Purchasing a ski jacket for your snowsports holiday or season is one of the most important decisions to make. Make that decision easier by taking a look at this handy ‘what to look for’ guide and you will end up with the best ski jacket for you.
Just want to take a look at our top recommends? Use the links to find your new jacket!
First things first…
Before buying a ski jacket you need to consider what type of resort you usually visit, what type of person you are, and the style you are looking for. For example, some ski resorts are in cooler, dry climates and some are in more humid, wetter climates. You might enjoy a full day of blood-pumping snowboarding or more leisurely skiing with plenty of breaks.
You also know how your body reacts to temperature- are you like me- sat in short sleeves when others have their coats on indoors? Or are you the person with the coat on- cold no matter what! All of this will have a bearing on the type of weatherproofing and insulation you will want in a jacket. Finally, what type of style do you prefer- clothes that are more fitted, how about a longer length, brightly coloured or more neutral?
Now you have these things in mind, read on to find out about the different types of ski jackets available.
What types of ski jackets can I buy?
Shell jackets are as you might think- an outer weatherproof shell which you can layer up with other items underneath depending on your requirements and the weather. Depending on which shell jacket you buy there will by differing levels of waterproofing, however, all shells should be windproof with a good level of waterproofing and breathability. The advantage of shell jackets are their versatility- you can decide the level of insulation that you require under the jacket and you have increased mobility due to the nature of the jacket.
A soft-shell jacket is made of softer and more flexible material. They are less wind and water proof than a full shell and so are more suited for milder conditions or day-to-day wear. They will offer some protection from the weather and are generally cheaper than a full shell.
These are usually down jackets that are slim in profile giving great moveability. They are usually designed to go underneath a shell or can be worn on their own in warmer, dryer conditions. These jackets are really popular and can easily be worn as your ‘regular’ jacket when not skiing.
This type of jacket combines both an outer shell and the layer of insulation so are suited to constant colder conditions or if you’re happier with one jacket instead of layers. The insulation will be either synthetic (Primaloft or Thinsulate are a couple of makes) or natural down material. Synthetic insulation is usually cheaper and will still work when wet (unlike down), however down will be more lightweight, easier to compress and keep you super toasty. The level of insulation is measured in grams- more grams means more insulation.
A 3-in-1 jacket is a great option if you are expecting differing conditions where you are going or want a versatile jacket that can be worn most of the year. As the name suggests the jacket has three options- an outer shell giving weatherproofing capabilities, an inner fleece or down layer, and both jackets zipped or attached neatly together for a weatherproof and warm third option.
What else should I look for?
Once you’ve decided on what type of jacket best suits your requirements, bear these next things in mind to narrow down your choice.
As part of their waterproofing, jackets will either have critically taped seams or fully taped seams. Critically taped means that only those seams that are more likely to be exposed such as shoulders or neck are taped. Fully taped means all seams are taped and might be required if you go to a wetter location.
These are zipped areas usually under the arms that you can quickly open to cool down without having to open your full jacket.
Have a think about what types of things you will need to take with you when you’re wearing your ski jacket and then make sure you have enough pockets for it all! Obviously you don’t want so many pockets that you lose track of where things are or your jacket becomes too bulky, but a couple on the front and an inside pocket are probably the minimum requirement.
Fit and length
This will likely come down to personal taste. Do you want a more fitted look from your jacket or a looser, regular fit? Would you prefer a shorter jacket that sits at the top of the hips or one that goes a bit lower on your body? Make sure you know your measurements- what’s long for you may be medium or even short for someone else!
Almost all ski jackets will come with a hood so you need to think about how it will work with your helmet and goggles, whether it is removable and/ or adjustable, and if it has faux-fur trim if this can be removed for cleaning or when conditions dictate the trim to be impractical.
These are an extra piece of material attached to the cuff or your jacket that will pull out over your thumb creating a better weather seal before putting on gloves.
All ski jackets will come with a powder skirt. These are an extra piece of material attached to the waist of your jacket so that a seal is made with your ski trousers. If you fall in the snow this will ensure no snow gets up under your jacket. They will come in different styles and can sometimes be removable for when you’re not skiing.
Type of Cuff
Most ski jacket cuffs will be adjustable to a certain extent. Make sure you get the ones that are most compatible with the style of glove you like wearing. A snug cuff is best for gauntlet type gloves whereas a larger cuff that can be secured down is better for under-cuff gloves.
So, now you know all the right things to make a really informed choice as to which ski jacket is going to be the best for you. Take a look at our top ski jacket recommends for men, women and children using the links.