Whether you’re looking for a ski jacket to accompany you in the backcountry or the resort, finding the perfect one can be challenging. Altitude Sports has you covered though, with this list of the best ski jackets for this winter season.
Included are two-layer and three-layer models (2L and 3L), insulated jackets with real and synthetic insulation, and hard shells. The best ski jackets on this list strike a balance between warmth, ventilation, waterproofing, and breathability.
The Top Ski Jackets Reviewed
Best All-Around Ski Jacket
When considering the best alpine men’s ski jackets, the Arc’teryx Sabre AR won’t disappoint. The low profile, soft shell construction makes the material softer than in regular GORE-TEX jackets. It also features WaterTight zippers on the exterior and armpit vents to allow air-flow.
For women, the Arc'teryx Sentinel AR Jacket keeps big mountain skiers dry and warm. On both jackets, the patterning is flexible, allowing greater movement. The longer fit and advanced tech make them ideal for freeride touring in the backcountry, skiing, or snowboarding.
- Helmet-compatible StormHood
- Technical fabric that keeps users dry and warm
- Powder skirt for extra security
- Not as useful for city wear
Best Budget Ski Jacket
At this price point, it’d be hard to find a better technical skiing jacket than the Wild Card Interchange Jacket by Columbia. The shell has a seam-sealed, Omni-heat reflective lining to trap body heat. It’s insulated with a 650-fill power down liner that can be removed according to the weather conditions.
- Removable down lining
- Zippered hand and chest pockets
- Omni-Heat lining on the shell
- Sleeves run a bit long
Best Ski Jacket for Extreme Cold
With a supple 3L GORE-TEX outer shell, the Arc'teryx Macai Jacket strikes a balance between breathability and warmth. Equipped with both 750-fill goose down and Coreloft synthetic insulation, it will keep you warm in extreme cold down to -25 °C. The DropHood also rotates with your head to prevent reduced visibility while skiing or snowboarding.
For women, the Arc’teryx Andessa Jacket is completely waterproof and generously insulated. It features almost all of the same features as the Macai Jacket, including Coreloft and goose down, underarm vents, and a flexible hood.
- A breathable, waterproof down jacket
- Synthetic + down insulation
- Flexible hood offering mobility and vision
- Limited colour options
Best Entry-Level Ski Jacket
For beginning skiers who want a solid entry-level jacket, look no further than the Peak Performance Maroon Jacket. Made of a specially designed material called Hipe Core+, it’s breathable, windproof and waterproof. It also features synthetic padding to keep you toasty as you ascend the slopes.
The women’s Peak Performance Anima Jacket offers dry, warm conditions while skiing. With plenty of zippered pockets on the sides and interior, there is no problem holding all essentials while exploring the mountain.
- Sleek and clean-looking
- Synthetic padding for durable warmth
- Made of environmentally-friendly recycled materials
- Not as technical as other jackets
Best Resort Ski Jacket
For a sleek, comfortable, warm, and waterproof jacket, the Salomon Brilliant Insulated Jacket won’t disappoint. With a 20k/20k waterproof and breathability rating, you can count on complete dryness in snow, rain, or sleet. The inner mesh lining makes it highly ventilated. It remains lightweight despite the generous layer of synthetic insulation.
The women’s version of the Salomon Brilliant Insulated Jacket has an excellent cut that flatters any shape. Whether you’re downhill skiing or doing any other winter sport, you’ll stay dry and warm in this technical jacket.
- Tailored fit
- Lightweight PrimaLoft insulation
- Highly breathable and waterproof
- Runs a little small
Best Backcountry Ski Jacket
As the collection’s top-performance jacket, the Men’s Norrøna Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Plus Jacket is extremely durable and functional. It’s highly protective, with drum-tight weather resistance. This outer shell is lightweight, not bulky at all, and perfect for blocking out inclement weather. It comes with a host of ski resort features such as large chest pockets and a built-in goggle wipe.
The Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Ski Jacket for women provides excellent ventilation and weather protection. It has several options to zip the jacket securely to the associated pants. Though it doesn’t provide any insulation, it’s designed to be used as a durable outer shell with insulating layers underneath.
- Highly weather-resistant
- Excellent GORE-TEX fabric
- Expensive, not insulated
The solid, very waterproof Barzoma Jacket by BlackYak is one of the best men’s ski jackets for wet-weather conditions. It’s made with durable 3L GORE Text Pro fabric paired with 3D mesh at tje shoulders for optimal breathability. The front pockets are cut to stay mostly closed when unzipped, which is perfect for stormy days. Also outfitted with RECCO for safe outings in the deep backcountry.
The high-stretch, breathable Helly Hansen Alpha 3.0 Insulated Jacket is a must-have in cold weather. PrimaLoft insulation with body mapping keeps you warm without adding weight. Ski-specific features include a stretch powder skirt and wrist gaiters.
The Helly Hansen Powderqueen 3.0 is a longer cut ski jacket for women with a relaxed fit. PrimaLoft insulation keeps you warm during chairlift rides, and underarm vents keep you fresh when on runs. The hood also comes up high and is outfitted with a high-visibility brim for lower light conditions.
The sleek and durable Mountain Hardwear Sky Ridge Gore-Tex Jacket is ideal for deep snow conditions. The drawcord hem and inner powder skirt help to keep snow out on chest-deep runs. In case of avalanche or mishaps, the RECCO reflector enhances the signals from rescue RECCO detectors.
Designed by athletes, for athletes, the Salomon S/Lab GTX® Pro 3 Layer Jacket is top-notch in ski jacket technology. With MotionFit 360 patterning, you move freely and dynamically. The GORE-TEX Pro shell acts as a shield from hail, rocks, and other potential hazards.
For those looking for a stylish performance ski jacket, this Rossignol Fonction Ski Jacket is top of its class. Thinsulate synthetic insulation adds minimal bulk and maximum heat. The jacket features a Durable-Water-Repellent (DWR) coating to shed off snow and ice-cold rain.
What to Look for in a Ski Jacket
Whether you’re riding up a chair lift or speeding down the trail, you need a ski jacket to protect you from the harsh elements. Consider the usage, weather protection, ventilation, and other features like pockets and zips. Ideally, you’ll find a ski jacket to last you winter after winter.
Use: Resort or Backcountry?
Backcountry and resort ski jackets usually have specific features for the intended activity. For instance, backcountry jackets will have a thicker outer shell to protect from sharp rocks. On the other hand, resort ski jackets will have more pockets and zips for added convenience.
Layers: 2L vs 3L
A three-layer laminate shell will provide the ultimate wind- and waterproofing, as well as breathability. Though a 3L model is more durable and rugged than a 2L, they both provide element protection.
Since skiing takes place in colder weather, warmth is an essential consideration. There are some jackets with synthetic insulation, some with natural down insulation, and some with both.
Many people say that there’s nothing warmer than real goose down. Though it will keep you warmer than other jackets, it’s also usually expensive. In addition, if it gets wet, it no longer retains heat.
On the other hand, synthetic insulation such as Primaloft mimics the heat-trapping properties of down. It’s usually more affordable and still keeps you warm if it gets wet.
In this list, several jackets have thick waterproof shells. GORE-TEX is one of the most reliable and popular waterproof fabrics. It’s also breathable, which is vital since skiing is an aerobic exercise. Some other waterproofing methods are a Durable-Water-Repellent (DWR) coating and different variations of waterproof fabrics.
One thing to keep in mind is cleaning your GORE-TEX jacket as needed. Contrary to the myths, this will enhance, not diminish, waterproofing.
Most people want their clothes to be comfortable, and ski jackets are no exception. Since we’re continually moving when we ski, we want a jacket that moves with us. Some jackets fit more loosely, while others contour to the body’s curves. We recommend reading the description of each jacket carefully to find the fit you prefer. Look for things like ergonomic tailoring and body-mapped insulation.
When skiing, your body temperature is continuously changing: frigid mornings walking to the chair lift; working up a sweat skiing downhill; warm afternoons gliding through slush. A great ski jacket provides the ventilation to adjust the warmth as you go. That’s why many jackets have massive vents and pit zips that allow heat to escape. Keep in mind that insulated jackets will be harder to cool off since they trap heat.
Certain features make your long days on the slopes more convenient. Ski-specific features can make an already-good jacket perfect for you.
Finding a hood that fits over your helmet is a must. Some hoods reduce visibility, while others rotate with your head. You want the hood to be well-fitting and snug, designed to fit over your helmet.
Pockets are essential for spending full days on the slopes. If you mostly do resort skiing, you’ll want to find a jacket with an RFID pass pocket. Some jackets also have big pockets to hold snacks, extra gloves, hand warmers, and trail maps.
Powder skirts help keep the snow out when it’s piled up high. If the snow keeps coming up through your waist, you’re going to have to leave the slopes early. That’s why a powder skirt, removable or attached, is an essential part of the best ski jackets.
FAQs for Ski Jackets
Why are ski jackets so expensive?
Ski jackets can be expensive due to insulation, waterproofing, breathability, and other technological features. Having a warm but breathable jacket often comes at a high price.
Should a ski jacket be tight or loose?
The fit of a jacket depends a lot on personal preference! Some like baggy jackets for layering, while others prefer garments that stay tight to their bodies. This will also depend on conditions—you might need to layer under a hard shell, or be fine with just an insulated shell.
Can you ski in a down jacket?
While you can technically ski in a regular down jacket, it won’t be as practical. Ski jackets have specially made features for skiing like zips for thermoregulation, pockets, and higher breathability. It also runs a high risk of getting very damp, as it won’t be built to factor more sweat from an aerobic activity.
Can you wear a snowboard jacket for skiing?
Ski and snowboarding jackets are interchangeable. There’s no reason you can’t wear a ski jacket for snowboarding and vice versa. Be aware that snowboarding jackets are often made far bulkier and with lots more room than ski jackets, as the object is not necessarily streamlined speed (with some exceptions, of course).
We hope this guide to the best ski jackets of the season helps you find the perfect fit. We carefully looked at aspects like warmth, breathability, and special features to put together this list.
Although finding the right jacket can be challenging, remember that gear shopping should be fun! Feel free to consult this in-depth review at any time while shopping.