Snowboard pants have come a long way since the days of chain wallets and low-riders. Back in the day, the sport’s fashion was a big middle finger to the elitism of skiing and forgoing the flash and dance for its own subculture with ties to punk rock and hip-hop.
Nowadays, you have the major outdoor brands competing alongside snowboarding-specific labels to deliver the goods. Riders expect a lot more than mere fashion, and the gear has to perform well in the elements to gain our hard-earned cash. Last season we took a selection of the best snowboard jackets and snowboard pants on the market out around British Columbia’s Coast Mountains – home of Whistler Blackcomb – and the Cascades in Washington, home to the legendary Mount Baker. Below are the results.
The Best Snowboard Pants of 2023-2024
Best All-Around Snowboard Pants: Burton AK Cyclic Bib
Best Budget Snowboard Pants: Whitespace 3L Performance Pant
Best Snowboard Pants For All-Day Wear: Patagonia Storm Shift
Best Snowboard Pants Pockets: Mountain Hardwear Boundary Ridge Bib
Best Eco-Friendly Snowboard Pants: Patagonia Snowdrifter Bib
Best All-Around Snowboard Pants
Pros: Lightweight, waterproof, breathable
Cons: No insulation
Burton’s [AK] line is over 20 years in the making, and each year their talented team of riders and designers refine the product a bit more. The result is a set of snowboard pants that look great, feel great, and hit all the right notes to make this our favorite set of pants.
The only downside we found in comparison to the other bib-style snowboard pants is that it’s 2L versus 3L GORE-TEX, which definitely gives it a cooler feel. But having one less layer adds to the flexibility of the snowboard pants, giving them an extra nod in the comfort department. You just might need to wear a thicker underlayer to compensate if riding in the dead of winter. But for all-season comfort that can extend into the spring or keep you going on long backcountry days, this is definitely the go-to.
As for the right combination of durability and light weight, the Cyclic bib is pretty ideal. It’s easy to see that a lot of thought went into features like pocket placement. The bibs sport two large zippered chest pockets, We’re fans of this because you can have wet and dry storage within easy reach that stays safe under your jacket.
These snowboard pants are made to last, but if they don’t, you also have Burton’s limited lifetime warranty, so they will fix or replace anything that is out of whack. On the sustainability side, Burton has transitioned to all their gear getting the Bluesign seal of approval. It’s good to see snowboarding’s top brand taking environmental responsibility seriously.
Best Budget Snowboard Pants
Pros: Great price
Cons: Pockets are hard to get into when wearing, tight-fitting
Shaun White has put his name on this brand and reportedly was instrumental in the design process. for the 3L Performance Pants. The result is a slim-fitting pant with a decent amount of stretch, allowing one to grab and spin and not be held back by a bulky outer layer. For riding hard, these snowboard pants were the most lightweight we tested, however, they also felt the coldest. A thicker underlayer would solve this issue, and in the springtime or at lower latitudes, that should be a bonus.
The waterproofing of the fabric is rated at 15k, but with the coating it had, we found all water and snow beaded off quite easily. There were no issues with it holding up against the wet as we endured slush storms and 99% humidity on coastal storm days.
Special nod to the belt with magnetic closures that make for easy adjustments when you gotta go in the wild, even with gloves. You don’t want to hold up friends because you’re fumbling with gloves and a belt.
With the slimmer fit, however, it did not have the pocket space we’re used to, so that affected the score for pack rats like some of us. That said, others may appreciate the low-profile look and clean lines. It is a nice alternative to the baggier stuff, and we can see these snowboard pants working well for those who want a nice responsive set of 3L pants at a decent price point.Check Price on Backcountry
Best Snowboard Pants For All-Day Wear
Pros: Great protection from the elements
Cons: Pockets are small
Patagonia has been a leader in the ski scene for some time. But for snowboarders, the style doesn’t always mesh with the fashion du jour.
Not anymore — the Storm Shift pants not only look great, but they are comfortable and lightweight, and loose-fitting without being overly baggy. We found them to be the best in the lot for wearing around town in the snow as another garment in the wardrobe. While being great performing pants the hill, they stand out on their own, even when walking the streets.
The 2L GORE-TEX and reinforced gaiters kept all types of snow and sludge out, even when making an effort to step into some slush puddles. Pockets are well-lined to keep hands warm if gloves get soaked and you need some relief. It also come’s in a women-specific version for the ladies.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Patagonia review without mentioning their efforts to help improve the planet, so it’s good to know they don’t use fluorinated chemicals in the waterproofing layer, which is good for both humans and the ecosystems we play in. And the company’s goal to keep their garments in circulation via repairs over replacement means even if you give these snowboard pants some love, Patagonia has your back (and bottom) to keep them going season after season.
Best Snowboard Pants Pockets
Pros: Extremely durable, great pockets
Cons: Mesh chest pocket does not close
Mountain Hardwear makes a great product. They haven’t always been at the forefront of the snowboarding scene, but their quality construction earned them a spot on the list. The Boundary Ridge Jacket earned the “Best All-Around Snowboard Jacket” in our book, and the snowboard bibs are just as good.
The 3L GORE-TEX material is, without a doubt, the best bang for your buck that you’ll get for snowboard pants that won’t soak through. Being snowboard bibs, that means that a good portion of the torso is well-protected as well. Attaching this to the Boundary Ridge Jacket kept us warm and dry throughout anything we, or the mountain, threw at it.
With zip and cargo pockets on the sides, as well as both a zip and mesh pocket on the chest, there is plenty of space to stash what you need. Just be careful with valuables in the mesh chest pocket because it has the potential to fall out if you tumble. The side vents are large enough to do a quick flush on the go and zip back in seconds, earning major breathability points, especially for a 3L GORE-TEX build.Check Price on Evo
Best Eco-Friendly Snowboard Pants
Pros: Stretchy and lightweight
Cons: Shoulder straps can come loose
If you need a lightweight bib for backcountry missions that can also withstand the elements, we loved the Snowdrifter. They have enough stretch to give you freedom to move, and felt like there was barely anything on. Those are good enough to recommend but the added bonus (which may be the primary reason for many) was that the material is 100% recycled. On top of that, the DWR coating on it is free of the harmful PFC chemicals that is traditionally used for waterproof coatings. Add in the fact that the people making the gear were paid a fair wage under the Fair Trade® standard and this is a pair of snowboard pants that you can feel good about wearing.
We did notice though, that in heavy use the shoulder straps would come loose. A simple tape job can fix that, but then you must sacrifice the quick-release that is a welcome feature for many – especially when nature calls. Another feature that caused a bit of frustration was the zipper on the thigh pockets would get stuck on occasion. It was never a permanent stick but it happened more than once, so it’s worth noting. That’s not exactly a dealbreaker considering that the pros far outweigh the cons. We found that using the zipper with two hands solved this issue fairly easily.Check Price on REI
Best of the Rest
Pros: Can take a beating
Cons: Fairly rigid and unforgiving
The Sabre Bib has the primo construction that Arc’teryx has become known for. With 3L GORE-TEX, the only way you’ll get damp is if you forget to close the massive vents on the sides, something that’s not too hard to do! Be careful, though, unlike some other pant vents, there is no interior mesh keeping you from unzipping too far and letting in unwelcome slush. But as far as the material with which it’s made – that’s where these snowboard bibs shine.
The seams are well hidden, perhaps the best of what we tested, and you can tell that there was no skimping when it came to quality construction. Zippers also include a rubberized seal to help keep pockets from leaking. Not much bad can be said for this except that Arc’teryx has updated their warranty to be a “limited” lifetime warranty, so if you’re the person who rides hard and wears the gear out fast, there might be some pushback on their end on how far they will go to service the gear. But as a quality piece of gear that hangs well and will withstand the elements, the Sabre is a great option.
If you’re not into bibs, check out the Arc’teryx Sabre Pants.Check Price on REI
Pros: Nice flex allows you to send it without being held back
Cons: Not GORE-TEX, runs large
Dakine’s Sender Stretch Pants are exactly what the name implies. A roomy, if not baggy fit and stretchy material makes for unrestricted movement on the sendiest of jumps and maneuvers and is also exceedingly comfortable. Featuring 20k waterproofing and 20k breathability, these snowboard pants are as waterproof as they are breathable, with a PFC-free DWR and 3L construction made of recycled materials. If you need more breathability, exterior thigh vents let you dump heat with ease.
A fairly hidden but highly important feature these snowboard pants sport is the adjustable waistband with a drawstring that lets you cinch the pants down snugly without needing a belt.
The biggest downside is the pockets, as the pants only feature the two front cargo pockets you can see in the photo above, as well as two back pockets. If you’re riding the lifts, those two back pockets won’t do you much good besides giving you somewhere to stash your pass, leaving you with just the front two pockets for everything else. That said, the pockets are roomy and well-made, with magnetic flap closures for ease of use, as well as zippers should you need the added security. And paired with the right jacket, or a backpack, the lack of pockets shouldn’t be an issue.
These snowboard pants also took a hit on warranty, with Dakine only offering a 2-year guarantee on manufacturing defects. Any self-inflicted rips will be yours to take care of.Check Price on Dakine
|Item||Pant or Bib?||Overall Score||Price||Waterproofing||Sustainability|
|Burton AK Cyclic||Bib||9.2||$460||2L GORE-TEX||Bluesign Approved|
|Patagonia Storm Shift||Pant||9.0||$399||2L PFC-Free GORE-TEX||Patagonia, duh|
|Mountain Hardwear Boundary Ridge||Bib||8.8||$400||3L GORE-TEX||Recycled Polyester|
|Arc’teryx Sabre||Bib||8.0||$455||3L GORE-TEX||Bluesign Approved|
|Dakine Sender Stretch||Pant||7.8||$450||3L PFC-Free DWR||Recycled Polyester, PFC-free DWR|
|Patagonia Snowdrifter||Bib||7.6||$399||3L Recycled Polyester||100% Recycled, PFC-free DWR, Fair Trade|
|Whitespace 3L Performance||Pant||7.2||$157||3L 15k recycled||Bluesign Approved|
|Burton AK Cyclic||9.2||9||9||9||9||10|
|Patagonia Storm Shift||9.0||9||8||10||8||10|
|Mountain Hardwear Boundary Ridge||8.8||10||9||8||9||8|
|Dakine Sender Stretch||7.8||8||9||9||7||6|
|Whitespace 3L Performance||7.2||8||7||7||7||7|
How We Tested The Best Snowboard Pants
The PNW is legendary for the abundant snowfall and gnar country terrain. Two mountain ranges convene near the US/Canadian border—The Coast Range that extends upward to Alaska, and the Cascades that run southward to California. In these mountains are where we took the gear out over the 2023 season.
Lead tester Steve Andrews grew up with these mountains in his backyard. As a grom he spent his time at Mount Baker, one of the most legendary snowboard destinations on Earth and home to the world record for snowfall. On top of the huge dumps, the coastal snow is well-known for being of the “wetter” variety, ensuring that if you don’t have good quality protection, you’ll fast get soaked. All this had him seeking out the best gear over the years, learning from peers and mentors on what’s important. Over the years he has also worked as a professional filmer and backcountry guide, so he knows what to look for in extras such as well-placed pockets that are easy to access and keep pricey accessories safe.
Steve recruited a crew of die-hard shredders from Mt. Baker and Whistler to assist in the testing process, ensuring that there wasn’t any personal bias toward one particular model simply based on fit. It’s also important to make sure to give each pair enough time in the mountains to check for wear and tear, and if the waterproofing holds up.
We started the testing process in January 2023 with a selection of snowboard pants from the top brands, and spent the season rotating through the gear to compare. All in all each pair of pants went on backcountry missions, big hikes, park days, and the all-important aprés sessions. Elements such as waterproofing and durability are important, but we also rated the pants on how well they could stash some extras and how easy it was to get to those extras when out in the elements.
Many of these brands also cater to skiers, which we found to be important to not fit into any marketing mold of who should wear the pants. There are traditional snowboard apparel brands out there, and also those that cater just to skiers. We threw all that nonsense out, knowing that a good pair of snowboard pants will be good for anyone. The one main difference is that snowboarders are more often on their rear than skiers, which is just a reality of the sport. So if we found any discomfort on the ground while adjusting bindings, the pants wouldn’t make this list.
Snowboard Pants Buyers Guide
What are the important factors when looking for a good pair of pants? Aside from being able to stomp sick tricks, they need to survive the inevitable bails, as well. They also need to withstand the elements and consistently keep you warm and dry.
Waterproofing: Here on the “wet coast,” the constant deluge of rain and almost-snow this season has produced some seriously soggy days. Most of us know that GORE-TEX is the clear champion when it comes to a waterproof layer. Four of these snowboard pants have GORE-TEX, and two (Whitespace, Dakine) do not. Whitespace claims 15k waterproofing on their 3L Performance Pant, meaning it will take 15,000mm of water pressure to begin leaking. That’s enough to sustain a decent bit of rain, but for an absolute deluge, you’ll want to go with a shell that boasts 20k waterproofing and 2L or 3L GORE-TEX (like the Dakine Sender Stretch Pants), which I have found to be the highest standard for water protection.
Breathability: If snowboard pants don’t breathe, you’ll sweat, and when you stop moving, that sweat will get cold, causing temperature swings that fluctuate worse than a Sierra snowpack. Being able to regulate the heat will keep your core temperature on an even keel. This is important both in the resort and backcountry for different reasons. At the resort, you’ll need to keep warm on the chairlift without overheating, and in the backcountry, you’ll want to keep fresh air coming through as you hike, skin up, or shovel out that perfect booter.
Comfort: Feeling good in your gear is a must. Without it, your mind will be distracted by annoying little things that shouldn’t be consuming brain space. Not to mention if movement is restricted, you can’t perform your best. Comfortable snowboard pants are essential to riding well — the last thing you want is to bail because the pants are too clunky to maneuver around in the air or through the trees.
Pockets: A good pocket is like a reliable assistant. But bigger is not always better. It takes a careful balance to be large enough to hold things yet sleek enough not to become a burden with too much stuff to carry. Pockets also need to open and close with ease, especially in a hurry.
Warranty/Repair: Wear and tear are inevitable if you’re shredding the gnar. Luckily, most brands are hip to the idea of the gear lasting as long as possible. Some offer repair services and a lifetime warranty. Others offer a limited warranty for a set period of time. If you are someone who buys gear for longevity (really, shouldn’t we all?), then it might be worth knowing who offers what.
When it comes to pockets, the Mountain Hardwear Boundary Ridge Bib was our top pick, with awesome organization and plenty of storage. Price: $400
DWR vs Waterproof Membrane? Making Sense of the Jargon
There are a couple of major elements that go into what makes a good snowboard pant for playing in the snow, namely waterproofing and breathability. As you might expect, the two tend to cut against each other. Perfect waterproofing = zero breathability, and vice versa. That’s where all the fun tech comes into play. 2L and 3L, in outerwear-speak, point to the number of layers of fabric sandwiched together. All winter outerwear has an outer layer, as well as a waterproof membrane beneath it. But that membrane needs to be separated from your skin, so 2L snowboard pants (at least those that don’t have an insulating layer or cozy liner) need some sort of hanging liner to keep your skin away from the waterproof membrane. That adds a bit of bulk and often reduces breathability (depending on what fabric that hanging liner is made out of).
In a 3L snowboard pant, that third layer is fused to the other two, making for a more shell-like feel, cutting down on bulk, and improving breathability. However, with different types of interior linings, insulation, etc., it’s not so black and white as “3L is always better.” For those of us who spend 90-100 percent of our time on groomers, a 3L construction will be a bit overkill and not worth the uptick in price.
DWR (Durable Water Repellent) ignores what’s going on between the layers of fabric and focuses on the outer surface. A DWR finish helps water bead up and roll off instead of soaking into the outer layer of the fabric. That moisture will be stopped by the waterproof membrane beneath the exterior layer, but it will still add weight and chill. That’s why a DWR is important — and equally as important is maintaining that DWR over time. If you notice your snowboard pants aren’t repelling water like they used to, get your hands on a water-repellent treatment like this one from Nikwax to revive the water-impermeability of the shell.
Caring for Your Snowboard Pants
These pants are all designed to be long-lasting, but you can do your part to ensure they last as long as possible.
Storage: Make sure you store your pants with care. I know from painful (and smelly) experience that just tossing it in the backseat will add further wear and tear and invite some microscopic friends. The more the fabric rubs against surfaces, the more the waterproof coating will go away, so be sure to hang it up, if possible, in a warm and dry place. Stashing it outside in the elements will lower its performance.
When it comes to repairs, you simply can’t beat Patagonia’s Ironclad Guarantee. Whether the garment in question was produced last year or last decade, they’ll make sure it keeps kicking for as long as possible. Price: $399
Repairs: As mentioned before, most companies offer some sort of repair policy. The key is to take advantage of it! Don’t let something small turn into something big out of laziness. These days some repair marks can be seen as a badge of honor. It means you’re really using the gear to its fullest. Plus, it’s so much cheaper than buying something new, so there really isn’t much reason to let things go unrepaired. Pay close attention to the seams at the zippers. Those are often the first places to go.
Washing: Be sure to check the tag for detailed instructions, but a good idea is only to wash cold and to use liquid, not powder, detergent. If you use the dryer, use a low-temperature setting, and if you hang dry, you may need to use an iron (not too hot!) to reactivate the waterproof coating.
Waterproofing: The DWR waterproof coating can rub off over time, so it’s a good idea to re-up with a waterproof treatment every so often. Be sure to test a small area before applying to make sure it gets the desired result. Don’t forget to read the instructions, as different products work better for various fabrics. Depending on where you ride and how often you ride will determine how often you want to do this treatment. Once every 100 or so days of riding should be good.
These snowboard pants and snowboard bibs are what we considered the cream of the crop this year. We put them through the wringer, through spills, hikes, powder, and the needs of wet coastal conditions. And all of the above pieces performed admirably. We gave the top pick to the Burton Cyclic Bibs for their versatility and overall top-notch design, but the Mountain Hardwear Boundary Ridge Bibs were a super close second. If you’re more of a pants person, check out the insane comfort of the Patagonia Storm Shift Pants. You might even forget you’re wearing snowboard pants. For durability and lightness, check out the Arc’teryx Sabre, but be ready to pay a premium. If you plan on doing some hiking/skinning, the Patagonia Snowdrifter is a great call. For more great winter outerwear options, check out our guides to the best ski jackets and the best ski bibs. Happy shredding!