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How to Choose the Perfect Pair of Soft Shell Ski Pants

How to Choose the Perfect Pair of Soft Shell Ski Pants

Hitting the slopes demands quality outerwear designed for alpine performance. When it comes to pants, soft shell designs offer the ideal balance of weather protection, breathability and mobility. Follow this in-depth guide to find the best soft shell ski pants for your needs.

Introduction to Soft Shell Ski Pants from Stio

Stio is renowned for our high-quality soft shell ski pants. Our products are designed with durability and performance in mind, making them a popular choice among outdoor enthusiasts. Soft shell ski pants from Stio are made with advanced materials and innovative features to ensure maximum comfort and protection on the slopes.

What are soft shell ski pants?

Soft shell ski pants are a type of outerwear designed specifically for skiing and other winter sports. Unlike traditional ski pants, which are usually made with a hard shell material, softshell pants for skiing are made with a soft and stretchy fabric that offers better flexibility and breathability. These pants are typically water-resistant and wind-resistant, providing protection against the elements while allowing for comfortable movement on the slopes.

Benefits of wearing soft shell ski pants

There are several benefits to wearing soft shell ski pants. Firstly, their soft and stretchy fabric allows for a greater range of motion, making it easier to perform tricks and maneuvers on the slopes. Additionally, soft shell ski pants are more breathable than traditional ski pants, preventing overheating and sweat buildup. They are also water-resistant and wind-resistant, providing protection against the elements. Lastly, soft shell ski pants are usually lighter and more comfortable to wear, allowing for a more enjoyable skiing experience.

Features of Soft Shell Ski Pants

When choosing soft shell ski pants, there are several key features to consider. These features will determine the overall performance and functionality of the pants, so it's important to choose wisely.

Waterproof and Wind-Resistant Properties

One of the key features of soft shell ski pants is their ability to provide water and wind resistance. Unlike regular pants, soft shell ski pants are made with special shell fabrics that are designed to keep you dry and protected in wet and windy conditions. These pants are typically treated with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating, which helps to repel water and prevent it from seeping into the fabric. Additionally, the shell fabric used in soft shell ski pants is tightly woven, making it difficult for wind to penetrate, thus keeping you warm and comfortable on the slopes.

Breathability and Moisture-Wicking Capabilities

Soft shell ski pants not only provide weather resistance but also offer excellent breathability and moisture-wicking capabilities. The breathable nature of these pants allows sweat and moisture to escape from the inside, preventing you from feeling clammy or sweaty during intense physical activities like skiing or snowboarding. This breathability is primarily due to the unique construction of the shell fabric, which enables air circulation to keep you comfortable.

In addition to breathability, soft shell ski pants are also designed to wick away moisture effectively. The fabric used in these pants is specifically engineered to pull moisture away from your body and disperse it across a larger area, facilitating faster evaporation. This moisture-wicking capability helps regulate your body temperature and keeps you dry, ensuring optimal comfort throughout your skiing adventures.

Stretch and Flexibility for Ease of Movement

Soft shell ski pants are known for their exceptional stretch and flexibility, providing unrestricted movement on the slopes. Whether you're carving turns or hitting some slushy spring bumps, these pants will move with you, allowing you to ski with ease. The stretchiness of the fabric is achieved through the combination of elastane or spandex blended with other fibers. This blend allows the pants to stretch in all directions without losing their shape or compromising durability.

Regulate Temperature with Vents 

Breathability is a key benefit of ski gear, from snow bibs and hardshell pants to soft shell ski pants. Zippered thigh vents can help to further aid cooling and temperature regulation on the hill. Vents allow quick release of heat and moisture build-up during high exertion. This helps avoid overheating and dampness inside your layers. Just be sure to seal vents again before sitting on cold chairs to prevent chilling. For high-intensity resort skiing, opt for pants with vents on inner thighs. Side thigh vents suit touring skiers who wear packs. Mesh-lined ventilation zones also enhance breathability where you need it most.

Choosing the Right Soft Shell Ski Pants

Now that you're familiar with some popular features, let's take a look at some other factors to consider when choosing the right soft shell ski pants.

Consideration of Weather Conditions

When it comes to choosing the right soft shell ski pants, one of the most important factors to consider is the weather conditions you'll be skiing in. Different pants offer varying levels of weather resistance, so it's essential to choose a pair that matches your needs.

If you're planning to ski in mild or dry conditions, a lightweight shell pant might be the perfect choice. These pants are made from a thin, breathable shell fabric that offers excellent mobility and breathability. They are not designed to be heavily insulated, but they provide great protection against wind and light moisture.

On the other hand, if you often find yourself skiing in colder and wetter environments, weather resistant insulated pants would be more appropriate. These pants have an additional layer of insulation, usually made of synthetic materials, to keep you warm in harsh conditions. They are ideal for skiing in heavy snow or frigid temperatures.

Insulation and Warmth

Insulation is a crucial aspect to consider when choosing soft shell ski pants. The level of insulation you need depends on your personal preferences and the conditions you'll be skiing in.

If you tend to get cold easily or frequently ski in colder climates, look for soft shell ski pants with a higher level of insulation. These pants often have thicker fabric and more insulation material, providing additional warmth while skiing. However, if you generally run warm or ski in milder temperatures, you may prefer pants with less insulation or no insulation at all. These pants will allow for better breathability and prevent you from overheating during intense physical activity on the slopes.

Fit and Comfort

The fit and comfort of your soft shell ski pants can significantly impact your skiing experience. Poorly fitting pants can restrict movement and cause discomfort, while pants that fit well will allow you to move freely on the slopes.

When trying on ski pants, pay attention to the waistband and leg length. The waistband should be adjustable and snug enough to keep the pants in place without causing discomfort. The leg length should be appropriate to prevent the pants from dragging on the ground or restricting movement.

In addition to fit, consider the comfort features of the pants such as zippered vents. These vents allow for additional airflow and can help regulate body temperature during intense skiing sessions. Look for pants with strategically placed vents on the thighs or inner legs. You may even want to look for a cargo pant design that gives you extra storage space for snacks and personal essentials.

Use Strategic Layering

Soft shell's wind and moisture protection make it ideal as a warm outer layer in cool conditions around freezing. But the material truly excels as part of a performance layering system. In frigid weather, use soft shell pants as a protective mid-layer underneath an insulated hardshell. The hardshell traps body heat while the softshell wicks moisture and blocks wind. For fast-paced resort skiing in freezing temperatures, soft shell can be worn over long underwear and/or thin insulating base layers. This regulates warmth while wicking sweat away.

Adapt your layering strategy based on the climate and activity level. Soft shell's versatility suits it to multiple layering configurations.

Match Technical Specs to Your Skill Level

New skiers can certainly utilize quality soft shell pants. However, advanced features cater to experienced downhill and backcountry skiers.

Beginners will benefit most from moisture protection, insulation and articulated fits. Intermediates can gain from added vents, pockets and gaiters. Experts demand four-way stretch, membrane reinforcements and streamlined builds. Match technical aspects like fabric grades, seam sealing and articulation to your skill level.

Maintenance and Care Tips for Soft Shell Ski Pants

Soft shell ski pants are a popular choice among outdoor enthusiasts due to their versatility, comfort and weather resistance. To ensure that your soft shell ski pants maintain their performance and longevity, proper maintenance and care are essential.

Washing and Drying Instructions

Properly washing and drying your soft shell ski pants is crucial to maintain their functionality and appearance. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Before washing your pants, make sure to check the manufacturer's instructions. Different brands may have specific guidelines that you should adhere to.
  • If the pants are lightly soiled, spot cleaning with a damp cloth can often be sufficient. This method helps to minimize unnecessary wear and tear caused by frequent washing.
  • If machine washing is necessary, turn your pants inside out to protect the outer shell fabric from abrasion. It's recommended to use a gentle cycle with cold water to prevent any damage.
  • Avoid using harsh detergents or fabric softeners, as they can affect the breathability and water-resistance of the fabric. Instead, opt for a mild detergent specifically designed for technical garments.
  • To preserve the DWR coating of your soft shell pants, consider adding an additional rinse cycle to remove any detergent residue.
  • Air drying is the preferred method for drying soft shell ski pants. Hang them in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight or heat sources. Avoid using a dryer, as high heat can damage the fabric and reduce its performance.
  • Once completely dry, ensure that the pants are stored in a clean and dry place to prevent any mildew or odors from developing.

By following these washing and drying instructions, you can extend the lifespan of your soft shell ski pants and maintain their functionality in challenging weather conditions.

Repairing Minor Damages

Despite their durability, soft shell ski pants may occasionally require minor repairs. Here are some tips on how to handle common damages:

  • For small tears or holes in the fabric, you can use a specialized fabric repair tape or patch to seal the damaged area. Make sure to carefully read the instructions provided by the manufacturer of the repair product you choose.
  • If the zipper is malfunctioning, try applying a lubricant specifically designed for zippers. This can help to resolve any sticking or jamming issues. If the problem persists, you may need to replace the zipper entirely.
  • In case of loose buttons or snaps, tighten them using a pair of pliers. If a button is lost, it is advisable to replace it with a matching one to maintain the overall appearance of your pants.
  • If the elastic cuffs or waistband are stretched out, you can try adjusting their tightness using a sewing kit and needle. Alternatively, consider seeking professional alteration services for a more precise fix.

Regularly inspecting your soft shell ski pants for damages and addressing them promptly can prevent further deterioration and help you to continue enjoying the benefits of your gear for a longer time.

Storing Properly During the Offseason

When the ski season comes to an end and it's time to store your soft shell ski pants, proper storage techniques can help maintain their performance during the offseason. Here are some tips:

  • Thoroughly clean your pants before storing them to remove any dirt, sweat or debris that may have accumulated during use.
  • Make sure the pants are completely dry before packing them away. Moisture left in the fabric can lead to mildew or unpleasant odors.
  • Avoid storing your soft shell ski pants in plastic bags, as they can trap moisture and promote the growth of mold. Instead, opt for a breathable garment bag or use a cotton storage sack.
  • Choose a cool, dry and dark storage location to prevent any UV damage or color fading. Avoid storing your pants in areas exposed to direct sunlight or extreme temperatures.
  • If possible, hang your soft shell ski pants instead of folding them. This helps to maintain their shape and minimize creases.
  • Consider placing a moisture-absorbing desiccant or a cedar block in the storage area to help control humidity and prevent any musty odors.
  • Periodically check on your stored soft shell ski pants to ensure that no pests or insects have made their way inside the storage area.

By following these proper storage techniques, you can ensure that your soft shell ski pants are in excellent condition when the next ski season arrives.

Remember, maintaining your soft shell ski pants is not only about extending their lifespan but also about maximizing your comfort and safety on the slopes. Regularly washing, repairing and storing your pants will help them perform at their best, allowing you to focus on enjoying your outdoor adventures.

About Stio

Stio connects you with the outdoors through quality products infused with a mountain soul. Proudly operating from Jackson Hole, WY, we take inspiration from our natural surroundings and put it into every piece of apparel we make. From technical performance to aesthetics, Stio outfits you with exceptional products for unforgettable outdoor experiences.


Are soft shell pants good for skiing?

Yes, soft shell pants can be a good option for skiing. Soft shell pants are typically made from a stretchy and breathable fabric that provides flexibility and comfort during physical activities. They are designed to be water-resistant or water-repellent, making them suitable for skiing in dry or moderately wet conditions. Soft shell pants also offer good thermal insulation and wind resistance, keeping you warm on the slopes. However, in heavy snow or wet conditions, it's recommended to wear waterproof or insulated ski pants as they provide better protection against moisture and cold.

What does softshell ski pants mean?

Softshell ski pants are a type of ski pants that are made from a stretchy and breathable fabric known as softshell. Unlike traditional ski pants that are typically made from a waterproof and insulated material, softshell ski pants prioritizes comfort and mobility. They are designed to be lightweight and flexible, allowing skiers to move freely on the slopes. Softshell ski pants are also water-resistant, meaning they can repel light moisture and snow, although they may not be as effective in heavy rain or wet conditions. Overall, softshell ski pants are a popular choice for skiers looking for a balance between performance and comfort.

What are soft shell pants used for?

Soft shell pants are versatile and highly functional outdoor garments designed for various outdoor activities. They are primarily used for providing protection and comfort in variable weather conditions. Soft shell pants offer excellent breathability, water resistance and wind resistance while also allowing for ease of movement.

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