From the very beginning, style has been a defining component of snowboarding culture and has largely influenced the sport's gear and apparel as a result. Today, a good number of snowboarders still wear jackets and pants made by legacy brands like Burton, Volcom, and Quicksilver, although more mainstream names like Patagonia and Outdoor Research have entered the ring with their own freeride-inspired offerings. Below we provide a breakdown of the best snowboard pants and bibs of the 2022-2023 season, ranging from premium, highly protective options for deep days to budget-friendly resort designs and models that cross over from the ski world. For more background information, see our comparison table and buying advice below the picks.
- Best Overall Snowboard Pant: Burton AK Gore-Tex Cyclic
- Best Budget Snowboard Pant for Men: Volcom Freakin Snow Chino
- Best Budget Snowboard Pant for Women: Roxy Backyard Pant
- Best Snowboard Bib: TREW Gear TREWth Bib
- Best Insulated Pant for Resort Riding: Patagonia Insulated Powder Bowl
- Best Pant for Backcountry Splitboarding: Outdoor Research Skyward II
Best Overall Snowboard Pant
Waterproofing: 2L Gore-Tex
What we like: Hard-to-beat combination of technical performance, features, and style.
What we don’t: Expensive and some might not like the baggy fit.
Ever since Jake Burton Carpenter started building boards in his barn in the late 1970s, snowboarding and Burton have been practically synonymous. Now, the brand is a one-stop shop for everything from hardgoods to outerwear and lifestyle clothing, and their premium [ak] line sets a high bar for technical performance. From this collection, the men’s Cyclic is our favorite all-around pant, combining top-notch waterproofing and a well-rounded feature set (including a great assortment of pockets) with Burton’s industry-defining style. For women, the Summit (also $390) builds off of the design of the Cyclic, adding a stretchy face fabric and tricot backer for extra mobility and warmth.
Along with style and features, a snowboard pant’s waterproofing and breathability are what differentiates one design from the next. In this case, the Cyclic uses proven Gore-Tex (widely regarded as the best in the business) and full seam taping (some pants are only taped at critical seams) for protection. Additionally, a mesh liner and zippered inner thigh vents make breathability about as good as it gets for a 2-layer build. Spending up for the 3-layer Hover ($520) will get you even better temperature regulation—great for splitboarders but overkill for most resort-goers—while dropping down to Burton's 2-layer Ballast ($245) yields similar technology in a less premium design. But for the majority of snowboarders, the Cyclic hits the sweet spot of quality, performance, and style, earning it our top spot for the 2022-2023 season.
See the Men's Burton AK Cyclic See the Women's Burton AK Summit
Best Budget Snowboard Pant for Men
Waterproofing: 2L V-Science
What we like: Uncompromised style and nice assortment of features.
What we don’t: Critical seam taping isn’t great for very wet conditions.
A lot of resort-focused snowboarders opt for a budget pant, and almost every major brand has thrown their hat into the ring with an entry-level offering. Most of these pants keep prices low (around $120 to $170) with trimmed-down feature sets and proprietary waterproof membranes (i.e., not Gore-Tex), but they’re fully serviceable for most inbounds riders. Within this category, the Volcom Freakin Snow Chino is our favorite option for men, with subtle but classy looks, a stretchy twill face fabric for great comfort and mobility, and a 2-layer V-Science membrane that should stand up to most moderate precipitation and wind with ease (for reference, it has a 15K/15K waterproofing/breathability rating).
That said, despite the Freakin Snow Chino’s fully waterproof construction, it’s important to note that the pant (like most budget designs) is taped only at the critical seams. This means that it isn’t particularly well-suited for sustained and heavy snowfall, especially in warm and wet conditions. But the Volcom gets the job done on dry and cold days, and the relaxed fit eliminates extra material while still allowing ample room for layering underneath. Further, you get inner thigh vents, an adjustable waistband, and Volcom’s Zip Tech jacket attachment for keeping snow at bay. There’s no shortage of budget snowboard pants—the Burton Covert ($160) is another one of our top picks for those looking for a baggier style—but the Freakin Snow Chino puts it all together better than most.
See the Volcom Freakin Snow Chino
Best Budget Snowboard Pant for Women
Insulation: 60g WarmFlight Eco
Waterproofing: 2L DryFlight
What we like: Female-specific fit and insulated for warmth.
What we don’t: Budget waterproof membrane won't hold up to sustained moisture.
Some brands are still guilty of the “shrink it and pink it” strategy when it comes to designing women’s clothing, but Roxy is not one of them. Built specifically for women, the Roxy Backyard Pant forgoes the more typical baggy snowboard style for a classy, tailored fit with an adjustable waistband and unobtrusive front and back hand pockets. Many women will appreciate the more feminine cut, which also adds a layer of 60-gram synthetic insulation for deep-winter warmth. Along with a jacket attachment, taffeta liner, and thoughtful hem details, the $160 Roxy stands out as an excellent value for penny pinchers, new riders, and those who only get out a few times a year.
However, as with most things in life, you get what you pay for: the Backyard’s 2-layer DryFlight membrane and critical seam taping certainly are on the budget end of the spectrum (Roxy rates it at 10/5K for waterproofing/breathability). As a result, we wouldn’t push the pant too hard in sustained wet conditions—a good excuse to duck into the lodge. And when the mercury does rise, the Backyard is bound to heat up quickly given its insulated and barely breathable nature, meaning you’ll likely want a different pant for warm spring days. But for lady rippers who run cold or ride in consistently wintery climates, the Backyard is a fully serviceable insulated pant at an excellent price point.
See the Roxy Backyard Pant
Best Snowboard Bib
Waterproofing: 3L PNW
What we like: Fantastic quality, weather protection, and breathability.
What we don’t: Can run warm in the torso.
There are a lot of reasons to opt for a bib over a pant: not only are they stylish, but they provide great protection against snow and enough storage for all the essentials. Among the growing range of options, the well-built TREWth Bib (and women’s Chariot) is our top pick of the season. The design features TREW's proprietary 3-layer PNW construction that's reminiscent of premium Gore-Tex in both look and feel, 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 riders.
At $439, there’s no hiding the fact that the TREW Gear is expensive, but the price is reasonable for what you get. Compared to the Cyclic above, the TREWth’s 3-layer construction eliminates the need for a hanging liner, minimizing bulk and resulting in much better breathability. And unlike many rigid hardshells, the TREWth has a reasonably soft and supple feel that’s easy to move in. We do wish that TREW had simplified the chest storage (there are three pockets, but none are large enough for a beacon or phone), and like most waterproof bibs, the TREWth can run warm at the stomach. Minor gripes aside, the TREW Gear’s quality is second to none. For a slight step down in price ($299), check out TREW's Jefferson (and women's Astoria) bib, which features a more affordable 2-layer construction.
See the Men's TREW Gear TREWth Bib See the Women's TREW Gear Chariot Bib
Best Insulated Pant for Resort Riding
Insulation: 60g Thermogreen
Waterproofing: 2L Gore-Tex
What we like: Great fit and finish offers insulation without the bulk.
What we don’t: Velcro waist adjustment is stiff and a bit abrasive.
Not everyone wants or needs insulated snowboard pants, but if you frequent the resort in particularly cold climates like the Northeast or Mountain West, they’re a nice option to have. Insulated snow pants typically use a thin but warm dose of synthetic fill (unlike down, synthetic continues to keep you warm when wet) that varies in terms of warmth and bulk. Among the myriad options, Patagonia's Powder Bowl is a standout pick: you get 60-gram Thermogreen fill (a fairly standard amount of insulation), sleek and clean styling that minimizes excess material, and an extremely robust 150-denier recycled face fabric. A quality Gore-Tex membrane finishes off the build, resulting in a tough and long-lasting snowboard pant.
Patagonia’s pants are built for both skiers and snowboarders, so it’s important to note that you won’t find any snowboard-specific trimmings like cargo pockets or a baggy fit. If that's what you're after, check out the Burton Covert Insulated below. But all the essentials are still there, including mesh-lined outer thigh vents, gaiters and scuff guards, and a jacket attachment at the waist. We’ll admit that we have been disappointed with the waistband’s Velcro adjustment—it’s stiff and can be abrasive against bare skin—and the Powder Bowl’s price tag might be hard to stomach for some. But for an undeniably premium and hardwearing insulated design, it’s hard to go wrong with the Patagonia... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Patagonia Insulated Powder Bowl See the Women's Patagonia Powder Bowl
Best Pant for Backcountry Splitboarding
Waterproofing: 3L AscentShell
What we like: A stretchy and breathable backcountry-specific pant.
What we don’t: Not durable or protective enough for resort use.
While resort snowboarders get to bypass the hard work of uphill travel by getting onto a chairlift, splitboarders relish in it. But laying a skin track or a boot pack is no small task, and heat can build up in a hurry. For this reason, those headed to the backcountry typically prioritize breathability, and it doesn’t get much better than the Outdoor Research Skyward II. Purpose-built for uphill enthusiasts, the Skyward boasts OR’s stretch-infused, 3-layer AscentShell fabric, which protects nearly as well as the 2-layer Gore-Tex designs above but moves and ventilates like a softshell. It all adds up to a pant that’s capable of resisting heavy wind or wet snow while offering the range of motion and breathability you need for rigorous ascents.
We were initially skeptical of the Skyward’s relatively thin (50D) and stretchy fabric, but in practice, it proved to be a stalwart defense against the elements. If you consistently head into the backcountry in soggy conditions, a rigid 3-layer hardshell pant (like the Flylow Chemical or Arc'teryx Sabre AR below) will provide more sustainable protection, but at the cost of mobility and comfort. And while we’ve been pleased with the Skyward’s durability overall, keep in mind that it won’t hold up as well to the rigors of resort use. For those who prefer bibs, check out Outdoor Research’s Skytour Bib, which pairs the same AscentShell membrane with a slightly burlier, 40 x 65-denier face fabric... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Outdoor Research Skyward II See the Women's Outdoor Research Skyward II
Best of the Rest
Insulation: 60g Heatseeker Eco
Waterproofing: 2L DryVent
What we like: Proven and tough resort design at a great price.
What we don’t: Style is not snowboard-specific and not everyone needs the added insulation.
For budget-seekers and those just getting started, The North Face Freedom is a great deal and one of the most popular pants on the slopes. The value is hard to beat: for well under $200, you get a thick 2-layer construction that is super durable and blocks out wind and snow effectively. The 60-gram Heatseeker Eco insulation is a nice touch for those wanting a little extra warmth, and the venting system is surprisingly good for a budget pant. It’s true that the Freedom is a noticeable step down in quality from a design like the Burton Cyclic above, but it covers all the bases for many snowboarders at a very reasonable price.
That said, although the Freedom Insulated will do the trick for casual riders, performance-minded boarders likely will be left wanting more. To start, the fit is pretty generic, does not include articulated knees, and lacks the modern styling that many want (for a more trendy alternative, check out the Burton Insulated Covert below). Additionally, it’s easy to overheat with the cheap waterproofing technology, and while we like the zippered vents, their placement along the inner thigh (and the accompanying waterproof flaps) creates extra bulk. But we keep coming back to value: the Freedom pants are a proven choice with a surprisingly long lifespan and undercut most of the competition by a sizable margin. It’s worth noting that TNF makes a non-insulated pant and bib version of the Freedom, both of which also get rave reviews for their combination of style, performance, and price... Read in-depth review
See the Men's TNF Freedom Insulated See the Women's TNF Freedom Insulated
Waterproofing: 2L Gore-Tex
What we like: Highly durable, good looks, and quality protection.
What we don’t: No drop seat and doesn't come in short and tall sizes.
No matter the resort, you’re bound to see more snowboarders wearing Burton than any other brand. The Reserve Bib is one of their most popular offerings, so much so that it’s made in both Gore-Tex and non-Gore-Tex varieties (the latter uses proprietary waterproofing). The Reserve GTX here packs in a ton of quality for the price: you get a 2-layer construction along with full seam taping and burly 150-denier face fabric (the Cyclic above is 70D) for just $335—comparable offerings like the Outdoor Research Mt. Baker below will cost over $100 more. If you’re in the market for a robust resort-specific bib, the Reserve (and women’s Avalon) should be toward the top of your list.
However, as we mentioned previously, 2-layer constructions do not get high marks for breathability, and the Reserve’s burly fabric certainly doesn’t help. If you like to earn your turns or charge hard in and out of the ropes, a 3-layer design like the TREW Gear above will do a much better job regulating temperature, and the Mt. Baker also excels with more breathable fabrics patterned throughout. Further, the Reserve does not include a drop seat (notably, the women’s Avalon does), which can make bathroom breaks a bit of an ordeal. And like many bibs here, it isn’t offered in short or tall sizes (the non-GTX version is). But you’d be hard-pressed to find a better combination of performance, durability, and style at this price point, and there's a reason the Reserve is one of the best-selling bibs among snowboarders.
See the Men's Burton Reserve GTX See the Women's Burton Avalon GTX
Waterproofing: 2L Gore-Tex
What we like: A sub-$300 Gore-Tex pant.
What we don’t: A couple of fit and finish issues.
Volcom excels in the budget category (as seen with the Freakin Snow Chino above), but the L Gore-Tex pant here is a very competitive mid-range offering. Combining a premium 2-layer Gore-Tex construction with a breathable liner and inner thigh vents, the L will keep you dry on wet lift rides but isn't prone to overheating on spring-like days. Serious riders will also appreciate the articulated fit, which makes for a stylish yet functional freeride design that won't weigh you down. Tack on features like cargo pockets, extra stitching at the inner rise, and hem reinforcements, and it's clear that the L is a thoughtfully built snowboard pant through and through.
You won’t find a lot of Gore-Tex in the sub-$300 price range, making the Volcom L one of the better values out there (it offers similar protection to the Cyclic above for a whopping $95 less). But the finer details aren't as well-sorted: the single button closure has a tendency to come undone, the white mesh lining on the thigh vents is reminiscent of cheap gym shorts, and—unlike the Cyclic—you don’t get the option for a short or tall inseam. That said, we think the Volcom hits a nice sweet spot for price-conscious riders looking for a step up from an entry-level design. On the women's side, Volcom’s Aston sports a similar build with 2-layer Gore-Tex and retails for $280.
See the Men's Volcom L Gore-Tex See the Women's Volcom Aston Gore-Tex
Insulation: 40g Thermolite
Waterproofing: 2L Dryride Durashell
What we like: A stylish insulated pant at a great price.
What we don’t: Not as protective or durable as the Patagonia Powder Bowl.
For value seekers on the hunt for an insulated pant, it doesn’t get much better than the Burton Covert Insulated. Priced right at only $185, the Covert boasts a warm layer of 40-gram Thermolite insulation wrapped up in Burton's 2-layer Dryride membrane with fully taped seams. A fairly minimalist feature set and simple fit keep costs low, but the Burton is still fully functional for inbounds use with microfleece handwarmer pockets, stylish cargo and thigh pockets, and inner thigh vents. And with a burly face fabric, the Covert Insulated is built to withstand many seasons of demanding resort use.
If you’re deciding between the Covert and Patagonia Insulated Powder Bowl above, there are a few things to keep in mind. With a budget membrane, the Covert's waterproofing and breathability don't stand a chance against the Powder Bowl's more premium Gore-Tex and won't hold up in sustained wet weather. What's more, the Covert isn't quite as warm with 40-gram insulation compared to the Patagonia's 60. On the other hand, the Covert is almost $200 cheaper and has a snowboard-inspired fit and aesthetic, which many resort riders will appreciate. In the end, we’d recommend the Powder Bowl for true winter conditions and those who get out a lot, but the Covert Insulated (and women's Society) is perfectly serviceable for most recreational snowboarders.
See the Men's Burton Covert Insulated See the Women's Burton Society
Waterproofing: 3L Surface
What we like: Great durability and breathability for hard chargers.
What we don’t: Surface membrane isn’t quite as premium as Gore-Tex.
Flylow Gear flies a little under the radar compared to bigger names like Burton and The North Face, but the Chemical (and women’s Nina) pants are a solid offering from the Colorado-based brand. Built for both skiers and snowboarders, this is a super tough design with a 3-layer construction, 1,000-denier reinforcements in high-wear areas like the cuffs, and waterproof zippers. In addition to the impressive level of protection, the pants also ventilate well, and you can release hot air in four places: two zippered vents along the inner thigh and two large vents along the outside of your legs. All told, it’s a well-built design and a great option for spring days or those who tend to run particularly warm.
It's worth noting that the Chemical hits a similar price point as our top-ranked Burton Cyclic above. Where do the two differ? With a 3-layer build and crossflow venting, the Chemical gets the clear edge in heat-dumping capabilities, although you give up the trusted protection of Gore-Tex (Flylow’s Surface membrane nevertheless is a quality performer). And while many resort riders will likely prefer the Burton's more subdued styling, the Chemical's baggy fit scores high marks among freeride enthusiasts. It’s also available in a nice range of vibrant colorways (five at the time of publishing), as well as short and tall inseam options. If you charge hard and want a burly yet breathable pant that won't hold you back, the Flylow is a great choice. And if the Chemical’s styling appeals to you, it’s worth checking out Flylow’s full lineup of bibs and pants, from the budget-friendly Patrol Pant ($190) to the high-end Baker Perm Bib ($520).
See the Men's Flylow Gear Chemical See the Women's Flylow Gear Nina
Category: Shell (insulated in seat)
Insulation: 40g VerticalX Eco
Waterproofing: 2L Gore-Tex
What we like: Very thoughtful construction and feature set.
What we don’t: Also very pricey.
Outdoor Research might not be on many riders' radar, but Mt. Baker certainly is. As one of the first resorts to welcome snowboarders, Mt. Baker Ski Area has long been an epicenter for the alternative sport thanks to its punk-rock vibes, accessible sidecountry terrain, and epic annual snowfall. Therefore, it comes as little surprise that OR's namesake bibs are purpose-built for aggressive riding and weather with a 2-layer Gore-Tex construction and burly materials throughout. In short, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more thoughtfully designed bib: OR patterned thicker fabrics in exposed and high-wear areas (like the upper front legs and butt), stretchy and breathable softshell at the torso, and even 45-gram insulation in the seat for chilly chairlift rides and chillin’ in the park.
The most obvious downside to the Mt. Baker Storm Bibs is cost. For reference, the $449 OR is $10 pricier than the TREWth Bib above, which features a more breathable and streamlined 3-layer construction. However, the Mt. Baker still manages to clock in a few ounces lighter, and we love the attention to detail. There are also a few main design differences worth noting: the Mt. Baker boasts a full-length front zip that extends from the chest through to the fly, a swing seat for bathroom breaks, and inner thigh vents (compared to the more traditional outer leg zippers on the TREW Gear). In the end, the TREW is a better option for warmer conditions and hard chargers, but the OR is impressively durable and gets high marks for both resort and backcountry enthusiasts. Editor’s note: OR recently renamed these bibs to the Kulshan Storm to honor native tribes’ original naming of the mountain, but most retailers still list them under the “Mt. Baker” alias.
See the Men's OR Mt. Baker Storm Bibs See the Women's OR Mt. Baker Storm Bibs
Insulation: None (light flannel backer)
Waterproofing: 3L Gore-Tex
What we like: Bomber 3-layer build that excels both at the resort and in the backcountry.
What we don’t: Expensive; clean, technical look won’t be for everyone.
Based in British Columbia’s Coast Mountains, Arc’teryx is no stranger to bad weather. Combine that with a truly impressive dedication to sweating the small details, and the brand consistently delivers premium, top-performing outerwear. Their go-to pant for both resort and backcountry riders is the Sabre AR (and women's Sentinel AR), which features bomber yet light 3-layer Gore-Tex waterproofing. This translates to exceptional protection and improved breathability compared to the 2-layer designs that dominate the market. In addition, you get a brushed liner for extra warmth and next-to-skin comfort and generous side zips for dumping heat on the skin track.
So with that glowing review, why do we rank the Sabre AR here? The easiest answer is cost: most resort-goers don’t want to spend $549 on a pair of pants, nor do they need to (2-layer construction is perfectly serviceable for in-bounds riding). Second, the Sabre AR isn't specifically built for snowboarders, resulting in a more technical style that lacks features like cargo pockets and extra butt protection. Finally, if you’re looking for a premium 3-layer design, you can save almost $200 with the Flylow Gear Chemical above. All nitpicks aside, the Sabre AR is one of the best snow pants money can buy (it’s our favorite ski pant this year) and is a great choice for those who split their time between the backcountry and the resort. Editor’s note: Arc’teryx hasn’t yet released their ski collection for the 2022-2023 season, but we’ll be sure to update this as soon as they do.
See the Men's Arc'teryx Sabre AR See the Women's Arc'teryx Sentinel AR
Insulation: 25g Thermal STD
Waterproofing: 2L DryPlay
What we like: Sustainable materials and well-sorted features.
What we don’t: Not everyone will love the unique Euro styling.
Picture Organic is another brand building up a small but loyal following. With a commitment to sustainability at the helm, their products are a highlight reel of organic and recycled materials, PFC-free water repellent treatments, and ethical production practices. The Object here is representative of their pant collection as a whole, combining excellent build quality, a protective in-house membrane, and unique and thoughtful styling. You also get a thin layer of 25-gram insulation (the comparable women's Exa uses 40g fill), making it a nice choice for most wintery days on the slopes. Oh, and did we mention the latest version's shell fabric is made from repurposed sugarcane waste?
A lot of snowboard pants can be fairly bland, so kudos to Picture for experimenting and putting some serious effort into their designs. Not everyone will love the high waist of the Object, but it does a great job keeping snow out and folds down when not in use. And we’re big fans of the top-of-thigh vents, which catch a breeze much better than the more standard inner-thigh variety. From the silicone reinforcements and I-Fit system at the hem for rolling the cuffs back to the waterproof zippers and fully taped seams, the rest of the Object is well-built with a keen attention to detail. If you’re not put off by the flashy Euro styling, it’s a great value at $210 and a nice intro to what Picture Organic is all about.
See the Men's Picture Organic Object See the Women's Picture Organic Exa
Waterproofing: 2L polyester
What we like: A versatile bib from a core snowboard brand.
What we don’t: Expensive for a 2-layer design.
Built from the ground up by legendary freerider Jeremy Jones, Jones Snowboards makes some of the best boards in the business. Last year, the Truckee, Calif.-based brand expanded their lineup to include outerwear, and the MTN Surf Bib here is their versatile offering for both resort and backcountry riding. With a tough 75-denier fabric in high-exposure areas like the seat and knees and thinner, stretch-infused polyester everywhere else, the MTN Surf offers a great combination of protection and breathability. Jones rounds out the build with a stretchy polyester liner, premium watertight zippers, outer thigh vents, and large pockets across the chest and legs. For high-output mountain exploration, it’s an intriguing and thoughtfully built pick from a brand that knows a thing or two about snowboarding.
We applaud Jones’ effort with the unique MTN Surf, but it’s undeniably expensive for a 2-layer bib. For just $9 more, the Trew Gear TREWth Bib above features an upgraded 3-layer construction that offers better protection and breathability for only a minor (3.2-oz.) weight penalty. Alternatively, the 2-layer Burton Reserve Bib will save you almost $100 and uses premium Gore-Tex waterproofing that’s a sizable step up in performance from the Jones’ in-house membrane. But cult followers will love repping Jones on the slopes, and the company has a strong reputation for quality. Jones fanatics should also check out the rest of the brand’s growing collection, which includes the highly durable and protective Shralpinist 3L Gore-Tex Pro ($600) and a pant version of the MTN Surf here ($380).
See the Jones MTN Surf Bib
Waterproofing: 2L infiDRY
What we like: 3-in-1 value with a durable, long-lasting shell.
What we don’t: In most cases, we’d advise against a 3-in-1 design.
3-in-1 pants have a lot of appeal for those new to snowboarding: in one fell swoop, you can get an insulated snowboard pant, a shell, and a cozy fleece liner for wearing around the lodge. It’s a versatile purchase that gives you a lot of options, whether you’re riding in deep winter conditions in Vermont or on a bluebird spring day in the PNW. 686’s Smarty has long been a popular option amongst 3-in-1 enthusiasts, with a durable and protective shell (this model is made with proprietary infiDRY, although 686 also offers a GTX version) and a cozy fleece midlayer that zips in and out.
That said, we’re not huge fans of 3-in-1 pants. They’re not as effective as standard insulated designs at trapping and maintaining warmth, and the additional zipper is cumbersome and unsightly when not connected. What’s more, the Smarty in particular has a fairly cheap feel, with a plasticky—albeit durable—shell and relatively busy feature set. If you’re just getting started, we’d instead recommend buying a simple shell pant and a few separate layering options, including a thin baselayer and a fleece or merino midlayer (especially if you anticipate riding in cold conditions). But the 686 has its place for no-fuss boarders that want the convenience of a 3-in-1 purchase and don't mind the tradeoffs.
See the Men's 686 Smarty 3-in-1 Cargo See the Women's 686 Smarty 3-in-1 Cargo
Insulation: Warmflight X1
Waterproofing: 2L DryFlight
What we like: An affordable and protective bib with great snowboard-specific looks.
What we don’t: Less waterproof and breathable than 2L Gore-Tex designs.
A boardrider brand at its core, Quicksilver offers a competitive collection of outerwear and apparel for snowboarders, too. Their Utility Shell is the embodiment of the quintessential snowboard bib: You get a baggy fit, clean but poppy styling with fun colorways and large cargo pockets, and good overall performance for the price. The bib features Quicksilver’s in-house DryFlight membrane and fully taped seams (it gets a 15K waterproof rating), and a light layer of insulation adds a bit of warmth without compromising too much on breathability. To top it off, the Utility Shell is available in six men’s sizes from XS to XXL (the Roxy Rideout is a similar style for women) and tacks on an adjustable inner waistband and zip-up cuff gusset for effectively dialing in fit.
Quicksilver still has a ways to go in matching the track record of technical performance and longevity that you get with bigger names like Patagonia and Outdoor Research. That said, if you don’t have specific needs for an ultra-breathable pant and don't get out in very wet conditions, a design like the Utility Shell is fully serviceable. And the price is right, too: At $250 (or $230 on Backcountry at the time of publishing), it’s the most affordable bib here by a wide margin. You won’t find features like a softshell upper or insulated seat (as seen in the OR Mt. Baker Storm Bibs above), but for almost half the price, the Utility is arguably the better value—especially for riders who want that classic snowboard styling.
See the Quicksilver Utility Shell Bib
Waterproofing: 2L infiDRY
What we like: Bargain-basement price and snowboard-specific feature set.
What we don’t: Not waterproof.
If you’re just dipping your toes into snowboarding, there’s no need to spend big on a premium pant. We’ve listed a number of sub-$200 options above, but those looking for truly bargain-basement design can save even more with the 686 Standard here. For just $120 (and often found on sale), the Standard comes equipped with most of the features recreational snowboarders look for, including boot gussets and gaiters, reinforced patches at the hem, inner leg vents, and a decent assortment of pockets. Tack on a casual aesthetic and unobtrusive fit, and there’s no denying that 686’s most basic pant offers pretty good bang for your buck.
All that said, it's important to recognize what you give up with such a budget design. Most notably, waterproofing and breathability (both rated at 5K) are a considerable step down from most of the pricier models above. Without going too much into detail (we break down waterproofing ratings in our buying advice below), the main takeaway is that the pant is more water-resistant than waterproof, which isn’t great for new snowboarders spending a lot of time sitting (or falling) in snow. Spending an additional $50 for the Volcom Freakin Snow Chino above will earn you 15K waterproofing, which will be worth it for most. But if your main concern is cost, the 686 is the cheapest option here and will realistically still get the job done (just not as comfortably).
See the Men's 686 Standard See the Women's 686 Standard
|Burton AK Gore-Tex Cyclic||$390||Shell||None||2L Gore-Tex||Fully taped|
|Volcom Freakin Snow Chino||$170||Shell||None||2L V-Science||Critically taped|
|Roxy Backyard||$160||Insulated||60g WarmFlight||2L DryFlight||Critically taped|
|TREW Gear TREWth Bib||$439||Shell||None||3L PNW||Fully taped|
|Patagonia Insulated Powder Bowl||$379||Insulated||60g Thermogreen||2L Gore-Tex||Fully taped|
|Outdoor Research Skyward II||$329||Shell||None||3L AscentShell||Fully taped|
|The North Face Freedom||$169||Insulated||60g Heatseeker||2L DryVent||Fully taped|
|Burton Reserve GTX Bibs||$335||Shell||None||2L Gore-Tex||Fully taped|
|Volcom L Gore-Tex||$295||Shell||None||2L Gore-Tex||Fully taped|
|Burton Covert Insulated||$185||Insulated||40g Thermolite||2L Dryride||Fully taped|
|Flylow Gear Chemical||$365||Shell||None||3L Surface||Fully taped|
|OR Mt. Baker Storm Bibs||$449||Shell||40g VerticalX (seat)||2L Gore-Tex||Fully taped|
|Arc'teryx Sabre AR||$549||Shell||None (flannel backer)||3L Gore-Tex||Fully taped|
|Picture Organic Object||$210||Insulated||25g Thermal STD||2L DryPlay||Fully taped|
|Jones Snowboards MTN Surf Bib||$430||Shell||None||2L polyester||Fully taped|
|686 Smarty 3-in-1 Cargo||$230||Insulated||Removable fleece||2L infiDRY||Fully taped|
|Quicksilver Utility Shell Bib||$250||Insulated||Warmflight X1||2L DryFlight||Fully taped|
|686 Standard||$120||Shell||None||2L infiDRY||Critically taped|
- Snowboard Pant Categories
- Waterproofing and Breathability Ratings
- Waterproofing: Construction, DWR, Seam Taping
- Fabric Layers: 2L vs. 3L
- Snowboard Pant Durability
- Snowboard Pant Features
- Snowboard Pants vs. Bibs
- Fit and Sizing
- Layering Underneath Your Snowboard Pants
- Snowboard Pants vs. Ski Pants
Snowboard pants can be divided into two general categories: shell and insulated. Shell pants are the most versatile option for most riders, featuring a simple 2- or 3-layer hardshell exterior (more on this below). Their lack of insulation means you can tune your layers underneath based on conditions: go with a light baselayer for spring days or throw on a thick fleece pant to stay warm in cold temperatures. They’re also the most breathable option, particularly those of the premium 3-layer variety. Shell pants are a great option for most days on the slopes, but especially in mild conditions (such as those found in the PNW) or those who tend to run warm. Top shells from our list include Burton’s AK Cyclic, the TREW Gear TREWth Bib, and Volcom’s L Gore-Tex.
Given the stop-and-start nature of snowboarding—sitting on the lift, strapping in and out of bindings, and hanging out in the park—some resort riders will consider a pant with some form of insulation. The vast majority of insulated pants use synthetic fill due to its affordability and ability to keep you warm even when wet (unlike goose or duck down, which clumps up). Warmth varies between models, and the picks above range from 25-gram to 60-gram fill weights. Finding your sweet spot will depend on the conditions you get out in, your riding style (aggressive or casual), and if you’re prone to running hot or cold. We highly recommend erring on the side of under-insulating, as it’s far easier to add layers underneath than deal with roasting in a too-warm pant.
While we love the security and comfort of slipping on an insulated pant in cold weather, there’s no denying that it comes at the tradeoff of breathability and versatility. The built-in insulation means the pant will grow swampy in a hurry, and you can only release so much heat with thigh vents. But if you run cold or ride in consistently frigid temperatures, a good case can be made for an insulated model. Some of our favorites include Patagonia’s Insulated Powder Bowl, The North Face’s Insulated Freedom, and the Picture Organic Object. Finally, 3-in-1 designs like the 686 Smarty toe the line between shell and insulated pants, giving you the option for both configurations in addition to a standalone midlayer.
In researching snowboard pants, you’ll consistently find two numbers being marketed heavily: a waterproof rating (usually listed in millimeters) and a breathability rating (provided in grams). For waterproofing, many manufacturers use what’s commonly referred to as a static-column test: a piece of the pant’s shell fabric is set below a 1-inch-diameter tube, which is then filled with water until the fabric begins to leak. The height of the water at that point of failure is its rating. The breathability test is more convoluted and less standardized, but it's designed to measure how much water vapor travels from the inside to the outside of the fabric over a 24-hour stretch.
What should be immediately clear from both of these tests is that they don’t perfectly simulate winter conditions, and we don’t recommend relying on them heavily in selecting a pant. In particular, don't waste too much focus on the breathability rating: there isn’t an established procedure to compare products, and the test is done in a controlled lab environment (in other words, not out in snow). There is some value in the static-column rating—a higher number will typically lead to better waterproofing—but plenty of other factors come into play, including the quality of the membrane, DWR coating, fabric denier, and seam taping. We provide more details on waterproofing and breathability in the sections below.
Waterproof ratings can be the first clue towards discerning the level of protection a pant will provide, but it’s important to dig a bit deeper into the specs. The first thing we look for is the quality of the waterproof construction, and in terms of protection and longevity, it’s hard to beat Gore-Tex. In both their mid-range 2-layer and lighter and more breathable 3-layer varieties, we’ve found Gore-Tex to be reliably wind and waterproof even in harsh and wet conditions. To save money, many manufacturers utilize in-house designs, and proven options here include Patagonia’s H2No and Outdoor Research’s AscentShell. Stepping down to budget-oriented models in the $100 to $200 price range gets you a noticeable drop in quality. These pants will provide sufficient protection in moderate and dry conditions, but the lower-end builds aren’t as long-lasting or reliable on particularly gnarly days.
Durable Water Repellent (DWR) Finish
Another key component of a snowboard pant's wet-weather protection is its durable water repellent coating (DWR for short). This finish is added to the exterior fabric to keep the nylon or polyester material from absorbing moisture, which helps keep the waterproof membrane functioning properly—if too much water gets through the outer fabric, the membrane can get overwhelmed, which causes issues with breathability and even leakage. A properly functioning DWR is easy to spot: snow and water will mostly stay on the surface of your pant and be easy to shake or brush off with your gloves. The DWR used in higher-end designs is most often higher-quality and longer-lasting, while you might find yourself needing to refresh the finish of a pant like the budget 686 Standard more often (regularly applying a product like Nikwax TX.Direct will do the trick).
Assembling a pant requires connecting multiple pieces of fabric, which leaves potential vulnerabilities for moisture to seep through. By applying tape to the interior lining and seams, companies can provide an effective and mostly watertight seal. Pants in the mid and high end of the market often boast full seam taping, while budget-oriented models like the Volcom Freakin Snow Chino and Roxy Backyard only protect the “critical” seams (areas most prone to moisture, such as the rear). Finally, the quality of the taping can vary—Gore-Tex taping has a long lifespan, while cheaper varieties can peel back or even partially disintegrate over time.
For most lift-assisted snowboarding, breathability is not a top consideration. As long as you’re not overdoing it with insulation and sticking to groomers or shorter runs in the trees, most pants are breathable enough to keep you comfortable. To help, each of the models above features at least two vents (one on each leg), which can be helpful for dumping heat on warmer days.
But for active riders or those that like to hike into the sidecountry, breathability jumps up the priority list. From the picks above, the best ventilators are non-insulated and feature premium 3-layer constructions, which keeps air flowing a lot better than 2-layer designs (more on this below). Manufacturers will even take it a step further for backcountry use: the Jones MTN Surf Bib features a thinner and more breathable shell in high-heat areas, while the Outdoor Research Skyward II uses a stretchy 3-layer fabric almost akin to a softshell. And then there are designs like the OR Mt. Baker Storm, which uses ultra-breathable softshell material on the bib where weather protection matters less. In the end, there’s no shortage of options for snowboarders who need a breathable pant—but expect price to go up alongside performance.
You’ll see a lot of references to 2-layer and 3-layer constructions above, and the distinction is an important one. Most snowboard pants feature a 2-layer build, which consists of the shell fabric and a waterproof/breathable membrane. Importantly, manufacturers will then add a hanging mesh or taffeta liner in order to protect the membrane from your skin. In a 3-layer build, this liner is streamlined and affixed to the inside of the waterproof/breathable membrane—hence the third layer. The end result is that 2-layer designs are inherently bulkier and don’t dump heat quite as well, while 3-layer pants typically are more unencumbered, lighter-weight, and more breathable.
But despite the clear advantages of a 3-layer pant, 2-layer designs are fully serviceable for most recreational riders and comprise the majority of our list above. In short, the added performance of a more premium pant will be overkill in most resort applications and simply isn’t worth the jump in price. However, if you’re a serious rider, get out a lot, or dip into the backcountry from time to time, consider bumping up to a 3-layer pant.
Snowboard pants are a durable bunch, relying on substantial face fabrics to fend off harsh weather and rough use around chairlifts, park features, and sharp gear. However, not all snowboard apparel brands provide a fabric denier spec (a measurement of density and thickness), so it can be hard to compare models without seeing them in person. That said, designs fall into fairly predictable categories: entry-level and mid-range pants are often quite tear-resistant and tough, using thick materials to provide a boost in weatherproofing (the Burton Reserve Bibs and Ballast pants both feature 150D shells). Moving up, we see higher-end materials that are lighter but still durable, such as the AK Cyclic’s 70-denier build. Backcountry-focused pants sacrifice a little durability for less weight and improved range of motion and breathability, but we’ve found even models like the Outdoor Research Skyward II (50D) are reliably tough.
Closely tied to durability is weight: a thicker and very tough snowboard pant will logically weigh more. In addition, weight correlates with the categories we’ve listed above: shells are the thinnest and lightest, while insulated models will feel much heavier. Further, 2-layer designs often weigh more than 3-layer designs due to the added heft of the hanging liner. For most resort uses, weight is only a small consideration. While it’s nice to reduce bulk, many resort riders are perfectly content with a moderately heavy design. But if you’ll be hitting the backcountry or even spending a fair amount of time off-trail, a lighter shell pant will provide a nice boost in mobility and all-around comfort.
Pockets are a significant style component of many snowboarding designs, which often include a range of rear, cargo, thigh, and handwarmer storage. Despite the myriad options, we recommend against packing these pockets full, as filling them with larger items can feel ungainly and restrict movement. Pants that have crossover appeal between snowboarding and skiing typically boast simplified layouts, but they'll often include at least a few zippered pockets for stashing personal items and snacks. Finally, backcountry-specific models like the Outdoor Research Skyward II put a greater emphasis on quality and functionality over quantity, with dedicated storage for items like an avalanche beacon and extras like a map or GPS device.
To aid in breathability, the vast majority of snowboard pants use a zippered ventilation system (essentially pit zips for your legs). The most common locations for the zippered panels are along the inside or outside of your thighs. We’ve found that outer-thigh vents do a better job dumping heat, while those on the inner thigh add unwanted bulk and can occasionally impact comfort (on the bright side, they are less conspicuous). A design like Picture Organic's Object even places vents on the front of the thigh for maximum effect. Finally, Flylow Gear's Chemical has vents on both sides of the leg, which provides excellent cross ventilation.
Jacket-to-Pant Attachment Systems
Let’s face it: wipeouts happen, regardless of your skill level. And if you’ve had the pleasure of experiencing a tumble on the slopes, you know that snow is adept at finding its way into the crevices of your jacket or pants. To help prevent this, some manufacturers place a button or loop on the jacket’s powder skirt to connect it to a corresponding attachment on the pants, forming a solid seal from the wet and cold. In the case of Volcom’s Zip Tech (as seen on the Freakin Snow Chino and L Gore-Tex pants), you get a full wraparound zip. Being able to attach your jacket to your pant is certainly not a required feature for either resort or backcountry use, but it's a nice addition for many. It’s worth noting that in nearly all cases, you’ll need to purchase a jacket from the same brand for the system to work and integrate properly.
Cuff Reinforcements and Risers
It’s no secret that snowboarders like to wear their pants low, which can often result in torn cuffs from sharp edges over time. To remedy the issue, manufacturers reinforce the cuffs—often through use of thicker fabrics or even silicone—and sometimes even provide a way for you to raise the cuffs to keep them from dragging through the parking lot or lodge. This is often done via a cinch near the ankle or extending up the backside of the leg (Burton has nicknamed them bungee cuff elevators, and Picture Organic calls it their I-Fit System). If you like the look of baggy pants but want to minimize holes at the hem, it’s a good idea to look for one or both of these features.
Another “either or” decision when choosing snowboard pants is if you should opt for regular pants or a bib. Snowboard pants are the traditional choice and what most folks are familiar and comfortable with. They’re completely capable for all forms of riding and are much easier to slip on and off. The primary downside is felt when cold air or moisture finds its way up your back on the chairlift or after taking a fall.
Bibs are the remedy for these maladies as they offer better protection from the snow, wind, and wet. They also run a little warmer thanks to the extra layering that covers part of your upper body, which can be both a pro and a con. While you don’t have to worry about any discomfort from a waistband, the straps that run over your shoulders can take some getting used to, and you’ll need to dial in the fit to keep a bib from moving around excessively or pulling the pant legs up too high (we appreciate bibs that come short, regular, and tall inseams for this reason). And if you can’t decide, pants like Picture Organic’s Object offer a nice middle ground—the high waist keeps out snow without the added fabric and inconvenience of a bib.
Snowboard pants are known for having fairly large and baggy fits—and this holds true for a lot of market—although there are a growing number of designs with trimmer cuts that reduce bulk. Most park rats prefer extra space to maximize range of motion and limit pinch points (and style undeniably plays a role), while riders that seek out sidecountry lines typically like a streamlined, sleeker shape (often referred to as a “standard” or “regular” fit). When choosing a pant, it’s important to also think through the thickness of your layers underneath to avoid any binding and comfort-related problems.
The layers you wear under your snowboard pants don’t get as much attention as those warming your core, but they nevertheless remain an important consideration. To start, it’s almost always a good idea to throw on at least a thin pair of long underwear. 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 snowboard pants (especially uninsulated designs) 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 merino 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, cozy and soft, 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, as well as mid- and heavyweight options for cold days at the resort. And in particularly frigid conditions, you can always double up your baselayers or add a fleece pant to increase warmth.
In recent years, there’s been a noticeable shift in sustainable practices within the snowboarding apparel market. Led by brands like Patagonia and Picture Organic, we’re seeing greater use of recycled materials, particularly in the shell and lining fabrics. Further, a growing number of manufacturers, including Burton and Flylow Gear, are using DWR coatings that are PFC-free (short for perfluorocarbons, which is a non-biodegradable chemical). And many brands are recognized as certified B Corps and/or utilize the bluesign system for sourcing materials responsibly. One final way to purchase sustainably is to select quality products and repair old gear rather than buy cheap items that don’t last. Patagonia is a leader here as well, with an excellent repair program that’s managed both online and in their brick-and-mortar stores.
Given the similarities between the two sports, it’s not surprising that many ski pants and ski bibs are perfectly capable for snowboarding (and vice versa). In fact, you’ll see a lot of crossover in products when searching on a manufacturer or retailer site, and brands like Patagonia and Outdoor Research specifically state their pants are intended for both activities.
That said, snowboarding pants do differ slightly in terms of fit and features: In general, snowboarders prefer a looser cut with more pockets and style components. It’s also common to see boot gaiters (short zippers at the hem to create a flare around the boot) rather than scuff guards, due to the nature of a snowboarder’s feet being separated on the board. Further, some pants feature a system that pulls the cuff up so it doesn’t drag when walking through the parking lot or the lodge. But in most cases, these are largely cosmetic differences with little impact on overall performance, and you’ll ultimately want to choose the style that appeals to you most.
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