Whether you are a beginner in a winter sport or a professional, the fact remains that you will need well-insulated pants. As the temperatures get lower, more insulation is required in order to remain comfortable outside. Insulated pants have different features. Finding your perfect pair of insulated pants could be made easier if you are well educated about the features the manufacturers have to offer. Every feature of your chosen alternative should accommodate your needs. In this buying guide we will explain everything there is to know about insulated pants which will help you in finding the best insulated pants that match your requirements. We are also including our experts’ suggestions that we have reviewed and rated.
Our Top Picks
Patagonia Nano Puff Pant – Men’s
Prima Loft insulation technology, lightweight, durability
Synthetic blend materials
Skiing, Fly fishing
Patagonia is a company which has years of experience in manufacturing outdoors clothing. And for selecting winter clothes, you definitely require a product which will keep you warm in those low temperatures. It is important to mention that if the weather is too cold, you might consider some of our other suggestions.
Even though there is not a woman’s version of these pants, the design is unisex so everyone could wear them as long as they are fitting. It has a polyester shell finish which gives this product kind of glow look which some of you might find good, and others not so much. It is a matter of taste whether you like the DWR finish. In the link provided, you can check them out and decide for yourself.
Material and Insulation
As for the material, its quality is undeniable. The seat is made from nylon taslan and the shell is made from polyester. The combination of a synthetic outer shell is providing the user waterproof protection which makes these pants perfect for skiing or fishing. As for insulation, the company uses Primaloft insulation which is known as one of the best alternatives available on the market. Another company which uses this technology is the North Face. This insulation technology is used in sleeping bags, gloves, footwear and winter outwear. It is very lightweight and it provides excellent insulation. The insulation Prima Loft uses synthetic microfibers that are providing thermal insulation for cold weather conditions. Some of the users which have used more Patagonia products prefer the previous versions that were manufactured with down insulation. However, the Prima Loft insulation has more functionality and is more durable.
The additional features of these Patagonia pants include two front pockets with a jean style which gives the whole product a nice look and a zippered back for more practical use. There are no side zips but they would not miss you since they are only waist length.
Spyder Dare Athletic Fit Ski Pants
Excellent insulation, jacket attachable, price
No reflector, lower ventilation
These Spyder Dare pants are available in one black color, therefore, the silky lining and the soft fabric shell used on the exterior might not be visible from the picture. Even though the main reason of the insulation pants is their insulation, it sure is a nice feeling that they are cozy and pleasant on the skin. There is also a rear bib panel which would keep your back warm and would provide additional comfort when performing sport activities.
The most important thing when it comes to waterproof properties is that the outer shell material is made from a smooth fabric which would shed the water instead of capturing the moisture. Some materials, such as fleece are pleasant to touch, but they are inappropriate for the production of insulation pants because of this reason. With the Spyder Dare insulation pants you wouldn’t have this problem.
When it comes to insulation ski pants the only two things you should look for in their materials is the insulation and the ventilation. The insulation is particularly hard to get right, but you are welcome to try. You should first consider the temperatures of your destination. After that you should choose pants which are recommended for that temperature. If you, however, choose pants with more insulation than required, you would end up in your sweat for the rest of the day. These Spyder Dare pants are recommended for extremely cold weather conditions. They are suitable for people who are always cold or who are planning on skiing on very frigid weather conditions. The insulation is measured by the type of material and the amount of puffiness inside.
The ventilation, however, depends on whether the pants have ventilation on the outside and inside of the legs. Adding vents to skiing pants is a complicated job and it is rare that a pair possesses both of these vents. The Spider Dare has only external vents which are the more pleasant option. It is effective enough for a cold weather and sport activity, but if the weather changes, you would simply be too hot inside.
The main downside in this pair of pants is that it comes in only one color design and it is in black color. Although for most users, the features are deciding, there are some who also value design. In this case, your design choice is limited.
As additional pockets, the Spyder Dare pants have side pockets for warming your hands in case you forget your gloves. Or you could use them for storing your ski ticket inside. It is also convenient that the Spider pants could be matched with a jacket. This means that they could be snapped together which is convenient if you are trying to keep the snow away from your clothes.
All in all, if insulation is your highest concern, the Spyder Dare pants are the way to go. They will without a doubt provide you a great insulation for any weather conditions. The price is also very competitive comparing it to other products with similar features.
Columbia Bugaboo Pants II
Price, great warming insulation, great design
Water resistance to some point, ventilation
Skiing, hiking, backpacking
When it comes to design, Colombia rarely makes mistakes. Their products are with great design and very little details. This time they come in strong blue color which looks very nice in the snow. However, looking for the matching jacket would take a while. The fitting is also good. Unlike some pants which require you to wear underwear because the feeling on the skin is unpleasant, these pants work great against your skin. Although they work excellent on their own, they are perfect to combine with lighter shell pair of pants which would provide the user a second set of protection. The insulation also makes them a little bulky, but they are following the line of your body so they don’t look baggy.
The fabrics, which are used for the production of these Columbia Bugaboo II pants is a combination of polyester and nylon. The shell is made from 100% nylon Legacy twill and the lining from 100% polyester. The insulation, however, is made from a combination of polyester and 40g microtemp insulation. The technology used for the production process is Omni-tech which makes these pants highly breathable and waterproof. This makes them perfect for cold and wet weather conditions.
As for the ventilation of the Columbia pants, it is their biggest disadvantage since the only way to vent with this pair of pants is with the fly zipper and this is not a great solution. This suggests that they are not suitable for warm weather conditions. If you are a person who is always warm, look between our other options to find a more suitable pair of pants for you with more effective ventilation.
Their water resistance feature is tested and there is no leakage, they seem perfectly sealed. However, if you are on the snow for more than few hours, you will start to feel the cold. Nevertheless, you will stay completely dry inside. The heavy rain on the other side would cause them to leak. So, as far as their water resistance feature goes, it will protect you from moisture to some extent.
As additional features, these Columbia pants have Velcro in order to allow the user to fit large boots underneath his pants. They also fit over snowboard boots. There are also Velcro attachments on the outside of the waist which allow you to attach a matching jacket to them. The waist tabs are also adjustable.
The price is also an advantage to the Columbia pants. Although among our other suggestions there are pants which excel every feature better than this pair, they are much more expensive than these insulating pants. So if you are a skiing beginner looking for some warm and cozy pants without having to spend too much on features which will be redundant to you, this is the right choice for you!
Salomon Iceglory Pants
Inner leg vents, stretching ability, removable suspenders
Relatively low insulation, don’t fit large boots
The Iceglory pants from Salomon have enough design options for each taste. They have a nice design with removable suspenders and wide leggings. Although they are wide enough so you can fit your skiing boots underneath, there is not enough space for snowboarding boots which are a bit larger. This pair of pants has also removable suspenders which is pretty useful if you want to redirect them to everyday usage, in case the winter gets unbearable, such as this winter in some parts of the world. Salomon is a well known and a safe brand for skiing equipment, so you couldn’t go wrong with it. Salomon uses the European size chart system, so if you decide on purchasing, make sure you get a size down from the sizing system of the US.
The external shell of these pants is made from a combination of nylon and elastane. The nylon is making them waterproof but also unpleasant to touch, which is not considered as a downside or an issue. The elastane however, is responsible for its stretching properties. This is one of the rare insulated pats that have such a feature. This feature allows you the freedom of movement in every direction and focus on your sport instead of being restricted for the sake of your warmth. So, if you have ever wished for insulated pants as comfortable as your everyday pants, this is the right choice for you!
As for the insulation filling, Salomon uses their Advanced Skin Warm technology is regulating your body temperature and is keeping you warm during the day. The filling is completely synthetic, but is has a high capability of retaining heat. If the pants get wet, they are not losing their warming properties; neither are they changing in volume. The insulation is enough to keep you warm down to -15 degrees Celsius. After this, you might feel chilly, so it is not recommended to be used without additional thermal base layer clothes.
As for the ventilation, they have inner leg vents with mesh backing which would allow your skin to breath if your body temperature rises too much.
It is important to mention that even though your pants get very wet, you wouldn’t feel a thing on your skin, which is pretty impressive comparing to similar models.
As additional features, the Salomon pants have waistband facing which has moisture wicking properties. This is very useful for activities such as skiing and snowboarding since having snow up your back is a very common incident. There are also waist adjustments and a possibility to attach a matching jacket to the pants.
Mountain Hardwear Returnia Insulated Ski Pants
Durable, medium breathability, medium ventilation
Not suitable for extreme temperatures, the external material is not pleasant to touch
These Mountain Hardwear insulated pants are available in 6 different designs and colors. This California Company has been producing such high-tech outdoors clothing for years. It is now part of the Columbia brand which is why they use similar technology in manufacturing their products. However, Mountain Hardwear’s products come at a lower price. Currently, these insulated pants are on sale if you get them directly through the manufacturer’s company, in the link provided in this review.
The material which is being used for the production of these pants is 100% nylon shell, which means that they are 100% waterproof and highly breathable. The material used for insulation is fleece which is very lightweight material.
These pants have an adjustable waist which you could customize in order to fit you perfectly. They also have zippered vents on the thigh which add up to the breathability properties. There are also hand warmer pockets which are fleece lined for greater warmth. Although there is a possibility that snow gets in and get you wet, so don’t forget to zip it every time. The internal powder cuffs are nice additional features for sealing out the snow. The ambush edge guards are placed on the inside of the lower leg.
The Mountain Hardwear pants are also very durable and very spacious so you could move freely with them. It is especially convenient that you are able to use them from -15F to 50F since they have good ventilation as well as good warming properties. However, this also means that they are not suitable for extreme temperatures, or temperatures below -15F.
Important thing to consider when choosing the best insulated pants
While you are caught up in your favorite activity in the snow, your outerwear is doing its best to keep you warm and comfortable. However, there are many features to consider in order choosing a pair of pants which would fit your needs. In addition, there are the most significant features that make an insulation pair of pants quality.
In this buying guide, we are looking only into pants which provide insulation to your body. This means that they will keep you warm at a certain temperature. In this context, you should focus on the destination you are traveling to and the weather conditions there. This is very important since if you get pants with highly insulation properties you would constantly feel hot while wearing them and you wouldn’t feel comfortable. Or if you get pants with not enough insulation, you would end up freezing, so your whole trip would be ruined due to “bad weather conditions”. In fact, there are not bad weather conditions; there are only inappropriate types of clothing. In order to avoid these situations always prepare for the weather; not more, not less.
If you are not sure when or where are you going to use your insulation pants, you should balance between the insulation and the ventilation properties. More about ventilation you can learn in further in this guide.
Another important factor to consider when it comes to insulation is your personal heat preferences. There are some people who prefer increased temperatures, while others are always cold and can’t stand the winter temperatures. If you are a “hot” person, make sure you focus on the ventilation, rather than the insulation. This way, you wouldn’t feel stifled inside. In this case, another great idea for you would be the unlined pants which are allowing maximum breathability. This also makes them more lightweight, therefore perfect for backcountry skiing.
If however, you are not looking forward to the snow and the temperatures it brings, make sure you get as more insulation as you can. Another option for these people is to wear thermal underwear under the pants which would provide them additional comfort and heat. As for the materials which are used for insulating the pants, there are different synthetic blends or down options. The synthetic blends are the more common preference among skiers. The ones who prefer hiking in the mountains, however, prefer more natural materials such as down because it creates more heat. Hikers need more heat during their activity since usually, it requires less effort and more hours spent out in the cold. The skiers, however require more breathability because they lose more energy which causes more heat to be created.
Have you ever noticed that birds have no trouble staying in water in extremely low temperature?
The first thing we should mention when discussing down insulation is that this is used only for optimal weather conditions when the temperatures are really low. Otherwise, you might feel challenged not to take off your pants and ski in your thermal underwear. The down options on the market are duck and geese down and it has consisted of a combination of down and feathers.
Down however, is not all with equal quality. There is down which is more consistent in composition and other which is not. This is called fill power of the down material. If you are looking for a high quality down material you should stick to the range above 700. However, be advised that down insulated pants are very expensive and hard to maintain. If you choose to purchase down insulated pants, make sure you take them to a professional instead of cleaning them by yourself. If the fill power of the down is not stated in the label or by the distributor, you should check the fluffiness of the material. The down created from the most mature birds is fluffier and has more dead air between feathers. This dead air is trapping more heat, thus making your pants more resilient to cold weather.
Unfortunately, down pants are not breathable, therefore they are not recommended for mild temperatures. They are however, recommended for mountaineering on high altitudes or snowboarding or skiing as they are also highly compressible and durable. Another weakness of the down insulated pants is the moisture. If the down itself gets in touch with any amount of water, it loses its ability to trap heat, and become just fluffy pants without any useful features. In order for this not to happen, the shell is usually made from waterproof material which prevents water from coming in, and it is protecting its insulation properties.
Since synthetic insulation is cheaper than down, most suggestions we provided are using this technology for creating warmth. The synthetic insulation is providing the user the similar amount of warmth as down even though it is made from polyester fibers. Its biggest advantage, other than the price is its ability to trap heat once it gets wet. Even though it is not pleasant that you are wearing wet pants, if somehow they do get wet, at least they won’t lose their heating properties. There is also a rate of synthetic insulation which varies between 40 and 120 grams. With this being the case, the heavier the weight of the pants, the warmer they are. So if the synthetic insulation rating is not stated, simply check the weight of the pants.
A nice example for a high-quality synthetic insulation rating is Prima Loft technology which some of our suggested models have. The Prima Loft is indeed a number one when it comes to synthetic insulation. It is compared to down insulation filled with goose feathers with a filling density of 500.
All in all, synthetic insulation pants are usually the better choice, except if you are practicing sport on extreme temperatures such as -20 degrees Celsius. Everything above this temperature should be satisfied with a synthetic insulation. Also if you are involved in activities where the moisture is higher, such as hiking in marine climate you are also recommended to go with the synthetic alternative.
The maintaining of the synthetic pants is also easier than the maintenance of the down material. You should only read the instructions on the label and you would be fine.
Other than the Prima Loft, there also other synthetic insulation brands which are considered as quality ones such as:
Thinsulate – is known to provide warmth while also maintaining the thinness of the material. This is the thinnest insulation material currently on the market. Thinsulate is very suitable for those who are not keen on the bulky look.
Heatseeker – is an insulation technology most commonly used from the North Face brand.
Coreloft – provides synthetic insulation and is characteristic for the Arc’teryx brand. It provides excellent insulation and not so excellent water resistance properties.
You have probably owned a fleece jacket before. It has a nice feeling against your skin right? Fortunately, it is used for manufacturing insulation pants as well. It is a breathable material which will keep you warm and cozy inside. However, it is also a fabric which is highly absorbent which makes it unsuitable for manufacturing ski clothes. Nevertheless, companies have decided to combine these fabrics with a waterproof shell which will make a less expensive and a product with higher quality. Having this in mind, fleece pants are as good as the outer shell is waterproof.
The main downside to the fleece material is that it is not compressible so it is not suitable for backpacking trips since it would take much space. If you choose a fleece alternative, make sure you also choose a high-quality membrane which will keep you away from winds and moisture. Fleece insulation pants are mainly made for mild weather conditions, rather than very low temperatures. They also have more competitive prices comparing to other insulation types. If you are planning on using fleece insulation for lower temperatures, make sure you use a highly thermal base layer of clothes in order to compensate.
All insulation pants which are suggested and rated in this buying guide are water resistant. However, the waterproof rating they have is quite different in each and every one of them. Their waterproof rating depends on many factors, one of them being the outer shell fabric which is used in the manufacturing process. To start from the top down, pants with highest waterproof rating are made from Gore-Tex materials or eVent fabrics and they are considered as hard-shell pants. There are not many hardshell pants that are also insulated pants. Hardshell pants usually focus on the breathability properties.
Nevertheless, you probably don’t need to choose a pants alternative with highest water resistant properties. In fact, you should also compare this feature with your preferences and the destination you are planning on using them for, but also consider the sport you are into. In this case, the region where you are skiing, for instance, would play a great role. Dry and cold areas suggest that you could get pants with lower water resistance rating. The wet and cold areas, on the other hand, would require that you spend a little more than expected and get pants with high insulation and high water resistance ratings.
If you are going to spend most of your winter time in an area with harsh weather conditions, there is no point on saving and you should certainly require pants with high quality that you can rely on to make you feel comfortable and dry during the whole day.
As you can notice from our advice in this buying guide, preparation for a low-temperature weekend is not an easy task. It is very important to equip yourself with the proper gear which would make your stay in nature much more comfortable. Protecting your body from rain and snow is made by wearing a waterproof shell. The second layer to be considered in pants is warming material. We have thoroughly explained how you should select the most convenient insulation material for your needs. By following the guide, you will certainly feel warm and cozy inside your pants. Last but not least, there is the design of the pants. Although this is entirely up to you, we have described the design and how it would fit.
Do you have any positive or negative experiences with insulation pants? As always, we are always available for further questions. Leave us a comment in the comment section bellow and stay warm everyone!