Women's gear, up first
Strafe solved the biggest problem with ski bibs for women: an easy way to answer nature's call
Ski bibs are brilliant, unless you’re a woman. The problem is peeing. The same coverall design that prevents snow from sneaking into your pants also makes it hard to drop your drawers. That forces many gals to choose pants over bibs, despite their advantage in deep powder.
A number of companies have recently put lots of brainpower into making better women’s ski bibs. Some of the best attempts include the Flylow Foxy Bib ($390) and the Helly Hansen Kvitegga Bib Shell Pant ($350). Both feature an extra-long side zipper that, when opened, lets you pull the fabric to the side for a bio-break. I haven’t worn the Foxy, but I have tested the Kvitegga, and it’s a very good bib. The fabric is tough but supple in cold temperatures, the fit is good, it’s breathable enough for backcountry tours—and it makes exposing your bum relatively fuss-free and effective.
Then I tried the Strafe Scarlett Bib Pant ($469), which hit the market this winter. Hands down, it’s the best bib I’ve found.
The Scarlett’s key difference is the halter-style straps. Other bibs use suspender straps that connect the front and back panels. But the Scarlett ditches this convention. There’s just one strap on the front that loops around your neck. After removing that, all you need to do to open up the back is undo the side zipper and yank down the seat. It’s as fast and easy as a standard pair of pants. No need to take off your jacket or midlayers. And zipping everything back in place is just as speedy.
That uncomplicated functionality feels like a game-changer. Especially since, in all other ways, these are great pants. The fit is trim and attractive—a feat that most bibs definitely don’t achieve—and the eVent shell fabric is terrifically breathable. It’s not as heat-trapping as many hard shells, but after some tours where I didn’t dress warm enough, I learned to layer accordingly.
I worried that the wide neck strap might get uncomfortable after a few hour, but I haven’t noticed any rubbing or chafing. My only complaint is with the thigh pockets. Anything you store in them robs from the thigh room, so I find it uncomfortable to carry bulky things there.
The bigger win is having a bib that doesn’t impose lots of wardrobe hassles. In that, the Scarlett hits a home run.