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Best in Bottoms: Best Hard Shell Pants and Bibs for Skiing

Author: Outdoor Research

September 20, 2019

If the colder months are calling your name, our Best in Bottoms Collection is the first place you should visit to plan your fall and winter adventures. Today we’re diving into the best hard shell pants for downhill skiing and splitboarding in the backcountry. Find your perfect fit by checking out the rest of the Best in Bottoms Collection right here.

For some, slipping into a sturdy pair of hard shells feels the same as wrapping yourself up in a warm blanket. The smooth feeling of a robust shell against a soft base layer can only mean one thing: You’re about to get into something fun outside.

If skiing or splitboarding is on the agenda, you’ll need to find a reliably waterproof outermost pair of pants or bibs that you carve your way down the mountain with comfort, style, and ease of movement.

For the very best in award-winning snow armor, look no further than the Hemispheres Bibs. Totally weatherproof GORE-TEX with an innovative, unparalleled stretch technology give you the best in burly protection and effortless mobility so you can chase powder from hemisphere to hemisphere all year long.

Skiers loved the Hemispheres Kit so much that POWDER Magazine created their first Apparel of the Year award just for them. The editors couldn’t get enough of the women’s bibs, saying:

“Making a women’s bib is really hard, right? There’s a lot of different shapes to consider, and it’s not an easy task. So when you find one that works, it’s kind of like finding the unicorn.” Watch more here.

The Hemispheres truly maximizes mobility where it matters, and you can see the GORE-TEX stretch panels in action throughout the crotch of the bibs. An avalanche beacon pocket with clip is standard on all of our ski pants and bibs, as are the waterproof zippers and internal gaiter with power strap slot. Another athlete-favorited feature of the Hemispheres Bibs is their ability to unzip at the seat and swing to the side for an easy way to answer nature’s call.

While the Hemispheres is hands-down the best option for freeride skiing where durability is key, we’ve got a whole range of ski kits that would be better suited for different types of weather.

Less cold and more uphill movement: Totally waterproof, super breathable, and incredibly lightweight, the Skyward II AscentShell Pants are perfect for ski tours that require hard work uphill and a hard shell that will dump sweat the moment it starts to build up. If you’re balancing weather protection and long, hard days in the backcountry, look no further.

Freezing cold and lots of downhill: For weather-resistant durability supplemented by fleece-lined legs for added warmth, check out the Blackpowder II Pants. The Blackpowder are great for freeride skiing on days when your base layers just won’t cut it, and you want the added abrasion resistance of a scuffguard and leg lining.

Landed on the perfect pair of bottoms? You’ll want to make sure the rest of your kit is in sync. Here are our top picks for head-to-toe pairing with our best backcountry soft shell pants for winter:

You can count on us to stoke your journey with purpose-built gear for however, wherever, and in whatever season you like to explore. Find your perfect pair by checking out the rest of our Best in Bottoms Collection right here.

Outdoor Research

Outdoor Research® is dedicated to inspiring the journey ahead with award-winning technical apparel and accessories. Based in Seattle since 1981, we are committed to improving our customer’s experience through innovative materials, purpose-driven features, and versatile products that are backed by our Infinite Guarantee®. We rely on the real-world testing of our athlete ambassadors, mountain guides, and local adventurers involved in our core sports: alpinism, rock and ice climbing, hiking, backpacking, paddling, trail running, and backcountry skiing and snowboarding. We’re here for the fun, adventure, excitement, and For the Journey Ahead™. Get to know us at or follow along on the journey via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.