A ski jacket is your first line of defence against the cold, harsh winter elements, whether skiing pistes in Meribel or backcountry touring in Colorado.
We've picked out the best ski and snowboard jackets this season and then further whittled down our selection to the stand-out performers of the year from the best brands. From great value piste jackets to high end technical jackets designed for backcountry skiers and snowboarders, there's something here to suit everyone.
- North Face Bellion Jacket
- Klattermusen Brage 2.0 Jacket
- Picture U11 Jacket
- Spyder Leader GTX LE Jacket
- Salomon Arctic Down Jacket
- Black Diamond Boundary Line Mapped Jacket
- Patagonia Stormstride Jacket
- Haglofs Vassi GTX Pro Jacket
- Arc’teryx Incendia One-piece
- Rossignol Fonction Ride Free Jacket
- Picture Goods Jacket
- Protest Taco Jacket
- The North Face Chakal Jacket
- Buyer's guide: What do you need in a ski jacket?
North Face Bellion Jacket
Best for: Extrovert skiers and snowboarders
The Bellion jacket from North Face is about as bold as ski jackets get. Bright contrasting block orange and purple colouring isn’t for the faint hearted, but if you like to stand out on the piste then the Bellion should be right up your street.
It’s made from a tactile, soft (for a ski jacket anyway) material using North Face DryVent membrane which is highly waterproof and breathable.
The jackets fit is as bold as it’s colours, with a baggy, oversized vibe that’s fashionable if not wholly practical (showing my age!). You get a couple of chest pockets and two tiny hand pockets on the outside; we can forgive the size of them as they’re complimented by an additional two bellows pockets above. There’s also the usual sleeve lift pass pocket with a handy goggle wipe inside. Inside the jacket you get the usual powder skirt and mesh dump pockets, and the material feels fairly comfortable against the skin. Obviously, there’s tons of room for layering and articulation is great, more a function of the size than any particularly clever stitching.
The hood is style over substance, not being volume adjustable from the back so it flaps around a bit in the wind. Any exposed zips are treated with a water repellent finish and the rest have effective storm flaps over them, including the pit zip vents which let you quickly cool down.
If you’re looking for an oversized ski jacket with bold styling, then the Bellion could fit the bill. It offers decent performance on the slopes and comes in at a reasonable price.
Klattermusen Brage 2.0 Jacket
Best for: All mountain cruisy riders who like to wear their ski jackets out and about too.
Klattermusen come out of Sweden, and although that doesn't guarantee decent outdoor clothing, they do have skin in the cold weather game so it tends to ring true. They're also a mountaineering focussed brand, with a small line of ski and snowboard jackets and pants, which gives us more confidence that they know how to protect you from the elements.
The Brage 2.0's 3-layer shell make-up is high end with fully taped seams and 20k/20k waterproofing and breathability. It's a proprietary fabric made of 100% recycled materials (Pertex Revolve) and it's relatively soft and stretchy. The jacket has a few aesthetic adornments like the metal fastener at the top of the main zip, webbing strap cuff adjusters and storm flap zip coverings. These help give the Brage 2.0 a look that's not out of place on the streets, where the removable function of the powder skirt comes in handy. On the mountain though the Brage 2.0 performs impeccably well, offering the right mix of protection, durability and comfort. The fit is just right, with coverage over the bum and wrists and room for layering underneath. The adjustable hood moves with your head and cinches down over helmet or bare head equally well.
We have never quite understood the benefit of an offset zip but it doesn't offend in any way. We found the Brage 2.0 breathable when picking up the tempo and it has easily grabbed pit zip adjusters for when the going gets tough.
Pockets are plenty, with hand, chest and lift pass as well as a tall, thin mesh dump pocket inside - which is much more useful than the floppy wide ones you would usually find in a ski jacket.
Overall a top notch ski jacket that offers performance on the mountain and has the looks for the streets.
Picture U11 Jacket
Best for: Demanding park skiers
Picture’s U11 jacket is about as cool as you can get. It’s a half zip, hoody style jacket that’s got the spec to be used all over the mountain and not just the park on spring days. Picture’s Dryplay fabric is well proven, with a soft and supple finish and 20k/20k waterproofing and breathability. It’s a 2 layer shell which means it has a loose taffeta lining. This is simply warmer and more comfortable than a 3 or 2.5 layer shell but a little heavier as a result.
One downside to the U11 is the fact it only has critically taped seams, this means that if you’re out in a snowstorm all day you will get a bit of moisture creeping past the seams that aren’t taped. Thankfully though any exposed zips are water resistant.
There’s a massive kangaroo pocket at the front and two big bellows pockets on the chest, plenty of space to store your bits and pieces. A lift pass pocket might have spoiled the clean lines of the U11 but would have been handy, nonetheless.
The hood, is really good, it’s volume adjustable and covers most of the face with the main zip done up. Little touches like the lycra wrist gaiters and shovel zip puller make this jacket feel premium and shows that Picture really understand their target audience.
Spyder Leader GTX LE Jacket
Best for: Demanding resort skiers
Mix Gore Tex and Primaloft into a stylish ski jacket and you’re onto a winner. The Leader LE is about as fully featured as it gets so will perform like a beast out on the slopes, protecting from the elements and keeping you sweat free, but it’s also built with comfort in mind. You’ll find stretch panels sewn in as well as a removable hood and powder skirt.
Salomon Arctic Down Jacket
Best for: Downright frigid temperatures
If you’re looking for maximum warmth for deep winter days this is quite possibly the jacket for you. Filled with 600 fill-power Track My Down goose down and finished with stonking 20k/20k outer fabric the Arctic Down will not fail in keeping you warm and dry this winter. Styling is perfect for use as an everyday wear jacket too, which bumps up the value over and above a one week a year ski jacket.
Black Diamond Boundary Line Mapped Jacket
Best for: Skiers who want a reliable all-rounder
Black Diamond have aimed the new Boundary Line Mapped jacket squarely at the genuine all-mountain skier. The unique selling point of this jacket is the use of wool insulation, which offers great moisture management. Rounded off with 20,000mm of waterproofing and fully taped seams, the Boundary Line takes Black Diamond’s big mountain ethos and applies it to a great all-rounder of a jacket.
Patagonia Stormstride Jacket
Best for: Minimalist ski tourers
Built for dedicated ski tourers, the Stormstride has everything you need and nothing you don’t. This has the distinct benefit of keeping the weight down to just 490g, perfect for stuffing in your pack on the uphill. The 3-layer shell uses all the best in material technology, with a highly waterproof but stretchy ripstop outer for great freedom of movement and durability and a soft polyester knit backer, which gives a lovely next to skin feel and a touch of warmth.
Haglofs Vassi GTX Pro Jacket
Best for: Out and out off piste action
You know when a ski jacket uses Gore Tex Pro it means business. The king of the crop in the Gore Tex family offers the very best protection and durability money can buy. A true off piste jacket, the Vassi Pro has a roomy, long cut for maximum coverage, freedom of movement and of course style. A helmet compatible hood, pockets that don’t interfere with pack straps and a built in RECCO reflector arm you with everything you need for a day in the powder.
Arc’teryx Incendia One-piece
Best for: The most demanding female rippers
It’s official, one-piece ski suits are back. Arc’teryx have put their own spin on the genre, with this, which is new for the 2021 season. Top of the line Gore-Tex fabrics are used for protection with a heathered look and soft feel. Clever ventilation at the thighs doubles as a ‘quick-release’ system answering one of the main problems with a one-piece ski suit – toilet breaks. If the price tag makes you gasp, don’t forget that you don’t need to buy ski pants!
Rossignol Fonction Ride Free Jacket
Best for: Inbound skiers who prefer a trim cut
The new Ride Free range from Rossignol is a market disrupter, blending resort styling with freeride performance. With 20k/20k waterproofing and breathability the Fonction ticks the right freeride boxes but also has mapped insulation to keep you warm while cruising the resort slopes. Styling probably won’t appeal to die hard backcountry rippers but if you’re bored of the usual boxy ski jacket silhouette then the Fonction is worth a look.
Picture Goods Jacket
Best for: Comfort seeking eco warriors
Stretch isn’t something you typically see on a ski jacket but the Goods offers it in 4 ways. This means it’s likely to be much nicer to wear than the crinkly equivalents. It’s also lined with a cosy but eco-friendly recycled insulation and the eco goodness doesn’t stop there as the Goods also uses a Bio-sourced outer fabric. Fully sealed seams, waterproof zips and an inner snowskirt make sure the snow stays where it belongs.
Protest Taco Jacket
Best for: All mountain skiers wanting excellent bang for buck
This 3-in-1 jacket from Protest offers versatility for all types of skiing. The removable inner is filled with an eco-friendly bamboo blend and the hard shell outer can be worn on its own on warmer spring skiing days. Fully taped and with 20k waterproofing staying dry is pretty much guaranteed and the pit zips and laser cut ventilation holes help excess heat and moisture escape.
The North Face Chakal Jacket
Best for: All-mountain fun on a budget
The Chakal is the type of ski jacket that earns its place in your wardrobe by offering everyday wear versatility, thanks to its great looks. Under the exterior you get dependable, warm, and breathable PrimaLoft insulation as well as a number of pockets to store your kit. North Face’s own DryVent fabric is as waterproof as the competition and AquaGuard zips make sure no moisture creeps through from the outside.
Buyer's guide: What do you need in a ski jacket?
Before buying a ski jacket ask yourself these questions.....
Is the jacket fully waterproof and how do I tell?
Get the basics right first, make sure your jacket is waterproof. We would suggest a minimum level for skiing and snowboarding of a 10,000mm hydrostatic head, this information can be found on the tag of the jacket or on the manufacturers web page. If you're really putting the jacket through its paces in all weathers then you should aim for a higher level of 20,000mm or above.
What are taped seams and do I need them?
Taped seams are important to stop the gradual creep of moisture past small holes created when the various panels of the jacket are sewn together. Some only have critically taped seams usually above the shoulder and in the hood but most dedicated ski jackets have fully taped seams i.e. every seam on the jacket has a layer of waterproof tape bonded over the top of it.
Are the zips waterproof?
Any zips will need to either have storm flaps - a flap of material over the top of the zip - or preferably be water tight. If they don't have either eventually moisture will creep through. You can tell if a zip is watertight by looking at the area either side of the teeth, if it has a rubbery looking coating then you're good to go. Also make sure that all zips run smoothly and have chunky pullers so you can easily use them with gloves or simply with cold hands.
How many pockets do I need and do I need pit zips?
Make sure you have enough for your needs, look for a jacket with a lift pass pocket on one of the sleeves as this will save a lot of hassle in busy lift queues. If you're going to be doing a lot of high intensity skiing or ski touring then pit zips are a must for ventilation through the body without having to remove your jacket.
Do I need an insulated ski jacket?
Whether you go for shell or insulated depends on if you prefer to layer up or not. Shell jackets (jackets with no insulation) are more versatile as long as you have a wardrobe full of technical layers to go underneath. You can vary these layers depending on conditions, from a light baselayer underneath on warmer days to a full compliment of base and mid layer for deep winter days. It also allows you to vary layers through the day for better temperature regulation overall. Some prefer insulated jackets for their simplicity and the fact that you don't have to buy expensive extra layers to go underneath them.
Is down insulation any good for skiing?
As a general rule synthetic insulation is better than down for ski clothing as it retains most of its insulating properties when wet. Although tempting be careful not to buy overly insulated jackets as they will quickly get hot and clammy when you're skiing.
Other features that skiers and snowboarders find useful, but aren't necessarily vital, are a powder skirt, which is designed to keep snow from going underneath your jacket, and thumb loops which keep your sleeves down and tucked under your gloves.