We spend a lot of time talking to the plus-size ski community, and there’s one question that keeps coming up again and again: WHY is it so hard to find ski pants for plus-size women and men? So many curvy women skiers and snowboarders have ended up purchasing men’s pants out of frustration, and men have put up with uncomfortable pants that don’t perform as they should for skiing. Enough is enough, right? It’s time plus-size skiers had access to snow pants that are good quality, technical, warm, and fit our bodies. And would a choice of colours and styles be too much to ask?!
Fit is everything when you’re buying plus size snow pants - but maybe not for the reasons you think
Obviously, being comfortable during an athletic activity like skiing or snowboarding is really important. If your pants don’t fit right, you’re going to feel uncomfortable physically and mentally, neither of which are very fun.
But actually, it’s more than a question of comfort. Well-fitting ski pants are an important part of staying safe on the mountain. Unlike your Sunday jeans or sweatpants, ski pants are designed to perform in very particular conditions, using very particular movements. If they don’t fit right, you may not be able to get into the correct stance while skiing, which can create a real risk. Warmth is also a super important consideration – poorly fitting ski pants can expose you to the cold. Skiing is meant to fill you with joy, not have you sitting in cold, soggy layers or worrying that your pants might split after a spill.
No one wants their day shortened because they’re cold, uncomfortable, or restricted from skiing at their normal ability level. Especially since you’ve probably dropped some serious coin to go skiing in the first place.
As a plus-size skier, how do you find ski pants that fit? Do they even exist?
Well yes, actually they do. In fact, our sizing experts are able to find pants for our customers 95% of the time (we’re working hard on that extra 5% #goals). Here are our team’s top tips for finding the right ski pants for plus size bodies:
Plus size ski pants are all about shape, not the size
Our customers often tell us that their lower half is the trickiest area to fit because people come in such a wide range of body shapes. Two people might wear a size 22, but find that the same pair of pants fit them completely differently (or not at all). When it comes to fit, it’s much less about what it says on the label than your individual shape.
Outerwear manufacturers all have different standard sizes and cuts to their pants. Many make their plus-size ski gear based on the misconception that big women still have tiny waists, or they will simply make a bigger version of small cuts, not factoring in the different body shapes of plus-size people. If you’ve ever tried on pants that have cut off circulation in one area while being far too big in another, you’ve encountered this problem.
This is especially true when you begin to factor in international sizing and differing global sizing standards. You shouldn’t need an advanced diploma to figure out whether a US size is the same as UK/Australian, and European sizing is a complete mystery to most! It’s helpful to have a sense of your general body shape, but the absolute most reliable way to get the sizing right the first time is to measure yourself.
Measuring yourself to get the best plus size ski pants for your body shape
We know this can take some courage at first, but trust us when we say that it’s the first step to finding plus-size ski pants that are both comfortable and flattering for your body shape. Here’s what Kim told us:
“If I'm being brutally honest it took me a really long time to get up enough courage to measure myself. I dreaded every moment of it. And even though I got them done last week, it took me another week to be ready and able to acknowledge them to send them off to you. It's hard when some of my current clothes are a size 16 and I'm seeing that I could be a much bigger size in some of your products. I know it's just a number but it's been a lifetime struggle and messes with my mind. It's the reason I don't own a scale. lol. The only thing that got me through it was knowing that I might have proper fitting gear and finally be comfortable at the end of all this.”
And remember, this isn’t about comparing yourself to others, or to an earlier version of yourself. The number on the label is just that-a a number- it doesn’t measure your worth, your ski ability, or anything else. By measuring yourself, you’re on the path to a confident, amazing day on the snow - with your family, friends, or just you. Because you deserve that.
Style options for plus size ski pants
Now that you’ve got a clear picture of your size and shape, have a think about your preferred style of ski pants, and what you’ll be using them for.
Softshell stretch snow pants have had a bit of a fashion comeback lately. They’re great for snow play or cold-weather activities like snow-shoeing, winter dog walking, and hiking as well as travel to cooler destinations. Plus-size softshell pants are also good for skiing in milder temperatures or as a second pair of pants. Apart from the flattering silhouette and style-forward appeal (who doesn’t want to look like a 1970s bombshell?!) our customers love these pants because they’re just SO comfortable..! What’s more, they don’t make that ‘swish-swish noise when you walk, which is nice when you’re hiking or traveling.
If you’re planning on racking up the ski days, though, you’ll likely want more technical, insulated plus-size snow pants. Purpose-designed ski and snowboard pants will keep moisture and wind out (important while sitting on a damp chairlift on an icy day) while remaining breathable so you can work up some heat while you ski, and not find yourself freezing when your sweat cools down later. They’re designed to work alongside your technical, moisture-wicking base layers to keep you warm and dry, but are also just fine on their own if you’re not a base-layer person. Features like leg venting and seam sealing mean you’ll be warm and dry without overheating, while elasticised gaiters and adjustable waistbands will keep the snow off your skin and out of your boots. Everyone who skis or boards takes a tumble eventually, and not getting a bunch of snow down your pants is definitely a win.
Can I just wear rain pants in the snow?
Some customers have asked us whether they can just wear rain pants for a day in the snow. We always steer people away from this. Rain pants are designed to protect you from showers over a short period of time, but are made of thinner, less durable fabric and don’t have features like gaiters to keep the snow out. That means they won’t withstand continuous exposure to dampness or protect you from the sometimes extreme cold you can experience in alpine environments (remembering weather can change extremely fast in the mountains).
You’ve probably also figured out by now that the same goes for sweatpants and jeans - your comfy faves are great for cold days in the city, but aren’t designed for snow and could cause you to become dangerously wet and cold.
We know that a good day in the mountains can feel like a big investment. If you don’t spend a lot of time on snow, we can point you to some good quality, budget-friendly plus-size ski pants that will make sure you have a great time when you do go.
Like many things, choosing the right ski pants for curvy bodies is about substance over form – they need to perform in the weather and mountain conditions you plan to use them in. Of course, we know you want to feel cute too, and so we make sure our plus-size snow pants come in a range of on-trend colours and styles, so you can look smokin’ on the slopes or in the bar for après.
How to try on plus size snow pants
Erm, excuse me, I’ve bought pants before, PlusSnow – I’m pretty sure I know how to try them on!
We know! We get it – this seems like a weird thing to be telling you. But, there is a right way to try on ski pants, and some important things to watch out for. Stick with us – we promise we’re not trying to tell you how to suck eggs.
Get your wiggle on - bend and stretch!
When you’re skiing, you don’t move like you’re walking down the street. You’re bending your knees a lot further, canting from side to side, and reaching through your core. Unless you happen to walk down the street in a squat position, in which case, err, carry on.
So, when you try on your ski pants, it’s important to move like you’re skiing. Bend to a full squat (or as close as you’re able). Extend your arms as if you’re pole planting or carving on a board. Do the pants gape at the back, or squeeze too tight through the middle? Is there plenty of room for your knees to push forward in the pants? When you're sitting down on a chair or getting up from the ground, do they pinch your thighs or feel too stretched across the bottom?
The goal is to have plenty of room to move in an athletic way, without feeling like you’re wearing a tent (or wrapped in cling wrap).
Dress to ski - layering to keep warm and comfortable
Remember that when you’re in the snow, you’ll likely be wearing a number of layers. If you normally tuck in your middle and base layers (and you generally should), wear those items during try-on, and practice tucking them into the pants’ waist, to make sure they can accommodate your usual mountain attire.
Are the pants adjustable?
Many ski pants come with useful adjustment features, like side tabs at the waist which can make the fit more tailored to your body shape. These features can be the difference of a couple of sizes, so they’re really worth exploring, but can sometimes be a bit camouflaged – so make sure you’re looking for any adjustments to make your ski pants work best for you.
Are your ski pants the right length?
Often, sizes at the higher end of the range are also a lot longer, which can be tricky for plus-size skiers who aren’t very tall. So, how do you know if they’re the right length?
Pants you wear for skiing and snowboarding will generally need to be longer than regular pants, to accommodate your boots, and the fact that they’ll ride up on the chairlift or bending over to do up your bindings. As a general rule, ski pants should fall below your ankle to rest on your feet/socks when you're trying them on.
If they bunch a little around the ankles, it’s not a big deal, because the interior gaiter (or powder cuff) will keep them from slipping. But if they’re so long that they fold under your feet, they could get caught in your bindings or cause you to slip, so some tailoring may be required. It’s generally quick and easy to hem ski pants, depending on their construction, so just ask us.
Are your ski pants the right height?
The rise (distance from waist to crotch) of ski pants is an important consideration. Ski pants should sit a little higher on your waist to keep the snow out. A good way to judge is to measure the rise of your day-to-day pants (front and back) and compare them to the measurements on the product’s size chart on our website. You can also look at the model in the picture and see where the pants sit on them as a guide.
WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO THINK ABOUT WHEN CHOOSING YOUR SKI PANTS:
Once you’ve got the lowdown on sizing, there are other important factors to consider before you hit ‘add to cart’ on those plus-size snow pants you’ve set your heart on:
- Location: Where do you mostly ski or ride, and what are the temperatures like there? Does the snow tend wet or dry? This will influence the amount of insulation you want, or whether you opt for additional base layers.
- Frequency: How often do you plan to ski or ride? More frequent snow enthusiasts will generally be better off opting for higher quality, more technical plus-size pants because they will be more durable in the long run.
- Technical features: The tech features you need will depend on your answer to the first two questions. Generally, you should consider the level of waterproofing you need (for snow days we recommend a minimum of 10,000mm) and the amount of breathability. Generally, the more waterproof an item, the more you’ll compromise on breathability or cost.
- You can also look for features like seam sealing for added moisture protection, venting to help you cool off, and snow keeper-outers like boot gaiters and higher rise at the back. Consider too the pockets you may need (tip: if you’re a parent, you’re going to want more pockets for snacks, lip balm, cash, etc.) We’ll have a future blog on tech features, but we love nerding out on this stuff so if you’ve got questions, hit us up!
- Budget: Are you trying to save your beans, or are you happy to spend for the right fit? Remembering of course that outerwear is a favourite home for false economies - it’s important to invest in warmth and comfort because you’re unlikely to want to wear items that make you feel cold, uncomfortable, or (let’s be real here) unattractive. We want you to have plus-size ski pants that actually fit and will last for years, so you can go and do what you love more often.
The mountains are a place that brings so much joy, freedom, and empowerment. Having the right gear makes sure you will have all the right vibes, whether you’re carving up the backcountry or taking your kid on a toboggan for the very first time. With the right measurements and the right information, it is possible to find plus-size ski pants that fit AND make you look like the goods on the hill.
How to buy plus-size snow pants online - it’s our thing!
Few retail ski stores carry true plus sizes, and we know it can be hard to find the right fit in a pair of snow pants in plus sizes online. Many brands don’t go past XL, and the range for curvy people can be, well, snooze-worthy. What’s more, every brand has a different cut, which can make it incredibly hard to know if the pants will fit your shape, even if they have your usual size on the label. Often the store staff doesn’t even know! This is why Plus Snow was created, and why we try to give you as much information as possible so you can be confident you’re making the right decision.
Once you’ve measured yourself, you can explore our range to see which of our plus-size ski pants styles might work best for you. All our snow pants have detailed measurements that we did by hand ourselves, so you get accurate size charts of the actual product instead of a generic one from the brand into which a theoretical person should fit.
We now also include the rise and inseam (leg length) measurements for all our pants - front and back - so you can see how high they will sit. You can compare this to your favourite pants/jeans to get a clear idea of how they’ll look before you make your selection. No more squeezing into painfully tight ski pants, or dealing with slouchy pants that make you feel like a 16-year-old boy at the skate park. Get ready for plus-size ski pants that actually fit YOUR body shape, giving you ALL the good vibes!
Looking for the perfect plus-size ski pants for your body shape? Check out our buying guide for all our plus size snow pant styles
Want some help getting fitted for snow pants (Shop your Shape)? This is how you can get that winning feeling and we can take the hassle out of buying snow gear online.