Cross country skiing is a very rewarding winter experience and also an excellent form of exercise. Regardless of whether you want to try this skiing style out for the first time or have been doing it for years, a good pair of pants is always needed.
I’ve been skiing for most of my life and have tried nearly every version of the sport. I usually cross country ski anywhere from 10-25 times a year, and I’ve used many different types of pants, so I know what to look for in the best options.
The Swix Universal x XC is my choice for the best cross country ski pants of the year. This model is designed to move, so you can ski for as long or as far as you want to. They also feature an excellent construction to keep you warm and dry.
I’ll give you a few other solid options for cross-country ski pants in this post. You don’t necessarily want to wear regular ski pants, and having some other options will let you get well equipped for all your nordic adventures.
Let’s get on the trail.
- Who Should Get This
- Top Picks of Best Cross Country Ski Pants
- How to Choose Best Cross Country Ski Pants
- Useful Tips & Resources
- Final Verdict
Who Should Get This
If you plan on doing any cross country skiing, you want to get a nice pair of cross country specific ski pants.
While you can get away with using regular ski pants if you only go out every once in a while, all of the items listed here have a fit and feel that specifically allows for better performance while skiing cross country.
When you cross country ski, you work up a sweat, and the pants are also lighter and less insulated than traditional models.
If you’re only slightly curious about cross country skiing and want to just try it once or twice during the season, you probably don’t need cross country-specific pants.
While these pants can be used in various other outdoor situations, you will do just fine in regular ski pants for a day or two of cross country skiing.
Do you wear snow pants cross country skiing?
Cross country ski pants are different from alpine ski pants. You want the pants to be at least water-resistant, but they will also be very thin and lightweight. Some serious cross country skiers only wear tights.
How should cross country ski pants fit?
Cross country ski pants should have a pretty slim fit. You don’t want excess material flapping in the wind or dragging by your boots. Look for a slim to a tight fit, depending on your preferences. Ultimately it’s a personal decision.
Top Picks of Best Cross Country Ski Pants
Here are my picks for the best cross country ski pants of the year. All of the models below are high-quality and thoroughly recommended.
1. Swix Universal x XC
- Best for: Overall
- Key features: Comfortable, durable, lightweight, stretchy, water-resistant
- Waterproofing: Polyester with a water-resistant finish
- Insulation: None
- Cost: $$
The Swix Universal x XC is my pick for the best cross-country ski pants. This model will work well for just about any type of nordic skier.
It is a lightweight and slim-fitting option that offers good wind protection and comes treated with a water-resistant finish.
Stretch construction gives you extra mobility to ski long and hard, which won’t hold you back. Additional flexibility is built into the knees and waist.
These pants are on the expensive side but still affordable compared to alpine ski pants.
2. Swix Women’s Classic Layout
- Best for: Women
- Key features: Comfortable, durable, flexible, good fit
- Waterproofing: Polyester/water-resistant
- Insulation: None
- Cost: $$
Female cross-country skiers will love the Swix Women’s Classic Layout. This is another great option from one of the top brands in the game.
A 100% polyester construction gives you a lot of durability while providing water-resistant properties to keep you dry when you ski.
The pants are also really breathable to allow excess heat and moisture to wick away while retaining wind-blocking properties.
These can run a little small but are available in many sizes to give you options.
3. 4ucycling Fleeced Windstopper
- Best for: Multi-Use
- Key features: Versatile use, affordable, durable, comfortable, breathable
- Waterproofing: Water-resistant
- Insulation: Fleece lined
- Cost: $
If you want an option that can be used for several different activities, check out the 4ucycling Fleeced Windstopper pants.
This model is very comfortable with a double-layer of synthetic material that keeps the wind and snow at bay.
They also have a fleece-lined interior that helps retain body heat for those really cold and snowy days on the trail.
These pants have a somewhat baggy fit, which might not be ideal for every backcountry skier.
4. Singbring Outdoor Fleece Ski
- Best for: Budget Option
- Key features: Affordable, comfortable, breathable, quick-dry
- Waterproofing: Quick-Dry
- Insulation: Fleece
- Cost: $
The Singbring Outdoor Fleece Ski pants is a solid option for nordic skiers on a budget.
These pants have a fleece construction that is very comfortable while also giving you good wind resistance.
They have a quick-dry design that helps keep them breathable while also allowing you to venture out into very snowy conditions.
These aren’t very waterproof, and even the quick-dry material won’t stay dry in steady snow.
5. Gash Hao Waterproof Softshell
- Best for: Durability
- Key features: Strong and durable, waterproof, comfortable, quick-drying
- Waterproofing: Polyester
- Insulation: None
- Cost: $$
The Gash Hao Waterproof Softshell pants are the best option for strength and durability. These will last for many years of solid use and also come in at a very approachable price.
They are made of 100% polyester with a waterproof outer layer that will help keep you warm and dry when skiing.
The stretchy waist leads to a very comfortable fit, and I also like the large zipper pockets for bringing along extra gear.
They aren’t super-flexible and are on the heavier side.
6. TSLA Winter Snow Pants
- Best for: Cold Weather
- Key features: 3-layer construction, warm, comfortable, reinforced construction
- Waterproofing: Yes
- Insulation: Yes
- Cost: $
For cold weather cross country situations, the TSLA Winter Snow Pants are an awesome option to consider.
These pants come with a 3-layer construction that provides you with insulation and waterproofing to keep you comfortable, warm, and dry.
They also have a reinforced build in the ankles, knees, and seat to give you lasting durability for many days on the trail.
This is a bulky option, which might slow you down on the trail.
How to Choose Best Cross Country Ski Pants
Here are some critical factors to keep in mind when looking for the best cross country ski pants.
Cross country ski pants are designed to fit a little differently than other types of ski pants. You want to look for a tighter fit that doesn’t leave too much excess material hanging off your legs.
You also want a tight fit around the lower leg and ankle so that extra material doesn’t get in the way of your boots or skis. Cross country ski pants typically come in a skin-tight or snug fit, and this is ideal.
Cross country ski pants, which are usually made of polyester or Spandex, tend to be less thick than alpine ski pants. That is because you’re working up a sweat while performing cross country, and you don’t want to become too hot or sweat too much.
However, as external temperatures can cool you down, you still want pants made from wind or water-proof material, no matter how hard you work.
Your cross country gear needs to be comfortable and move with your body. That is why the pants need to be flexible in a way that allows you to move without any restriction.
This is similar to athletic pants because they provide a full range of motion for all of the ways your body can move, twist, and turn while on the slopes.
Useful Tips & Resources
If you’re just learning about cross country skiing, you might want to consider taking a lesson before getting out on the trails. Check out the video below to learn a bit about the basics of the sport and how it differs from other types of skiing.
Beyond pants, you’ll also need other gear for the sport. Take a look at some of these tips on how to dress specifically for cross country skiing. It’s slightly different than alpine skiing, so take the time to gear up accordingly.
The Swix Universal x XC is my pick for the best cross country ski pants of the year. Swix is one of the top brands in the world of nordic skiing, and this model will give you everything you want and need out on the trails.
Cross country skiing requires different equipment than alpine skiing. Make sure to get yourself set up with quality gear to make the most out of your time on the trails. Every option in this post is designed with the needs of cross country skiers in mind.