Expert Comparison: The North Face Men's Freedom Bib Pants vs 686 Men's SMARTY 3-in-1 Cargo Bib Pants

Published on 02/11/2024 · 4 min readCompare The North Face Men's Freedom Bib Pants and 686 Men's SMARTY 3-in-1 Cargo Bib Pants. Get expert insight below!
Craig Piefer, Ski Expert
Michele J., Snowboarding Expert
Chris D., Ski Expert
Contributed By Ski Expert Craig Piefer, Michele J., Chris D., Zach Hargreaves, Nelson A and others

VS

 

Side by side comparison

The North Face Men's Freedom Bib Pants
686 Men's SMARTY 3-in-1 Cargo Bib Pants
Price
from:$187.50
25% off
from:$202.97
30% off
Color options
+ 2
+ 1
User rating
4.5(2)
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The Curated Take

Best for skiers and snowboarders needing durable, waterproof, and windproof bibs for multiple seasons.

Best for all-season skiers needing durable, versatile and waterproof pants.

Features
Waterproof, Breathable, Seam-sealed, Zippered pocket
Waterproof, Windproof, Belt loop
Insulation type
None
None

In the world of winter sports, the right gear can make or break your experience. Today, we're comparing two heavyweights in the bib pants category: The North Face Men's Freedom Bib Pants and the 686 Men's SMARTY 3-in-1 Cargo Bib Pants. Both are excellent choices, but they cater to different needs and preferences. The North Face Freedom Bibs are a durable, affordable option with a basic shell design, perfect for those who hit the slopes a few times a year. On the other hand, the 686 SMARTY 3-in-1 Cargo Bibs are a versatile, all-season choice with a removable fleece liner, ideal for hardcore skiers and snowboarders. While both are waterproof and breathable, the 686 bibs offer a higher level of waterproofing. The North Face bibs are more affordable, but the 686 bibs offer more features and versatility. Ultimately, the choice depends on your specific needs, preferences, and budget.

The North Face Men's Freedom Bib Pants are a solid choice for those who enjoy winter sports but don't necessarily live on the slopes. These entry-level bibs are designed for people who ski or snowboard 5 to 10 days a year, but they've proven their durability even under more frequent use. They're 100% windproof and waterproof, making them suitable for any weather conditions with the right layering.

The Freedom Bibs come in short, regular, and long lengths in each size, ensuring a perfect fit for everyone. They've been praised for their durability, which goes beyond their price point, with no issues with seams, waterproofing, or tears even after a long ski season.

However, they're not without their drawbacks. The lack of a two-way zipper up front can be frustrating, especially for those who prefer to skip the lodge for a quick bathroom break. The shoulder straps also require constant adjusting, and some pockets have Velcro closures, which may not be to everyone's liking.

The durability of these bibs goes way beyond the price point. North Face makes a short, regular and long in each size to get the perfect fit. The bibs are 100% wind proof, so correct layering allows you to wear these in any weather.

Craig Piefer
Ski Expert

The 686 Men's SMARTY 3-in-1 Cargo Bib Pants are a versatile and durable option for those who live for the slopes. These bibs are designed for all-season skiing, with a removable stretch fleece liner that provides extra warmth on cold days. The shell is made with 20K waterproof fabric, ensuring you stay dry in any conditions.

These bibs are packed with features, including external waist adjusters, anti-abrasion coated kick panels, fully taped seams, and multiple pockets. They're designed to withstand abuse and last for multiple seasons.

The 3-in-1 design is a standout feature, allowing you to adjust your gear to the weather conditions. The stretch fleece liner can be removed on warmer days or worn as sweatpants during après activities. However, if you're not a fan of the cargo look, these might not be the bibs for you.

Backed by impressive 20K/20K waterproof breathability, these storm-ready bibs feature a removable stretch-poly fleece pant midlayer that can be worn like sweatpants during après activities. Now that's smart.

Michele J.
Snowboarding Expert

Similarities

Both The North Face Men's Freedom Bib Pants and the 686 Men's SMARTY 3-in-1 Cargo Bib Pants are designed with the needs of skiers and snowboarders in mind. They're both waterproof and breathable, ensuring you stay dry and comfortable on the slopes. Both bibs also offer a range of sizes for a perfect fit and have adjustable features like waist adjusters or shoulder straps. Durability is a key focus for both brands, with reinforced seams and kick panels to withstand the rigors of winter sports.

Differences and Who They're Good For

While both products are excellent choices, they cater to different personas. The North Face Freedom Bibs are a more affordable, basic shell option, ideal for casual skiers or snowboarders who hit the slopes a few times a year. They're durable and reliable, but they lack some of the extra features found in more premium models.

On the other hand, the 686 SMARTY 3-in-1 Cargo Bibs are designed for the hardcore winter sports enthusiast. They offer a higher level of waterproofing and come with a removable fleece liner for added warmth. These bibs are packed with features and offer more versatility, making them suitable for all-season use. However, they come with a higher price tag.

Analysis on Who’s the Winner

When it comes to durability, both products hold up well, but the 686 SMARTY 3-in-1 Cargo Bibs have a slight edge due to their reinforced seams and kick panels. In terms of versatility, the 686 bibs are the clear winner with their 3-in-1 design and higher waterproof rating. For affordability, The North Face Freedom Bibs take the cake, offering great value for their price. As for fit and comfort, it's a tie, as both products offer a range of sizes and adjustable features for a perfect fit.

Conclusions

In conclusion, both The North Face Men's Freedom Bib Pants and the 686 Men's SMARTY 3-in-1 Cargo Bib Pants are excellent choices, but they cater to different needs and preferences. If you're a casual skier or snowboarder looking for a durable, affordable option, the Freedom Bibs are a great choice. But if you're a hardcore winter sports enthusiast who needs a versatile, all-season bib with extra features, the 686 SMARTY 3-in-1 Cargo Bibs are worth the investment. Ultimately, the choice depends on your specific needs, preferences, and budget. Happy skiing!

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