Throw out your belts and powder skirts: Bibs offer confidence-inspiring protection against wayward snow, cold drafts, and sagging waistlines. They also provide a considerable bump in storage, allowing you to carry more supplies or ditch your jacket on a warm day. And they’re trendy too, with a combination of laid-back and technical style that has become increasingly popular on the slopes. Below we break down the best ski bibs of winter 2023, including designs for both resort and backcountry skiers. For more information, see our buying advice and comparison table below the picks. Of note: This article includes options for both men and women, but we’ve also written a dedicated round-up on the best women’s ski bibs.
- Best Overall Ski Bib: Flylow Gear Baker Bib
- Best Budget Ski Bib: The North Face Freedom Bibs
- Best Insulated Ski Bib: Flylow Gear Snowman Bib
- Best Bib for Backcountry Skiing: Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell
Best Overall Ski Bib
Best for: Resort
Waterproofing: 3L Intuitive
What we like: Top-notch durability and protection; great freeriding style.
What we don’t: Burly build is overkill for mild conditions and high-output use.
Among the many—and growing—bib options on the market, the Flylow Gear Baker is a true standout. The Baker has a long track record of waterproof performance from its 3-layer Intuitive build and DWR coating, is super tough with tightly woven 150-denier face fabric and 1,000-denier Cordura reinforcements at the knees and cuffs, and has a plethora of pockets secured by water-resistant zippers. And although the Baker’s burly build and roomy, freeride style isn’t ideal in the backcountry, you do get massive side vents (one of which extends to the top of the bib for bathroom breaks) and zippered openings along the inner thigh, which allow you to dump heat on spring days or during the odd boot pack to sidecountry terrain.
There’s a lot of highly protective 3-layer bibs in the game, but few can match the hardwearing construction and laid-back style of the Flylow Baker, making it our favorite design for resort-goers. On the other hand, the Baker will be too much bib for most backcountry skiers: At over 2 pounds, you’ll feel its heft on the skin track (for reference, the Patagonia SnowDrifter Bib weighs 1 lb. 4.6 oz.), and the thick hardshell fabric isn’t great for breathability (the softshell patch at the lower back helps a bit). Additionally, the Flylow’s baggy fit and lack of stretch can inhibit range of motion for skinning uphill. But the Baker is a perfect match for its namesake hill: It’s built to handle anything from wet, unruly conditions to bottomless powder days. And a final note: Flylow now offers the Baker Perm Bibs ($520), which are a better pick for touring with the more breathable Intuitive Perm HD Fabric.
See the Flylow Gear Baker Bib
Best Budget Ski Bib
Best for: Resort
Waterproofing: 2L DryVent
What we like: Excellent price for a proven and tough resort design.
What we don’t: Generic fit; poorly designed internal cuffs.
For weekend warriors and those who don’t want to spend a ton on ski gear, no bib gets the job done like The North Face’s Freedom. We love the value here: For just $199, you get a thick 2-layer construction that’s super durable and blocks out wind and snow effectively. The fit is easy to dial in, with adjustable suspenders and Velcro tabs at the sides of the waist, and the bib is offered in five sizes (S to XXL) and three different inseam lengths. To be clear, the Freedom is a noticeable step down in quality and durability from our top pick, but it covers the bases for resort skiers at a reasonable price.
Keep in mind that although the Freedom bib will do the trick for skiing laps and long chairlift rides, performance-minded skiers will be left wanting more. To start, the fit is pretty generic—there isn’t any stretch built into the fabric, and the no-frills design misses the mark for both laid-back style (like the Baker above) and more technically minded skiers (like the Arc’teryx and Patagonia options below). Moreover, the internal snow cuffs have a tendency to ride up and their top half is built with mesh, making them vulnerable to snow coming through. But we keep coming back to value: the Freedom bibs are a proven choice with a surprisingly long lifespan and undercut most of the competition by $30 or more. And for those who prefer an insulated bib, TNF offers the Freedom Insulated (women’s only), which will run you $220.
See the Men's TNF Freedom Bibs See the Women's TNF Freedom Bibs
Best Insulated Ski Bib
Best for: Resort
Waterproofing: 2L Stark
Insulated: Yes (40g Spaceloft)
What we like: Warmth meets style for the coldest of resort days.
What we don’t: Not as versatile as an uninsulated bib; lacks reinforcements at the knees and cuffs.
With above-the-waist coverage and increased protection from cold drafts and snow, bibs naturally offer a step up in warmth compared to ski pants. But for the coldest days in climates like the Northeast or the Mountain West, you can add even more warmth with an insulated design. Among the myriad options, Flylow Gear’s Snowman (and women’s Sphynx) is a standout pick: You get a thin layer of 40-gram synthetic Spaceloft insulation throughout (enough to add some warmth but not so much that you'll look like the Michelin Man), a softshell back and vents along the inner and outer thighs to dump heat when the mercury rises, and Flylow’s popular clean styling. Tack on durable 120-denier face fabric with a waterproof membrane and soft jersey backer, and the result is a resort-specific ski bib that can handle brutal mountain weather, season after season.
At just $325, the Snowman is one of the most affordable bibs in Flylow’s collection, and the insulated design is especially ideal for those who tend to run cold. However, the materials are a notable step down from what you get with the Baker above: The 2-layer Stark membrane can’t match the waterproofing and breathability of the Baker’s 3-layer Intuitive, and the bib forgoes Cordura reinforcements at the knees and cuffs. It’s true that you won’t need top-of-the-line waterproofing on cold days, but in the end, we think that most skiers will be better off opting for a thicker baselayer rather than an insulated bib. Finally, as we mentioned above, women can save over $100 with The North Face’s Freedom Insulated, although you’ll make a few sacrifices in terms of fit and style.
See the Men's Flylow Gear Snowman Bib See the Women's Flylow Gear Sphynx Bib
Best Bib for Backcountry Skiing
Best for: Backcountry
Waterproofing: 3L AscentShell
What we like: Premium materials offer breathability, mobility, and comfort alongside full-on weather protection.
What we don’t: A bit permeable to wind and no fit adjustment at the torso.
The best backcountry bib doesn’t restrict movement or weigh you down, is breathable and well-ventilated, and features tough fabric and construction that can withstand heavy use. Within this category, the Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell Bib is our runaway favorite. OR’s AscentShell fabric is the key feature here: This best-of-both-worlds material stretches, breathes, and is remarkably quiet like softshell, while offering the waterproof protection of a hardshell. Featuring hybrid-mapped construction, the Skytour smartly patterns AscentShell pants with a stretch-woven softshell bib upper. Tack on a gusseted crotch, articulated knees, and a trim, technical fit, and you get a highly mobile yet protective bib, ideal for everything from bootpacking up summit pyramids to spring-skiing on your local volcano.
But the Skytour falls just a little short in a few performance categories. To start, the relatively thin material and air permeable nature of the AscentShell fabric means it won’t isolate you from harsh wind quite like Gore-Tex (we’ve grown accustomed to pairing the bibs with thick baselayer bottoms on chilly days), and the 420-denier scuff guards can’t match the hardwearing nature of the Flylow Baker’s 1,000-denier Cordura. What’s more, the Skytour lacks a fit adjustment around the torso, which for us results in a fair amount of gaping at the middle back. But most backcountry skiers will see these as minor tradeoffs for a lightweight and mobile bib, and we’ve been highly impressed with the rest of the design, which includes large outer thigh vents, a swing hatch for bathroom breaks, and a wide array of pockets, including an avalanche beacon stash at the chest with included clip.
See the Men's OR Skytour AscentShell Bib See the Women's OR Skytour AscentShell Bib
Best of the Rest
Best for: Resort/backcountry
Waterproofing: 3L PNW
What we like: Fantastic quality, weather protection, and breathability.
What we don’t: Organization could be a little better; runs warm in the torso.
Still a young brand, Trew Gear has really broken through in the ski and snowboard markets thanks to their high-quality and clean-looking outerwear designs. The TREWth Bib (and women’s Chariot) is one of their best all-rounders: the proprietary 3-layer PNW construction is reminiscent of premium Gore-Tex in both look and feel, and you get full seam taping with reinforcements, smooth-operating water-resistant zippers, and bomber coverage that keeps even the wettest of snow at bay. Tack on a high-quality fit and finish and generous side vents that run from knee to chest, and the TREWth Bib is the full package for both resort and backcountry skiers.
How does the TREWth stack up to the legendary Flylow Baker above? Both designs offer fantastic coverage for deep conditions, and their 3-layer builds provide premium moisture resistance. But the Flylow gets the slight edge in organization: the TREWth Bib has three small pockets at the torso—none of which are large enough for a beacon or phone—while the Baker’s extra-large kangaroo pocket is functional and fun. Further, the Trew Gear lacks the extra ventilation and snug fit you get from the Flylow Gear’s stretchy panel at the lower back. On the other hand, it’s lighter by a few ounces and a little more streamlined in general, which makes it a better all-rounder for both resort and backcountry use. Finally, for a step down in price, check out Trew's Jefferson (men’s) and Astoria (women’s) bibs, which feature 2-layer constructions for a more affordable $299.
See the Men's Trew Gear TREWth Bibs See the Women's Trew Gear Chariot Bibs
Best for: Resort
Waterproofing: 2L H2No
What we like: Quality resort design with impressive sustainability chops.
What we don’t: Not a great value with in-house waterproofing.
Patagonia’s all-new Powder Town kit takes the place of their popular Snowshot/Snowbelle for winter 2023. In addition to a range of jacket styles and a standard pant, they’ve also debuted the Powder Town Bibs (offered in men’s and women’s versions). Made in a non-insulated design, it highlights Patagonia’s latest sustainability efforts: The entire bib is PFC-free (perfluorinated chemicals are known to be harmful to the environment), and the shell and lining are 100% recycled. Additionally, Patagonia incorporated some really thoughtful features, including a thicker microfleece panel at the seat to better isolate you from a cold chairlift, vents on the outer thigh, and a kangaroo-style chest pocket with key clip.
At the Powder Town’s $299 price point, you typically start to see Gore-Tex waterproofing in the build, but Patagonia stuck with their in-house H2No membrane. In addition to that small downgrade, the bib doesn’t include any stretch in the construction, and we’d prefer to see multiple inseam lengths offered. Those complaints are enough to drop the bib slightly down our rankings, but it’s hard to find a lot of fault with the Powder Town for everyday resort use. It’s made to last, protective, looks great, and has serious sustainability chops. Like the outgoing Snowshot/Snowbelle, we fully expect it to become a top seller.
See the Men's Patagonia Powder Town Bibs See the Women's Powder Town Bibs
Best for: Backcountry/resort
Waterproofing: 3L & 2L Gore-Tex
What we like: Uncompromised waterproofing, breathability, and freedom of movement.
What we don’t: Expensive.
The Skytour above gets our pick for the top backcountry bib due to its combination of mobility, weather protection, and value, but it’s not Outdoor Research’s premier touring bib. That designation goes to the Hemispheres II here, which ups the ante in terms of waterproofing with 3-layer Gore-Tex w/ C-Knit and patches of 2-layer Gore-Tex w/ Stretch Technology at the gusset and lower back. The result is a fairly uncompromised design: While the Skytour above makes sacrifices in terms of protection—including a softshell bib upper and more air-permeable AscentShell pant (50D)—the Hemispheres is the full package, with a fully waterproof and seam-sealed construction throughout, ample venting, greater durability (70D), and a lighter weight (by 5 oz.) to boot. We wore the first-generation Hemispheres throughout a full season of backcountry and resort skiing and took the updated “II” on the North Cascades’ Isolation Traverse last spring and can confidently say that it’s OR’s most well-rounded bib to date.
What pushes the Hemispheres II Bib down our list is its steep price. At $629, it’ll cost you roughly the same as Patagonia’s premium PowSlayer below, which features a more breathable Gore-Tex Pro build. What’s more, a bib like the Flylow Baker above offers a significant boost in durability (150D) for almost $200 less. But neither has the stretchy Gore-Tex panels of the Hemispheres, which add a significant amount of comfort and mobility for backcountry travel (note: These are smaller on the II but still add noticeable performance). Finally, while we were disappointed with the limited pocket storage on the first-gen Hemispheres, it’s worth noting that Outdoor Research does add a second chest pocket on the latest version, along with an avalanche beacon clip. It all adds up to a formidable backcountry bib for those who consistently get out in harsh and unpredictable conditions—if you’re willing to make the investment.
See the Men's OR Hemispheres II Bibs See the Women's OR Hemispheres II Bibs
Best for: Backcountry
Waterproofing: 3L Lifa Infinity Pro
What we like: Excellent fit and finish and breathable softshell bib upper.
What we don’t: More expensive than the Skytour and less breathable overall.
Helly Hansen might lack the flashy branding of names like Patagonia and The North Face, but the Norwegian company is a ski gear stalwart. Their Odin Mountain 3L is one of our favorite backcountry designs of the year, combining all the features we look for in a touring bib with an excellent fit and finish. The half-bib is flattering on a range of body types, and you get great mobility by way of articulated patterning at the knees and rear and a stretchy softshell upper. Like all of the premium options here, the Odin features a 3-layer waterproof/breathable construction, and Helly Hansen rounds out the build with four pockets (some may prefer another one at the torso), snow gaiters, back-thigh vents, a double drop seat for bathroom breaks, and a RECCO reflector.
In many ways, the Odin mimics the design of the Skytour above, with 3-layer fabric below the belt and supple and breathable softshell above. But there are a few noteworthy differences: For one, Helly Hansen’s in-house Lifa Infinity Pro 3-layer fabric does not feature built-in stretch like OR’s AscentShell, nor can it compete with AscentShell’s best-in-class breathability. On the other hand, it provides a better defense against windy and wet conditions, making the Odin a slightly better choice for areas with warmer winters (such as the PNW). Second, the Odin’s bib is truncated below the chest—a design that offers all of the protection of a standard bib with less bulk—which leads to a lighter overall weight (1 lb. 2.1 oz. vs. the Skytour’s 1 lb. 11.1 oz.). But the difference in price is palpable and most backcountry skiers will appreciate the added mobility of the OR, although we favor the Helly Hansen for sustained wet weather and/or particularly weight-conscious missions.
See the Men's Helly Hansen Odin Mountain Bib See the Women's HH Odin Mountain Bib
Best for: Resort
Waterproofing: 2L Gore-Tex
What we like: Gore-Tex protection at an excellent value.
What we don’t: Step down in performance from the FlyLow Baker above.
REI Co-op’s First Chair is proof that you don’t have to spend upward of $400 for a quality ski bib. At a much more palatable $249, you get great coverage, a durable and waterproof 2-layer Gore-Tex build, and functional organization with zippered chest storage and two thigh pockets along the front. REI also incorporated some mechanical stretch into the face fabric, which is a nice touch for everything from sidecountry hikes to getting on and off the lift, and we think they nailed the styling with a clean and modern look. It doesn’t hurt that you get REI’s excellent warranty to back up the purchase, either.
The First Chair GTX is a nice budget alternative to the Flylow Baker above. Both offer good waterproofing overall and have a moderately loose, freeride-inspired fit that’s easy to layer underneath. But the Baker’s 3-layer construction is a better breather and it’s easier to dump heat with vents on both the outside and inside of the thighs (the REI’s are only at the back). You also get more fit customization with the Baker to maximize protection and comfort on the move—the REI lacks both belt loops and torso adjustments. As a result, we think serious skiers will be better off with the proven Flylow, and those dabbling in the backcountry might want to spend up for the more mobile Outdoor Research Skytour. But for weekend resort-goers, there’s a lot to like with REI’s First Chair.
See the Men's REI Co-op First Chair GTX See the Women's REI Co-op First Chair GTX
Best for: Backcountry/resort
Waterproofing: 3L H2No Performance
What we like: Creative mix of weather protection and comfort.
What we don’t: Durability concerns; Skytour above is a little better for touring.
Patagonia’s backcountry outerwear collection has gone through a number of major revamps over the past few years, but they’ve landed on a real winner with the SnowDrifter Bib. The design essentially has two parts: a 3-layer waterproof fabric with built-in stretch protects you below the belt, while a stretchy softshell covers the upper body. This provides a nice balance of weather resistance (the upper portion isn’t waterproof but does have a DWR coating) and range of motion for steep uphill sections and extended bootpacks. Along with creative two-way zippers at the back that double as a drop seat and large venting system, the SnowDrifter is a formidable season-long option.
Compared to the Skytour above, the SnowDrifter features a simpler design with streamlined components and less bells and whistles, resulting in a noticeably lighter bib (1 lb. 4.6 oz. vs. 1 lb. 11.1 oz.). On the other hand, the Patagoina’s waterproof lower uses a burlier 75-denier fabric (the OR’s is 50D), which helps with both wind-proofing and tear resistance. This makes the Patagonia a bit more appealing for resort days, although the tradeoff is less breathability and stretchiness around the legs. What’s more, some users have had issues with the SnowDrifter coming apart at the top of the inseam, which renders the bib useless. All things considered, we give the edge to the better venting, more mobile, and more durably built Skytour (especially for touring), but the SnowDrifter is nevertheless a solid all-rounder for those who spend time both at the resort and in the backcountry.
See the Men's Patagonia SnowDrifter Bibs See the Women's Patagonia SnowDrifter Bibs
Best for: Resort/backcountry
Waterproofing: 3L Gore-Tex
What we like: A premium freeride bib that’s lightweight yet durable and protective.
What we don’t: Lacks the breathability and mobility of other touring bibs.
Styled for freeriders and built for both the resort and backcountry, Arc’teryx’s Sabre Bib Pant layers burly 80-denier nylon with a waterproof Gore-Tex membrane and soft-touch interior. The end result is an impressively protective yet lightweight (1 lb. 9.6 oz.) bib that’s prepared to handle the most harsh and unrelenting mountain weather. And in typical Arc’teryx form, the Sabre exudes perfection from the cuffs to suspenders, including watertight zippers, durable Cordura gaiters and burly insteps, three simple pockets, and side vents (one of which extends all the way to the top of the torso for barn-door access).
In terms of wet-weather protection, the Sabre is a class leader with its substantial build and proven 3-layer Gore-Tex membrane. As a backcountry or fair-weather piece, however, it does come with some downsides. Most notably, the waterproofing extends all the way up the torso, which impacts both breathability and mobility (we’d love to see softshell fabric or a stretchy vent at the lower back). As such, the Hemispheres II above is a bit more well rounded and comfortable during uphill travel. But as a tough yet reasonably light one-quiver bib for those who spend a fair amount of time at the resort—or in big-mountain terrain—the Sabre will earn its keep.
See the Men's Arc'teryx Sabre Bib Pant See the Women's Sentinel Bib Pant
Best for: Backcountry/resort
Waterproofing: 3L Pertex Shield
What we like: The most affordable 3-layer bib here.
What we don’t: Jack of all trades, master of none.
For deal-seekers who don’t want to compromise too much in the way of performance, look no further than the Outdoor Research Carbide Bibs. Importantly, the Carbide is the most affordable 3-layer design here: For just $299, the bibs breathe better than the 2-layer competition (such as the TNF Freedom and REI First Chair above) and feature lighter and more premium-feeling construction. On top of that, you get all the features we look for in both resort and backcountry designs, with dual side zips for venting (one extends from the torso to knee for bathroom breaks), reinforced scuff guards, a beacon pocket with clip at the chest, and a stretch-mesh gaiter with integrated PowerStrap slot. It all adds up to a capable, versatile, and high-value bib for new skiers and dedicated weekend warriors alike.
But there are some inherent tradeoffs with the low price tag. First off, OR saved some money with Pertex Shield waterproofing, which is competitive with Gore-Tex but lacks a foolproof reputation. Second—and arguably more importantly—the material is noticeably thin at just 40-denier (for reference, the Baker above is 150D). And finally, the finishes don’t feel as high-end as some of the pricier bibs above: The Carbide has zipper flaps rather than water-resistant zips and wrap-around hardshell fabric on the torso (i.e. no venting or softshell fabric). OR’s budget bib is undeniably high on value, but its versatile build means it's master-of-none: Most resort-goers can save with a thicker 2-layer design, and we recommend backcountry skiers spend up $80 for the added stretch and breathability of the Skytour or SnowDrifter above. It’s also worth checking out OR’s freeride-specific Kulshan Storm Bibs ($449), which combine 2-layer Gore-Tex with highly durable fabrics for the utmost in winter-weather protection.
See the Men's Outdoor Research Carbide Bibs See the Women's Outdoor Research Carbide Bibs
Best for: Resort
Waterproofing: 2L Helly Tech
Insulated: Yes (40g & 60g PrimaLoft)
What we like: Just-right warmth, stretchy and comfortable fit, and a great price.
What we don’t: Bibs are prone to showing wear over time.
For a super clean resort bib with a great fit and just-right warmth, give the Legendary Insulated Bib Pant from Helly Hansen a look. The 2-layer waterproof shell is ideal for those who aren’t frequently working up a sweat—and helps keep costs in check—and the Legendary has a touch of PrimaLoft in the butt and knees for cold rides on the lift. We also like the lightweight feel and simple design from the Norwegian company, which comes in a variety of colors and should go with just about any jacket combination.
In terms of movement, the Legendary Insulated incorporates a mechanical stretch fabric that offers extra "give," which is great for both sidecountry hikes and downhill travel. The fit also hits a great middle ground for many skiers: it’s not overly bulky like many options in its price range, but there’s still plenty of room for most folks to layer underneath. Our main issue is with the durability of the fabric. The relatively thin materials and price-conscious build aren’t quite up to par with offerings like the Flylow Baker or Snowman, and the bibs will show more wear over time. But the Legendary Insulated costs far less than those alternatives, and its blend of comfort, price, and performance earn it a spot on our list.
See the Men's Helly Hansen Legendary Bib See the Women's HH Legendary Bib
Best for: Resort/backcountry
Waterproofing: 3L BD.dry
What we like: A durable yet highly mobile bib for those who split their time between the resort and backcountry.
What we don’t: Heavy and (in our opinion) not the most aesthetically pleasing design.
A climbing company at its core, Black Diamond appeals to a similar audience as brands like Arc’teryx and Patagonia, but their offerings often slide in at a lower price point. The Recon Stretch Bib is a great example: For $450, the Recon features a stretchy 3-layer hardshell construction, along with generous softshell panels on both the front and back of the torso. The combination makes for great ventilation alongside fairly decent waterproofing—Black Diamond’s in-house BD.dry membrane doesn’t have the brand cachet of Gore-Tex, but in our testing it’s held up well to wet chairlift rides and falling snow. At just over 2 pounds, the Recon is far from “fast-and-light,” but its mobile and breathable nature—along with a simple yet functional feature set that includes a massive kangaroo pocket, ¾-length side zip for easy bathroom breaks, and streamlined suspenders that minimize pressure points under a pack—gets the job done for backcountry and resort skiers alike.
If you’re drawn to a bib like the OR Skytour above but nervous about its compromises in terms of weather resistance and durability, the Recon Stretch is a nice alternative to consider. In a side-by-side test, the Recon’s hardshell fabric has a similar amount of stretch but is noticeably heftier than that of the Skytour, which makes it more appealing for frigid chairlift rides and severe mountain weather. We also like the built-in belt, which—paired with the Recon’s trim-fitting bib upper—minimizes gaping around the torso (the Skytour has a fairly ill-fitting bib upper). That said, we’re not sure why Black Diamond also added belt loops, and the slim fit might not work for those with broader chests. What’s more, not everyone will love the knee patches (which are purely aesthetic), although BD does make the bib in an all-black colorway. All told, for the 50/50 crowd that splits their time between the backcountry and the resort, the Recon Stretch is a durable and high-performance choice.
See the Men's Black Diamond Recon Stretch Bibs See the Women's BD Recon Stretch Bibs
Best for: Backcountry
Waterproofing: 3L Gore-Tex Pro
What we like: Lightweight protection and a unique half-bib design.
What we don’t: Expensive and lacks durability.
For backcountry skiing and deep powder in particular, the Patagonia PowSlayer Bib offers premium protection in a lightweight package. First, you get a top-of-the-line Gore-Tex Pro shell, which is light and breathable yet still as good as it gets in brutal conditions. Combined with a minimalist upper (like the Odin above, the PowSlayer is essentially a high-waisted pant with suspenders), a relatively thin 40-denier nylon face fabric, and the low weight of just 1 pound 4 ounces, and you get a highly functional yet streamlined bib. Patagonia rounds out the build with two thigh pockets, a stretch-mesh panel at the lower back, side zips, gaiters, belt loops (for use without suspenders), and a RECCO reflector.
What are the shortcomings of the PowSlayer Bib? The most obvious is price—$639 is as much as many people spend for their skis and overkill for most skiers (backcountry and resort-goers alike). Second, 40-denier nylon is thin for a ski bib, requiring added care around sharp equipment and tree branches—if your idea of spring skiing means ‘schwacking through a moss-laden PNW forest, look elsewhere (for reference, the Baker above uses a 150D hardshell, while even the Hemispheres use 70D). In the end, we think the options above are a lot more compelling, but there’s no denying that the PowSlayer’s half-bib design is a nice middle-ground (it provides protection against cold drafts and snow without the added bulk). For those who want to keep things light without sacrificing performance on both the up- and downhill, the Patagonia is more than serviceable.
See the Men's Patagonia PowSlayer Bibs See the Women's Patagonia PowSlayer Bibs
Best for: Resort
Waterproofing: 2L Peak
Insulated: Yes (40g polyester)
What we like: A waterproof and insulated bib for just $199.
What we don’t: Only critically seam sealed and unflattering fit.
REI’s in-house outerwear continues to impress when it comes to bang for your buck, and their Powderbound ski kit is no exception. Overall, we think they’ve put together a solid product with the insulated bib: the 2-layer Peak waterproofing holds up to most winter weather, and a moderate level of insulation (40g) adds a nice dose of protection against frozen chairlifts. Tack on a thoughtful set of ski-specific features—inner thigh vents, boot gaiters and scuff guards, and an assortment of functional pockets—and the Powderbound is well-suited for season-long use at the resort.
At just $199, the Powderbound Insulated goes head-to-head with our top budget pick, but falls short in a few ways. Neither TNF’s DryVent nor REI’s Peak waterproof membranes can match the performance of Gore-Tex, but the Powderbound is only critically seam sealed, which keeps costs low but isn’t great for staying dry in sustained and wet snowfall. Further, while the REI is available in six sizes from S to XXXL, the design lacks adjustability at the waist or torso (a stretch-knit panel at the lower back helps). In the end, if you prioritize a flattering fit, we suggest looking elsewhere. But for a casual and insulated resort bib that also gets the job done for general snow use, the Powderbound is worth a look.
See the Men's REI Powderbound Bib See the Women's REI Powderbound Bib
Best for: Resort/backcountry
Waterproofing: 3L Gore-Tex Pro
What we like: The most premium waterproof/breathable design here.
What we don’t: Expensive and poor cuff reinforcement design.
The award for the most high-end bib on our list goes to Norrøna’s Tamok Gore-Tex Pro here. Not only does the Tamok check in at a premium price point, but just about everything else is as good as it gets, from the 200-denier Gore-Tex Pro Most Rugged shell—Gore-Tex’s reliable waterproof protection, optimized for breathability and durability—to the articulated patterning, artfully laid out pockets and vents, and stretch-woven backpanel. Compared to the similarly premium Arc’teryx Sabre Bib Pant, the Tamok offers top-notch weather protection and durability but goes a step further with a more breathable design and better fit, which also leads to increased comfort.
So why do we have the Norrøna ranked all the way at the bottom of our list? The most obvious answer is price—at $699, it’s the most expensive bib here, and (in our opinion) simply overkill for most, especially considering you can get a decent 3-layer design like the Flylow Baker for hundreds of dollars less. Second, there are issues with the cuff reinforcements, which are barely stronger than the 200-denier face fabric and are prone to gathering an assortment of rips and abrasions over time. And finally, we hesitate to recommend the Tamok for backcountry use: The fairly hefty (1 lb. 12.4 oz.) and rigid build is not great for mobility, and a 3-layer design like the Helly Hansen Odin (1 lb. 2.1 oz.) will be protective enough for most. But if you’re heading into tough conditions and think you’d benefit from the best combination of waterproofing and breathability available in ski tech, consider the Tamok.
See the Men's Norrøna Tamok GTX Pro Bib See the Women's Norrøna Tamok GTX Pro Bib
|Ski Bib||Price||Best for||Waterproofing||Insulated||Weight|
|Flylow Gear Baker Bib||$430||Resort||3L Intuitive||No||2 lb. 1.4 oz.|
|TNF Freedom Bibs||$199||Resort||2L DryVent||No (avail.)||Unavail.|
|Flylow Gear Snowman Bib||$325||Resort||2L Stark||Yes||1 lb. 12.2 oz.|
|OR Skytour AscentShell||$379||Backcountry||3L AscentShell||No||1 lb. 11.1 oz.|
|Trew Gear TREWth Bibs||$439||Resort/backcountry||3L PNW||No||1 lb. 14.7 oz.|
|Patagonia Powder Town Bibs||$299||Resort||2L H2No||No||1 lb. 6.1 oz.|
|OR Hemispheres II Bibs||$629||Backcountry/resort||3L & 2L Gore-Tex||No||1 lb. 6.1 oz.|
|Helly Hansen Odin Mtn||$500||Backcountry||3L Lifa Infinity Pro||No||1 lb. 2.1 oz.|
|REI First Chair GTX Bib||$259||Resort||2L Gore-Tex||No||1 lb. 13.9 oz.|
|Patagonia SnowDrifter Bibs||$379||Backcountry/resort||3L H2No Performance||No||1 lb. 4.6 oz.|
|Arc’teryx Sabre Bib Pant||$650||Resort/backcountry||3L Gore-Tex||No||1 lb. 9.6 oz.|
|OR Carbide Bibs||$299||Backcountry/resort||3L Pertex Shield||No||1 lb. 8.6 oz.|
|HH Legendary Insulated Bib||$220||Resort||2L Helly Tech||Yes||1 lb. 10 oz.|
|Black Diamond Recon Stretch||$450||Backcountry/resort||3L BD.dry||No||2 lb. 0.4 oz.|
|Patagonia PowSlayer Bibs||$639||Backcountry||3L Gore-Tex Pro||No||1 lb. 4.6 oz.|
|REI Powderbound Bib||$199||Resort||2L Peak||Yes||1 lb. 13.3 oz.|
|Norrøna Tamok GTX Pro Bib||$699||Resort/backcountry||3L Gore-Tex Pro||No||1 lb. 12.4 oz.|
- Ski Bibs Pros and Cons
- Best Uses: Resort and Backcountry
- Fabric Types
- Fabric Layers: 3L vs. 2L
- Insulation and Warmth
- Ski Bib Features
- Fit and Sizing
- Layering Underneath Your Ski Bibs
If you’re hitting the slopes this winter, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be doing so wearing either ski pants or bibs. Your final decision will come down to a matter of personal preference, but there are a number of factors to consider when choosing between the two, which we break down below.
The most obvious reason to opt for a ski bib is their significant boost in coverage compared to pants. Forget the powder skirt and lose the belt—with the secure over-the-waist design, bibs excel at keeping out snow and drafts of cold air. This all-out protection is good news whether you’re headed into gnarly mountain conditions or a new skier wanting to stay covered in the event of a fall. As a result of their added coverage, ski bibs also offer a large amount of storage, with pockets generally both at the chest and on the legs. Especially if you plan to go sans ski jacket (if it’s a warm day on the skin track, for example), it’s nice to have the extra storage for anything from a phone and snack to your avalanche beacon. And finally, it’s hard to deny the style points you get with bibs, which are becoming increasingly popular both on- and off-piste.
But there are a few downsides to keep in mind. Most bibs are pricier than their pant counterparts (for example, The North Face’s Freedom pants are $149, while the Freedom Bibs are $199), and the additional material results in a lot more bulk overall, which is worth keeping in mind if you’re trying to streamline your backcountry kit. Bibs also offer a bit less breathability and freedom of movement than pants, although designs with softshell uppers, torso venting, and built-in stretch go a long way towards addressing this issue. And perhaps our biggest gripe about bibs is the hassle of going to the bathroom, particularly for women. That said, a lot of designs feature easy-to-use rear or side zips that get your bibs quickly out of the way when nature calls. For many (us included), the added coverage and storage will be well worth the minor inconveniences.
Many ski bibs can get the job done in both the front and backcountry, but some are designed specifically for one environment or the other. To help with your research, we’ve included a “best for” specification in our product descriptions and table above. Starting with inbounds skiing, these bibs are built tough—you typically get thick and rigid hardshell fabrics that can handle the wear and tear of the chairlift, fully waterproof and windproof constructions, and generous fits for layering. What’s more, some resort bibs are insulated, which can be a great choice for those who consistently ski in frigid temperatures. As a result of all this tech, these bibs can be on the bulkier side (read: heavy and possibly restrictive), which isn’t a big deal for resort skiing but not our first choice for backcountry missions.
On the other hand, bibs designed specifically for the backcountry prioritize mobility and freedom of movement, with some form of built-in stretch (by way of softshell fabric or stretchy hardshell fabric) and an athletic fit. Additionally, breathability is essential—the materials are thinner, and it’s common to see ventilated backpanels and large zippered side vents for staying cool. All-out weather protection can sometimes be compromised in the quest to keep you from overheating (stretchy hardshell fabrics are inherently more air permeable than rigid hardshell), and durability often takes a hit with thinner, lighter weight fabrics. Whether or not this is a good idea for you will depend on your local weather and snow conditions, in addition to your style of touring (for example, you’ll want a fairly durable pant for ‘schwacking through PNW forests in the spring). Finally, storage can vary in all of these models, but backcountry bibs in particular prioritize a large pocket at the chest or thigh (and sometimes both) with a clip for an avalanche beacon.
Hardshell fabric is the name of the game with ski bibs, thanks to its waterproof protection. That said, it’s worth calling out the distinction between various types of hardshell material: namely, rigid hardshell and hardshell with some mechanical stretch. The type of fabric you opt for will depend on where you're skiing (we favor rigid hardshells for resort use) and how much mobility you need (stretchy designs are great for mogul skiers and uphill enthusiasts). And while all of the bibs above feature hardshell pants, some use supple and stretchy softshell fabric in the bib. Below we break down the three material types.
For resort days and extreme mountain weather, it’s hard to beat the protection of a rigid hardshell (Gore-Tex is a popular example of this). Backed by a waterproof membrane, hardshells provide a reliable barrier against wet snow and harsh winds (great for long chairlift rides), and pricier options can have impressively long lifespans. Due to their burly constructions, hardshells aren't particularly breathable, and you'll have to put up with their more rigid feel. But resort skiers generally don’t need an especially breathable or supple bib, and the good news is that most hardshells here have side vents to dump heat on warmer days. The Flylow Gear Baker is a standout example, with bombproof 3-layer protection, a substantial 150-denier face fabric, and long side vents.
Hardshell with Stretch
Hard-charging resort skiers, sidecountry enthusiasts, and most backcountry skiers will want a waterproof bib, but a little extra stretch is an appreciated feature. Designs like the Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell Bibs feature a hardshell construction with built-in stretch, which is a lot more supple than a standard hardshell—you don’t get that rigid and crinkly feel—and places a premium on freedom of movement and breathability. However, you do compromise a bit in the way of all-out protection: stretchy fabrics allow more air to flow than a hardshell, so they’re less impervious to strong gusts. Additionally, they’re more prone to wetting out after extended exposure. But it doesn’t get much better for most backcountry skiers, and it’s for good reason that we see more stretch-infused hardshell pants hitting the market each year.
Softshell material is stretchy, air-permeable, very comfortable (especially compared to hardshell), and offers slightly more insulation than hardshell fabric. But while it’s water resistant, softshell is not waterproof: It absorbs moisture more readily than hardshell, and in most cases does not feature a waterproof membrane. Some ski pants—namely, those for spring backcountry skiing—are made exclusively with softshell material, but we see a lot less of this fabric in bibs (which makes sense, given that bibs place a premium on protection). That said, some designs, like the Patagonia SnowDrifter Bib, do feature a softshell bib (that is, the material above the waist) or patches of softshell in the bib. The added mobility and breathability is a boon for backcountry use and compromises little when paired with a jacket, but you do miss out on the all-out protection of a hardshell design.
Most premium ski bibs utilize a 3-layer construction, which incorporates three separate pieces of fabric: an outer shell, the actual waterproof and breathable membrane, and an inner lining. This construction is less bulky than a 2-layer design (these require a separate, hanging mesh liner along the interior), and also improves breathability and next-to-skin comfort. As a result, 3-layer bibs are more expensive than 2-layer models (3L designs above range from the $299 Outdoor Research Carbide to the $699 Norrøna Tamok) and often involve big names like Gore-Tex and AscentShell. But for serious downhill and backcountry skiers, you won’t find a better combination of waterproofing and breathability in a streamlined design.
Many mid-range and budget ski bibs have a 2-layer construction. These are less breathable than 3-layer designs, although the simple designs often use thick fabrics that are quite durable. We’ve found that 2-layer bibs are perfectly suitable for resort use where ventilation and mobility aren't as important (those skiing moguls or prone to overheating are exceptions). Further, you can save a lot by going this route: the 2-layer bibs on our list range from $199 (for The North Face Freedom) to $325 for the insulated Flylow Gear Snowman Bib.
Given that ski bibs prioritize all-out protection from the elements, quality water resistance is an absolute must. For ultimate waterproofing, look for a rigid (read: not stretchy) hardshell bib with a Gore-Tex membrane, which leads the charge in terms of premium moisture protection. Mid-range and entry-level bibs will utilize manufacturer’s in-house laminates (Trew Gear's PNW and REI’s Peak membranes, for example), which are still waterproof but generally not as breathable or long-lasting as Gore-Tex. Seam taping and a durable water repellent (DWR) coating also are important for hard chargers to keep moisture from sneaking through, and you can revive your bibs’ DWR with a simple spray or wash cycle with products like these from Nikwax). In terms of waterproofing, spending a little more does get you a nice upgrade in quality and longevity.
Backcountry skiers spend less time sitting on a chairlift and more time on the skin track, so many of their favorite bibs prioritize breathability and mobility alongside waterproofing. All of the backcountry bibs above feature waterproofing in the legs, but in this category it’s common to see hardshell with built-in stretch (such as the OR Skytour’s AscentShell fabric). Although they’re waterproof, these fabrics tend to be more air permeable and a bit more prone to soaking up water than rigid hardshell, but the tradeoff is worth it for most backcountry skiers (especially when those venturing out in cold and dry conditions).
Further, we’ve started to see more and more designs (both for the backcountry and the resort) with softshell fabric patterned throughout the bib portion, which adds a nice dose of comfort, mobility, and breathability. Softshell is water resistant but not waterproof, so you’ll want to keep these fabrics covered by a hardshell jacket or high-quality ski jacket in snowy or wet conditions.
As we touched on above, breathability needs are closely aligned with your intended use(s). Resort riders, and especially those who plan to stay on groomed runs, don’t require a light and airy design. Most standard 2-layer constructions will offer sufficient breathability, and you can always select one with large zippered vents to dump a little excess heat as needed (we prefer vents on the outside or back of the legs).
If you venture into the sidecountry, however, plan to mix in some touring days, or are a backcountry enthusiast, breathability then becomes an important consideration. Among waterproof builds, lightweight and stretchy 3-layer constructions are the best ventilators (including Patagonia’s SnowDrifter Bib), and it’s a good idea to look for ventilated or softshell panels in the bib upper. Finally, if breathability is your top priority, it can be worth considering a ski pant over a bib.
Unlike ski pants, which are close to 50/50 in terms of insulated and uninsulated models, most ski bibs are uninsulated. This is for a few reasons: Bibs are already a bit bulky to begin with, and they naturally provide a lot of warmth by way of core coverage and draft protection. They’re also quite popular among backcountry skiers, who prioritize breathability and generally stay away from insulated designs. That said, we do feature a few insulated bibs above, which might be worth it for resort skiers who run cold or who ski in particularly frigid areas like the Mountain West or Northeast.
The vast majority of insulated ski bibs use synthetic fill due to its affordability and its ability to insulate even when wet (unlike goose or duck down). The amount of warmth offered doesn’t vary too widely, and most bibs use somewhere between 40- and 60-gram fill. The ideal amount for you will depend on your local conditions, skiing style (aggressive or casual), and if you’re prone to running hot or cold. Opting for a bib with 40-gram synthetic is a safe bet—you can always add a warmer baselayer pant—and you’ll want to make sure to get a vented design. The Flylow Gear Snowman is our favorite insulated bib of the year, with streamlined 40-gram Spaceloft insulation, outer thigh vents, and a softshell backpanel for added ventilation.
It's also worth noting that even among non-insulated bibs, warmth can vary, especially in windy conditions. This is due to variations in fabric thickness and air permeability. For example, the Flylow Baker's rigid 150-denier hardshell resists wind and traps a good deal of warmth, while the Outdoor Research Skytour's more air-permeable AscentShell fabric (50D) will let in a lot more drafts. If you're really trying to batten down the hatches (as is common for resort skiers), we recommend a thicker hardshell design with no built-in stretch.
Ski bibs see a lot of rough use—everything from boot buckles, metal edges, chair lifts, and pesky branches can wreak havoc on the materials. As a result, they’re a tough bunch overall. The most common way of determining ski bib durability is the fabric denier (D), which measures the thickness of the threads used for the shell material. Most resort-oriented designs are pretty substantial, including the Flylow Baker (150D) and Arc’teryx Sabre Bib Pant (80D). On the other end of the spectrum, touring-focused pants like the Outdoor Research Carbide and Patagonia PowSlayer (both 40D) make the most compromises in durability to maximize weight-savings and comfort. Landing in the middle is Outdoor Research's Hemispheres II (70D), which does an excellent job balancing weight-savings and durability. Finally, it’s worth noting that most bibs include a reinforced patch along the inside of the cuff for additional protection from ski edges (more on this below).
On a ski bib, the bib upper refers to the fabric that wraps around your core and over your shoulders with suspenders. Most bibs extend to cover the chest, but some more streamlined designs (like the Patagonia PowSlayer) feature only a small portion of fabric above the waist, which offers most of the benefits of a ski bib—coverage and additional storage—without the added bulk. The majority of bib uppers are built with the same fabric as the pant legs, but some feature patches of more air-permeable material throughout—this has a number of benefits, including additional breathability (the core is where your body generates the most heat), a better fit, and more comfort and mobility overall. Some backcountry-specific bibs, like the OR Skytour and Patagonia SnowDrifter, take it to the next level with fully softshell uppers.
By design, ski bibs use stretchy suspenders to secure the bib upper around your torso. It’s important that these suspenders are highly adjustable—especially when you don’t get the option of various inseam lengths—and we appreciate designs that easily detach at the front via a buckle or metal clasp. If you plan to wear a backpack, you’ll want to prioritize fairly streamlined suspenders: Bibs like the Outdoor Research Carbide have thick patches at the back and bulky buckles at the chest that can cause pressure points underneath a ski backpack. On the other hand, a bib like the Patagonia SnowDrifter has a low profile that’s purpose-built to pair with a backpack.
Storage is one of the primary ways that ski bibs differ from ski pants, which is especially helpful on warm spring days when you might not need a jacket. Generally, bibs will feature one or two pockets at the chest and a pocket on each thigh—on backcountry-ready bibs, at least one of these comes with a built-in clip for an avalanche beacon (we only recommend storing your beacon in your bib pocket if there’s a clip—otherwise you’ll want to carry it in its included harness). Keep in mind that bibs with low-profile uppers offer less storage—the Patagonia PowSlayer has no above-the-waist pockets, for example—but the benefit is less bulk.
To aid in breathability, most ski bibs offer a zippered ventilation system that amounts to pit zips for your legs. The most common locations for the zippered panels are along the inside of your upper legs or on the outside of your thighs. Either style will help dump a lot of heat, although the former design adds unwanted bulk and can occasionally impact comfort—backcountry-specific bibs often place the zippers on the outside of the legs in part for this reason. Flylow's Baker Bib has vents on both sides of the leg, which provides excellent cross ventilation.
Bibs also add ventilation by way of softshell or stretch-mesh panels, which are generally placed at the lower back (the OR Hemispheres II also patterns them between the legs). Because the core is one of the main areas that your body generates heat, we think these are a really nice feature to look for on a bib. On the other hand, bibs with fully hardshell bib uppers can grow very swampy across the stomach and lower back, especially for those who tend to sweat a lot.
Drop Seat and Fly
Given their above-the-waist design, bibs can cause a bit of a hassle when nature calls. Most models on our list feature either full drop seats (essentially a flap that unzips at the lower back and extends down the outside of each leg) or a swing hatch that opens fully on one side and partially on the other. In most cases, these are built into the vent design, which is great for minimizing bulk and weight. If you like to pee standing up, you’ll also want to look for a front fly—sometimes this extends all the way from the top of the chest, while other times it’s just a simple fly at the waist.
You may run into RECCO listed as a feature on some mid-range and high-end ski bibs. This built-in reflector is a passive unit that doesn’t require batteries and can be picked up by RECCO detectors often carried by resort search and rescue. RECCO reflectors are a great addition for skiers who make their way out of bounds or into areas where they may experience avalanche dangers, but they’re no substitute for an avalanche beacon in the backcountry, as they lack the technology and strong signal of a dedicated search and rescue beacon. We've found the RECCO System website helpful if you want more information about the technology.
Scuff Guards & Gaiters
Moving all the way down to the bottom of the bib, we see scuff guards (also called kick patches) on most designs, which pattern thick fabric around the cuff (often just on the instep side) for added durability around sharp objects like ski boots, ski edges, and poles. The Flylow Baker's Cordura reinforcements are a ridiculously thick 1,000-denier and offer incredible abrasion resistance, while the Norrøna Tamok's relatively thin 200-denier scuff guards are sure to gather an assortment of nicks and tears over time.
On the inside of the pant cuff, gaiters extend down from the liner, and generally feature an elastic cuff at the bottom to ride securely around your boot (many also have slits so you can adjust your ski boots' power strap without having to adjust the gaiter). Especially for backcountry skiers who plan to spend some time bootpacking, you'll want to make sure to prioritize secure gaiters that don't ride up.
Sizing your bib can be tricky, as it needs to fit well in both your torso and legs. We’re big fans of bibs that come in a wide range of sizes, and especially those offered in multiple inseam lengths (such as the Flylow Baker Bib and The North Face’s Freedom). If you have a particularly tall or short frame, you’ll definitely want to consider one of these options (also look for highly adjustable suspenders). And once you nail the fit of the pants, there’s the bib upper to consider: We like designs with Velcro tabs at the waist or a stretchy softshell patch on the back, which help reduce bulk and bagginess above the waist. An ill-fitting bib is an awkward beast, so we do recommend trying on before you buy. The good news is that you can find a wide selection of ski bibs in your local ski shop or REI, and many online retailers (including Evo and Patagonia) offer generous return policies.
The layers you wear under your ski bibs don’t get as much attention as those warming your core, but they remain an important consideration nevertheless. To start, it’s almost always a good idea to throw on at least a thin pair of long underwear both for resort and backcountry skiing. The extra layer not only provides insulation and protection from cold snow and freezing chairlift seats, but it also wicks moisture away from your skin. Further, the interiors of ski bibs are often not very plush, with exposed mesh, zippers, and minimalist liners that become less comfortable as the day wears on.
In choosing a baselayer, it’s worth getting a soft and close-fitting design to maximize warmth. The best models are made with either synthetic or wool—cotton doesn’t insulate when wet, so it’s a bad idea even on a resort day. Synthetics are the cheaper option and efficiently wick moisture, but merino wool is our favorite. It’s very warm for its weight and naturally resists odor better than a polyester alternative. Baselayers are offered in a range of thicknesses, including lightweight designs for warm days or backcountry use, and mid- and heavyweight options for cold days at the resort. And in particularly frigid conditions, you can always double up your baselayers to increase warmth.
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