Softshell pants for snowshoeing

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Viewing 18 posts - 1 through 18 (of 18 total)
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    Wiktor M.
    BPL Member


    Locale: Swiss Alps

    For past 2 years I’ve been using Arc’teryx Gamma LT pants + thermal underwear for snowshoeing in Winter and Spring in the Alps (I’m based in Switzerland).

    However when it gets cold (< -12C/10F) and windy my legs get quite cold after couple of hours. I was trying to buy Gamma MX pants, as I love similar jacket but I can’t find them in my size (SS) anywhere.

    Can you recommend good winter soft shell pants for colder days?

    Richard Reno
    BPL Member


    Locale: White Mountains, mostly.

    I have softshell pants by REI and Prana Zion. Both work fairly well with or without long johns underneath. The only issue is if they get wet. Two other solutions work better for me: Ibex Woolies with rain pants over them, or North Face “Freedom” pants which are plenty warm, have zips for venting on the move, and are pretty water-repellant.


    Just my 2¢… Have Fun!

    Dale Wambaugh
    BPL Member


    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    I use windproof front tights with polyester base layer long johns and tall gaiters. That leaves just the backs of my thighs from wind shell hem to the top of the gaiters with no windproofing. Toasty at that activity level.

    I see REI has their Activator pants on sale.

    Soft shell pants aren’t all that warm on their own. You get some windproofing and water resistance, abrasion resistance and stretch, but I don’t see them as any warmer than jeans in terms of insulation. Add an appropriate base layer and you’re ready for cold. You can dial that weight in for the expected conditions. Size to suit the extra layer and room to move.

    BPL Member


    Marmot scree softshells.

    Edward John M
    BPL Member


    Have you tried using a warmer underwear layer in addition to your normal base layer?
    Is there enough room to add a knee length extra layer?
    Have you tried wearing an additional wind or thermal barrier over the top?

    Matt Dirksen
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mid Atlantic

    I started running using Gore X7 pants not too long ago, and I understand they are well suited for cross country skiing. They’ve been excellent for running when it’s cold and wet outside, which is fairly common for my climate in the Winter. I also have Gamma LT’s, and the X7’s seem to be slightly thicker (in the front) and at least as stretchy as the LT’s.

    BPL Member


    Locale: Colorado

    I have been happy with OR Skyward II pants for AT skiing over a pretty wide range of conditions. But honestly, I think there are many good SS pants, and I would go more with fit and features. I agree that you shouldn’t expect to get much warmth from your shell.

    Bruce Tolley
    BPL Member


    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    The Gamma LT pants are not that windproof.  On cold, windy snow shoe days I put UL windpants over the Gamma LTs with a light base layer.

    If there is a lot of standing and sitting, I put a Patagonia R1 base layer on as my baselayer.

    Arcteryx has other softshell pants like the Gamma AR that come in SS.

    As stated above, check out Outdoor Research and Patagonia.  I just got a pair of Stio Pinedale softshell pants since they were offering 20% off to new customers. They seem the same weight as my Gamma softshell jacket.

    Since you are in Europe, you should check out offerings from Rab and Montane.

    Dale Wambaugh
    BPL Member


    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    That’s why I like wind front tights. The stretch helps with Michelin Man Syndrome too.

    The military surplus ECWCS Gen III L2 Power Dry bottoms are the same as Patagonia R1 and quite the bargain. Go down one size. Make sure they mention Polartec as there are knockoffs out there by Rothco and others. Cabela carries their own line of Power Dry goodies and have sales now and then.

    Mike M
    BPL Member


    Locale: Montana

    It’s too bad Patagonia has a bad habit of letting go of their best pieces.  Their old Guide Pants (not to be confused with the myriad of other “guide” pants they carry/carried) are an excellent snowshoe/backcountry ski pant- they buck wind/snow really well, great pocket layout and very durable.  I think mine will be on winter 11 or 12 this year.


    Wiktor M.
    BPL Member


    Locale: Swiss Alps

    Thanks a lot for great feedback!

    Indeed it seems my problem is not adequate wind resistance. For base layer I’ve been using merino long johns (Icebreaker 260) on colder days.

    Eric Blumensaadt
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mojave Desert

    I have Duluth Trading Co. Dry on the Fly fleece lined nylon cargo pants that I’ve washed with Nikwax DWR. Works very well in retelling moisture in wet snow.

    I’ve never been a fan of soft-shell fabrics. Too heavy and not windproof enough with the one’s I’ve tried.

    BPL Member


    I used to just use my rain pants on the outside, if the snow was wet, or if conditions are really bad. I have snow bibs for extreme sub zero. Mostly I go in dry snow conditions, so a waterproof layer isn’t needed and I use ski pants. Lately I’ve been adding an insulated skirt for extended activities outdoors; it protects the thighs and butt from wind and cold and has zips to ensure either full protection or room for movement. Plus it’s easy to add/remove and pack away if not needed. Maybe someone should make a “kilt” type insulated layer for guys. Or just get one made for gals; they’re pretty shapeless, or at least mine is, so just about any body type could fit.

    BPL Member


    Locale: The Cascades

    That’s a happy looking pup you have there Karen.

    Steve Collins
    BPL Member


    Locale: The Windy City

    I have been a huge fan of Salomon softshell pants/tights made for cross country skiing while snowshoeing.  The ones that are softshell in the front with two zip pockets and mesh in the back so they breath.  Paired with 40 Below Overboots = the best solution I have found for multiday trips on snowshoes of backcountry skis.

    In fact, these are really great as 4th season backpacking pants in snow or in just cold temps where you are working up some body heat.

    Nick I
    BPL Member


    Ortovox Bacun user here with 200 weight thermals.  Really please with their ability to keep the wind from coming through, they’re lined with a light layer of fleece for warmth and have large zips on the legs to vent heat.

    William Chilton
    BPL Member


    Locale: Antakya

    In winter I like the Rab Vapour-rise Trail trousers. They’re a modern take on pile and pertex. There’s also the warmer Vapour-rise Guide, which are warmer. I think they’re being discontinued but there are still some available.

    Dave @ Oware
    BPL Member


    Locale: East Washington

    I like the Craft brand for cross country skiing. Wind panels backed by mesh in the front and knit in the back. Above freezing wear just them. Colder add light long johns.

    When inactive I cover with windstopper ripstop/thinsulate overpants.

    Or go in the lodge.

    Soft-shell pants are okay, but heavy for the insulation value. Good if you might have to self arrest as they aren’t slippery.

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