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Best Ski Bibs Black Diamond

The Black Diamond Recon Stretch Bibs don’t skimp on functionality or durability. Photo: Ryan Salm


The Inertia

Here at The Inertia, we’re of the opinion that there’s basically no reason to ski in pants instead of bibs. Even when heading out into the backcountry. Getting snow in your ski pants sucks. Ski bibs fix that. Ski bibs add a ton of pocket space. They also reduce unnecessary layer-bunching at the waist, and they sure look good, too. Sure, bibs generally run warmer than pants and may add a bit of weight on the uphill (we’re certainly no gram counters), but in our opinion, the pros vastly outweigh the cons. And there are plenty of bibs on the market today that are just as lightweight and breathable as a pair of ski pants.

Gear Editor Will Sileo hasn’t skied in pants in years, and in that time he’s tried a lot of different bibs from longstanding brands like The North Face, Black Diamond, and Mountain Hardwear, as well as up-and-coming favorites like Trew Gear and Flylow. We’ve done our time in them on the resort, in the backcountry, and yes, even at the aprés-scene. And as you might imagine, we’ve got some things to say about them. A whole article-full, actually.

Read on for our top picks for ski bibs. To see them side-by-side, check out our Comparison Table, and for more information check out our Buyer’s Guide. For ease of comparison, this list only consists of non-insulated bibs, but if you’re interested in insulated bibs, you can’t go wrong with the Flylow Snowman ($330) or the REI Powderbound ($199) for a solid budget option.

The Best Ski Bibs of 2023/24

Best Overall/Best Resort Ski Bibs: Flylow Baker Ski Bibs

Best Resort/Backcountry Ski Bibs: Black Diamond Recon Stretch

Best Backcountry Ski Bibs: Mountain Hardwear High Exposure

Most Stylish Ski Bibs: Trew Gear Trewth Bib Primo

Best Budget Ski Bibs: REI First Chair GTX ePE


Best Overall/Best Resort Ski Bibs

Flylow Baker Ski Bibs ($430)

Flylow Baker Ski Bib

Shop Men’s | Shop Women’s (Moxie)
Weight: 907g
Best For: Resort
Overall Score: 9.0

Pros: Tons of pockets, heavy-duty material
Cons: Buckles for suspender straps can be a pain point with backpacks

Lead tester Will Sileo has been wearing the Flylow Baker bibs for years, and they have yet to let him down. With tons of pockets, good venting, and insane durability, these “workwear-inspired” bibs can really do it all. They’re a bit heavier and stiffer than many options on this list, but that sacrifice is well worth it for ridiculously-tough material that has stood up to the test of time. They’re listed as a 50/50 resort and backcountry bib, and while we’d say they definitely lean more towards the resort side of the spectrum, they can take on the backcountry as well. We love that the bibs have both inner and outer thigh vents, which compensate for the less breathable material by allowing cross-ventilation. However, for longer tours, you’re going to be happier in something lighter.

We also tested the Flylow Baker Perm Bib ($520), which has all the incredible features of the regular Bakers, with a more air-permeable and lighter material. We also rated it at a 9.0 overall, dropping a point in Durability and adding a point to Breathability/Ventilation. If you plan on getting out into the backcountry a decent bit, the Baker Perms are well worth the upgrade. If not, the tried and true Bakers are where it’s at for the increases in durability and warmth.

The one and only downside we’ve found is the buckles for the suspenders. They’re a bit chunky and can be a little uncomfortable when worn with a backpack, but with a couple layers on top, it’s not an issue. The Flylow Bakers are a men’s-cut bib, and the women’s versions are called the Flylow Moxie and Flylow Foxy. The Foxy is a tighter-fitting version, and the Moxie is a bit roomier.

CHECK PRICE ON EVO CHECK PRICE ON REI


Best Resort/Backcountry Ski Bibs

Black Diamond Recon Stretch ($450)

Black Diamond Recon Stretch Bibs

Shop Men’s | Shop Women’s
Weight: 913g
Best For: Resort/backcountry
Overall Score: 8.75

Pros: Comfortable suspender straps, good pockets, bomber material
Cons: Material is heavier than most

The best part about these bibs is that there’s really nothing to complain about. The straps are comfortable, and the quantity of pockets isn’t as legendary as the Flylow Bakers, but the two thigh pockets are deep, with a sleeve on the right side for organization, and the chest pockets are spacious, providing plenty of room to store essentials. The fit is awesome, and the stretchy material means these are exceedingly comfortable bibs that move with you in a way that many other bibs on this list don’t. Speaking of, the material was quite different from most options here, a stretchy but extremely durable and storm-ready construction.

The only hit that the bibs take is on weight. The material is burly and weighs as such, so these wouldn’t be our top choice for heading out on a longer tour or multi-day backcountry mission. However, for sidecountry and shorter, stormier tours, these perform admirably with the stretchy material, full side vents to dump heat, and a breathable upper-body construction. And on the resort, these will stand up to just about any abuse you can throw at them.

CHECK PRICE ON Black Diamond

Best Backcountry Ski Bibs

Mountain Hardwear High Exposure ($450)

Mountain hardwear High Exposure

Shop Men’s | Shop Women’s 
Weight: 390g
Best For: Backcountry
Overall Score: 8.5

Pros: Very lightweight and breathable, but storm-ready material
Cons: Not the most durable construction

Mountain Hardwear’s offering in the lightweight touring bib category is the bib for those who couldn’t decide between a softshell or a hardshell. These bibs are made of a thin and super light material that, despite being GORE-TEX, has great breathability, helped by full side zips for ventilation. That said, they’re in no way a soft shell and are fully capable of repelling snow, rain, and harsh weather with ease.

Four pockets provide plenty of room for essentials, and the straps are low-profile and comfortable. Our main concern is the bibs’ long-term durability due to the thin material, but it has, almost surprisingly, stood up to a season of mixed resort/backcountry use without any signs of wear. That said, if you’re looking for a bib that will stand up to long-term resort use, the 40-Denier fabric of these bibs simply won’t bear the same amount of abuse as higher-Denier fabrics like the 150-D fabric of the Flylow Bakers, or even the 70-D of the Arc’teryx Rush.

CHECK PRICE ON Mountain Hardwear CHECK PRICE ON BACKCOUNTRY


Most Stylish Ski Bibs

Trew Gear Trewth Bib Primo ($500)

Trew Gear Trewth Bib Primo

Shop Men’s | Shop Women’s (Chariot)
Weight:
870g
Best For:
Resort
Overall Score: 
8.5

Pros: Great pockets, lightweight material, wide selection of colors
Cons:
Roomy fit

Trew Gear has been making a name for itself recently with its fully-featured bibs that come in a variety of fun colors, and its flagship model, the Trewth Bib Primo, lives up to the hype with plenty of pockets, great style, and very durable 20k/20k waterproof/breathable fabric made from recycled nylon. One cool feature is that every zippered pocket has a small attachment point for a beacon leash, phone leash, or anything else you don’t want to lose. They’re described as a bib for both resort and backcountry, and while we’d agree they’re certainly up to both, the resort is where they truly thrive.

Of note is the roomy fit. With these bibs, pay attention to the size chart, and when in doubt, size down. Our tester is normally a medium in bibs but found himself swimming in a size medium Trewth bib. However, short and tall sizes to the rescue! Trew, unlike most bibs here on this list, offers short and tall cuts for every size of bib they offer, and the small-tall size fit great, accommodating his lanky frame. They still had that roomier fit to them, but we’ve realized that’s just part of the style. Trew’s offering of these bibs in both short and tall sizes is great for dialing in the fit to the max, and they even have an extended version.

Side Note: if you’re looking to purchase a full set of jacket and bibs for maximum style points, Trew has a matching jacket for every pair of bibs they sell.

CHECK PRICE ON Trew CHECK PRICE ON Evo


Best Budget Ski Bibs

REI First Chair GTX ePE ($270)

REI First Chair GTX

Shop Men’s | Shop Women’s
Weight: 847g
Best For: Resort
Overall Score: 7.5

Pros: Great price, comfortable fit, recycled materials
Cons: 2L construction reduces breathability

For a reliable and cheap option that looks good, too, the REI First Chair GTX ePE bibs don’t disappoint. Three pockets provide decent room for essentials, and while they’re a 2L rather than 3L construction (see the buyer’s guide section below for more info on the difference), the use of  GORE-TEX provides some added peace of mind in terms of durability and waterproofing. We did not find ourselves disappointed with the performance of the material while on the resort. Notably, the bibs shell and liner are made with recycled materials, and the GORE-TEX ePE membrane is a new, lower-impact technology that reduces the carbon footprint of the GORE-TEX manufacturing process.

Best of all, they’re exceedingly comfortable, and the hanging liner provides a bit of extra warmth for colder days on the mountain. With that in mind, these are certainly more of a resort bib than a backcountry one, although they sure won’t kill you on the odd tour or two. Priced at $270, they’re often to be found for much cheaper on REI.com.

CHECK PRICE ON REI

Best of the Rest

Runner-Up Best Resort Ski Bibs

The North Face Summit Verbier ($550)

The North Face Summit VerbierWeight: 857g
Best For: Resort/backcountry
Overall Score: 8.5

Pros: Lots of pockets, warm but thin backing on inside of pant legs
Cons: On the heavier side

The North Face really came oh-so-close to resort-riding perfection with the Summit Verbier bibs. The pockets are great; there are six of them, three on each side, with plenty of room to keep essentials organized. The material is bomber, with great waterproofing. The bibs feature a flannel backer from the waist down to the calves, so breathability isn’t great, but the two side zips (that also allow for a full drop-seat) and inner thigh vents give plenty of ventilation when necessary. However, that lead us to classify this as a resort bib rather than a backcountry one. we were stoked on the small details like a small clip at the front of the gaiters to attach to boot laces should you find yourself wading through snow in your Sorels, internal pocket organizers, low-profile suspender straps, and stretchy, breathable material on the upper body to keep the bibs from running too hot.

Our one complaint was a minor one that probably won’t even be noticeable to most people. The suspender straps connect in the back with a very small piece of hard plastic that our lead tester had some trouble with getting to sit well on his very bony spine. It’s mostly a concern with backpacks and on warmer days when not running a midlayer between one’s shell and baselayer.

While they don’t come in the wide array of colors that the Trew bibs do (there are 3-4 color options total), if you’re looking to complete the look, The North Face’s Summit Verbier Jacket is a similarly awesome piece of gear with incredible pockets and that matches the bibs perfectly.

CHECK PRICE ON Backcountry CHECK PRICE ON The North Face


Runner-Up Best Backcountry Ski Bibs

Arc’teryx Rush ($700)

Arc'teryx Rush

Shop Men’s
Weight: 536g
Best For: Backcountry
Overall Score: 8.25

Pros: Sleek and lightweight feel, great, low-profile suspender straps
Cons: Pricey, not the most breathable backcountry bib

The Arc’teryx Rush bibs deliver with a trim fit, low-profile suspender straps, durable materials, and four pockets. The material was a bit stiff at first but loosened up considerably after the first tour in them, and had a burly feel with the use of 70-denier GORE-TEX PRO Most Rugged material, which is noticeably tear-resistant, especially when compared with other backcountry-oriented bibs. Pockets are sufficient. Not a standout feature, but for a pair of backcountry-oriented bibs, the fact that they weren’t a “con” is notable.

Our favorite feature was the strap system, one of our favorite suspender straps among all bibs featured here. The small metal clips for attachment and adjustment were unnoticeable under a backpack (a pair of bibs’ greatest enemy).

Another favorite feature was the snow gaiters, which include protected openings that let you buckle a ski boot powerstrap over the gaiter for faster adjustments, but don’t let snow in while doing so. A few other bibs on this list also have this feature, like the OR Skytours.

On the breathability side of things, these bibs were solid but not a standout among competitors like the OR Skytours, where breathability is the top priority. The heavier-duty fabric made for a bit warmer of an experience on the uphill, and while the low-cut bib did keep the upper body cooler than full-cut bibs, the side zips for ventilation were average at best. But to be fair, it’s hard to have durable materials, light weight, and breathability at the same time. You’re going to have to sacrifice somewhere.

CHECK PRICE ON Arc'teryx

Sustainable GORE-TEX

Patagonia Untracked Bibs ($650)

Patagonia Untracked Bibs

Shop Men’s | Shop Women’s
Weight: 650g
Best For: Resort/backcountry
Overall Score: 8.25

Pros: Sustainable, storm-ready GORE-TEX protection
Cons:
Pricey, pockets are sufficient but not a standout feature

Patagonia’s 2023/2024 Snow line just dropped, and with it, the Untracked outerwear kit (bib and jacket). We were lucky enough to get in these bibs before they released last season, and were impressed with what we found. The standout feature of these bibs is the sustainable GORE-TEX construction. GORE-TEX, while providing the gold standard in terms of durable, waterproof/breathable fabric, takes a toll on the environment, which is why Patagonia has always gone with their own in-house waterproof/breathable fabric made with more sustainable materials. For 2023/24, the two snowsports giants have come together to produce a PFC-free and 100% recycled GORE-TEX fabric that’s up to Patagonia’s rigorous environmental standards.

And the fabric performs. Super durable and capable of withstanding wet conditions, the fabric, with a light flannel backer, moved extremely well, both on the resort and for colder backcountry expeditions. The fabric wasn’t the most breathable we’ve tried, and ran a bit warmer due to the flannel backer, landing this bib a little further on the resort side of the spectrum, though for colder, stormier tours, this bib certainly is up to the task. Features-wise, the bibs have two deep pockets, and a low-rise bib that sits fairly snug, keeping snow out despite the low coverage. The suspender straps are extremely low-profile as to be almost unnoticeable. The bibs also feature a Recco Reflector, which aids professionals in finding you should an emergency arise, and are backed by Patagonia’s Ironclad Guarantee — if you break it, they’ll fix it. Classy, bombproof and sustainable, the only things that kept this bib from hitting top marks were the high price, and lack of pockets.

CHECK PRICE ON PATAGONIA

Another Awesome Backcountry Bib

Outdoor Research Skytour Ascentshell ($400)

OR Skytour Ascenshell Bibs

Shop Men’s | Shop Women’s
Weight: 768g
Best For: Backcountry/resort
Overall Score: 8.25

Pros: Super breathable and stretchy material
Cons: 
Some complaints about extra material in the back

Don’t get us wrong; these are a worthy pair of bibs, and a top contender for the Best Backcountry Ski Bibs award, with solid resort-durability credentials to boot. There are plenty of well-planned pockets with internal loops for a beacon and other essentials, and other great features like a full dropseat, power strap slots on the snow gaiters and durable scuff pads at the ankles. And all that at $400. Impressive.

The bibs are made of OR’s AscentShell fabric, a very stretchy hardshell material that’s so breathable it borders on being a softshell while still repelling snow and rain. It’s fairly sturdy as well, but a bit heavier than the materials used in the Arc’teryx Rush and the Mountain Hardwear High Exposure above. It’s also worth noting that the breathability comes at the cost of some wind protection. That said, the increase in “wind protection” in the Rush and High Exposure bibs comes at the cost of some breathability. So pick your poison.

For us, what pushed this pair of bibs down the list was the fit. The upper “bib” part of the piece has a decent bit of extra fabric in the back area, which can be a bit uncomfortable under additional layers or when combined with a backpack. Our tester’s skinny build wasn’t doing him any favors in this area, but in reading other reviews and comments online, we realized he wasn’t the only one with this problem.

CHECK PRICE ON Outdoor Research

Removable Bib Upper

Mammut Haldigrat ($440)

Mammut Haligradt Bibs

Shop Men’s | Shop Women’s (La Liste)
Weight: 496g
Best For: Backcountry/resort
Overall Score: 8.0

Pros: Removable bib upper
Cons:
Very trim fit

Mammut threw an interesting features into this pair of bibs that some will love, and some might turn their nose up at, which is a removable bib upper, which can be zipped off, turning the bibs into a pair of pants. We thought it’s a pretty cool idea, especially if you’re someone who is interested in the added coverage of bibs but doesn’t want to completely give up skiing in pants.

As far as construction goes, the Haldigrat bibs feature a durable, waterproof material that is also fairly lightweight and breathable, similar to the Ortovox Deep. However, this lightweight and breathable fabric does run a little cold, requiring extra layers for cold resort-skiing days.

Style-wise, these weren’t a top pick due to that removable bib upper and what we’d describe as a fairly trim “euro” cut. Otherwise, these are a well-made bib with a rad new feature in the removable bib.

CHECK PRICE ON Backcountry

Lightweight, Full-Coverage for Backcountry

Ortovox Deep ($650)

Ortovox Deep Bibs

Shop Men’s | Shop Women’s
Weight: 664g
Best For: Backcountry/resort
Overall Score: 8.0

Pros: Great coverage, light and comfortable material
Cons:
Not enough pockets

The Ortovox Deep bibs strike a solid balance between lightweight backcountry breathability and resort riding toughness. The hardshell material is plenty thin and lightweight enough for touring but fairly sturdy. Nowhere near the toughness of the Flylow Bakers or the Trewth Bib Primo, but good enough for on-piste action.

The bibs feature a fairly trim cut. It’s described as “loose,” and while we agree it isn’t tight, loose might be a bit generous of a term. Velcro waist adjusters help dial in the fit. Suspenders are comfortable, both with and without a backpack, due to the minimal hard points.

We were a bit confused as to why the bibs didn’t have more pockets, however. There are two thigh pockets, which is great, but only one hip pocket (on the right leg) and one chest pocket (on the left side). We understand the weight reductions of extra fabric and zippers, but adding a symmetrical pocket on the chest and hip doesn’t feel like too big of a deal, and without them, it feels like a bit of wasted real estate. And as a leftie, our tester is accustomed to putting his phone in his left-hand hip pocket, and on these bibs, there isn’t one.

They do run a good bit warmer than the Arc’teryx Rush due to the full chest-length coverage and a few merino wool panels for warmth in key areas, but there is a more breathable stretch panel at the back, as well as full side zips down to the knees to help dump heat (and for full drop-seat functionality).

CHECK PRICE ON Backcountry

Comparison Table

Bib Price Overall Rating Best For Weight Material/Waterproofing
Flylow Baker $430 9.0 Resort 907 g 3L Intuitive 20k/20k waterproof/breathable material.
Flylow Baker Perm $520 9.0 Resort/backcountry 750 g Perm HD 20k waterproofing
Black Diamond Recon Stretch $450 8.75 Resort/backcountry 913 g 20k/20k Bd.dry stretch material
Mountain Hardwear High Exposure $450 8.5 Backcountry 390 g 3L GORE-TEX C-KNIT
Trew Gear Trewth Bib Primo $500 8.5 Resort 870g 20k/20k 3L PNW Primo
REI First Chair GTX ePE $270 7.5 Resort 847 g 2L GORE-TEX
The North Face Summit Verbier $550 8.5 Resort 857 g FUTURELIGHT 3L
Arc’teryx Rush $700 8.25 Backcountry 536g 3L GORE-TEX Pro
OR Skytour Ascentshell $400 8.25 Backcountry 768 g Ascentshell 3L
Patagonia Untracked Bibs $650 8.25 Resort/backcountry 650 g 3L GORE-TEX
Mammut Haldigrat $440 8.0 Backcountry/resort 496 g 20k/20k Mammut DRYtechnology Pro
Ortovox Deep $650 8.0 Backcountry/resort 664 g 3L 20k/20k waterproofing

Ski bibs on snow

Testing a few of the ski bibs in the insanely light Tahoe powder last season. Photo: WS

How We Tested

For this review, we scoured the internet for the best ski bibs on the market, checked in with ski buddies and local pros on the bibs they trust for the deepest of days, and got our hands on over 15 different options from the top outerwear manufacturers in the industry to test out. Lead tester and The Inertia‘s Gear Editor Will Sileo is a lifelong skier with a passion for the best gear in the industry. He took the selected bibs on a tour-de-force during the best winter (2022/23) that Tahoe has seen in years, the perfect testing ground for ski bibs. From backcountry laps, to his favorite powder stashes, to strike missions from the North Cascades to legendary Jackson Hole, he put them to the test. We first published this review in February of 2023, with the best ski bibs in the industry available at the time. That spring, we tested bibs for the upcoming 2023/24 season, and updated this article in October of 2023 as the first snows began to fall, with the best ski bibs for the 2023/2024 season.

We rated each of these bibs out of 10 on their Durability, Breathability/Ventilation, Pockets/Features, and Comfort (with considerations for fit). We’d include waterproofing as a rating category, but it’s a fairly moot point as all of the bibs included here repel rain and snow with ease. Style is another must in the ski world, but it is fairly subjective, so we’ve called out top picks for style above and noted in the individual review sections the bibs that were particularly steezy.


Ratings Table

Bib Overall Comfort Durability Breathability/Ventilation Pockets/Features
Flylow Baker 9 8 10 8 10
Flylow Baker Perm 9 8 9 9 10
Black Diamond Recon Stretch 8.75 10 9 8 8
Mountain Hardwear High Exposure 8.5 10 7 9 8
Trew Gear Trewth Bib Primo 8.5 7 9 8 10
The North Face Summit Verbier 8.5 8 9 8 9
Arc’teryx Rush 8.25 9 8 8 8
OR Skytour Ascentshell 8.25 7 8 10 9
Patagonia Untracked Bibs 8.25 9 9 8 7
Mammut Haldigrat 8 8 7 8 9
Ortovox Deep 8 9 7 8 7
REI First Chair GTX ePE 7.5 9 7 7 7

Best Ski Bibs

The Arc’teryx Rush bib features full side-zips for uphill ventilation. Photo: Ryan Salm

Ski Bibs Buyer’s Guide

What Features Do I Want an a Pair of Ski Bibs?

Here are some things your bibs should (and all of the ones on this list) have. Ventilation, lots of pockets, drop seat capabilities, and solidly waterproof material.

Ventilation and Breathability
This is one of the most important features in a backcountry bib. Bibs keep you warm, but it’s easy to overheat. Pay attention to the material bibs are made of, as some material is more breathable than others. Some bibs come with mesh-guarded vents to let in cool air but keep out snow. A cool idea, but in our opinion, they don’t let enough air in. The best ventilation in a pair of bibs is full side zippers that let you open up from waist to ankle for full-on airflow. Another great (but rare) feature is inner-thigh vents which, in combination with outer-thigh vents, can really get a cross-breeze going. The Flylow Baker bibs and The North Face Summit bibs have such a four-vent construction.

Pockets (lots of them)
Pockets can be a matter of personal preference, but it’s hard to deny their usefulness. We love to stash all our little gear items (headphones, snacks, avvy beacon, phone, etc.) on ourselves, even when wearing a backpack, to avoid constantly taking the pack on and off to reach what we need. For us, lots of pockets are a must, but we’re not everyone. Pockets (and the bib material necessary to house them) add weight and stiffness, so for those looking to go lighter, lots of pockets can be a downside, and in all likelihood, your jacket will have a number of pockets as well. So pick your poison. Another great pocket feature to look for is internal organization, such as interior stretch pockets and attachment points for lanyards and beacon leashes.

Best Ski Bibs Pockets
Best Ski Bibs Pockets

Flylow Baker Ski Bibs ($430)

Some ski bibs on this list have three pockets, most have four pockets, The North Face Summit Verbier bibs have six pockets, and the Flylow Bakers have a whopping eight pockets.

Buy Now

Suspender Straps

The biggest con of a few bibs here is their suspender straps and how well they jive (or don’t) with backpacks. Surprising, as you’d imagine. This is something bib manufacturers should have figured out by now. In short, the various types of buckles and attachment points for the straps are often a bit bulky and uncomfortable when worn under a backpack. Our favorite straps system was Arc’teryx’s Rush and Sabre bibs, which use low-profile strap ladders for adjustment, and similarly low-profile clips for bib-strap attachment. Another standout here was the Black Diamond Recon bibs, which use Velcro.

Drop-seat capability
This is a big one. No one likes to take their bibs completely off to go to the bathroom, especially when you have a jacket or other layers over your bibs. Drop seats are either one or two full-side zippers that let you open up the back of your bibs. One side zipper is sufficient, but it means you need to hold the rest of the bib to the side for a successful trip to the loo. For men, a front zipper is a must as well.

Material
It’s tough to strike the right balance between waterproof material, durability, and weight, but luckily, there have been some incredible advancements recently in material technology that have brought these two aspects closer together. GORE-TEX is the top-of-the-line choice, but we were similarly impressed with the performance of proprietary fabrics and waterproof finishes like Black Diamond’s BD.dry, Flylow’s Perm HD fabric, Mammut’s DRYtechnology Pro, among others. On the durability front, it’s all about striking the right balance between lightness and flexibility up against heavyweight durability. Extra reinforcement in key areas, like scuff guards on the ankles, is a key durability feature.

Arc'teryx Rush Scuff Guard

Rubberized scuff patches on the Arc’teryx Rush bibs add a lot of durability in a key area. Photo: Ryan Salm

What’s the Difference Between 2L and 3L Material?

When discussing shell fabric, one of the biggest defining points between higher and lower-quality gear is whether it’s made of a 2L or 3L construction. The terms point to the number of fabric layers sandwiched together to make the outer shell of the garment. Any piece of snowsports outerwear has an outer layer of durable fabric with a waterproof/breathable membrane underneath that keeps water out while letting water vapor (your sweat) to escape.

However, that waterproof membrane needs to be separated from your skin. In a 3L construction, there’s a third layer of fabric fused to the inside of that waterproof membrane. In a 2L construction, there’s still a third layer of fabric, but it’s not fused to the membrane, adding a bit of bulk and usually reducing the breathability, though some 2L ski bibs use a mesh liner.

Having the materials all fused together in a 3L construction adds breathability, a bit more of a streamlined or shell-like feel without that hanging liner, and often a significant uptick in price. That’s great for high-output activities (like heading into the backcountry) but not always necessary if you’re just hitting the resort. That said, for warmer days and hard-charging resort skiing, the added breathability sure is nice.

What’s a DWR Finish?

A DWR (Durable Water Repellant) finish is a waterproof treatment applied to any piece of technical waterproof outerwear. Its main purpose is to keep water from soaking into the first layer of fabric. However, it is actually a bit of a misnomer as said waterproof treatment is often the least “durable” part of the item in question, prone to rubbing off over time. When that happens, water will soak into the first layer of fabric (though it shouldn’t make it past the waterproof membrane beneath), adding weight and chill to your outerwear, neither of which is ideal. If you notice that happening to your ski bibs or other outerwear, it’s worth getting your hands on a spray-on or wash-in treatment to revive the water-repellency of the fabric.

DWR Water

How water should look on a DWR. If water is soaking into your bibs instead of beading up like so, it might be time to re-up your DWR treatment. Photo: WS

Ski Bib Care

Storage

Properly storing your ski bibs will go a long ways to making sure they last as long as possible. The most important aspect to keep in mind is the DWR will rub off over time, so do your best to hang your ski bibs whenever possible in a warm, dry place.

Washing

While it’s best to minimize the number of times you wash your ski bibs, eventually, the time will come. When it does, be sure to read the tag for proper washing instructions, and avoid normal detergent, as well as hot water. When you wash your ski bibs, it can be a good idea to use an outerwear-specific wash or DWR-reviver like this Nikwax wash-in treatment. That can re-up the water-repellency of your ski bibs without impacting the breathability.

Arc'teryx Rush walking

The Arc’teryx Rush bib was our runner-up pick for backcountry expeditions. Photo: Ryan Salm

Final Thoughts

Any of the ski bibs included in this list would make a great companion out on the slopes. I’ve tested a wide variety of bibs in the past few years, and these are the ones that rose to the top with high-performing materials, great features, and comfy fits. While we do spend a lot of time calling out both pros and cons of the bibs in this review to give you the full picture in making a purchasing decision, overall, we stand behind all of the bibs featured on this list as an incredible option to keep you warm, protected, and performing at your peak while out in the snow.

Return to Top Picks | Return to Comparison Table

Editor’s Note: For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.

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