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Spyder Dare GTX Review

The top insulated ski pants for those who need them.
Spyder Dare GTX
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $300 List | $239.20 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Warm, comfy, weather resistant
Cons:  Small vents, snug fit, racer style
Manufacturer:   Spyder
By Jeff Dobronyi ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 10, 2019
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 12
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 8
  • Fit and Comfort - 25% 6
  • Ventilation - 20% 5
  • Warmth - 10% 10
  • Features - 10% 7
  • Style - 10% 6

Our Verdict

We have tested previous versions of these pants before, and the latest Spyder Dare GTX lives up to our expectations. When skiing the coldest winter days during the test period, these were our favorite to wear and earned our Top Pick for Cold Conditions. They provide warmth with synthetic insulation that most other ski pants in our review did not provide. This insulation is protected by a burly Gore-Tex shell that will keep you dry and block the wind. Our main issue with these pants is that the pockets are not very well sealed, and the fit is a little snug compared with other pants on the market. They also don't vent as well as most of the competition, but on the bitterly cold days that this pant is designed for, that's rarely an issue.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Spyder Dare GTX
This Product
Spyder Dare GTX
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award Top Pick Award 
Price $239.20 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$499.00 at REI
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$299.00 at REI
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$419.95 at Backcountry
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$224.95 at Backcountry
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Pros Warm, comfy, weather resistantImmaculate weather protection, excellent fit, fleecy liningFashionable, carefully tailored, excellent weather protectionComprehensive protection, many pockets, ski bum stylingStretchy, soft, comfortable, many pockets, breathable
Cons Small vents, snug fit, racer styleExpensive, light on featuresMesh-backed vents, doesn’t have all the bells and whistlesStiff fabric, suspender buckles are uncomfortableNot waterproof, thin material, climbing style
Bottom Line The top insulated ski pants for those who need them.These pants are the best of the best, at a price.Excellent, all-around ski pants suitable for almost all users.Sturdy, highly-protective pants for those that wish to look like ski bum lifers.Durable softshell backcountry skiing pants for most days on the skin track.
Rating Categories Spyder Dare GTX Arc'teryx Sabre AR Pant Patagonia Powder Bowl Pants FlyLow Gear Baker Bib Trailbreaker II
Weather Resistance (25%)
10
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8
10
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9
10
0
9
10
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9
10
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3
Fit And Comfort (25%)
10
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6
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
4
10
0
9
Ventilation (20%)
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
8
10
0
10
Warmth (10%)
10
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10
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4
10
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6
10
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4
10
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5
Features (10%)
10
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7
10
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4
10
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6
10
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9
10
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8
Style (10%)
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6
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4
Specs Spyder Dare GTX Arc'teryx Sabre AR... Patagonia Powder... FlyLow Gear Baker... Trailbreaker II
Main fabric Polyester plain weave 2L N80p-X Gore-Tex with Cordura Nylon 3L cuff fabric 4.6-oz 150-denier 100% recycled polyester 2L 100% polyester 87% nylon, 13% spandex
Insulation 40 g Primaloft Silver Eco synthetic Laminated fleecy lining Hanging mesh lining None None
Waterproofing Gore-Tex laminate and PFCecFree DWR (2-layer) N80p-X Gore-Tex (3-layer) Gore-Tex w/ DWR finish (2-layer) OmniBloq DWR Pertex Shield+ (partial)
Waistline construction (elastic? snaps?) Snap/zipper fly with internal adjustment and removable suspenders Snaps. Built-in elastic belt Snap/zipper fly with adjustable tabs Bibs Snaps. Velcro tabs for adjustment, belt loops
Weight (in pounds) 1.79 lbs 1.32 lbs 1.67 lbs 1.78 lbs 1.69 lbs
Weight (in grams) 812 g 599 g 756 g 807 g 767 g
# of Pockets 5 3 4 5 5
Vents? Inner thigh zips, with mesh Exterior thigh zips, no mesh Exterior thigh zips, with mesh Inner and outer thigh zips, no mesh Exterior thigh zips, with mesh
Ski-specific features Scuff guards, elastic powder cuffs, cuff zipper 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 beacon clip and sleeve, scuff guards, touring cuffs, cuff zipper
Recco? No Yes Yes No No

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.

Performance Comparison


Tester Jediah Porter showing off the Spyder Dare. While we tested these pants in all conditions  as we do all pants  we don't recommend them for ski touring use. We DO recommend them for frigid resort days.
Tester Jediah Porter showing off the Spyder Dare. While we tested these pants in all conditions, as we do all pants, we don't recommend them for ski touring use. We DO recommend them for frigid resort days.

Weather Resistance


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.

The rear pockets close with velcro flaps  but we'd prefer to see waterproof zippers on these high-end pants.
The rear pockets close with velcro flaps, but we'd prefer to see waterproof zippers on these high-end pants.

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.

The DWR on the Spyder Dare breaks down after a few minutes in our shower test. Not the best  not the worst.
The DWR on the Spyder Dare breaks down after a few minutes in our shower test. Not the best, not the worst.

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.

The tight crotch fit is somewhat limiting in acrobatic movements.
The tight crotch fit is somewhat limiting in acrobatic movements.

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 a slim  leg hugging fit.
The Spyder Dare has a slim, leg hugging fit.

Ventilation


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.

Vents on the Spyder Dare are short and mesh-backed.
Vents on the Spyder Dare are short and mesh-backed.

Warmth


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 Spyder Dare pants don't look insulated. They don't even feel insulated. But they are.
The Spyder Dare pants don't look insulated. They don't even feel insulated. But they are.

Features


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.

The lower thigh pocket is the only one to feature waterproof zippers. The hip pocket zipper hides behind a flap.
The lower thigh pocket is the only one to feature waterproof zippers. The hip pocket zipper hides behind a flap.

Style


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 close  sleek style of the Spyder Dare looks good  but it's not for everyone.
The close, sleek style of the Spyder Dare looks good, but it's not for everyone.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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