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No matter how frequently you cross-country ski, you have to stay warm and protected! It is very important that you have a pair of comfortable, quality cross-country ski pants. If you do not have the proper technical sportswear that keeps you warm, but also ventilated, then you will get either cold or hot (and then freezing cold). You have to keep your body heat at an optimal level, and that’s a tricky business, when it comes to such high intensity winter sports as cross-country skiing.
Two important factors to consider are breathability and insulation provided only by specialized cross-country ski gear manufacturers.
Since having the ideal technical pants for cross-country skiing is indispensable, we have tested several cross-country ski pants for both the ladies and the gentlemen! If you are looking for your first cross-country ski pants or for a new and better one, then this article will surely be useful. Let’s get started, and find out all about the most critical nordic ski gear!
What Pants Should I Wear?
Cross-country ski pants are an essential outer layer above the light long underwear you must wear for perfect comfort and protection. There are a number of factors involved in choosing the ideal pants for cross-country skiing, while at the same time you should keep your outfit stylish and fashionable. Fortunately, it’s quite easy these days to satisfy both your practical and aesthetic needs.
First, let’s examine the most common materials sportswear manufacturers use. Surprisingly, cross-country skiing has come a long way from the heavy leather and wool clothes of the old Viking days, and in 2021, cross-country skiers mostly wear soft shell pants made of a blend of polyester and spandex (also called elastane). While polyester serves as a highly durable and water resistant layer, spandex brings flexibility to the fabric. Meanwhile, usually there’s an inner lining of fleece for further insulation and soft comfort.
Comfort and Thermal Protection
Cross-country skiing is in fact not only jogging on skis, but a full-body workout in itself. For this reason, you should wear clothes that you are perfectly comfortable in midst of kicking, gliding and poling – not to mention climbing hills.
Many beginner skiers start out with thick, warm pants, believing that they should fight the winter cold and snow by any means, forgetting that they themselves will work as an effective powerhouse, and that they will sweat. A lot.
Experienced cross-country skiers wear light and comfortable pants that usually have a windproof layer in the front, while a breathable material in the back. This way you are protected against the winds and cold coming from the front, but the excess heat generated by your own body can leave in the back. The light thermal insulation is provided by the inner fleece lining, and that’s more than enough for such dynamic winter sport.
Both your arms and legs swinging, you will need pants that are stretchy and close fitting to your body. Skinny- or slim fit pants are the most practical, since loose clothing could actually get caught in a tree branch or other objects, while also chafing your skin and cause irritation. This way, your pants will move with you aerodynamically rather than limit your movements and hinder your performance.
Besides the fitted cut, there are a number of ways to increase how the pants fit your body. Starting at your waist, you will find pants with adjustable waistbands that you can change fittingly (let alone if you would add or lose a couple of pounds).
At the knees, further elasticity is need to ensure the product’s durability as well as the perfect fit during heavy leg work. Fortunately, several brands offer extra stretchy material around the knees. Don’t forget to choose pants with flat seams that will not scratch and irritate your skin.
Many cross-country ski pants have ankle set-up, which practically acts as a gaiter, fitting around the boot, therefore keeping the snow out. These often have a couple of inches of zippers along the ankle to make taking on and off the boots easier. If your ideal pants doesn’t have a similar ankle zipper, purchase gaiters separately! They will be one of the most useful piece of gear in your set.
What are Soft Shell Pants?
For cross-country skiers, soft shell pants are the most ideal outfit. Soft shell pants as opposed to hard shells are highly more breathable and flexible, while also being somewhat water resistant, if not even as much as the hard shell’s waterproofness. Therefore, the primary difference lies between these two factors, breathability and water resistance. Most Cross-country skiers prefer soft shell pants for being light, as well as breathable.
4 Best Cross-Country Ski Pants for Men
1. 4ucycling Windproof Athletic Ski Pants
Engineered to offer extra comfort, these ski pants just might be your savior in the chilly mountain weather. 4ucycling windproof athletic ski pants are double-layer; hence they keep your legs dry without clinging too much. The interior is made of thermo-lined fleece to prevent heat loss from the body. The knee area of these clothes has a draping design to retain more heat. In addition, the zipper side pockets will keep your items and accessories secure.
On the left of this item is a reflective logo. This increases the visibility of the athlete in areas where there is dim lighting. Coming to the topic of material, these cross-country ski pants are comprised of 75% polyester. On the back, there is also 15% spandex, with the rest being polyester. The features of padding and cushioning benefit the user even more. Adjusting the leg openings is also quite simple, making mobility even easier. You will notice that these clothes are moisture-proof to such as extent that water rolls off in seconds.
- Qualities of padding and cushioning
- Extra zippered pockets
- Advantage of reflective logo
- Can also be worn indoors
- Zippers can be fragile
2. Sporthill Men’s Super Cross-Country Ski Pants
Offering a number of useful features, the Sporthill Men’s Super Cross-Country Ski pants can work for multiple activities from cross-country skiing to winter runs and jogging. Consisting of 92% polyester, these cross-country ski clothes are manufactured in the United States. The fabric is also called SwiftDry. This is because it is a mixture of polyester and spandex that gives the products their moisture-repellent properties. The presence of ankle zippers makes the process of rolling off shoes pretty quick.
The fit of these ski clothes is comfortable due to the elastic waistband. The attached drawstring even makes it better so that it can sit on your natural waistline. Also, the overall shape of the cross-country ski pants is tapered, and the fabric dries very quickly. You will also notice that SwiftDry and SwiftPro fabrics will prevent drastic temperature changes. It is windproof up to 40 mph. In short, it is a great option for those who are avid fans of cross-country skiing.
- Fit is narrow
- Anti-chafing backpocket
- Stretchy, articulated area around the kneesli>
- There aren’t a lot of variety in color or size
3. Salomon RS Warm Softshell Ski Pants
For those looking for cross-country ski pants that fit perfectly, the Salomon RS warm softshell ski pants are the ones for you! Besides keeping you warm and toasty outside during cross-country skiing days, they are also very good for training sessions. You will feel great even during the toughest workout since these cross-country ski pants have some magical properties. Moreover, these clothes are crafted out of high-quality fabric that has breathability in the frostiest of winters.
Want to know another interesting fact? The fabric of these cross-country ski pants has motion points that can be mapped to the body. Therefore, movement across the snowy terrain becomes more enjoyable. Silicon grip further improves the gripping ability of these ski pants. Furthermore, the pockets of this product are placed in such a way that your belongings stay safe and sound. Behind the benefits offered by these ski pants is the combination of Hybrid technology with Advanced skin Shield. Therefore, buying this product is a decision you will not regret.
- Ski pants are water-resistant
- The backside is brushed
- Drawcord helps to keep the pants up
- Washing requires extra care
4. Bjorn Daehlie Power Pants
- QUALITY & FIT YOU CAN TRUST - Daehlie is still made for, and by, people with a passion for cross-country skiing & other endurance workouts; Our clothing is true to size; if borderline between two sizes, order the larger size for a looser fit or the smaller size for a snug fit
- PERFORMANCE ACTIVEWEAR - The classic cross country ski pants for men who prefer to wear close-fitting equipment; a modern cut snow pant made out of a lightweight softshell fabric that's wind and water-resistant …
Ever since my favorite Nordic ski pants got worn out and it was no longer available anywhere, I often find that even many soft shell cross-country ski pants are simply too warm when I hit heart rate zone 3, herringboning uphill and I feel like I’m going to tear off my pants, because I’m literally suffocating in there.
Not long after a similar incident that I got the chance to try Bjorn Daehlie’s Power pants. I did not want to take risk with a sauna-like experience again, so I decided to leave the lower base layer completely, although it was freezing around 5°F. Although I knew it was going to be a soft shell, Daehlie’s Power pants seemed overly thin to the touch. I was a bit worried at first, but after a quick warm up and a flat run to my surprise, it was fine. The windproof front was doing its job, despite the 90 degrees difference between my body temperature and outside air, it felt like a breeze. But the real challenge was still ahead.
I came back to the same steep hill and I dreaded climbing. You know, it’s only water resistant from the outside, right? In the end I set out with all my belief in these pants. My first relief was when I saw that the stretchy ankle zips successfully kept out the fresh snow, which is often a make-or-break thing for me. And after a lot of climbing and panting, I got up without feeling my own sweat trickling down my skin.
If you like skating, or hard runs and the heat, but not the sweat, these slim-fitting pants I can vouch for. They are stretchy and comfortable, and my only complaint was that the pocket is a bit small. On the other hand, if you ski on low fuel, you are always cold, or if you just prefer going easy, you should get something warmer like Salomon’s RS Warm soft shell pants or keep the additional base layer.
4 Best Cross-Country Ski Pants for Women
1. Swix universal x pants – women’s
Acting like tights but looking like pants is the philosophy behind the Swix universal x. The most intriguing part about these pants is the amount of comfort they offer. With a trusty drawstring around the waist and additional buttons, they are a true winner. In terms of material, they are made of 100% polyester with a water-resistant finish. The inner liner is of high-quality polyester mesh. Even the stretch sections on the knees, back, and thigh consist of polyester.
From the waist down, there is a full-length zipper to allow for freedom of movement. It does not get any better than this! The fitted cut around the knees makes the clothes look even smarter. Even though the material is synthetic, ladies will be happy to know that these products dry very quickly. This means you do not have to deal with sogginess. Plus, they are resistant to wind and moisture.
- Good quality along with comfort
- Waterproof and windproof
- Two-way zipper from waist down
- When it comes to finding the right size, these pants can create issues
2. Bjorn Daehlie Booster Pants for Women
For some reason I often fear trying out new sportswear if I already have the one that works just fine. Then Alex came to me to have these new Bjorn Daehlie pants reviewed, and I was really surprised.
Let’s take a look at some of the specs first. Daehlie’s Booster pants are made of the following materials: Face fabric is 100% Bionic Finish Eco polyester, the lining is 92% polyester and 8% elastane, while the insulating layer is 100% “Thermore Ecodown” whatever that means (I’ve checked: recycled polyester). I can be very nitpicking when it comes to clothes and fabrics, and this was my first worry when I’ve got my hands on these pants. I usually wear 100% lightweight merino wool pants and I always prefer natural fabrics over synthetics. And there wasn’t anything natural among these materials, right? (No, words starting with Bio- or Eco- don’t mean they are natural.) I always felt that these are itchy, chafing, and they are cold. Let’s just note here, that not all my friends agree with me on this.
Back to Daehlie Booster pants, I tested them during a day long cross-country sking (classic, of course) and to my greatest surprise, they felt really good. I’m always cold, so I wore these over a pair of thin, technical tights, as I saw that the pants are just a little bit loose fit. They were warm the moment I’ve put them on, there was a thin layer of air between my legs and the insulating fabric itself. Due to the loose fit I was expecting abrasions after a few hours, but there were none.
Even more, the stretchy extra padding at the thighs provided extra warmth and comfort whenever I chose to relax and enjoy the view, while and the extra space around the knees felt real comfortable when striding forward, providing an optimal freedom of movement. The ventilation was also great, it never really felt like as I was expecting that the pants will stick to my legs. This test was a great lesson to me, and I guess not all synthetic fabrics are the same. It all depends on the design and one’s pace.
3. Camii Mia Women’s Windproof Waterproof Pants
Are you looking for cross-country skiing clothes that not only look amazing in pictures but feel even better in real life? Then, Camii Mia Women’s Windproof Waterproof Pants are here at your service! The inner side of these clothes is lined with fleece to preserve body heat. If you are an outdoorsy person, then you’ve found your partner. Also, these pants can be washed in the machine or by hand. They are an ideal blend of design, material, and quality.
Comprising of 97% nylon and 3% spandex, Camii MIas pants are fitted with multiple pockets. These include 2 front pockets and 2 back pockets. Also, the addition of knee patches makes them more everlasting as well as durable. You will notice that they stay true to your size; however, you have the freedom to find a more relaxed fit. These clothes might look delicate and feminine, but they definitely do not compromise on quality.
- Suitable for outdoor sports, hiking and snow skiing
- Durable yet comfortable at the same time
- Can be hand-washed
- Layer of fleece gives insulating properties
- Water seepage may occur
- Size might be a problem at times
4. Craft Women’s Thermal Primaloft Nordic Tights
Now that we are done with the topic of men’s ski pants, it is time to make way for the ladies. Nordic performance is one of the predominant qualities of Craft women’s Primaloft tights. Created in Sweden, the land of long winters, these ski pants must be added to every female skier’s wardrobe. With form-fitting fleece, these tights are a must-buy for all those ladies who love ski touring. The fabric prevents any snow from coming in contact with the body. Heat is regulated due to the brushed jersey fabric at the back.
The front and upper back are lightly padded, which makes these ski pants suitable for longer cross-country skiing trips. For the optimal fitting, the waistband is flexible and wide. Plus, the knees have a certain shape that is flattering to the legs. All these features combine to form the term athletic fitting! At the endings of the legs, there are zips. Hence, taking off shoes or boots becomes hasslefree during your skiing days.
- Moisture management and ventilation, breathable fabric
- Work for temperatures as low as -5 Fahrenheit
- Provide freedom for knee and hip movement
- Windproof panels can be annoying