Can You Ski in Leggings? (3 Better Alternatives)

by Alaina Johnson | Updated: March 17th, 2023 |  Skiing Articles

While it's possible to ski in leggings, it's certainly not the recommended item to wear while you're skiing or snowboarding in cold weather. Leggings offer very little in the way of warmth and protection.

When you're skiing, you should expect to fall a handful of times. Leggings provide no padded protection and you may find that you wake up with several bruises. You'll also be cold on the mountain, as leggings are often made from a thin material that isn't meant for extreme temperatures.

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Reasons Why You Shouldn't Ski in Leggings

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Oftentimes, leggings are crafted from cotton or a cotton blend. This is a terrible material for sports in general, as it absorbs moisture and will leave you feeling damp and cold. It's natural to sweat even while you're on a snowy mountain and the cotton leggings would keep this moisture all day long.

Leggings will leave you at risk of chafing, which can be painful and leave you out of commission for a few days at the resort. While there is a range of different style choices on the mountain, leggings aren't a common one and people will immediately gather that you've never skied before.

If you have leggings you're set on wearing, first ensure that they're made from merino wool, polyester, or even nylon. They can make a solid base layer underneath a more suitable pair of ski pants. In general, it's best to leave the leggings at home and purchase a pair of base-layer undergarments for your ski pants.

Key Takeaway: Leggings will inherently lack the important features of a ski bib, such as extra insulation and padding.

You also won't have pockets and suspenders to keep your pants secure after shredding down the mountain for a few hours.

You can opt for rain or wind pants if you don't want to purchase ski pants. These are a step above leggings, though they're not quite on par with designated ski pants. Hiking pants may also be an option, though they tend to be rather thin and they won't have the insulation that's featured on ski pants and bibs.

3 Recommended Alternatives to Leggings

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Instead of opting for leggings, there are various brands of snow pants and ski bibs on the market that are designed for skiing and snowsports. There are many different price points and if you're under a tight budget, you can find options that suit your monetary constraints while providing you increased comfort and protection than leggings would.

Heading over to local sports and outdoor store will allow you to try on a few snow pants to see what works for you. In my experience, popular retailers such as REI are great places to try on different brands.

Key Takeaway: When shopping for ski pants or bibs, you'll want to ensure that they're waterproof and windproof.

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1. REI Co-Op Powderbound Insulated Snow Pants

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The REI Powderbound snow pants come in a range of colors, from black to sea forest and shaded sumac. At a discounted rate of only $40, the shade cork would look great shredding down the mountain as well.

The pants feature 2-layers, which keep skiers extra warm. They're waterproof and windproof while remaining breathable. They're designed to keep you warm without feeling overly bulky and cumbersome.

REI includes a helpful sizing chart, which can allow women to find an accurate size if they're unable to try them on in the store. The nylon shell is made to keep skiers dry all day long. Nothing is worse than soggy clothing after falling in the snow all day.

2. The North Face Freedom Bib Pants

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The North Face offers a range of diverse and fun colors that are sure to suit any personality and ski fashion style. Ranging from $99-$199, the Freedom bib pants are suitable for a midrange budget. These make a great first pair of bib pants when you're on your first or second season of skiing.

The bib is made from windproof and waterproof material, as well as a 2-layer DryVent proprietary fabric that is incredibly breathable. The suspenders and belt loops are adjustable, so you can tighten the bib to your body to get the perfect fit.

The articulated knees allow skiers to move with freedom. The last thing you want on the mountain is a constraining bib on, as this can affect your ability to ski nimbly and quickly. There are various built-in pockets along the bib, which allows you to store necessities while keeping your hands free.

3. Patagonia Powder Town Bib Pants

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The Patagonia Powder Town pants are easy to layer, which is integral when you're skiing in cold temperatures. They're constructed with 2-layers of waterproof and windproof material, which helps to keep you warm and dry all day long.

There are limited color options that include gray and black, though these options are easily combined with a brighter jacket or something with a pattern if that's a preference. There is a mesh layer that wicks away moisture, which keeps you dry even when you start sweating in the heat of the day.

There are adjustable suspenders on the bib, allowing you to find your ideal fit. There is a pocket on the chest, as well as pockets at the thigh that allow you to store important items such as snacks and a cell phone.

Only Have Leggings to Ski?

Snow Boots

If you find yourself with no adequate ski pants and you're tempted to wear leggings, try checking out a local rental shop. Some of these locations have ski pants and outerwear that can be rented for the day or even some used gear that can be purchased at a steeply discounted price.

Skiing is often referred to as an expensive sport and when you invest in your initial set of gear, it can certainly get pricey. However, the cost of starting doesn't have to be so overwhelming that you resort to skiing in less-than-ideal clothing. Leggings won't keep you warm enough and you're sure to have an uncomfortably cold experience.