Can you Wear Hiking Pants for Skiing?

You may have come across this question or even asked it yourself. People who are starting or making progress in the sport like to explore their options. There may be many reasons for that. For one, it is economical. If you have a good pair of hiking pants at home, why spend on another pair of pants?

Second, you may just want to know. It’s good to satisfy your curiosity. It makes you more aware of what to and what not to avoid and why. You also get to know your options. Nevertheless, the question does come up. So, can you?


Technically, you can ski in any pair of pants. But just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should. So yes, you can ski in hiking pants – if you want to. But we would recommend that you don’t. Now, you can either take our word or find out yourself.

Why Should you Avoid Hiking Pants for Skiing?

For those who don’t want too many details, the simple reason is that both types of pants are purpose-built for their respective activities. Hiking pants are best suited for hiking and skiing pants are best suited for skiing.

For resort skiing, hiking pants just won’t cut it. But you can make them work for backcountry skiing. A lot of the features required for backcountry skiing are found in hiking pants. However, generally speaking, if you use hiking pants for skiing don’t expect the experience to be comfortable.


  • Lack of wind protection: Hiking pants are softshell pants. They don’t provide adequate protection from cold winds required at high altitudes. In fact, hiking pants are made to be more breathable. For resort use, hiking pants just won’t cut it.
  • Lack of insulation: Hiking pants lack insulation. It’s true, not all ski pants offer insulation as well. But unlike non-insulated ski pants, hiking pants are not made for heavy layering underneath. They will become uncomfortable.
  • Lack of durability: Hiking pants are not as durable as ski pants. Ski pants have a higher fabric denier value. They are thicker and stronger to handle high speeds and the crashes that come with them. They are also reinforced in certain areas like leg cuffs to protect them from ski edges and ground snow.

There has to be some exception

There is an exception to the rule of not using hiking pants for skiing. You may be able to use hiking pants for backcountry skiing. Going uphill in fresh snow during backcountry skiing can take a lot of effort. You will overheat quickly and you require more freedom of movement.

Hiking pants are waterproof, breathable, and provide high mobility. With proper layering underneath, hiking pants may be used for backcountry skiing. But you still shouldn’t expect a comfortable experience.

However, there are hard shells with stretch that are now available and are better suited for backcountry skiing. They are breathable unlike hard shells and provide high mobility. It’s better if you get those.