The main priorities for ski and board trousers and salopettes are to keep you warm, dry and comfortable. As is the nature of the sport, and if you're like me, there’s the chance that you’ll be taking a few falls while you’re out on the slopes, so they should also be made with protection from bumps and scrapes in mind.
Typically, ski leg wear will be have either two or three layers, and both offer advantages and disadvantages over the other. Two-layer pants will be simply an outer (usually waterproof) layer and an inner liner layer, while three-layer pants will have an added insulating layer. Three-layer pants will be warmer, comfier and offer more protection from falls, but they have the disadvantage that they’re heavier, bulkier and you might overheat. Two-layer garments aren’t as warm, but as they’re lighter they’re more versatile, so could double-up as mountaineering leg-wear.
As is the case with hiking, biking or just about any activity, correct layering while skiing can ensure you stay as warm and dry as possible. Regardless of whether I'm skiing in warm conditions I always wear technical base layers under my trousers to wick away any sweat, and to further insulate my legs. Cotton base layers are a no no as they will absorb moisture, freeze in the cold and make you chilly. In extremely cold conditions a second base layer can be worn to further insulate.
Perhaps more important to some than others is fashion. How you look on the slopes has always been a big thing, so it's good for a pair of trousers not only to have all the right features, but to also look the part. But in my opinion, if there’s a choice between superior quality and comfort or looks, you’ve got to go with the quality.
Features to look for
These are occasionally handy, but not essential. Good pockets will be zipped and covered by storm flaps to prevent whatever's in them from getting wet.
This will come in the form of an extra belt of some sort, or Velcro. It helps keep your trousers up where they should be, which will also keep snow out and stop draughts from getting in. And if you’re fond of big meals at lunch-time and après ski in the evenings, it also allows for a slight expanding of the waistline on the trip.
To keep your trousers up and, if they have a bib at the back or front, help keep the snow out when you fall. If the bib’s wind-proof, even better.
Helps stop snow from getting into your boots and making your socks and feet cold and wet. For boarders, these can usually clip into your laces.
These let you access your boots easily so you can tighten and loosen them when you want.
A good addition to any pair of ski/board trousers as they can help stop you overheating by letting cool air in/hot air out.
Ski vs boardSo, what are the differences between ski and board trousers? The main answer, of course, is all about fashion. Snowboarders are traditionally big into their looks, so go for baggy pants. Dude.The only real technical differences are that ski and board pants can be designed to go with the different type of boots they’re worn with – boarding trousers can be attached to the boots’ laces in the same way as gaiters hook on to hiking boots, for example.
Boarding trousers can also offer more padding in different places, as you fall differently in the two sports and boarders are more likely to sit in the snow. And boarding trousers are also a bit looser as boarders move their legs in a different direction to skiers.But generally, these differences are quite slight and if you like a pair of trousers or salopettes, you’ll be OK to wear them for either sport.
Where’s the one-piece? Is it just me, or is staple entertainment of any ski trip spotting the best 1970s/80s all-in-one ski suit? What was with the neon? Why do Russians love them? But if you’ve still got yours knocking around in the attic, don’t bin it. Here at Adventure Travel, we understand fashion. We know what goes around comes around. All-in-ones are going to be all the rage again… very soon. And as we’re one step ahead of every trend, we’ll be wearing ours out on the slopes this season. And we have to say, they don’t half keep the snow out well. Groovy, man.