How to choose a pair of ski trousers

How to choose a pair of ski trousers


Between the waterproofing, breathability, coating or membrane… do you find it hard to choose your ski trousers? We reveal all the information you need to make the right choice, and stay warm and dry in every situation.

How to choose a pair of ski trousers

1. What trousers for what type of skiing

Downhill skiing, freeriding, ski touring, snowboarding, sledding, cross-country skiing, what type of sport do you practise?
A good pair of ski trousers should keep you warm and dry in powder snow as well as on the pistes. But what will really define your needs will be your sporting discipline.

How to choose a pair of ski trousers

I go downhill skiing

If you spend all your time on the pistes, you will need a pair of warm and waterproof non-stretch or stretch ski trousers.
During this physical activity, there will be times when you get cold, especially on the chairlifts. A warm pair of trousers that fits properly is therefore recommended. Even if it means opening the vents for more intense descents.

How to choose a pair of ski trousers

I go freeride skiing

Is powder your thing? You are going to need a pair of trousers with good waterproofing that protects you even when you spend your a lot of time in the snow. A durable component and reinforced ankle panels will also be useful for withstanding the abrasion from external factors (roots, branches, etc.)

Regarding the shape, you will go for a relatively loose fit for the style and for greater freedom of movement when skiing.

How to choose a pair of ski trousers

I go ski touring 

You get uphill without using the ski lifts! Ski touring involves a lot of effort to get uphill and the descents are few and far between. So you need a slim-fitting, lightweight pair of trousers with zips for ventilation to eliminate your perspiration when climbing. A wind-proof component will protect you from the wind and other bad weather, especially when going downhill.

How to choose a pair of ski trousers

I go snowboarding

Beginner snowboarders know this: you spend a lot of time on your backside and on your knees. So you need a pair of trousers with reinforcements in these strategic areas for staying dry, even during breaks. And, naturally, your trousers must provide plenty of warmth and be waterproof.
For powder snow enthusiasts, there are salopettes called "bib trousers". They prevent snow from entering in the event of a fall or during breaks, so that you stay nice and warm throughout the session.

How to choose a pair of ski trousers

Want to try cross-country skiing? 

Nordic skiing/cross-country skiing is an endurance sport involving big fluctuations in body temperature, that is practised in winter conditions. To avoid getting too hot or too cold while also having plenty of freedom of movement, a pair of tights, that will keep you warm at the start of the session and subsequently eliminate perspiration during the physical activity, will be preferable.

How to choose a pair of ski trousers

If you are afraid of getting cold

Properly tighten all the openings of your clothing, adjust the gaiters properly and adjust the hook and loop tabs at the waist so that it fits tightly.
In any case, take a size, in which you can move freely and wear a base layer like ski tights underneath. This is so you can adjust the warmth of your garment according to the weather conditions.

As you've probably realised, whether you practise skiing, snowboarding or sledding, your trousers must be waterproof.

How to choose a pair of ski trousers

2. How do i know if my trousers are waterproof?

If you think that all waterproof trousers are equal, think again! Depending on the needs of the sports user, there are different levels of waterproofing for mountain equipment, and hence ski trousers.

An important point: water repellent trousers are not necessarily waterproof, but all waterproof trousers are water repellent. 

How to choose a pair of ski trousers

The waterproof rating of a fabric is expressed in Schmerbers. You will often find this rating information on the label of your garment. The higher the number, the more waterproof the fabric of your product. So, if you read 10,000 mm or 10,000 Schmerber, the fabric of your trousers can withstand a column of water 10 m high. But to get a perfectly waterproof product, Schmerbers are not enough. The seams must also be made waterproof. Indeed, even if your fabric is water resistant, water can get in through the seams. If you take a waterproof, unlined jacket, for example, and turn it over to look at the inside, you'll see that the seams are covered by a waterproof tape to prevent water from getting inside the jacket.

A coating or a membrane, what's the difference?

A coating is a layer of product that is added to the fabric.
A membrane looks like a film that is placed inside the jacket.
These two solutions are relatively waterproof and breathable. For reasons linked to the durability of the technology, we have a preference for membranes, especially given that, on a ski garment, it is then protected by the lining and the insulation that retains warmth. It is also more flexible than a coating, thereby improving the freedom of movement.

Additional tip: how to reactivate the waterproofing of your ski trousers

Your ski wear may lose some of its technical qualities over time. With our advice, learn how to reactivate the waterproofing of your ski trousers and jacket.

How to choose a pair of ski trousers

3. Why should you care about the breathability of the fabric?

Have you ever hiked in a downpour in the summer wearing a light waterproof jacket and found yourself soaking wet inside as if the rain had gone right through the jacket? You have seen a demonstration of the importance of the breathability of the fabric when choosing a waterproof garment. Because if the fabric prevents water from entering, it also prevents the moisture released by your body from getting out. And that's why you get soaked, not because the jacket is not waterproof but because you give off moisture!

To prevent this, we measure the breathability of the fabrics and the waterproof ski trousers must be properly breathable, especially if you are intending to make a significant physical effort.
Expressed in RET, the breathability of a fabric is measured by the amount of water vapour (because, yes, you naturally give off water vapour and this effect increases if you are engaged in a sport). The smaller the RET indicated on a label, the more breathable the fabric. For the record, a very breathable garment has an RET of about 6 or less. Between 6 and 12, it is quite breathable, which is perfect for ski clothing, for example.

4. The little extra details that make your life easier

  • How to choose a pair of ski trousers

    The built-in avalanche safety system

    Freeski and all-mountain products are equipped with the RECCO® system. This should always be used in addition to an AVD (avalanche victim detector). RECCO® reflectors help rescuers to find people who have been buried.

  • How to choose a pair of ski trousers

    Waterproof zips

    To prevent water from entering through the zips, whether it is at the pockets or air vents, they must be waterproofed. A flap must be placed in front of the zip to protect it or there must be a membrane placed behind the teeth of the zip to prevent water from getting inside.


    Wadding to keep you warm

    The warm ski trousers are filled with wadding because it is the only component that stays warm even when wet. We could have put feather insulation instead, but this loses its insulating properties when there is moisture in the air. And wadding is very easy to wash, unlike feathers!

Have you found the trousers to match your skiing discipline? Don't forget to complete your outfit with the right jacket. And if you still have questions, don't hesitate to share them in the comments or make enquiries at your local Decathlon store!

How to choose a pair of ski trousers


Wedze communication team, skiing and snowboarding enthusiast


A few tips that you may also be interested in:

how to choose your skis

How to choose adult skis?

Check out our advice to help you choose your skis

how to choose your ski boots

How to choose your ski boots?

The boot is the most important part of your ski equipment. It determines your comfort, foot and ankle support, influences the movements of your body and the reaction of your skis (support, turns). Check out our advice to help you select your ski boots!

choose snowboard boots teaser


Your choice of snowboard boots is fundamental. It depends on 3 criteria: your ride level, foot size and tightening system. Here are our tips to find the right boots for your feet!