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Do I Need Snow Pants for Skiing?

do i need snow pants for skiing

Every year in the United States, more than nine million people go skiing. Whether for a weekend away or in a professional capacity, skiing is a great way to get outdoors, socialize and stay active. So if you’re planning to try skiing for the first time, you’ve made a good choice! However, to enjoy your first ever ski trip you need to prepare properly. This means packing the right clothing to keep you warm, dry, and comfortable while skiing. If you’ve found yourself asking “do I need snow pants for skiing?

And what else should I pack?” you’re in the right place! Read on to find out everything you need to know about dressing for safety and comfort on the slopes.

What are Snow Pants? 

Snow pants, ski pants, or bibs are all specifically designed for use in cold and wet conditions.

They are usually windproof and waterproof or water-resistant. They’re also designed to stop the snow from getting in around the waist or at the bottom of each trouser leg.

On top of this, they are usually well-insulated and have a number of convenient pockets for storing must-have items while you’re on the slopes. Decent snow pants also have proper ventilation so that you won’t overheat during a day’s skiing.

Do I Need Snow Pants for Skiing? 

Taking proper winter pants skiing with you is essential. These will help you keep warm and dry while skiing so that you can stay out for as long as possible. 

They are designed for snow sports, which means that they’re easy to move in. And if you do slip while learning to ski (which is quite common!) the insulation provides creates padding.

If you can’t get your hands on a pair of skiing pants then combining waterproof pants and fleece pants is the next best thing. These won’t be as good as snow pants but they’ll do the job until you can get your hands on some.

But pants for skiing aren’t the only things you’ll need to pack before you head out on your skiing trip. Let’s take a look at what else you should pack or hire before you get out on the slopes for the first time. We’ve also got some great tips on planning your skiing wardrobe!

A Ski Jacket

Ski jackets do the same job for your torso as ski pants do for your legs. They are also waterproof, insulated, and will protect you from windchill. You may even be able to buy your ski jacket and pants as a pair if you’re looking for a good deal.

If you don’t have a jacket you can try using a waterproof jacket and fleece top instead. Unfortunately, waterproof coats tend to be more slippery than ski jackets though. So if you do fall over you’ll probably slide further than you would in a ski jacket.

Gloves or Mittens

In order to provide decent snow, ski resort around the world have to be located at a decent altitude. Of course, this also means that they’re very cold, and protecting your hands in these conditions is vital. 

When choosing gloves, make sure you opt for something insulated that is waterproof or water-resistant. Mittens will keep your hands warmer but you’ll lose a bit of dexterity in them. This makes gloves a popular choice with a lot of amateur skiers.

A Ski Helmet

As with any sport, there is an element of risk. Falling or colliding with other skiers, especially when you are traveling at speed, can do a lot of damage.

More than 13% of all skiing injuries are head injuries. If left unattended these can cause serious damage. Fortunately, however, there is a simple and easy way to protect your head while skiing — wear a helmet!

Helmets also keep your head warm and dry while you are out, so it’s a win-win situation. Of course, a lot of people don’t own skiing helmets already. Rather than buying your own, you can usually hire them from a ski resort in advance so it’s ready when you arrive. 

In some countries or resorts, it is now compulsory to wear a ski helmet on the slopes. For example, in New Jersey and Nova Scotia, it is now a legal requirement. So don’t get caught out by trying to ski without a helmet!


While skiing on bright white snow, you can get a lot of glare. On top of this, the wind and snow can make it difficult to see where you’re going. 

Wearing goggles to protect your eyes will massively improve visibility while on the slopes. These should fit without any gaps and should sit comfortably over your helmet. If it isn’t snowing, sunglasses can also work but these won’t protect you from the wind as much. 

A Neck Gaiter or Balaclava

When you’re all togged up in your skiing gear the only part of you that is exposed is your neck. This might feel like a small gap but it can be brutal when you’re traveling at speed through wind and snow.

Neck gaiters and balaclavas close this gap nicely to keep you snug throughout the day.

Make Sure You Dress for the Climate You’ll Be Skiing in

When people think of dressing for skiing, they immediately think of snow and trying to stay warm. But snow resorts can have very varied climates so it’s a good idea to prepare for this. 

The Pacific Northwest, for example, is a little warmer but gets a lot of snowfall. So you’ll want to make sure your clothes are waterproof and slightly less insulated. In comparison, the Rock Mountains are cold and dry, so insulation is key.

Layer Up

Layering is absolutely key when skiing. Even though the environment is cold, you can warm up quickly while you’re active. So you need to be able to adjust to your body temperature and the weather.

You’ll need a long set of underwear for your top and bottom half as a base layer. Thermal tops and leggings are ideal if you are going to be at high altitudes. If it is really cold you might want to add a pair of leggings and a vest underneath your thermals.

Then it’s a good idea to have a middle insulating layer, such as a fleece on top of this. You can get these in a range of different weights to suit difficult temperatures. Don’t go for anything too chunky though as you want to be able to remove this if you need to.

Look for Recco® Reflectors

Keeping warm is important on the slopes but so is keeping safe and your clothing can help with this. Wearing bright clothing with reflectors on will make you much more visible to other skiers.

Recco reflectors in particular serve a double purpose and are popular on ski helmets. These make it easier for Recco detectors to find you if there has been an avalanche. So be sure to look out for these when choosing a helmet!

Opt for Waterproof and Synthetic Materials

When shopping for ski gear, make sure that you pay attention to the materials used. These can have a big effect on how warm or cool they keep you while skiing. 

A lot of people associate down filling in coats with warmth, which it certainly provides. However, this is not a good choice for a ski jacket, as dampness (from the snow or your sweat) could compromise it. Instead, look for jackets and trousers that use synthetic insulation materials, as the damp won’t affect them.

Don’t Forget to Pack the Sunscreen

Okay, so this isn’t technically an item of clothing but it is a skiing essential!

At high altitudes, the sunlight is much more intense and glare from the snow’s surface will reflect this back at you. This intensifies sunburn and can cause serious skin damage. 

On top of all this, if you’re wearing goggles or sunglasses all day your sunburn will leave you looking a little raccoon-ish! This is not the look you want to be taking home at the end of the holiday. To properly protect yourself, make sure that you use Factor 50 suncream and re-apply it throughout the day.

Get Ready for Your Trip Today

If you’ve been thinking “Do I need snow pants for skiing?” the answer is always yes! These will keep you warm and dry on the slopes so that you can keep skiing all day. They also provide convenient places for you to store your ski passes while you’re out and about. 

Need more help planning your trip? Then check out our handy blog on the cost of skiing now!