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SKI JACKET BUYING GUIDE

Whether your old jacket is on its last legs, or you’re just tired of wearing the same old thing, you have a bit of a problem; you need a new ski jacket, but you don’t really know where to begin… 

 


When it comes to ski jackets, there are a few things that will have an impact on what you choose to buy. These range from whether the jacket has insulation to the type of activity it’s best used for and the cut you go for.

 

Type of Jackets

Ski jackets come in a range of styles and fits; choosing the right one for you can be a mine field. That’s fine; we’re here to break things down for you. Firstly, there are three main types of jacket you can buy. 

HARDSHELL

An uninsulated shell jacket, referred to as a hardshell, is the most versatile type of jacket on the market. A hard shell tends to be the most water and wind resistant outer layer you can get your hands on, but the trade-off is less breathability than a softshell jacket. 

 

Peak Performance Hardshell

Backcountry skiers love hardshell jackets

 

SOFTSHELL

The softshell jacket is easily the most versatile of the main ski jacket types. It can come in handy across a whole range of activities, and it can be used as both a mid-layer and an outer layer. Softshell jackets are treated with a DWR coating, but are generally more breathable than hard shells.

 

INSULATED JACKET 

If you get cold easily, or you’re planning on skiing somewhere like Canada or Norway where conditions can get incredibly cold, then you might consider an insulated jacket. These tend to feature an outer shell for waterproofing, with a layer of insulation beneath it. This layer will either be down or synthetic insulation, such as PrimaLoft.

j.lindeberg ski jacket

Be it down or synthetic, insulated jackets are great for the coldest days of the season

 

  

 

Fit and Style

The next aspect to consider is the fit and style of the jacket, this can range from slim fitted, short cropped jackets to big and baggy cuts favoured by freestyle skiers. It is important to remember that the fit of the jacket should allow for your layers underneath. Fit can be broken down into 3 basic categories, slim, regular and loose. 

SLIM

A favourite amongst anyone not keen on feeling like the Michelin Man, slim fit jackets are increasingly common amongst both technical and fashionable outerwear brands. 

REGULAR

The happy medium between slim fit, which doesn’t always have enough room for layers, and the loose fit found in freestyle skiers and snowboarders. Regular fit is the best of both worlds. 

LOOSE

Popular amongst freestylers and snowboarders for the coverage and mobility the loose-fitting jackets give you, of the three main fitting types, this is the most obviously ‘youthful’ fit. 

 

arc'teryx softshell

Picture are pretty keen on a loose fit jacket

 

Type of Skier

Ultimately, the type of jacket you buy comes down to the type of skier you are. Different skier types need different things from their jackets.

 

PISTE SKIER

Most of the skiers you see will fall into this category. If you’re a piste skier, you’ll spend most of the day lapping the mountain, carving the piste up and occasionally going off into side country if it’s a powder day. The piste skier has a larger choice in jacket type than any other skier.

 

Depending on how much you feel the cold and what time of year you tend to go skiing, you may want to pick an insulation jacket to keep warm. On the other hand, if you spend all your time skiing in spring conditions then a shell may be the best choice for you, letting you layer up as needed, based on the weather.

 

norrona hardshell

Seriously though, shell jackets and backcounty skiers go together like Ant and Dec

 

BACKCOUNTRY SKIER

Backcountry skiers spend their lives hunting for untracked powder, avoiding the crowds, and skinning up untouched peaks. That means as a backcountry skier your aerobic output is high and you encounter far more extreme conditions than other skiers.

 

While a softshell will work well to shed heat when touring, it may not be enough to protect you from the harsh conditions you’ll find on the more exposed ridges and peaks. A hardshell jacket is ideal for backcountry skiers as they’re far more weather proof than softshell jackets and make it easy to shed heat using specialised zip vents.

 

By wearing a softshell under a technical shell jacket, you can remain dry and protected from the harsh winter conditions, yet cool and breathable whilst hiking.

FREESTYLE SKIER

The freestyle skier spends most of their time in the snow park; this usually means quick laps and short chairlifts. Freestyle skiers will want to add and remove layers depending on the wait time for jumps and rails. If the park is empty, you’ll need far fewer layers than on a busy day. This lends itself to choosing a shell jacket, which will protect you from getting wet when taking a bail and allow you to add layers when necessary. 

freestyle skiing shell jackett

If you ski freestyle, "Go big or go home" doesn't just refer to the size of the jumps you're hitting

 

Features

Once you’ve decided which style of jacket best suits you, you’ll need to decide which features you consider it important to have, and which you can take or leave. 

 

HOOD

Most ski jackets will have a hood, what differentiates them is the amount of adjustment of the hood, whether its helmet compatible or whether it is removable. 

WRIST GAITERS

Wrist gaiters can come in two forms, a simple inner cuff or an over the hand with thumbholes; although the latter is warmer and adds extra coverage, some people find they get in the way.

 

Peak Performance heli gravity jacket

Whatever style catches your eye, we've got the perfect ski jacket for you | Shop ski jackets

 

VENTS

Vents can usually be found in the underarm area or around the chest. These zip vents will allow you to cool down by promoting air circulation and are often mesh backed to stop snow from entering the jacket.

 

POWDER SKIRT

A powder skirt is a snow gaiter that goes around your waist to stop snow from getting up your back. Although it’s a fairly common feature, it can come in all shapes and sizes. A snow gaiter may have stretchy panels, ski pant loops or it might be removable.

 


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