I’ve been snowboarding for the last ten years. When I first started and left the bunny hill, I took out all the stops. The first couple of years, I burned through 4 or 5 pairs of Snow Pants. This was mostly due to wearing cheap junk that had no durability. It was frustrating to me because I was in college and didn’t have a lot of money. So finding the right pair of snow pants has become a weird obsession for me. I should add that I hate shopping, I’d rather be on the hill testing out my gear.
There are a lot of factors to consider when purchasing new snow pants. Fit, style, and waterproof ratings are all major things to consider. I’ve even got a sublist that I’ll be getting into here. In this guide, I’m going to show you what I’ve done in the past to get an epic pair of snow pants.
So for the last few years I’ve been using the same brand for snow pants regularly. They are my favorite and anytime I ride something else I regret it. There’s something about a pair of DC snow pants that fit me perfectly, and I love the style. Below are a few links to amazon so you can check them out and possibly purchase some of the best styles I’ve seen. I put mens and womens snow pants styles in the link as well.
Remember, Style And Fit Is Important For Snow Pants
On a lot of my other blog posts, I say that style shouldn’t be the first thing to look at. With Snowboard Pants that isn’t necessarily true. This is because it’s not a matter of safety, just warmth, and if you can get away with it, why not? Whether you’re a man, or a women, I think you wanna look good and be comfortable when you tear up the mountain.
Being warm is a close second, and the reason I say that is because you should always have extra layers on when shredding. You can always add more clothes, but after awhile some snow pants just get to hot.
I know it’s my personal opinion, but I like to err on the side of being colder, because I generate a lot of heat when I snowboard, and if you’re cold, maybe you should shred harder.
Fit is super important when you’re snowboarding. If you’re uncomfortable, you’ll tense up, and that will lead you into disaster. Make sure you’re comfortable in your snow pants. I like to purchase a larger size, so I can wear sweat pants on colder days. It makes things a whole lot easier. Especially when its -15.
Snow Pants Need To Be High Quality.
One of my craziest stories involving snow pants happened two years ago. Well maybe it’s not that crazy but it’s super relevant. One of the resorts I frequent just outside the twin cities has late night snowboarding, they’re usually open until 3am and I went with a bunch of friends.
That week we had some decent snowfall and so I’d hit the resorts hard. Sometime during the week of snowboarding I wiped out hard, landing on my butt. After sliding for awhile, I got back up and kept going.
If You’re Not Falling, You’re Not Learning
I didn’t think anything of it. I wipe out hard a lot, as long as you can get back up it’s okay. This time it was different, but I didn’t realize it. As I was putting my DC snow pants on, and I noticed something strange was happening with the back of them. I gasped as I noticed the seams were falling apart.
They wouldn’t survive the night, and I got really sad, they were like an old friend that had gotten sick. I was running late as I tried to find a snowboard shop that was still open. Finally, I found one, it was an REI, but they closed in an hour. I had to hurry but I still might be able to make it.
I got there a few minutes from closing and walked into the snow pants department. Everything was super expensive, and I didn’t find anything style wise that I liked. I needed something to get me through the night, and wasn’t going to pay a huge amount for pants I didn’t want.
Always Have A Backup Pair Of Snow Pants
I walked outside dejected and sad, but then I saw a dollar store, it was on the other side of the parking lot. So I went in, and bought a needle and thread.
Luckily my mom had taught me to sew, but it had been awhile and it wasn’t my best work. The snow pants barely lasted the night, but I had fun sitting on my trunk in the parking lot, explaining to people why I was sewing the butt of my snow pants back together.
Snow Pants Features:
When looking for a new pair of snow pants, you’ll want to know what features you’ll be needing. What kind of climate will you be riding in? Is it wet? Or relatively cold all the time? These are questions you should ask yourself as you get out to purchase new pants.
Insulated Snow Pants:
These snow pants are made of thicker material. Usually you will wear these in single digit, or sub-zero temperatures. The styles vary by company, and they have extra features on these pants as well. My personal opinion isn’t favorable for them, but that’s because I like to wear layers when I ride. In warmer temps the one pair I had made them hot and uncomfortable.
These pants are the outer material, almost like a thicker windbreaker for your legs. They still keep you warm, and I have no issues until it gets below zero. I use this type of snow pants all the time. I rarely get cold because I like to wear layers underneath. In the cold it’s best to wear layers, as it gives you stronger adaptability to changing temperatures.
***Disclaimer, I’m a bigger guy, so I generate a lot of heat. Test it out for yourself.***
How Durable Are The Snow Pants?
Remember my story at the beginning of the blog? One thing I would like to add, those pants had been with me for six seasons, they were my go to pair, and I ride 40-50 days a year. They’ve got amazing quality. The moral of the story, check your gear, because you never know when there could be a system failure, and it usually happens at the worst possible time.
Before you purchase the pants try them on, and get a feel for them. Wander around the store and do some deep knee bends. It’s okay if you feel like an idiot, you’d rather feel stupid in the store than on a mountain. Also, if you get the feeling or impression that they’re cheap. They probably are.
What Are Waterproof And Breathability Ratings?
When you play in the snow you’re going to get wet, it’s just bound to happen. Waterproof ratings describe how resistant an article of clothing is to letting water inside. Likewise breathability describes how easily your sweat can escape.
Inside the snow pants there is a membrane with millions of tiny holes. The holes are large enough for sweat to evaporate and float away, but small enough, that liquid water cannot enter.
When purchasing snow pants look for ratings like I’ve posted below. A lower number means less resistance to water and the quicker you’ll get wet. See the chart below for more information.
Water Proof Rating (mm)
Pretty Much No Resistance
Dry Snow, Slight Drizzle
Light Rain, Mild Snow
Everything Except Downpours
Rain Showers, Avg. Snow
Heavy Snow, Wet Rain
Even Better Protection
Heavy Snow, Wet Rain
Breathable Snow Pants:
Between waterproofing, and breathable ratings, you’ve got a lot of information to deal with. A good way to get through it, know what type of winter your region normally has. Things can change and it’s obviously not the same every winter, but I think it’s a good rule of thumb.
When I ride in Minnesota, I know it’s going to be dry and cold, sometimes extremely cold, can we say polar vortex? That’s how life is in January for us in the midwest. So I’d choose a lower number, however when I go out to Colorado (usually in February and March). The snow seems to be lighter and fluffier, which is completely different, and I get soaked because I start riding through epic powder conditions.
Be ready for every and any condition you might face. It could save your life when you’re out riding in the mountains. I don’t follow a lot of these guidelines in Minneapolis where I can be back at my car in 30 seconds.
Also keep in mind, these are guidelines to help you move forward, use whatever field adaptions you need so that you are shredding dry, and comfortable.
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