It's in the Jeans

The virtues in skiing in denim.

These days, one would be hard-pressed to find a skier who isn’t wrapped in Gore-Tex like a shiny present on Christmas morning. Vivid hues dot the otherwise pristine landscape like multicolored bulbs strung up on a fir tree. Yet every so often, you’ll catch a glimpse of a humble, wise soul staying true to the most time-tested outdoor apparel—good old-fashioned blue denim. 

That’s right, you heard it here first: skiing in jeans is (back) in. Jeans are inseparable from the history of Montana. Miners, cowboys, lumberjacks, and railroad workers alike have appreciated the durable, riveted construction for as long as these jobs have been around. Suitable for the harshest of work environments, from sweltering hot days on the prairie to the damp dreary depths of a gold mine, jeans have a strong testament for use as an outdoor garment. 

So dispose of thy lowly opinions toward wearers of worn woven cotton. Once a dead giveaway of skiers hailing from the Lone Star state (who, at long last, have succumbed to the Gore-Tex revolution), jeans have regained their status as the attire of choice for skiers who don’t give a f*%# what you think. But for now, let’s set aside social stigmas and dive into what actually makes denim such a desirable fabric for snow sports.

skiing, jeans, denim 

The coarse weave of denim yields the same sought-after qualities of “technical” materials. As you work up a sweat from bashing moguls or huffing and puffing on a steep bootpack, thick strands of cotton naturally wick moisture away from your skin. The inherently porous structure of denim’s weave allows water vapor to pass through the fabric and evaporate into the dry mountain air. This robust weave also makes denim incredibly durable. Whereas an errant tree branch tears Gore-Tex and similar materials like an overstuffed grocery bag, denim brushes off abrasion like a true dyed-in-the-wool Montanan. Even if you do max out the send-o-meter and rip a hole in your jeans, denim is easy to repair with a needle and thread. Better yet, embrace the edgier look as plastic-wrapped fledglings cower in your wake.

Denim not only exceeds technical garments in quality, it’s also more sustainable—for both the environment and your wallet. Nylon and polyester—the primary constituents of technical fabrics—are derivatives of petroleum, and the “waterproof” coating on these materials is known to contain toxic PFCs that wash into our streams with the spring runoff. Denim, on the other hand, consists of 100% natural cotton, grown from the earth and fed by the sun. So you’re really choosing between oil and solar here. On top of that, jeans cost on average one-tenth the price of Gore-Tex snow pants. Hell, if you want to splurge on some fancy fitted sparkly bedazzled yarn-embroidered designer trousers, we’re not here to judge, and you’ll still be saving money.

Above all else, jeans are downright sexy. Rock stars, wranglers, and supermodels all agree on this fact. With so many different styles to choose from, you can tailor a custom look to exude whatever fashion statement you want—punk rock, skater, ranch hand, goth, disco—the loom is your oyster. Let’s face it: we all want to look good out there; why else would we risk life and limb in attempt to impress a mate? Isn’t that why we go skiing in the first place? Or is it because we’re young at heart, fun-loving, and don’t give a hoot that the activity serves no productive purpose? Either way, skiing in jeans embodies the fundamental values of the sport. If you’re still wearing Gore-Tex this season, we won’t poke fun, but don’t be surprised as heads turn back toward the roots of badass American fashion.