To test which pants truly deserved the title of best women's ski pants, we, of course, went skiing. From Mammoth Mountain to Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows and a number of resorts in between, 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 that together outline the different aspects of what makes a pant great, or not.
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 put to the test in a two minute, "shower test." All seams, zippers, and fabric were blasted with water for two minutes 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.
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.
Testing for ventilation involved identifying the venting systems on each pant and then testing them in action. The fall had a warm start with many resorts opening on man-made snow, which allowed ventilation to be tested on many days that truly felt like spring, where it was a necessary feature. We also tested ventilation when skinning uphill in the backcountry.
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.
In terms of features, testing came down to noting each feature that was included in a pair of pants or bibs, as well as its usefulness. Some pants had pockets that were for more style than function, so while they counted as a feature, they were counted less than a highly functioning pocket. A pair of pants with more specific functions, pockets, or things like RECCO Technology would, again, score higher than one without.
Style is another metric that is subjective, though we tried to add some less subjective aspects. Pants were ranked not just by general look, but also based on the variety in the product offered. If the product accommodated different body sizes and offered the pant in more than a couple of colors, it scored higher.