The Best Ski Jackets of 2021-2022

2021-2022, best, jackets, outdoor, ski, the - 32 minutes to read


Whether you’re skiing or snowboarding in sunny or stormy conditions, here are our top picks for the longest-lasting, protective, and comfortable jackets to keep you outside longer.

Whether at a ski area or out of bounds, you’ll need to be protected from a sphere of elements including beaming sunshine, bitter wind, wet snowflakes, and slashing hail. Finding the best ski jacket will keep you warm, dry, and on the mountain longer.

To help you find the best fit, we created this guide with our favorite jackets for skiing and snowboarding. These top picks suit all types of riders and skiers whether you’re ripping down corduroy at the resort or adventuring off-piste.

If you’d like to learn more about ski and snowboard jackets, scroll through our buyer’s guide and FAQ at the bottom of the page or jump to a category below:

The Best Ski Jackets of 2021-2022

Best Overall: Arc’teryx Sabre AR & Sentinel AR

Arc’teryx delivers these tough, flexible shell jackets for tackling big mountain ski and snowboard lines at the resort or in the backcountry: the Arc’teryx Sabre AR for men and the Arc’teryx Sentinel AR Jacket for women (both $675).

Both designs feature a durable yet buttery 70-denier nylon face fabric, so we don’t need to worry about exploring the glades or playing fetch with an excited pooch at the base. From blustery conditions to blower powder, the three-layer GORE-TEX fabric is waterproof, breathable, and blocks wind well.

And the seams are fully sealed to bar moisture. If you build heat on deep-snow laps, the underarm vents are a lifesaver, and the powder skirt helps keep base layers dry.

A soft flannel backer provides a bit of warmth for cooler days on the chair lift. The hood fits over a helmet. Both jackets feature two external hand pockets, one small sleeve pocket, an internal mesh pocket, and one internal pocket with a zip closure.

If you’re looking for a comfortable shell that stands season after season and manages variable conditions from spring sunshine to storms, this is a great choice.

Specs:

Fit: Relaxed
Insulation: Flannel backer
Shell: 3-layer
Waterproof rating (mm): 28,000
Breathability (g): 20,000
Weight: 590 g (women’s size S); 700 g (men’s size M)

Pros:

Lightweight jacket
Enough room to layer up a fleece or micro puff jacket beneath the shell
Extremely durable and well-made
Slightly longer fabric in the back for extra protection

Cons:

Women’s sizing is not ideal for petite skiers and snowboarders
The color selection could use more bright options for backcountry visibility
Expensive

Check Men’s Price at REICheck Women’s Price at evo

Best Budget: Picture Organic Stone & Haakon Jackets

Picture produced these two hardshells with sustainability at the forefront. The polyester face fabrics of the Organic Stone Jacket for men ($300) and Picture Organic Haakon Jacket for women ($350) are made with biosourced fibers, which are sourced from sugarcane byproducts.

The Organic Stone Jacket’s fabric is 64% biosourced polyester and 36% recycled polyester, while the Organic Haakon Jacket is 58% biosourced polyester.

We tested these Picture jackets throughout a winter season of skiing and snowboarding at Colorado’s Crested Butte Mountain Resort, where the high-altitude lifts are often met with windchill and temperatures drop below zero degrees.

We most liked the jacket’s warmth while sitting on the lift or skiing in below-freezing conditions, thanks to the body-mapped construction and Coremax liner, which blocks the cold in just the right spots.

“This jacket is just bulky enough that I don’t wear it backcountry skiing, but it’s perfect for enjoying in-bounds terrain in a variety of temperatures. I can wear a long-sleeve fleece beneath it mid-winter and feel comfortable despite windy lift rides. The waterproofness withstands huge snowfalls, too. The fabric doesn’t soak up moisture. On warm spring days, I’m thankful for the underarm vents because this jacket can get toasty — it isn’t the most breathable,” shared one product tester.

The inside of the arms feature wrist gaiters, so it’s better to layer gauntlet gloves over the cuff, she noted. All the YKK zippers are waterproof, and the seams are fully taped, so moisture doesn’t squeeze in.

The jacket also boasts pockets galore: six exterior zip-enclosed pockets and two interior pockets.

Specs:

Fit: Relaxed
Insulation: Coremax Active Insulation
Shell: 2-layer
Waterproof rating (mm): 20,000
Breathability (g): 15,000 (men’s); 20,000 (women’s)
Weight: 1,060 g (women’s size M); 1,440 g (men’s size L)

Pros:

Tons of pockets
Provides great warmth while riding or skiing at the resort
Eco-friendly focus in the design

Cons:

Not the lightest shell for warmer conditions
Hood is a tad tight when pulled around a helmet

Check Men’s Price at REICheck Women’s Price at evo

Best Shell: Patagonia Powder Bowl Jacket — Men’s & Women’s

We’ve worn this tenacious, lightweight shell while backcountry snowmobiling in Colorado’s Elk Mountains and hiking laps for powder surfing. We also donned the jacket inbounds snowboarding and skiing in dry, cold conditions in Colorado and California and while carving the wet maritime snowpack of British Columbia’s Vancouver Island.

The Patagonia Powder Bowl Jacket for Men ($399) and Patagonia Powder Bowl Jacket for Women ($399) handle a heavy load of moisture yet are supple and roomy enough for midlayers. The recycled 150-denier fabric is tough and treated with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish.

“The eco-friendly, 100% recycled polyester face fabric kept me completely dry and comfortable in a broad range of snow conditions and various climates. On Colorado powder days, the jacket never absorbed snow even while I was making deep powder turns on my snowmobile in blizzard conditions,” said our tester.

“While snowboarding on Vancouver Island, temps at Mount Washington Alpine Resort rose and hovered around 30 degrees with high humidity. By afternoon, the lifts thawed into a drip-state. But the damp chairs never soaked my back or arms thanks to this two-layer GORE-TEX jacket — a waterproof/breathable, windproof design with watertight zippers,” she also noted.

She wore bibs and a synthetic T-shirt to start under blue sky and clouds. Then she added a long-sleeve midlayer when the afternoon progressed with fog, mist, and a sharp breeze.

With the underarm vents, helmet-compatible hood, and visor, this shell is a solid, environmentally conscious choice for inbounds or uphill exercise in all conditions from blizzards to rain. Furthermore, the interior feels soft, and the exterior is supple.

Specs:

Fit: Relaxed
Insulation: Not insulated
Shell: 2-layer
Waterproof rating (mm): 28,000
Breathability (g): 20,000
Weight: 814 g (women’s size S); 941 g (men’s size M)

Pros:

Very waterproof
Super supple fabric
Durable
Eco-friendly face fabric

Cons:

Not the best choice if insulation is needed against frigid wind
Pricier end

Check Men’s Price at BackcountryCheck Women’s Price at evo

The Best Snow & Winter Gifts in 2021-2022

Nothing says it’s the holidays like some fresh pow. Our team of experts has rounded up their favorite gear that’s sure to please any winter enthusiast. Read more…

Best Synthetic Down Ski Jacket: Sync Performance Stretch Puffy Jacket — Men’s & Women’s

Have you ever skied or snowboarded with a down jacket on beneath a shell? Despite stinging cold conditions, the internal heat that builds up can be stifling, as many lack ventilation and underarm zippers.

Our solution: the Men’s Sync Performance Stretch Puffy Jacket ($349) and Women’s Stretch Sync Performance Stretch Puffy Jacket ($349) with synthetic insulation. We’ve reached for this jacket countless times for nail-biting temperatures — between -10 and 10 degrees — while skiing and riding the slopes at Crested Butte Mountain Resort and Telluride Ski Resort in Southwest Colorado.

Even with windchill, this jacket holds body heat yet is breathable when we hop into the trees or charge moguls and work up a sweat. This performance puffy is very stretchy (including the hood) and pliable and doesn’t feel fragile. The shoulders feature additional fabric reinforcements, so skis can’t slice in when we’re carrying gear around.

Specs:

Fit: Athletic
Insulation: 50/50 PrimaLoft Black ThermoPlume and polyester insulation
Waterproof rating (mm): 10,000
Breathability (g): 10,000
Weight: Unavailable for women’s jacket; 453 g (men’s size L)

Pros:

Extremely warm
Breathable
Flexible
Streamlined fit

Cons:

Check Men’s Price at Sync PerformanceCheck Women’s Price at Sync Performance

Best Backcountry Jacket: Dynafit Beast Hybrid Jacket — Men’s & Women’s

One of our most dependable jackets in the backcountry has been the Dynafit Beast Hybrid Jacket for men ($400) and women ($400). The unique hybrid design pairs a softshell core with full 3-layer waterproofing in key areas.

When hiking or skinning uphill, the Beast Hybrid offers plenty of breathability and stretch thanks to its Dynastretch material located across the torso and back. Meanwhile, the waterproof shell that covers the hood, chest, and shoulders is durable enough for ripping in and out of the trees. We also love that the whole jacket stashes away easily in a pack.

The well-placed pockets are deep and compatible with a pack’s hipbelt — one also features a dedicated sleeve to preserve a cellphone battery. Reflective detailing adds much-appreciated visibility while skiing in the dark.

Specs:

Fit: Athletic
Insulation: None
Shell: 3-layer
Waterproof rating (mm): Unavailable
Breathability (g): Unavailable
Weight: 490 g (women’s size M); 599 g (men’s size M)

Pros:

Very breathable
Tenacious construction
Lightweight
Versatile

Cons:

Not ideal for frigid temps
Other jackets feature a greater quantity of pockets

Check Men’s Price at BackcountryCheck Women’s Price at Backcountry

Best Jacket for Uphill Laps: Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hoody  — Men’s & Women’s

We often reach for the Ferrosi Jacket ($129) for big-output uphill sessions when we work up a sweat but still need protection from the cold, mist, or fluffy flakes. This is also a great layering piece for longer backcountry tours or inbounds runs when we need an extra layer beneath a non-insulated shell.

Compared to many other softshell ski touring jackets, the Ferrosi is affordably priced. Relative to its lightweight profile, this jacket is impressively abrasion-resistant. When the temps warm up and you need to de-layer, the Ferrosi packs into its own teeny-tiny hand pocket for easy storage.

While we wish this jacket came with a helmet-compatible hood and harness-compatible pockets, it’s generally an excellent value.

Specs:

Fit: Athletic
Insulation: None
Waterproof rating (mm): Unavailable
Breathability (g): Unavailable
Weight: 373 g (women’s size M); 425 g (mens’ size L)

Pros:

Excellent value
Easy to store away
Water-resistant

Cons:

Lacks a helmet-compatible hood and harness-compatible hand pockets

Check Men’s Price at BackcountryCheck Women’s Price at Outdoor Research

Best 3-in-1 Ski Jacket for Plus Sizes: Columbia Horizons Pine Interchange & Whirlibird IV Jackets

For plus-size skiers and riders, the men’s Horizons Pine Interchange Jacket ($250) and women’s Columbia Whirlibird IV Interchange Jacket ($219) are solid choices, both offering an integrated shell and liner that can be worn independently or together.

The Whirlibird IV Interchange Jacket is available in 1XL through 3XL. The shell is waterproof/breathable with underarm vents, which is key for hitting the slopes at any point in the season.

Eight pockets are integrated into the shell and liner for carrying goggles, ski passes, and credit cards in addition to two zippered hand pockets. The liner is toasty, thanks to the patented Omni-Heat Reflective liner that reflects and retains body heat.

The Horizons Pine Interchange Jacket has the same construction, though the hood is removable and there are seven pockets between the shell and liner. It’s available in tall L through 5XL.

Specs:

Fit: Relaxed
Insulation: Omni-Heat Reflective liner
Shell: 2-layer
Waterproof rating (mm): Unavailable
Breathability (g): Unavailable
Weight: Unavailable

Pros:

Adaptable for variable conditions from spring to winter
Lower-end price tag
Fits well over base layers and midlayer
Great pocket variety
Warm yet lightweight

Cons:

Interior material is a bit noisy

Check Men’s Price at AmazonCheck Women’s Price at Amazon

Best Insulated Ski Jacket for Plus Sizes: Obermeyer Charger Jacket & Tuscany II Insulated Jacket

If you’re looking for a jacket that keeps you warm on chilly lift rides between ski or snowboard runs, the men’s Obermeyer Charger Jacket ($429) and women’s Obermeyer Tuscany II Insulated Jacket ($259) are great choices with inclusive size runs.

The Tuscany II Insulated Jacket (sizes 0 through 22) is a comfortable, eco-friendly design — 60% of the fabric is recycled polyester made from REPREVE plastic bottles. The design has a water-resistant powder skirt and a fleece-lined collar.

There are two hand pockets with zip closures, a zipper pass pocket, and interior goggle pocket. The hood and faux fur are both removable.

Comparatively, the Charger Jacket (sizes S to 3XL) is more technical with thumbhole wrist gaiters, underarm vents, six pockets total — including an internal pocket for electronics — and greater waterproof/breathable protection. There’s also a fleece-lined collar and chin warmer.

Specs:

Fit: Athletic
Insulation: Thermore Classic synthetic insulation
Shell: 2-layer
Waterproof rating (mm): 10,000 (women’s); 20,000 (men’s)
Breathability (g): 10,000 (women’s); 20,000 (men’s)
Weight: 997 g (women’s size 8-10); 1,389 g (men’s size L)

Pros:

Good price
Warm jacket for cold ski and snowboard days
Room for base layers and midlayers
Cozy everyday winter jacket
Lots of pockets
Many color choices

Cons:

Potentially too warm for robust activity depending on weather conditions, physical output, and personal needs
No underarm zippers in the women’s jacket (only in the men’s jacket)

Check Men’s Price at AmazonCheck Women’s Price at Amazon

Best Shell for Plus Sizes: L.L.Bean Pathfinder GORE-TEX Shell Jacket — Men’s & Women’s

The Men’s L.L.Bean Pathfinder GORE-TEX Shell Jacket ($249) offers a size range of S to 2XL, and the Women’s L.L.Bean Pathfinder GORE-TEX Shell Jacket ($249) features sizes XXS to XL.

This 100% recycled polyester shell is an excellent choice for heat-building winter activities like snowshoeing and powder skiing or snowboarding, especially in above-freezing conditions.

The underarm zippers allow you to dispense heat while working up a sweat whether you’re snowmobiling or hiking to sled with the kids. The three-layer jacket features waterproof/breathable GORE-TEX to withstand rain, wind, and snow.

Specs:

Fit: Athletic
Insulation: Not insulated
Shell: 3-layer
Waterproof rating (mm): Unavailable
Breathability (g): Unavailable
Weight: Unavailable

Pros:

Waterproofness resists snow or rain
Great layer for high-output activities or warmer conditions
Pliable fabric for mobility
Well-made
Lower-end price

Cons:

Curvy women might find the waist too fitted (opt for men’s jacket instead)
Material can be a tad loud
One-way zipper only
Not for super cold conditions (need midlayer beneath)

Check Men’s Price at L.L.BeanCheck Women’s Price at L.L.Bean

Best of the Rest

Helly Hansen Odin Infinity 3L Shell Jacket — Men’s

If a toasty hug isn’t what you need, pull on the non-insulated men’s Odin Mountain Infinity 3L Shell Jacket ($700). The Odin Infinity features the brand’s proprietary Lifa Infinity Pro textile.

The eco-friendly fabric is waterproof/breathable, wind-resistant, and hydrophobic, eliminating the need for toxic DWR treatment — the water repellency is inherent to the fabric.

Our tester wore this shell while skinning in a wintry spring climate. There was usually cloud coverage mixed with spurts of sunshine. Temperatures ranged from 16 to 40 degrees, and gusts peaked around 30 mph.

“Typically, I took 1,000-foot continuous climbs on my splitboard with the underarm vents open and never felt hot or clammy. This shell is breathable yet provides a solid barrier against wind and fairly wet, heavy snowfall. This shell has two exterior hand pockets and one chest pocket. Inside, there’s a small mesh pocket and another tiny pocket with a zip closure. I used the outermost big pockets during tours,” said our Colorado-based tester. We liked the laminated brim, which is shaped for a full-angle view.

One drawback: The powder skirt has a snap attachment point in the back that occasionally got stuck beneath our pack while skinning up. We could usually shift it out of the way. If this bothers you, the powder skirt is removable.

Ultimately, this eco-conscious shell is soft, quiet, and comfortable. The design is easy to move in while climbing.

Read our full review of the women’s Odin Mountain Infinity 3L Shell Jacket.

Specs:

Fit: Athletic
Insulation: Not insulated
Shell: 3-layer
Waterproof rating (mm): Unavailable
Breathability (g): Unavailable
Weight: 515 g (women’s size M); 600 g (men’s size L)

Pros:

Inherently waterproof without chemicals
Streamlined
Flexible fabric and range of movement
Durable

Cons:

Check Men’s Price at Backcountry

REI Co-op First Chair GTX Jacket — Men’s & Women’s

Another celebrated shell for skiing and riding is the REI Co-op First Chair GTX Jacket for Men ($299) and the REI Co-op First Chair GTX Jacket for Women ($299). This jacket excludes insulation, so it’s a versatile all-season piece with underarm vents plus room for midlayers and base layers beneath.

The high collar is coated with soft fabric for comfort, and the hood is spacious enough to pull over a helmet. The hem is longer in the back for extra protection. To shield against moisture, the GORE-TEX waterproof/breathable fabric is treated with PFC-free DWR.

Specs:

Fit: Relaxed
Insulation: Not insulated
Shell: 2-layer
Waterproof rating (mm): Unavailable
Breathability (g): Unavailable
Weight: 706 g (women’s size S); 786 g (men’s size M)

Pros:

Eco-friendly DWR treatment
Underarm zippers are great for releasing heat
Recycled polyester liner

Cons:

Hood is roomy sans helmet
Boxy fit might not be a top choice for some skiers and riders

Check Men’s Price at REICheck Women’s Price at REI

Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell Jacket — Men’s & Women’s

If you need a lightweight, breathable, windproof, and waterproof shell for backcountry adventure, here’s a superstar choice: the men’s Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell Jacket ($349) and women’s Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell Jacket ($349).

The design is 20% more lightweight than its predecessor, the Skyward. This hardy 50-denier nylon and spandex face fabric is a stalwart against harsh conditions and a loaded pack. The cut is roomy and long. We appreciate that the hood is wire-brimmed so it doesn’t collapse.

“I love that the vents are super tall — they stretch from the hem all the way past my armpit and up to the inside of the chest. I don’t need to stop to remove my pack and jacket on uphill climbs with these huge vents,” said our tester, a backcountry splitboarder based in the steep Elk Mountains of Colorado.

There are two lower hand pockets and two upper chest pockets on the exterior and internal mesh pockets for skins. The fabric is breathable and buttery soft. We reach for this jacket for backcountry splitboarding, skiing, and snowmobiling.

Specs:

Fit: Relaxed
Insulation: Not insulated
Shell: 3-layer
Waterproof rating (mm): 10,000
Breathability (g): 20,000
Weight: 576 g (women’s size M); 627 g (men’s size M)

Pros:

Very durable fabric
Comfortable shell for big movement
Over-sized underarm vents

Cons:

Check Men’s Price at evoCheck Women’s Price at Backcountry

Volcom Ten & Leda GORE-TEX Jackets

For snowboarding or skiing at the resort, the men’s Ten GORE-TEX Jacket ($330) and women’s Leda GORE-TEX Jacket ($339) are comfortable, stout designs.

Overall, the fit is contoured and tall yet roomy. The GORE-TEX waterproof/breathable and windproof jacket keeps us dry and warm for blizzard-encased lift rides. Both jackets have environmentally friendly PFC-free DWR treatment to block precipitation add durability.

The silhouettes directly zip to compatible Volcom pants — the unique system works well to keep snow out, maintaining a dry, warm backside, according to our testers. There’s also a traditional, stretchy powder skirt.

The high collar is cozy with a soft, lined chin guard. The cuffs have wrist gaiters with thumbholes as well as a wide Velcro strap that can be wrapped around the ends of the sleeves or can cross in front of the thumb for additional security. The underarm zippers are mesh-lined.

Specs:

Fit: Relaxed
Insulation: Not insulated
Shell: 2-layer
Waterproof rating (mm): Unavailable
Breathability (g): Unavailable
Weight: Unavailable

Pros:

Durable
Waterproof
Tall jacket for extra protection from snow
Jacket-to-pant zipper interface
Deep, spacious pockets
Soft chin guard

Cons:

Too heavy for backcountry use
Could be a bit bulky for some skiers and riders

Check Men’s Price at evoCheck Women’s Price at Backcountry

Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell — Men’s & Women’s

The Men’s Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell ($349) and Women’s Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell ($349) — which received a gold-level ISPO award — are stretchy and sturdy for backcountry and uphill use.

The breathable softshell material is treated with the brand’s proprietary waterproof/breathable and windproof solution in the chest, shoulders, and hood. There’s also a PFC-free DWR, which enhances durability.

One of the most innovative features of this jacket is a center-front dual zipper that opens to a mesh panel for ventilation while uphilling. The chest pockets are roomy enough for skins, and the hood is helmet-compatible. The thumbhole wrist gaiter helps protect wrists from getting chilled.

Specs:

Fit: Relaxed
Insulation: Not insulated
Shell: 3-layer
Waterproof rating (mm): 20,000
Breathability (g): 20,000
Weight: 455 g (women’s size S); 500 g (men’s size M)

Pros:

Unique center ventilation zipper
Eco-friendly DWR finish
Fair choice for light weather
Chest pockets are harness-compatible and fit skins

Cons:

Not the most resilient for huge snowstorms
No underarm vents

Check Men’s Price at BackcountryCheck Women’s Price at Backcountry

Rab Khroma Kharve GORE-TEX Jacket — Men’s & Women’s

For a windproof, insulated backcountry layer, look at the Men’s Rab Khroma Kharve GORE-TEX Jacket ($325) and the Women’s Khroma Kharve GORE-TEX Jacket ($325). These jackets feature matte, resilient 30-denier GORE-TEX Infinium Windstopper nylon as the outer fabric, which is quiet and comfortable. All of the seams are taped.

For durability and warmth, the jacket uses a recycled 20-denier liner and recycled insulation made from post-consumer PET bottles. The women’s jacket uses body mapping to ensure the silhouette contours to the curves of a female body.

Specs:

Fit: Athletic
Insulation: Stratus Recycled Insulation
Shell: 2-layer
Waterproof rating (mm): Unavailable
Breathability (g): Unavailable
Weight: 479 g (women’s size M); 480 g (men’s size M)

Pros:

Streamlined fit
Windproof
Breathable and light
Multi-sport choice

Cons:

Noisy
Not the most economic
With a water-resistant face fabric, this jacket isn’t choice for precipitation

Check Men’s Price at BackcountryCheck Women’s Price at evo

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Ski Jacket

Insulation

A portion of ski and snowboard jackets offer no insulation, which is a versatile option to use across a variety of conditions. You can pull on this waterproof and breathable layer to stay dry and protected from the sun or snow burn if you slide out.

Designs without insulation typically have enough room to add a midlayer and base layer beneath for chilly or cold days. This type of jacket works well for warm spring turns at the resort or powder days when you typically accumulate heat carving turns.

To decide if a non-insulated jacket is right for you, consider the ambient temperatures where you usually ski or snowboard, if there is frequent windchill, and your body temperature on the lift.

Other designs are insulated for warmth in cold or windy locations. You can wear an insulated jacket over a base layer without as much consideration for what midlayer to bring along.

Insulated ski and snowboard jackets can be prime for freezing conditions, S-carves on groomers, and long lift rides with hair-raising gusts. They can also be a good idea for the backcountry to pull on at the top of sweaty climbs, which can often be wind-exposed. For some riders and skiers, though, these jackets can pigeonhole them into donning too much warmth.

The type and warmth level of insulation vary across each jacket from flannel to down-filled panels or synthetic proprietary fabrics.

2-Layer vs. 3-Layer

A two-layer jacket has a face fabric — such as polyester or nylon — connected to an inner liner that protects the fabric, is breathable, and adds comfort. These jackets usually feel less hefty than a three-layer jacket.

Some have an insulation layer, and the outermost surface is usually treated for waterproofness. The price is generally more moderate compared to three-layer jackets.

Dialing up the durability, a three-layer jacket is a waterproof/breathable membrane — often made by GORE-TEX — sandwiched between a tough face fabric and liner. Sometimes the outer fabric is treated for waterproofness. These jackets offer more protection for fierce weather conditions and are pricier.

Broadly, you’ll want to scrutinize how robust you need your jacket to be for the conditions you’ll ride or ski in.

Helly Hansen’s Odin Mountain Infinity 3L Insulated Jacket (Photo/Eric Phillips)

Waterproofness

A waterproof jacket is ideal for skiing and riding because weather can be flippant, and you don’t want to run the risk of getting wet from snow or rain. The top-tier standard for waterproofness is GORE-TEX, a membrane integrated into various jacket designs.

The material is waterproof, windproof, and breathable. Some brands have a proprietary version of waterproof/breathable fabrics.

Waterproofness is measured by the amount of water that can be placed atop a fabric before it leaks from 5,000 to 20,000 mm or greater. The latter end of the spectrum leads to a less breathable fabric.

0-5,000 mm: Resistant to light rain, dry snow
6,000-10,000 mm: Waterproof for light rain and dry, non-heavy snow
11,000-15,000 mm: Waterproof for moderate rain and dry, non-heavy snow
16,000-20,000 mm: Waterproof for heavy rain and wet snow
20,000 mm and greater: Waterproof for heavy rain and dense, wet, heavy snow

The most waterproof jackets on our list are the Arc’teryx Sabre AR and Sentinel AR and the Patagonia Powder Bowl Jacket, which all provide 28,000mm protection. Jackets at 10,000 mm are adequate for many skiers and riders, though it depends on the environment.

Face fabric treatments, which can be eco-friendly formulas or chemicals toxic to the environment, can also make a jacket waterproof. And some jackets have sealed seams to block moisture.

Breathability

For high-output skiing or snowboarding on powder days, aim for a jacket with breathability of 10,000 to 15,000 g. Backcountry splitboarders, backcountry skiers, and uphill athletes should look for even more breathability — 20,000 g or more.

(Photo/Xander Bianchi)

Ventilation

Often, ski and snowboard jackets offer ventilation by way of underarm zippers, which help regulate body temperature. This feature is great for warm-blooded folks or those who ride or ski in warm conditions and for powder days when your body works hard to make turns.

Some underarm zippers are longer than others. The most generous design in our guide is offered in the Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell Jacket, which stretches from the hem past the entire armpit and to the underside of the arm.

One innovative ventilation design is in the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell, which has a front-facing and closable mesh vent that parallels the front zipper. In terms of quality, YKK zippers are the toughest.

Collar & Hood

An ergonomic collar and hood are significant features for face, head, and neck protection against sun, snow, sleet, hail, wind, or rain. Pulling up a hood can help the body retain heat in chilly conditions.

Jacket collars vary in height and ideally have an interior chin guard that feels snug against the face — a key component on a gusty chair lift.

Hoods can be helmet-compatible, which is a priority if you need extra protection and warmth around your face and neck while riding a lift or skiing during a snow storm. Some hoods are adjustable via elastic pulls, like the Ortovox 3L Guardian Shell Jacket. And others have an integrated visor so they don’t collapse beneath moisture. A handful of hoods are removable, while others are fixed.

(Photo/Morgan Tilton)

Sleeve Cuffs & Powder Skirt

Powder skirts can be a great addition to a jacket to prevent fluffy flakes from flying up and soaking your base layers or lower back. Some powder skirts are removable, and some have attachment points to connect to your ski or snowboard pants.

Sleeve cuffs generally have a Velcro closure, though some designs have additional snaps that vary in width. Many cuffs have an inner wrist gaiter — a stretchy fabric for warmth that sometimes has thumbholes to help secure the fabric over the top of the hand.

Pockets

Most jackets include two exterior hand pockets with zip closures, which can be low or placed higher for compatibility with a backpack belt or harness for ski or splitboard mountaineering. Other exterior pockets can include small pouches on the arm or on the chest. Deep, wide, higher-placed exterior pockets can be nice for stowing a smartphone or notebook in the backcountry.

Interior pockets often have a zip closure, ports for headphones, or a mesh construction with an elastic band at the top. These can be great for chambering a credit card or ID.

Deep, wide interior pockets can be essential for holding backcountry skins, especially if the temperature is crisp and you need to prevent the glue from freezing over between use. Occasionally, a pocket is insulated to help extend the battery life of your smartphone.

Examine what you’ll need to carry, the adequate pocket size, and if the pockets are located in the most comfortable place for you.

Fit

Generally, ski jacket designs land in two camps — trimmer with a more streamlined, athletic fit or roomier and boxier with a more relaxed silhouette. Both can be comfortable. If you’re wearing a backpack in the backcountry, it can be better to wear a well-fitted jacket so the fabric doesn’t get pinched up.

Size-wise, each manufacturer has its own size charts for male and female models. Be sure to take your personal measurements and match them up with the size charts, which can differ across brands.

A handful of companies deliver more size inclusivity with broader offerings in the men’s and women’s categories including Columbia, Obermeyer, and L.L.Bean.

Everyone’s body is unique, so check the exchange and return policy before you buy.

Weight

A jacket’s weight can become an important factor for backcountry splitboarders and skiers who often need to stash their jacket in a pack and can’t sacrifice space for bulk.

Similarly, some uphill athletes want to wear a jacket for weather protection but only need a light layer. And occasional resort skiers and snowboarders take laps with a backpack on and might need to store their jackets as the conditions warm.

The lightest jackets in our top picks are 450 to 550 g: the Rab Khroma Karve GORE-TEX Jacket, Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell, and Helly Hansen Odin Infinity 3L Shell Jacket. The Stio Alpiner Hooded Jacket is much lighter — only 312 g — but less of a shield. Heavier jackets are closer to 900 to 1,000 g.

Ultimately, you shouldn’t compromise a jacket’s safety or comfort features and adequate warmth to drop a little weight.

(Photo/Eric Phillips)

Why You Should Trust Us

Our team has tested, reviewed, and published ski jacket guides for men and women for several seasons. For this guide, we considered the most popular, highly acclaimed, well-made, and size-inclusive ski and snowboard jackets made for a range of conditions and across a range of prices.

To determine the best designs, our product testers have worn these jackets across a spectrum of snowy environments, including ski resorts from Crested Butte Mountain Resort to Arapahoe Basin Ski Area.

We’ve backcountry skied, splitboarded, snowmobiled, and skimo raced in Colorado’s Gunnison Valley, one of the coldest, snowiest destinations in the United States. The crew of testers ranged from AIARE-certified, avid backcountry venturers to lifelong resort skiers.

FAQ

Can I Wear Any Jacket to Ski?

Ski and snowboard jackets are specifically constructed to be waterproof/breathable and windproof to protect your health and safety while playing outside in the snow all day. These designs are also comfortable and ergonomic for the sport’s big movements, like bending over to adjust bindings, planting a pole, or shifting your shoulder orientation while riding moguls.

Overall, it’s a good idea to invest in a jacket that will help you stay warm and dry.

How Do I Choose a Ski Jacket?

Study the average temperatures and weather conditions where and when you most often ski or snowboard. Choose a jacket that will keep you comfortable and dry in your given environment, according to how much body heat you’ll build up during your activity.

Backcountry-centric jackets are typically more substantial and slender with specific features for off-piste travel. They’re often more expensive.

If you want a ski or snowboard jacket that works well for other heat-inducing applications, like shoveling the driveway, look for a non-insulated jacket you can add layers beneath.

Alternatively, if you want a cozy jacket for cold-weather walks, low-output commutes, or mellow groomer skiing in icebox conditions, choose an insulated jacket.

You’ll also want to mull over your preferred features including adequate pockets, thumbholes in the wrist gaiters, and a hood.

Should I Size Up in a Ski Jacket?

Usually, both athletic and relaxed ski jackets are a bit roomy so you can fit a base layer and midlayer beneath if needed.

Each manufacturer has its own size charts for male or female categories. Match up your personal measurements to the size charts and check the return or exchange policy before purchase.

What Should I Wear Under a Ski Jacket?

Next to your skin, wear a long-sleeve synthetic base layer. On super-warm spring days, you might even be more comfortable in a synthetic T-shirt.

On colder days and with non-insulated jackets, skiers and riders often opt to add a midlayer — usually a fleece jacket.

To learn more about fleece midlayers, read our Best Fleece Jackets guide.

Can I Wear a Ski Jacket Everyday?

Sure! If the day-to-day outdoor conditions where you live are a match for the jacket’s insulation, waterproofness, and breathability, you could be comfortable wearing that ski or snowboard jacket as a daily winter driver.

However, a ski and snowboard jacket can get dirty with time, so it might not be ideal for certain occasions or you might need to wash it more frequently. (The wash instructions are unique for each jacket and are located on the interior label.)

Also, you might not want to increase the jacket’s wear and tear through daily use. Often, skiers and riders prefer to wear a different, cozier, or quieter style of jacket for everyday use.

What’s the Warmest Ski Jacket?

What’s a Good Price for a Ski Jacket?

Ski jackets are a long-term investment and worth the money for the protection and comfort they provide in a winter environment. The most economic options usually range from $200 to $300, and the average cost is $300 to $400. The most robust designs, which can be best for long days in variable conditions, can reach up to $750.

Should a Ski Jacket Fit Loose or Tight?

You don’t want a ski jacket to fit tight because skiing and snowboarding require a lot of freedom of movement. Plus, it’s nice to have room for a comfortable, wicking synthetic long-sleeve beneath the jacket — and a fleece midlayer if the temperatures plummet.

Why Do Ski Jackets Have Hoods?

Hoods offer protection and warmth around your face, head, and neck for chair lift rides and skiing or snowboarding during a snow or wind storm. An ergonomic hood shields the elements, including sun, snow, sleet, hail, wind, and rain.

Pulling up a hood can help the body retain heat in chilly conditions. It’s important to look for a jacket with a helmet-compatible hood. Some hoods are removable.

How Long Should a Ski Jacket Last?

A ski jacket can break down for a multitude of reasons, including exposure to sunshine, rain, and snow. The materials wear due to the rub points of a heavy pack, brushes against equipment, and even contact with human skin.

Frequency of use, the roughness of the activity, and overall user care are factors that can dissolve a jacket, too. If you use your ski or snowboard jacket for everyday activity, anticipate the jacket will deteriorate faster. Be sure to follow the care instructions, which are unique for each jacket.

With so many variables, you can’t predict the exact lifespan of each jacket. We typically find ourselves using our favorite well-constructed ski and snowboard jackets for 5-6 years, but that number is often lower for backcountry gear.

If you ski or ride inbounds a couple of weeks each season and take good care of your jacket, you can easily assume the product life will be longer — even a decade.

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Use OutdoorFox to inform yourself, get all the tips on hiking and camping. Browse through our recommendations and product reviews and start planning your adventure today!

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