Snoqualmie ski patroller Annet Soot holds her snowboard behind her head and smiles at the camera.
SKI & SNOW

An Expert Ski Patroller Reviewed Our Best Plus-Size Ski Clothes

We sent a selection of our best ski gear to Snoqualmie local Annet Soot to pick out her favorites
BY RACHEL CAVANAUGH
Annet Soot isn’t your typical weekend warrior when it comes to snow sports. The seasoned powder shredder and Summit at Snoqualmie ski patroller typically logs about 120 days a year on the mountain.

In addition to her rugged vocational duties, which include things like digging out chairlifts and towing heavy sleds through the snow, the 33-year-old snowboarder from Hyak, Washington, is constantly ripping tight turns through trees and devouring waist-deep powder as she makes her way around the hill, earning herself a reputation as a local badass.
Snoqualmie ski patroller Annet Soot stands in the snow in a black Columbia Sportswear jacket smiling at the camera. 
We sent a pile of ski gear to Snoqualmie ski patroller Annet Soot to test out on her local hill. Over the course of two months, she picked out her favorites. Above, she is wearing Columbia's Roaring Fork down jacket and Backslope III ski pants .
The vast amount of time that Soot spends on the mountain makes it extra important for her to have good gear. She can’t just pick up a random ski jacket, throw it over some thermal underwear, and call it a day. She needs high-quality performance gear that provides top-of-the-line warmth, breathability, and weather protection.

“I started working in the ski industry about 10 years ago. I worked in a terrain park for a while, and now I'm a ski patroller. Those are both very physical jobs where you're shoveling, you're digging, you’re putting up rope lines, carrying stuff, transporting patients in the toboggan. You need those technical aspects to your ski gear.”

Yet up until recently, that was difficult for her to find. Although at size 18 she is about the same size as the average American woman, she has struggled to find quality ski clothes that fit her. Most brands simply don’t make them in her size.

“Those technical qualities have been almost impossible to find in a plus-size jacket. And it’s always been so frustrating—why can't I have that? I sweat just as much as other people. Why can’t I have air vents? Why can’t I have bibs? It's been so vexing to see other people wearing the things I want and to know they exist, but they don't exist for me.”
“We should all be able to feel good about ourselves regardless of what our body looks like.”
Annet Soot, Ski Patroller
Soot, who has been bigger since middle school, says that as a kid she was able to simply wear adult sizes. But as she transitioned to her teen years, that began to change and shopping for ski gear became a constant battle.

“I was always asking, is this actually going to zip? Can I button the pants? Are they going to be long enough? And not only that, but how does it look? Do I look completely dorky? Am I going to be embarrassed wearing it? So many options were men’s jackets that were very obviously designed to be worn by a man, but I’d be like, ‘Well, at least I can zip them up.’”

A lot of people have a bias that bigger skiers aren’t as fit or in shape, she says, adding that the ski industry does little to change their attitude. Advertisements often feature thin, overly fit models, and rarely highlight skiers and snowboarders with larger bodies.

“That stereotype is so harmful because it gives you imposter syndrome,” she says. “I'm a professional ski patroller. I get paid to do this and sometimes I’m still like, ‘Should I really be here? None of my coworkers look like me.’

“I climb mountains and ski hard. I get into the trees, I pull toboggans—I'm doing the same stuff that your standard ski magazine cover model is doing. My body is just bigger.”

At times, she says, it can feel like the ski industry doesn’t think bigger people deserve to have nice gear.

“Companies need to realize that just because someone is in a bigger body doesn't necessarily mean they're skiing for the first time. They might be a top-notch ski instructor with immense experience. But they’re a size 22, so they can't find pants that fit them.

“If we want people to get out there, then it's important to show them that whether it's their first day on the mountain or they’ve been out there for 30 years, they deserve to have functional ski gear. We deserve to have the same features, to feel comfortable, to feel cute and attractive.

“We should all be able to feel good about ourselves regardless of what our body looks like.”
“I have found that Columbia ski pants fit right in more places than many of the other brands.”
Annet Soot, Ski Patroller
Soot’s long-time exasperation with ski gear is what brought her to Columbia Sportswear. As a brand, we’ve been making outdoor clothing in extended sizing for 15 years. Our founder, Gert Boyle, was a plus-size woman herself and size inclusion advocate. She even served as our first extended-size model.

Columbia began designing plus-size athletic wear before many other brands did and has long been considered an industry leader when it comes to plus-size ski gear. We also make extended-size sportswear for hiking, camping, fishing, and other outdoor activities. And over time, we’ve continued to learn how to better tailor the apparel to fit larger bodies.

“I have found that Columbia ski pants fit right in more places than many of the other brands,” Soot said. “Some brands are fine in the waist, but super tight on my calves. Others have sleeves that are too short, or they’re huge in the waist. Columbia is by far the best I’ve found for fit and size offerings.”

Given Soot’s enthusiasm for the brand, we decided to send her a collection of our favorite ski gear to test and give us her honest opinion.

Over an eight-week period, the Snoqualmie ski patroller tested more than a dozen items of ski gear in a variety of conditions, from sunny bluebird days to cold, stormy work shifts.

Here are her top seven choices, summed up in her own words.

The Best Plus-Size Ski Clothes

  1. Best plus-size ski jacket: Bird Mountain II
  2. Best plus-size ski pants: Highland Summit Bibs
  3. Best plus-size fleece for skiing: Women's Titan Pass 3.0
  4. Best plus-size baselayers for skiing: Women’s Omni-Heat Midweights
  5. Best winter boots for skiing: Women's Bugaboot Celsius Plus
  6. Best ski mittens: Women's Highland Summit™ Mittens
  7. Best ski hat: Titan Pass Helix™ Beanie
Snoqualmie ski patroller Annet Sootgrabs the hood of her pink and blue Columbia Sportswear jacket as she looks off camera smiling. 
In addition to its exceptional warmth, comfort, and breathability, Soot liked the style of the Women's Bird Mountain II, which she selected as her favorite plus-size ski jacket.
When I took it out of the packaging, I immediately noticed how it seems like a really warm jacket, but it's not overly bulky. You could wear a puffy coat underneath it without feeling like the Michelin Man. And I noticed the length—I could tell it wasn’t going to be a crop top. It's long enough that it comes down over my butt, so if I have to sit down or I’m on the chairlift, I don't feel like it’s riding up. And the sleeves are long enough, which can be a challenge for me sometimes.

The gold Omni-Heat™ Infinity liner inside is warm but also breathable. I wore this jacket on several days that were damp and cold. I didn't get overheated, but I didn't get chilly either. It was a perfect balance. And I love the fur hood. It’s super cute with the trim, and the pink and blue are my colors. [*It also comes in black, white, red, aqua, and beetroot options.] The colors are fun and exciting. I don't feel like it was designed for my grandma. I love this jacket because I feel girly and cute instead of looking like I'm going to work as a lift mechanic.

It has deep pockets with lots of room for my big phone and keys. I also love the convenient pass pocket, especially here where we have the RFID scanners. All you have to do is lift your arm and ski through the gate.

Best of all, the pink panels on the sides and across the back are stretchy, which is really cool. I have broad shoulders, which take up more of that fabric real estate, as well as a bigger chest, so I sometimes struggle to zip ski jackets up, especially if they’re stiffer shells. The stretchy paneling is accommodating to a variety of different body sizes, especially someone who’s bigger and curvy.

I have a very large butt, and lots of jackets are the right length in the front but I can't fit them over my hips. So it’s great to have something that’s not boxy and wide—that’s still form-fitting—but with room to expand.

Annet’s runner-up ski jacket: Women's Highland Summit
Snoqualmie ski patroller Annet Soot stands in front of a chairlift wearing a light blue Columbia Sportswear baselayer top with white ski bibs. 
Soot chose the Highland Summit Bibs as her favorite ski pants, noting that it’s often difficult to find ski bibs in plus sizes.
On two of the days that I wore these, wet snow was coming down. The first thing I noticed was that they stayed dry throughout the entire day. I didn’t get wet anywhere. I didn't get any moisture inside. They have the extra warm gold Infinity interior, but I didn't feel like I got too sweaty wearing them. So that really stood out to me. I know I can wear these and not get soaking wet, either from snow or sweat.

Another thing I really enjoyed was that in addition to keeping me dry, I felt cute in them. They looked good, especially when I paired them with the Bird Mountain jacket. They were form-fitting but not too tight. Everything zipped properly; I could breathe in them. The bib was easy to get on and off. There's a zipper on both sides. I also liked the number of pockets these have—and the big front pocket is another bonus.

I also really liked that they come up higher on the chest. I have another pair of bibs where the straps come over the top of the chest and it's awkward. These were high enough up where I didn't feel like I had straps in weird spots.

They were comfortable. I didn’t feel restricted at all. It was loose enough when I was riding that I had a full range of motion, and I was able to kneel down on the ground without feeling like anything was going to rip at the seams.

The cuffs at the bottom fit over my boots at the calf. They weren’t too tight. A lot of times, people with bigger calves can’t get cuffs to fit. I’ve had other ski pants where I couldn't even get it up mid-calf. But I didn't struggle with these.

And just the fact that they are bibs is amazing. Up until recently, you couldn't find a pair of ski bibs made for a plus-size woman. Men’s versions sometimes fit, but they’d be super narrow in the hips. And bibs are so helpful for my job because sometimes I'm on the ground, bending over, digging. I'm sitting on a chairlift, I'm getting wet, I'm getting cold. So that extra coverage is crucial.

Annet’s runner-up ski pants: Women's Backslope
Snoqualmie ski patroller Annet Soot stands near the base area holding a pair of skis and wearing a pink Columbia Sportswear fleece.
The Titan Pass fleece was Soot’s favorite midlayer. She liked how comfortably it fit and the fact that it is “cute enough to wear to après.”

3. Fleece: Women's Titan Pass

I immediately loved this fleece. I pulled it out of the box and before I even put it on, I knew it was going to be a favorite. I have a couple of other Columbia fleeces, which I love, but they are super warm, so I almost never wear them when I am working on the mountain unless it's a spring day and that's all I'm wearing. But this one is a very layerable piece. I can fit it under my patrol bibs without it being too bulky.

I love the length—it's long and it covers my butt. I can walk around in my baselayer leggings and not feel self-conscious. I love the pockets and the thumb holes on the sleeves, so they don't ride up or bunch underneath the jacket.

It's so versatile and the color is beautiful. I love that dusty pink color. [*It is also available in black and dark stone.] It’s cute enough to wear when I take my jacket off in the cafeteria, or if I’m grabbing a beer after work. I can wear it to après-ski and I don't feel like I'm wearing my dad's old fleece sweater. And I love that it’s a zip-up.

Between the triangles in the pattern, there’s this mesh-like paneling, which makes it feel breathable. And I don't feel constrained by it. The fit is loose enough and it's got that stretch, which makes it feel more giving.

It has two pockets on the side and a chest pocket, which is awesome too. On a warmer day, I could take the dog for a walk or take a lap on the mountain and wear just this. I could put my pass, phone, and keys in the pocket, and not have to wear any complicated gear.
Snoqualmie ski patroller Annet Soot stands near a ski lodge holding a pink thermos and wearing a blue Columbia Sportswear baselayer top.
Soot picked the Omni-Heat Midweights as her favorite baselayers because they wicked moisture while keeping her warm. The crew top fit perfectly, especially in the shoulders, and the tights didn’t keep sliding down.
I loved these Omni-Heat™ baselayers. I wore them on ski patrol two days when I was out on the mountain working, so I was sweating a lot. I spent most of those days charging around in thigh-deep snow, setting up rope lines. They were perfect because it was cold but also damp. I didn’t get cold from sweating, and I didn't feel like I got too hot. It was perfect. These wick moisture really well.

As I mentioned earlier, I have a big butt and big thighs, so a lot of the fabric on garments gets eaten up by those features. But both the top and the leggings fit me great. The leggings are long and they're high waisted, which is so hard to find when you're tall and you have a bigger lower body. And the fact that I could pull them up and they didn't ride down throughout the day was amazing. With some of the other baselayers that I've worn, they're constantly sliding down and I feel very uncomfortable. With these, I never had to take off my layers to reach in and pull up my pants.

The shirt was long enough to fit well. It didn't feel tight in the shoulders, arms, or chest. I tucked it into the pants so nothing would come up and it was great. Both garments also feel very nice and soft against the skin. They’re very comfortable. There's no itchiness, no discomfort. It almost felt like I wasn't wearing anything underneath. Yet I was still nice and warm.

One thing I would note is that they’re probably not warm enough to only wear with your ski jacket and pants. For that, I would try the Tunnel Springs top and wool bottoms, which I also tested and liked a lot. The Tunnel Springs set would be my preference if I planned to take my ski pants off on the way home to grab a coffee or something. But for a true baselayer that’s part of a three-layer system, these are perfect.

Annet’s runner-up baselayers: Women's Tunnel Springs Wool Top and Women's Tunnel Springs Wool Tights
A close-up shot of a pair of black Columbia Sportswear winter boots standing in the snow.
Soot wore the Bugaboot Celsius Plus winter boots around the lodge, parking lot, and other parts of the ski resort. On top of their incredible warmth and traction, she thought the sturdy boots offered great ankle support and a bulk-free style she can wear to restaurants and bars.
I'm a big fan of these boots. They’re perfect for walking around outside in deep snow or on slippery surfaces. You could even probably wear them snowshoeing. They're almost like a winter hiking boot.

They were very comfortable. I really liked that the tongue is not a stand-alone piece. It's connected to the boot so you don't get that separation between the boot and the tongue where the snow or moisture likes to get in, making you cold. And I really love that they have structure. They’re not soft boots where I might step weird and roll my ankle. There's a lot of support. I have bad ankles so that’s huge for me. That extra support feels amazing.

I wore them to take my dog for a walk and when I went out to grab my mail from the Chevron station. They’re great boots for getting around ski towns. They have great tread. They’re perfect for walking out through icy parking lots, or trudging through the snow to get back to your condo.

Where I live, there’s a scary parking lot right outside my door—it’s like the surface of the moon. It's not lit and it’s full of snowy potholes. It’s extremely slippery, so I need a winter boot where I can confidently walk through sketchy terrain or uneven ground in the dark and have faith I'm not going to fall. I trust their traction. When I had my 50-pound dog on a leash and he started pulling excitedly toward another dog, I kept my footing and I was able to stay upright. These are true snow boots.

They’re also very warm with the gold Infinity liners. My feet never got cold, and I stood in the snow for a while throwing the ball for my dog. They also didn’t get too hot. Some boots are super warm and my feet get too sweaty. That didn't really happen here. They're the right balance of insulation without being overwhelmingly hot.

If you take a ski trip—or even if you're just someone who lives in Minnesota and needs a pair of boots for walking around town where it’s minus 10—these are a great option. They're waterproof and heavy-duty, but they're not a huge bulky ordeal where you look overly bundled up. They're still pretty sleek. I wore them to the grocery store—no weird looks, I didn't feel like I was wearing something meant for an arctic expedition. I can wear them to the brewery, or a friend's house for dinner. They're very versatile.
A close-up shot of a pair of black Columbia Sportswear mittens. 
The Highland Summit™ Mittens were also on Soot’s list of favorites. She pointed to the  warm Omni-Heat™ Infinity liners that blocked out the cold, as well as their super soft feel inside. 
I'm a mittens person, so I’m not surprised these were my favorites. My hands get cold pretty easily, so they help keep the warmth in. These ones are really great because they’ve got the gold Omni-Heat™ Infinity liners inside. And they feel so soft. I actually made my friend put them on and feel inside—they’re just so cozy. I was like, “You have to touch these.”

These will be best on colder days, out skiing and riding chairlifts. If I wore them on patrol, they might get too hot. But they're perfect for those frigid days. I went to Big Sky last year and it was really cold—they would have been great for that. And I ski in Vermont sometimes, where it's regularly 5° with the wind. These would work great there. For days that aren’t quite as cold, I’d recommend the Peak Pursuit gloves. You won’t build up as much heat with your fingers separated, and you have access to your fingers.

One other thing I liked about these was the wrist straps. I’m like a kid when it comes to losing gloves. I drop them off the chairlift more than I’d like to admit, so the straps are key. So I love that feature.

Annet’s runner-up ski gloves: Peak Pursuit gloves
Snoqualmie ski patroller Annet Soot wears a blue Columbia Sportswear hat as she adjusts her jacket zipper and looks up smiling.
Soot’s final pick was the Titan Pass Helix™ Beanie which keeps your head warm while bing slim enough to fit under a ski helmet.
Most of the beanies I wear on the mountain are wool or something thicker. This hat is very lightweight. I’d never really thought about buying something like this, but I love it. It keeps my head warm. It keeps the snow out of my hair. But I'm not sweating excessively while I’m wearing it. I barely noticed it was even there.

Another place where I think it will come in handy is underneath a helmet. I normally rock a ball cap under the helmet, but on a colder day or one where I have to wear goggles, that's going to be really nice. I hate wearing a regular beanie under a helmet because it's so bulky and it kind of looks stupid. This will be a much better option. It gives you that extra warm layer between the head and the helmet, but doesn't create a lot of volume.

It was just the right temperature too. Some hats get really hot after a while and make you feel uncomfortable—you're constantly adjusting it to let your forehead breathe or adjust your hair. This one wasn't like that. It has breathability.

I was traipsing through the woods in deep snow, and I definitely worked up the sweat, but I didn't feel too hot. And then when I was transitioning to go back downhill, it wasn’t sopping wet on top of my head. It had stayed dry, even as I sweat profusely. It is another great layering piece.
Ready to hit the slopes? Check out our plus-size ski clothes and big and tall ski clothes.