Patagonia PowSlayer Bibs
Patagonia's PowSlayer Bibs are a premium, lightweight yet durable, waterproof snowsports pants for the backcountry-focused skier and rider. They work equally well for inbounds and side-country trips too. Their Gore-Tex Pro fabric keeps out all types of precipitation—not just powder—reliably and comfortably all day long. With a 100-percent recycled face fabric, they bring together environmental credibility with technical waterproof/breathable performance.
At $599 the PowSlayer's MSRP is decidedly steep, but if you spend your winters on snow and they fit your budget (or you find them on sale) they're an excellent long-term option. Plus, with their solid construction, recycled fabric, and Patagonia's customer service and repairs program they're a worthy investment for the dedicated skier and rider. Note that overall sizing is roomy, and they're more of a high-waisted pant versus traditional bib though.
- Superb waterproof protection for all types of precipitation
- Good range of movement
- Lightweight (19.9 oz, women's medium)
- 100% recycled face fabric
- Fair Trade Certified sewn
- Oversized fit, may want to size down
- Not traditional bibs, but high-waisted pants
- Can't fit my climbing skins in either thigh pocket
- Price—MSRP is $599, though they can be found on sale at the end of the season (like right now)
The Patagonia PowSlayer Bibs, corresponding Pants, and Powslayer Jacket are lightweight, packable, waterproof Gore-Tex Pro shells designed for backcountry touring, but which work well for inbounds snowsports as well. According to Patagonia, they feature "the first 100 percent recycled nylon face fabric to deliver the highest level of durable waterproof/breathable and windproof protection available."
- Bibs Weight: men's 20.6 oz / women's 19.9 oz (my women's medium also weigh 19.9 oz)
- Pants Weight: men's 19.3 oz / women's 17.5 oz
- Material: 100% recycled nylon ripstop Gore-Tex Pro fabric
Fit and Comfort
The PowSlayer bib and pants are very similar, with the bibs being more of a high-waisted pant with adjustable suspender straps. Do not expect them to come halfway up your chest like traditional bibs.
Overall, the PowSlayer Bibs are roomier and a tad longer than other medium-size ski pants I've worn, including ones from Patagonia. Patagonia calls it a "regular fit," but I'd call it a generous, oversized fit. That said, I've noticed other snowsport apparel in recent seasons having roomier fits as well.
- Inseam: 32 inches (women's medium)
Since the pants are roomy, they allow for plenty of layering for long, cold New England days. I can easily fit two baselayers underneath with room to spare. If I had the need I could fit a pair of fleece or insulated pants as well.
While the sizing gave me second thoughts initially, the extra room hasn't bothered me while skiing...with one notable exception. At 5'4" the 32-inch inseam is a tad long and occasionally gets in the way when I'm stepping into my bindings (see more in Construction and Durability). Taller skiers will appreciate the length though. I also end up with some extra fabric around my backside that can feel a little uh...dumpy. It doesn't impede my skiing though, which is what matters.
The men's and women's PowSlayer Bibs and Pants both comes in five sizes, XS to XL. If you're in between and don't want an oversized fit, consider sizing down. If it was an option I'd shrink my bibs down a half size.
The PowSlayer Bibs have a few options for adjustment:
Suspenders—The removable suspenders are a pretty standard setup, crisscrossing in back and able to be tightened in front. They are easy to unfasten from the pants via their metal hooks if needed.
Belt Loops— There are low-profile belt loops at the waist (two in front, one in back) so you can drop the suspenders when hiking uphill. I never use them.
Features and Functionality
For a minimalist design, the PowSlayer Bibs and Pants have a number of features specific to backcountry or frontcountry skiing and riding.
Pockets—The bibs have three zippered pockets: two on the thigh that easily fit a map, bars, ski strap, scraper, etc. The right one has an additional inner stretch pocket that fits a phone. Neither thigh pocket fits my climbing skins though. There's an additional smaller pocket at the right hip.
All of the coated zippers are water-resistant and are low profile to reduce bulk and weight. I haven't had any issue using them with gloves on, though occasionally I'd appreciate beefier pulls.
Drop Seat—The men's and women's bibs both have a drop-seat, along with a zip fly and single-snap closure. It's a simple process to unsnap and unzip to take care of your needs. The pants have a standard zip fly and double snaps.
Venting Zips—Each outer pant leg has a two-way, watertight slider side zipper for venting. They end around the knee. I measured mine at 22 inches long (women's medium). The side zips are simple to use and provide an excellent amount of venting quickly and easily.
RECCO reflector—A concealed RECCO reflector on the lower right leg makes you—well really your pants—searchable to rescuers in the event of an avalanche. (Wear an avalanche beacon if you're going into avalanche terrain.)
Gaiters—Like all snowsport pants, the bottom of the gaiters stretch around your ski boots and seal out snow. I've never had any snow sneak in.
Scuff Guards—The tough and durable scuff guards protect the inside of your leg and bottom hem (unless you clip the pants into your bindings, see below).
Attach—You can attach the bibs or pants to Patagonia jackets with powder skirts, like the PowSlayer Jacket for extra protection from snow.
Waterproofing and Weather Resistance
The PowSlayer could be called the Precipitation Slayer, but that wouldn't sound as cool. Waterproof performance is where the pants and jacket stand out the most for me. They're made from a three-layer, 40-denier nylon ripstop Gore-Tex Pro shell fabric with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish.
I've worn the Powslayer Bibs and Jacket, over a winter that included not a lot of pow but plenty of mixed snow, freezing rain, and other precipitation in Maine. And all of that wet stuff stayed on the outside where it belongs over hours of use. I've come to unquestioningly rely on this shell duo to keep me dry, regardless of what's falling from the sky.
With both the pants and jacket on, it feels like a fortress against the elements. The PowSlayer has performed superbly in all sorts of weather, and I haven't encountered any wetting out, despite spending hours in mixed precipitation.
Patagonia says the fabric includes "the first 100% recycled nylon face fabric to deliver the highest level of durable waterproof/breathable and windproof protection available." I appreciate Patagonia's use of recycled fabrics, especially in a technical garment. There's no discernible difference in the bibs' performance or looks, and I wouldn't know the fabric was recycled if I didn't read it in the description. It's not a silent fabric, but I don't notice it crinkling while I'm wearing it either.
Breathability, Comfort, and Stretch
Over hours of skiing, including in deeper snow in the trees which makes me work, I've never noticed internal moisture buildup inside the PowSlayer.
If temperatures rise on the slopes or you're skinning uphill, the two-way side zips allow for venting and breathability. Personally, if I'm doing something highly aerobic like skinning uphill and won't need complete waterproof protection I'm likely to use soft-shell pants instead (such as my Patagonia Super Guides). The PowSlayer's side zips work well for regulating temperature and moisture quickly and while on the move though.
They also remain comfortable and don't impede my movements whether on groomed trails, skinning, or in the trees. There's a stretch panel at the back of the bibs for movement. Plus, both the bibs and pants are designed with articulated patterning through the hips and knees for increased range of motion.
Skinning uphill with vents open; it was Retro Day, hence the sweater
Layering and Warmth
The PowSlayer Bibs are uninsulated, which is how I like my ski shells. Their roominess allows for lots of layering options. I've worn them on days from 0°F up to 40° F. On the coldest days I'll wear two heavyweight pairs of baselayer bottoms underneath with no restriction. Since they're high-waisted bibs, they also cover my top baselayers, Polartec fleece shirt, and POC back protector vest.
I initially wondered if these pants and jacket would be too big. It's nice to easily fit an extra layer on underneath on the coldest days and without any restriction.
If you run warm (I do not) and will primarily use these pants during highly aerobic outings, consider sizing down. If I have to pick between slightly too large or slightly too small, I'm going with slightly too large in this case.
Construction and Durability
The PowSlayer Bibs are well-constructed and durable. They're designed to be lightweight (men's 20.6 oz and women's 19.9 oz) and packable, which they are, but they aren't fragile. Despite not taking extra care with these bibs—they get shoved into a ski bag in between ski days—the only sign of wear comes from my own blunders.
While the longer length doesn't bother me while skiing (and is great for taller skiers), the bottom of the pants occasionally get caught when I step into my bindings. Hence there is fraying at the bottom of each pant leg. Technically this comes down to user error, as one is not supposed to click one's pants into one's ski bindings. Usually this does not happen, but it has on occasion without me noticing, which is a little embarrassing.
The scuff guards otherwise work and show no wear.
In addition to its 100-percent recycled face fabric, the PowSlayers are also Fair Trade Certified sewn, which means they were made according to rigorous social, environmental, and economic standards (you can learn more about Fair Trade certification).
Patagonia also has an excellent Worn Wear repair program to keep clothes in use longer. So if your clothing fails, bring it to them for repair. I've done this for several items at no charge through our local store in Freeport, Maine. Since the PowSlayer Bibs costs $599 at full price (pants are $549) and the jacket costs $699 that's nearly $1,300 (yowzers!) for a waterproof ski shell setup (without sales). At such a premium price, knowing a product will last and that the company will service it for its lifetime is essential. Patagonia backs its products.
In terms of the PowSlayer's long-term durability, sadly, the 2020 ski season was cancelled abruptly due to COVID-19, and I wasn't able to continue testing through the spring touring season as intended. I hope that changes for 2020-21 and will update on the bib and jacket's long-term use at that time. At this point though, after several months of regular ski use, I have no concerns about the quality and construction of the PowSlayer Bibs and plan to continue using them as my primary waterproof ski pants.
Patagonia's PowSlayer Bibs are a premium snowsport pant for when you need reliable weather-proof protection in a range of conditions, plus they're made from recycled materials. Whether it's powder (if you're so lucky) or freezing rain (if you happen to live in New England), the PowSlayer will protect you from all forms of water—wet snow, slushy snow, freezing rain, sleet. These pants have kept me warm and dry for months of skiing in the trees and on groomed trails, sitting on icy chairlifts, and hanging out in the snow. They've been an excellent option for the mixed winter precipitation we get in the Northeast.
The PowSlayer is well designed and constructed and has loads of features for skiers and riders. Sizing is roomy and you may want to size down, but the bibs are relatively light and not bulky and remain comfortable during long days of skiing. If you heat up the lengthy side zips provide venting.
The PowSlayer Bibs have earned a trusted spot as my primary ski pants for the coldest, snowiest, and wettest months. I plan to keep using them in the snow on our local hills and mountains next winter.
I ski primarily in Maine, though when travel and budget permit I occasionally go farther afield. I've worn hard and soft shells for backcountry, cross-country, and resort skiing for several decades. I also end up standing around in the cold and snow watching junior ski races a lot. With the abrupt cancellation of the 2020 ski season due to COVID-19/coronavirus, the spring skiing and touring season was a bust.
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps
(Sample for testing and review provided by Patagonia)
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