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Outdoor Research Carbide Bib Review

These are a great pair of bibs that keep the weather out and fit well
Outdoor Research Carbide Bib
Photo: Outdoor Research
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $300 List | $298.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Good weather resistance, fits great, plenty of ventilation
Cons:  Shell pants provide little warmth, short on features, muted style
Manufacturer:   Outdoor Research
By Jeff Dobronyi ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 3, 2020
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 13
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 8
  • Fit and Comfort - 25% 8
  • Ventilation - 20% 8
  • Warmth - 10% 4
  • Features - 10% 6
  • Style - 10% 6

Our Verdict

The Outdoor Research Carbide is a comfortable and weather-resistant bib that performs well in a variety of conditions, earning our favor when it comes to bibs. These are some of our favorite ski bottoms we've ever tested, bibs or not. Skiers wear bibs for one main reason: to keep out snow, water, wind, and anything else that tries to make its way under the jacket's hem. These pants effectively keep the user's torso protected on deep powder days and wet chairlift rides. They don't provide too much warmth, other than the air they trap in their extended height, and they are a bit short on features with only three pockets. But, they look good and fit very well with an articulated cut. If you are looking for the best ski bib on the market, at an affordable price to boot, look no further.

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Good weather resistance, fits great, plenty of ventilationImmaculate weather protection, excellent fit, fleecy liningFashionable, carefully tailored, excellent weather protectionComprehensive protection, many pockets, ski bum styling, excellent leg ventilationWarm, comfy, weather resistant
Cons Shell pants provide little warmth, short on features, muted styleExpensive, light on featuresMesh-backed vents, doesn’t have all the bells and whistlesStiff fabric, suspender buckles are uncomfortable, heavySmall vents, snug fit, racer style
Bottom Line Not the most stylish bibs, but they are very comfortable and keep weather outExcellent ski pants in every regard, and you'll pay for itGreat ski pants for a variety of applications and a wide range of skiers and ridersRugged, weather-ready hightop pants that shout “I love skiing, and I do it a lot"If warmth is a primary concern, check out these ski pants
Rating Categories Outdoor Research Carbide Bib Arc'teryx Sabre AR Pant Patagonia Powder Bowl Pants FlyLow Gear Baker Bib Spyder Dare GTX
Weather Resistance (25%)
8
9
9
9
8
Fit And Comfort (25%)
8
8
7
4
6
Ventilation (20%)
8
7
5
8
5
Warmth (10%)
4
4
6
4
10
Features (10%)
6
4
6
9
7
Style (10%)
6
9
8
7
6
Specs Outdoor Research... Arc'teryx Sabre AR... Patagonia Powder... FlyLow Gear Baker... Spyder Dare GTX
Main fabric 100% nylon 40D N80p-X Gore-Tex with Cordura Nylon 3L cuff fabric 4.6-oz 150-denier 100% recycled polyester 2L 100% polyester Polyester plain weave 2L
Insulation None Laminated fleecy lining Hanging mesh lining None 40 g Primaloft Silver Eco synthetic
Waterproofing Pertex Shield 3L N80p-X Gore-Tex (3-layer) Gore-Tex w/ DWR finish (2-layer) OmniBloq DWR Gore-Tex laminate and PFCecFree DWR (2-layer)
Waistline construction (elastic? snaps?) Bibs Snaps. Built-in elastic belt Snap/zipper fly with adjustable tabs Bibs Snap/zipper fly with internal adjustment and removable suspenders
Weight (in pounds) 1.64 lbs 1.32 lbs 1.67 lbs 1.78 lbs 1.79 lbs
Weight (in grams) 744 g 599 g 756 g 807 g 812 g
# of Pockets 3 3 4 5 5
Vents? Exterior thigh Exterior thigh zips, no mesh Exterior thigh zips, with mesh Inner and outer thigh zips, no mesh Inner thigh zips, with mesh
Ski-specific features Bibs, power strap-compatible cuffs, beacon pocket, scuff guards Key/pass clip inside pocket, touring cuff, scuff guards Scuff guards, elastic powder cuffs, attach to matching jacket's powder cuff Bibs, attach to matching jacket's powder skirt Scuff guards, elastic powder cuffs, cuff zipper
Recco? No Yes Yes No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

These bibs perform well in the weather resistance and ventilation departments, but they separate themselves from other bibs in the Fit and Comfort metric. Where other bibs come up short, the Carbide pulls off a feat of garment engineering in terms of comfort and tailoring.

Performance Comparison


The Carbide is at home on the resort slopes or deep in the...
The Carbide is at home on the resort slopes or deep in the backcountry, in fair or foul weather.
Photo: sam willits

Weather Resistance


Weather resistance is the most important metric in ski pants generally, and it is also the primary reason why bibs were developed in the first place. On the deepest powder days and through the gnarliest storms, ski patrollers, guides, and highway workers needed something that would absolutely keep them warm, dry, and protected. Modern ski bibs use hardshell fabrics pulled up high over the torso to enable full-body protection. The Carbide performs well in this category compared to most other ski pants on the market.


These bibs use Pertex Shield as the hardshell material. In our experience, this fabric is almost as waterproof and breathable as the more commonly-known Gore-Tex, while enabling a garment to be sold at a much more reasonable price. In our testing, water never penetrated the pants through the shell fabric. The pocket zippers are not waterproof, which is disappointing, but they are covered by effective storm flaps. In our 5-minute shower test, water eventually started to seep into the pockets through these zippers, but since the pockets are made of Pertex Shield as well, water never made it into the leg compartments.

The Carbide's Pertex Shield shell fabric effectively blocks all...
The Carbide's Pertex Shield shell fabric effectively blocks all liquid water from penetrating through to the inside of the shell.
Photo: sam willits

Fit and Comfort


We are blown away by the comfortable and sharp fit the Carbide brings to the table. Usually, bibs are baggy, encumbering, and have lots of extra material that can get in the way of normal motion. These bibs fit through the leg like nicely tailored pants do, and only open up above the waist, making the legs feel sleek and contoured, while the torso feels comfortably loose, to the point where we forget that we are even wearing bibs. We have never worn a pair of bibs that feel this comfortable. The Carbide eliminates a long-standing issue many folks have held against bibs.


The shell fabric is not as crinkly and stiff as Gore-Tex or other heavy-duty proprietary hard shells, feeling soft on the skin of the user's' legs or through lower body base layers. And since the shell fabric feels so light and pliable, it is easy to compare the comfort of these bibs to the comfort of regular ski pants, which we have never really considered doing before. If you are in the market for hardshell ski pants and haven't considered bibs, put these on your list. You will barely notice that they are more than just ski pants regarding comfort.

The Carbide's legs fit almost perfectly, not too loose and not too...
The Carbide's legs fit almost perfectly, not too loose and not too tight. They are cut with a bent leg in mind, making them more athletic and comfortable in motion. Most importantly, they are not stiff like most hardshell bibs.
Photo: Sam Willits

Ventilation


Ski pants, and especially bibs, need adequate ventilation to help us ditch hot air around our skin on warm afternoons and during aerobic skiing activities like skating on long, flat cattracks, skiing bumps, and bootpacking towards hike-to terrain. Most ventilation is accomplished with zippered vents that open the pant to the outside environment and through breathable shell materials that allow airflow through the fabric itself. Both attributes are found in the Carbide.


The Carbide Bib features long external thigh zippered leg vents. These vents are very effective at promoting airflow and venting out warm air from the interior of the pants. Since bibs cover the user's torso, which is one of the warmest areas of the body, it is extra important that bibs have good ventilation to provide comfort on warm days and during high-output activities. The Pertex Shield fabric feels relatively breathable compared to other technical hardshell materials that we've tested.

Large external thigh leg vents help ditch heat quickly when the day...
Large external thigh leg vents help ditch heat quickly when the day heats up.
Photo: sam willits

Warmth


Ski pants don't need to be that warm, partially because our legs have a lot less blood flow near the skin compared to our upper bodies. In general, if we feel warm or cold, our upper body layers are the first things to be adjusted. Still, ski pants are often packed with insulation, which we don't necessarily love. Instead, we prefer shell pants that allow us to adjust our insulation underneath by wearing different thicknesses of base layers. Most shell pants provide very little warmth, and these pants are no exception.


The Pertex Shield fabric is soft and thin, especially when compared to Gore-Tex and proprietary membranes found in other bibs. It makes these pants feel less warm because there is less of a physical barrier preventing the conduction of heat away from the skin on, say, cold chairlift seats. The phenomenon also makes the fabric feel more breathable, although the cooler temperatures could very well be due to more heat being conducted away from the body and less due to the fabric being ultra-breathable. Either way, these pants don't retain much warmth, which could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you layer underneath.

The Carbide bibs reach high up the user's torso, trapping warm air...
The Carbide bibs reach high up the user's torso, trapping warm air around the body and giving the bibs some warmth. This doesn't provide too much heat overall, though, in our opinion.
Photo: Sam Willits

Features


Bibs have a lot of fabric by nature and are often covered with pockets from head to toe. They generally include hand pockets, thigh pockets, and a chest pocket in the torso panel. They also usually come with long side zips that allow for easy entry into the pants and releasable shoulder straps to drop the pants. The Carbide includes most of these features but is on the minimalist side. This helps keep the weight down for backcountry versatility, but it also means that these bibs come up short compared to the competition for inbounds bibs.


The Carbide features two large hand pockets that are very deep, and one has an internal mesh sleeve and clip for an avalanche transceiver. There is also a chest pocket on the torso panel, which is less useful because this pocket is often buried beneath upper body layers. The pants have belt loops and one side zip that extends from the top of the bib near the armpit down to near the knee for easy entry. The suspenders release with a click, and the bibs also have a front crotch zipper for making bathroom breaks more convenient. The cuffs have large scuff patches to aid in longevity, and the elastic powder cuffs have small slots so that power straps can be adjusted without pulling up and down on the powder cuffs. This also adds to the durability of the pants, as the powder cuffs are often the first thing to be destroyed through normal wear and tear.

The Carbide's hand pockets are very deep, sometimes to a fault...
The Carbide's hand pockets are very deep, sometimes to a fault, because whatever you put in there will slide down and rub on the middle of your thigh, including an avalanche transceiver.
Photo: sam willits

Style


Bibs are often worn by ski town locals and experts, and as such, they generally have a more "core" look. This means muted, earthy color schemes and baggy fits. While we get this appeal, we prefer more refined and athletic styles with less excess material and articulated cuts that produce sleek looks. We don't like extra material bunching up at joints. The Carbide is less baggy and loose than other bibs that we have tested in the past, which is a good thing. Still, they don't quite look as "cool" as we wish they did.


The fit of the Carbide is the most notable attribute to their style, which is relatively slim and athletic in appearance. The legs are gently tapered from the hips to the knees without producing too much of a curvy appearance. There isn't too much extra material throughout the thighs, knees, and boot cuffs, preventing a baggy and loose look. We wish the color schemes were more intriguing, as the pants are only offered in navy/purplish-blue, burnt red, and black.

The Carbide features a nice and sleek style, but it doesn't look as...
The Carbide features a nice and sleek style, but it doesn't look as "core" as other bib options.
Photo: sam willits

Value


For the performance, these bibs are a great value. They combine excellent weather resistance, a comfortable and athletic fit, and decent style and features into an affordable package that swings well above its weight in terms of price. After testing these bibs, we expected the price tag to be significantly higher. If you are looking for a more stylish pant, you'll have to spend more money. Outdoor Research has an excellent warranty policy to protect your investment if anything should go wrong or not meet your expectations.

Conclusion


The OR Carbide Bib is weather-resistant and a comfortable option for both resort and backcountry skiers. It also scores highly for ventilation and has enough features and style to get by on the hill. And despite this high performance, it also comes at an affordable price. If you are looking for protective pair of ski pants for regular use on the hill, even if you don't think you want a bib, consider the Carbide.

The Carbide is a great bib for all types of weather, and feels...
The Carbide is a great bib for all types of weather, and feels equally at home in the backcountry or on the frontside.
Photo: sam willits

Jeff Dobronyi