The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

How We Tested Ski Pants

Saturday October 17, 2020

To compare ski pants, we skied extensively in each pair. Our testing grounds over the years have included the resorts of Jackson Hole and Grand Targhee, Wyoming, Mammoth Mountain, California, and backcountry trips in the Tetons and the Sierras. From groomers to deep powder, and sunny days to storm days, these pants went through the wringer. Below, we discuss the specifics of how we assessed all the pants evenly across the performance metrics we have identified as crucial for this type of gear.

Testing ski pants in early season powder  Teton Range  Wyoming.
Testing ski pants in early season powder, Teton Range, Wyoming.

Weather Resistance


Weather resistance was at the front of our minds throughout the testing period. We used each pair of pants in the stormiest weather we could find, from nuclear powder days to windy chairlift rides in storms. We also assessed each pants' waterproof claims by wearing them in the shower for five minutes, scrubbing the fabric, and looking for signs of water penetration.

Our testing included a dousing in the shower to check the manufacturers' waterproof claims.
Our testing included a dousing in the shower to check the manufacturers' waterproof claims.

Fit and Comfort


We gave these pants to testers with different body types to see how they fit across a spectrum. Comfort was related to fit, but we also looked for features like soft fleece linings and stretchy fabric that allowed for movement. Mobility also played a large factor in this metric.

Ventilation


After objectively assessing the size and location of each pant's vents, we took the pants on long bootpacks and backcountry ski tours to build up some heat and see how effectively the pants could dump heat.

Warmth


The cold early winter of Jackson Hole, Wyoming was a great place to test for warmth. We wore these pants during cold-weather chores like splitting wood and shoveling the driveway. Once the skiing got good, we took them out on the coldest days in the weather forecast, wearing them for one run at a time and constantly changing pairs to come up with our warmth rankings.

Features


To test for features, we first compared the locations, sizes, and types of pockets found on each pair. We also noted any additional features like bibs, key clips, adjustable waist belts, and buttons that attach to a jacket's powder skirt. We then used the features while skiing to assess which ones actually made the pants better, and which were poorly designed, needed more refinement, or just not that useful.

Style


We wore these pants all over the ski slopes, backcountry, and apres-ski joints of Jackson Hole, asking everyone along the way how we looked. By getting a variety of responses, and being totally unashamed in who we asked, we feel confident in our style assessment.