Backcountry Ski Pant Review

The first edition of many to come, this ski touring pant review will encompass the category called softshells, which we feel offer the most versatility for everyday touring. We’ll review hardshell pants at a later date. While we know that some situations are better suited for a hardshell pant, the pants in this review offer ample wet weather protection and generally, far more breathability, stretch, and comfort for daily touring. Note that a few of them are actually “soft” hardshell fabric, meaning they are fully waterproof and taped, yet offer more stretch and breathability than a typical 3 layer hardshell.

Most of these pants could be your one and only touring pant - no need for a quiver of different weights, fabric types, or fits; each of these will be your second skin, all winter long, through snow squalls, ripping ridge top winds, and the occasional solar furnace. Layer under them accordingly.

It should be noted that there are a few hybrid pants in this mix. They offer waterproof fabric from the top of the knees down to the leg hems and more breathable stretch woven fabric above, providing great versatility for those who like to get in the trenches while digging pits or just want more overall waterproof protection and durability.

Check out our fabric overview for more information on stretch woven fabrics. Read our fabric beta...

Infinium is used in a few of these pants. It is the new name for Gore’s old Windstopper category of fabrics. In lay person’s terms, this is actually the same base technology as Gore-tex without all the special sauces and thicker versions that make a Gore hardshell more durably waterproof.

That said, Infinium is waterproof, yet it is highly breathable and can provide way more stretch than a Gore-tex hardshell. It is optional whether the seams are taped but in most versions, you’ll see they are either fully, or at least partially taped, enough for ski touring either way. If you’re looking for a fabric and pant to take you from the backcountry to resort-accessed side country and the occasional laps at the resort, this fabric is the bomb.

Best for Dry Cold Days


Radical Infinium Hybrid

Price: $270
Fabric: Hybrid of Gore-Tex Infinium in highly exposed areas and a stretch woven softshell fabric on hips and back of knees for ideal breathability. Brushed inner fabric is comfortable against the skin.
Fit: These fit trim except around the knee area where they are a little baggy
Weight: 480g
Mesh lined zip side leg vents
Double snap waist, adjustable Velcro side straps, belt loops
Two zippered hand pockets
One large diagonal thigh pocket
Built in gaiters
Zippered back of boot lower leg to fit different size boots
Pros: A good combination of weather protective Infinium and highly breathable stretch woven fabric. The stretch woven fabric does not bag out at the crotch like others and the waist adjustments work well to keep it fitting snug even after multiple uses. Light weight for a hybrid and good through spring conditions.
Cons: They leg fit can be a bit baggy around the knee area

Best for Wet Days


Khroma Kinetic Pants

Price: $300
Fabric: 3 layer Proflex with wicking inner knit
Fit: Trim
Weight: 504g
Double snap waist closure, belt loops and a wide back panel
Side leg zip vents
Two zip thigh pockets
Two almost horizontal hand zip pockets
One back zip pocket
Removable suspenders
Integrated simple gaiter
Pros: This fabric is the only hardshell fabric that feels soft, stretchy and breathes incredibly well for one that is actually still waterproof. The versatility of this fabric through all weather conditions gives it a huge bang for the buck making this an incredible value.
Cons: It can be a bit stuffy on moderately warm or just dry sunny days when a stretch woven pant is really better suited but if you only have one pant in your quiver and use it for the ski area days as well, this is ideal.


Medola Pants

Price: $380
Fabric: Schoeller nylon stretch woven outer with soft warm merino wool inside
Fit: Regular – bonus: they come in lengths! They fit all body types well.
Weight: 500g
High waisted back, wide Velcro side adjustment tabs, soft mesh on inner waistband. Suspenders can be added to the loops provided.
Two front hip pockets work for your hands or necessities
Thigh pocket has a beacon clip
Side vents dump extra heat on the ascent
Leg gusset zipper and reinforced hem provides durability while the hem snaps allow the pant to adjust for different width boots.
The integrated gaiter is silicone coated to stick to your boot, simple, functional and light.
Pros: Feels like wearing pajamas but wears like full clad protection in all conditions. This pant wins our best ski touring pant award for it’s incredible comfort on a wide range of body types, comfort on body due to the stretch and wool interior, and awesome performance in a wide range of temperatures and conditions. It is also amazingly durable and will last for years.
Cons: Can be a little too hot for spring or warm sunny days due to the wool and the black color. Also, not ideal for wet snowy days. It’s water repellent but not enough for really wet days.


Stormstride Pant

Price: $429
Fabric: Stretch nylon waterproof
Fit: Comfort and stretch in all the right places. Not too baggy, but enough room for layers
Weight: 442g
Double snap waist with belt loops and side adjustment tabs. Two zip thigh pockets and outer thigh ventsIntegrated gaiter, zipper for boot size adjustment at hem with snaps
Recco reflector
Pros: These pants offer decent breathability while keeping you dry from the elements.  The fit is described as slim, but they fit more like a standard fit and offer enough room for layers. The vent zips are great for skinning, and the inner fabric doesn’t feel plastic-y, whether you’re wearing layers underneath these or not. The wider legs are perfect for fitting over ski boots.  
Cons: Sizing is a bit off; the difference between the S and M seems large (i.e. if you’re between sizes, it might be hard to find a great fit). The waistband is comfortable but runs large.


Eisfeld Guide SO Pant

Price: $425
Fabric: Gore Infinium in high exposure areas, stretch woven softshell elsewhere. Seam sealed.
Fit: Trim
Weight: 1lb. 10oz. 737g.
Double snap waist with Velcro side adjustment tabs
Two zip hand pockets, one thigh pocket, one cell phone pocket, zip leg vents
Integrated gaiters
Removable suspenders
Velcro adjustment and zip gusset at the hem for different width boots
Pros: These Infinium fabric in these pants (aka: Gore Windstopper) is incredibly versatile, though it feels a little more hardshell like than softshell. They breathe like a softshell but protect like a hardshell. For anyone who wants one pant that does it all from the backcountry to the resort, this is a good one.
Cons: Overall kind of heavy and clunky. The internal gaiter is super long with multiple zippers that are honestly not that useful and it feels incredibly bulky from the knee down and heavy.


Shashka Stretch Pant

Price: $400
Fabric: Gore-Tex Infinium  
Weight: 640g/1lb 6.6 oz.
Fit: trim
Adjustable wide waistband with built in belt.
Two hand and one thigh pocket, one pocket has a loop to clip your beacon toNon-removable gaiter system, gaiter has a cinch strap built in near the power strap
Clean lower leg with no external zippered cuff
Pros: All the right features and total hardshell protection with the bonus of stretch. Great for all season touring and the occasional lapping at the resort.
Cons: A bit heavy and more like a hardshell than softshell pant.

Outdoor Research

Skyward II Ascent Shell Pants

Price: $300
Fabric: Ascent Shell waterproof breathable stretch fabric, fully seam taped. Hardshell fabric that feels stretchy and breathable.
Fit: Regular, good quad room
Weight: 597g
Tricot lined waistband with adjustable side Velcro straps and belt loops
Avi beacon pocket with clip, zip hand pockets, zip thigh pockets
Zip thigh ventsMesh internal gaiters with power strap slot
Reinforced nylon on boot/leg hem for added durability
Pros: This fabric stretches nicely for one that protects like a hardshell. Features are all where you want them with added bonuses like the power strap slot on the gaiter so you don’t have to move it up and down your buckles each run.
Cons: The adjustable velcro waist straps are not long enough to allow for a tight secure fit on the waist, often requiring a belt in order for the pants to sit properly. At times the Avi Beacon pocket zipper will get caught on the inside fabric of the pocket making it catch and stop. This is not an issue that happens often but when it does it's a scary reminder of how not ideal it would be to struggle with your zipper while trying to get your beacon out in an emergency.

Black Diamond

Dawn Patrol Hybrid Pants

Price: $300
Weight: 490g
Fit: A little on the baggy side and big for its size.
Fabric: Combination of stretch waterproof panels from above the knees down to leg hems and stretch woven double weave breathable panels elsewhere. Integrated adjustable waist belt and buckle, the buckle often comes open and is bulky under a pack strap. Side zip vents dump heat easily
Zip thigh beacon pocket is padded and second thigh pocket
Small upper right hip pocket for necessities
Dual snap closure on the hems for different boot sizes
Integrated gaiter
Pros: This pant is pretty light for cold climbs, best for warmer and sometimes wet days. The looser fit is comfy, moves with your bod easily and takes layers underneath well.
Cons: Not so warm for colder mid winter touring, the bellows on the pockets “wing” out when you skin – aesthetically challenging. The buckle waist comes undone easily and is bulky under a pack strap.

Header photo courtesy of Leslie Gains-Germain

Disclaimer of Liability: Technical rock and ice climbing is inherently dangerous. Neither Broad Beta, LLC., nor any of its employees, shall be held liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information described and/or contained herein, and Broad Beta, LLC. assumes no responsibility for anyone's use of the information.
Any person using our gear in any manner is personally responsible for learning the proper techniques and good judgment. We strongly recommend that every climber seek instruction by a qualified professional.

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