Which ski pants for kids are best?
Winter sports are a wonderful way to bring the family together outdoors during cold weather, but they often require a lot of gear to keep your little ones safe and warm. Before you hit the bunny slopes, you need to find the right ski pants for your child, which is often easier said than done. For an all-around great pick, consider these pants from Columbia.
What to know before you buy ski pants for kids
Pants vs. bibs
Many of us just think of pants and jackets when picking out ski gear, but bibs, which are the ski-pant equivalent to overalls, can be a useful alternative to ski pants for a variety of reasons. Bibs do a better job of keeping snow out, as the material is brought up to the shoulders so a tumble to your bum won’t mean snow in the pants. Bibs also tend to have more storage options, as a larger surface area means more material for more pockets. Furthermore, bibs rest on the shoulders, which can allow for greater mobility and fit more body types comfortably. It is important to remember, however, that bib straps can interfere with backpack straps, and that wearing a bib instead of pants can make going to the bathroom and changing layers a hassle.
Insulated vs. shell
Whether you choose pants or a bib, you’ll need to decide whether you want a shell or extra insulation. Shell pants and bibs are composed of a few layers of waterproofing material with little to no additional insulation, while insulated bibs and pants will have extra insulation all over or just in a few key areas. Insulated pants are certainly warmer, but they can feel heavier and restrict movement. If you live in an especially cold climate and / or you ride chairlifts frequently, you may prefer an insulated option. However for warmer climates or skiers that like to walk to runs, shell pants are often preferred because they allow you the room to layer underneath if you need extra warmth or leave the layers off in the noonday sun.
While fit often comes down more to preference, it is a good rule of thumb to have pants that aren’t very tight or very loose, as you want room to move but not room for snow to climb inside. If you have a hard time finding pants that fit you well in all the right places, maybe look into getting a snow bib instead. Additionally, many brands will also offer “tall” or “long” ski pants designed to fit lankier body types, so keep an eye out for that.
What to look for in quality ski pants for kids
Snow is basically just cold water, so of course one of the primary purposes of ski gear is keeping you as dry and warm as possible. That said, ski pants have a quantitative metric for determining how waterproof they are. It’s technically called the water column rating, but what you need to know is that a higher number is a more waterproof material. For most people, 10,000 to 15,000 is a good level of waterproofing, but some skiers may want 20,000 or more if they live in especially wet conditions.
Measured similarly to waterproofing, breathability is an important and often underestimated aspect of ski pants. Skiing is an athletic activity, meaning you are likely to sweat while skiing. If that sweat has nowhere to go, it will condense on your body, making it even colder. Once again, 10,000 is a sufficient breathability rating for most users, but those who sweat a lot or do especially intense skiing should look for ratings closer to 20,000. Also be aware that sometimes an increase in waterproofing can lead to a decrease in breathability, and vice versa.
Vents: some ski pants will have zippered vents for additional breathability, allowing you to unzip and open up the mesh material to air out, and then zip them back up when you need that waterproofing. If you expect to ski multiple runs in a day, consider pants with added vents.
Your hands are very occupied whilst skiing, and you aren’t likely to have a purse on hand, so it is important to look for ski pants or bibs with a good variety of pockets. If you’re preparing to go out on the slopes, the last thing you want is to realise that you only have room in your pocket for a tube of chapstick. Think about how your skiing day will go, what you will want to have with you, and consider pants with different amounts and configurations of pockets accordingly.
Cuffs and kick patches
The easiest place for your pants to wear out and for snow to get on your body is where your pants meet your boots, so many ski pants have developed specialized solutions for these issues. Cuffs are fitted with an elastic and rubber grip on the inside of your pants to create something of a seal when you pull your pant leg down over your boot and keep snow out. Kick patches are material reinforcements at the bottom of the pant leg to keep the material from being worn out by the tops of your boots. In both cases, these are designed for your pant legs to be worn over top of your boots, not underneath.
How much you can expect to spend on ski pants for kids
While professional quality ski pants are available in kids sizes, you will be looking at a price range between $30-$200 for kids ski pants. For less than $80-$100, you’ll be looking at thinner pants that may not have as much insulation. For $100 or more, you’ll find highly durable ski pants that will probably last your kid as many seasons as they fit.
Ski pants FAQ
Should ski pants be tight or loose-fitting?
A. Somewhere in between. You want your pants to be loose enough that your movement isn’t restricted, but tight enough that snow can’t get in. Always keep in mind the type of base layers you’ll be wearing when determining pant size.
Are snowboard pants different from ski pants?
A. Not really. There are definitely pants marketed as one or the other, but in general, if your pants work for skiing they’ll work for snowboarding and vice versa.
What are the best ski pants for kids to buy?
Top ski pants for kids
What you need to know: Quality construction waterproofing and breathability mixed with multiple adjustment options make these ski pants a perfect choice for growing kids.
What you’ll love: These pants are made with high-quality windproof and breathable material, and they are packed with thermal reflective lining to preserve body heat, cargo and zip pockets for storage, reinforced knees that withstand roughhousing, extendable cuffs and adjustable waistbands to ensure that your kid can use these pants season after season. As a bonus, they are made with recycled materials and are climate pledge friendly.
What you should consider: Some customers had difficulty finding the right size for their child.
Where to buy: Sold by Backcountry
Top ski pants for kids for the money
What you need to know: Feature-packed and available in a variety of fun colors and patterns, these snow pants give you everything you need without costing more than you want.
What you’ll love: From a trusted brand, these pants are durably constructed with well-insulated, waterproof and breathable material, and they have reinforced knees and seats to keep your little one warm even after a tumble on the bunny slope.
What you should consider: Customers had difficulty finding the right fit. Additionally, the leg cuff doesn’t easily fit over most ski boots.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: These well-constructed pants boast top performance and added reinforcement in key places, making them perfect for high-energy kids.
What you’ll love: Made from weatherproof and breathable polyester, these pants have gaiters for snow protection, conveniently placed pockets, articulated knees for mobility, an adjustable waist and an extra 2 inch extension in the leg so you can send your kid back to the slopes mid growth spurt.
What you should consider: These pants are marketed for boys, but they will work for all kids.
Where to buy: Sold by Backcountry
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Collette Bliss writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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