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You can’t pay the ladies at SKI and Outside enough to test new ski pants and bibs (and to be crystal clear, brands pay us nothing). What’s so bad about trying on fancy new pants, you ask? Just about everything if the pants don’t fit well, they don’t have the right number of pockets and vents (in the right places), or if they don’t have a functioning drop-seat, even though they advertise one.
So rest assured that the ski pants and bibs that made it onto this year’s list not only meet our performance standards—they’re water- and windproof, abrasion resistant, and warm—they also meet our high fit and functionality demands. Each features the same high-tech materials you’d find in men’s outerwear, and some even incorporate eco-friendly fabrics that continue to prioritize sustainability in ski apparel. While all that may come with a heftier price tag, trust us—it pays to invest in quality ski pants.
Also check out: The best women’s ski jackets of 2023
How We Test
Number of testers: 9
Pants considered: 30
Number of days testing product: 4-10
Average height of testers: 5’6’’
We enlisted a group of nine female gear testers based in different parts of the country—from Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming to Colorado to Vermont—to ensure this year’s crop of ski pants and bibs was put to test in a variety of weather conditions. All testers were asked to ski in their test pants for a minimum of four days, then provide written feedback of how the pants/bibs performed across different categories, including waterproofing, breathability, insulation, fit, comfort, and style. We then reviewed their feedback to parse out the best women’s ski pants ande bibs of 2023.
Reviews: The Best Women’s Ski Pants and Bibs of 2023
The North Face Women’s Tsirku Futurelight Bibs ($750)
Sizes: XS to XL
Weight: 2.4 lbs
Pros: Outer and inner leg venting; suspenders secured through a sliding buckle in the back
Cons: Fits a little snug; cuffs expand but don’t unzip
Made for big-mountain skiers, The North Face’s Women’s Tsirku Futurelight Bibs regulated temperature better than anything else we tested. The hyper-articulated fit flexed comfortably whether we were ripping a line through the trees or hammering through a bump run. The bibs use light and flexible fabric with ultra-durable Spectra woven in. It resisted tree snags and kept this kit looking new despite hard use. The mostly recycled-fabric pants have clever adjustments: Suspenders tighten with a spring-loaded locking cam; pull one side and the straps self-equalize. We also love the built-in side-pull belt. All exposed zippers are waterproof, and they open and close effortlessly. A right-side waist-to-knee zip let us pee without stripping. Vents on the inner and outer thighs dump heat, and low-profile leg pockets hold a beacon, snacks, and other relatively flat things. “The perfect bibs for big missions, the Tsirku didn’t feel like overkill for everyday skiing,” said Vermont tester Berne Broudy.
Trew W Capow Bibs ($479)
Sizes: XS to XXL
Weight: 1.7 lbs
Pros: Cut for muscular skier legs; backcountry/frontside compatible
Cons: Bib pockets are small; too much room in the butt to be flattering for après
If you ski whatever the weather, Trew’s W Capow will keep you dry and comfortable. With a relaxed fit, a below-the-bust rise, options for inseam length, and an easy-to-drop seat, it was also one of the most comfortable and best-fitting women’s bibs we tested. Made from stretchy, waterproof fabric with storm-flap-covered water-resistant zips, the bibs were praised by testers for skiing as well as sledding and working outdoors in the winter. Tester Michelle Nicholson, based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, said, “The relief-access zipper is one of the best I’ve used. The zipper is well placed; I barely feel it while skiing.” SuperFabric cuffs and kick patches, which feel like flexible plastic, prevent ski cuts and ragged hems. A silicone gripper on the stretchy suspender straps keep them from slipping off under a jacket. The thigh pockets are sized to hold a beacon and other gear, as are pockets on the stretchy center-zip bib; one has a D-ring beacon lash point.
Mountain Hardwear Powder Quest Pants ($325)
Sizes: XS to XL
Weight: 1.5 lbs
Pros: Available in various lengths; high-cut back
Cons: Color and print not to everyone’s liking; hip pockets gape when open
When tall and short, straight and curvy testers alike love the same pair of pants, you know you’ve got a winner. With features like mesh-lined thigh vents that give the pants temperature flexibility, the Powder Quest is adjustable, featured yet uncluttered, and as comfortable as a favorite pair of sweats. The boot gaiters slide easily over ski boots, and the cuffs have a zipper to make the gaiters easily accessible. Testers loved the fleecy hand pockets, the phone-/snack-sized thigh pockets, and the Velcro tabs at the waist, which provide substantial adjustment. In biting cold, we were toasty; the gently stretchy pants are well insulated. But we wore them on warmer days, too, and stayed totally comfortable. Vermont tester Alix Klein said, “The high waist was snug and warm. The length was perfect and the stretch fabric made moving around easy.” The Powder Quest is available in multiple lengths. They fit tester Grace Simmons, who is 6 feet tall, and Klein, who is 5 feet, 3 inches.
Helly Hansen Women’s Alphelia 2.0 Pants ($300)
Sizes: Women’s XS to XL
Weight: 1.5 lbs
Pros: Warm without being bulky; cozy brushed lining
Cons: No phone/snack pocket that’s comfortable when seated; no zipper pulls on thigh vents
Deliciously warm and delightfully soft, Helly Hansen’s Women’s Alphelia 2.0 Pants are a fitted resort option for skiers who want to stay warm, move freely, and tread lightly. The flattering cut, adjustable waist tabs, and belt loops let them flex to match how you want to wear them and what you want to pair them with. Articulated knees moves with you, whether you’re shredding greens or double-blacks. The pants are fully seam-sealed for total waterproofness, and we love the boot-gaiter design, which features gripper silicone on the cuffs to keep them from riding up, plus a mesh panel to release heat without letting in snow. Tester Susan Mol, skiing in Grand Targhee, Wyoming, praised the Alphelia’s oversized glove-friendly zipper pulls and the pants’ high-warmth, low-bulk PrimaLoft Black Eco insulation. Helly’s proprietary waterproof, windproof, and breathable fabric keeps the weather out, yet lets sweat evaporate. Bonus: The pants are PFC-free. If you’re on the cusp between two sizes, size up.
Burton Women’s Reserve Stretch 2L Bibs ($280)
Sizes: Women’s XXS to XXL
Weight: 2 lbs
Pros: Side-zip drop seat; can be worn snug or baggy
Cons: Suspender clips flip sideways; chest pocket is too small to fit all phones comfortably
It wasn’t just the price that made these bibs so popular among testers. Stowe, Vermont, skier Alix Klein said, “They looked and felt rugged, and the cut was uniformly flattering: slender through the waist and straight through the legs.” The Reserve Stretch is also heavy on features. Zippers on both hips make them pee-friendly. Testers reported that they feel stretchy and appropriately warm while lapping the terrain park. Though they aren’t insulated, the waterproof, breathable fabric has a comfortable weight, which makes them feel cozy. We love the long cut as well as the big thigh and chest pockets, and the boot hooks on the gaiters. If the pants were too long for some testers, they cinched them shorter with the boot-cuff toggle. Inner-thigh vents cooled us down when we hiked or went spring skiing. Size up for a baggy fit and down for a slimmer setup. The only place Burton skimped was with the suspender clips, which sometimes flipped sideways.
Oros Immix Bibs ($400)
Sizes: Women’s XS to XL
Weight: 2 lbs
Pros: Lots of ways to drop them when nature calls; pockets galore
Cons: Thigh pockets aren’t transceiver-friendly; fabric puckers slightly in rain
These bibs are made from ultra-high-tech materials, including aerogel insulation, used to keep Mars rovers warm. For women, the challenge of bibs is getting them off to pee. This model makes things easy thanks to a right-side zipper from the armpit down to mid-thigh and a sliding buckle on the silicone-backed suspender. The Immix has many useful pockets: two hand pockets at the hips, two cargo pockets on the thighs, and one chest pocket big enough for a transceiver, phone, or “fast access to a GoPro while videoing my friends on a powder day,” shared Sun Valley, Idaho, tester Sarah Kope. The fully seam-sealed bibs are waterproof from the waist down; even sitting on chairlift ice, our butts stayed warm and dry. We never overheated wearing these, as the mesh-covered inside thigh vents released excess warmth. Mesh internal boot gaiters prevented sweat from building up. Size up if you like to layer: There’s limited stretch in the torso fabric, and the legs run short to regular.
Columbia Iceventure Bibs ($140)
Sizes: XS to XXL, 1X to 3X
Weight: 1.5 lbs
Pros: Affordable; high cut is supportive
Cons: No drop-seat; one length only
Sometimes simple is better, and that’s what made the Iceventure a tester favorite for the price. Lined internally with Columbia’s heat reflective technology, the Iceventure Bibs are also insulated and fully waterproof yet breathable, making them ideal for skiers who don’t want something tight on their waist. Vermont skier Alix Klein noted, “These bibs fit and look great—slender up top with nice lines, and easy to move in.” The bibs, which are cut to under breast height, have a broad, stretchy panel in back and Velcro tabs to cinch the waist to fit your figure. They close with a glove-friendly center zip. Plus, they have hand warmer pockets, which keep hands toasty while standing in lift lines (or queuing up for rope drops). Zippers from just below the knees down allow extra space for squeezing ski boots under the cuffs. The gaiter has plenty of give, but the zippered cuff flap doesn’t open all the way, and when it is open, the snap flaps around.
Eddie Bauer Power Search Pants ($199)
Sizes: Women’s XS to XXL; petite, 1X-3X, and tall sizes also available
Weight: 12 oz
Pros: Generous cut in the thighs and butt; velcro-reinforced snaps at the waist
Cons: Not as waterproof as some other pants; no thigh pocket
It’s hard for women with muscular legs to find pants that aren’t binding. The Power Search has a generous cut that testers loved. Eddie Bauer sews in an extra side panel in the legs to make them great for skiers who need a little more space. Belt loops and Velcro adjustment tabs at the waist band give the Power Stretch a lot of fit flexibility. “I loved the Velcro reinforcement around the double waist snaps,” said Sugarbush, Vermont, tester Grace Simmons. “It kept these pants from popping open.” Made from a two-layer waterproof, breathable fabric with 40 grams of synthetic insulation, the pants have no problem fending off arctic temps without feeling bulky. They’re also stretchy enough for athletic moves in the park and down a zipper-line bump run. Thigh vents on both legs provide airflow on warm days. The cuff guards are key in keeping these pants looking good since they resist ski edges and keep the softshell fabric free of cuts and nicks.
Scott Vertic 3L Women’s Pants ($320)
Sizes: Women’s XS to XL
Weight: 1.1 lbs
Pros: Optional bib; PFC-free and 100 percent recycled
Cons: Halter is on the snugger side; without halter, pants ride low
Can’t decide if you should buy pants or bibs? Scott’s Vertic 3L Women’s is both. A three-layer waterproof, breathable ski bottom with a stretchy, zip-off halter, the Vertic is made to adapt to the day and your mood. Hip-to-knee vents provide airflow. A large zippered thigh pocket stashes gear, as do the hand and chest pockets. We wore the pants with the bib when the snow was deep, when we wanted a little extra warmth, or when we needed extra storage. When it was warm, or when we wanted to drop trou unhindered, we went pants only. Testers loved the waist adjustability—belt loops and Velcro tabs—and the generous fit. These pants run large and leave room for layering. “I liked the weight of these pants,” commented Vermont tester Grace Simmons. “The heavier waterproof, breathable fabric felt like it provided extra weather protection.” A dual snap cuff has an adjustable gaiter, so we could tweak both cuffs and gaiters to fit our boots.
Patagonia Storm Shift Pants ($379)
Sizes: Women’s XXS to XL
Weight: 1.5 lbs
Pros: Fluoro-free Gore-Tex membrane, fabric, and DWR; body-mapped fleece lining
Cons: Muted colors only; not available in multiple lengths
If you care about having snow to ski on, choosing a kit that strives to minimize its impact on the planet makes sense. The Storm Shift is the culmination of a six-year partnership between Patagonia and Gore-Tex. They’re the first Patagonia pants to use Gore-Tex’s “Guaranteed to Keep You Dry” non-fluorinated membrane, 100-percent-recycled face fabric, and PFC-free DWR that’s durable enough to meet both brands’ standards. After four days of ripping up the slopes in Montana, tester Sam Berman proclaimed it a solid one-kit quiver: “Thanks to body-mapped fleece and great ventilation, it excelled in a variety of conditions, from storm skiing to sunny groomers.” Berman was impressed by the soft and silky fabric. She said that it skied like any great Gore-Tex kit. The powder skirt is self-tensioning, zips are waterproof, and the pants clip to Patagonia’s matching jacket for extra weather protection. Outer-thigh zips vented on command.