Expert Review: Marmot Women’s Lightray GORE-TEX Pants

Published on 04/18/2023 · 7 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the ski pants, which I purchased with my own money in February of 2023.
Kat Smith, Ski Expert
By Ski Expert Kat Smith

All photos courtesy of Kat Smith

About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the ski pants, which I purchased with my own money in February of 2023.

My take

The Marmot Women’s Lightray ski pants are a great versatile option for female skiers of all skill levels and ski styles. With GORE-TEX waterproofing, lightweight insulation, and breathability, these not-too-baggy pants perform well on cold, spring, and storm days and even while touring the backcountry.

About the pants

  • Brand: Marmot
  • Model: Women’s Lightray GORE-TEX Pants
  • Size Fit: True to size

About me

  • Height: 5’4”
  • Weight: 115lbs
  • Pant size: S/P
  • Experience: 32 years of skiing

Test conditions

  • When I bought these: February 2023
  • Days used: 5
  • Where I’ve used them: Utah backcountry, Snowbird
  • Weather conditions used in: Whiteout blizzard, sunny and cold, sunny and mild, cold and windy

How they perform

Comfort
5/5
Durability
5/5
Ease of Movement
5/5
Warmth
5/5
Waterproofing
5/5
Breathability
4/5

What I was looking for

I was looking for a new pair of ski pants because the inner cuffs of my old pair are torn into large, gaping holes and constantly get caught on my opposite foot boot buckles. I ski 30+ days per year, so durability was a top priority; I’m not trying to buy a new pair of ski pants every year. As someone who typically runs cold, I knew I needed a pair with insulation and excellent waterproofing. As an avid backcountry skier, I also knew that breathability and ventilation would be important features. So basically, I was looking for something versatile enough for all weather conditions that’s high-quality and durable.

Why I chose this gear

I chose the Marmot Women’s Lightray GORE-TEX Pants because they had all the key features I was looking for—a trusted brand known for high-quality products, insulation, GORE-TEX waterproofing, and ventilation. In addition to all the performance features I need to be comfortable on the slopes, these pants fit well and aren’t too bulky, which is something I struggle to find since I am fairly petite.

I looked into purchasing the Flylow Fae Insulated Pant. While they were really comfortable, and the amount of insulation seemed versatile enough to handle the various ski conditions and terrain, the fit wasn’t right—too long and bulky. While prioritizing performance over style, I also want to look good out there. Ultimately, I am more comfortable with my preferred fit.

What I love about it

  • Fit: I was looking for insulated ski pants that weren’t necessarily “slim fit” but also weren’t too baggy. I want mobility and warmth without looking like a dude out there. And being 5’4”, it’s hard to find ski pants that aren’t too long, and let’s be real, I’m not going to get my ski pants hemmed. These Marmot pants actually fit me well and are a great balance of not being too bulky but still providing the insulation I need to stay warm. The length is right, and the adjustable waistband ensures a comfortable fit at the waist.
  • Comfort: The key to knowing if a pair of ski pants is comfortable is not noticing that they are uncomfortable. Whether skinning uphill in blizzard conditions, cruising groomers on a cold but sunny day, or getting fresh tracks on a powder day, I’ve stayed dry and warm (but not too warm) and haven’t felt restricted at all.
  • Warmth: As someone who typically runs cold, insulated ski pants are a must. Waterproofing is important, too, since being wet equals being cold. So far, I’ve worn these pants on three days that tested their warmth (whiteout blizzard, cold and whipping winds, sunny and cold), and they performed great.
  • Waterproofing: I was out in the backcountry for about five hours in whiteout blizzard conditions, and my baselayer bottoms stayed dry as can be.
  • Breathability: I wore these ski pants for two big ski tours on warmer (about 30°) days. I was a little worried that I would be too warm on the ascent. However, I had the thigh vents open right from the beginning of the skin, and while I did sweat a little, I felt that the vents did their job, and overall, my body temperature stayed well-regulated.
  • Durability: I have used these ski pants in dense trees numerous times, and they have held up to getting hit by small branches and brush with no tears or damage. An issue I have had with ski pants in the past is that they get really torn up at the inner cuffs, and so far, there is no tearing or fraying at the cuff.
  • Weight: These pants feel nice and light, and I haven’t felt weighed down. Weight is not a feature I typically consider when purchasing ski pants. Whether skiing at the resort or skinning in the backcountry, I always wear my ski pants the entire time rather than carrying them in my pack like I would a jacket. That being said, unless the product is obviously very heavy and bulky, I don’t really notice the weight.
  • Ease of movement: I have not felt restricted in these ski pants. The material does not feel stiff, and I have the mobility I need.
  • Quality: The ski pants look and feel high quality and durable.
  • Special Features: The ski pants don’t have any features that I feel really stand out or set them apart, but they have all the essential features and are perfectly functional. The pockets are deep enough to hold an iPhone or an avalanche transceiver easily. The adjustable waistband ensures a comfortable fit. The reinforced cuffs have (so far) done their job and prevented tears and rips at the cuffs, a problem I’ve encountered in the past. These are all standard features on a pair of quality ski pants and are done well and contribute to the functionality of the Lightray pants.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Fit: For me, the fit of these pants is exactly what I was looking for. But for someone looking for something that’s more form fitting, these may be too baggy for them.
  • Any workarounds?: Overall, the ventilation (outer thigh zips) performs well when I dump heat. However, I would prefer if the vents had a netting rather than just zipping open. I found that I typically have the vents open while I am on a skin track, but then I don’t necessarily think to close them for the descent because, temperature-wise, I feel fine during my transition. This has led to a lot of snow getting inside my pants through my wide-open outer thigh vents. Netting would allow breathability while still having a barrier from snow getting inside.

Favorite moment with this gear

The first time I wore these ski pants, I was heading out for a big Sunday tour with my husband. A storm was rolling in, but it wasn’t supposed to start snowing until the afternoon, so we got an early start and figured we’d beat it out. But flurries started falling at about 9 a.m.; by 9:15 a.m., it was whiteout conditions. After skinning through fat, dense snowflakes and whipping winds for a couple of hours, we ultimately decided to abort our original plan and find a new route since avalanche conditions quickly deteriorated as the new snow accumulated and winds picked up. But the route we ended up skiing was incredible—face shots the whole way down. We didn’t see another soul out in the backcountry on the entire tour, a rare occurrence in the Wasatch these days. Feeling that solitude and freedom in the mountains made it an even more special day. And one of the best parts: These ski pants kept me both warm and dry during the skin, the transition, and the ski down.

Value for the money vs. other options

These ski pants are on the higher end of the price spectrum. While it is possible to find ski pants with similar insulation, waterproofing, and overall quality for a lower price, the fit made these pants worth it for me. I tried on numerous pairs of ski pants, including the Flylow Fae Insulated Pants, and found that they were bulky, baggy, and too long unless they were shell pants. As someone who runs cold, I didn’t want to sacrifice the insulation for a slim fit, but I wanted the fit of shell pants. While these Marmot pants certainly aren’t “slim fit,” the length is correct for me, and I don’t feel like I am swimming in them. For me, the right fit makes them worth the money.

Final verdict

These are versatile and have all the essential qualities expected of a high-quality pair of ski pants—GORE-TEX, insulation, ventilation, and features such as cuff and knee reinforcements, done correctly. So if someone is like me and skis in a variety of conditions, terrain, and weather, these pants get the job done.

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