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Key Differences Between Ski and Snowboard Pants

Your outer layer is arguably the most important layer when it comes to your skiing or snowboarding ensemble so it’s important to do your research before making a purchase.  During this research, you might find yourself wondering “Is there a difference between ski and snowboard pants?” The short answer is yes. Due to their many similarities, skiing and snowboarding outerwear are often used interchangeably but there are subtle differences to each. Both skiing and snowboarding require outerwear that protects you from wind and slush so you can expect as much from both. As you shop around you will find that most snow pants have a high waterproof rating to keep your base layer from getting soaked in the snow. For those who only hit the slopes a few times a year, a basic pair of snow pants will do the trick. If you’re spending a lot of time sharpening your skills as a skier or snowboarder, you’ll want to know the differences between different kinds of snow pants. Knowing what those differences are will help you decide which style of pants will best suit your needs.


Snowboard Pants

The main difference between snowboarding pants and ski pants is that snowboarding pants offer a looser fit than most ski pants. The extra room allows for easier squatting and twisting while snowboarding. They’re nowhere near as loose as sweatpants, so don’t expect that. While a looser fit may be comfortable, keep in mind that it won’t aid heat retention. 

When shopping for snowboarding pants you may come across pants with extra padding in the knees and the backside. One thing skiers and snowboarders can all agree on is that tailbone injuries suck.


Ski Pants

Skiers can have a successful run using tighter, more nuanced movements so ski pants are designed to be more form fitting. The slimmer fit of ski pants leaves less room for air and can help keep you warmer. Ski pants shouldn’t feel tight, but they will feel more snug than most snowboarding pants.

Good ski pants will have stronger material around the ankle and inner leg to prevent the opposite ski from cutting into the pants.  Snowboarders are strapped into their board so this kind of material isn’t needed on the inner leg of the pants. If you are learning how to ski in snowboard pants, the inner leg of the pants might not hold up very well.

Some ski pants have extra padding specifically around the hips and once again, on the backside to protect skiers when they fall.

To sum it up, snowboard pants fit loose to help you move, ski pants fit snug to decrease wind resistance and help you go zoom.  

If you're venturing into skiing or snowboarding for the very first time, you may wonder if you even need special snow pants to ski or snowboard? The answer is yes. Casual street clothes don’t offer proper protection from the elements. Your pants will likely get wet from the snow and the wind and cold will leave you miserable and ready to leave early. Finding a great pair of snow pants is well worth your time. 

When it comes down to it, if you only hit the slopes a few times a year, you may not care too much about the minor differences between different kinds of snow pants. But it’s important to pick the right pair because the last thing you want to be thinking about during a run is your pants. You’re likely to meet snowboarders who prefer more form fitting snow pants and skiers who prefer comfy, roomy snowboarding pants. Comfort is an important factor to think about when preparing to spend a long enjoyable day one the slopes.
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