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How To Choose Bibs For Skiing & Snowboarding

Stay Warm & Dry In The Snow—And Look Good Doing It

Ski bibs have come a long way from the insulated snow pants of your elementary school sledding hill. With waterproof fabrics and more features than a smart phone, ski and snowboard bibs help keep you warm and dry, so you can focus on the pure joy of winter sports. From touring to freeride, we break down the features and options for optimal comfort on the mountain.

When it comes to the first decision (pants versus bibs), there are a few things to consider: the weather where you ski or ride, and comfort. With coverage of your torso as well as legs, bibs offer greater protection from the elements and are a bit warmer than pants as well. The bib upper also helps you stay drier when skiing in deep snow—a big plus for long pow days.

Bib Waterproofing

Staying dry is key to staying warm while skiing or riding, so most bibs use waterproof fabrics rated between 5,000 and 20,000mm. The higher that number, the more waterproof the fabric. Depending on where you ski or ride, you may want a more waterproof bib to protect from wet and heavy snow, or you may want a less waterproof bib to be lighter weight for drier or warmer conditions. For warmer conditions where breathability and weight are of greater importance than waterproofing, softshell bibs, like the Burton Avalon Softshell, are best.

Seam taping also impacts the waterproofness of a bib: ranging from no taped seams at all, to critical seams (when only the main seams are taped), to fully taped. The most waterproof options will have a high waterproof rating, have fully sealed seams, and use a three-layer laminate like a GORE-TEX, eVent, or other proprietary fabric. Flylow’s Baker Bib and Foxy Bib, as well as our Cardiac Bib, are a few burly options. 

Bib Insulation

Bibs range from insulated to lined to just shell fabric. Shell bibs are great for touring, since they’re lighter in weight and help you better regulate temperature when you’re climbing the skintrack than insulated bibs. You can layer shell bibs over thin or mid-weight baselayers depending on the conditions, and add heavy baselayers or insulated pants on frigid days or crisp dawn patrols. Some bibs use a liner fabric in addition to a waterproof shell, enhancing comfort and adding a bit of warmth. 

Insulated bibs, like Helly Hansen’s Legendary Insulated Bib, pair low-profile synthetic insulation with shell fabric to add warmth for your legs and core. If you primarily ski at the resort in cold conditions or always find yourself shivering on the mountain, insulated bibs help you stay warm without adding much bulk.

Discipline-Specific Bibs

As with most gear decisions, we recommend prioritizing the types of pursuits you do most often when deciding which bib is best for you. If you mostly tour, you’ll want an uninsulated bib with some dedicated features like a pocket for skins and plenty of zippers for venting heat on the climb up the skintrack. If you primarily ski at the resort, you may want a lightly insulated bib for more warmth, plus some convenient pockets designed to stash your pass, phone, and cold snacks for the chairlift.


A comfortable fit can be the difference between a great day skiing and a day spent mostly adjusting layers and fidgeting with buckles. Bibs range from simple suspender-style straps to full overalls, which can impact both fit and warmth. Adjustable straps let you dial in your fit, so it’s important to try bibs on with anything you’d be layering underneath for a full day in the mountains. 

Different brands fit differently, and it’s worth trying several bibs on to see which suits you best. As a general rule, American-based brands like Patagonia and Burton have a roomier, more casual fit than brands like Norrona or Arc’teryx, which have a fit that runs more technical and closer to the body.

Features To Look For


Especially crucial for touring, zippered vents allow you to dump heat to avoid getting too hot. Most bibs feature both outer and inner thigh vents, and some use full side zippers for both venting and for allowing you to remove boots as needed. Since bibs are often warmer than pants alone, many use a breathable fabric on the back panel to help regulate temperature where you need it.


Whether you ski with a pack or not, pockets can help you stay organized and energized on the mountain. Cargo thigh pockets help stash snacks to avoid midday hunger, and some bibs feature a dedicated beacon pocket with a leash to ensure this life-saving equipment is secure and at the ready (although some say that the safest place to wear a beacon is on your body vs. in a pocket, so make sure a beacon pocket is purpose-built and do you research to decide on the safest option for you). 

So, How Do I Go To The Bathroom?

If you’ve worn overalls for an entire day, you’re no stranger to the bib bathroom dilemma–add in snow and many more layers, and it only becomes more of a conundrum. That’s why bib-makers have heeded the need to answer nature’s call with fly zippers on masculine-fit bibs and drop-tail zippers on many femme fit bibs. While not all models have this feature, it’s an important one to look for, particularly if touring or spending long days at the resort.

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