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It’s that time of year again! As the mercury drops, we all start thinking about those cold winter days. There are few winter sports more iconic than snowmobiling.
Having a good time on your sled, however, is only fun as long as you’re warm, comfortable, and safe. Today we’re going to look at snowmobiling bibs & pants that will help you enjoy your ride without chattering teeth!
If you want to dive right in, we’ll start with a couple of suggestions for today’s best snowmobiling pants.
Keep reading to learn more about how to choose which pants are the best for your needs. Also, keep an eye out for the FAQs section because there are no stupid questions!
Best Snowmobile Bibs
|KLIM Keweenaw Snowmobile Bib||509 Range Snowmobiling Bib||Castle X Platform Snowmobile Bibs|
|Waterproof:||Gore-Tex||DWR||PU coated, DWR|
|Insulation:||3M Thinsulate||3M 200g Thinsulate||150g Castle ColdShield|
Quick Answer: The 7 Best Rated Snowmobiling Bibs & Pants
- KLIM Keweenaw Snowmobile Bib LG
- 509 Range Insulated Snowmobile Bib
- Castle X Platform Snowmobile Bibs
- Polaris Men’s Drifter Snowmobile Pants
- Carhartt Men’s Yukon Arctic Bibs
- Ski-Doo X-TEAM HIGHPANTS
- Arctix Men’s Tundra Ballistic Bib
Snowmobile Pants & Bib Reviews
- Waterproof: Gore-Tex
- Style: Bibs
- Sizes: 6
- Insulation: Variable, 3M Thinsulate
KLIM named these bibs after a popular winter destination in my home state of Michigan.
These waterproof, windproof riding bibs are an awesome choice to keep snow, wind, and rain from interrupting your ride.
Bibs are a great choice for keeping the drafts out. Because they continue up the torso, bibs eliminate wind and snow creep that would otherwise make its way into the seam between your pants and jacket.
These bibs have reinforced knees and inner cuffs which are great for durability and extending the life of your gear. Inside you’ll find Thinsulate insulation, popular synthetic insulation, ranging from 180 grams to 300 grams throughout.
All of this is built on a Gore-Tex waterproof breathable laminate. You’re sure to get a high-quality product but don’t expect it to be cheap!
These are the best waterproof snowmobile bibs for overall quality on our list.
- Waterproof: DWR
- Style: Bibs
- Sizes: 12
- Insulation: 200g Thinsulate
509 really hits the market with a pair of bibs that’s hard to ignore. When you consider the price, value, colors, and sizes there’s not much to dislike here.
You’ll notice right off that they have chosen to stick with the proven Thinsulate brand synthetic insulation.
Maybe one of the few things I wish they would have done is to use localized insulation instead of 200g throughout, but that’s a minor detail.
What they really knocked out of the park is the sizing. There are 12 total sizes available from small to 3X and most sizes have a regular and a short option to better fit all body types. Additionally, there are 5 different colors to pick from in case you want to match your sled.
Note that these bibs are durable water repellent only. That’s not a bad thing for winter riding, but late spring showers might catch you by surprise if you get stuck in a soaker.
Even though they’re not fully waterproof, these are among the best snowmobile bibs available.
- Waterproof: PU coated, DWR
- Style: Bibs
- Sizes: 3
- Insulation: 150g Castle ColdShield
Castle X is a great brand to check out if you’re not picky about color and you prefer something a little budget-oriented.
These bibs flirt with the waterproof/water resistant line. They’re made from polyurethane-coated 600 denier nylon which is then DWR coated.
I’m not sure the DWR coating is at all necessary on properly PU coated garments, but it’s extra protection so it can’t be a bad thing.
Inside the thick nylon shell of these bibs is 150-gram insulation throughout. Users seem to think they run a bit cold, however, so order a size up and wear a couple of layers underneath to stay toasty!
While you don’t have to look good to ride well, these are pretty bland black bibs so if you want style look elsewhere.
Best snowmobile bibs for those on a tight budget.
- Waterproof: DWR
- Style: Pants
- Sizes: 5
- Insulation: 180g 3M Thinsulate
Polaris is probably the single biggest name in snowmobiling. Does that mean all their gear is perfect? Let’s see.
The first thing to note here is that these are pants and not bibs. That means fewer materials, cheaper to produce, and a more affordable final product when compared to bibs.
However, it comes with the drawback that pants have a tendency to let in more drafts when riding but some people just hate bibs so pants are still totally viable.
With 600 denier polyester as the outer fabric, these pants are going to stand up to abuse well.
Note that the polyester is DWR coated which means they’ll stay relatively dry and will hold up to all but true spring rainstorms.
I do appreciate that they specify these pants have built-in boot gaiters to keep snow and wind from creeping up your legs. We like them as the best snowmobile pants for those on a budget.
- Waterproof: DWR
- Style: Bibs
- Sizes: Many
- Insulation: Quilted synthetic
Carhartt is no stranger to making rugged, durable outwear and bibs. Lately, they’ve made some big moves into sports outerwear and they’re crushing it!
Let me clarify that I stated “many” for the sizes because they’re available in every measurement from 32×30 all the way to 50×32.
I really appreciate that Carhartt sizes these bibs with waist/inseam measurements for a truer fit.
Note that some users warn that sizes run larger than normal despite this. That said, these beasty bibs are made from water repellent 1000 denier Cordura Nylon.
This material is famous for its durability and is used in many high-abrasion applications in outdoor gear. Don’t expect it to keep out full-fledged spring rain, though.
Best do-it-all bibs for on the sled or around the house.
- Waterproof: Yes
- Style: Hybrid
- Sizes: 4
- Insulation: 200g PrimaLoft Black
What are highpants? They’re somewhere between bibs and pants which makes them a certain winner for those looking to have the best of both worlds.
Think of high waisted pants with suspender straps and you get the Highpants from Ski-Doo.
They’re made to be lighter and more flexible than bibs while offering added warmth and protection that pants just can’t match.
There are tons of nice features in these. Polar fleece-lined pant seats in these pants help keep your bum warm.
You also get to take advantage of the articulated, padded knees, adjustable waist, and storm gaiters at the ankles.
I highly recommend giving the Ski-Doo Highpants a try if you’re looking for the best of both worlds and a quality product. Probably the best hybrid snowmobile pants you can buy.
- Waterproof: No
- Style: Bibs
- Sizes: Many
- Insulation: 85g ThermaTech
Last, but definitely not least, are the super-value Arctix Tundra Ballistic bibs. When it comes to the value you get for spending your money, it really might be hard to beat these.
Just like the Carhartt bibs, these guys are offered in about a bazillion sizes from 30×30 upwards. I’m going to recommend that you go up a size or two, however.
Why? Because there’s only 85g insulation inside so you’ll probably want to layer up underneath for extended riding or cold weather.
While these aren’t waterproof (they’re not even listed as resistant), it probably doesn’t matter much unless you’re riding during times of the season when liquid precipitation might be possible.
Other than the lack of waterproofness, they’re loaded with features. Reinforced cuffs, boot gaiters to keep out the cold, and scuff guards. The Arctix Tundra’s are the best full-featured bibs for those on a tight budget.
Snowmobile Pants & Bibs Comparison Table
|KLIM Keweenaw Snowmobile Bib LG||Gore-Tex||Bibs||200g 3M Thinsulate||4.9 / 5.0|
|509 Range Insulated Snowmobiling Bib||DWR||Bibs||200g 3M Thinsulate||4.7 / 5.0|
|Castle X Platform Snowmobile Bibs||PU coated, DWR||Bibs||150g Castle ColdShield||4.5 / 5.0|
|Polaris Men's Drifter Snowmobile Pants||DWR||Pants||180g 3M Thinsulate||4.3 / 5.0|
|Carhartt Men's Yukon Arctic Bibs||DWR||Bibs||Quilted synthetic||4.7 / 5.0
|Ski-Doo X-TEAM HIGHPANTS||DWR||Hybrid||200 g PrimaLoft||4.5 / 5.0|
|Arctix Men's Tundra Ballistic Bib||No||Bibs||85g ThermaTech||4.3 / 5.0|
How to Choose the Best Snowmobile Pants for You
Outer Shell Materials
In garment construction, the outer shell is the material facing outward on the clothing. In outdoor clothing, particularly, the outer shell is one of the most important features.
Outer shell materials have to be durable. Thorns, rocks, boot cuffs, or just wearing as you walk will put stress on the shell materials of your snowmobile pants. It’s important that these materials can hold up to years of abuse.
Polyester and nylon are common choices for shell materials. These are both durable synthetics that can have very long lives as snowmobile pant shells. While each fabric has slightly different characteristics, they’ve minimal for the purposes of this article.
If given the choice between nylon and polyester in an apples-to-apples comparison, I would probably pick a nylon shell garment. Nylon is ever so slightly more durable and abrasion-resistant than polyester.
Additionally, outer shells need to be wind and waterproof. Non-breathable waterproof garments typically get the “waterproofing” done at the shell level. Meanwhile, breathable garments typically get their waterproofing from layers underneath the shell.
It is possible for both nylon and polyester to be woven so that they are inherently windproof. In order to be fully waterproof, however, both materials need an additional additive or layer of material.
Waterproofing Snowmobile Pants
Today there are a growing number of methods in use for waterproofing outdoor gear. Most common on snowmobile pants are:
- PU Coated
- Breathable Laminates
DWR stands for durable water repellent. DWR coatings are, typically, most useful in helping waterproof breathable garments in preventing a problem called “wetting out”. However, DWR can be, and often is, applied to fabrics to help water bead up and roll off. It’s a cheap way to improve water resistance on budget garments.
Please note, though, that DWR is not waterproof. In a full-on rainstorm, you’ll eventually get soaked through.
PU coated means that the garment has been coated with polyurethane. PU coatings are relatively cheap to manufacture and result in a fully waterproof garment. These are a good option to get a waterproof garment at a value price. PU coatings are kind of notorious for peeling over time though, so don’t expect an endless garment lifespan.
Waterproof breathable laminates are multi-layer components which, when taken together, result in a fully waterproof garment capable of releasing water vapor from the inside out.
Waterproof breathable garments I don’t feel justify their price during most winter riding conditions. These garments are multiple times the cost of similar non-breathable garments.
Because you can easily unzip and vent heat, water vapor, and sweat while riding I don’t see many reasons to pay for WPB fabrics. However, if you’re riding in spring conditions and getting into slush, sleet, or rain you may find some advantages here.
While Gore-Tex was once the only name in this game, today we have house-brand and other popular brand WPB fabrics from many companies that often match or exceed anything Gore-Tex puts out. Not to say one brand or another is bad, but do your homework before developing a brand-loyalty.
Regardless of how your snowmobile pants are made to be waterproof, you should consider if you even need waterproofing. Particularly if you want to save some money, there may be a case to be made for non-waterproof snowmobiling garments.
If you’re riding in the dead of winter you’re extremely unlikely to encounter substantial liquid water in any form. Therefore, you may find that there’s no reason at all to need waterproofing on your gear.
Pro Tip: Even great waterproof fabric is useless without good seam sealing. Check that the garment you’re buying has properly sealed seams by looking for seam tape along the inside of all the stitching on the garment.
Snowmobile Bibs Vs Pants
Ah, the age old battle between bibs and pants. For this article we consider both to be “snowmobile pants” but they definitely have some differences so let’s check them out:
Bibs are full length pants that extend partially or fully up the chest with shoulder straps to hold them in place.
Bibs are heavier and bulkier than pants. They tend to be more restrictive in terms of movement, but they come with quite a few advantages for cold weather.
Because bibs continue far up the torso, there’s almost no possibility of wind or snow sneaking in between your pants and jacket. If you bend over and your jacket rides up, you won’t be exposed to the elements, for instance.
This additional protection adds tons of warmth, snow, and water resistance to your gear.
Pants, unlike bibs, stop at the waist as I am sure you’re well aware. In the world of winter sports this isn’t always a great thing.
Pants have a tendency to leave a gap between where they end and where your jacket begins. This means snow, wind, and water can easily sneak in leaving you with a very chilly midsection.
Pants are quite a bit less restrictive on your movement than bibs, however. Some people just can’t get over the feeling or look of bibs. If this sounds like you, then pants are your only option.
If you choose to go the pants route, be sure to tuck in your under layers. This will keep snow and wind from stealing all your warmth when your jacket invariably rides up at some point.
Snowmobile Pant Sizes
For some reason there’s a division among manufacturers as to which sizing system should be used for snowmobiling gear. In one camp you have the waist/inseam crowd. In the other camp is the small, medium, large crowd.
If you see measurements like 36×32 it’s referring to the size, in inches, of the waist and inseam. In this case it would be 36” around the waist and 32” from crotch to hem (or boot cuff).
While I appreciate the accuracy of measuring waist and inseam, it’s not always accurate. One manufacturer’s 32×30 is not the same as the next. Someone should teach them how to measure…
Additionally, be sure to order up a size or two. If you order the same size you wear in normal pants, your pants or bibs will likely be too tight. Be sure to leave room for additional layers under your bibs or pants. Plus, roomy winter gear tends to be warmer and easier to move in than tight-fitting apparel.
When it comes to snowmobile pants the world of insulation is relatively simple.
Every manufacturer I’ve seen uses synthetic insulation. This means the insulation in your pants or bibs will be manmade fibers and that’s a good thing.
While cotton insulation could be viable for winter, it’s a terrible choice in the instance that it happens to get wet because it loses most of its insulation value when wet.
In the dead of winter when there’s absolutely no chance of getting wet, there might be an argument to be made for cotton insulation. However, if it gets wet from sweat, breaking through the ice, or a surprise sprinkle then you’ll be in trouble.
Down insulation is similarly terrible when wet. Additionally, down insulation is super expensive and typically not a great choice to use in high-abuse applications like rugged bibs or pants.
When you’re looking at bibs or pants for snowmobiling you’ll see an insulation rating:
Above I’ve made an example of something you might come across. 200g is a measure of the mass of insulation per square meter. That means one square meter of 200g Thinsulate will weigh 200 grams.
Basically, the bigger the number the thicker and warmer the insulation is. That can be misleading, however.
Remember, if you see 200g insulation listed, that doesn’t mean there is 200 grams of insulation in the garment. It means it’s made with 200g insulation – exactly how much insulation is actually in the garment is anybody’s guess and should be verified by inspecting the garment yourself.
Check your garment for good, even covering of insulation. Make sure that the manufacturer didn’t skimp out and leave thin, insulation-less areas in parts of the garment (this is common on cheap gear).
Additionally, consider looking for garments with variable insulation. Well-made garments sometimes come with insulation that’s thicker or thinner in certain areas. This allows manufacturers to add warmth in common cold areas – say the seat of your pants – without making the whole bibs or pants too warm.
Great insulation is next to useless if your snowmobiling gear isn’t windproof.
On your sled you’ll be constantly bombarded by cold moving winter air. This air is basically performing convective and conductive heat transfer at warp speed thanks to your sled moving through the chilly air.
What that means for you is that you must stop that cold air from stealing the warmth out of your body. Insulation works by trapping warm air around the body and it can’t do that if cold winter winds are constantly blowing that warm air off of you.
There’s a strong argument to be made that quality windproofing on snowmobile outerwear is as important, if not more important, than waterproofness.
Pro Tip: All waterproof gear is windproof. However, not all windproof gear is waterproof.
FAQs About Snowmobiling Bibs & Pants
Q: Are snowmobile bibs better than snowmobile pants?
A: I think the vast majority of riders would say that they are.
At the end of the day they’re only better if they work better for you. While I’m certain bibs, and their advantages, are most likely the best solution for the greatest number of people that doesn’t mean pants are off the table.
Bibs come further up the torso and do a much better job of staving off drafts, wind, and snow than pants. Because they’re bigger, however, they also weigh more and are more restrictive.
Anyone who has ever been dressed in several warm layers, bibs, and a big jacket can tell you it’s not a particularly agile setup. It is warm though!
Q: What do you wear under a snowmobile suit?
A: This is dictated by weather and physical exertion.
Here in Michigan riders tend to cruise relatively flat groomed trails. There’s not a ton of physical work going on. Backcountry powder hounds out West riding vertical terrain and looking to get into some fun tricks, however, are likely to be standing, pulling, pushing, and working harder on their sled.
Needless to say, you can’t dress the same for working hard as you can for sitting still.
Generally you’ll want to layer up under your snowmobile gear. Something like a nice base layer, a moderate layer of insulation, and then your bibs, pants, or jacket over the top should do you well!
How many layers? How thick? Well, that depends entirely on how cold it is, how long you’re riding, and how hard you’re working.
You can always unzip and let some cold air in if you start overheating on the ride. Freezing your butt off for a multi-hour sled ride that got colder than you expected… that’s not so much fun.
Q: Are bibs warmer than pants?
A: Bibs are, almost inarguably, warmer than pants.
Because bibs travel up the body past the seam where pants and jacket typically meet, they’re much warmer. There’s nowhere for wind, snow, or water to sneak in if you’ve got a quality jacket and a pair of bibs.
See the “how to choose” section for more info.
Q: Are snowmobile bibs waterproof?
A: Bibs and pants are both available in waterproof, water resistant, and not-at-all-water-anything.
Waterproof means that the bibs won’t let water in, no matter what. There’s some technical mumbojumbo but we won’t get into the science of waterproofing.
Water resistant means that the garment supposedly helps shed water using some added technology.
Last is the not at all waterproof category. While you might dismiss this as “bad” I say there is some merit to it. If, for instance, you’re riding in the dead of winter and precipitation is sold, not liquid, there’s actually a case to be made that you don’t really need waterproofing on your garment.
Now, whether you need waterproof snowmobile bibs is up to you. I think a good DWR coating (see the “how to choose” section for more info) is probably sufficient for almost all snowmobiling applications other than late-season riding when spring rain storms might play a factor.
Q: How should you dress for snowmobiling?
A: Let me start by saying that it’s not a fashion contest. Wear anything you have, in whatever combination is necessary, to stay warm and safe while having fun.
Now, that said, let’s look at some ideas starting from the bottom up.
Footwear should be insulated boots with thick socks. Don’t wear too many socks, if you take up all the space inside your boots it will actually make your feet colder.
Legs will be comfortable with some kind of form-fitting base layer. Then add on something warm like puffy pants, if you don’t have anything else some baggy sweatpants may work. Over that you’ll want to rock your new bibs or pants.
Torso should start with a base layer of your choice that has some warmth and wicking properties. Over that you can rock as many warm layers as you have. A puffy jacket or two would be ideal but a thick hoodie might work in a pinch. Over all that goes your windproof, waterproof jacket.
Neck is overlooked too often. You really need a thick, warm neck gaiter to keep wind from sneaking in through your coat or stealing heat from your neck.
Head should be covered by a safe and legal helmet.
Hands can be covered up with your favorite gloves. Note, this is one area that almost all riders get cold so buy some real quality snowmobile gloves and consider heated gloves if possible.
How We Researched
To come up with the top snowmobiling bibs and jackets we researched a variety of sources for reviews such as REI, Backcountry, Moosejaw, EVO along with our own personal experience.
We also consulted online magazines for product research and reviews to get as much unbiased information as we could. To help weed out fake reviews we used Fakespot.com to make sure we only looked at genuine reviews.
With so much quality gear available, we had to narrow it down based on what we felt were the best options were for the price. The author, Casey Fiedler was a full time ski instructor for Park City and The Canyons in Utah.
To help narrow down the selection he used his personal experience along with recommendations from snowmobile guides.
After extensive research, we came up with our list to help you choose the right bibs for you.
Like all of my articles I try to always remind readers that what’s “best” depends on the needs of the reader. You’re unique and the right pants or bibs for you won’t be the right ones for someone else.
Today’s article should give you a lot to think about when you’re buying your snowmobile pants or bibs. We’ve even suggested a few of the best options that you can easily find and order with a click of the mouse.
Be safe out there, follow safety guidelines and laws, but remember to have fun!