As a kid, I looked forward to the day when I could swap my ski bibs out for low-slung ski pants with a stretchy belt around the hips. Bibs were childish, unflattering, a little dorky, and usually hand-me-downs. Pants? Pants were cool.
I believed a lot of dumb things as a kid, but this might’ve been the dumbest.
Bibs are having a major moment. Most popular outerwear brands offer a women’s bib these days, and for good reason. Bibs keep snow out of your pants when you bite it on a powder day, they don’t slide down as you hike, tour, or bang out bump runs, and they don’t get too tight at the waistband after nachos and a few beers. The comfiest ones feel like you’re wearing nothing.
Plus. with a side-zip design that every brand we tested uses, bibs are way easier to go to the bathroom in than typical pants. You don’t have to unzip any top layers. Just reach up, zip down one side of the pants from the waist, and pull the bibs to the side. The ingenious design also makes for a conveniently modest backcountry squat, thanks to the fact that you never really have to pull your pants down. And you never have to bother with tucking layers in, either.
Here are our favorite bibs for women this year.
My top pick: The Stio Environ Bib ($445)
Stio is my favorite brand for women’s ski pants, thanks to an impeccable fit that feels designed by athletic women, for athletic women, rather than a repurposed men’s model. I get compliments on the fit all the time (even from guys who want better-cut pants, too!) The Environ Bib has a low-profile mini bib that fits and looks more like pants with suspenders, which is a plus for women who’d rather not go for the full overalls look. Made of a three-layer Dermizax waterproof shell, they’re bomber in wet weather. Even on super stormy days, they don’t wet out, and they dry rapidly once the weather stops. They’re wind-resistant and keep you warm with just a baselayer underneath even when the temperature drops well below the comfort zone. A reinforced cuff keeps you from slicing your pants with your ski edges, and thoughtfully placed zipper pockets (three of ’em) provide ample storage. They’re internally stitched, if you’re inclined to keep your beacon in your pants pocket. Zippers on either side of the pants make peeing and costume changes easy, and provide ample ventilation for the uphill. These pants will do you proud on the uphill or downhill, but they aren’t particularly breathable without the vents open.
For the hard-charging in-bounds skier: Helly Hansen Kvitegga Shell Bibs ($349)
The Kvitegga Bibs, which pair with the awesome Kvitegga Shell, offer a higher-coverage top and articulated knees that provide ample mobility (and look cool, too!) Made of Helly’s proprietary waterproof shell fabric, they’re solid in wet, cold weather, though they dried a bit slower than Stio’s Environ bib. Well-placed pockets across the thigh offer storage for necessities like beacons, beer, and goggle cloths, and the bibs have reinforced cuffs as well. Fit, of course, is subjective, but I found myself in between sizes with these bibs—in the small, the waist and the hips fit perfectly, but the thighs were cut too narrow for this skier/hiker/biker. I opted for a medium, which offers plenty of mobility but just a bit more room than I’d like through the torso and hips. That said, the top of these bibs features my absolute favorite design on the market. Wide velcro straps offer adjustability through the waist (which helps me cope with the whole shmedium issue), and a stretchy, breathable panel across the back keeps sweat down and comfort up. These bibs are great for backcountry travel, but they’re a bit heavier than I’d like—if you’re mostly an uphill gal, you might want to opt for something like the Powslayer, below.
For the bad-weather backcountry skier: Patagonia Powslayer Bib ($599)
I’ve been skiing in a Powslayer Bib for three years and man, I love these bibs. They’re the lightest weight bib that I’ve tried, but offer awesome wind and wetness protection thanks to three-layer Gore-tex with a fully recycled nylon face. Massive vents, big thigh pockets (the biggest on any bib I’ve tested), and their lightweight construction make them my top pick for touring (as far as hardshell bibs go, that is). I can stash gloves or sunnies in a pocket while I transition, and I always keep my beacon in the internally sewn but generous—thanks to a small fold sewn in at the top and bottom—pocket. Consider sizing down; these bibs run a bit baggy. I’ve been wearing a medium, and they’re far from flattering.
For the skier who wants it all: Flylow’s Foxy Bibs ($390)
The Flylow Foxy bib has had a cult following since it first hit the market, and you might just be able to attribute the resurgence in bibs across the market to Flylow’s awesome offering. The Foxy fits—like most Flylow gear—a bit work-wear esque, which is perfect for skiers who like a little extra movement and room for gear and snack storage. It strikes the perfect balance between roomy and flattering, and these bibs hold up well against in-bounds storm days and long tours in the backcountry. They’re super sturdy and durable, which means they might feel a bit stiff and heavy right out of the box. But don’t fret—women who rock Foxys often swear off any other ski pant. Get ’em quick; they’ve been known to sell out.
For heli skiing in Alaska and sledding in Montana: The North Face’s Fuse Brigadine Bib ($549)
The Brigadine Bib is seriously heavy duty. It fits—and feels—more like work coveralls than any other bib, and it’s totally bomber (if a bit heavy) when it comes to bad weather and winter-travel related use and abuse. The high-coverage top has a super convenient gear pocket, and the cut is generous but athletic, made for mobility.
For the stylish, ripping skier: Strafe Scarlett Bibs ($469)
Strafe makes some of the best-looking bibs out there. With a slim, flared cut and a halter top style, they offer a bit more by way of style points than other bibs on the market. They don’t sacrifice any functionality, though—with 3-layer eVent fabric, they’re breathable and waterproof.
For skiers who love overalls and backcountry powder: Eddie Bauer’s BC Fineline Bib ($399)
The BC Fineline bib has a true overall design, and features a flattering, roomy fit with ample mobility. Throughout the torso, a softshell replaces the three-layer hardshell used in the pants, increasing breathability where you need it the most.