Best Alternatives to Snow Pants

Published by Harry Sowers on

High-quality winter sports equipment is essential to protecting your body from the freezing temperatures of winter. But, more fashion-minded people may not like the variety (or lack thereof) of colors and styles in winter clothing. But what if I told you that there are snow pants alternatives out there? Regular clothes that you can wear on the slopes that will keep you warm and dry while you’re shredding some serious snow? Let’s talk about all of the alternatives to snow pants and how you can wear regular clothes and not have to buy extra winter clothes that are more expensive. If you are looking for an insulated skirt for skiing or snowboarding, you can check out our list of the best insulated skirts for skiing and snowboarding here.

Why Do People Use Snow Pants?

To determine suitable snow pants alternatives, you must first understand why people who play winter sports and do winter activities wear snow pants in the first place. A high-quality pair of snow pants retain the body heat that your pelvis and legs produce. Snow pants usually have several insulation layers and a waterproof outer layer, so falling rain or snow will not be a significant issue if you are outside. Snow pants are extremely well insulated, so you can use your own body heat to keep yourself in the cold. 

person in thermal pants


If you wear a pair of snow pants, and then you go outside, you should not be able to feel any coldness around your pelvis, rear end, legs, knees, or calves. If you do, that means that the snow pants are not well made, and you need to return them to the store and find better quality pants. The main reason why people use snow pants is to keep themselves warm and protect themselves from hypothermia and frostbite. But there are two other essential reasons as well.


 A second reason why people use snow pants is that they are extremely comfortable and loose. Unlike other types of pants designed for winter temperatures, snow pants allow for a great range of movement. Someone who is wearing a pair of snow pants for the first time does not need to wear them to break them in. Their baggy material ensures that they will be comfortable from the second you put them on. Because snow pants allow for an incredible range of movement, many skiers and snowboarders like to practice tricks favor snow pants more than any other type of pants.


The last major reason why people choose to wear snow pants is that manufacturers and clothing makers create snow pants with better designs and cooler styles than other types of winter pants. I don’t comprehend the reason for this, but on average, snow pants are more likely to have a variety of colors and different functions, including the zip pockets, more straps, and reinforced back pockets.

So people purchase snow pants because they retain heat well and keep you warm, they allow the wearer to move their body in different positions and will not restrict their movements, and snow pants have many more styles and color options. Okay, now that we know why people like to wear snow pants, let’s find some alternatives to snow pants and how they stack up against them. 

What About Ski Pants?

One major snow pant alternative is named for the sport that is the rival sport of snowboarding. While anyone can use snow pants, it is mostly snowboarders who use snow pants. But what about skiers? Well, skiers have different types of pants used for skiing that they call snow pants. Now I know you might wonder: if snowboarders wear snow pants and skiers wear ski pants, is there a type of pants for every winter sport. I know why you might think that, but now there is not. Snow pants and ski pants are just two major types of pants in the winter equipment industry. 

But what is the difference between snow pants and ski pants? 

For starters, ski pants are much tighter than snow pants. Snow pants are known for how baggy they are, and for a greater range of motion, the wearer can move their lower body. But ski pants need to be tighter because skiers need to wear clothes that are easier to move in. Snowboarders have baggy clothes because both of the feet are attached to the snowboard. Eac independent leg does not have to move, so their clothes can be baggy. But a skier has each of their legs attached to a separate ski, so they cannot have loose clothing that makes them feel like their pants are always about to fall down. Each leg influences its independent ski and how it moves, so a skier is more likely to mess up their slope run with incorrect movements.

Another big difference between ski pants and snow pants is where there is extra padding. Skiers and snowboarders usually fall in different ways, so a person who wears ski pants needs to have padding where they are more likely to fall, and the same goes for the snowboarder. A skier usually falls on their butt and sides, so skis pants have extra padding around their butt and hips. But a snowboarder is more likely to fall on their butt and knees because both of their legs are attached to a single board. 

So if you like to wear tighter fitting clothes or are clumsy on the snow, and you tend to fall on your side, it would be a great idea if you wear ski pants instead of snow pants. You should also choose to wear ski pants if you are the type of snowboarder or skier who likes to travel down slopes and trails at top speed. But if you know someone who is looking for alternative ski pants, tell them to try snow pants. 

I Have Thermal Pants, Can I Wear Those As Alternative Snow Pants?

If you are unfamiliar with the term thermal pants, they are not actual pants. They are a special layer of underwear that is thicker and is as long as regular pants. You can wear them underneath under any other type of pants or a skirt. Thermal pants are designed to keep you warm and add a layer of insulation underneath for clothes, so you can wear your regular pants and not suffer from the cold. However, thermal pants are not meant to be waterproof or quick-drying. So if you want to wear thermal pants underneath a pair of your own regular pants when you ski or snowboard, you will have to look for specialty thermal pants with these features. 

Also, you should not wear a pair of regular jeans along with your thermals. The thermal pants are meant to keep you warm, but your jeans are not waterproof or weatherproof. Jeans will absorb moisture if it is raining or when you fall in the snow. It would be better to wear rainproof pants instead and layer your thermals underneath them.

Are There Articles Of Clothing I Should Not Wear?

As I wrote about all the different snow pants Alternatives, I noticed a pattern. Anything that you wear in the winter and for skiing or snowboarding must keep you dry and warm, must be waterproof, and the material be able to absorb your sweat. So as long as you stick with these characteristics as you search for different clothing alternatives, you should have no problem finding clothing that keeps you warm and dry while you’re on the slope. But there are definitely a few clothing items that you should not wear while you are skiing or snowboarding or participating in any other intense winter sport. 

First of all, do not wear tights. Tights are very thin, and they usually restrict your movement. 

Lastly, you should always wear socks. There are people who dislike wearing socks with their shoes, but you have to wear them when you’re in Sub-Zero temperatures. The insulation from your boots is not enough to keep your feet warm. So long as you follow these tips and information above, you’ll find all kinds of clothes to wear like ski pants or other gear alternatives.


Finding an alternative ski pant or an alternative snow pants will take longer and may involve some experimentation on your part. But as long as you follow the three rules of heat insulation, absorption, and waterproof material, you’ll be able to find clothing that will keep you protected in the freezing cold. If you are looking for ski pants alternatives because winter sports equipment costs a lot of money, try shopping at a second-hand store or thrift store in a popular skiing area. There are plenty of people who donate their ski clothing to local reused clothing stores. You may need to come back several times in order to find clothing in your exact size, but clothing from thrift stores usually cost 1/3 to 1/5 of regular store prices, so it is well worth it.

Categories: SkiSnowboard


Harry Sowers

Harry grew up outside of Denver Colorado and has been skiing and snowboarding since he was 3. He is most passionate about skiing and when he was in college at UC Boulder he even participated in the olympic trials for the USA Olympic Downhill Ski team.