We have tested past iterations of this model, and the Spyder Dare Regular GTX is yet another great pair of ski pants. When skiing the coldest winter days during the test period, these were our favorite to wear. They provide additional warmth that uninsulated models don't without giving much at all in terms of mobility. They are comfortable and the fit is true. It's solid in weather performance, although we wish the rear pockets were zippered instead of Velcro. They don't vent as well as most of the competition, but on bitter days, that's rarely an issue. The other insulated pants we reviewed are the Salomon Chill Out Bib. The Salomon is less expensive and has a slight edge in comfort. The Dare snags our Top Pick Award for insulated pants with its superior weather resistance. Both it and the Chill Out Bib offer the same level of warmth.
Spyder Dare Regular GTX Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Warm, comfy, solid overall
Cons: Limited sealing of pockets, less effective vents
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Spyder Dare is a slick, insulated ski pant. Spyder style and proven materials complement intelligent (but not brilliant) construction and comfort. Insulated ski pants have limited appeal, but when and where and for whom they are nice, they are really, really nice. Our ski pants test team is primarily located in Wyoming's Tetons. Cold inverted mornings at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and ice-fog days at Grand Targhee reward insulated ski pants. We wouldn't own them as our primary ski pants, as they aren't versatile enough. As a second pair of ski pants, we like them.
Initial examinations suggested that the Spyder Dare could be a contender for an insulated pant Editors' Choice Award. Further investigation, as well as first-hand experience with the limitations of the weather protection of the Spyder Dare, downgraded its status just enough. The main issue we have is that the pockets are not very well sealed. The front pockets close with regular, non-waterproof zippers while the rear pockets close with only a snapped flap. This compromises weather protection to the point that would be unacceptable for an Editors' Choice. For your second pair of pants, in insulated configuration, these britches breaches are forgivable. They are still our favorite among insulated pants.
Generally, we expect Gore-Tex products to be very well sealed. The fabric, of course, is highly regarded for its weather protection. Further, Gore-Tex's licensing agreements stipulate that all seams and zippers and potential weaknesses are well sealed against the weather. The Spyder Dare uses Gore-Tex fabric, but includes, as noted above, some weaknesses. On one super deep ski touring day in Grand Teton National Park, the rear flapped pockets filled with loose snow. That loose, cold snow eventually melted under body heat and dripped inside the pants. This isn't the weather resistance we require of day in, day out, high-end ski clothing. Further, the front pockets close with simple non-waterproof zippers covered by only a small flap of fabric.
We still find it important to mention that despite these minor issues (that few skiers will ever experience), we still appreciate the weather resistance the Spyder Dare provides. The Gore-Tex fabric and layer of insulation blocks not only the wet stuff but also wind effectively. These pants survived our shower test better off than the Salomon Chill Out, which wetted out faster.
The other Gore-Tex products we test have better construction cues. Both the Pagatonia Powder Bowl and the Editors' Choice Arc'Teryx Sabre better seal all their pockets in one way or another. The FlyLow Baker Bibs and FlyLow Chemical Snow Pants both feature waterproof zippers on all their pockets. The construction gaps of the Spyder Dare are similar to those on the other budget products. The Best Buy The North Face Freedom, Columbia Ridge 2 Run II, and Salomon Chill Out both have zippers and pockets that are vulnerable to incursion.
Fit and Comfort
The fit of the Spyder Dare is true to size. Our predominantly size medium test team found them to fit as a medium should. The velcro tabs at the waist allow some adjustment for those on the small side of medium. The tailoring of the upper legs of ski pants is the most difficult part to get just right. The Dare pants do this well. Even while backcountry skiing and high-stepping the legs do not impede motion. The lining fabric is smooth and soft while the exterior fabric is generally quiet.
The stretchy and super soft fabric of the otherwise close competitor Salomon Chill Out Bib is a little more comfortable than the Spyder, but the Salomon fits a little smaller. The cut of the Spyder Dare feels real similar to that of the Best Buy The North Face Freedom Pant.
The Spyder Dare has inner-leg vents that are relatively short and have a mesh backing. When you are overheating, you can notice the additional air flow for sure. Different venting configurations are more effective, but these are better than nothing. If you are using the Spyder Dare as your secondary, cold-weather ski pants, ventilation is less important. You'll be selecting these from your closet or suitcase on the absolute coldest of days. Those days you don't need as much ventilation. If you misjudge the weather and are overdressed in the insulated Spyder Dare, you will likely be wishing for a more effective ventilation setup.
The best venting pants are those that have zippers on the inside and outside of the legs, both of them with no mesh backing. The only pants we tested like that are made by FlyLow. Next, regarding ventilation effectiveness, are the pants with long, external zippers and no mesh backing. The Outdoor Research Trailbreaker and Editors' Choice Arc'Teryx Sabre are built like this.
Most Spyder clothing leans in the direction of sleek and "racy" style. The Dare pants, though, are not as stylistically pigeon-holed as other Spyder clothing. They are your general-looking ski pants. This is a good thing. Few want to make a super bold statement with their ski pants. We tested a bright red color, but they also come in more muted tones.
Most ski pants we assess are fairly reserved in styling. The Spyder Dare is no exception. The Outdoor Research Trailbreaker is definitely a function-first product, looking more like hiking or climbing pants than your typical ski wear. The FlyLow Chemical is a loose and cargo-pant like style.
We honor these pants for their warmth. There are many insulated pants on the market, but generally, we recommend people have uninsulated shells for their primary ski pants. Certain circumstances and some users require insulated pants. When that is the case, they are likely one's second pair of ski pants.
They are tied for warmth with the Salomon Chill Out Bib. In a few weeks of super cold testing, we couldn't discern a difference in insulating value between these two. The differences we did notice are in fit, comfort, and weather resistance.
Spyder equips the Dare pants with just a few handy features. Most notable is the "bib" design. We would hardly call this an actual bib. These basically have removable fancy suspenders. The two front zippered pockets are handy for keys and wallet and ski pass. The rear pockets close just with velcro flaps. These should be considered more for fashion than for actually holding valuables in a ski resort environment. Ski resort "lost and found" departments field inquiries every single day from people that "secured" valuables in pockets without zipper closures.
We don't put much stock in ski pants features. A few pockets are all that most really need. Some, of course, prefer suspenders to a belt to hole them up. Our Editors' Choice Arc'Teryx Sabre have even fewer features than the Dare. Of our award winners, only the Marmot Discover Bib is particularly well featured. It has seven pockets and a full bib construction.
We've suggested our envisioned application above. For most skiers, uninsulated shell pants are the better all-around choice. Of course, some will want insulated options too. Either as their primary choice for really cold climates or as a second option for colder trips and conditions. For the latter, the Spyder Dare is a great choice.
They are not cheap, but for what you get the value is good. There are perhaps not the highest quality insulated pants available on the market, but the Spyder Dare strikes a balance of value to protection and comfort.
The Spyder Dare is a stand-out product in a strong field. If you require insulated ski pants, these deserve a very close look.
— Jediah Porter