Now five years into my career as a snow sports instructor in the mountains of Utah, I know what gear belongs on the mountain.
My first winter wasn’t that way.
I think I must have bought four different pairs of pants trying to find the right ones for using on the mountain.
Now I’m going to help you avoid the same mistakes and find the best snowboarding pants for you!
Choosing the right snowboard pants is critical for enjoying the slopes. If you’ve ever been boarding in the spring you know that wearing thick pants can make for a hellish day.
Which snowboard pants can you pick up that have the features you need at a price you can tolerate? We’ll break it down for you.
Ladies: We review the Men’s pants for simplicity, a link to the Women’s model is provided.
Quick Answer: The 7 Best Snowboard Pants For 2018
- Volcom Freakin Snow Chino Snowboard Pants
- Burton Cargo Mid Fit Snow Pants
- Oakley Arrowhead BZI Board Pants
- Volcom Ventral Snowboard Pants
- 686 Authentic Smarty Cargo Pants
- Columbia Ridge 2 Run II Omni Heat Snowboard Pants
- Arctix SnowSports Cargo Pants
Let’s look at a comparison of my 3 favorite top rated snowboard pants with full reviews and a buyers guide below. Here are some of the most rad snowboard pants out there right now!
Best Snowboarding Pants
Reviews of Men’s & Women’s Snowboarding Pants
Looking for a pair of modern, slim styled snowboard pants that can keep up and rock all the features you need at a good price?
Yeah, it’s possible to get all of that in one trim package.
Volcom has been making snowboarding gear for years and they usually get it right. Zippered inseam vents are a must have and they deliver on these pants.
This makes them useful in a much broader range of weather than normal pants.
With waterproofing of 10,000mm and breath-ability of 5,000gm, they’re waterproof and breathable, and why not have that on any pair of winter pants?
I would have like to see full seam taping but Volcom opted for critical seam taping only. Boot gaiters are included and the pants have a moderate amount of insulation. If you go with a Volcom jacket, you have the option of pants to jacket interface.
All around they might be the best Mens snowboard pants and a good choice for all season riding.
Best Women’s Snowboard Pants: Volcom Chino Women’s Snowboard Pants.
Burton is another name in snowboarding that is as old as the sport itself. Burton somehow has their name on everything that is snowboarding. Why? Because they make some of the best gear. Period.
I picked these cargo pants because they pack my favorite features. From spending years on the mountain, I know which features to keep and which to ditch.
Extra cargo pockets are a must have.
On long days, you can stuff them full of snacks and supplies. When they’re not in use, they won’t be in the way.
As always, we’re looking for waterproofness, inseam zips, and boot gaiters. They’re ALL here and these pants DELIVER.
They’re also available in quite a few more colors than the comparable Volcom pants. Overall probably the best snowboarding pants.
Women’s Model: Burton Gloria Women’s Snowboard Pants
These Oakley pants are busting in to our list packing a bit heavier insulation than most.
With 60g of heat generating insulation they’ll be perfect for low stress days or those bitter cold storms deep in mid-winter. Beware, however, on sunny spring days you’ll be sweating!
Don’t leave them on the shelf just yet! They do rock two inseam zippered vents which effectively dump all the excess heat out of the pants when you want to.
This makes the Arrowhead pants good for everything from the coldest days to all but the warmest of spring weather.
Of course, they also have gaiters, cargo pockets, and Velcro adjustable waistbands! All around I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up these pants for a day on the mountain.
Women’s Model: Oakley Stick Line BZI Women’s Snowboarding Pants.
These pants are a hairs breadth of difference away from the Snow Chino pants. So why include them?
Because they’re rocking a more generous exterior storage option. Outer wallet pocket is nice. I have a pair of pants with and without this feature. I always opt for the wallet pocket myself.
I also like the cargo pocket on the thigh.
Sometimes you want to carry a snack and taking along an entire backpack is a hassle!
Overall, they’re waterproof, reinforced, and feature inseam vent zips and waterproof taped seams.
All of the critical features I look for in a snowboard pant are right here.
Available in 5 colors to suit your style and are among the best waterproof snowboard pants you can get.
Women’s Model: Volcom Diablo Womens’ Snowboarding Pants.
These pants take insulation to the next level. Just like my motorcycle jacket, they have a removable insulation liner.
A second layer of fleece liner sits inside the pants and can be pulled out when the weather warms up. Some will find this feature too much of a hassle while others will love it!
Personally I love the flexibility they offer, it might save you needing an extra base layer for the really cold weather.
Taped seams, waterproof fabric, and a wide range of colors and styles make these pants a good choice for just about any boarder.
If your into camo snowboard pants, they make the coolest looking ones I have seen.
There are tons of pickets, integrated gaiters, and adjustable waistband. You even get an adjustable inseam zippered vent, probably the best snowboarding pants for the money.
Women’s Model: 686 Women’s Authentic Smarty Cargo Pant.
If you’ve been reading my reviews long enough, you’ll know that Columbia ranks as one of my favorite companies for outdoor gear.
It’s not because they make the best stuff. It’s because they make great gear at the best prices. Their “price-to-value” ratio is off the charts!
These Ridge 2 pants come in at a price that can beat just about any other snowboard pant. They have omni-heat tech which is a reflective micro dot system which increase the warm of the pants.
They’re also made from a strong twill nylon with durable nylon patches on the inside of the boot cuffs for durability.
There are two inseam zippered vents and plenty of pockets to go around. You’ll also find the pants available in 8+ colors.
Are they the best budget snowboard pants?
That’s for you to decide, but I think you know my opinion!
Women’s Model: Columbia Veloca Vixen Women’s Snowboarding Pants
Like the Columbia Ridge 2 pants, these Arctix pants feature durable and robust nylon abrasion pads between the boot cuffs.
There’s a total for four pockets held up with adjustable elastic waistband with the option for a belt.
Zippered bootlegs make it easy to adjust around ski or snowboard boots after putting on your gear. I like the integrated gaiters but there’s just one thing to watch out for.
Overall these extremely budget oriented snowboard pants lack ventilation and feature 85g of insulation. They’re going to be insanely hot and lack the ability to dump extra heat in warm weather.
In the end, these pants make sense for someone on a tight budget looking for the best cheap snowboard pants or those looking for pants that will work in the cold temperatures of mid-winter.
Women’s Model: Arctix Women’s Cargo Snowboard Pants.
Snowboarding Pants Comparison Table
|Volcom Freakin Snow Chino||Dual layer polyester||80gm||Critically taped seams, can be zipped to jacket||4.5 / 5.0|
|Burton Cargo Mid Fit||2-Layer Polyester/Nylon||80gm||Fully taped seams with mesh-lined I-Cool venting||4.4 / 5.0|
|Oakley Arrowhead BZI||Dual layer polyester||60gm/40gm (Biozone insulated)||Inner thigh venting with mesh, boot gaiter with boot hook||4.4 / 5.0|
|Volcom Ventral||Polyester||80gm||10,000mm/10,000gm with critical taped seams||4.1 / 5.0|
|686 Authentic Smarty||Polyester||310g removable fleece Smarty pant lining||15,000mm / 10,000gm with fully taped seams||4.2 / 5.0|
|Columbia Ridge 2 Run II||Omni-shield nylon||Omni-Heat thermal reflective liner||Omni-Tech Waterproof/Breathable fully seam sealed||4.0 / 5.0|
|Arctix SnowSports Cargo Pants||Polyester||85 Grams of ThermaTech insulation||Boot gaiters with grippers for integration with boots||3.8 / 5.0|
How to Choose the Best Snowboarding Pants
There are several key factors to choosing snowboards pants. Among other things insulation, waterproofness, and durability play key roles.
- Warmth and Insulation
- Zips and Vents
- Types of Snowboard Pants
- Boot Gaiters
- Best Snowboard Pants Brands
- FAQ For Snowboarding Pants
Nylon is the key to durability – end of story. There are other synthetic fibers out there that are more durable but they’re uncommon and highly expensive. Nylon is the most common and affordable bombproof snowboard pant shell material.
Look for thick Cordura or heavy denier nylon patches on the knees, cuffs, and sometimes hip area. These extra durable patches add to the ruggedness of your snowboarding pants and will prevent tearing or abrasion.
Warmth and Insulation
When it comes to snowboarding, you’ll probably want to pairs of pants. One for crazy cold weather and another for spring conditions.
Insulated board pants are great for days when you won’t be pushing yourself. If your activity levels are low or temps plummet, bring out the insulated pants.
You will normally see the insulation of snowboard pants measured in gram weight value or gm or something like 80gm. So this means the weight in grams in a square meter of material.
A higher number means more insulation and a warmer pair of pants.
The “waterproofness” of pants are typically measure in mm. This means how many millimeters a column of water pressing against the material it can withstand before the water soaks through.
Typical mid-range snowboarding pants have values of 5,000 mm of water resistance the best materials have 10,000mm and the best have values of 20,000mm.
On days when you’re going to be pushing yourself, working up a sweat, and shredding to the max you may want light insulation. It’s amazing how easy it is to overheat even in 10-20 degree weather on the mountain.
Go easy on the insulation when temps get into the high 20’s or in sunny spring conditions.
Zips and Vents
These are a critical additional feature on snowboard pants that are meant to play double duty. If you want your board pants to perform at their best and keep you both warm and cool depending on the day, you need vents.
I prefer zippered leg vents. These are mesh zippered ventilation holes that are built in to the pants between your legs. I’ve never once gotten snow inside my pants even when they’re open. They do, however, serve to dump excess heat out of your pants on hot days.
Do you need waterproof snowboard pants? Depends.
When I’m teaching skiing, for instance, I rarely wipe out and rarely see wet or rainy weather. 99% of my days on the mountain don’t need waterproof pants and I ski about 110 days a season.
However, in areas where wet snow is common or during spring skiing conditions, waterproof pants can be helpful. When it does choose to rain on you, you’ll be grateful! Trust me.
If you only venture out to snowboard when weather is ideal then you may not even need to bother with waterproof pants. Most snowboard pants are waterproof anyways, but if this sounds like you then just make waterproofness a low priority or last consideration.
Before we move on, I wanted to talk about the waterproofing rating numbers you may see being quoted.
Clothing makers will often quote number to tell you how water proof and breathable their clothing is. As an example, 10,000mm and 5,000gm. So the first number in mm (millimeters) tells you how waterproof the material is.
So if its rated 10,000mm that means you can take a tube of 1 inch by 1 inch which is about 33 feet tall (10,000mm) and fill it water and place it over the material before it starts to leak through. Obviously the larger the number, the more water proof it is.
The second number quote tells you how breathable the material is. It is measured in gm (grams) and tells you how many grams of water vapor can go through a sq meter of the material in a 24 hour period.
So if its rated 5,000 gm, it means that 5,000 grams of water can pass through the fabric in 24 hours. As with waterproofing, the higher the number the better it is, meaning its more breathable.
Types of Snowboard Pants
Let’s cover the 4 types of snowboard pants so you can be appropriately educated before you go shopping for your new pants!
Snowboard pants that are uninsulated are also called shells that are usually waterproof and windproof outer layers that are designed to be used as part of a layering system.
Snowboard shell pants are usually made from a thick layer of nylon. Reason being, nylon is tough, durable and is abrasion resistant to hold up to wear and tear.
Uninsulated pants can be further broken down into two varieties; 2 layer pants and 3 layer pants.
With the 2 layer type you have a water resistant outer shell with a breathable liner. With the 3 layer style you have a “membrane” that is water resistant and breathable in between the shell and liner.
Naturally these type of pants are more expensive and in my opinion probably not worth the extra money.
Pro tip: look for reinforced nylon patches on the inside of each pant leg where your boots and snowboard edges are likely to rub and abrade. This is a nice extra feature providing a more durable pair of pants.
You will see some uninsulated snowboard pants with a thin layer of fleece or other polyester based insulation for just a bit of warmth.
Most beginner snowboarders automatically assume that insulated pants are the way to go but this is not necessarily the case.
They are the least versatile type of pants and unless you are only making a few runs down or only snowboard in very cold weather, thick insulated ski pants are probably not the way to go.
Maybe I’m hot blooded but my legs almost never get cold when snowboarding. I tend to board pretty hard and fast.
Even when I am with my girlfriend who is a slow skier I still have not had a problem getting cold with uninsulated pants and a good base layer.
You can find insulated pants in many thicknesses and warmth ratings and can range from bare minimum insulation to polar-explorer style insulation.
The big problem with most insulated pants, is it is difficult to manage warmth levels depending on your activity level.
So if your ripping down the blacks you will not need the same amount of insulation than if your plodding down a green run with a friend or sitting outside for a well-deserved beer.
As with shells, you will definitely want insulated pants with ventilation options so you can regulate temperature.
More so with insulated pants you need to consider your normal activity level while snowboarding. If you’re a slower boarder who only goes down a few runs a day, most likely you will be fine with heavier insulation.
I regularly wear a pair of Burton Cargo Mid Fit Snow Pants that are lightly insulated that suit me well.
If your going to hitting the terrain park doing tricks you are going quickly overheat with insulated pants.
If you want to go the insulated route, look for lightly insulated pants with roughly 40-60 grams so on really cold days just wear a good base layer and you will be fine.
Pro tip: Look for leg zippers, these can be opened and closed to regulate your temperature. Especially useful for warmer spring snowboarding.
Just like with jackets there are “softshell” pants as well. The difference being soft shell snowboard pants do not have a durable nylon outer shell but have a light, flexible material.
This style of pants is designed for warmer conditions where you don’t need protection from the wind.
These tend to be more comfortable and breathable than the hard shell variety. However, if you are a beginner they are probably not for you.
They do not offer much in the way of water resistance and if your falling a lot you will quickly get wet.
For the spring skier, these are a solid option!
Yeah, it seems so 1950’s to rock suspenders like ol’ grandpa did. However, many snowboarders and skiers love full length bib-style pants or pants with optional suspenders.
This feature just helps keep things in place during a long day of boarding. It’s not easy to keep 5 layers of clothes from bunching up, sliding down, or riding somewhere weird.
There are two benefits that bibs offer: They stay in place securely and there is no waistline that snow can get in.
Sizing bibs correctly is very important. For men, if the straps don’t allow the pants to sit low enough they will ride up and make your “boys” uncomfortable.
I borrowed a pair of my friend’s bibs and they kept riding up on me all day, pretty annoying! The best snowboard bibs will allow you to zip off the top “bib” part leaving you with a pair of snowboard pants.
Must have them. End of story.
Boot gaiters are included on every pair of snow pants I’ve ever seen. They’re elastic cuffs at the bottom of each leg that stretch over your boots and keep the snow from sliding up into the top of the boot.
FAQ For Snowboard Pants
Q: What size snowboard pants should I get?
A: I think the trend for everyone to rock hugely oversized snowboard pants has largely passed. However, baggy snowboard pants are a double edged sword.
On one hand baggy pants don’t restrict movement very much.
On the other hand, baggy clothing can bind or fall in the way.
I would recommend that you focus first on the waist measurement. Remember you’ll probably be wearing tights underneath so take that into consideration. Get the waist measurement right and your pants will stay in the right place.
Trust me, you don’t want to spend all day on the hill with your gear falling down. Long inseam measurements don’t really matter much so long as the pants themselves stay in place.
Q: What’s up with knee patches?
A: I think you need them!
With ski pants, which I’m most familiar with, reinforced patches on the insides of the legs near the boots are important to prevent abrasion and fraying. For snowboarding reinforced knees are critical because that’s one of the areas where you’ll be falling or sitting.
Taking a knee on a snowboard is a good way to get off your feet without plopping on your but if you’re already facing toe side. Taking a fall, particularly on the toe side, also means you’ll probably go down on your knees. You’ll want some reinforcement there.
Plus, let’s be honest knee patches and elbow patches are in right now anyways.
Q: Are there important features I should look for?
A: If you’ve ready my other articles about winter pants then you know I love thigh zips. Leg zippers are great for ventilation and they allow you to cool off without streaking around the resort with your pants around your ankles.
Look for inner leg zippers. To find the best ones make sure they have a mesh inside that prevents snow from getting in. This allows airflow but will help block the majority of any incoming snow if you take a fall.
Q: What are the best materials for snowboard pants?
A: Both polyester and nylon are common choices.
Nylon is more durable and in the right weave patterns it can be almost waterproof by itself. Nylon remains my top choice for snowboard pants because of the durability and inherent windproof factor.
However, polyester is a close second. Polyester is a little less durable but it still makes a good choice for most application. Polyester tends to absorb moisture more readily which makes it a poorer choice for waterproof breathable garments. It can be a bit cheaper than nylon in some cases, but overall I still feel nylon takes the cake.
Q: Should I use a belt or suspenders?
A: I know suspenders look dorky but they work great! Honestly I would recommend suspenders if you’re having trouble keeping your snowboard pants in the right spot.
If you can, however, try to get the sizing right on your snowboard pants in the first place. This way they’ll sit properly on your hips and you may not even need a belt or suspenders.
For me, I usually wear a thin nylon webbing belt with my ski pants and that works just fine.
Best Snowboard Pants Brands
As always choosing the “best” snowboard pants brands is very subjective. Ask 10 snowboarders and you will get 6-7 different answers. However certain brands always come to the top like Burton.
So the best brands of snowboard pants in my opinion are:
- Burton – What can you say? The originator of snowboarding, they make some of the best pants available at any price.
- 686 – Founded in the early 1990’s they have become a leader in snowboarding is certainly a standout in the budget category.
- Oakley – Newcomer, Oakley being best known for their venerable sunglasses have created a line of excellent pants.
- Volcom – Known for a variety of outdoor apparel has come out with a solid line of pants at very reasonable prices.
Only you can decide which pants are the right snowboard pants for you. Hopefully I’ve left you with a good idea of which features you need and which features you can ditch.
Remember to consider the time of year, location, and likely snow conditions for the area you’ll be boarding.
These factors, along with your personal preferences, and the rad factor make up your decision. When all else fails, pick the pants that will help you send it the hardest!
I hope this guide was helpful for finding the best snowboarding pants to fit your needs. If you want to comment or recommend a pair of pants I didn’t include, please use my contact form to get in touch.
New to snowboarding? See my beginners guide to snowboarding for tips and advice.
Have fun and be safe out there!