Holden Sierra Bib
Test Locations: Taos Ski Valley & Ski Santa Fe, NM; Burke Mountain, VT; Cannon Mountain, NH; Sun Valley, ID
Days Tested: 7
Reviewer: 5’8”, 125 lbs
Size Tested: Medium
Blister’s Measured Weight (size Medium): 770 grams / 1.7 lbs
Measured Inseam Length (size Medium): 81.5 cm / 32 inches
- Main Fabric: 2-layer waterproof / breathable w/ 100% nylon Taslan face fabric, mesh & nylon woven lining, & PFC-free DWR finish (175 g/m2)
- Cuff Reinforcements: Cordura® nylon
- Side entry and drop seat
- Adjustable elastic suspenders
- Stretch mesh back panel
- YKK® AquaGuard® water repellent zippers at hand and thigh pockets
- Cordura® kick panels at bottom legs
- Out-seam leg venting
- Adjustable waist with velcro tabs
- Gripper elastic
- boot hook on leg gaiters
- 1 bib pocket (zippered)
- 3 hand pockets (zippered)
Almost every ski apparel company now makes women’s bibs and for good reason — they’re great for protecting against the elements, and if designed well, they look and feel good. But designing a good pair of bibs is no small feat, especially when you factor in a women’s physique that can range from straight and narrow to hourglass.
Holden’s Sierra Bib is their take on a technical women’s ski / snowboard bib, and if you’re not familiar with Holden, here’s how they describe their approach to making apparel:
“Holden makes stylish performance outerwear for the unconventional adventure. Designed with an elevated, urban aesthetic, our focus is to redefine the natural order of outerwear. We create iconic and versatile pieces of unrivaled quality — for life on and beyond the mountains.”
Few of the technical bibs out there have what I’d call an “urban aesthetic,” so I was curious to see how the Sierra Bibs compare to the more traditional competition. Now having spent some time in the Sierra Bibs all across the US, I can say they made a unique and functional bib that also receives compliments on and off the mountain.
I am 5’8”, 125 lbs and tested a size Medium Sierra Bib. I have long legs and given my overall length, the Medium was an ideal fit for my frame. I think a size Small would have been too short, causing the cuff to ride high on my boots, since the Medium’s cuffs hit right at the top of the shoe / clog of my ski boots with the bib’s suspenders almost fully extended. Generally speaking, bibs and overalls always make for a bit more complex fit for me. I’ve always found that I have to adjust them differently for standing and sitting and the Sierra Bibs are no exception. When sitting in the lodge or car, I preferred the suspenders fully extended but when skiing or touring, I preferred to shorten the bibs. If I left the bibs fully extended when skiing or touring, the crotch hung too low.
The Sierra’s overall fit is best described as “athletic” but the pants portion of the bibs is best described as “straight leg.” By this I mean there’s no taper from the hips to the cuffs. The legs are wide enough that they easily fit over my ski boots but not so wide that they look or feel dumpy. The Sierra Bib is not as form fitting as the Strafe Scarlett Bib but I think the Sierra does have a flattering cut nonetheless. Unlike the Scarlett Bibs, the Sierra Bibs can easily accommodate a number of layers underneath without looking or feeling bulky because of the looser fit. When skiing, walking, or just buckling my boots, the Sierra Bibs allowed a free range of motion given its moderate fit and slightly stretchy fabric.
The Sierra’s waist features internal velcro tabs connected by elastic, which allow it to be cinched in for a slimmer, more contoured appearance. While the velcro tabs are fairly wide and are secured around the hip area, I never noticed them until I started examining the bibs for this review (a good thing, in my mind). Hidden along the lower back / waist / hip area, the fabric is loose enough that it never rubbed against me. Once discovered, I tried using them to cinch in the waist, but when tightened, they create a dimpled look on the lower back. I opted to leave them alone instead, but it’s a nice option to be able to adjust the waist by 1-2 inches if you have a curvy frame or want to reduce any gap between you and the material. There are belt loops that can also be used to tweak the fit but since they’re bibs, I was fine with a loose waist because I didn’t need to worry about the pants falling down.
The hip area of the size Medium Sierra Bib is a bit wide for me but my body type is fairly straight and narrow. For reference, I have a 28” / 71 cm waist and my hips measure 32” / 81 cm. When paired with a ski jacket of any length, the extra width in the waist is not noticeable. If you’re someone who finds they need extra room in the hips, these bibs might work better for you than the more fitted Strafe Scarlett Bibs.
With three hand pockets and one chest pocket on the bib portion, there are some good options for storing items. The chest pocket is substantially smaller than that of the Scarlett and Patagonia SnowDrifter Bibs as it doesn’t use the majority of the bib like the other two. I’m still able to fit my cell (iPhone 7S) into the pocket but it will only fit horizontally. The three other pockets are all handwarmer-style pockets. On the right side, there are two pockets with parallel zippers and there is one pocket on the left.
I found the side-by-side pockets to be a bit confusing as I was never sure which pocket I was reaching for and where my items were located. With more time, I’m sure I would have come to like this design as I always loop my pass through my belt loop and then stick it in the right-side hand pocket. Having two pockets on that side means I would not have to decommission the whole side for fear of losing the pass.
Like the Strafe Scarlett and Patagonia SnowDrifter Bibs, the Sierra Bibs have super long vents. The tendency to design bibs with large vents might be one of the best reasons to ditch traditional ski pants. Because the side zippers tend to double as entry and exit into the bibs, the vents on bibs tend to be extra long. With vents on the outside of each leg of the Sierra Bib, it’s easy to cool off quickly.
The right leg vent, which doubles as the drop seat, has a long double zipper so it can be unzipped as much as you want. The zipper is 14 inches / 35.6 cm long before it starts curving around the backside for the drop seat. The left side vent is also how you get in and out of the bibs and also features a double-sided zipper. The left vent is 25.5 inches / 64.8 cm long — so plenty of ventilation. The pulls on the zipper are all rather small and as a result, can be frustrating to operate especially with gloved hands — I’d like to see slightly longer zipper pulls for people with bulky gloves / mitts.
This is the first pair of bibs I’ve tested with a traditional drop seat. When I started testing bibs, I thought all of them had drop seats, but as it turns out, there are other designs that function equally well. The Scarlett bibs halter design makes the bibs function more like pants as all I needed to do was lift the halter over my head and unzip the side and pull the pants down. The Patagonia SnowDrifter bibs use the side zippers / vents instead of a dedicated drop seat. When both sides are unsnapped and unzipped, it’s easy to tuck the fabric between one’s legs for use in the bathroom.
The Sierra Bib, like the SnowDrifter Bib, also uses zippers that are multi-functional (see the vents section above) but the right-side zipper curves around the rear to make it a more dedicated drop seat. Between the narrow zipper, small zipper pulls, and fabric covering the zipper, I found the Sierra’s drop seat difficult (but not impossible) to use. If I was more flexible or more patient, I would have had an easier time of it, but those are two things I generally lack.
The Sierra’s cuffs are wide enough to comfortably go over any of my ski boots and I was able to unbuckle them easily without my pant legs riding up or catching on the buckles. They also have Cordura® kick panels at the bottom to protect them from scuffs. I generally don’t have issues with scuffing but the Sierra’s Cordura® fabric is fairly beefy and should protect from all but the worst scuff offenders. The elastic and gripper cuff on the bottom of the internal gaiters have a boot hook to keep snow out when wearing narrower-cuffed boots. When paired with snow boots or hiking shoes, the boot hook helps to keep the gaiters and pant legs in place — great for keeping out drafts and snow. With ski boots, the hook isn’t needed but I also found it didn’t get in the way.
The Sierra’s suspenders have a guide attached to them to keep them crossed in the middle of the back. The guide never seemed to work great as it always bunched a little so I opted to cut it off. I don’t recommend doing this as, now without the guide, the straps cross at the bottom (up against the lower back) and it still bunches. Someone with wider shoulders or a larger bust probably won’t have this issue but for me, it was a little annoying.
Materials & Performance
The waterproof, 2-layer nylon Taslan fabric of the Sierra Bib doesn’t have as soft of a hand feel as the Scarlett Bibs or Strafe Wildcat Pants, though it also has more of a matte finish and durable feel. Holden states the fabric is waterproof (rated at 20K/20K) and having skied through (and sat through on a chairlift) several snow guns on a recent trip to New Hampshire that were spewing water, not snow, I can vouch for their waterproofing. The “snow” was so wet, I needed goggle wipers every other turn. Each run my clothes would be covered in water droplets and then I’d get on the lift and everything would freeze (including myself to the chairlift). At the end of the day, both the face fabric and interior of the pants were still completely dry. Pretty impressive, in my mind.
The Sierra Bibs are slightly thicker than 3-layer shells like the Scarlett Bib and the Flylow Donna Pant. The potential upside (or downside, depending on your priorities) to the Sierra’s 2-layer fabric is that I consider the Sierra Bibs to be slightly insulated. The exterior and interior portion of the lower back has a double layer of stretchy, mesh-like fabric. This same fabric lines the interior of the knees and the back of the legs from the waist down to the gaiters. The mesh-like fabric adds a little bit of warmth and provides some extra starch. The rear / butt area is lined with a soft microfleece and the front of the legs is lined with a thin nylon woven fabric that helps make the pants a little more windproof in my mind, and helps it slide easily over layers. As a result of this extra interior paneling, the Sierra bibs offer more warmth and slightly better mobility vs. 3-layer shells like the Scarlett Bibs & Donna Pants, but I also found the Sierra to be less breathable than the Scarlett Bibs and Donna Pants. While I love the Sierra for use in the resort, I’d lean more toward a lighter, more breathable 3-layer shell like the Scarlett & Donna for backcountry touring. And if all this talk about 2-layer vs. 3-layer waterproof fabrics has you confused, we’d highly recommend checking out our Outerwear 101 article.
Having only spent a handful of days in the Sierra Bibs, I can’t yet so much about long-term durability. With that said, the face fabric feels pretty burly and the Cordura® cuffs feel like they’ll do their job well. As I continue to wear the bibs, if I notice any issues with durability, I’ll be sure to update this section.
Who’s It For?
Women looking for a bib with a less tailored look and who want a slightly warmer option than the thin, 3-layer bibs out there. The matte-finish fabric, dark colorways, and minimal accent colors all create a clean aesthetic that will help you stand out at the bar while also blending in on the slopes. The Sierra Bibs don’t have a lot of bells and whistles and the look is simple, but I think it makes for a flattering piece and it’s proven to be fully waterproof in my experience. Those looking for lightweight, breathable bibs should check out the Patagonia SnowDrifter & Strafe Scarlett, but for resort skiing and snowboarding, the Sierra performs quite well.
If you’ve been searching for a bib with a moderate athletic fit that looks good on and off the hill, then the Holden Sierra Bibs might be for you. They’re comfortable, offer a bit more warmth than 3-layer shells, have most of the features I could want in a bib, are fully waterproof, and they look great.