Reviews You Can Rely On

The North Face Freedom Insulated Review

A good insulated ski pant for budget-minded resort skiers who don't need a technical pair of pants
The North Face Freedom Insulated
Photo: The North Face
Best Buy Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $170 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Great value, warm, comfortable, relaxed vibes
Cons:  Limited seam and pocket sealing, less effective vent design
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Jeff Dobronyi ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 2, 2021
  • Share this article:
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
65
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 15
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 6
  • Fit and Comfort - 25% 7
  • Ventilation - 20% 5
  • Warmth - 10% 9
  • Features - 10% 6
  • Style - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The North Face Freedom Insulated pants easily earn our pick for the best bargain among insulated ski pants. They perform well in all categories, are very comfortable to wear, and do it all for a low price. These pants are among the warmest we have tested, due to synthetic insulation, where most other pants just have a hanging liner. The DryVent fabric is waterproof, although the pants are not fully seam-sealed, nor are the zippers waterproof. The Freedom has enough features to get the job done but doesn't go overboard. Overall, this is a great ski pant that will perform well in a variety of conditions, for a price that is lower than its performance merits.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Buy Award Best Buy Award    
Price Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
Check Price at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$140 List
Check Price at REI
Check Price at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
65
74
65
61
58
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Great value, warm, comfortable, relaxed vibesGreat performance at a low price, tons of features, weather resistant, breathableStretchy, soft, comfortable, many pockets, breathableAffordable, warm, comfortableComfortable, inexpensive, relatively warm
Cons Limited seam and pocket sealing, less effective vent designLacks good style and warmth, average comfortNot waterproof, thin material, climbing styleLight on the features, fit is a bit loose, unremarkable styleLight on features, not stylish, poor ventilation
Bottom Line A good insulated ski pant for budget-minded resort skiers who don't need a technical pair of pantsAn affordable hardshell that provides great weather resistance, ventilation, and featuresDurable softshell pants for most days on the backcountry skin trackAn affordable and warm pair of ski pants with a bland styleThese relatively warm and inexpensive pants are great for occasional skiers
Rating Categories The North Face Free... Outdoor Research Sk... Outdoor Research Tr... REI Co-op Powderbou... Patagonia Snowshot...
Weather Resistance (25%)
6.0
8.0
3.0
6.0
6.0
Fit And Comfort (25%)
7.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
8.0
Ventilation (20%)
5.0
9.0
10.0
6.0
4.0
Warmth (10%)
9.0
4.0
3.0
8.0
7.0
Features (10%)
6.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
4.0
Style (10%)
7.0
6.0
4.0
5.0
4.0
Specs The North Face Free... Outdoor Research Sk... Outdoor Research Tr... REI Co-op Powderbou... Patagonia Snowshot...
Main fabric 100% Nylon 88% Nylon, 12% Spandex 87% nylon, 13% spandex Nylon 70% Recycled polyester, 30% Polyester micro-twill
Insulation 60 g Heatseeker Eco Polyester (50% Recycled) None None Recycled polyester None
Waterproofing DryVent (2-layer) AscentShell Pertex Shield+ (partial) 2-layer waterproof breathable laminate H2No
Waistline construction (elastic? snaps?) Snap and zipper, Velcro tabs for adjustment, belt loops Snap/zipper fly with external velcro adjustment, belt loops Snaps. Velcro tabs for adjustment, belt loops Button zip fly with hook/loop adjustment Snap/zipper fly with internal velcro adjustment, belt loops
Weight (in pounds) 1.32 lbs 1.32 lbs 1.69 lbs 1.64 lbs 1.34 lbs
Weight (in grams) 599 g 599 g 767 g 744 g 608 g
# of Pockets 3 4 4 3 2
Vents? Inner thigh zips, with mesh Inner thigh zips Exterior thigh zips, with mesh Interior thigh zips Inner thigh zips with mesh
Ski-specific features Scuff guards, elastic powder cuffs Scuff guards, powder cuffs, articulated knees, beacon clip beacon clip and sleeve, scuff guards, touring cuffs, cuff zipper Scuff guards, elastic powder cuffs, elastic waist Scuff guards, elastic powder cuffs
Recco? No No No No Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

These pants perform well across the board. And taking price into account, we are amazed by their performance. They are warm, weather-resistant, and durably constructed. There are better ski pants, but to raise the bar, other pants use materials and construction that come at a price. Overall, the Freedom hits the sweet spot.

Performance Comparison


Chilly early season conditions are no match for The North Face...
Chilly early season conditions are no match for The North Face Freedom Insulated, which keeps us warm all winter long.
Photo: Jeff Dobronyi

Weather Resistance


The North Face can usually be trusted to provide great weather protection, and the Freedom Insulated pants are no exception. In all but the gnarliest of weather, they provide adequate protection. The fabric is waterproof, windproof, and beads water well. The pocket construction is also adequate, but we'd prefer waterproof zippers. These, of course, would raise the cost of the pants.


The main seams are all sealed, but the seams around the zippers are not. These pants don't have waterproof zippers, either. The thigh pocket closes with velcro instead of a zipper, offering easy access, but less weather resistance. The North Face uses an excellent DWR coating that beads water and performed well in an extended dousing in the shower. This coating will prevent water from seeping through those unprotected zippers and seams, at least for a while.

None of the Freedom Insulated's pockets are waterproof, but the...
None of the Freedom Insulated's pockets are waterproof, but the storm flaps do a decent job at keeping water out.
Photo: Jeff Dobronyi

If you ski more than three weeks a year in the wetter climates of North America, like the Pacific Northwest or the Northeast, we would recommend you invest in a more weather-resistant Gore-Tex pant. However, for most users, these pants provide adequate weather protection.

Fit and Comfort


We found the Freedom Insulated to fit true to size. The range of motion is reasonable, and the external fabric is soft and comfortable. The puffy synthetic insulation also adds comfort, compared to other shell-only pants in the review. Overall, these are some of the more comfortable and well-fitting pants that we tested.


The cut of these pants is just barely on the baggy side of neutral. This allows for a good range of motion and great comfort, but we found the crotch seam to hang just a little too low, preventing most acrobatic leg movements. There are velcro straps on each side of the waist to adjust the waist fit, eliminating the need to wear a belt.

The Freedom Insulated's fit is ergonomic and contoured, yet...
The Freedom Insulated's fit is ergonomic and contoured, yet comfortably loose.
Photo: Jackie Kearney

Ventilation


Because of all the synthetic insulation, it is clear that the Freedom Insulated is more concerned with keeping heat inside than keeping the user cool. Still, since most people own just a single pair of ski pants, it is important that they can be used on warmer days or during more aerobic activities, like hiking for turns or spring skiing.


The main ventilation feature of these pants is the inner thigh leg vents. In general, inner thigh vents allow less airflow than outer leg vents. Furthermore, the vents are only about eight inches long, which is shorter than other pants in the competition. Lastly, the vents are backed with mesh, which prevents most snow and water from getting in when the vents are open but also prevents some air motion. For what it's worth, the mesh has bigger holes than other pants we've reviewed, but in general, ventilation in these pants is limited.

Two small inner thigh vents provide the Freedom Insulated's only...
Two small inner thigh vents provide the Freedom Insulated's only ventilation options.
Photo: Jeff Dobronyi

Warmth


These pants are among the warmest in our review. This is due to synthetic insulation, the same insulation used in many "puffy" jackets. They don't look "puffy," but the insulation is there. Most other ski pants provide warmth inside the shell fabric with a hanging liner, usually made of mesh or fleece. The result is that the Freedom Insulated pants are very warm comparatively.


These pants might be too much for all-season use in warmer ski destinations like Lake Tahoe or Mammoth. That said, if you go skiing a lot, you are bound to end up skiing in cold weather, where this model is right at home. Still, the insulation makes them less versatile, and if you are the type of skier who likes to have exact control over your warmth through a layering system, the Freedom Insulated might not agree with you.

Synthetic insulation provides plenty of warmth for colder days on...
Synthetic insulation provides plenty of warmth for colder days on the ski hill in the Freedom Insulated.
Photo: Jeff Dobronyi

Features


The Freedom Insulated pants are light on pockets. That said, the pants still come with all of the big features we expect from ski pants, like boot cuffs and handwarmer pockets. Other than that, they have one big thigh cargo pocket, and that's it.


The hip pockets are fleece-lined, making them very comfortable, and the velcro closure of the cargo pocket is burly and secure, though none of the pockets are waterproof. The elastic powder cuffs at the leg openings are big enough to fit over ski boots while keeping snow out.

Though a bit light on features, we don't really miss them when we're out skiing. Our mind is on other things, and a good ski jacket will have tons of pockets to make up for any shortcomings of the pants.

The Freedom Insulated features two waist pockets with...
The Freedom Insulated features two waist pockets with easy-to-operate zippers, and a thigh cargo pocket on the right side.
Photo: Jackie Kearney

Style


Most ski pants are largely neutral in styling, which means not too baggy and not too tight. The cut of the Freedom pants is generally neutral, a little on the looser side, but still unremarkable in comparison with the general trend. We wish the style were a bit more tailored.


The Freedom comes in many colors, so anyone can probably find something to their liking. The zipper flaps of the two handwarmer pockets and the cargo pocket flap stand out a little bit, and ski fashion aficionados might note that the high-end pants are moving away from these features towards zippers that are flush with the pant material. However, for the price, they have a great style with tons of size and color options.

The Freedom Insulated pant generally looks good, though we wish it...
The Freedom Insulated pant generally looks good, though we wish it were more refined. But for the price, we can't complain.
Photo: Jeff Dobronyi

Value


These pants provide the best value of all the pants we reviewed. They are almost the cheapest and yet perform near the top of the crop. The Freedom Insulated sits in a sweet spot where you'll get the most performance per dollar. They are a great investment and will provide seasons of excellent performance for the average skier.

Conclusion


The North Face Freedom Insulated performs very well for how affordable they are. There are better pants out there, but none provide such good performance across the spectrum at such a low price. If you are on a budget but need pants that will keep you warm and dry, these are the pants we recommend.

The North Face Freedom Insulated pant looks great while shredding...
The North Face Freedom Insulated pant looks great while shredding hard on the ski hill.
Photo: Jeff Dobronyi

Jeff Dobronyi

Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.

GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.

Learn More