Best Ski Jackets
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Skiing jackets are designed to be comfortable and warm, and different manufacturers use varying types of insulation methods in their ski jacket designs to help provide extra heat. Skiing jackets are usually made with either down or synthetic insulation options, and each provides its own set of benefits and concerns.
With a down, you’ll get more warmth and less bulk, but the price is more expensive. Down also tends to insulate worse as it gets wet, although most ski jacket brands nowadays add other features to their jackets to prevent this from happening—like waterproofing the outside shell of the jacket, or adding waterproofing methods to the interior insulation of the down fabric itself.
Synthetic insulation will be a more affordable option, but it does tend to weigh more. However, synthetic insulation does better with down as far as retaining insulation goes when the insulation gets wet. Synthetic insulation also dries out faster than down does when moisture becomes a problem.
Some ski jacket manufacturers use both types of insulation inside of their jackets, putting down in areas where you need to stay warm, and synthetic areas in places more prone to moisture—like under the arms. For instance, the Arcteryx Macai Jacket discussed in our list above uses both types of insulation, with down around your core area and synthetic insulation in the underarm area.
Jackets made with synthetic insulation also tend to fit bulkier and feel bulkier, and can interact with your range of motion in a negative way because these jackets don’t tend to be as flexible as those designed with down. The choice between synthetic insulation and down insulation will really depend on your budget, and where you plan to ski.
The best option for insulation, if you can afford it, comes from skiing jackets that use the combination insulation method. If you know you’ll be out when the temperatures are below freezing, you’ll want to opt either for down insulation or synthetic insulation.
However, if you’re looking for a more affordable option and worry about what might happen if the down insulation in your jacket gets wet, you can go for a jacket made with synthetic insulation. Much of this will depend on where you plan to ski, and what the weather is like outside.
All skiing jackets on our list are made with some type of waterproofing technology, usually combined into the outer shell of the jacket. You get a lot of options for waterproofing methods depending on the brand you pick, but if you want to go for the best type of waterproofing on your jacket and can afford it, Gore-Tex offers the highest level of protection. Gore-Tex also tends to last a lot longer, as some other waterproofing methods can actually wash off in the washing machine the more you clean your jacket. Also, most Gore-Tex waterproofing designs are fully waterproof.
DWR (durable water repellent) is the other standard option in waterproofing and usually is more water-resistant than fully waterproof. However, DWR still works well to shed moisture from the jacket and helps the jacket to dry out faster. With DWR, though, the repellant on the outside of the jacket can wear off and break down the more you both wear and wash the jacket.
With waterproofing technologies, you typically get what you pay for in a ski jacket. Gore-Tex will cost you more and last longer, but DWR will be cheaper and still works well. So, when deciding what you need, consider your budget, and whether you need a fully waterproof jacket or one that simply repels the water.
If you’ll be skiing often in the backcountry, you’ll definitely want a jacket with good breathability. However, if you know you sweat a lot, then you’ll still want a jacket that provides good ventilation, no matter where you prefer to ski.
Some jackets offer great features like armpit zippers so that you can ventilate your jacket yourself when you need it, while others are made with other vents throughout the jacket. Most shell jackets breathe fairly well, and you’ll get good ventilation out of other jackets that use 3-layer fabric construction on their jackets, usually made with a combination of Gore-Tex, eVent, or Polartec NeoShell technologies.
Chances are, the more expensive your ski jacket is, the better the ventilation system will be. Softshell jackets tend to offer the best ventilation systems but not great weather resistance, so depending on what you need, you may need to spend a bit more if you want good ventilation.
When deciding on how to approach this feature, consider where you’ll be skiing and how much you know you perspire. With that in mind, you should be able to decide on the type of ventilation that’s best for your use.
Skiing jackets are usually designed with several common features that you’ll want to look at closely before you make your purchase. These features include hoods, pockets, powder skirts, pit zips, and RECCO technology. We’ll cover each of these in a bit more detail below.
Ski Jacket Hoods
Depending on how and where you ski, you’ll want to consider whether or not you’ll need a ski jacket with a good hood. If you do a lot of resort skiing and mostly go downhill, you might not need a hood and could be just fine with a beanie or helmet. However, if you know you feel cold when you’re on the ski lift or if you like skiing when the weather is ugly, then getting a large, well-insulated hood can help keep your head warm and your body temperature higher. If you do want a good hood, make sure the fit is large enough to fit a helmet or hat, and adjustable so that you can cinch it securely to your head when you ski. Hoods that fit well shouldn’t get in the way of your sight. Also, if you plan on wearing your ski jacket for more than just usual ski days and out in snowy weather, then a good hood will also keep your head warm for that.
Ski Jacket Pockets
You’ll want to have some pockets on your ski jacket unless you plan to backpack when you ski. All skiing jackets come with some hand pockets, and most of them also have a zippered chest pocket that’s usually used to hide away smaller items—like your phone or wallet. If you do plan on bringing your electronics along with you on snowy ski outings, you’ll want to make sure you have a chest pocket on the inside of the jacket so that your device stays warm and dry.
Ski Jacket Powder Skirts
If you know you’ll be in deep snow when you ski or might stumble and fall, then you’ll want a jacket that has a powder skirt. Powder skirts help prevent snow from getting into your jacket and are usually made from fabric that’s found in the lining of the jacket in the waist. Powder Skirts will keep snow from getting into your pants and the bottom area of the jacket. Sometimes, powder skirts are removable—so you’re able to take them off if you want to wear the jacket to run errands when it’s snowing outside.
Ski Jacket Pit Zips
Since skiing requires a lot of physical activity, you’re probably going to perspire when you do it, and some of us sweat more than others. Waterproof jackets sometimes offer poor quality ventilation features, so you want to make sure you get a jacket that offers weather protection but is still breathable. A lot of skiing jackets nowadays are made with pit zips under your arms, which allow you to open your jacket out to vent to get out hot air and moisture so that you don’t overheat while you are on the slopes. You may not need this feature if you are a more casual skier and they do add some weight to the jacket, but if you are very active and know you tend to perspire easily, then you’ll want to consider a jacket with this feature.
Ski Jacket RECCO Technology
Some top-of-the-line skiing jackets feature RECCO reflectors on them, and these are an added safety feature. If you tend to ski in areas that can have avalanches, then this is an excellent benefit to have as long as you can afford it, since it tends to make the jacket itself more expensive. A RECCO reflector is a unit in the jacket that doesn’t use batteries and can be detected by RECCO detectors usually used by search and rescue teams. So, depending on where you ski, you may want to opt for this additional safety feature.
Top Ten Ski Jackets
1. The North Face Thermoball Snow Triclimate
For an affordable, quality 3-in-1 jacket, you might want to consider The North Face Thermoball Snow Triclimate Jacket, which fits better than many other similar jackets and works well with layers. Plus, for its price, it offers many great ski features that you’ll love having on the jacket when you hit the slopes.Read more
This ski jacket is made with synthetic insulation, but it still does a very good job with warmth regardless, and could easily be mistaken for a down-filled jacket.
Plus, you get the typical 3-in-1 jacket benefits with this design, so you can break down the jacket into lighter layers when the weather is warmer, or use all the pieces of the jacket together for better weather protection when you need it.
The shell on this jacket is made to be both waterproof and breathable and includes seam-sealed DryVent 2.5L technology.
Designed with quality features like armpit zippers and a good ventilation system, you’ll be able to stay dry even as you sweat since this jacket will push the moisture away from your skin and to the exterior of the jacket.
Designed with a relaxed fit, this jacket also has zip-in compatible integration with other The North Face products and comes with a fully adjustable hood that can fit over any helmet or hat. You’ll stay warm and dry while you ski with this snow jacket, and if you’re shopping on a budget, you might be very happy with the benefits this jacket offers.
2. Flylow Gear Quantum Pro
Flylow Gear’s Quantum Pro Jacket is one of the stiffest, heaviest, and beefiest ski jackets you’ll find on the market today, and it works great for skiers who need a lot of winter protection. This jacket offers a lot of benefits and features that make it a great all-around ski jacket since it provides a lot of warmth and weather protection.Read more
The 3-layer Oxford fabric offers “intuitive” warmth and easily adjusts to your core temperature in many different climates.
Designed with a 3-layer outer system that makes its shell waterproof and breathable, you’ll get protection from moisture because of the shell’s DWR (durable water repellent) protection.
The ventilation system built into the jacket also includes underarm vents to help keep moisture out as you sweat, keeping you warm and protected in all cold weather conditions.
Flylow’s Gear Quantum Pro Jacket also comes with an adjustable hood that works with both helmets and hats, allowing you to keep your head warm. The removable powder skirt offers another level of protection when you need it, and when you don’t want it, you can simply remove it.
Designed with eight pockets and no bulk cuffs, this winter jacket also features a waterproof zipper and weighs in at about 656 grams. So, for skiers that know they’ll be out in below-freezing conditions, this jacket offers the warmth and weather protection they might want.
3. Volcom Snow
Volcom brings us a great snow jacket that doesn't just look great, but functions great also! Aside from the great weather protection, this jacket offers a great amount of flexibility that won't affect your skiing abilities. In addition, the zipper doubles as a whistle and the hood features goggle clips.Read more
This jacket offers 80/60-grams of low-loft insulation. While, honestly, this isn’t the amount of insulation that we normally choose for the snow, this jacket still manages to keep you warm. Any more insulation is that jacket may have you sweating buckets while plummeting the hills. As an added warming bonus, it also features tricot-lined hand warming pockets and a cinched hood with a hidden toggle.
Volcom really thought through the materials and technologies that they used when creating this jacket. This three-layer jacket features two Gore-Tex layers, followed by a pfcec-free laminate layer. To top it all off, the seams are fully taped. This makes this jacket wind and waterproof.
When you start to work up a sweat, don’t worry- this jacket won’t leave you swimming. It features V- Science breathable lining paired with mesh-lined vents in the armpit area. These zippered vents allow you to rapidly change the internal temperature.
This jacket is packed with features! Not only is it great looking, but it is available in twelve different colors! To keep you warm and comfortable, there is a suede chin guard to keep the zipper from scratching you, and there is also adjustable cinch cuffs and a powder skirt. For safety and convenience, the zipper doubles as a whistle and the hood features google clips to heed the hood in place when going downhill.
4. Outdoor Research Skyward
Outdoor Research’s Skyward Jacket brings skiers a flexible, stretchy, breathable, and warm option that brings good weather protection when you hit the slopes. With great ventilation to keep moisture out as you sweat, you’ll stay dry and comfortable in this jacket no matter where you decide to ski.Read more
The Ascent Shell does such a great job of keeping you dry, airy, and comfortable. While there isn’t specifically an insulation system built in, a base layer would be a great addition.
Also, the jacket is designed to be waterproof and windproof, so it will keep you protected from both the wind and snow if you encounter any adverse weather conditions.
Designed with AscentShell technology to boost ventilation, you’ll stay dry inside your jacket even while you sweat since the jacket pushes moisture to the outer layer of the jacket.
The hood on the jacket is also adjustable and can fit any helmet or hood, and made as a wire-brimmed halo-hood to also protect your eyes. Designed with a double-separating center front zipper, you also get Movement-Mirroring Stretch technology with this jacket, making it flexible and helping it to move with you. For a skier looking for a good jacket on a budget, this jacket should do the trick and help keep you warm and dry each time you hit the slopes.
5. Outdoor Research White Room
If you’re a hardcore skier, then you want a hardcore jacket that can protect you no matter where you decide to take your sport. Outdoor Research’s White Room Jacket is made to be a specialized ski resort jacket that is designed to fit all the needs of the highly active skier.Read more
Adding a great layer of warmth, the jacket has a 100% polyester flannel combined with the material. Outdoor Research’s White Room Jacket also comes with a helmet-compatible hood that adjusts to fit your needs and works well at keeping your head warm.
Made with durable, breathable, and waterproof Gore-Tex fabric on the outer part of the shell, this is one of the most water-resistant jackets on our list.
To increase breathability, this jacket has the Crossly ventilation system designed into it, meaning as you sweat, the jacket will push that moisture out, keeping you warm and dry.
This jacket also features Shove-It zippered pockets where you can store stow hats, gloves, or whatever you need to take along with you. You also get an integrated RECCO reflector for added safety in case you ever wind up stranded in the snow, you’ll be much easier to find. You’ll also get a zip-out powder skirt that features Lockdown tabs, so you can adjust your jacket to keep you warm of the weather conditions change.
6. Arc'teryx Macai
The Arcteryx Macai Jacket is a jacket that covers all the bases well and has a great ability to keep you warm even though it is made to be very lightweight. With excellent durability, this is one of the lightest and warmest jackets out there on the market today, and it also comes with down insulation.Read more
This jacket is outfitted with down and synthetic insulation. The insulation is strategically placed to provide warmth and durability. The synthetic Coreloft won’t dampen in the rain and will continue to keep you warm through the toughest conditions.
Arc'teryx’s Macai Jacket is made with a waterproof Gore-Tex shell and the underarm area contains synthetic insulation to help you stay dry even when the weather gets very wet. The jacket is also designed with Down Composite Mapping which helps keep wind and wetness out in areas of the jacket that are more prone to collecting moisture.
This jacket also features mesh-lined PowerGurad vents that increase breathability while still keeping the snow out of your jacket.
Made with a warm and insulated DropHood that can fit over any helmet or hat, the Macai’s hood will also rotate easily with your head and is designed to be flexible.
The Macai also comes with two zippered hand pockets, a sleeve pocket, an internal pocket, a secure zippered pocket, and one check pocket. Plus, the jacket is also made with an adjustable hem drawcord that will seal in warmth no matter how cold the weather gets.
7. Dakine Sawtooth
From the name of the jacket, you know this is a going to a tough and durable jacket. The Sawtooth has Gore-Tex layers which boast great weather and water protection. There are two mesh chest zippers for ultimate breathability. There isn't much insulation in this jacket, so as long as you're okay with layering, this is a great option.Read more
While there are many highlights of this jacket, for blundering cold winter days, this isn’t going to cut it. The tailored fit does make it a great jacket for layering without looking bulky or being too loose. For warmer days, this jacket is great on its own.
Another jacket with the trusted Gore-Tex materials, you can count on this jacket in the wind, rain, and snow. To further ensure the water resistance, the seams are fully taped and the YKK zippers are finished with a water-resistant AquaGuard treatment.
In previous models, the chest zippers were pockets. In this newer model, the chest zippers have been transformed into zippered chest vents. Initially, we were unsure of the placement, but reviewers claim the vents are great and well-placed.
One of the chest zippers is dedicated as a media pocket. It’s a great place to stash your phone without having it too far out of reach. Another desirable feature that this ski jacket boasts is the addition of wrist gaiters. The gaiters add a bit more warmth and keep the sleeves of the jacket secured in place. Additionally, there is a specific stretch mesh pocket for your goggles and a stretch powder skirt.
8. Spyder Leader
Spyder’s Leader Jacket is a popular choice among many skiers, and its excellent performance on the slopes is one of the reasons for this. Spyder’s Leader Jacket performs well and is very reliable during the cold winter weather, providing you with warmth and weather protection.Read more
Spyder’s Leader Jacket works great since it has full insulation and is made with a high-end, synthetic shell that’s far better than what’s offered by most manufacturers. The jacket is designed with synthetic insulation, but that’s a benefit if you know you’re going to get wet often or sweat a lot while you’re active on the slopes.
The integrated Gore-Tex fabric in this jacket will keep you dry and comfortable. This amazing material makes the jacket windproof and waterproof.
Made with a core ventilation system to provide breathability and push moisture out while you sweat, Spyder’s Leader Jacket also has a removable powder skirt with a stretch panel. The jacket is also made with a snapback feature to hold the powder skirt out of the way when you don’t need it.
Spyder’s Leader Jacket is also made with a removable hood that is fully compatible with a helmet or hat and can be easily adjusted. Plus, the jacket also features a waterproof center front zipper and waterproof hand and chest pocket zippers.
9. Columbia Whirlibird Interchange
Columbia’s Whirlibird Interchange Jacket offers skiers a lot of versatility since it has a burly shell and separate liner that insulates you to keep you warm while you are on-the-go. Made as a 3-in-1 jacket, you can combine all the jacket’s features for a lot of weather protection, or simply use the shell or liner alone when the weather is a bit warmer.Read more
Columbia’s Whirlibird Interchange Jacket is very warm and affordable and made with an Omni-Heat Thermal reflective liner, which uses your own body heat to keep you well-insulated throughout the day. It also comes with a removable, adjustable hood you can use to fit over a helmet or hat and still keep your head warm.
This jacket also features an Omni-Tech waterproof breathable outer shell, meaning it will keep the snow and water out of the jacket so you feel comfortable no matter where you decide to ski.
Columbia’s Whirlibird Interchange Jacket is also very breathable and includes a good ventilation system that will help push moisture out of the jacket as you sweat.
Plus, this jacket has a waterproof zipper at the front and a snapback powder skirt you can also easily adjust. The jacket includes zippered hand and chest pockets, an interior security pocket, a goggle pocket, adjustable sleeve cubs, and an adjustable drawcord hem.
10. Cheerun Outdoor
The Cheerun outdoor jacket is defiantly a ski jacket to check out. It provides a thick layer to ensure you maintain your body heat and enjoy your day on the slopes.Read more
Featuring an adjustable hood, you can wear a helmet or jacket inside of your hood and close your hood easily to fit over it, giving your head a lot of warmth. Plus, this snow jacket is also designed with some space and decent flexibility for a good range of motion as you move.
The Cheerun Outdoor is waterproof, weatherproof and windproof. This jacket is truly a jacket to keep you protected while hitting the slopes.
Unfortunately, there are no specific breathability vents built into this jacket. However, the style and fabric work together to provide a comfortable experience.
The Cheerun Outdoor comes with three pockets, so you’ll have plenty of places to stash the items you want to bring along with you. Also, it falls to hip-length, keeping your body well covered, and is also designed to be lightweight and packable.
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