Whether you’re a resort ripper or earn your turns in the backcountry, ski bibs are a nice alternative to pants, offering unmatched protection alongside a healthy dose of style. And there are more women's-specific options now than ever: Brands like Flylow and TREW Gear have made a name for themselves with their cult-classic bibs, and all the traditional players—including Patagonia, Arc’teryx, and Helly Hansen—have their hat in the ring. The bibs here range from entry-level budget models to burly hardshells and stretch-infused designs that maximize mobility and breathability. Below we break down the best women’s ski bibs of winter 2023. For more information, see our buying advice and comparison table below the picks.
- Best Overall Women's Ski Bib: TREW Gear Chariot Bib PRIMO
- Best Women's Budget Ski Bib: The North Face Freedom Bibs
- Best Women's Insulated Ski Bib: Flylow Gear Sphynx Bib
- Best Women's Bib for Backcountry Skiing: Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell
Best Overall Women's Ski Bib
Best for: Resort/backcountry
Waterproofing: 3L PNW Primo
What we like: A stylish yet high-performance bib with a women’s-specific fit and feature set.
What we don’t: Too thick for dedicated backcountry use.
Still a young brand, TREW Gear has really broken through in the ski and snowboard markets thanks to their high-quality and clean-looking outerwear designs. A classic all-rounder for resort and backcountry use, their freshly revamped Chariot Bib PRIMO gets our top pick of the year: The in-house 3-layer PNW Primo construction is reminiscent of premium Gore-Tex in both look and feel, and you get full seam taping with reinforcements, smooth-operating water-resistant zippers, and bomber coverage that keeps even the wettest of snow at bay. And the cherry on top? The Primo membrane is now 100% recycled. Tack on a high-quality fit and finish and stylish freeride vibes, and the Chariot Bib is the full package for skiers looking for a quiver-of-one bib.
If you’re anything like us, you might have struck out with women’s bibs in the past: Historically, fit has been disappointing, and most designs have lacked functional rear hatches for bathroom breaks. But TREW Gear has responded to the needs of female skiers with the Chariot: The wide drop seat is incredibly easy to use when nature calls, and you get your pick between 10 sizes (XS to 4X) and three inseam lengths. We do wish the Chariot used more secure horizontal (rather than vertical) chest pockets to keep items from falling out when open, and most backcountry skiers will find the bib to be much too bulky and featured for covering serious ground. But for resort skiing, sidecountry forays, and the odd day in the backcountry, the TREW Gear Chariot nails the trifecta of price, performance, and style.
See the TREW Gear Chariot Bib PRIMO
Best Women's Budget Ski Bib
Best for: Resort
Waterproofing: 2L DryVent
Insulated: No (available)
What we like: Decent performance and features for half the cost of most bibs here.
What we don’t: Cheap-feeling fit and finishes; will wet out in sustained moisture.
It's possible to spend upwards of $600 on a pair of ski bibs, but casual resort-goers and first-time skiers can save considerably with a model like The North Face’s Freedom Bibs. For just $199, the Freedom Bibs have everything you need for a day on the slopes, including a long side zip for easy entry (which doubles as a swing hatch for bathroom breaks), inner thigh vents, gaiters to keep snow out, and a variety of pockets. The North Face’s DryVent membrane guards against snow and short bouts of wet weather, and a number of features help to dial in a good fit, including adjustable suspenders, belt loops, and availability in a range of sizes and three inseam lengths. Added up, the Freedom is a well-rounded bib that gets the job done for much less than the competition.
But while we like TNF’s entry-level design for recreational resort skiers (especially in dry climates like Colorado), many will find that it’s worth spending up for a higher-quality bib. You won’t want to test the Freedom in too wet of conditions: The DryVent membrane doesn’t offer the same stalwart protection as Gore-Tex, and the face fabric is prone to soaking up moisture. Further, the bib’s 2-layer construction with hanging liner adds bulk and lacks breathability compared to the 3-layer designs here, which is why we don’t recommend it for backcountry skiing. And finally, the overall fit and finish is a bit of a letdown, with a generic style and cheap-feeling features like zipper covers (rather than watertight zippers) and chest pockets that aren't very secure. But for a low-cost option for those who only get out a few times a year, the Freedom is hard to beat—and it also comes in an insulated version for $20 more.
See The North Face Freedom Bibs
Best Women's Insulated Ski Bib
Best for: Resort
Waterproofing: 2L Intuitive
Insulated: Yes (40g Spaceloft)
What we like: Built-in warmth for those who tend to run cold.
What we don’t: Lacks the versatility of an uninsulated bib; users report a lot of issues with fit.
When the wind’s whipping and the snow’s flying, a ski bib provides a really nice dose of protection against cold drafts and moisture. Most offerings here feature a simple shell construction, but a few designs build in a thin layer of synthetic insulation for extra warmth alongside wind and waterproofing. Among the insulated options, the Flylow Sphynx puts it together better than most: The 40-gram Spaceloft insulation adds warmth without too much bulk, and you get a low-profile back and vents along the outer thighs to help guard against overheating. Among ski bibs, Flylow's style is hard to beat, and we really love the stretchy fabric, which is comfortable and doesn’t restrict movement like a rigid hardshell. For frigid winter climates or women who have a tendency to run cold, the Sphynx is well worth a closer look.
But before you spring for an insulated bib, it’s worth considering the tradeoffs. Our primary gripe is the lack of versatility: The built-in warmth is a great companion on particularly cold days, but it’ll quickly become overkill when the mercury rises. Further, we never recommend an insulated bib for backcountry use—even on the coldest of days, the insulation still adds too much bulk and detracts from breathability. And we do have some specific gripes with the Sphynx, too: Flylow didn’t include scuff guards, the bib only comes in one inseam length, and some users report issues with fit (you’ll likely want to size up). In the end, we think that most skiers are better off opting for a non-insulated bib and building a quiver of different baselayer options. And as we mentioned above, The North Face’s Freedom Insulated will save you over $100, but expect some tradeoffs in terms of quality and style.
See the Flylow Gear Sphynx Bib
Best Women's Bib for Backcountry Skiing
Best for: Backcountry
Waterproofing: 3L AscentShell
What we like: OR's AscentShell fabric is exceptionally breathable, mobile, and comfortable.
What we don’t: Not the lightest bib here and a bit permeable to wind.
For backcountry skiing, you'll want a lightweight bib that doesn’t restrict movement, top-notch breathability and ventilation, and tough fabric and construction that can withstand heavy use. Within this category, the Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell Bib is our runaway favorite. OR’s AscentShell fabric is the key feature here: This best-of-both-worlds material stretches, breathes, and is remarkably quiet like softshell, all while offering the waterproof protection of a hardshell. Above the belt, the Skytour patterns stretch-woven softshell for even more mobility and comfort. Tack on a gusseted crotch, articulated knees, and a trim, technical fit, and you get a highly mobile yet protective bib, ideal for everything from bootpacking up summit pyramids to spring volcano skiing.
But the Skytour does fall just a little short in a couple performance categories. Most notably, the AscentShell fabric is relatively thin (50D) and more air permeable than rigid hardshell—we’ve had to make a habit of pairing the bib with thick baselayer bottoms on particularly chilly or windy days. Further, for all its backcountry prowess, the OR is far from the lightest bib here (you can shave over 5 ounces with the Patagonia SnowDrifter below), and we’ve found the cuffs to be slightly too narrow to fit over our ski boots in walk mode. But it's hard to argue with the price, and the Skytour tacks on a few really nice features, including burly scuff guards, a band of elastic at the lower back to aid with fit, and a beacon clip in the generously sized chest pocket. For a lightweight, mobile, and highly breathable backcountry bib, it doesn't get much better.
See the Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell Bibs
Best of the Rest
Best for: Backcountry
Waterproofing: 3L Gore-Tex
Insulated: No (thin fleece backer)
What we like: Premium Gore-Tex protection and soft flannel backer.
What we don’t: Expensive, trim fit, and not a standout breather.
Arc’teryx is generally a cut above the rest when it comes to premium construction and build quality, and the Sentinel Bib is no exception. Designed specifically for women, the Sentinel nails all of the components of a capable ski bib, with a robust 70-denier nylon shell, 3-layer Gore-Tex construction with a soft brushed liner, and outer thigh vents. Arc’teryx also paid particular attention to the bottom of the legs, which feature their patented TouringCuff (helpful for adjusting boot buckles without pulling up your pant leg), 100D Cordura patches, and burly, seamless insteps to guard against wear and tear. It all adds up to a fantastically well built ski bib that offers an impressive amount of weather protection and durability in a lightweight and streamlined package.
But on the flipside, $650 is simply hard to justify when there’s a lineup of good to great competition for hundreds of dollars less. What’s more, the Sentinel lacks built-in stretch, which many backcountry skiers appreciate for the skin track, and its trim, technical fit might not vibe with the freeriding crowd. And historically, women have struggled with the Sentinel’s sizing—with only one inseam length and not much accommodation for strong skier legs, it can be hard to nail the fit. But it’s hard to beat the protection of Gore-Tex for rugged winter weather or wet spring conditions, making the Sentinel a great choice for serious skiers who spend a lot of time in the mountains.
See the Arc'teryx Sentinel Bib Pant
Best for: Resort/backcountry
Waterproofing: 3L Tactic
What we like: A stylish yet high-performance bib with built-in stretch.
What we don’t: No built-in beacon clip; stretchy build slightly compromises weather protection.
Flylow Gear holds a special corner of the ski bib market, with a wide variety of offerings that hit the sweet spot between style and performance. The Foxy is their best all-rounder: This bib is versatile and hip, comfortable yet protective via a stretch-infused hardshell fabric (that’s also impressively durable at 100D), and fully featured, with vents on both the inside and outside of the thighs and no shortage of pockets. We also love that it comes in three different inseam lengths, which really helps to nail the fit (bibs can be particularly finicky). We tested the Foxy throughout a season in the Pacific Northwest and give it our whole-hearted endorsement for those looking for a top-of-the-line bib for both resort and backcountry use.
Flylow’s advertising of the Foxy as a softshell bib is a bit misleading—its 3-layer Tactic fabric is actually full-on hardshell with built-in stretch and taped seams. It also happens to be our favorite thing about the Foxy: The bibs are extremely comfortable and quiet, and the added mobility is a game-changer for both skiing and après. However, stretchy hardshell can’t compete with the full-on waterproofing of a rigid design like the Chariot or Sentinel above, which you might want for wintery chairlift rides or wet days out. Additionally, the Foxy doesn't include a built-in pocket clip for a beacon, which is disappointing for backcountry use. But if you're willing to put up with a few minor tradeoffs, Flylow Gear's most popular bib is a comfortable, high-performance, and stylish option for resort skiers, casual backcountry-goers, and those who double dip. And fit-wise, the bib runs small—you’ll likely want to size up, especially if you’re going for a laid-back, freeride style... Read in-depth review
See the Flylow Gear Foxy Bib
Best for: Backcountry/resort
Waterproofing: 3L Pertex Shield
What we like: The most affordable 3-layer bib on this list; available in inclusive sizing.
What we don’t: Lacks premium finishes; 40D shell is not particularly durable.
For deal-seekers who don’t want to compromise too much in the way of performance, look no further than the Outdoor Research Carbide Bibs. Importantly, the Carbide is the most affordable 3-layer design here: For just $299, the bibs breathe better than the 2-layer competition (such as the TNF Freedom above and REI First Chair below) and feature lighter and more premium-feeling construction. On top of that, you get all the features we look for in both resort and backcountry bibs, with outer thigh zips for venting (one extends from the torso to knee for bathroom breaks), reinforced scuff guards, a beacon pocket with clip at the chest, and a stretch-mesh gaiter with integrated PowerStrap slot. The Carbide is also available in nine sizes from XS to 4X (although we do wish OR offered different inseam lengths). It all adds up to a capable, versatile, and high-value bib for new skiers and dedicated weekend warriors alike.
But there are some inherent tradeoffs with the lower price tag. First off, OR saved some money with Pertex Shield waterproofing, which is competitive with Gore-Tex but lacks the foolproof reputation you get with the more premium brand. Second, the material is noticeably thin at just 40-denier, making the Carbide especially vulnerable to heavy resort use. And finally, the finishes simply don’t feel as high-end as some of the pricier bibs above: The Carbide has zipper flaps rather than water-resistant zips, thick suspender components that can be uncomfortable under a pack, and wrap-around hardshell fabric on the torso (i.e. no venting or softshell fabric). OR’s budget bib is undeniably high on value, but its versatile build means it’s master-of-none: Most resort-goers can save with a tougher 2-layer design, and we recommend backcountry skiers spend up a bit for the added stretch and breathability of the Skytour above.
See the Outdoor Research Carbide Bibs
Best for: Resort/backcountry
Waterproofing: 2L Helly Tech Professional
Insulated: No (thin fleece backer)
What we like: Reliable waterproofing and hardwearing stretch fabric in a stylish, freeriding design.
What we don’t: Only comes in five sizes and one inseam length.
Helly Hansen makes some of our favorite ski outerwear, and their Powderqueen Bib is an uber-classic that threads the needle between performance and value. Prioritizing protection against deep snow and wet conditions, the Powderqueen features the most premium tier of Helly’s in-house waterproof membrane (Helly Tech Professional), along with a stretchy and hardwearing shell fabric. For an extra boost on deep-winter days, a thin fleece liner at the rear balances warmth and breathability better than most insulated designs. And styled for freeriding, the Powderqueen offers a relatively baggy fit with a large bib pocket and cargo thigh pocket (with beacon attachment) for storage.
At just $300, the Powderqueen is a nice step up from our budget pick: We learned to trust Helly Tech Professional almost on par with Gore-Tex—which is certainly more than we can say of TNF’s DryVent—and Helly Hansen’s build quality is a cut above. One limiting factor is that the Powderqueen only comes in five sizes and one inseam length, so we recommend trying on before you buy or purchasing from a retailer with a generous return policy (Helly Hansen’s website makes it relatively easy with a pre-paid UPS return label). And while the Powderqueen is marketed for backcountry use, just be sure you’re down with the baggy vibes and insulated design—we personally prefer a sleeker shell on the skin track. But if you like the style, Helly Hansen’s freeriding bib is a high-value crossover piece, and pairs well with their Powderqueen 3.0 Jacket.
See the Helly Hansen Powderqueen Bib
Best for: Backcountry/resort
Waterproofing: 3L Dermizax EV
What we like: Mid-height softshell bib and stretch-infused fabric lend a lot of comfort and mobility.
What we don’t: Slightly less waterproof than rigid hardshell bibs.
TREW Gear sticks to a fairly standard formula with their Chariot above, but the Hood River, Oregon-based company goes a little rogue with the Capow here. Upon first glance, the main difference is the Capow’s mid-height bib, most of which is made with stretchy softshell fabric. Not only is this design high on style points, but it’s also a lot more ventilated and less restrictive than the Chariot’s full bib. And adding to the Capow’s comfort and mobility is a more relaxed fit below the belt (great for women with wide hips or strong thighs) and a stretch-infused hardshell fabric. All told, it’s a breathable and supple alternative to the Chariot, joining the likes of the Skytour and Sentinel above as a high-end backcountry bib.
Keep in mind that the Capow does sacrifice a little waterproofing with its stretch-infused hardshell—it’s still no slouch, but it wouldn’t be our first choice for wet chairlift rides. And at 1 pound 11 ounces, it’s certainly not the lightest option here, and we’ve found it to be just a bit too much bib for the skin track. But TREW Gear’s drop seat is one of our favorite designs—the full half-moon zip makes bathroom breaks a breeze—and the Capow is known to offer a very accommodating fit for a range of body types. If you like the mid-height bib style but don’t want to spend up for designs like the PowSlayer below, the TREW Gear is an excellent value and will keep you dry in all but the wettest of mountain weather.
See the TREW Gear Capow Bib
Best for: Backcountry
Waterproofing: 2L & 3L Gore-Tex
What we like: Uncompromised waterproofing, breathability, and freedom of movement.
What we don’t: Expensive.
The Skytour above gets our pick for the top backcountry bib due to its combination of mobility, weather protection, and value, but it’s not Outdoor Research’s premier touring bib. That designation goes to the Hemispheres II here, which ups the ante in terms of waterproofing with 3-layer Gore-Tex (with soft C-Knit backer) and patches of stretchy 2-layer Gore-Tex at the crotch, lower back, and underarms. The result is a fairly uncompromised design: While the Skytour above makes sacrifices in terms of protection—including a softshell bib upper and more air-permeable AscentShell pant (50D)—the Hemispheres is the full package, with a fully waterproof and seam-sealed construction throughout, ample venting, greater durability (70D), and a lighter weight to boot. We took the updated “II” on the North Cascades’ Isolation Traverse last spring and can confidently say that it’s OR’s most well-rounded bib to date.
What pushes the Hemispheres II Bib down our list is its steep price. At $629, it’ll cost you roughly the same as Patagonia’s premium PowSlayer below, which features a more breathable Gore-Tex Pro build. What’s more, a bib like the Flylow Foxy above offers a significant boost in durability (100D) for $200 less. But neither has the stretchy Gore-Tex panels of the Hemispheres, which add a significant amount of comfort and mobility for backcountry travel. Finally, while we were disappointed with the limited pocket storage on the first-gen Hemispheres, it’s worth noting that Outdoor Research does add a second chest pocket on the latest version, along with an avalanche beacon clip. It all adds up to a formidable backcountry bib for those who consistently get out in harsh and unpredictable conditions—if you’re willing to make the investment.
See the Outdoor Research Hemispheres II Bibs
Best for: Resort
Waterproofing: 2L Gore-Tex
What we like: Gore-Tex protection at an excellent value.
What we don’t: Not as premium feeling as the OR Carbide ($299) above.
REI Co-op’s First Chair is proof that you don’t have to spend upward of $400 for a quality ski bib. At a much more palatable $259, you get great coverage, a durable and waterproof 2-layer Gore-Tex build, and functional organization with zippered chest storage and two thigh pockets along the front. REI also incorporated some mechanical stretch into the face fabric, which is a nice touch for everything from sidecountry hikes to getting on and off the lift, and the styling isn’t half bad, with a mid-height bib and fun cargo pockets at the thighs. It doesn’t hurt that you get the Co-op’s excellent warranty to back up the purchase, either.
For just $60 more than our budget pick (the TNF Freedom), the First Chair GTX ups the ante considerably: With a low-profile bib and softshell patch at the lower back, you get more ventilation for mild spring days or sidecountry jaunts, and the Gore-Tex waterproofing is a lot more reliable than the Freedom’s DryVent. On the other hand, if you’re willing to spend up just $40, the OR Carbide above feels a lot more premium with its 3-layer construction and higher quality fit and finish. But for casual resort-goers looking to maximize protection and minimize costs, the First Chair GTX lands in a great spot.
See the REI Co-op First Chair GTX
Best for: Backcountry
Waterproofing: 3L Gore-Tex Pro
What we like: Lightweight and breathable protection.
What we don’t: Expensive, not super durable, and hard-to-operate rear hatch.
For backcountry skiing and deep powder in particular, the Patagonia PowSlayer Bib offers premium protection in a lightweight package. First, you get a top-of-the-line Gore-Tex Pro shell, which is impressively breathable yet still as good as it gets in brutal conditions. Combined with a minimalist upper (like the First Chair above, the PowSlayer is essentially a high-waisted pant with suspenders), a relatively thin 40-denier nylon face fabric, and the low weight of just 1 pound 3.9 ounces, the result is a highly functional yet streamlined bib. Patagonia rounds out the build with two thigh pockets and a small accessory pocket at the waist, a stretch-mesh panel at the lower back, side zips, gaiters, belt loops (for use without suspenders), and a RECCO reflector.
The PowSlayer is a nice alternative to the Sentinel above, and we think it's overall the smarter choice for dedicated backcountry skiers. You get a thinner shell fabric (40D vs. 70D) for better freedom of movement and breathability, and the Gore-Tex Pro membrane offers a step up in wet-weather performance. However, the PowSlayer is quite a bit baggier than the trim Sentinel (we prefer low-profile bibs for high-output uphill travel and use with a backpack), and it also has a more rigid and crinkly feel. Finally, it’s worth noting that the snaps for the Patagonia’s drop seat are hard to reach with a jacket on (and even harder to secure), which isn’t great news for quick bathroom breaks. But gripes aside, the minimalist PowSlayer will appeal to dedicated backcountry skiers looking for a highly protective bib.
See the Patagonia PowSlayer Bibs
Best for: Resort
Waterproofing: 2L Helly Tech Performance
Insulated: Yes (PrimaLoft)
What we like: Just-right warmth, stretchy and comfortable fit, and a great price.
What we don’t: Bibs are prone to showing wear over time.
For a super clean resort bib with a great fit and just-right warmth, give the Legendary Insulated Bib Pant from Helly Hansen a look. Helly’s mid-range Helly Tech Performance shell is ideal for those who aren’t frequently working up a sweat—and helps keep costs in check—and the Legendary has a touch of PrimaLoft in the rear and knees for cold rides on the lift. The women’s model features an elastic cinch at the lower back for a more flattering fit, along with a chest-to-knee side zip on one side for easy on and off. We also like the lightweight feel and simple design from the Norwegian company, which comes in a variety of muted colorways and should go with just about any jacket combination.
In terms of movement, the Legendary Insulated incorporates a mechanical stretch fabric that offers extra "give," which is great for both walking through the lot and downhill travel. The regular fit has less of a laid-back “freeride” feel than many bibs (including Helly's Powderqueen above), which will be great news for some but results in a less accommodating fit for women with curves. What’s more, the relatively thin materials and price-conscious build aren’t quite up to par with offerings like the Flylow Sphynx, and the bibs will likely show more wear over time. But the Legendary Insulated costs a lot less than many alternatives, and its blend of comfort, price, and performance earn it a spot on our list.
See the Helly Hansen Legendary Insulated Bib
Best for: Resort/backcountry
Waterproofing: 3L BD.dry
What we like: A durable yet highly mobile bib for both the resort and backcountry.
What we don’t: A bit heavy; bathroom breaks are difficult with just one side flap.
A climbing company at its core, Black Diamond appeals to a similar audience as brands like Arc’teryx and Patagonia, but their offerings often slide in at a lower price point. The Recon Stretch Bib is a great example: For $450, the Recon features a stretchy 3-layer hardshell construction, along with generous softshell panels on both the front and back of the torso. The combination makes for great ventilation alongside fairly decent waterproofing—Black Diamond’s in-house BD.dry membrane doesn’t have the brand cachet of Gore-Tex, but in our testing it’s held up well to wet chairlift rides and falling snow. At 1 pound 9.4 ounces, the Recon isn’t necessarily “fast-and-light” (for comparison’s sake, the SnowDrifter below is 1 lb. 2.2 oz.), but its mobile and breathable nature—along with a simple yet functional feature set (including streamlined suspenders that minimize pressure points under a pack)—gets the job done for backcountry and resort skiers alike.
If you’re drawn to a bib like the OR Skytour above but are nervous about its compromises in terms of weather resistance and durability, the Recon Stretch is a nice alternative. In a side-by-side test, the Recon’s hardshell fabric has a similar amount of stretch but is noticeably heftier than that of the Skytour, which makes it more appealing for frigid chairlift rides and severe mountain weather. We do take issue with the BD’s rear hatch, which is only accessed via a side zip on one side, thus requiring that you remove the shoulder straps for a true bathroom break. But if you can find a system that works for you, the Recon Stretch is a durable and high-performance choice and a great one-quiver bib for those who split their time between the backcountry and the resort.
See the Black Diamond Recon Stretch Bibs
Best for: Backcountry
Waterproofing: 3L H2No Performance
What we like: Creative mix of weather protection and comfort in a lightweight design.
What we don’t: Rear hatch is hard to operate; sizing can be tricky.
Patagonia’s backcountry outerwear collection has gone through a number of major revamps over the past few years, but we really like where they’re headed with the SnowDrifter Bib. The simple design essentially has two parts: a 3-layer waterproof fabric with built-in stretch protects you below the belt, while a stretchy softshell covers the upper body. This provides a nice balance of weather resistance (the upper portion isn’t waterproof but does have a DWR coating) and range of motion for steep uphill sections and extended bootpacks. It’s all put together in a simple and streamlined build that keeps weight and bulk low (over 5 oz. lighter than the Skytour above) while maintaining decent functionality for backcountry endeavors.
But there are some downsides to the SnowDrifter’s minimalist setup, particularly for women who like to drop trow during their bathroom breaks. With small zipper pulls and hard-to-reach snaps that require you to reach under your jacket, the rear flap can be hard to open; if you choose to release the suspenders instead, they can be difficult to thread back through the narrow elastic attachment points. Further, with no option for inseam lengths, sizing the SnowDrifter can be tricky. We really want to like Patagonia’s design (and you likely will if you can nail the size and find a good system to drop the back hatch), but it’s not quite as refined as the competition.
See the Patagonia SnowDrifter Bibs
Best for: Resort
Waterproofing: 2L HydroBlock Sport
Insulated: Yes (40g Thermore Classic)
What we like: Stylish and feminine resort vibes for a low price.
What we don’t: Not particularly waterproof or breathable.
Based in Aspen, Colorado, Obermeyer has been designing ski wear since 1947—which means they’ve seen the sport through a heckuva lot of fashion trends. But as resort style has moved from one pieces and snow bunnies to baggy, snowboard-inspired garb, Obermeyer has stuck close to their original formula with sophisticated yet functional offerings. The Malta here is their most popular women’s bib, with a trim fit, 40-gram insulation, and a non-stretchy hardshell face fabric that comes in a few classy colorways. To be sure, weather protection doesn’t measure up to Gore-Tex (or comparable) models, but the Obermeyer will get the job done for casual resort use in mostly dry conditions.
What women love most about the Obermeyer is the flattering fit: the Malta’s fleece-lined waistband adjusts to ride snugly against a range of body types, and the cuffs feature a stylish flare that looks classy at the resort. Further, while the insulation provides decent levels of warmth, it’s inconspicuous enough to keep bulk low. And to help dial things in, the Malta comes in 12 sizes from 0 to 22, including short and long lengths. But you do get what you pay for: With critical seam taping, we only recommend the Malta for use in dry and cold climates like Colorado, and it’s not particularly breathable, either. The end result is a bib that looks better than it performs—the Malta will excel at après but might show its weakness on the slopes. That said, it’s hard to find style at this price point—for those looking for a bib that’s more feminine than freeride (and don’t mind compromising a bit on performance), the Malta delivers for just $199.
See the Obermeyer Malta Bib
Best for: Resort/backcountry
Waterproofing: 3L Gore-Tex Pro
What we like: The most premium waterproof/breathable design here.
What we don’t: Expensive and cuffs run small.
The award for the most high-end bib on our list goes to Norrøna’s Tamok Gore-Tex Pro here. Not only does the Tamok check in at a premium price point, but just about everything else is as good as it gets, from the 200-denier Gore-Tex Pro Most Rugged shell—Gore-Tex’s foolproof waterproof protection, optimized for breathability and durability—to the articulated patterning and artfully laid out pockets and vents. The Tamok also features breathable stretch-woven fabric across the back, which helps dump heat and keeps mobility high. All told, it provides even more premium protection and performance than heavy hitters like the Arc’teryx Sentinel and Patagonia PowSlayer, with a full-sized bib upper to boot.
So why do we have the Norrøna ranked all the way near the bottom of our list? The most obvious answer is price—at $699, it’s the most expensive bib here, and (in our opinion) simply overkill for most, especially considering you can get a decent 3-layer design like the TREW Gear Chariot for hundreds of dollars less (note: at the time of publishing, the Tamok is available through Backcountry for $579). Second, there are issues with the cuffs, which are barely wide enough to fit over a ski boot (especially in touring mode). And finally, we’ve come to prefer the added mobility of a stretchy hardshell for backcountry use, as seen in bibs like the Skytour, Foxy, and SnowDrifter above. But if you’re heading into tough conditions and think you’d benefit from the best combination of waterproofing and breathability available in ski tech—alongside a hefty dose of Norwegian style—the Tamok is certainly worth considering.
See the Norrøna Tamok Gore-Tex Pro Bib
Best for: Resort
Waterproofing: 2L Peak
Insulated: Yes (40g polyester)
What we like: A waterproof and insulated bib for just $199.
What we don’t: Only critically seam sealed and unflattering fit.
REI’s in-house outerwear continues to impress when it comes to bang for your buck, and their Powderbound ski kit is no exception. Overall, we think they’ve put together a solid product with the insulated bib: The 2-layer Peak waterproofing holds up to most winter weather, and a moderate level of insulation (40g) adds a nice dose of protection against frozen chairlifts. Tack on a thoughtful set of ski-specific features—inner thigh vents, boot gaiters and scuff guards, and an assortment of functional pockets—and the Powderbound is well-suited for season-long use at the resort.
At just $199, the Powderbound Insulated goes head-to-head with our top budget pick, but falls short in a few ways. Neither TNF’s DryVent nor REI’s Peak waterproof membranes can match the performance of Gore-Tex, but the Powderbound is only critically seam sealed, which keeps costs low but isn’t great for staying dry in sustained and wet snowfall. Further, while the REI is available in a range of sizes, including petite and plus-sized options, the design lacks adjustability at the waist or torso (a stretch-knit panel at the lower back helps). In the end, if you prioritize a flattering fit, we suggest looking elsewhere. But for a casual and insulated resort bib that also gets the job done for general snow use, the Powderbound is worth a look.
See the REI Co-op Powderbound Insulated Bib
|Ski Bib||Price||Best for||Waterproofing||Insulated||Weight|
|TREW Gear Chariot Bib PRIMO||$499||Resort/backcountry||3L PNW Primo||No||1 lb. 11 oz.|
|The North Face Freedom Bibs||$199||Resort||2L DryVent||No (avail.)||Unavailable|
|Flylow Gear Sphynx Bib||$325||Resort||2L Intuitive||Yes||1 lb. 10.6 oz.|
|OR Skytour AscentShell Bibs||$379||Backcountry||3L AscentShell||No||1 lb. 7.6 oz.|
|Arc'teryx Sentinel Bib Pant||$650||Backcountry||3L Gore-Tex||No||1 lb. 3.8 oz.|
|Flylow Gear Foxy Bib||$430||Resort/backcountry||3L Tactic||No||1 lb. 6.9 oz.|
|Outdoor Research Carbide Bibs||$299||Backcountry/resort||3L Pertex Shield||No||1 lb. 5.8 oz.|
|Helly Hansen Powderqueen Bib||$300||Resort/backcountry||2L Helly Tech Pro.||No||Unavailable|
|TREW Gear Capow Bib||$479||Backcountry/resort||3L Dermizax EV||No||1 lb. 11 oz.|
|OR Hemispheres II Bibs||$629||Backcountry||3L & 2L Gore-Tex||No||1 lb. 5.5 oz.|
|REI Co-op First Chair GTX Bib||$259||Resort||2L Gore-Tex||No||1 lb. 11.3 oz.|
|Patagonia PowSlayer Bibs||$639||Backcountry||3L Gore-Tex Pro||No||1 lb. 3.9 oz.|
|HH Legendary Insulated Bib||$220||Resort||2L Helly Tech Perform.||Yes||1 lb. 8.1 oz.|
|Black Diamond Recon Stretch||$450||Backcountry/resort||3L BD.dry||No||1 lb. 9.4 oz.|
|Patagonia SnowDrifter Bibs||$379||Backcountry/resort||3L H2No Performance||No||1 lb. 2.2 oz.|
|Obermeyer Malta Bib||$199||Resort||2L HydroBlock Sport||Yes||Unavailable|
|Norrøna Tamok GTX Pro Bib||$699||Resort/backcountry||3L Gore-Tex Pro||No||1 lb. 7.2 oz.|
|REI Co-op Powderbound Bib||$199||Resort||2L Peak||Yes||1 lb. 11 oz.|
- Ski Bibs Pros and Cons
- Best Uses: Resort and Backcountry
- Fabric Types
- Fabric Layers: 3L vs. 2L
- Insulation and Warmth
- Drop Seats and Swing Hatches
- Additional Ski Bib Features
- Fit and Sizing
- Layering Underneath Your Ski Bibs
If you’re hitting the slopes this winter, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be doing so wearing either ski pants or bibs. Your final decision will come down to a matter of personal preference, but there are a number of factors to consider. The most obvious reason to opt for a ski bib is their significant boost in coverage compared to pants. Forget the powder skirt and lose the belt—with a secure over-the-waist design, bibs excel at keeping out snow and drafts of cold air. This no-holds-barred protection is good news whether you’re headed into gnarly mountain conditions or a new skier wanting to stay covered in the event of a fall.
As a result of their added coverage, ski bibs also offer a large amount of storage, with pockets generally both at the chest and on the legs. Especially if you plan to go sans ski jacket (if it’s a warm day on the skin track, for example), it’s nice to have the extra space for anything from a phone and snack to your avalanche beacon. And finally, it’s hard to deny the style points you get with bibs, which are becoming increasingly popular both on- and off-piste.
But there are a few downsides to keep in mind. Most bibs are pricier than their pant counterparts (for example, REI's Powderbound Insulated pants are $149, while the bibs are $199), and the additional material results in a lot more bulk overall, which is worth keeping in mind if you’re trying to streamline your backcountry kit. Bibs also offer a bit less breathability and freedom of movement than pants, although designs with softshell uppers, torso venting, and built-in stretch go a long way towards addressing this issue. And perhaps our biggest gripe about bibs—particularly for women—is the hassle of going to the bathroom. That said, a lot of designs feature easy-to-use rear or side zips that get your bibs quickly out of the way when nature calls. For many skiers (us included), the added coverage and storage will be well worth the minor inconveniences.
A good number of ski bibs can get the job done in both the front and backcountry, but some are designed specifically for one environment or the other. To help with your research, we’ve included a “best for” specification in our product descriptions and table above. Starting with in-bounds skiing, these bibs are built tough—you typically get thick and rigid hardshell fabrics that can handle the wear and tear of the chairlift, fully waterproof and windproof constructions, and generous fits for layering. What’s more, some resort bibs are insulated, which can be a great choice for those who consistently ski in frigid temperatures. As a result of all this tech, these bibs can be on the bulkier side (read: heavy and possibly restrictive), which isn’t a big deal for resort skiing but not our first choice for backcountry missions.
On the other hand, bibs designed specifically for the backcountry prioritize mobility and freedom of movement, with some form of built-in stretch (by way of softshell fabric or stretchy hardshell fabric) and an athletic fit. Additionally, breathability is essential—the materials are thinner, and it’s common to see ventilated backpanels and large zippered side vents for staying cool.
Weather protection can sometimes be compromised in the quest to keep you from overheating (stretchy hardshell fabrics are inherently more air permeable than rigid hardshell), and durability often takes a hit with thinner, lighter weight fabrics. Whether or not this is a good idea for you will depend on your local weather and snow conditions, in addition to your style of touring (for example, you’ll want a fairly durable bib for ‘schwacking through PNW forests in the spring). Finally, storage can vary in all of these models, but backcountry bibs in particular prioritize a large pocket at the chest or thigh (and sometimes both) with a clip for an avalanche beacon.
Hardshell fabric is the name of the game with ski bibs, thanks to its waterproof protection. That said, it’s worth calling out the distinction between various types of hardshell material: namely, rigid hardshell and hardshell with some mechanical stretch. The type of fabric you opt for will depend on where you're skiing (we favor rigid hardshells for resort use) and how much mobility you need (stretchy designs are great for mogul skiers and uphill enthusiasts). And while all of the bibs above feature hardshell below the belt, some use supple and stretchy softshell fabric in the bib. Below we break down the three material types.
For resort days and extreme mountain weather, it’s hard to beat the protection of a rigid hardshell (Gore-Tex is a popular example). Backed by a waterproof membrane, hardshells provide a reliable barrier against wet snow and harsh winds (great for long chairlift rides), and pricier options can have impressively long lifespans. Due to their burly constructions, hardshells aren't particularly breathable, and you'll have to put up with their more rigid feel. But resort skiers generally don’t need an especially breathable or supple bib, and the good news is that most hardshells here have side vents to dump heat on warmer days. The Norrøna Tamok is a standout example, with bombproof 3-layer protection, a substantial 200-denier face fabric, and long side vents.
Hardshell with Stretch
Hard-charging resort skiers, sidecountry enthusiasts, and most backcountry skiers will want a waterproof bib, but a little extra stretch is appreciated. Designs like the Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell Bibs feature a hardshell construction with built-in stretch, which is a lot more supple than a standard hardshell—you don’t get that rigid and crinkly feel—and places a premium on freedom of movement and breathability. However, you do compromise a bit in the way of protection: stretchy fabrics allow more air to flow than a hardshell, so they’re less impervious to strong gusts. Additionally, they’re more prone to wetting out after extended exposure. But it doesn’t get much better for most backcountry skiers, and it’s for good reason that we see more stretch-infused hardshell bibs hitting the market each year.
Softshell material is stretchy, air-permeable, very comfortable (especially compared to hardshell), and offers slightly more insulation than hardshell fabric. But while it’s water resistant, softshell is not waterproof: It absorbs moisture more readily than hardshell, and in most cases does not feature a waterproof membrane. Some ski pants—namely, those for spring backcountry skiing—are made exclusively with softshell material, but we see a lot less of this fabric in bibs (which makes sense, given that bibs place a premium on protection). That said, some designs, like the Patagonia SnowDrifter Bib, do feature a softshell bib (that is, the material above the waist) or patches of softshell around the torso. The added mobility and breathability is a boon for backcountry use and compromises little when paired with a jacket, but you do miss out on the all-out protection of a hardshell design.
Most premium ski bibs utilize a 3-layer construction, which incorporates three separate pieces of fabric: an outer shell, the actual waterproof and breathable membrane, and an inner lining. This construction is less bulky than a 2-layer design (these require a separate, hanging mesh liner along the interior), and also improves breathability and next-to-skin comfort. As a result, 3-layer bibs are more expensive than 2-layer models (3L designs above range from the $299 Outdoor Research Carbide to the $699 Norrøna Tamok) and often involve big names like Gore-Tex and AscentShell. But for serious downhill and backcountry skiers, you won’t find a better combination of waterproofing and breathability in a streamlined design.
Many mid-range and budget ski bibs have a 2-layer construction. These are less breathable than 3-layer models, although the simple designs often use thick fabrics that are quite durable. We’ve found that 2-layer bibs are perfectly suitable for resort use where ventilation and mobility aren't as important (those skiing moguls or prone to overheating are exceptions). Further, you can save a lot by going this route: the 2-layer bibs on our list range from $199 (for The North Face Freedom and Obermeyer Malta) to $325 for the insulated Flylow Gear Sphynx Bib.
Given that ski bibs prioritize protection from the elements, quality water resistance is an absolute must. For ultimate waterproofing, look for a rigid (read: not stretchy) hardshell bib with a Gore-Tex membrane, which leads the charge in terms of premium moisture protection. Mid-range and entry-level bibs will utilize manufacturer’s in-house laminates (TREW Gear's PNW and REI’s Peak membranes, for example), which are still waterproof but generally not as breathable or long-lasting as Gore-Tex. Seam taping and a durable water repellent (DWR) coating also are important for hard chargers to keep moisture from sneaking through, and you can revive your bibs’ DWR with a simple spray or wash cycle with products like these from Nikwax). In terms of waterproofing, spending a little more does get you a nice upgrade in quality and longevity.
Backcountry skiers spend less time sitting on a chairlift and more time on the skin track, so many of their favorite bibs prioritize breathability and mobility alongside waterproofing. All of the backcountry bibs above feature waterproofing in the legs, but in this category it’s common to see hardshell with built-in stretch (such as the OR Skytour’s AscentShell fabric). Although they’re waterproof, these fabrics tend to be more air permeable and a bit more prone to soaking up water than rigid hardshell, but the tradeoff is worth it for most backcountry skiers (especially those venturing out in cold and dry conditions).
Further, we’ve started to see more and more designs (both for the backcountry and the resort) with softshell fabric patterned throughout the bib portion, which adds a nice dose of comfort, mobility, and breathability. Softshell is water resistant but not waterproof, so you’ll want to keep these fabrics covered by a hardshell jacket or high-quality ski jacket in snowy or wet conditions.
As we touched on above, breathability needs are closely aligned with your intended use(s). Resort riders, and especially those who plan to stay on groomed runs, don’t require a light and airy design. Most standard 2-layer constructions will offer sufficient breathability, and you can always select a bib with large zippered vents to dump a little excess heat as needed (we prefer vents on the outside or back of the legs to those on the inside).
If you venture into the sidecountry, however, plan to mix in some touring days, or are a backcountry enthusiast, breathability then becomes an important consideration. Among waterproof builds, lightweight and stretchy 3-layer constructions are the best ventilators (including the Flylow Gear Foxy Bib), and it’s a good idea to look for ventilated or softshell panels in the bib upper. Finally, if breathability is your top priority, it can be worth considering a ski pant over a bib.
Unlike ski pants, which are close to 50/50 in terms of insulated and uninsulated models, most women's ski bibs are uninsulated. This is for a few reasons: Bibs are already a bit bulky to begin with, and they naturally provide a lot of warmth by way of core coverage and draft protection. They’re also quite popular among backcountry skiers, who prioritize breathability and generally stay away from insulated designs. That said, we do feature a few insulated bibs above, which might be worth it for resort skiers who run cold or who ski in particularly frigid areas like the Mountain West or Northeast.
The vast majority of insulated ski bibs use synthetic fill due to its affordable nature and its ability to insulate even when wet (unlike goose or duck down). The amount of warmth offered doesn’t vary too widely, and most bibs use somewhere between 40- and 60-gram fill. The ideal amount for you will depend on your local conditions, skiing style (aggressive or casual), and if you’re prone to running hot or cold. Opting for a bib with 40-gram synthetic is a safe bet—you can always add a warmer baselayer pant—and you’ll want to make sure to get a vented design. The Flylow Gear Sphynx is our favorite insulated bib of the year, with streamlined 40-gram Spaceloft insulation, outer thigh vents, and a softshell backpanel for added ventilation.
It's also worth noting that even among non-insulated bibs, warmth can vary, especially in windy conditions. This is due to variations in fabric thickness and air permeability. For example, the Norrøna Tamok’s 200-denier hardshell resists wind and traps a good deal of warmth, while the Outdoor Research Skytour's more air-permeable AscentShell fabric (50D) will let in a lot more drafts. If you're really trying to batten down the hatches (as is common for resort skiers), we recommend a thicker hardshell design with no built-in stretch (and pairing it with a cozy baselayer).
Ski bibs see a lot of rough use—everything from boot buckles, metal edges, chair lifts, and pesky branches can wreak havoc on the materials. As a result, they’re a tough bunch overall. The most common way of determining ski bib durability is the fabric denier (D), which measures the thickness of the threads used for the shell material. Substantial designs like the Flylow Foxy (100D) and Arc’teryx Sentinel (70D) are hardwearing and great quiver-of-one options for serious skiers. On the other end of the spectrum you get thinner designs like the Outdoor Research Carbide and Patagonia PowSlayer (both 40D), which prioritize lower weights and a barely-there feel. Landing in the middle is Outdoor Research's Hemispheres II (70D), which does an excellent job balancing weight-savings and durability. Finally, it’s worth noting that most bibs include a reinforced patch along the inside of the cuff for additional protection from ski edges (more on this below).
Bibs can cause a bit of a hassle when nature calls, which has been a deterrence for many women over the years. However, most modern designs offer a fairly good solution, via either full drop seats (essentially a flap that unzips at the lower back and extends down the outside of each leg) or a swing hatch that opens fully on one side. In many cases, these are built into the vent design, which is great for minimizing bulk and weight. TREW Gear’s half-moon rear zip is one of our favorite styles, while designs with hard-to-reach snaps (like the Patagonia SnowDrifter and PowSlayer above) are some of the most cumbersome to use. Finally, if you like to pee standing up (many female skiers like to do so with the help of a Shewee, Freshette, or similar funnel device), you’ll want to consider a men’s bib with a front fly—unfortunately, this is not a feature we see on any of the women’s bibs here.
On a ski bib, the bib upper refers to the fabric that wraps around your core and over your shoulders with suspenders. Most bibs extend to cover the chest, but some more streamlined designs (like the Patagonia PowSlayer or TREW Gear Capow) feature only a small portion of fabric above the waist, which offers most of the benefits of a ski bib—coverage and additional storage—without the added bulk. The majority of bib uppers are built with the same fabric as the pant legs, but some feature patches of more air-permeable material throughout—this has a number of benefits, including additional breathability (the core is where your body generates the most heat), a better fit, and more comfort and mobility overall. Some backcountry-specific bibs, like the OR Skytour and Patagonia SnowDrifter, take it to the next level with fully softshell uppers.
By design, ski bibs use stretchy suspenders to secure the bib upper around your torso. It’s important that these suspenders are highly adjustable—especially when you don’t get the option of various inseam lengths—and we appreciate designs that easily detach at the front via a buckle or metal clasp. If you plan to wear a backpack, you’ll want to prioritize fairly streamlined suspenders: Bibs like the Outdoor Research Carbide have thick patches at the back and bulky buckles at the chest that cause pressure points underneath a ski backpack. On the other hand, a design like the Patagonia SnowDrifter has a low profile that’s purpose-built to pair with a backpack.
Storage is one of the primary ways that ski bibs differ from ski pants, which is especially helpful on warm spring days when you might not need a jacket. Generally, bibs will feature one or two pockets at the chest and a pocket on each thigh—on backcountry-ready bibs, at least one of these comes with a built-in clip for an avalanche beacon (we only recommend storing your beacon in your bib pocket if there’s a clip—otherwise you’ll want to carry it in its included harness). Keep in mind that bibs with low-profile uppers offer less storage—the Patagonia PowSlayer has no above-the-waist pockets, for example—but the benefit is less bulk.
To aid in breathability, most ski bibs offer a zippered ventilation system that amounts to pit zips for your legs. The most common locations for the zippered panels are along the inside of your upper legs or on the outside of your thighs. Either style will help dump a lot of heat, although the former design adds unwanted bulk and can occasionally impact comfort—backcountry-specific bibs often place the zippers on the outside of the legs in part for this reason.
Bibs also add ventilation by way of softshell or stretch-mesh panels, which are generally placed at the lower back (the Outdoor Research Hemispheres II also patterns them between the legs). Because the core is one of the main areas that your body generates heat, we think these are a really nice feature to look for on a bib. On the other hand, bibs with fully hardshell bib uppers can grow very swampy across the stomach and lower back, especially for those who tend to sweat a lot.
You may run into RECCO listed as a feature on some mid-range and high-end ski bibs. This built-in reflector is a passive unit that doesn’t require batteries and can be picked up by RECCO detectors often carried by resort search and rescue. RECCO reflectors are a great addition for skiers who make their way out of bounds or into areas where they may experience avalanche dangers, but they’re no substitute for an avalanche beacon in the backcountry, as they lack the technology and strong signal of a dedicated search and rescue beacon. We've found the RECCO System website helpful if you want more information about the technology.
Scuff Guards & Gaiters
Moving all the way down to the bottom of the bib, we see scuff guards (also called kick patches) on most designs, which pattern thick fabric at the cuff (often just on the instep side) for added durability around sharp objects like ski boots, ski edges, and poles. On the inside of the hem, gaiters extend down from the liner, and generally feature an elastic cuff at the bottom to ride securely around your ski boot (many also have slits so you can adjust your ski boots' power strap without having to adjust the gaiter). Especially for backcountry skiers who plan to spend some time bootpacking, you'll want to make sure to prioritize secure gaiters that don't ride up.
Sizing your bib can be tricky, as it needs to fit well in both your torso and legs. For this reason, we’re big fans of bibs that come in a wide range of sizes, and especially those offered in multiple inseam lengths (such as the TREW Gear Chariot and Flylow Foxy Bib). If you have a particularly tall or short frame, you’ll definitely want to consider one of these options (also look for highly adjustable suspenders). What's more, designs with Velcro tabs at the waist or a stretchy softshell patch on the back help to reduce bulk and bagginess above the belt. There’s not much worse than an ill-fitting bib, so we do recommend trying on before you buy. The good news is that you can find a wide selection of ski bibs in your local ski shop or REI, and many online retailers (including Flylow and Patagonia) offer generous return policies.
The layers you wear under your ski bibs don’t get as much attention as those warming your core, but they remain an important consideration nevertheless. To start, it’s almost always a good idea to throw on at least a thin pair of long underwear both for resort and backcountry skiing. The extra layer not only provides insulation and protection from cold snow and freezing chairlift seats, but it also wicks moisture away from your skin. Further, the interiors of ski bibs are often not very plush, with exposed mesh, zippers, and minimalist liners that become less comfortable as the day wears on.
In choosing a baselayer, it’s worth getting a soft and close-fitting design to maximize warmth. The best models are made with either synthetic or wool—cotton doesn’t insulate when wet, so it’s a bad idea even on a resort day. Synthetics are the cheaper option and efficiently wick moisture, but merino wool is our favorite. It’s very warm for its weight, does a nice job regulating your body temp, and naturally resists odor better than a polyester alternative. Baselayers are offered in a range of thicknesses, including lightweight designs for warm days or backcountry use, and mid and heavyweight options for cold days at the resort. And in particularly frigid conditions, you can always double up your baselayers to increase warmth.
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