I had them as a kid. The poofy black bibs that seemingly absorb more water than they repel. They were hand-me-downs from my older brother, so when I got them, I had to grow into them. At the time, I kinda hated them because we would be out in the front yard on a snow day making castles or having epic snowball fights with the neighbor kids, and then suddenly that hot cocoa I had two hours ago wanted out. I’d have to pee so bad I thought I’d cry. Actually, sometimes I did cry; getting a little snow-covered girl out of her two jackets, mittens, boots, and bibs, with a full bladder was like an endurance mission. My brother could just go pee behind the tree in the yard.
These days, my favorite touring pants are bibs. However, not all bibs are made equal — especially women’s bibs. Men and women need their bibs to perform differently and should therefore be built specifically. So, this year at the Outdoor Retailer Show I went on a quest to find women’s bibs. Not unisex or small sized men’s bibs, but specifically made women’s bibs. I wanted to get a better grasp on where the market and trends are heading for winter 2016/17. Please note, this is just a first look and I have not yet field-tested any of these products.
For the most part there are three kinds of bibs out there:
I’m going to ignore the first category because they’re useless for women in the backcountry since you have to take off all overlying layers to go to the bathroom.
Drop seat bibs:
Patagonia Powslayer Bib –- 3 layer Gore-TeX Pro. The drop seat has two-way zippers for venting. Favorite feature: widely placed and flush shoulder straps (no buckles, just soft velcro). Unsure about: the length of the vent zips. I tend to like them to reach further down or all the way to the bottom of the legs. This item is currently available. Patagonia also currently offers two bibs for more alpine adventures — the hardshell Super Alpine Bib and softshell Kniferidge Pant.
Dakine Beretta Bib – 3 layer Gore-TeX plain weave with flannel backer. This drop seat is a bit of a hybrid in that the zipper goes across the lower back and down the side of one of the legs. Favorite feature: these bibs were actually designed and field-tested by a female backcountry skier! Unsure about: how well this creative type of drop seat will actually work. I’ve never used ones like this before. Beretta Bib will be available September 2016.
Flylow Foxy Bib — 20k/20k Intuitive Fabrics (Flylow’s proprietary 3 layer fabric). Favorite feature: on each of the legs there is a lateral and medial zipper for cross flow ventilation. Unsure about: the height of the front chest. Too high and it could trap a lot of body heat. However, the back is a nice height and made of a breathable material. This item will be available September 2016.
Bibs that zip off at the waist:
These can be worn as bibs or pants depending on the demands of your day. Some styles allow the zipper to zip into matching jackets to create a uniform snowsuit.
Dynafit Yotei is made with 3 layer Gore-Tex and a stretch fabric mid-section. Favorite feature: the BIG thigh pockets! Tiny pockets on women’s pants are a pet peeve of mine, as I like to be able to stash gloves, my beacon, and snacks right there. Unsure about: the resting place of the shoulder straps. They seem a little close together for the female physique. Available fall 2016.
Scott Vertic Tour is much like the GTX 3L version but they made the product more breathable and lightweight by using Gore-TeX PRO and GORE C-knit baker technology. Favorite feature: the fact that there is a lighter version. Unsure about: the height of the soft upper portion. It looks like a lot of fabric. Scott Vertic GTX 3L is currently available and the new Tour bib will be available fall 2016.
Mammut Sunridge GTX Pro 3L. Favorite feature: apparently the leg height is adjustable, but I’m not sure how this system works. Unsure about: again, a lot of upper body fabric. This item is currently available.
Arc’teryx currently has two women’s bibs on the market. The Theta SV bib made of 3 layer GoreTeX PRO and the Alpha SV with a through-the-crotch relief zipper.
Ladies, what do you want in a ski pant? I know what I like, but if I know what you’re looking for, then I’ll narrow my focus for future reviews.