs, while others have zippers down the sides of the entire leg to allow you to customize the amount of ventilation.

Pockets

Pockets come in handy on snow pants, so you can stash your gloves, lip balm or other small essentials within easy reach. Slimmer-fitting snow pants generally have small pockets that can’t hold much, but you can find looser snow pants with cargo pockets all over the pants that can fit larger items. 

How much you can expect to spend on snow pants

For basic snow pants that aren’t fully waterproof, you can pay $30-$100. Higher-quality pants that offer more protection against water cost from $100-$300, but you’ll pay up to $450 for the most durable, protective options. 

Snow pants FAQ

How long do snow pants last? 

A. It depends on how often you wear your pants and the activities you wear them for. If you’re only wearing your snow pants to shovel your walkway or build a snowman with your kids, you’ll probably get up to 10 years of wear out of them. If you’re using the pants for skiing, snowboarding or other more intense activities, they can take a beating and break down more quickly. For avid skiers or snowboarders, that usually means just a few years of use from each pair. 

What’s the best way to clean snow pants?

A. Always check the care label on your pants, but most snow pants are machine-washable. It’s also a good idea to give the pants a second washing with a waterproofing product to ensure they still offer adequate protection against water. Make sure to air dry the pants to avoid any damage. 

What are the best snow pants to buy?

Top snow pants

The North Face Men’s Freedom Insulated Snow Pants

The North Face Men’s Freedom Insulated Snow Pants

What you need to know: These thick, durable snow pants offer many convenient features and are rugged enough to hold up to all your favorite winter activities.

What you’ll love: They’re made of a durable nylon/polyester blend that’s breathable and water-resistant. They offer a standard fit with a comfortable, adjustable waist. The two pockets are zippered to protect your belongings. They’re available in nine colors.

What you should consider: It can be challenging to find the right size. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top snow pants for the money

Amazon Essentials Men's Water-Resistant Insulated Snow Pants

Amazon Essentials Men’s Water-Resistant Insulated Snow Pants

What you need to know: Thanks to their unique design, these budget-friendly snow pants work well for casual skiing, snowboarding and other light winter activities.

What you’ll love: They’re made of water-resistant nylon and are fully lined for cold weather. They have a D-ring gear attachment point and boot gaiters with a boot hook attachment. The waist is adjustable for a custom fit.

What you should consider: Some buyers find that they’re too baggy in the legs. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

The North Face Women's Sally Long Ski Pants

The North Face Women’s Sally Long Ski Pants 

What you need to know: Made by a well-respected outdoor gear brand, these thick, well-made snow pants work well for skiing, snowboarding and other activities. 

What you’ll love: They feature a DryVent shell that’s waterproof and breathable. The pants also have unique Heatseeker Eco insulation to offer significant warmth. They have zippered hand pockets, belt loops and boot gaiters. 

What you should consider: The bottoms of the pants are flared, which may not suit everyone’s style. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Jennifer Blair writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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