Whether you call them ski pants or salopettes, a good pair of warm and waterproof trousers are just as important as a decent jacket for skiing and snowboarding trips. Quality ski pants perform two functions – they keeps you warm when you’re zooming down a mountain slope and they keeps you dry if you end up in a pile of snow at the end of said slope.
If you’re having your first ski lesson or hitting an indoor slope for the day you could just pop a pair of waterproof trousers on over leggings, of course, but for anything more serious a decent pair of salopettes is a must, and if you look after them they can last you years of ski holidays or a whole season of working in the mountains.
There are myriad styles to choose from, usually in bright colours. Very skinny, slim-fitting salopettes are usually worn by racers or by the glamorous and fur-clad, while some snowboarders will opt for something a bit looser. The happy medium is well-fitting salopettes with plenty of room to wear a base layer underneath and that feel comfy and secure when done up at the waist – high-waisted trousers help avoid any snow seeping in if you do fall. Salopettes with braces are a bit like marmite; you either love them or hate them, but they definitely help to provide a good fit.
Good salopettes should feature a waterproof outer shell. Look for technology such as GoreTex or a waterproofing rating – anything over 1,500mm will repel water and snow but ideally you want to go for at least 10,000mm or even 20,000mm so that you can sit or fall in snow without getting damp. Taped seams make trousers even more waterproof. The right pair should feel a little long when you try them on in socks, so that they sit well when worn with ski boots, and have integrated gaiters that fit over your boots. Try on a few pairs and see how lifting your legs and squatting down low feels as you need plenty of flexibility.
Salopettes don’t come cheap if you’re buying them in winter, although we’ve included some good-quality cheaper options that would suit beginners as well as expensive but excellent models ideal for professionals in our round-up. Or if you’re after something with an integrated jacket, try OneSkee’s brilliant ski onesies(£399).
O’Neill x Jones Sync Ski Pants, £169.99
All of O’Neill’s pieces designed with pro snowboarder Jeremy Jones combine a lot of style with serious substance, but we’d plump for the Syncs. These are super-flattering, slouchy and comfortable ski pants that pack in 20,000mm of waterproofing, plus taped seams and a cosy knit-feel lining. On or off piste, they’ll stay up without a problem making them ideal for beginners and experts alike. Available in five colours.
Odlo Sly Ski Pants: £126, Odlo
These are the workhorse of our salopette round-up, and we reckon the tough shell and great quality material would make them last a decade of regular use. Odlo claims the Sly pants are 100 per cent functional (they’re waterproof to 20,000mm) but they’re also very flattering and are a pleasure to wear. They have a soft, fleecy lining, ventilation zips, roomy front pockets and comfy elastic braces. They also include RECCO reflectors that help you be found in an avalanche. These come in six colours.
Protest Saddle Snow Pants: £99.99, Protest
We love the dungaree styling and faded denim hue of these fun bib salopettes from Protest, whose entire ski collection has a playful feel. The outer shell is waterproof to 10,000mm and the high-waisted cut means they stay put from first lift to last call. These are some of the lighter, more breathable salopettes on our list – a good choice if you’re skiing hard and tend to overheat, but we’d pick a more insulated pair for freezing temperatures.
Dare2B Stand For II Snow Pants: £49.59, Outdoor Gear
The cheapest entry in our round-up still delivers great specs despite giving you change from £50. Fully waterproof (to 20,000mm) and with taped seams, they’re also great on the comfort front, with a high, adjustable waistband and a soft-touch lining that feels cosy against your skin. Ideal for beginners or cash-strapped seasonnaires.
North Face Presena Ski Pants: £149.99, Ellis Brigham
Wear the cheerful, fire-engine red Presenas and you won’t be hard to spot in a whiteout. These salopettes sport simple and effective design features – smart straight legs, taped seams, a waterproof and very breathable outer shell. Inside is Heatseeker insulation, which we definitely rate – the Presena was one of the warmest pairs of ski pants we tested, ideal for keeping you snug on freezing ski lifts. If you find the colour a bit blinding there is also a classic black version.
Arc’Teryx Shashka Pant: £380, Arcteryx
You get what you pay for with these: fantastic performance in any weather. They are deceptively light and thin to feel, but pop them on and you’ll instantly feel the benefit of the windproof, waterproof GoreTex outer shell. They feature reinforced leg panels and zipped sides that allow you to nip out of the pants quickly or to unzip a section for ventilation when you’re working hard. The stretchy braces are the comfiest we tested, too. If you’re a serious skier, instructor, winter hiker or ice climber we’d recommend investing in these to beat the elements all season.
Picture Slany Ski/Snowboard Pants: £179.95, Absolute Snow
Wide, baggy bad boys that boast great waterproofing (to 10,000mm and with taped seams), these look and feel awesome to wear. Our tester loved the high, slim waistband that sits inside the baggier pant. They’re eco-conscious too, and are organic and made of 46 per cent recycled materials. Available in five bright shades.
Roxy Torah Bright Rise Up Snow Pants: £175, Roxy
Roxy’s Rise Ups are designed in partnership with pro Aussie snowboarder Torah Bright and are so smart you’ll be heartbroken when the snow melts and you can’t wear them everywhere. Our tester loved the soft mustard yellow, slim fit and the comfy high waist, flanked with stretchy elastic panels that hug your hips and keep the Rise Ups in place no matter how many tricks and jumps you fancy attempting in the snow park. Waterproof to 15,000mm. Also available in navy.
Columbia Bugaboo Omni-Heat Trouser: £100, Columbia Sportswear
Tend to get chilly on the pistes and freeze on ski lifts? Pop the Bugaboos on your bottom half and you’ll be sorted. They’ll keep you warm even if you’re off exploring the backcountry all day thanks to thermal reflective insulation that traps your body heat and stays snug even in a snowstorm. We also like the sleek pockets, sealed seams and high-cut, adjustable waist. Available in five colours.
The Verdict: Women’s ski pants
For great performance, looks and comfort we like our top all-rounder, O Neill’s x Jones Sync, and also rate Odlo’s Sly. Saving your pennies for beers on the mountain? Pick Dare2B’s affordable Stand For II pants. And if you’re getting serious and want excellent waterproof trousers that double-up for other winter sports, invest in Arc’Teryx’s Shashka.