Best Budget Ski Pants of 2024

It is critical to select the proper pair of ski pants. It serves as a vital barrier between you and the elements. There are numerous options available to suit every skier. On the other hand, an ideal pair should keep you warm, vent excess heat, keep you dry, and be comfortable. Keep my recommendations and considerations in mind when shopping for insulated pants for cold days or lightly insulated all-around pants. I reviewed the top budget-friendly options to help you narrow down your options and find the best pair for you. If you buy the right pair the first time, you’ll save a lot of time on the slopes and money in your wallet.

Whether it be for weekend skiing, a winter hike, or a complicated summit, these budget ski pants have you covered.

1. The North Face Freedom

The North Face Freedom
Type: Hardshell
Insulated: No (available)
Waterproofing: 2-layer DryVent
Recommended use: Resort

The Freedom Pants are comfortable to wear and perform admirably in almost every category. The pants have a great relaxed fit and give you the freedom of movement you need on the slopes. These pants are made of a durable nylon material with a high vent shell that makes them waterproof and breathable. Taped seams are used on all of the stitching. Freedom Pants provide adequate weather protection. The fabric is windproof, waterproof, and water-repellent. However, the zippers on these pants are not waterproof. There’s a thigh pocket with a Velcro closure for easy access, but it’s not weatherproof. These pants are treated with DWR to keep water out of the unprotected zippers and seams.

The pants fit perfectly and are true to size. The range of motion is adequate, and the external fabric is soft and comfortable. If you don’t want to wear a belt, The North Face included Velcro straps on each side of the waist to adjust the waist fit, eliminating the need to wear a belt. There are mesh-backed inner thigh leg vents that keep most snow and water out when the vents are open. Because inner thigh vents allow less airflow than outer leg vents, ventilation in these pants is limited. Furthermore, these vents are only about eight inches long, making them shorter than those on other pants. For weekend warriors and those who don’t want to spend a lot of money on a pair of ski pants, The North Face Freedom is a great option for them.

What I like: Warm, comfortable, great value

What I don’t: Baggy fit isn’t for everyone.

See the TNF Freedom See the Women’s Freedom Insulated

2. Arctix Snow Pants

Arctix Snow Pants
Type: Softshell
Insulated: Yes (85g ThermaTech)
Waterproofing: No
Recommended use: Backcountry

he Arctix Snow Pants, particularly the 1960 Men’s Snow Sports Cargo Pants, stand out as a reliable and versatile choice for winter enthusiasts. Crafted with a 100% Polyester Dobby shell featuring ThermaLock W/R + W/P 3000mm Coating, these pants offer exceptional durability and protection against the elements. The 85 grams ThermaTech Insulation strikes a balance between warmth and low bulk, ensuring comfort in temperatures ranging from -20° to +35°, depending on activity level. Practical design elements enhance the functionality of these pants, such as the adjustable waist for a comfortable fit and boot zippers for easy on and off access over boots.

The inclusion of 600 denier ballistic nylon reinforces the ankle, scuff, and hem guards, providing robust resistance against daily wear and tear. The thoughtful additions of cargo pockets, boot gaiters with grippers for seamless integration with boots, and an O-ring for keys, gloves, or lift tickets further emphasize the pants’ versatility. Whether you’re climbing, hiking, or engaged in snow sports, the Arctix Snow Pants deliver a reliable combination of durability, functionality, and comfort, making them a valuable addition for winter adventures season after season.

What I like: Very affordable, durable and quality materials, can handle various conditions

What I don’t: May run slightly larger or smaller than expected.

See the Arctix Snow Pants See the Women’s Snow Pants

3. Arctix Essential Bibs

Arctix Essential Bibs
Type: Softshell
Insulated: Yes (85g ThermaTech)
Waterproofing: No
Recommended use: Backcountry

The Arctix Essential Bibs are a reliable and versatile choice for anyone facing cold and challenging weather conditions. Imported and designed with quality in mind, these bibs feature a water and wind-resistant outer shell that keeps you warm and dry throughout the day. The 85 grams of ThermaTech Insulation, strategically placed between the breathable inner material and the outer shell, creates a lightweight and low-bulk garment that effectively traps heat in micro chambers, providing warmth in temperatures ranging from 20 to 35 degrees.

The thoughtful design elements of the Arctix Essential Bibs enhance their practicality. The adjustable comfort suspenders ensure a perfect fit, while the elasticized side gussets allow for maximum motion, making them ideal for various outdoor activities. The reinforced ankle, scuff, and hem guards, crafted from 600 Denier Ballistic material, demonstrate durability against daily wear and tear. Additionally, the bibs come equipped with boot zippers for easy on and off, and a convenient O-ring for keys, gloves, or lift tickets. With a 31-inch inseam for the regular size, these bibs are not only functional but also provide a comfortable and secure fit, making them a valuable investment for those seeking reliable protection in challenging weather conditions.

What I like: A decent pair of bibs at an affordable price.

What I don’t: The suspenders can be short for taller folks.

See the Arctix Essential Bibs See the Women’s Essential Bibs

4. Columbia Bugaboo IV

Columbia Bugaboo IV
Type: Hardshell
Insulated: Yes (60g synthetic)
Waterproofing: Yes (Omni-Tech)
Recommended use: Resort

Columbia Bugaboo IV is cheap ski pants that are waterproof, breathable, and will react to your core body temperatures. These pants are coated with Omni-Tech which provides the good waterproof ability to the pants. At the top, there is a double-button closure system that is enhanced with Velcro to keep it in place. There’s also a nice and simple zipper. This pant has two traditional hip pockets on the side, which are safe and secure thanks to zippers. On the inside, there’s a nice fabric that won’t scratch your phone’s screen if you decide to put it there. There are storm flaps as well, so whatever you keep will stay dry while boarding.

The pant also has belt loops for attaching a belt if desired. If not, waist adjusters on the sides are included. They’re Velcro, so you can adjust the fit to your liking. Traditional snow gaiters are available at the bottom. This will keep snow from getting into your pants. However, there are some downsides associated with Bugaboo IV pants. Firstly, you only get critical seam taping. This means this pair will be less weather-worthy on wet snowy days. Further, there are no zippered vents and you can’t dump excess heat. Nevertheless, the Columbia Bugaboo IV can be a great option if you want affordable and insulated pants for occasional skiing or snowboarding in cold climates.

What I like: A very inexpensive pair of ski pants, insulated, and great for occasional use

What I don’t: Seams are not completely waterproof and materials look cheap but for the price, you can’t complain

See the Columbia Bugaboo IV See the Women’s Bugaboo IV

5. Helly Hansen Legendary

Helly Hansen Legendary
Type: Hardshell with stretch
Insulated: Yes (60g synthetic)
Waterproofing: Yes
Recommended use: Resort

Helly Hansen Legendary are lightweight and comfortable pants that will keep you warm, dry, and protected whilst you’re out skiing or snowboarding this season. These fashionable Helly Hansen ski pants are extremely light. This means it will not only be very comfortable to wear, but it will also be simple to roll up, pack away, and take with you. It’s also completely waterproof, breathable, and seam-sealed. This means that there is a line of waterproof tape underneath each and every seam in the pant. It will keep any water from getting inside, keeping you dry and well-protected from the elements. There are belt loops all the way around, so you can wear a belt with it to customize the waistband of the pant. Alternatively, use the Velcro waist adjusters on either side to tighten the fit.

On the inside, there is an insulated mesh lining. Because it is wicking and breathable, it will draw moisture away from your skin, keeping you dry and comfortable. Water-resistant zippers on both sides allow you to put your valuables inside the pocket and keep them dry and safe. The fleece material inside the pockets keeps your hands warm and your belongings from getting scratched. Two air vents with water-resistant zippers are located on the inside of the thighs. You can open them and find a mesh lining inside. These pants have articulated knees for added mobility. However, the material of these pants is not very durable. The fabric is relatively thin and it shows signs of wear after some time of use.

What I like: Enough warmth, stretchy fabric, comfortable fit, and great value.

What I don’t: Thin fabric, questionable durability

See the Helly Hansen Legendary See the Women’s Legendary

6. Outdoor Research Trailbreaker II

Outdoor Research Trailbreaker II
Type: Softshell
Insulated: No
Waterproofing: 3-layer Pertex Shield
Recommended use: Backcountry

The Trailbreaker II is a softshell and affordable pair of ski pants with large vents and breathable materials. These pants were originally designed for ski touring and offered some pretty amazing features. The bottom of the pants (on the lower legs) is made of waterproof material. You get a strong and tall scuff guard on the inside. Also, there’s a nice removable ski gaiter so your pants can be doubled as high alpine mountaineering pants in the summer. The upper portion of the pant doesn’t offer a waterproof membrane. Instead, it is an extremely breathable material that allows good breathability during high-exertion activities.

In terms of other features, the Trailbreaker II has four cargo pockets including two integrated field book pockets. These pants also feature two-way zipper thigh vents that you can open to dump excess heat. However, there are some downsides associated with these trimmed-down pants. Firstly, your ability to take breaks along the way or lounge in a backcountry snow kitchen is restricted by the lack of waterproofing across the rear. Secondly, I won’t advise wearing these pants on especially rainy days or in deep powder because they have little coverage across the thighs. Finally, the fit is fairly snug and allows wearing only a thin baselayer underneath, which can be a problem on super cold days.

What I like: A nice balance of protection, movement, breathability, and comfort is provided by mixed construction.

What I don’t: Snug fit, not enough waterproofing

See the Outdoor Research Trailbreaker II See the Women’s Trailbreaker II

7. REI Co-op Powderbound Insulated

REI Co-op Powderbound Insulated
Type: Hardshell
Insulated: Yes (40g polyester)
Waterproofing: Yes
Recommended use: Resort

The Powderbound is an REI in-house outerwear that provides great performance at an affordable price. These are hardshell pants designed for resort skiing. The pants also provide 60g of polyester insulation that will keep you warm and protected from a frozen chairlift. This insulation adds a nice layer underneath so you don’t have to wear a base layer. The shell has a 2-layer of Peak waterproofing that holds up to most winter weather. The Powderbound pants provide plenty of ski-specific features like boot gaiters, inner thigh vents, scuff guards, waist adjustments, fleece-lined pockets, etc. These features make these pants a good option for season-long use at the resort.

The Powderbound, like the Columbia Bugaboo IV, has critically seam-sealed seams. This lowers the cost but isn’t ideal for skiing in wet snowfall. The Powderbound, on the other hand, has inner thigh vents, which the Bugaboo IV does not. You also get less insulation than the Bugaboo IV, so you can ski in milder climates or for those who overheat easily. However, if you are willing to spend a little more money, the North Face Freedom mentioned above is a great option because it is proven and worth the extra money. However, for a casual resort skier, the Powderbound pants will suffice for general snow use because they are a low-cost option from a reputable brand.

What I like: Great inner thigh vents, great value

What I don’t: Critically seam-sealed compromises waterproofing

See the REI Co-op Powderbound See the Women’s Powderbound

8. Outdoor Research Skyward II

Outdoor Research Skyward II
Type: Hybrid hard/softshell
Insulated: No
Waterproofing: 3-layer AscentShell
Recommended use: Backcountry/resort

The Skyward II is one of the most versatile ski pants on the market. It has a 3-layer construction and stretchy fabrics for mobility. These pants are suitable for all seasons, from heavy, wet spring snow to temperatures well below zero. Outdoor Research Skyward II provides excellent temperature regulation and weather protection, making it ideal for both on and off-piste use. The DWR coating on these pants repels snow, rain, and sleet even when it accumulates on the pants. Internal stretch-mesh gaiters provide a secure fit over your boots. An Avalanche beacon pocket with a clip, two zippered hand pockets, and two zippered thigh pockets are included. These pants also feature AscentShell fabric, which is air-permeable and provides excellent breathability.

The 12% spandex fabric makes these pants extremely mobile and comfortable. They move easily up and down the slopes, and you will never feel restricted. When your baselayer top rides up, the tricot-lined waistband provides good next-to-skin comfort, the knit backer is quite supple, and the AscentShell material is much quieter and less crinkly than typical hard shells. In warm weather, the Skyward II has a zippered outer vent at each thigh that quickly dumps heat. When compared to other ski pants, this zippered vent is relatively large (14 inches). Because they are easily accessible and effective at cooling you down, you will want to use these vents more frequently than the vents on your jacket.

What I like: Excellent comfort and mobility are provided by the stretchy fabric, which is suitable for both resort and backcountry use.

What I don’t: The air-permeable fabric is thin and does not provide as much wind protection as thicker Gore-Tex, but it will keep cold gusts out.

See the Outdoor Research Skyward II

9. Obermeyer Force

Obermeyer Force
Type: Hardshell
Insulated: Yes (40g synthetic)
Waterproofing: HydroBlock Pro
Recommended use: Resort

There are many ski pant options in this price bracket, but the Obermeyer Force stands out thanks to its comfortable fit and subtle improvements over many entry-level models. These pants offer reliable weather protection with the help of technologies like HydroBlock Pro fabric, Skier Critical seam sealing, and warm insulation. The front pocket has a smooth-operating water-resistant zipper, which is a surprising addition to a mid-range design and gives the pant a premium, technical appearance. Furthermore, compared to The North Face Freedom above, you enjoy a more customized fit around the legs, and reinforcements at high-wear areas like the seat and knees make it totally resort-ready.

The Obermeyer Force has 15k of waterproofing and they employ their HydroBlock to ensure that you won’t get too wet when sitting on the chair. Additionally, all the seams are taped in the appropriate locations preventing water from seeping in at the seams. It has some nice vents on the inside of the legs that you can use to release excess heat. There is also a small amount of mesh on the inside of the legs, which helps prevent snow from flying into your pants when you’re carving or when you don’t have long underwear on. Finally, the pants provide 40g of synthetic insulation, which is great.

What I like: Upgraded features and good fit.

What I don’t: No standout features.

See the Obermeyer Force

10. Outdoor Research Snowcrew

Outdoor Research Snowcrew
Type: Hardshell
Insulated: Yes (VerticalX ECO)
Waterproofing: 2-layer Ventia
Recommended use: Resort

These are high-performance winter sports pants offering both weatherproof fabrics and weatherproof insulation. The exterior of the pants is a stretch waterproof breathable fabric giving you freedom of movement while it keeps you dry. Fully taped seams increase the level of water production. The material is also windproof for that fast downhill action. The VerticalX ECO polyester insulation adds lightweight warmth without excess bulk or weight. This insulation has temperature-regulating properties retaining heat when you need it but managing moisture effectively to prevent you from overheating. In case you’re working really hard and want to release additional heat, the pants offer mesh-backed inner thigh vents.

The waist is adjusted by easy-to-use tabs. Two zippered pockets secure your stuff and that even includes a dedicated spot for an avalanche beacon. Internal leg gaiters are always a good choice to keep the snow out of your pants. Durable nylon scuff guards add protection for areas that wear hard in skiing or snowboarding. I usually wear a size medium and the standard fit leaves room for underlayers. If you’re looking for insulated versatile waterproof breathable skiing or snowboarding pants check out the Snowcrew pants from the experts at Outdoor Research.

What I like: Well-built, versatile, great fit

What I don’t: Lack warmth in super cold conditions

See the Outdoor Research Snowcrew See the Women’s Snowcrew

Best Budget Ski Pants: Comparison Table

The North Face FreedomHardshellNo (available)2-layer DryVentResort
Arctix Snow PantsSoftshellYes (85g ThermaTech)NoBackcountry
Arctix Essential BibsSoftshellYes (85g ThermaTech)NoBackcountry
Columbia Bugaboo IVHardshellYes (60g synthetic)Yes (Omni-Tech)Resort
Helly Hansen LegendaryHardshell Yes (60g synthetic)YesResort
Trailbreaker IISoftshellNo3-layer Pertex ShieldBackcountry
REI Co-op PowderboundHardshellYes (40g polyester)YesResort
Skyward IIHybrid No3-layer AscentShellBackcountry
Obermeyer ForceHardshellYes (40g synthetic)HydroBlock ProResort
SnowcrewHardshellYes (VerticalX ECO)2-layer VentiaResort

Critical Ski Pants Considerations

How to Choose Ski Pants?

The following are some pointers to bear in mind when selecting pants for skiing. The pants you select must be durable, waterproof, and offer a wide range of motion.

Understand the Types of Ski Pants

There are many different types of ski pants, and I recommend that you choose pants based on their function as well as your personal style and preferences.

  • Insulated: These pants, as the name implies, provide some insulation. They are generally more comfortable than comparable layering schemes. The disadvantage is that the insulation cannot be removed in warmer weather. If you only ski or snowboard in cold weather and climates, insulated pants are for you.
  • Non-Insulated: With these pants, you may adjust your system based on the weather. For insulation, you can put a layer underneath. Usually, you need two layers underneath; a base layer and a mid-layer. The base layer wicks moisture and keeps you dry while the mid-layer provides insulation and keeps you warm.
  • 3-Layer Shell Pants: Many pants are made of three layers. An outer shell, a waterproof/breathable membrane, and an inner lining are all separate pieces of fabric. These pants are typically less bulky and provide excellent next-to-skin comfort. Check out 3-layer pants if you’re a serious downhill and backcountry skier.
  • 2-Layer Shell Pants: Many affordable ski pants are constructed of two layers. When compared to three-layer designs, they are less breathable. These pants are ideal for use at a resort where mobility and breathability are less crucial.
  • Hardshell vs. Softshell: Maximum weather protection and waterproofing are offered by hardshell pants. Softshells, on the other hand, are more air-permeable and flexible, but they don’t effectively prevent moisture and wind on their own as a hard shell does.
  • Bibs: Because they have an extra layer that covers part of your upper body, they generally provide better protection from snow and wind. They’re also a little warmer than traditional ski pants.


Although the fit is a matter of personal opinion, downhill skiers should select pants that are just comfortable and neither too tight nor too loose. For simpler uphill skiing, backcountry skiers typically choose a thinner cut. A loose or relaxed fit is best for people who spend a lot of time in parks. You should be able to easily slip on a light or mid-weight base layer underneath the pant of your choice.

Weather Protection

The next factor you should think about is protection and durability. On every run, snow will come in touch with your pants. Look for hardshell Gore-Tex pants for the best protection. Additionally, your pants should be seam taped with DWR coating, for better weather protection. These things prevent moisture from penetrating. Skiers in the backcountry typically need waterproofness in particular places. Backcountry skiing pants should be completely waterproof, though your demands may differ.


Softshell pants typically breathe better. They are air-permeable, elastic, and allow air to pass through. The zippered leg vents that come with most mid-range styles can help make up for a less breathable build. Choose the 3-layer Gore-Tex Pro construction if you want the best breathable/waterproof pant available. For instance, the Arc’teryx Beta AR pants are a good option but they cost more.


Each ski pant has its own set of features, so consider what you require. In general, pants with at least two pockets are required, but four or five pockets are always preferable. Although your jacket or bag will be your major storage location, it’s still worth evaluating the pocket situation on a pair of ski pants you’re considering. Zippered pockets are far more secure than Velcro closures for storing little items.


Most ski pants have a zippered ventilation system that works like pit zips for your legs to improve breathability. They commonly appear on the inner of your upper legs or on the outside of your thighs. These vents will help dump a lot of heat, but they will add unneeded weight and may have an effect on comfort. Backcountry pants frequently have zippers on the outside of the legs for this purpose. Some pants have vents on both sides of the leg, allowing for good cross-ventilation.


It is true that appearance matters. The majority of the ski pants mentioned above are available in a range of colors, including both bright and subtle hues. With these alternatives, you can make any statement you want with your pants. When it comes to fit, the current trend is neutral, but not too baggy or too tight. Style is crucial because looking nice makes you feel good, feeling good makes you ski well, and skiing well means skiing safely.


RECCO brand avalanche safety “reflectors” are available on several mid-range and high-end pants. You’ll need this functionality if you venture out of boundaries or into places where avalanche hazard exists. They are incorporated inside your ski jacket or pant. This passive unit does not require batteries and can be detected by RECCO detectors, which are commonly used by resort search and rescue. They lack the sophistication and strong signal of a dedicated search and rescue beacon, but they do provide an extra layer of protection if you go off-trail.