Ski pants, also known as salopettes, perform two functions – they keep you cosy in the cold and they keep you dry if the heavens open (or if you end up in a pile of snow during your first ski lesson).
The best ski pants and bibs keep snow out, warmth in and feel comfortable and flexible to wear from first to last lift.
Good salopettes should feature a waterproof outer shell. Like with hiking trousers, you can check how waterproof a pair of ski pants are by looking at their hydrostatic head rating, which denotes the waterproofness of the fabric. While 1,500mm and above is considered waterproof, we’d recommend choosing a pair with waterproofing of 10,000mm or above as a good benchmark for repelling snow and heavy rain, or look out for branded waterproofing technology, such as Gore-Tex.
Taped seams and sealed zips will make your winter-ready trousers even more waterproof. If you tend to get chilly or are heading for cold conditions, we recommend picking an insulated pair of salopettes, and if you plan to work up a sweat, non-lined shell pants are your best bet.
Other key features we’d recommend looking out for include reinforced kick panels on the inner ankles (to protect from wear), snow gaiters inside the cuffs (to keep snow out of your socks) and zippable vents to keep you cool.
A useful safety feature to have in either your ski jacket or ski pants is a recco reflector, which makes you searchable in the event of an accident by bouncing back the directional signal used by rescue teams.
There are myriad salopettes styles to choose from, from super tight to baggy – whatever style you favour, make sure you can fit a base layer underneath.
High-waisted trousers help avoid any snow seeping in if you do fall over. Dungaree-style bib pants with braces are a popular choice – and definitely get our vote, as they’re comfortable, stay put without fuss and keep your torso warm under your jacket.
Try on ski pants in person if possible and take your base layer leggings with you when you go shopping.
Ski pants should be on the long side when you’re wearing socks – that way they’ll sit properly over ski or snowboard boots. Make sure your new pants feel comfortable at the waist – try squatting and bending over to check there’s no restrictiveness.
Expect to spend around £150 for a good quality pair of salopettes, although we’ve got some great options well below £100 in our round-up, too.
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The North Face Team kit bib
We like a ski pant that combines style and substance – and our top pick this season is The North Face’s brilliant team kit bib. The pleasingly retro design and red or blue colourways of these streetwear-inspired bibs will make you easy to spot on the slopes. These will also stay up, no matter how far or fast you roam in the mountains, with a fully waterproofed outer material that repels rain and snow. They have sealed seams, great pockets, zipped sides and articulated knees for ease of movement, and we also love the soft brushed inner material and fully adjustable braces. This very versatile bib pant is available in three leg lengths.
Keela munro bib
Founded in Scotland and named after the Munro mountains of the Highlands, Keela’s bibs clearly mean businesses in the hills. These warm unisex pants are used by mountain rescue teams, and they definitely perform well in the cold. They’re our top pick for long days spent outdoors as they’re super comfortable whether you’re standing, sitting, working or hiking in the elements, even for hours at a time. These have a flattering dungaree-style look despite the necessary bulk that is built-in to keep you warm.
Picture Organic Clothing Aeron bib
If you’re committed to making eco-friendly outdoor kit purchases, Picture Organic Clothing is the perfect place to shop for snow and surfwear. Its lines are all made using organic, bio-sourced and where possible, recycled materials. These bib pants stand out from its women’s ski collection this season, with an outer shell made from repurposed sugarcane waste. The pants are lightweight, stretchy and flexible but still offer 20,000mm of waterproofing – enough to handle the worst of the weather.
Haglofs vassi bib
These technical bibs might be overkill (and overly expensive) for casual winter use, but if you regularly ski the backcountry or work outdoors in tough conditions, they’re an excellent choice. Like all of Haglofs outdoor gear, the vassi bibs are packed with lovely stuff, including a recco reflector and reliable Gore-Tex waterproofing. Designed with dedicated off-piste skiers in mind, they are clad in an outer material that proved very tough and rip-proof as well as fully waterproof, windproof and highly breathable – these pants are bomb-proof, basically. You’ll need to pick warm thermals for underneath as this pair aren’t insulated. A black colourway is available if you aren’t a fan of bright bubble gum pink.
Montane extreme bib
Extreme conditions call for Montane’s unisex extreme bib, designed with Arctic weather in mind and worn by the British Antarctic Survey. These zip-off pants would be too warm for balmy snow days but come into their own in bitterly cold conditions – ideal for working outdoors or for seasonaires in need of high-performing winter gear they can wear day in, day out. These bibs are like a hug to wear, lined with thick soft fleece and designed with flexible articulated knees, but they are on the heavy side at 1.1kg and are better used for mountain adventures rather than for fast-paced skiing.
Helly Hansen powderqueen bib
There’s no need to cast off your favourite corduroy dungarees when winter comes – Helly Hansen makes a fully waterproof version you can wear on snow days. This pair is one of the most flexible and comfortable bibs we tested, staying up even if you’re skiing the backcountry or taking on jumps in the snow park. Despite the soft outer material, these bibs are still waterproofed to 20,000mm and are packed with enough insulation to keep you warm when the mercury drops in the mountains. We like the narrow waist, for extra warmth, and the well-designed bib and braces. The white colourway might get dirty fast, but blue and black are also available.
Mountain Warehouse avalanche pants
Meet our top pick for under £100. Thoughtful design has gone into these ski pants, which were the most stretchy salopettes on test – they may have a slim fit, but they feel comfy and forgiving to wear, with a great high waist lined with soft fleece for extra warmth. The avalanche is true to size and fits well over base layers, with a flattering, almost legging-like look. Extra features include a recco reflector and zipped sealed pockets. Mountain Warehouse has more budget-friendly options on offer, including the moon ski pants for £39.99.
Dare2B effused pants
Shopping for your first pair of salopettes? We recommend Dare2B’s cheerful and very affordable coral pants, currently on sale at under £30. They might not be suitable for the backcountry, but they’ll work a treat for a week of beginner ski lessons. Removable braces and plenty of stretch despite their slim cut make them easy to pop over base layers or to wear alone for winter walks. Despite the pocket-friendly price they’re still waterproofed to a hefty 20,000mm, and different leg lengths are available.
Roxy pop snow summit bib
Want to make a statement in the snow? Roxy’s pattern-heavy pop collection definitely stands out against white winter landscapes. Our pick of the brand’s ski pant offerings are these summit shells, made from recycled polyester and a waterproof outer. The bibs are easy to adjust, with comfortable wide straps, and a front zip makes it quick to pull them on and off. These are shell pants, so you’ll need to wear decent base layers underneath, and they fit on the slim side, so we’d recommend going a size up from your usual.
Columbia wild card pants
These classic ski pants hide a warming secret – a lining, which reflects body heat and makes them very cosy indeed. The other design features include a soft fleecy lining around the waist and well-placed pockets. These are a great choice for skiing because there are effective ventilation zips on the inner thighs – but these do swish together, so might not be ideal for winter hiking. Owing to coming up quite wide, you may want to add a belt to cinch the waist in. The fit is slim, so we’d advise ordering a size up you want to pop base layer bottoms beneath them.
The verdict: Women’s ski pants
Our pick of the pack is the eye-catching and high performing The North Face team kit bib. Exploring in sub-zero conditions? Choose the Montane extreme. If you prefer a pant over a bib, we rate Mountain Warehouse’s comfy avalanche.
Keep warm while on the mountain with our round-up of the best women’s ski base layers
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