Sliding on snow provides endless amounts of joy, but also poses some big questions for participants—like skiing or snowboarding? Icon or Epic pass? Gloves or mittens? Chicken nuggets or chicken tenders from the cafeteria? Another big decision facing skiers and boarders is whether to wear snow pants or bibs. While snow pants have been a mainstay on everything from New England’s major mountains to small ski hills for years, bibs provide a number of performance advantages over old-fashioned ski pants and are sure to make a bib-liever out of even the biggest skeptic.

What are Bibs?

Bibs—or salopettes if we want to sound fancy or impress the Québécois in the skin track—are essentially a decked-out pair of wintry overalls. The two main differences from snow pants are that the bibs extend past the waist to the chest area and that they rely on shoulder straps, rather than a waistband, to stay up.

The Advantage of Bibs

Bibs provide four major advantages over ski pants: protection, warmth, storage, and fit. There is also one big feature to look for when shopping for them.

Better Protection from the Elements

Perhaps the biggest benefit bibs offer is better protection from the elements. Because bibs rise to chest level, they eliminate the mid-section gaps that commonly plague so many pant/jacket combos. As anyone who has ever had snow blasted up their jacket or down their pants can attest, it’s an unpleasant experience best avoided if possible. Bibs keep snow from getting inside waterproof layers.

Bibs work great with all types of jackets and eliminate the need for them to have bulky and uncomfortable powder skirts. Bibs also work well for a wide variety of skiers and riders—whether they’re a beginner struggling to stay upright on the bunny hill, a powder hound chasing the deepest days, or a backcountry skier wading up an untracked line.

Provide More Warmth

Bibs keep snow from getting past the defenses of outerwear and stop it from soaking baselayers, which alone is enough to deliver a significant warmth advantage. The extra material along a skier’s or rider’s stomach and back also goes a long way to keeping cold air out and warm air in. It also provides an extra layer of insulation—especially with lined and filled bibs—something that those who run cold or recreate on the hill no matter the temperature will certainly appreciate.

Expanded Storage Options

Many designers take advantage of the extra space covered by bibs to add extra pockets. A chest pocket—like the one found on the EMS Expedition Insulated Bib Pants—is a common feature of the best bibs and once skiers and riders get accustomed to having one, they’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

Since the chest pocket is under another layer, it provides a sense of extra security—it’s dry and safe—making it an ideal place to stash important stuff like your keys and wallet. It also helps keep easily damaged items like your phone out of harm’s way in the event of a crash. Because the chest pocket is buried between a jacket and your body, it’s also warmer than other pockets, which makes it great for preventing the cold from draining a phone’s battery or freezing a mid-mountain snack.

Better, More Comfortable Fit

Bibs offer a better range of motion and more adjustability than pants. Because they lack a waistband, they seem to move better with the twisting and turning motions of skiing and snowboarding. The lack of a waistband also means saying sayonara to the bulky—and sometimes pressure-causing—layer that forms around midsections courtesy of the waistbands of multiple layers.

Bibs and the Bathroom Break

The most notable downside of bibs is they can turn going to the bathroom into the biggest adventure of the day—think the panicked removal of layers while stuffed into a too-small stall or behind a tree. Luckily, well-designed models avert these unfortunate incidences with smartly placed features. Men will want to look for a pair of bibs with appropriately placed zippers (bonus points for being glove-friendly), and bibs with drop seats make life infinitely easier for women.

With improved protection from the elements, more storage, better fit, and a great option from EMS, there’s no better time to become a bib-liever. Grab yourself a pair, send your old pants packing, and prepare for your best ski/board season yet.