Spyder Dare GTX Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Warm, comfy, weather resistant
Cons: Small vents, snug fit, racer style
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Insulated ski pants have limited appeal because they are not as versatile for every day of the season. But when it's below zero, and you want to go skiing, they are really nice. They would make a great second pair of ski pants. If you expect cold temps all season long, or you get cold very easily and prefer to be hot rather than cold, these pants are a great choice.
In general, these pants have excellent weather resistance. They use a Gore-Tex fabric for the outer shell, which works as advertised, and elastic powder cuffs that keep snow out of your ski boots. Suspenders also help keep the waist of these pants from drooping and letting weather inside. Our main gripe is with the pockets, which don't feature waterproof closures.
We expected this pant to be very well sealed, due to its Gore-Tex construction. However, the zippers to the front handwarmer pockets on these pants aren't waterproof, but rather are protected by storm flaps. The rear pockets close with velcro flaps. On one super deep ski touring day in Grand Teton National Park, the rear flapped pockets filled with loose snow, which eventually melted under body heat and dripped inside the pants. This isn't the weather resistance we have come to expect from high-end products.
Few skiers will ever experience these extreme conditions, and we still appreciate the weather resistance the Spyder Dare provides. These are great pants, which are separated from the best weather resistant pants only by a small margin.
Fit and Comfort
The inner lining of these pants is very comfortable, and they are a joy to wear. The suspenders are stretchy, comfortable, and wide enough to distribute weight comfortably. If you don't like the suspenders, they are easily removable. The exterior fabric of the pant, despite being a Gore-Tex hardshell, is soft, supple, and doesn't cause any discomfort.
This model seems to fit a tad small. The fit throughout the leg is well-tailored, but in the crotch and front hip area, it is a bit too snug. Compared to other pants we tested, these were definitely on the smaller side. They weren't just snug; they were small. If you are on the fence about sizing or don't identify as slim, size up.
These pants also come in short, regular, and tall fits. Our tester was about 6'2'' and was right on the cusp between regular and tall. They also feature velcro straps on each side of the waist to customize the waist fit.
The Spyder Dare has short, mesh-backed vents in the inner thighs. These vents don't provide as much ventilation as other pants that we reviewed, but they are still better than nothing. This isn't much of a problem for these pants, because you'll be selecting these from your closet or suitcase on the absolute coldest of days when you probably won't need the ventilation. If you misjudge the weather and dress too warmly underneath, you will likely be wishing for a more effective ventilation setup.
The warmth of these pants, plus lack of good ventilation features, makes these pants less versatile than other options on the market. We can't recommend these pants as a do-it-all, everyday pair of ski pants. Similarly, if you spend a lot of time skiing the hike-to terrain at places like Bridger Bowl, Alta, Jackson, or Kirkwood, we'd recommend pants with better ventilation. Almost any other pant in our review would be better ventilated.
These pants are warm and were chosen as our Top Pick for the coldest conditions. Generally, we recommend uninsulated shells to most skiers, because they have the most versatility. In very cold conditions, or for skiers who demand the warmest pants, we recommend these. For most people, they will be too warm to be used as a primary (or only) pair of ski pants.
These pants owe their warmth to a thin layer of synthetic insulation. When we first picked them up, we were surprised to learn that they were indeed insulated, more than a hanging inner liner. They don't feel like puffy pants, but after wearing them around for a few minutes, our legs started to heat up more than usual, and we felt the effects of the insulation. Our legs are pretty good at staying warm, compared to our upper bodies, and a little bit of insulation goes a long way. Too far, for most conditions and users.
The Dare is equipped with some good ski features. They come with suspenders, which are easily removed, and belt loops to use instead, or you can tighten the waist with velcro straps. The two front zippered pockets are handy for keys, wallet, and ski pass, but they are small compared to the front pockets on other pants. The front pockets are also fleece-lined, and one has a small clip for car keys or an avalanche transceiver. The rear pockets close with velcro flaps instead of zippers. This style of pocket has been popular for a long time, but we wish pants would move towards waterproof, zippered pockets.
There is also a zippered pocket on the right thigh. This pocket has a waterproof zipper, but anything you put in the pocket will fall down to your kneecap, which is an uncomfortable situation for skiing. The pant cuffs have a zippered opening that makes booting up a breeze. They also feature elastic powder cuffs.
Spyder is the official apparel provider of the US Ski Team, and generally, their style is racer-centric. The Dare pants generally fit this mold, landing on the snug side of neutral, and would look right at home on the World Cut podium. Few skiers want to make a bold statement with their ski pants, but rather, most skiers use their jackets for this purpose.
The snug fit and body-hugging hips of these pants are not for everyone. They do have a place in a certain crowd, but that crowd probably also wants more sleek pocket closures than zipper storm flaps and rear velcro flaps. Other high-end ski clothing is moving towards sleek zippers with matching colors to produce a more streamlined look.
These pants come in a wide variety of color options. Whether you like it bright and loud, or want your pants in a more muted color, the Dare likely has a style for you.
The Dare pants are not cheap, but for the warmth they provide, the value is good. For the money, you get a Gore-Tex shell with great weather resistance, making these pants the most bomber available for cold, wet conditions. Most people considering these pants will be in the market for an insulated pant to complement their primary, everyday pants. Because they are less versatile than most pants, most users will probably use these occasionally at most.
The Spyder Dare GTX is a great product in a crowded field. If you need pants for the coldest days of the winter, we highly recommend them.
— Jeff Dobronyi