When it comes to skiing temperatures, you can find yourself carving on a warm spring day with temps rising in the 40’s, or you can be bundling up as the wind chills reach near -30. To battle the wide range of temperatures you’ll need the right pair of ski or snowboard pants to bring along on the trip.
If you want protection against the frigid weather and even to help combat against sweating too much on a sunny spring afternoon, you’ll want to know the right pants for the occasion.
Shell pants are pretty straightforward. They simply are not insulated.
There are many benefits to shell ski pants, the main one being their versatility. They allow you to layer underneath them to meet the demands of the temperatures. For warmer skiing a moisture-wicking baselayer may be all you need, whereas when you’re skiing in colder temperatures, you can add warmer layers and still have the freedom of mobility.
Since shell pants lack insulation you’ll find that you do have more maneuverability. Insulation can get bulky and, while you can still move with it, if you’re a park rider or you love the bumps and the trees, then you’ll enjoy the freedom that a shell ski pant offers.
Other benefits of a shell ski pant will be that they are generally windproof, waterproof and highly breathable, but so are most insulated ski pants as well.
If you tend to be on the cold side then you’ll want to stick with an insulated ski pant. Let’s check out the various types of insulated pants.
If you’re looking for warmth and protection then insulated ski pants are the way to go.
There are various forms of insulation that are available, but in regards to pants (as opposed to jackets) you’ll most likely come across synthetic insulation; however fleece and down insulations are also out there.
The math is easy on insulation – the higher the number, the greater the insulation. But let’s breakdown what each category of warmth translates to.
- Slightly Warm – Slightly warm insulated pants provide a little warmth but aren’t ideal on the colder, more windy days. In those instances, definitely wear some layers. They’ll also provide the greatest amount of maneuverability.
- Warm – Warm insulated pants are for the normal cold, probably those upper-20’s into the 30’s when you might find some wind that will give you a little wind chill factor.
- Warmer – As you move up to an insulated ski pant that’s considered warmer, you’ll find that the insulation is thicker and may even include down insulation which is generally bulky but very warm. On top of that, there are technological properties included that may help retain heat. If it’s consistently cold then you’ll want a warmer insulated ski pant.
- Warmest – This combination of insulation and heating properties will help keep the heat trapped in so you can try to stay warm in the most frigid temps. If you scoff at the reading on the thermometer and snicker at the skiers too afraid to handle the cold, you’ll want the warmest insulated ski pant you can find when you head out to the mountain and laugh in the face of old man winter.
Remember that as you move in insulation amounts and into the warmer and warmest categories, you’ll find your mobility isn’t as great as the slightly warm insulated pants or shell pants may offer. It’s not necessarily a good thing or bad thing but it’s something to be cognizant of when lots of mobility plays a factor in your skiing – a frontside carver may be more willing to part with mobility for more warmth than a park rider might.