With keen skiers and snowboarders able to chase seasons around the globe, making sure you have the best gear to not only keep your warm and dry but looking fly, is paramount. Whether you’ve already got a ski trip booked or are planning to make the most of the next snow season to dump a bucketload of the white stuff at your favourite resort, you’ll want to make sure you don’t head out rocking a years-old jacket that has seen better days.
With snowsports becoming ever more popular, there’s no shortage of brands producing some great quality 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 not only gives you a unique look but will make it easier for your fellow group members to spot you.
You will also find when browsing for some new winter garms, 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 their skiing cousins, as well as being slightly longer to protect your backside when you’re sitting down and strapping your boots into your binding.
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 snowboarding 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 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 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, with regards to ski jackets, 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 shell is the route 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.