Throughout several years of testing ski pants, we have come to certain, albeit general, conclusions. Pants with bibs are a match made in heaven. Gore-tex fabrics breathe the best and keep you dryer when skiing. Pants that attach to matching jackets form a great protective shell. Most skiers will want uninsulated shell pants. In all these ways, and a few more, the Norrona pants are great.In terms of compatibility with a matching jacket, the Lofoten Pants lead the industry. The compatible jacket, the Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Shell and pants can be zipped together to form a seamless one-piece suit. The slight disadvantages of the Norrona are the slightly baggier leg fit, the stiffer "3-layer" fabric, and the fact that the optional bib section is a little snug on heftier bellies. The Arc'teryx Sabre Pants edge ahead overall for fit and style, while the separate hanging liner of the Best Buy The North Face Freedom Pants and former Editors' Choice-winning Patagonia Powder Bowl make for an easier draping fit.
Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Pants Review
Cons: Bib section is tight on bigger people, expensive
Our Analysis and Test Results
Like with the associate jacket, Norrona Lofoten Pants earn our Top Pick award for absolute weather protection. Norrona uses the best fabric available, and then builds the pants so that they zip seamlessly to an associated jacket. Short of a proper "one-piece" suit, this is the most weather protective option we have ever seen.
Fit and Comfort
The Lofoten Pants have a moderately baggy fit, and are made of beefy, stiff fabric. The cut is not confining to our largely athletic-built test team. Our lead tester's shoulder season "belly" filled out the bib portion of the otherwise appropriately sized pants, making them a better choice for slim folks than for larger skiers. Unique to these pants is the modular nature of the bib option. This contender can be equipped like regular pants, as a bib, or with a slice of fabric that zips to both pants and matching jacket for a fully enclosed suit. As compared to the FlyLow Gear Baker Bib the Lofoten is more versatile, but the bib portion fits tighter.
The Spyder Dare also has a sort of bib, with coverage only in the back. This is arguably more comfortable, but less protective than full coverage. The Lofoten Pants, in regular pants mode, are best compared to the Editors' Choice Arc'teryx Sabre. The fabric is similarly stiff, without a separate hanging liner. These two products are the only pants constructed without the separate hanging liner. (The FlyLow bibs are also this way). In order to maximize the protection without a separate liner, these pants are inevitably stiffer than the other offerings. Something like the Best Buy winning North Face Freedom Pants hangs a little looser than the Lofoten Pants.
Weather resistance is where this contender shines. Just the fully seam-sealed construction alone, made of rugged Gore-Tex backed fabric, and sewn together, immaculately earn it top scores. And then Norrona gives you the option of pairing these pants with a matching jacket, the Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Shell that fully zips into a one-piece suit. Combined, the Lofoten pairing is the most weather protective outfit in our entire review. No precip, no drafts, no gaps. Only the rugged FlyLow Baker Bibs come close.
The main achilles of the Baker Bibs is their less breathable fabric. While water doesn't get through the Baker Bib, the condensation that forms on the inside gives the wearer this perception. The Arc'teryx Sabre and Patagonia Powder Bowl are similar in protection to the Lofoten Pants, but neither has the zip-together option.
Most don't count on their ski pants to provide a great deal of warmth. It seems that the majority of skiers count on their long underwear and the exertion in their legs for warmth. The pants just need to keep the wind and wet out. The Lofoten Pants do exactly this, but provide no insulation. If you are on the cold side, check out the insulated pants we reviewed. The Columbia Bugaboo II Pants is a budget-friendly option, perhaps as a "quiver" item for those that usually ski in a leg layering system, but want insulated pants for the occasional super cold day.
The Mammut Bormio is a light, soft, almost cuddly pair of insulated pants that blocks weather surprisingly well, given the fleecy outer fabric. Finally, we gave our Top Pick for insulated pants award to the Spyder Dare. The Spyder, like the Lofoten, can be configured as a sort of bib, but has synthetic insulation to guard against the cold.
We look for vent location and length in evaluating the air-movement ability of pants. The Lofoten Pants have long, exterior vents, with no mesh covering. When fully opened up, the vents reveal a lot of leg and allow a ton of air to move around. In fact, no pants in our test vent better than the Lofoten. We gave an equal score to the FlyLow Gear Baker Bib because the FlyLow has non-meshed, albeit short, vents on both the inside and outside of the wearer's legs. This combination gives more options and nearly as much air flow as the Lofoten Pants.
The Arc'teryx Sabre also has relatively long, non-meshed vents. However, they are located almost behind the outer thigh, limiting the effects of a skier's movement on air flow. All the other pants in our test have just one pair of mesh-backed vents. None work as well as those on the Lofoten Pants.
It seems that few skiers are choosing their pants for style points. While they come more and more readily in a host of colors, the fit is evening out. We've seen 'em tight, we've seen 'em way baggy; now we're seeing that pendulum settle in a comfortable, non-revealing, freedom-to-move middle ground, thankfully, and the pocket selection is unobtrusive. The Norrona Lofoten Pants make no major statements, fashion wise.
It is telling, in terms of fashion, that Norrona went to such great lengths to make a modular "one piece" suit. The most weather protective option available is a one piece suit. However, fashion largely precludes these practical marvels. Norrona put a great deal of effort into a system that approximates the weather protection of a one-piece, but offers a more fashionably approved form.
There are only a few features we look for in ski pants. Ideally they will attach to a matching jacket, have a Recco reflector built in, have at least three pockets, with the hand warmers having a fleecy lining, and have some sort of key or pass clip inside one pocket. Of these five attributes, no pants we tested had them all.
The Norrona Lofoten has the jacket compatibility, five pockets, and a Recco reflector for ski resort avalanche rescue. In comparison, the other Top Pick winner, the Spyder Dare has the highest features score. The Dare checks every box except the Recco reflector. At the other end of the spectrum, the Columbia Bugaboo II Pants have exactly three pockets, but the hand warmers are indeed insulated with fleece lining.
The Norrona Lofoten Pants are best paired with the matching jacket by those looking to create a fully weather beating, comprehensive ski layering system. These shell pants will have wide appeal, as even the coldest skiers should be considering a layering system for their lower body. Most skiers will choose an insulated jacket for their upper body, therefore limiting the appeal of the shell-only Norrona outfit we tested. Thankfully, Norrona makes a compatible Norrona Lofoten Shell that is insulated with synthetic fill. This admittedly untested combination may very well be the perfect ski outfit.
Norrona's clothing is not inexpensive. Right up there with Arc'teryx, the quality and materials used in this contender justify a high asking price. Also, comparable with Arc'teryx, the clothing is durable, effective, and excellent fitting. If you can afford it, you can't go wrong with Norrona ski clothing.
The Norrona Lofoten Ski Pants are proven weather beaters, with an innovative and industry-leading integration with matching jackets. The construction is immaculate and the design is well thought out.
— Jediah Porter