What to Wear Under Shell Ski Pants?

What to Wear Under Shell Ski Pants
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The debate is unending about what to wear under shell ski pants. Regular pants or special technical leggings? After all, what could technical clothes have to offer that’s so special?

The answer is pretty simple but it’s hard to take as gospel if you don’t have all the facts. All the facts are exactly what you’ll get from this comparison.

This article weighs the pros and cons of wearing nothing, regular clothes, and special thermal long underwear underneath shell ski pants to give you a complete understanding of why there’s only one acceptable choice to make.

shell ski pants

Why Wearing Nothing is Bad?

Before deciding on what to wear under shell ski pants, it’s important to understand why you need to wear something and when you need to wear it.

It’s tempting to believe that shell ski pants are enough on their own if you’re skiing in the spring and it’s rather warm outside. However, shell ski pants are best at waterproofing but provide almost no warmth whatsoever. Therefore, it often feels like you’re just hitting the slopes in your underwear.

Comfort is another consideration. Not all shell ski pants have linings. This doesn’t make them comfortable against the skin, especially when you consider all the zippers and seams they usually come with.

Are Normal Pants Good Enough?

A lot of people think that regular pants should do just fine under ski pants. Jeans, sweatpants, cotton leggings, cargo pants, and anything else that provides some level of warmth and comfort should be enough right?

On paper, that may seem OK but in reality, it’s the wrong choice. Although it’s hard to see the usefulness in technical pants at first, here’s what you should know.

Regular pants aren’t designed for extreme conditions. Hitting the slopes means exerting a lot of physical stress. While regular pants are ok for walking, maybe jogging, they’re not made to handle the amount of sweat that builds up during your skiing ventures.

All that moisture is just absorbed into the fabric of regular clothes. Therefore, all the insulation you would get is nullified. It’s actually even worse than wearing nothing at all.

planning a skiing trip

What to Wear Under Shell Ski Pants

Now that you know what not to wear, it’s time to tell you what to wear under shell ski pants in order to be both warm and comfortable. The simple answer is long underwear. However, there is more than just one type, so knowing which one to pick for the occasion requires additional information.

Long underwear is also known as thermal underwear. So it makes sense that this is your best bet at keeping your legs warm and at a steady temperature too. Thermal underwear is designed to maintain warmth by having a tight fit on the legs and minimizing the amount of air that needs heating.

Thermal underwear is available for men, women, and children, so make sure to get something that fits snugly if you want to maximize their efficiency.

Another reason why they’re preferred over regular leggings is their breathability property. They are designed to allow excess heat to escape through the fabric. This temperature-regulating property is what prevents you from overheating.

Moisture-wicking technology is also used to allow sweat to move through the membrane of the fabric and evaporate on the outside. That’s how you stay dry. You can’t find such features in regular pants.

Now, depending on how much physical effort you exert you may need more or less insulation. If you tend to spend hours on the slope and you often do acrobatic moves, your body would generate more heat.

If that’s the case, you’ll want thermal leggings that offer less insulation. Your body should supply enough excess heat to keep you warm while you’re on the slope. You should also consider this if you’re planning a skiing trip during the spring when the sun generates more heat.


Although some shell ski pants may be comfortable to wear straight on the skin, they won’t provide enough insulation or help deal with moisture. If you want to feel comfortable and safe while skiing, you’ll need an appropriate pair of thermal leggings or long underwear to balance out the disadvantages of shell ski pants.

Different brands have different moisture-wicking ability and they may or may not be as efficient. However, it’s important to remember that no matter the brand your thermal underwear comes with different levels of insulation.

Never choose the warmest leggings if it’s already warm outside and you plan on hitting the slopes for hours at a time.

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