How to choose your ski & snowboard pants?

After guiding you in the choice of your ski & snowboard jacket, we're now going to guide you in the selection of your future ski & snowboard pants. The criteria for choosing pants are the same as those for a jacket: waterproofing, breathability and thermal insulation. Make sure, too, that you choose pants with the features you need for your specific requirements. 


Understanding the 3-layer concept

To guarantee optimum protection during your ski vacation, it is essential to understand the purpose of the different layers that make up your equipment:

  1.  The moisture-wicking layer: Nothing is more uncomfortable than feeling your ski & snowboard pants stick to your skin from perspiration during your days on the slopes. That's why the first layer of your equipment must be moisture-wicking, to keep you warm and dry.
  2. The thermal layer : In the face of changing weather conditions in the mountains, it would be a shame not to get the most out of your experience because of the cold. That's why it's a good idea to add an insulating layer (fleece or softshell) to your outfit to maintain your body heat.
  3. The protective layer: When you're out on the slopes, it's not unusual to encounter bad weather such as wind, rain or snow. These weather elements won't be a problem if you're wearing effective waterproof and windproof protection for your ski & snowboard pants!

Understanding the Waterproofing and Breathability of Ski and Snowboard Pants

When it comes to selecting the ideal pair of ski & snowboard pants, it's essential to understand the concepts ofwaterproofing and breathability to ensure optimum comfort and protection against harsh weather conditions. These two aspects play a fundamental role:

Waterproofing :

  • Waterproofing is the ability of ski and snowboard pants to resist water, whether snow or rain, by keeping it at a distance from the garment.
  • It is measured in Schmerber millimeters, indicating the height of water required for the fabric to begin to let moisture through. The higher the figure, the more waterproof the pants. Common levels range from 3,000 mm to 30,000 mm
  • < 8 000 mm : Imperméabilité moyenne
  • > 10 000 mm : Good impermeability
  • > 20 000 mm : Excellent impéabilité 

The waterproof membranes ( 20,000 mm ) are especially suited to snowboarders and powder skiers looking for committed freeride !

How can I be sure that my ski and snowboard pants are waterproof? 

  • Choose pants with aminimum waterproof rating of 10,000mm Schmerber
  • Check that seams and zippers are waterproof, so that no moisture, rain or snow can get inside the garment(heat-sealed or bonded with strips). 
  • Choose a membrane qualitymembrane: Gore-Tex®, infiDRY®, Dryplay

Breathability :

  • Breathability measures the ability of a pair of ski or snowboard pants to evacuate heat and perspiration from the inside to the outside, preventing moisture build-up inside.
  • It is measured in grams per square meter per 24 hours (g/m²/24 h). For example, pants with a breathability of 10,000 g/m²/24 h mean that they can evacuate 10,000 grams of moisture per square meter in 24 hours.
  • <10 000 grs/m²/24h : Respirabilité moyenne
  • >10,000 grs/m²/24h : Good breathability

Some ski and snowboard pants feature underarm vents that can be opened or zipped toimprove breathability. By opening them, you further promote moisture evacuation.

Thermal insulation

Not all ski pants come with thermal insulation, as heat requirements vary according to and conditions.

There are a number of factors that can influence your choice of ski and snowboard pants with different levels of insulation:
  • The practice : If you use ski lifts and ski on groomed slopes, you're bound to be inactive more often, so you'll need better protection from the cold. On the other hand, if you're an off-piste freerider, backcountry skier, touring skier or splitboarder, you'll be generating body heat on the way down or up, so all you need is a thin insulating layer.
  • Altitude : The higher you climb, the colder and windier it will be! 
  • The season : Temperatures change throughout the season. Whether you're skiing in December or April, they won't be the same and won't require the same insulation.
  • The station : Depending on the region, temperatures can also vary according to altitude and location.

Other factors to consider

  • Pockets: Whether front, back, cargo, zippered, button or Velcro pockets, make sure your ski and snowboard pants have the right pockets for your needs to avoid disappointment when you arrive at the top of the mountain. Zipped pockets are, of course, the most secure for your personal belongings, guaranteeing protection for your phone when it's neatly tucked away in a zipped pocket.
  • Ventilation and waterproofing: Zips and seams are sensitive points on pants, as they can be a route for moisture to enter. The most technical ski pants are equipped with waterproof zips and seams. For even greater breathability, many ski and snowboard pants also feature ventilation zips that you can open or close as needed.
  • Trouser/jacket connection system: Nothing is more unpleasant than letting snow get into your pants after a fall. To avoid this, you can opt for dungarees or choose pants with a connection system to a matching jacket, which prevents snow from infiltrating. These attachment systems, usually zips or snaps, can sometimes only be compatible with the jacket designed for the pants, as with the Volcom, Picture and 686 brands.
  • Reinforcements and snow gaiters: Most ski and snowboard pants are equipped with reinforcements in the areas of greatest stress, such as crampon knocks, edge knocks and pole knocks. In addition, snow gaiters are essential to prevent snow from seeping into your ski or snowboard boots when you're out in the powder.
  • Adjustable length for kids: Some brands offer children's ski pants with an adjustable length, such as Picture. This allows you to adjust the length of the pants as your child grows from one winter to the next, so you don't have to buy new pants. This system often relies on removable seams.

Dungarees or pants? 

Between the dungarees team and the pants team, each camp has its own well-established arguments. When it comes to style, dungarees divide opinion: some find them old-fashioned, while others passionately defend them as a trendy choice. Others feel they can be less practical, taking longer to put on and requiring more handling when going to the toilet, for example. However, they do have the undeniable advantage of preventing any snow intrusion, an undeniable asset when hurtling down powder slopes. Everyone has their own vision of things, and those who prefer to remain neutral (or are undecided) may opt for ski and snowboard pants equipped with suspenders.

In conclusion, choosing your ski or snowboard pants involves taking several criteria into account, including material, waterproofing, breathability, fit and different functionalities. Don't hesitate to try out different models to find the one best suited to your level and needs. The HawaiiSurf team wishes you all the best on the slopes!