We like the Columbia Ridge 2 Run II pants. We like that they are inexpensive, come in more than the usual number of sizes and colors, and that they do all that ski pants need to do, at least for a short amount of time. These pants enable participation at a lower budget. Their performance falls behind the other products we tested, but not by as much as their price tag alone would suggest. They're right in the mix with our Best Buy-winning The North Face Freedom pants. The Freedom pants protect even better in poor weather, for only a little bit more cost.
Columbia Ridge to Run II Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Many sizes, many colors, full features
Cons: Zippers, pockets, and some seams let in extended poor weather
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
Most budget pants compromise on both materials and features. The Ridge 2 Run II uses proprietary materials and basic construction, but includes all the features you are likely to want. We like this balance for budget-conscious, occasional skiers. If you are searching for the absolute rock bottom price on full-featured ski or snowboard pants, we highly recommend the Ridge 2 Run II.
Skiing and snowboarding take place in rugged, cold conditions. You'll expose your ski gear to cold, snow, ice, wet chairlifts, spraying precipitation, rain, and all combinations of these things. You need your ski pants to keep that weather outside where it belongs. The Ridge 2 Run II do the job, at least for a few hours, in all but the absolute worst of conditions. The fabric is waterproof, and the main seams are taped over. The chinks in the Columbia's armor are the zippers, pockets, and non-primary seams. These other interfaces do not have waterproof characteristics.
The water repellant treatment that Columbia uses is among the most fragile in our testing. As long as you aren't out for many hours in sideways snow or soaking rain, the Columbia will do what you need it to. Many of the other products we tested do better than the Columbia. Notably, for a few dollars more the Best Buy The North Face Freedom Pants have better seam sealing, zipper protection, and final water repellant coating.
Fit and Comfort
The fit of these is great. Really helping your cause is the vast array of size choices that Columbia gives you. These pants are available in the normal S-XXL size range, with short and regular versions of each. You are sure to find the fit you desire. Once fit correctly, the Ridge 2 Run II are fairly comfortable. The external fabric is moderately soft and flexible. It is less stiff and crinkly than the FlyLow Chemical Snow Pants and the Editors' Choice Sabre but it isn't as supple as the Salomon Chill Out Bib or the Outdoor Research Trailbreaker.
Ski pants feature pretty simple ventilation. There are leg zips or not. These leg zips can be on the inside or the outside. The zips can have mesh backing (to keep loose snow out) or none (to let more air flow). The best venting pants have both inner and outer zips, with no mesh backing. Only the FlyLow brand pants that we tested are thus equipped. The poorest venting pants have inner leg vents with mesh behind them. This is the configuration of the Columbia Ridge 2 Run II. These are among the least effective venting pants in our test. However, years ago we tested Columbia pants that had no vents. We are thankful for their inclusion in the Ridge 2 Run II. Inner meshed vents are way better than no vents.
There is little to say about the style of the Columbia Ridge 2 Run II pants. Some folks don't pay particularly close attention to the stylistic cues of their ski pants anyway. These are neutrally styled, but available in many different colors. The color options alone are enough to justify a stylistic bump up.
We test three major categories of pants regarding warmth. Insulated pants, of course, are the warmest. Many find them too warm for all-around use. The least insulating pants are those made with "three-layer" construction. These pants, like the Editors' Choice Arc'Teryx Sabre or the Top Pick Patagonia Descensionist laminate shell, waterproof material, and lining material into one layer. They are the least insulating, all else equal. In the middle are pants with separate hanging linings. These pants are the most common, arguably the most comfortable, and seem to strike a good balance of warmth for most users. The Ridge 2 Run II is in this latter category. As such, their warmth is similar to others constructed like this.
The Best Buy The North Face Freedom has similar construction, as does the Top Pick Marmot Discovery Bibs. Columbia goes a step further by adding their silver "OmniHeat" technology to the inner fabric. The web is full of testimonials to the effectiveness of this technology. In a few weeks with the Ridge 2 Run II and with prior months and months with other OmniHeat equipped products, it's hard to definitively say this technology does what it says, but these pants are fairly warm. There is certainly no drawback to the OmniHeat, so give it a try.
Short of a Recco reflector, the Ridge 2 Run II has all the features we look for in ski pants. Our only other complaint is that the thigh pockets close only with a velcroed flap and not with a zipper. The six pockets organize your stuff (be careful about putting smaller items in the thigh pockets) on the mountain. Inside the right handwarmer pocket is a clip for securing your keys or season pass.
We recommend these pants for anyone seeking a low-cost, full-featured ski or snowboard pant for occasional and casual use. More aggressive skiers and riders will max out the durability and weather protection of the Ridge 2 Run II and will do better with one of our award winners.
As noted all through the review, we think these are a great value. Columbia products regularly meet this description. That these well-performing pants are also available in so many sizes and colors only further sweetens the deal.
How Columbia offers so many options and such performance at a low price is kind of a mystery to us. Nonetheless, we appreciate it. All should be able to enjoy the wild and outdoor spaces of our world, regardless of budget. Columbia helps you get out there affordably.
— Jediah Porter