The best ski jackets are those that offer the most complete protection when you’re carving down the mountains. A ski jacket is an essential piece of clothing, as it will keep you warm and prevent snow from leaking in, causing you to become wet and weighed down.
With snowsports becoming ever more popular, there’s no shortage of brands producing some great quality ski jackets, and ones that look good too. You could always opt for an all-black number, but where’s the fun in that? We’re not saying you need to bring back the 80s trend of retro-looking jumpsuits, but injecting a bit of colour on the snow and mountains not only gives you a unique look but will make it easier for your fellow group members to spot you.
Ski Jacket vs Snowboard Jacket
You will find when browsing for new ski gear, that there are both ski and snowboard jackets. But what’s the difference? Predominantly, it comes down to fit. Snowboard jackets tend to be looser than ski jackets, as well as being slightly longer to protect your backside when you’re sitting down and strapping your snowboard boots into your bindings.
However, since both are designed to protect against wind, rain, snow and whatever else the mountain can throw at you, you’re safe to wear a snowboard jacket for skiing, or vice versa. More importantly, ski jackets (like all technical outerwear) can feature a range of various fabric technologies, all with a similar aim of keeping you warm and dry.
Here are a few key technologies to look out for.
Ski Jacket Styles
Ski jackets can come in various styles. The main three you’re going to see when searching are shell, insulated or 3-in-1. Each offers something different so determining which ski jacket style is best for you will come down to personal preference – if you already have a good mid-layer, you may just want to invest in a shell, for example – and cost.
Shell jackets literally provide a shell outer layer. They usually come without any real insulation, instead, offering a solid outer layer to protect you from wind, rain and snow. You will, however, need to source base and mid-layers to provide extra warmth. Within shell jackets, you can get hard and softshell, which have varying levels of breathability. If a shell jacket is the style you choose, be sure to dig a little deeper into what’s around.
Insulated jackets are the style we suspect most skiers and snowboarders will choose. They offer the best of both worlds: a tough outer layer that protects from the elements, with a warm inner layer that’s breathable and comfortable. The insulation material can range from jacket to jacket, with some manufacturers continuing to use down, while others have chosen to go down more sustainable routes by developing their own synthetic fabrics.
3-in-1 jackets provide a solid outer layer, with a removable warm inner layer. This gives you versatility, meaning you can wear the full package on particularly cold days, just the shell on days that just require some protection from a bit of rain or just the inner layer to accompany you on chilly but dry winter evenings.
Gore-Tex is the brand of weatherproof fabric technologies that signifies something you can trust to provide the best protection. However, within the Gore-Tex range are multiple different variations.
Gore-Tex Pro is the creme de la creme, the fabric that even comes with a “guaranteed to keep you dry” promise, no matter how harsh the downpour you find yourself in. It also provides superior breathability to keep you sweat-free, yet warm at the same time.
Gore-Tex Paclite jackets are, as their name implies, packable. This means they’re more shell-like jackets that offer a protective layer, requiring you to layer up underneath, as opposed to do-it-all jackets that will protect you from everything. Gore-Tex Paclite jackets are still breathable, windproof and waterproof, they’re just perhaps less rugged.
Gore-Thermium hails from the same umbrella company as Gore-Tex, but relates more to an internal insulation layer, as opposed to offering outer protection. It still has waterproof qualities, keeping rain and snow at bay from seeping inside a jacket, while offering a soft and cosy fabric to keep you warm and comfortable.
Men’s Ski Jackets FAQ
The correct answer will be, just right. Your ski jacket must fit you well and not too tight that all the layers underneath make you feel bulky and stuffy. It should be snug while allowing you full range of movement. You may wear a sweater, a fleece jacket or a turtleneck under your ski jacket. Pair them with insulating pants under your snow pants, plus winter gloves and you will be warm enough in the slopes. Prices for ski jackets can be as low as $100 and as high as $1,000 or more. If you want to get good discounts, buy one during an end-of-season sale.
Should my ski jacket be tight or loose?
What do you wear under a ski jacket?
How much should I spend on a ski jacket?
The correct answer will be, just right. Your ski jacket must fit you well and not too tight that all the layers underneath make you feel bulky and stuffy. It should be snug while allowing you full range of movement.
You may wear a sweater, a fleece jacket or a turtleneck under your ski jacket. Pair them with insulating pants under your snow pants, plus winter gloves and you will be warm enough in the slopes.
Prices for ski jackets can be as low as $100 and as high as $1,000 or more. If you want to get good discounts, buy one during an end-of-season sale.
Some more helpful DMARGE stories about snowsports:
Bogner's collection of ski jackets can be worn on the slopes and in the city as they're all designed to keep you incredibly warm no matter where you are thanks to Thermore padding.
The North Face
The Chakal jacket serves up simple, no-frills looks (available in a choice of colours) along with PrimaLoft's Black Insulation to provide warmth in the exact areas you need it, while a breathable DryVent fabric prevents you from sweating and overheating too much. Fully waterproof and lightweight and with a detachable powder skirt, The North Face Chakal could be your next mountain companion.
Patagonia's PowSlayer ski jacket is a versatile little number that is prepared for anything the mountain can throw at you. A two-layer Gore-Tex build means you remain high and dry no matter how much snowfall you experience, a helmet-compatible hood adds extra protection and an adjustable powder skirt ensures you don't get any seepage into your ski pants when the powder gets deep. An array of pockets and a mesh lining to help regulate your body temperature make this the perfect all-rounder.
The Mission Shell Jacket has been designed to provide superior warmth and all-weather protection, which it does so via Gore Thermium. Fully taped seams add to its protection credentials, but your body is still able to breathe to prevent sweat from building up. A removable powder skirt prevents snow seepage while allowing the jacket to be used when on the slopes. The helmet-compatible hood can be adjusted using just one cord, and pockets both inside and outside give you space to store your on-slope essentials.
Columbia has a great range of ski jackets on offer, but we love the Bugaboo 1986 Interchange jacket. It shouldn't need many guesses as to why, just look at it. Unbelievably retro and cool (all colours are hits in our book), this 3-in-1 jacket comprising a shell and inner-liner and benefits from Omni-Tech for waterproofing and breathability. Suitable for on and off-mountain use, this could be the perfect ski jacket.
Helly Hansen's years of expertise have allowed the company to develop ski jackets such as the Steilhang, which benefits from a new H2Flow Air Force Vent System which uses air pockets to store and retain heat generated by you to keep you warm. Want to cool down? Open the zippers and allow air to flow in. The Steilhang is also fully waterproof, has a helmet-compatible hood and rocks 4-way stretch for free and easy movement. It's possibly the best ski jacket money can currently buy.
The S/Lab QST Gore-Tex Pro 3L is one of the company's best ski jackets. It's part of the S-Lab series of products that meet exceptionally high standards, so you can trust it will deliver the best possible performance. This 3L shell jacket has been developed in partnership with Salomon's freeski team, and now rocks a Gore-Tex membrane and three-layer shell construction for optimal warmth and wind protection, as well as breathability to keep you cool. The shell design means you can add in your own base and mid-layers as you see fit, while safe in the knowledge that you'll be well-protected on the outside.
The Leader GTX ski jacket benefits from myriad fabric technologies to provide ultimate performance. You've got stretch Gore-Tex, PrimaLoft Eco Insulation and Aquaguard waterproof zippers. Continuing with the "go all out" method of design, Spyder has given the Leader GTX interior stretch panels for added mobility when making turns down the mountain, underarm vents for increased airflow and cuffs with thumb holes to keep your hands extra warm.
The Furio jacket, which is available in a range of eye-catching colours (and with matching pants), uses Gore-Tex Paclite technology to seamlessly glide over your base and mid-layers. OR has also employed a hybrid-mapped construction for improved durability around the shoulders, hood, seat and knees (on the pants). Fully taped seams and waterproof zippers further help to banish water and melted snow away.
The Alpha SV is just that, proving capable of providing protection in the harshest of environments. A Gore-Tex Pro hardshell fabric keeps wind, rain and snow at bay, while also being durable, so it will happily accompany you on run after run after run. Outer pockets won't be covered up if you put a harness on, and if you find yourself in a downpour of rain or snow, the StormHood will fit over a ski helmet for added protection.
The Dunmore ski jacket is, therefore, designed for snowboarding, but skiers want to look good too, so we're championing it for the dual-gliders out there as well. The Dunmore rocks a heavyweight design, but a silhouette that could easily be worn off the mountain too. The tough exterior provides protection against water and snow, while an inner Thermolite insulation layer, coupled with Burton's Living Liner, regulate airflow to keep your body breathing. It's essentially a three-in-one jacket without having separate pieces. Pockets for your goggles and phone keep them well-protected and microfibre pockets keep your hands warm when at the bar for some Après ski action.
You can therefore be guaranteed superior warmth with this hooded down ski jacket. Not only will look the swankiest guy on the slopes, showing off your superiority, it will gladly assist you in the transition to après ski.