Critically Taped v Fully Taped Waterproof Seams - Snowboard/Ski Pants
Sealing the Seams on Snowboard or Ski Pants
Snowboard and ski pants require different pieces of cloth to be sewn together during the manufacturing process. Sewing needles leave hundreds of tiny pin prick holes in each seam. Your pants may use the most waterproof fabric known to man but you will still get soaking wet if the seams or joints between each piece of fabric are not properly sealed. Look for pants with either fully taped seams or critically taped seams.
Fully Taped Seams
Snowboard or ski pants with fully taped seams are the most waterproof. Waterproof tape is glued and / or heat bonded to each seam – almost welding the tape to the fabric, completely covering all of the holes left by the sewing needle, making your pants completely water tight and at least as waterproof as the fabric itself! Taping is an expensive procedure so only high end snowboard and ski pants tend to come with fully taped seams. We highly recommend fully taped seems as the best for snowboarding and skiing – especially if you are go out in all weathers, stay out all day or head into the backcountry.
Critically Taped Seams
Exactly the same as fully taped seams, except only the most important or ‘critical’ seams are taped. Typically a manufacturer will only tape the seams most prone to water ingression. Critically taped seams are perfectly adequate for most skiers’ and snowboarder’s needs.
Please, always try to make sure any snowboard or ski pants you buy have at least critically taped seams. Some cheap pants have no seam sealing at all. It is not always easy to tell because the seams are sealed on the inside, not the outside, and the insides of many pants are lined or insulated – making it impossible to do a visual check. You will therefore need to choose a reputable brand and buy from a specialist retailer. Check the labels and tags, the product descriptions on websites and ask the sales assistant in store. It will be too late if you end up soaking wet on the mountain!
This photo shows fully taped seams. You can see the outline of the stitched seam underneath the tape, which has been tightly bonded to the fabric, creating a completely waterproof seal.