Last Updated on 11 November 2023 by Rebecca
When the snowflakes start to fall and the mountains call, having the perfect ski jacket is essential for a successful day on the slopes. And you’ll find that the best ski jackets all have one thing in common: they need to protect you against the elements whether that’s rain, sleet, or snow when you’re on the mountain.
To do that, you need to pick the right one. But with ski jackets in a variety of budgets, fits, styles, and technicalities, how do you narrow this down? Thankfully, we’ve done the hard work for you and have picked the best ski jackets right for the job whether you’re in deep power, backcountry skiing, or enjoying those groomed piste runs.
With snow sports such as snowboarding and skiing increasing in popularity, the snow apparel market was valued at $17.39bn in 2022. From 2023 to 2030, it’s expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.4%, highlighting the continued engagement in the ski jacket market for years to come.
And to ensure you stay ahead of the trend, you need the right ski jacket. When it comes to these, some prefer an outer shell jacket for versatility while others need more of an insulated jacket that comes with a fleece lining for added warmth. There are also 3-in-1 ski jackets available for those seeking a waterproof jacket that’s budget-friendly.
So, if you’re ready to discover the best ski jackets for your next mountain adventure, read on to find out which ski jacket is for you. You’ll find brands from the likes of Black Diamond, Flylow, Patagonia, and Salomon giving you a great range to choose from that are tailored to your needs and preferences.
Overview of the Best Ski Jackets
Our curated selection of ski jackets, including the best backcountry ski jacket, is designed to cater to several skiing styles and preferences, providing a comprehensive range of options. Whether you’re a resort skier or a backcountry adventurer, our top picks offer the best in weather protection, insulation, and style.
Here are our recommendations:
- Best for Functionality: Flylow Men’s Roswell Synthetic Ski Jacket
- Best for Design: SALOMON Women’s Icerocket Ski Jacket
1. Best All-Around Performer: SALOMON Men’s Brilliant Jacket
Made from recycled polyester
The SALOMON Men’s Brilliant Jacket distinguishes itself as a high-performance all-rounder with its superior waterproofing, insulation, and comfort across diverse skiing conditions. Waterproof and windproof, this insulated jacket has abundant features, making it a great option to have.
Some of these include its goggle mesh pocket, its integrated powder skirt, two zipped chest pockets, and its ability to protect you from elements while providing breathability thanks to its AdvancedSkin Dry Technology. The adjustable, helmet-compatible hood and easy-to-use pit zips are also a welcome addition, enabling skiers to stay comfortable and dry in any weather on the ski slopes.
Delivering the best weather resistance, the Salomon Brilliant Men’s Ski Jacket is a great jacket to consider whether it’s for resort and backcountry skiing. When it comes to spending time in the mountains, you want to remain confident in what you’re wearing and we think this ski jacket is one of those that does that.
It’s available in sizes XS, S, M, L, XL, and 2XL.
2. Best for Comfort and Style: Helly Hansen Women’s Alphelia Jacket
Two-layer construction that’s waterproof, windproof, and breathable
Balancing comfort and style, the Helly Hansen Women’s Alphelia Ski Jacket is a sought-after choice among female skiers. This jacket offers an excellent combination of performance and eco-friendly materials, making it a great investment for those who value both style and sustainability. The slim torso design contours the body without restricting movement, ensuring a comfortable fit on the slopes.
Thanks to its technical ski features, this Helly Hansen resort jacket delivers maximum protection against the elements whether you’re resort skiing, ski touring, or in the backcountry. Available in various colours, this resort skier jacket comes with its HELLY TECH® PERFORMANCE 2-layer construction, making it waterproof, windproof, and breathable. It also features a soft baffle construction on the jacket interior to increase warmth while the side mesh ventilation enables you to remain cool while working hard on the mountain.
As a relatively affordable ski jacket, additional details to the Helly Hansen include the RECCO transponder, making you searchable to rescuers, a removable hood, a lift pass pocket, and a goggle pocket.
It’s available in sizes XS, S, M, L, and XL.
3. Best for Backcountry Skiing: Patagonia Women’s W’s Snowdrifter Jacket
Adjustable helmet hood
The Patagonia Women’s W’s Snowdrifter Ski Jacket is an ideal pick for enthusiasts of backcountry ventures. Lightweight and breathable, the Patagonia Women’s W’s Snowdrift Ski Jacket delivers a 3-layer H2No Performance Standard fabric for maximum weather protection in a regular fit, providing greater freedom of movement during ski tours.
What’s not to love about this waterproof ski jacket?
It also has easily engaged pit zips, multi-use pockets, and, importantly, a built-in RECCO reflector. However, while the Snowdrifter Jacket may be too lightweight for extremely cold conditions (you’ll need to add a few light layers underneath), its overall performance and suitability for backcountry skiing make it a top choice for those who prioritise mobility and comfort in their ski gear.
It’s available in sizes XS, S, M, L, and XL.
4. Best 3-in-1 Option: Columbia Men’s Tall Whirlibird IV Interchange Jacket
Omni-Tech waterproof/breathable fabric
Omni-Heat thermal reflective liner
Offering adaptable warmth and protection across varied skiing conditions, the Columbia Men’s Tall Whirlibird IV Interchange Jacket is a flexible 3-in-1 choice. If you’re searching for one of the best men’s ski jackets that’s affordable and adaptable, then you can’t go wrong with this choice.
As a 3-in-1 option, this men’s ski jacket features an Omni-Tech waterproof and breathable shell to keep you dry during unexpected snow storms and a thermal-reflective, synthetic insulation liner that can be worn separately or together for maximum warmth.
While the Whirlibird IV may not offer the same level of performance as dedicated ski jackets, its versatility and affordability make it a solid choice for those looking for a 3-in-1 option. After all, if you buy a shell jacket, you’ll need to add some extra layers to increase your warmth levels. This jacket skips that process and gives you everything you need to begin with.
The adjustable, removable hood and multiple pockets add to the jacket’s functionality, making it a great option for skiers who want a single jacket to cover various conditions and temperatures.
It’s available in sizes S, M, L, XL, and XXL.
5. Best for Dual Sports: Flylow Women’s Billie Ski & Snowboard Jacket
Equipped with a 3-layer hardshell fabric
Plenty of underarm ventilation
Perfectly fitting the needs of dual-sport enthusiasts, the Flylow Women’s Billie Ski & Snowboard Jacket is a great option for those who ski and snowboard. Thanks to its versatile design, the Billie shell jacket delivers plenty of breathability to keep you going throughout the day.
It also comes packed with several features, which resort skiers will love, including a helmet-compatible hood and spacious pockets for storage. For those who want a backcountry ski jacket, this is a great option if all you want is a single jacket to cover both skiing and snowboarding, as well as other activities requiring shell jackets.
It’s available in sizes XS, S, M, L, and XL.
6. Best for Lightweight Design: Outdoor Research Men’s Carbide Jacket
Pertex® Shield 3L fabric
Two hand pockets, one chest pocket, one internal media pocket
If you’re looking for a backcountry jacket for ski touring or a waterproof ski jacket that isn’t too expensive and does the job of protecting you, then the Outdoor Research Men’s Carbide Jacket is one to consider. For skiers with a preference for comfort and agility on the slopes, this weather-resistance jacket is a preferred selection.
This is due to its lightweight design, its waterproof construction and breathable Pertex 3l fabric. All of which allows for a greater range of motion without compromising on weather protection.
The Carbide Jacket features functional pockets for storage, an effective ventilation system with pit zips, and an adjustable, helmet-compatible hood for added convenience. Although it may not be suitable for extreme cold, its lightweight design and focus on mobility make it an excellent option for skiers who want to feel free and agile on the slopes.
It’s available in sizes S, M, L, XL, XXL, and XXXL.
7. Best ECO-Friendly Option: Picture SEEN Women’s Ski Jacket
The Picture SEEN Women’s Ski Jacket is the go-to choice for those who prioritise eco-friendliness in their ski clothing.
Made from eco-friendly materials, including 58% bio-sourced polyester from repurposed sugarcane waste and 42% recycled polyester, this ski jacket has a PFC-free recyclable membrane for waterproofing and breathability. All of this combined brings a jacket that’s both stylish with high performance without compromising on environmental responsibility.
The SEEN Women’s Ski Jacket has a waterproof rating of 20K and a breathability rating of 15K, delivering optimal protection and comfort on the slopes. And unlike some other brands available, it’s not too pricey, delivering a budget-friendly jacket that’s perfect for environmentally conscious skiers.
It’s available in sizes S, M, L, and XL.
8. Best for Mobility: Black Diamond Women’s Recon Stretch Ski Jacket
4-way stretch fabric with BD.dry™ 2L Nylon stretch woven shell fabric
Removable internal powder skirt
The Black Diamond Women’s Recon Stretch Ski Jacket is a stellar choice for skiers who value freedom of movement and comfort on the slopes. Its excellent mobility is provided by the 4-way stretch fabric and articulated design, allowing for unrestricted movement on the slopes.
In addition to its focus on mobility, the Recon Stretch Ski Jacket offers the best in waterproofness and breathability thanks to its 3L BD.dry™ waterproof technology. Because of this, the Black Diamond Women’s Recon jacket keeps you comfortable and moving in tough conditions.
It’s available in sizes S, M, L, and XL.
9. Best for Advanced Skiers: THE NORTH FACE Men’s Sickline Ski Jacket
DryVent™ 2L fabric to keep you dry
100g PrimaLoft® Silver Insulation Eco
THE NORTH FACE Men’s Sickline Ski Jacket is a top choice among men’s ski jackets, offering high-performance features and robust construction, making it a commendable consideration for advanced skiers. This jacket is built to withstand the demands of advanced skiing, with a waterproof DryVent™ 2L fabric and 100g PrimaLoft® Silver Insulation Eco to keep you warm and protected on the mountain.
The adjustable, helmet-compatible hood and multiple pockets for storage make this insulated jacket with a removable powder skirt both functional and convenient for advanced skiers. With its high-performance features and durable construction, this makes THE NORTH FACE Men’s Sickline Ski Jacket a top choice for serious skiers who demand the best from their gear.
It’s available in sizes S, M, L, XL, and XXL.
10. Best for Functionality: Flylow Men’s Roswell Synthetic Ski Jacket
- 2-layer outer fabric
- Fully seamed tape
The Flylow Men’s Roswell Synthetic Ski Jacket is a great choice if you’re after an all-around functionality jacket that’s sleek and insulated. Thanks to its 2-layer fabric, the Men’s Roswell jacket delivers all the features you’d want in a ski jacket: supreme waterproofing and breathability, a powder skirt, and wrist gaskets.
Weight just under 1,000g, the Roswell ticks all the boxes on what a skier wants. Comfortable enough to wear all day, the Roswell also comes equipped with underarm pit zips to maintain optimal body temperature during the day and keep you warm during periods of inactivity.
It’s available in sizes XS, S, M, L, XL, and XXL.
11. Best for Design: SALOMON Women’s Icerocket Ski Jacket
- AdvancedSkin waterproof technology
- Motion fit
The SALOMON Women’s Icerocket Ski Jacket is another great option from the Salomon range, but this time targeted toward women. Combining efficient waterproof capabilities, with added insulation for warmth and protection, this lightweight jacket is ready for the active skier who enjoys their time on the mountain.
Stylish and technical, the SALOMON Women’s Icerocket Ski Jacket is constructed with a four-way stretch fabric providing a great fit. With plenty of features, including the detachable hood with 3D adjustment, a stretch powder skirt, a Google wipe, and taped seams, this is a winner of a ski jacket to consider.
It’s available in sizes S, M, L, and XL.
Types of Ski Jackets
When it comes to choosing the perfect ski jacket, understanding the different types available is crucial. Here, we will delve into the specifics of shell jackets, insulated jackets, and 3-in-1 jackets.
These are designed to provide a waterproof and windproof layer to protect you from the elements while skiing. These jackets typically don’t provide much insulation, which makes them perfect for layering. You can wear a warm mid-layer underneath for colder days, or just a base layer for warmer days. Shell jackets are often lightweight and packable, making them a versatile option for various weather conditions.
High-end shell jackets often incorporate a 3-layer (3L) Gore-Tex layering system, known for delivering excellent waterproofing and breathability. This system consists of an outer fabric, a Gore-Tex membrane in the middle, and an inner liner. The outer fabric is treated with a durable water-repellent (DWR) coating to prevent saturation and maintain breathability.
The Gore-Tex membrane in the middle is the key to the jacket’s waterproofing, as it stops water from getting through while allowing sweat vapour to escape, keeping you dry from both external and internal moisture. The inner liner protects the Gore-Tex membrane and increases the jacket’s durability.
This 3L Gore-Tex system provides superior weather protection and breathability, making these high-end shell jackets a great choice for skiers who often find themselves in harsh and unpredictable weather conditions. Despite their higher price point, the durability, weather protection, and breathability they offer make them a worthwhile investment for serious skiers.
These are designed to provide both protection from the elements and warmth. They come with built-in insulation, which can be either down or synthetic.
Down is warmer, but less effective when wet, while synthetic insulation is less warm, but performs better in damp conditions. They are typically bulkier than shell jackets, but they’re a great option if you want a single jacket to keep you warm and dry.
3-in-1 jackets, also known as system or component jackets, are versatile options that include a waterproof shell and a removable insulated inner layer.
You can wear the shell alone on warmer, wet days, the inner layer alone on cool, dry days, or both together for cold, wet days. This makes 3-in-1 jackets a versatile and cost-effective option, especially for skiers who experience a wide range of weather conditions.
Understanding Jacket Layering: 2L vs. 3L
When it comes to choosing a ski jacket, you’ll often come across terms like 2L and 3L. These terms refer to the number of layers in the jacket’s construction. Understanding the difference between these two can help you select the most suitable jacket for your needs.
2L (Two-Layer) Jackets
Two-layer jackets are the most common type of waterproof jacket. They consist of an outer layer that is coated with a durable water-repellent (DWR) finish and an inner layer that is laminated to the outer layer.
The inner layer is usually a loose liner that is not bonded to the outer layer. This design allows for a layer of air between the outer and inner layers, which can help with insulation and breathability.
Two-layer jackets are typically lighter and more affordable than their three-layer counterparts. They are a great choice for casual skiers or those who don’t often ski in extreme weather conditions.
3L (Three-Layer) Jackets
Three-layer jackets are the top-tier option when it comes to waterproof jackets. They consist of an outer layer coated with DWR, a waterproof and breathable membrane in the middle, and an inner layer that is bonded to the membrane. This construction results in a jacket that is more durable, waterproof, and breathable than a two-layer jacket.
Three-layer jackets are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions and rigorous activities. They are usually more expensive than two-layer jackets, but their superior performance and durability make them a worthwhile investment for serious skiers or those who frequently ski in extreme weather conditions.
Decoding Ski Jacket Features
To deepen your understanding of ski jacket features, we’ll dissect some of the key elements. Waterproofing, insulation, breathability, durability, and weight are crucial elements that contribute to your overall comfort and performance on the slopes.
Waterproofing is essential for keeping you dry in various weather conditions, such as snow, sleet, and rain.
Insulated jackets provide the necessary insulation for maintaining warmth, especially during colder days or while riding the ski lift.
Breathability ensures that your jacket can effectively regulate your body temperature, preventing overheating and sweat buildup during more strenuous activities.
Durability is determined by the quality of its materials and construction. A durable ski jacket should be able to withstand the rigours of skiing, including falls, contact with equipment, and exposure to harsh weather.
Weight can significantly impact your comfort and mobility on the slopes. Heavier jackets typically offer more insulation and are ideal for colder conditions. However, they can limit mobility and be too warm for spring skiing or more strenuous activities. Lighter jackets are more breathable and offer greater freedom of movement, making them suitable for warmer conditions or high-intensity activities. However, they might not provide enough insulation for colder days or high-altitude skiing. Therefore, it’s essential to consider the typical conditions and activities you’ll be encountering to choose a ski jacket with an appropriate weight.
Selecting the ideal ski jacket involves considering these features in the context of your skiing style and personal preferences. The right combination of waterproofing, insulation, and breathability will contribute to a comfortable and enjoyable skiing experience.
After all, the last thing you want is to have a negative experience on the slopes. Getting the right Gore-Tex for your ski resort holiday is the best way to ensure you have a great time.
Making the Right Choice: Resort vs Backcountry Jackets
Your choice of ski jacket should reflect whether your skiing adventures mainly take place at resorts or in the backcountry. Resort ski jackets tend to be heavier and offer additional insulation, while backcountry jackets are lighter and more breathable.
Resort jackets should be durable, highly wind- and waterproof, and feature practical organisation to accommodate layering. On the other hand, backcountry jackets prioritise lightweight construction and breathability for ease of movement during ski touring and other off-piste adventures.
Understanding the differences between resort and backcountry ski jackets will help you make an informed decision based on your skiing preferences and ensure that you have the right jacket for your adventures on the mountain.
Sustainability in Ski Jackets
A trend toward sustainability in ski jackets has been gaining momentum in recent years. Brands are focusing on eco-friendly materials and production methods, incorporating the following into their designs:
PFC-free DWR coatings;
Bluesign-approved fabrics; and
Fair Trade certification.
As consumers become more aware of the environmental impact of their purchases, the demand for sustainable ski gear is on the rise. When choosing a ski jacket, consider the eco-friendly options available and their commitment to minimising their environmental footprint. This not only helps protect our planet, but also supports brands that prioritise sustainability.
Key Features of a Ski Jacket
When choosing a ski jacket, it’s essential to understand the different features that enhance your experience on the slopes. These features are designed to provide comfort, convenience, and protection from the elements. Here are some of the key features you’ll find in a ski jacket:
Powder skirts are an internal feature of ski gear that prevents snow from getting inside your jacket when you’re skiing in deep powder. They are typically elasticated and fasten around your waist, creating a seal between your body and the jacket.
These allow you to customise the fit of your jacket around your wrists. This can help keep cold air and snow out, especially when paired with wrist gaiters.
Lift Pass Pocket
A lift pass pocket is a convenient feature often found on the sleeves of ski jackets. It provides a secure and easily accessible place to keep your lift pass while you’re on the slopes. This eliminates the need to rummage through your pockets when you approach the lift, making your skiing experience smoother and more enjoyable.
Some jackets even have RFID-compatible pockets, allowing you to scan your pass without even taking it out of the pocket. This feature, while small, can significantly enhance your skiing experience by providing convenience and efficiency.
Taped seams are a crucial feature in ski jackets that contribute to their waterproofing capabilities. When a jacket is constructed, needle holes from stitching can provide a pathway for water to enter the jacket. To prevent this, manufacturers apply waterproof tape to the seams on the inside of the jacket. This tape, which is typically made from a waterproof material, is carefully adhered over the seams, effectively sealing off any potential entry points for water.
The process of applying this tape is meticulous and requires precision to ensure every seam is completely covered. This feature is particularly important in ski jackets where exposure to wet conditions is common. Taped seams are a hallmark of high-quality ski jackets and are crucial for keeping you dry in snow, sleet, or rain. Hence, when choosing a ski jacket, it’s recommended to opt for one with fully taped seams for maximum protection against the elements.
A helmet-compatible hood is a significant feature in ski jackets designed to accommodate a ski helmet. This type of hood is typically larger and adjustable, allowing it to fit over a helmet without restricting movement or vision.
This feature provides additional protection against the elements, especially during harsh weather conditions, by covering the helmet and reducing the amount of cold air that can reach the neck and face. Some ski jackets even have a removable hood, providing the flexibility to remove it when not in use or when conditions are milder.
A helmet-compatible hood is a practical and beneficial feature for skiers who wear helmets for safety.
Pit zips are a significant feature in many ski jackets, designed to improve ventilation and regulate body temperature during high-intensity activities. These are zippers located in the armpit area of the jacket, which can be opened or closed as needed.
When you’re skiing or snowboarding, your body generates heat. In cold weather, this heat is essential to keep you warm. However, during strenuous activity, you may start to overheat. This is where pit zips come in.
Pit zips provide a quick and effective method of releasing excess heat without having to unzip your entire jacket, which could expose your body to cold temperatures. By simply opening the pit zips, you allow for increased airflow, which can cool you down quickly and efficiently.
This feature is particularly useful during spring skiing or on warmer days when you’re working up a sweat on the slopes. They also come in handy during high-intensity activities like mogul skiing or hiking up to off-piste areas, where you’re likely to generate more body heat.
In addition to ventilation, pit zips allow for a more controlled regulation of body temperature, ensuring that you can adapt to changing weather conditions and activity levels. When you’re working hard on the slopes, generating body heat, you can simply unzip the pit zips to allow for increased airflow and a quick cool down.
Conversely, when the weather turns colder or activity levels decrease, such as when you’re on a ski lift, you can zip them back up to conserve warmth. This adaptability makes pit zips a highly valued feature in many ski jackets.
Pockets on a Ski Jacket
One of the most practical features of a ski jacket is the variety of pockets it offers. These pockets are designed to provide convenient storage for essential items that you might need on the slopes.
Exterior pockets are the most visible and easily accessible pockets on a ski jacket. They are typically located on the chest and lower front of the jacket. These pockets are perfect for storing items that you need to access frequently, such as your lift pass, phone, or snacks.
Many ski jackets also feature a sleeve pocket that is specifically designed to hold your lift pass. This pocket is usually located on the upper part of the sleeve for easy access at the lift gates.
Interior pockets are located inside the ski jacket. These offer a secure place to store items that you want to keep safe and dry, such as your phone, wallet, or keys. Some jackets even feature an internal media pocket with a headphone port, allowing you to listen to your favourite music while you ski.
A goggle pocket is a larger pocket that is specifically designed to hold your ski goggles when you’re not using them. This pocket is usually lined with a soft, scratch-resistant material to protect the lens of your goggles.
Handwarmer pockets are a unique feature found in some ski jackets. These pockets are lined with a warm material and are designed to keep your hands warm when you’re not wearing gloves.
When choosing a ski jacket, consider the type and number of pockets you prefer. Having a variety of pockets can enhance your skiing experience by providing convenient storage for your essential items.
Who knew a ski jacket could feature so many different pockets? If you’re anything like me the more pockets you have, the better. Just like socks, you can never have too many to store all those important things when you’re on the mountain.
Choosing the perfect ski jacket involves considering various factors, such as waterproofing, insulation, breathability, and style. Whether you’re a resort skier or a backcountry adventurer, our comprehensive review and guide of the best ski jackets of the 2023-2024 season aim to help you find the ideal jacket for your needs and preferences.
With options ranging from all-around performers to eco-friendly choices, you can now confidently hit the slopes in style, and comfort, with the knowledge that you’ve made an informed decision, whether that’s through finding a budget ski jacket, the best backcountry ski jacket, an insulated jacket, or a 3-layer Gore-Tex hardshell jacket.
Hopefully, we’ve taken the guesswork out of the best ski jackets to consider and have given you a great selection of jackets to choose from for your next mountain adventure.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of jacket is best for skiing?
For optimum protection against the elements while skiing, a hardshell ski jacket is the ideal choice. These jackets are designed with layered membrane technology that keeps warmth on the inside and elements out and are typically lightweight and breathable for year-round use.
Are ski jackets worth it?
Ski and snowboarding jackets are worth the investment as they can last many years for casual skiers, though more frequent use may limit their lifespan. Investing in a quality jacket is essential for enjoying your time on the slopes.
What colour jacket is best for skiing?
For a safe and fashionable skiing experience, choose a bright colour jacket such as yellow for the highest visibility or green if you prefer to blend in. Avoid plain blues, reds and greens for a unique look, opting for sapphire, burnt orange, and powder pink instead.
Are ski jackets waterproof?
Most ski jackets are waterproof and provide excellent protection against snow and wind.
Are ski jackets warm?
Ski jackets offer a wide range of warmth options, from lightweight and warm fleece to compressible and lightweight down. For the best protection from cold weather, choose a down jacket that is insulated and waterproof.