Ski, Freeride, Freestyle | Jan 11, 2022

How to find the perfect pair of ski trousers

More about the author
* Advertisement

No ski outfit is complete without them: a good pair of ski trousers. Not only do they keep you warm and dry, they also protect you during accidental falls. And let’s be honest: Having to cut your day in the snow short because your behind is soaking wet is an experience we can all do without.

But what makes good ski trousers? What should you look out for when buying a new pair? To make it easier for you to find the perfect product for your needs, we have put together a little buyer’s guide for ski trousers together with the guys from Salomon.

What types of ski trousers are there?

Shopping for ski trousers can be a bit confusing: Are you looking for trousers, salopettes or pants? In truth, all three terms refer to the same thing, but with slight differences in design.

For instance, salopettes usually have a high waist and a bib to attach braces to. Ski trousers (or pants in American English), in contrast, are usually fitted at the waist and don’t have a bib or straps.

© Salomon / Louis Garnier
© Salomon

Essentially, there are three different types of ski trousers:

Hardshell trousers

  • taped seams
  • excellent protection from the elements
  • windproof, waterproof and breathable
  • ideal in wet conditions

Softshell trousers

  • excellent comfort and mobility
  • greater degree of stretch than hardshell fabrics
  • highly breathable
  • popular with park and pipe riders

Insulated trousers

  • waterproof outer shell with inner insulation layer
  • excellent heat retention
  • ideal for super cold days

What are the main qualities ski trousers should have?

If you’re going to spend your money on ski trousers, they might as well be quality ones. Here are a few aspects to consider when shopping for reliable salopettes or trousers:


It’s pretty obvious that your ski pants should be waterproof. After all, you want them to protect you from the rain and melting snow, right? What’s more, good ski pants make sure that your base layers stay dry.

© Salomon
© Salomon

The waterproofness of ski trousers is measured using a hydrostatic head test. It determines how much the fabric can withstand before water starts to penetrate. The higher the rating (measured in millimetres), the more waterproof your salopettes or pants will be:

  • mild waterproofing (5,001 mm – 10,000 mm): for average snowfall and light rain
  • moderate waterproofing (10,001 mm – 15,000 mm): for moderate snowfall and light rain
  • high waterproofing (15,001 mm – 20,000 mm): for heavy, wet snow and rain
  • very high waterproofing (>20,001 mm): for sustained snowfall and moderate rain

Our top pick in waterproof ski trousers: Salomon’s EDGE PANT M.


As we all know, skiing or snowboarding can get you hot and sweaty. That’s why it’s important that your ski trousers are breathable, meaning that they actively transfer moisture to the outside.

© Louis Garnier
© Salomon

Breathability is measured in grams and calculated with the help of the Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate (MVTR):

  • low breathability (<5,000 g): will keep sweat against your body under moderate to high activity
  • mild breathability (5,001 g – 10,000 g): for low to moderate activity and short periods of high activity
  • moderate breathability (10,001 g – 15,000 g): for moderate activity with sustained periods of high activity
  • high breathability (15,001 g – 20,000 g): will keep you dry throughout the day
  • very high breathability (>20,001 g): for a full day of heavy activity

Our top pick in breathable ski trousers: Salomon’s FORCE PANT M.


Another no-brainer: If you’re out on the slopes or in the park for hours on end, you want your ski trousers to keep you warm and toasty.

ski trousers with no insulation (shell pants)

  • very high mobility
  • little warmth

slightly warm ski trousers

  • lined or lightly insulated
  • mainly for warmer days

insulated ski trousers

  • for “normal” winter days
  • ideally combined with a wicking base layer

warmer ski trousers

  • with down or synthetic insulation

extra warm ski trousers

  • with insulation and heat properties
  • for very cold conditions

Our top pick in warm ski trousers: Salomon’s BRILLANT PANT M.

Additional features

Nowadays, you can choose from a huge selection of different styles and designs when it comes to ski trousers. Many of them also have special features that can come in quite handy:

  • snow gaiters
  • reinforced cuffs
  • ventilation
  • pockets
  • taped seams
  • zips
  • articulated knee darts
  • Recco rescue reflectors

What size ski trousers do I need?

As you will be moving around a lot in your ski trousers, it’s vital to get a pair that fits properly. They should sit tightly without restricting your mobility or comfort.

In terms of waist size, go one size up from your usual trousers. Remember that they should still feel comfortable with your base layer underneath. A slightly looser fit is recommended for snowboarders, but don’t overdo it – you don’t want your ski pants to keep sliding down!

When it comes to the right length of your ski trousers, they should be slightly longer than your usual trousers. This is because they need to cover your ski boots as well. Many salopettes come with snow gaiters, a fabric guard at the bottom of the pants designed to keep snow from entering.

© Louis Garnier
© Louis Garnier

What should I wear under my ski trousers?

You have probably heard about the three-layer principle. It also applies to your bottom half, so you should always be wearing a thermal base layer under your ski trousers.

Although this can be unnecessary in very mild temperatures in spring, in mid-winter you should wear something more substantial, for instance a merino wool base layer.


You’re not quite sure which ski trousers to get? Then how about first putting your favourites to the test out on the slopes?

At INTERSPORT Rent, you can find a great choice of top-quality ski clothing for rent, including ski trousers by leading brands. Our RENTertainers on site will be happy to show you the best products for your needs and get you ready for your next mountain adventure!

Related articles

You may also be interested in:

© Helly Hansen / Cam McLeod Ski
* Advertisement

Ski clothing 101: Stay warm & dry!

Make the most of your day in the snow with the right clothing: Find out what to wear on the INTERSPORT Rent blog and fight the cold in style!
© Louis Garnier Ski
* Advertisement

Buyers guide for ski jackets

Can’t wait to hit the slopes this winter? Check out our buyers guide for ski jackets before heading out into the snow!