Active Clothing Outerwear

The 8 Best Women’s Ski Bibs, According to a Professional Skier

Photo: Getty Images/Olga Parkova
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It's officially ski trip season. Whether that means a quick weekend upstate or an annual pilgrimage out West for non-stop shredding, no ski (or snowboard!) vacation is complete without the right gear, including ski bibs. A staple in your snow-sports wardrobe (including your snow pants), ski bibs are key to keeping you warm and dry on the slopes. And looking, as the kids say, "steezy."

But, like any other piece of technical gear, they're not all created equally. Insulation, waterproofness, comfort, overall fit—it varies from bib to bib, making shopping for the perfect pair a steep slope. Which is why we tapped Rachael Burks, a professional big mountain skier for Mountain Hardwear and all-around badass who knows a thing or two about women's technical apparel. (She's even helped design bibs for popular brands, like Outdoor Research and Peak Performance.)

Find everything you need to know about shopping for women's ski bibs below, straight from a professional skier herself.

The best women's ski bibs, at a glance:

Ski bibs vs. snow pants

First thing's first: What's the difference between ski bibs and snow pants? It's simply that ski pants are just that—pants. Ski bibs take it a step further, extending the snow pant with a breastplate and straps that results in a snow overall of sorts. Choosing between the two ultimately boils down to personal preference, however, Burks prefers riding in a bib when given the choice.

"Pants aren't as warm and dry," she says. "Bibs are so lovely for warmth, functionality, self-confidence. I don't have to worry about them falling down when I unbuckle my skis each run... you can actually bend over and not worry that you're showing your butt crack. It's really just a comfort thing."

In addition to protecting you from flashing 'crack, the extra fabric on bibs adds physical protection from the elements. Burks explains whenever she fell in ski pants, her jacket and base layers would ride up, exposing her skin to the elements. "I would get a raspberry around my waist from falling and taking a slide and would come back with, like, a cold rash from where my body was in contact with the snow," she explains. "Bibs completely eliminate that."

What to look for

From luxury designers to mainstream lifestyle brands, it seems like everyone is releasing a ski collection these days. Before you go grabbing the prettiest bib off the rack, think twice.

"I would personally choose functionality over fashion," says Burks. Above all else, your bibs need to keep you dry, warm, and comfortable. From there, look for the following:

1. A 'pee-zip'

The not-so-fun part of ski bibs? The bathroom break. Like regular overalls and jumpsuits, bibs require a lot of peeling and maneuvering when nature calls. Unless you have a pee-zip, that is. "The most important thing in a ski bib is having peeing being accessible and easy," Burks says. "No woman wants to take off every single layer to pee."

When shopping, look for a long side zip (it often just looks like an extra-long vent)—this is what is going to allow you to hit the head fully clothed. The extra-long zip basically grants easy access to your bottom layers, so you don't have to completely strip down to use the bathroom. Two words: Game-changer.

2. Insulation and ventilation

Layering is a fine art—one your bibs can impact more than you think. While layers are important, too many can make you sweat. If that sweat has no where to go, well, you're looking at a cold, wet day head. "Moisture management is the most important thing," says Burks. "Bibs are very important with that. You have to have vents... you have to be able to give your body heat a place to go."

Burks says this is another decision that comes down to personal preference and the level of activity you're going to do in your bibs. For example, "If you're a snowboard who spends a lot of time sitting on the snow to buckle up, an insulated bum is lovely," she says. "It's all a matter of warmth.. and when you're keeping your core as warm as you are with your bibs, that sometimes makes up for a lack of insulation in your legs."

Tl;dr: Think about what you're going to be doing in your bibs, look for a product with vents, and layer strategically. 

3. The breastplate

Not all ski bibs are built with that traditional  overall-inspired breastplate, which is a good thing. "Bibs and boobs are kind of important, too," says Burks. "I'm a large-busted woman and, if I've got a big breastplate, I need to make sure it fits and doesn't rub on my nipples. You've got to put it on and make sure it works with your boobs."

If you'd like a little more breathing room up top, Burks suggests looking for a style that swaps the breastplate for a high-waisted pant/suspender combination. She recommends the Mountain Hardwear High Exposure Gore-Tex C-Knit Bib ($450), a lightweight, 3-layer low profile bib that's still plenty warm, just not restrictive.

"It just sits high-waisted as opposed to having a flap come over the boobs," she says. "As a consumer, you're going to need to figure out what you're going to be comfortable in and using the bib for—are you going to be skiing in the resort? Are you going to be walking uphill for a really long time? In that case, your boobs might need a little more ventilation and you might not want to go for a full breastplate."

The best women's ski bibs to pack on your next ski trip

Find more of Burks' recommendations below, as well as our own picks, tried-and-tested by Well+Good's ski team staffers.

Best overall

Mountain Hardwear, Women's Boundary Ridge™ Gore-Tex Bib — $400.00

Available sizes: XS-XL in short, medium, and long lengths.

Colors: 3

This one of Burks’ favorite bibs. (“And not just because I ride for Mountain Hardwear,” she assures.) It ticks off the boxes in terms of style, functionality, and versatility, made with just about every detail you could ever need, no matter your skill level.

“It’s a bit warmer because of that triple-layer Gore-Tex and its higher breastplate,” Burks says. The slim design is flattering and unrestrictive, built with a smidge of stretch that really moves with your body on the slopes. There are zippers and pockets aplenty, including long pee zip for the moments when you gotta go. Bonus points for the internal boot gaiters, adjustable shoulder straps, and jacket connector, so you can customize your fit to whatever your trip calls for.

What customers say: “I’m a long time snow professional. I bought these after an extensive search for bibs that are Gore-Tex, with a flexible upper, hinge seat to answer the call of nature in nature, [and a] smart low-bulk design. These fit the bill better than any AND they come in short, regular and tall inseam. I’m in love.”

Runner-up

Outdoor Research, Women's Hemispheres II Gore-Tex Bibs — $629.00

Available sizes: XS-XL

Colors: 3

Burks was one of the skiers to provide input on the original Outdoor Research Hemispheres collection. “This is a great bib,” she says. “It has some stretchy Gore-Tex panels on certain parts of the body, like the lower back and the inseam of the legs.”

The Hemispheres II has since gotten even more improvements, thanks to more athlete input, resulting in an even lighter, more durable, comfortable bibs. Given its technical specs, it’s definitely designed for the more advanced skier who plans on touring out of resort bounds. Think: zipped vents, fully-taped seams, and two avalanche beacon pockets. And, of course, a swing hatch for moments when you just can’t hold it any more…

What customers say: “… This truly is a technical piece, made to hold up to the biggest snow storm. The pockets are deliberate and just where you need them. I love the option to have a beacon in the chest pocket or thigh pocket. Also, it’s so easy to go pee with the side zip, its half the exposure of some of the other bibs out there! Highly recommend!”

REI Co-Op, Powderbound Insulated Bib Snow Pants — $199.00

Available sizes: XS-XL

Colors: 3

For a no-frills bib that’ll keep you warm, dry, and comfortable, look no further the REI’s Powerbound pair. Unlike the others above, these are actually insulated, perfect for chilly days on the chairlift or cold, Northeast temps. Crafted with 40 grams of synthetic insulation, they’re cozy but not bulky, giving you total freedom of movement, whether you’re zipping down Green Circles or Black Diamonds.

Warmth aside, they’re thoughtfully designed—I actually liked mine so much that I bought my sister a pair of her own for Christmas. The adjustable straps and belt loops make for a customizable fit, while a bit of stretch in the back allows for even more give. As for tech specs, there’s gaiters, zipped pockets, and yes, a pee zip. The only thing it doesn’t have is vents, although if you do get really hot, you can unzip that pee zip a smidge to let some air in.

What reviews say: “These bibs fit really nice and are very comfortable. I wore them when it was pretty cold out and they kept me warm with the insulation. I am shorter and have a strong lower body so the medium fit perfectly in the butt and thighs.”

Best mid-weight

Helly Hansen, Powderqueen Bib Ski Pants — $300.00

Available sizes: XS-XL

Colors: 4

For a Goldilocks bib that’s not too warm but not entirely a shell, go with Helly Hansen’s Powderqueen, which is versatile enough for just about anything. Crafted from 2-layer Helly Tech Professional performance fabric, it’s waterproof but breathable, keeping warmth in and wet, cold air out. Added 4-way stretch gives you a total range of movement, while a brushed-fleece seat keeps your bum warm, especially on an icy cold chairlift.

While there are a tons of tech specs (Pockets! Vents! A barn-door zip for bathroom breaks!) this is a great choice for those who want to be able to tweak the fit of their breast plate. The adjustable straps are very adjustable, allowing you to tighten it up so that the pocket really sits against your chest, or loosen it so that it sits lower. (Great for nipple chafing, if you’re worried about that.)

What reviews say: “I ordered these in a medium and a large given the recommendation to size up. Medium fit perfectly, large was too big! The zippers are easy to use, I love the pockets/pocket location, it’s easy to get on and off, the legs are roomy. My only wish is that the waist could be adjustable. Otherwise I’m really happy with these and they did great on my test run!”

Arc'Teryx, Sentinel Bib Pant — $650.00

Available sizes: 0-16

Colors: 3

Arc’Teryx’s super tech-y bib is a must for expert skiers and snowboarders with plans on touring or trekking through heavy powder. It’s an ultra-light, ultra-waterproof shell with a touch insulation, designed to completely protect you from snow, water, and wind without making you overheat.

The Sentinel sports features galore making that luxury price tag worth every penny. There are sealed vents at the thighs for breathability, durable cuffs to protect your hems from sharp edges, and RECCO® reflector aids in case of a search-and-rescue situation. There’s also ample room to stash phones, snacks, and accessories, and yes, a side zip for bathroom breaks.

What reviews say: “I’ve never used or liked bibs because honestly, I pee a lot! Years ago, I tried a bib and found it too annoying for backcountry skiing and mountaineering with the rest of my layering system. Bibs have come a long way, especially for women. I am a complete convert with these Sentinel Bibs, and may never wear pants again when backcountry skiing except when temps are warmer!”

Most like a pant

Kari Traa, Voss Ski Pants — $325.00

Available sizes: XS-XL

Colors: 2

For the gals who really just want pants that won’t fall down, Kari Traa has got you covered. The Scandinavian outerwear brand is beloved by Well+Good staffers and was the ‘fit of choice for our senior beauty editor, Zoë Weiner, on 2022 ski trip to Switzerland.

KT recently released these high-waisted snow pants with attached suspenders, so they’re technically a bib, only there’s no breastplate. They’ll keep your legs and waist roasty and dry, while the stretchy back and exposed top half allow for total freedom of movement. Just note—they’re water-repellant, not waterproof, so choose wisely based on conditions.

What reviews say: “I just wore these pants for the first time today. They were plenty warm and have great pockets. I really appreciate the adjustment in the waist too. I wish they were a couple inches shorter.”

Montec, Fawk Women's Ski Bib

Available sizes: XXS-XL in insulated or shell styles.

Colors: 23

You can’t go to a mountain and not see Montec, it’s pretty much everywhere, and for good reason. I had my doubts—Instagram trends are hit or miss—but can confirm that they are a great bib for a wide range of activities.

The Fawk is the brand’s standard bib and comes in either insulated or shell styles, depending on what you plan on doing in them. I have the insulated pair and think they’re great for basic resort riding, keeping me warm when I get chilly, but not so toasty I’m drowning in my own sweat. If I do get hot, there’s mesh thigh zips that make it easy to dump heat. But what I like most is how easy it is to get in and out of these things. While there’s no official bathroom zip, the center zip up the center makes it easy to strip when you gotta go. Bonus points for the adjustable waist in case you want a tighter or looser fit. Bonus bonus points for the single-point strap that makes adjusting your suspenders easy breezy.

What reviews say:They are exactly what I was looking for ! As a tall gal (5’10”), I was happily surprised that the small pants were not too short (always a struggle) So many useful pockets and adjustments that let you fit it perfectly for you!”

Arctix, Essentials Insulated Bib Pants — $55.00

Available sizes: XS-4XL in short, regular, and tall inseams.

Colors: 15

Ski gear is expensive. And if you’re not totally ready to take the leap, or just need something basic to get you through your first ski trip, this pair from Arctix will do the trick. It’s insulated, wind- and waterproof, so you’ll be snug as a bug until après. While they might not have all the bells-and-whistles as the others on this list, they do have pockets, adjustable straps, and elasticized gussets to maximize your range of motion. Unfortunately, there’s no dedicated bathroom zipper. But they do zip on from the front, making getting in and out of them a bit easier than other options.

What reviews say: “Bought these pants for a trip to the Arctic Circle and Antarctica. They were wonderful. I chose the bib overall as it’s easier than wearing pants. They are still in fantastic condition. They were very warm and held up to the salt water landings. I will keep these for other winter activities. I have them cleaned at a dry cleaner as I’m not sure how they will go through a regular washer/dryer.”

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