Patagonia Snowshot Pants Review
Cons: Muted color choices, shell fabric is less breathable than other options
Our Analysis and Test Results
Fit and Comfort
In evaluating fit and comfort we look and feel a lot of things. The primary "test" we do is to simply wear the pants. However, in doing so we evaluate the cut and tailoring, the texture of the interior and exterior fabrics, and we assess the little details that may enhance or detract from a wearer's experience. The Snowshot's fabrics are smooth, and generally soft. We like this. The cut is neutral, with minimal binding and little extra fabric anywhere. There are no zippers in bad places, and the pockets all keep your stuff out of the way.
The Mammut Bormio pants are our most comfortable product in the review, with cozy insulation and soft fabrics inside and out. The Snowshot compares favorably to the Patagonia Powder Bowl Pants in terms of comfort. The fabrics are equally as soft and flexible, and the cut appears to be identical. As compared to the Editors' Choice Arc'teryx Sabre, the Snowshot has softer flexing fabrics, while the fleecy lining of the Sabre is possibly a little more comfortable against the skin. The Snowshot is very similar in comfort to the Best Buy The North Face Freedom Pants.
The SnowShot Pants are basically a price-point version of Patagonia's one-time Editors Choice winning Powder Bowl pants. The Powder Bowl pants are made with high-end Gore-Tex fabric, while the SnowShot is made with Patagonia's proprietary "H2N0" waterproof/breathable laminate. Each is seam sealed, with carefully constructed interfaces and pockets that keep snow and moisture out pretty effectively. In our usage, Gore-Tex is certainly more breathable than H2N0. As it pertains to actually keeping water out, they are both perfectly effective. The catch is that, in really wet weather, pants that are less breathable can trap more moisture on the inside, lending the feeling that your shell gear is "wetting out".
The fact of the matter is that that wetness that only seems to appear when its super wet outside is actually coming from yourself, but the appearance is that the fabric is leaking. For this reason, as compared to the Gore-Tex pants like the Arc'Teryx Sabre and Top Pick Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Pants, the Snowshot scores suffer a bit. As compared to the non-seam sealed Columbia Bugaboo II Pants, the Snowshot is superior. When comparing H2N0 and the proprietary fabrics on the FlyLow Gear Baker Bibs and The North Face Freedom Pants, we found absolutely no difference in weather protection and breathability.
In evaluating cold weather gear like ski pants, we have to comment on warmth. However, for a variety of reasons, the average resort skier/snowboarder is choosing uninsulated pants for his lower body. Warmth is provided by wind and weather protection, but any insulation comes from what is worn underneath. The SnowShot Pants then, in their tested uninsulated configuration, are pretty representative of the products available. The separate hanging liner lends a tiny bit of insulation as compared to something like the FlyLow Baker or Norrona Lofoten Pants. However, fully insulated pants like the Mammut Bormio and Top Pick Spyder Dare are sure to be much warmer, all else equal.
The Snowshot vents are located along the inner, upper leg. In this location they are close to a great deal of circulation, but somewhat protected from the wind. We find that these things cancel out. We would have a hard time choosing vents on the inside of the leg versus those on the outside. The best venting pants have zips on both inside and outside, like the Flylow Baker Bibs, or extra long zips like the Norrona Lofoten Pants. The worst venting pants in our test are the Columbia Bugaboo II Pants, which are heavily insulated and have no dedicated vent zippers.
Coming in five relatively muted colors and fitting almost perfectly neutral, the Snowshot Pants are nothing remarkable, style-wise. We tested the pants alongside the Patagonia Snowshot 3-in-1 jacket, in the matching color scheme. With the jacket, we found the style to be entirely neutral. The fit isn't close, nor is it baggy. There aren't dramatic color blocks or aggressive trim detailing. The alpine look of Norrona's Lofoten gear makes more of a backcountry type statement. The stiff "work-ready" FlyLow Baker Bibs make you look like a ski resort lift mechanic, while the svelte lines of the Arc'teryx Sabre give a more refined appearance (when compared to the SnowShot).
Of the few ski specific features we've come to appreciate in pants, the SnowShot has a couple. The three pockets are the bare minimum, but we really dig that the hand warmer pockets are fleece lined. This makes hand-warming more comfortable, and actually helps to quiet the rattle and jingle of your pocket contents. Patagonia's method for joining their ski pants and jackets is a simple loop on the very back center of the pants that receives a snapped tab on most of their jackets. It is low enough that one can easily attach it himself, and it at least serves to keep your jacket from riding up while on the lift. The full-zipped junction of the Norrona Lofoten gear is certainly more sophisticated, but Patagonia's system is simple and largely effective.
The SnowShot Pants are great for the enthusiastic, middle-of-the-road resort rider. There are other fabrics available that are more sophisticated, but they will cost a premium. There are more dramatically styled pants, but those styles will change with time. For all-around use that will last for seasons to come, this contender is worth a try.
To get Patagonia's cut, finish, and warranty is worth the compromises made in the fabric selection. The Snowshot is a price-point product from a company known for high-end equipment. The pants will last a long time and serve all but the most hardcore users.
We recommend these ski pants. They are nothing flashy, but deliver solid performance across the board.
— Jediah Porter