Reviews You Can Rely On

How We Tested Ski Pants for Women

By Sarah Sherman ⋅ Review Editor
Thursday December 10, 2020

To test which pants truly deserved the title of best women's ski pants, our testing team, of course, went skiing. From Mammoth Mountain to Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows to Snowbird and even in the backcountry, we put these pants through the wringer. But that doesn't tell the entire story of our detailed process. We tested each pair of pants for a number of thoughtfully constructed metrics, both on and off the hill, that together outline the different aspects of what makes a pant great, or not.

We tested on the ups and the downs!
We tested on the ups and the downs!
Photo: Eric Dacus

Weather Resistance


If you can't get the weather you need, make it. Or at least that's what we did for this metric. Each pair of pants was tested not only on the hill in a myriad of conditions but also went through a rigorous, two minute, "shower test." All seams, zippers, and fabric were blasted with water while the pants were worn for two minutes in the shower to see which pairs could stand up to prolonged exposure. To top it off, pants were worn in windy conditions to test for wind resistance.

The OutdoorGearLab shower test in full effect.
The OutdoorGearLab shower test in full effect.
Photo: Sarah Sherman

Fit and Comfort


Fit and Comfort is a somewhat subjective metric, but one that is important all the same. To test this, we invoked the help of our friends, trying each pair of pants on different body types, seeing how they fit us all differently. We also moved around in each pair, assessing how they help up through a day of skiing and seeing if there were any pain points, annoyances, or general issues.

Testing the range of motion in the SnowDrifter. The articulation in...
Testing the range of motion in the SnowDrifter. The articulation in the material around the knees provides great mobility.
Photo: Grant Lewis

Ventilation


Testing for ventilation involved identifying the venting systems on each pant and then testing them in action. Ventilation was best tested on warm, spring-like days, where ventilation was a necessary feature. We also tested ventilation when skinning uphill in the backcountry, which is another situation where this metric comes into play.

Checking out the vents on OR's Hemisphere Bib.
Checking out the vents on OR's Hemisphere Bib.

Warmth


To test warmth, each pair of pants was worn in cold, snowy conditions to assess how they enabled the wearer to retain heat. Cold chair lifts, check. We even went so far as to sit in the snow directly in an effort to see how they did with direct contact with the cold.

Features


Testing the features of each pant involved noting what was included in each pair of pants or bibs, as well as its usefulness. Some pants have pockets that are more stylish than functional, so while they counted as a feature, they were counted less than a pocket that was more usable to the wearer. A pair of pants with more specific functions, thoughtfully placed pockets, or add-ons like RECCO Technology would, again, score higher than one without.

Features like this wallet pocket impressed us throughout testing.
Features like this wallet pocket impressed us throughout testing.

Style


Style is another metric that is subjective, though we tried to add more measurable aspects. Pants were ranked not just on their general look, but also based on the variety in the product offered. If the product accommodated different body sizes or offered the pant in more than a couple of colors, it scored higher.