Alternatives to Ski Pants


If like me, you’re new to skiing and have no idea what you’re doing in this unique sport, you will occasionally be caught with…er…your pants down, as far as preparation goes. No worries though, it happens. Now let’s find a solution.

Wind pants are arguably the best alternative to ski pants due to their high wind resistance. Rain over pants, fleece, hiking, and cargo pants are the other choices. Sweat pants will have to suffice too if the situation is desperate enough. Jeans and other cotton-based pants are not advisable.

Without ski pants, you will be in a bit of a bother, as they are precisely what you need to keep warm and stave off the icy bite out there. Protection is key, and it will be a running theme as we slide down the list of alternatives. Ready? Let’s go.

What should you wear if you don’t have ski pants?

Ski pants

In a world where any icy surprise can chillingly spring upon you, you will need all the help you can get.

Think about it…Pro skiing is great and all, but that’s a safe and controlled environment. The rest of us (yes, even in the best resorts) are going to be skiing in “THE GREAT OUTDOORS”.

  • Anything can happen.
  • You hit a rock, get injured, and lost for days?
  • A bear attack?
  • Do you hit a MOOSE?

It’s The Revenant out there, and the difference between *SPOILER ALERT* and *SPOILER ALERT* could be…your trousers. Hear me out.

Your pants must be protective and, ideally, have some key storage solutions. Ski pants are the complete package for the sport, I’m afraid, and if you are serious about skiing regularly you will probably have to invest in a pair or two.

In the meantime, the next best thing is to layer your clothing to maximize insulation. I would recommend some combination of shorts, leggings, etc. under a pair of rain over pants or water-resistant wind pants.

Try not to layer too many garments as you may end up restricting your movement while skiing. Practice some moves in the changing room to make sure you still have your usual range of motion and quickness.

Another consideration is the materials. You want to avoid any pants made from cotton, or denim because they are highly absorptive. An hour or two of falling in the snow will leave you soaked in the freezing cold.

Try to get pants made of wind and water-resistant fabrics that will keep you as insulated and dry as possible. If you are not confident in your pants’ ability to keep you nice and dry, then it may be better to sit out a few runs and wait for friendlier weather.

Storage, as stated earlier, is another consideration. Try to find pants with big deep pockets. Zipped or buttoned pockets are a bonus, as you could be doing a lot of tumbling around out there.

Phones, maps, snacks, and other items can be easily stored in pockets for easy access while on the go. Reaching for your backpack constantly could prove cumbersome and time-consuming.

In the photo-crazy social media era, we currently find ourselves in, looks matter. I’m not going to sugar coat it; you have to look good out there and your pants can go a long way towards achieving that.

Make sure the pants you pick are stylish and fun so you can stay ready for “the gram”. Besides, you could meet an attractive stranger on your expedition. Don’t you want to impress them with your taste? Exactly.

Bringing an extra pair of pants, or two, to your ski trip is also a wise move. If one pair gets soaked during your runs, you would be able to simply change trousers once you’re done skiing.

This move will save you from spending all day in icy wet pants, as well as save your skiing buddies from your inevitably frosty complaining.

Long ski trips or cross-country skiing involving overnight camping are not advisable if you do not have good quality, and waterproof, ski pants. Most beginners will have to stay indoors to give their trousers a chance to dry.

Chin up, friend, because you can still have buckets of fun on many lodge slopes.

Wind pants


wind pants


As the name suggests, wind pants are made to help the wearer minimize the impact of harsh windy conditions.

They have evolved into being the quintessential casual wear item, thanks to their comfort, style, and a few helpful endorsements by notable celebrities and athletes. Various brands, styles, functionalities, and gimmicks can be found in stores and onlineOpens in a new tab..

With regards to skiing, check out the men’s Essentials 3 Stripes wind pants on Amazon. This classic pair of Adidas pants are literally suitable for any occasion you can think of. Some guys have even shown up to their own weddings wearing these (seriouslyOpens in a new tab.).

Talk about a “ringing” endorsement. In my view, if the Essentials can survive the in-laws, they might stand a decent chance on an alpine trail.

For a pair of wind, pants to be ski-ready they would need to have high wind insulation at the very least. As you can, or can’t, imagine, winter skiing mountain ranges can be extremely windy, and blizzards can emerge from anywhere at any time.

Porous pants could leave you exposed to some serious chills, which could lead to colds or even pneumonia.


thermal wind pants


One manufacturer on the cutting edge of wind-proof clothing is INBIKE. Technically a cycling accessories company, INBIKE also makes gear that is pretty good for skiing.

The brand’s windproof thermal pantsOpens in a new tab. are a sleek and comfortable design that incorporates incredible “warmth locking” technology and quick-dry materials.

Made completely out of polyester, the thermal pants are a fairly decent choice and feature a comfy elastic band waist. Did I also mention the neat patchwork design with reflective trim?

For kids, check out the jogger wind pantsOpens in a new tab. from Starter. Available on Amazon, these pants are good for insulating both boys and girls from frosty conditions. Combine these with other base layers, and little Johnny and Sally will be free skiing snugly in their wintry wonderland.

The joggers are made from 100% rain-resistant polyester and are almost impervious to the chilly wind. Zippered pockets, ribbed ankles, and cuffs round off the affordable wind pants’ impressive list of features

Rain pants


rain pants


Unfortunately, when it comes to skiing, wind insulation is only a fraction of the battle…

It is also highly recommended that you make use of pants that are somewhat water “resistant”, although “waterproof” is best.

Snow, of course, is simply frozen water, and, as such, it always has the potential to soak into any absorptive material. If you don’t know that, you are probably a beginner and you WILL be spending a significant time crash landing into heaps of the stuff. You better believe thatOpens in a new tab..

For beginners at least, waterproof pants are almost non-negotiable. Regular ski suit pants are, as a matter of fact, waterproof to allow skiers to simply focus on skiing and having fun.

We do not want situations where newbies grow resentful of the sport simply because they put on the wrong trousers. Trust me, being soaked and freezing all day is hardly anyone’s cup of tea.

Stay dry, warm, and happy by visiting Amazon and checking out Columbia Sportswear’s stylish and functional range of rain pants. For men, the Rebel RoamerOpens in a new tab. range is a solid pick, while the ladies can also get a look at the Storm SurgeOpens in a new tab. range.

Both of these high-quality ranges feature Columbia’s patented OMNI-TECH technology, which allows the pants to be waterproof AND breathable at the same time. They also feature a 100% nylon composition and a highly elastic waist.

Available in different sizes and colorways (2 colors for Rebel Roamer, 3 colors for Storm Surge). Not a bad choice for skiing as they also feature a comfy mesh lining on the inside.

Berghaus, a subsidiary of Pentland Brands Ltd., is also a name worth mentioning. Catering to both men and women, Berghaus offers great choice and value to its customers.

Amazon currently lists two of the brand’s men’sOpens in a new tab. and women’sOpens in a new tab. deluge rain pants, which are both made up of 100% polyamide (also called Hydroshell fabric).

The material is so water-resistant that one can expect to remain bone dry during any kind of downpour or snowstorm. The elasticated waist features stylish drawstrings for added comfort and adjustability.


children splash pants


There are also good waterproof options for kids that don’t have ski pants. Hatley’s children’s splash pantsOpens in a new tab. are a case in point. These come in five colors (classic pink, red, blue, yellow, and navy), and are perfect for both little girls and boys on the bunny slopes.

Made from 100% polyurethane, these little pants will run water off like a duck’s back all day, as your little toddler wipes out. A simple drawstring complements a snug elastic waist, and a little storage is available with a stylish patch side pocket.

Whichever brand of rain pants you select for skiing will have to be ideal for layering on top of other less water-resistant pants and shorts.

Fleece pants


fleece pants


Polyester fleece is without a shadow of a doubt worthy of the “wonder product” tag frequently bestowed on it. Versatile, durable, fuzzy, and incredibly warm? But is it ski ready?

The material is hailed for its capacity to trap the wearer’s heat, as well as its lightweight and flexible nature. It is much lighter than wool, the material it is most often compared to. However, fleece’s most notable property is its incredible moisture resistance.

Although it is fuzzy like wool, the fleece’s plastic composition makes it far less absorptive.

Brooklyn’s own Kesser Clothing is on hand with a fine pair of ladies’ outdoor softshell fleece pantsOpens in a new tab.. These beauties are made up of an outer thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU for those who won’t even try to pronounce that) layer, and an inner fleece layer.

The TPU serves as an anti-element membrane, as it is waterproof and highly wind resistant. The TPU doesn’t even allow the soil to cling to it either but, at the same time, it is very breathable and light.

The inner fleece layer is made up of about 330g (11oz) of thickening polar fleece to get you and keep you nice and toasty. Gentlemen, we have you covered (in fleece) too. Clickity-click your way on and check out a truly exceptional piece of outdoor wear.

Introducing the men’s waterproof tactical hiking pantsOpens in a new tab., from BenBoy. These stylish cargo pants are a must-have, on and off the slopes. The slim-fit soft-shell pants feature stunning patchwork, and each of the 10 colorways is more captivating than the last. Polyester is 92% of the composition, which features 8% spandex.

The sweat-wicking fleece lining on the inside is a premium quality, to say the least, and there are zippers galore. Phones, keys, and much more can now be stashed safely (and dryly) on your person.

Rock climbing was a consideration in the design because the knee patchwork is incredibly durable. Adjustable waistbands across the tactical pants’ entire size range make for a snug fit as you traverse tundras and alps.

Kids will also be fleeced out thanks to a cute selection of outdoor pants for your little ones. One stand-out product is Asfixiado’s kids’ fleece insulated outdoor hiking pantsOpens in a new tab. (available on Amazon).

A great fit for both boys and girls, these pants are an excellent blend of style and functionality. From the design to the colors, to the zipped pockets, these pants have everything your children need to enjoy themselves out there.

The pants are made using Asfixiado’s patented “3-level lotus leaf” technology, which means their fabric has three layers. The surface layer is made from a water repelling soft-shell polyester.

The middle layer is made from a more elastic form of polyester, and the inner layer is made up of fine fleece that locks in heat even in the harshest winters. Yet, the pants are somehow very breathable and the fleece wicks away any sweat in an instant.

A sweet assortment of colors is yours to choose from and each one features bits of reflective trim. A loose fit with an adjustable waist, stylish pockets, wear resistance…these demand serious consideration.

Sweat pants


sweat pants


Desperate times call for desperate measures, I suppose. However, skiing in sweatpants is usually a bad idea because of the pesky absorptivity of most cotton varieties. To be fair though, sweatpants are generally as wind resistant as anything out there so we could find a winner or two.

If the sweatpants you have on hand are made of cotton or some other highly absorptive material, I would advise that you double up and wear two pairs. A separate change of clothes will be needed as well. The great thing about sweatpants is that they can be procured at very affordable prices.

Our first pair of potentially ski-ready sweats is the men’s outdoor water-resistant numberOpens in a new tab. from Coursanlouis. These elegant (and affordable) sweatpants scream “high fashion”.

Strongly recommended for the strong-quiet-type kind of guy, who is mysteriously amazing at skiing. They also go well with a crackling fireplace, a great book, and a palatial glass of Dôle Blanche in your ski chalet. A grand old time.

The pants feature a simplistic blend of polyester and spandex, the result of which is a premium quick-dry and water-resistant material that is available in six colors. The sweatpants are also highly breathable at the same time.

Zipper pockets can accommodate most mid- to premium sized smartphones, as well as keys and bank cards. The drawstring is very satisfying to the touch and allows a good comfy fit within the elastic waist.

There are also great outdoor sweatpants for women on Amazon. The Yogipace water-resistant thermal sweatpantsOpens in a new tab. are a prime example, and they can be yours for an affordable deal.

The pants will see off light rain and snowfall, but they are not waterproof. They are wind insulated though and feature a high waist style, as well as an adjustable elastic around the ankles.

Unfortunately, for now, the pants only come in black, and in four sizes.  The polyester blend is a shiny material with a sumptuous fleece lining that keeps warm air in when it’s cold while bringing in cool air when you are hot.

The pockets are also sizable, with enough room for “the important stuff”. It’s just a shame they are not zipped.

The kids are alright with Lanbaosi’s elastic waist hiking trousersOpens in a new tab.. These pants are technically listed as being for boys, but girls would also enjoy them. Four colorways are currently available: black, army green, yellow, and rose red.

The material itself is made up of 85% polyester and15% nylon. Quick-drying, well insulated against wind, and water-resistant. The material is some tough stuff and the pants boast enough scratch resistance for most kid-related mischief.

For kids’ wear standards, the sweatpants’ zipped pockets are huge, big enough to house most smartphones, in fact. This is an underrated feature that could prove useful in emergencies.

Tactical cargo pants


tactical cargo pants


Bring your inner Sly Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger to life with a pair of these rugged bad boys. Made to help you take on the great unknown as well as enemies (foreign and domestic).

Tesla Gear has one awesome pair of cargo pants that you need to try. Their non-descript soft-shell outdoor work pantsOpens in a new tab. are just what the president ordered for your covert-ops ski infiltration mission.

Luckily, their secrets are fully declassified and you can check out the full briefing on Amazon. A clean and matted exterior and a snug fleece lining make these pants a worthwhile item to pack on your ski trip.

Interestingly enough, the fabric is made up of three layers, for a fully insulated feeling and protection from the elements.

The outermost soft-shell polyester runs off most water to help you keep the tuxedo underneath your ski suit ballroom-ready for the next scene in your spy film. The pants are available in three neutral colorways.

The pocket situation is very James Bond too (RIP Sean Connery), with sleekly disguised zipper pockets everywhere. Perfect for hiding all sorts of nifty and situation-specific gadgets and gizmos.

Another great choice in military-style is the pair of men’s scratch-resistant “tactical trousers”Opens in a new tab. from ARKARMY. These combat pants are a no-nonsense but stylish design.

Prepare to bark orders at stone-faced recruits, and fight off the ghosts from your army past, all while your estranged ex-wife attempts to move town with your little daughter. Okay, maybe it’s not always that deep.

The pants’ pockets are though. Pockets, pockets, pockets are the theme here and you will have plenty of space to store your memory-laden dog tags, as well as your walkie talkies, grenades, and candy bars.

The fabric itself is 65% polyester and 35% cotton, a mix that yields a highly durable pair of battle-ready pants. The package is held together by high-level multi-needle stitching that is truly a marvel to behold.

The ARKAMY pants are highly breathable, yet very insulated and water repellant. Scratch resistance, as mentioned earlier, is also a key feature here. Skiing in these should be a breeze, but it is still advisable to combine them with other pants and shorts.





Skiing in jeans is a pretty fun idea, actually. The potential for TikTok-ready slapstick is huge. However, if you are skiing for extended periods, typical denim jeans are the last thing you want to be wearing.

I get it, some people are jean people. They can pull it off anywhere, and I do not doubt that some can do it while skiing for days. For most people though, this is a bad idea because denim is cotton, which is EXTREMELY absorptive.

Cotton is enemy number one in the icy wilderness, as it soaks in the freezing snow and adds excess weight to your person.



ski shorts


If you are going to challenge someone to a dare, a fun idea is to set up one involving (briefly) skiing in shorts.

Preferably short shorts.

Outside of that, shorts are a big no-no in winter skiing. Two words…Ice burn.

Do you really need ski pants?


ski pants


To answer this question, the question of what an individual “needs” must also be visited. If you are someone who just needs some ski gear for a once-in-a-lifetime skiing outing, purchasing brand new ski jackets and pants may not be the most practical thing to do.

However, if you’ve borrowed your buddy’s “seasoned” ski pants for the twelfth time in three weeks, it may be time to fully commit to the sport.

Ultimately, if you want to ski long term, you are going to need to get yourself a pair. For an athlete, in any sport, to reach maximum performance, they need quality gear that will leave them free to focus on other aspects of their game.

Lionel Messi probably COULD play in a soccer world cup tournament while wearing trainers, but for him to truly get the best of his potential he’d need the best tool for the job.

The same applies to skiing. You COULD go skiing wearing shorts or jeans, but will that help you do your best skiing? Will your mind stay clear of thoughts of wipe-out ice burn as you rapidly approach a 20-meter jump in your shorts?

The potential pitfalls of the outdoors also demand maximum preparation for the unexpected. Take nothing for granted in the great outdoors as nothing is guaranteed.

If you wind up injured or lost in the wilderness, your first objective will be not freezing to death. In that scenario, your decision to wear shorts that morning would look particularly hair-brained.

Ski pants are ideal because they cover all the bases, so to speak. Wind insulation, comfort, storage, and, probably most importantly, waterproofing. Deep winter skiing is no joke and you may find yourself in the throes of relentless blizzards, crashes, and scrapes.

Fortunately, with the popularization of multiple outdoor pursuits, manufacturers are now blurring the line of what passes for “ski pants” and what does not.

As we have seen, in the above list, that various hiking pants, fleeces and more, are now more difficult to categorize neatly as one thing. This is good for the consumer’s bank balance as the ski gear market is opened up to more untraditional brands and manufacturers.

Whether intentional or not, the rapid adoption of similar features is expanding the definition of what ski pants are and, with it, the reasons why we really need them.

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