Summer days on the beach are great, but if you’re a snow bum, you probably spend most of the year dreaming about one thing, and one thing only… ski season! Whether you’re hitting the hill in Aspen or Stowe, Whistler or the Alps, you need to find the best possible ski jacket to keep you warm and dry from sunrise to sundown, because nothing cuts a good run short quite like impending frostbite.
To get you there, we sought answers from those who know powder best — professional skiers. According to Olympic alpine ski racer Paula Moltzan, the first thing you need to understand about ski jackets is that there are basically two categories on the market. “There’s insulated and uninsulated,” she explains. “Insulated outerwear is great for skiing at the resort while riding chairlifts with just a few light base layers underneath. Uninsulated jackets are great for ski touring or folks who tend to run warm and would rather layer appropriately for their day outside. There’s more flexibility with an uninsulated jacket, but you will need to plan your layering appropriately.”
How do you know which one is best for you? “The main thing to consider when buying a new ski jacket is the climate where you normally ski,” says Ingrid Backstrom, professional skier, ski film producer and co-founder of Safe As Avalanche Clinics. “If it’s usually cold and dry (Colorado, Utah, East Coast), you’re going to want a layering system, where you can have a jacket with a lining that zips out, or a nice outerwear shell that you can wear an insulating puffy underneath. If you are in the PNW or California or anywhere with more moisture and humidity, the waterproofness of your shell will be the most important thing, with perhaps a thinner insulating layer underneath.”
World champion freeskier Kyle Smaine adds when mapping out your ski kit (that’s the lingo for “outfit”), “The formula is simple: Base layer, mid-layers, outer layers, and backups if a key piece gets too wet or snow-packed to perform.”
Speaking of wetness, we want to avoid it at all costs, which is why waterproof-ness is incredibly important. “There is nothing I value more than staying dry underneath my ski kit on wet days,” says Moltzan. “Gore-Tex 3L fabric keeps you dry in the harshest and nastiest of conditions.” Olympic skier Kiley McKinnon, who founded the ski gear brand Halfdays, adds, “Usually 10,000mm or above is what you should look for, this way you don’t have to worry about being soaking wet when it starts snowing. The biggest mistake that people make when looking to buy a jacket is buying one that is not actually made for skiing,” McKinnon says. “For example, a lot of people will buy puffer jackets that are not intended for skiing because they look warm. However, non-ski puffer jackets are actually the least waterproof option because of the material that they usually use and all of the stitching throughout.”
Beyond warmth, ski jacket functionality is a chief concern among the pros. “Does the jacket have a ski pass pocket, does the hood fit over a helmet, is the collar high enough to protect my face from the wind, is there a powder skirt (the thing that wraps securely around your waist to keep the snow out)?” says McKinnon. “These are all standard things that most ski jackets should have and also things that will help your overall ski experience.”
Next up: Fit. A too-big or too-small jacket is going to curb your mountain experience, and — considering how much lift tickets cost these days, we don’t want that to happen. “I prefer jackets to have a bit of a longer length, and that move well with my body,” says Hadley Hammer, a big mountain skier, ski mountaineer and writer. “Skiing is a dynamic sport where you’re squatting, bending, twisting and turning and I want a jacket that is malleable, moving with me.” Another tip: “Don’t buy a jacket that’s too small,” says professional skier Izzy Lynch. “I always try my jacket on with ski pants, my avalanche transceiver and layers underneath, so I know how it will fit and feel when I’m using it.”
You’re also going to want to assess durability — after all, these jackets don’t come cheap, so you want them to last for years to come. “Skiing and snowboarding can be hard on your clothing, and having a jacket that can last season after season, stand up to the edges of your equipment, and keep you protected against the elements is important. High quality fabrics and zippers are key here,” says Hammer. Adds professional skier and disability access strategist Vasu Sojitra, “Make sure the fabric is rugged. I’m pretty rough on my gear so it’s nice to know my jacket will hold up to the trails I put it through.”
Last, but not least, is style. While the fashionability of a ski jacket might seem like a less important detail, pretty much every pro we talked to cited it as something they greatly value. Read: You wanna look fresh while shredding the pow! “Dressing in a ski outfit always makes me feel like I’m putting on a costume where I can turn into a superhero on snow, and I love getting to express my insides with what I’m wearing on the outside,” says Hammer. “Look good, feel good.” Adds steep ski mountaineer Christina Lusti, “I want to feel like what I wear represents me as a person in the mountains. I want to stand out and make a statement while skiing big lines.”
With all that in mind, we give you the pros top ski jacket picks for men and women, plus a few of the best choices for kiddos on the mountain this season. Happy trails, skiers!
“This is the most versatile jacket in my kit,” says Moltzan. “It fits true to size and has room to layer underneath. The Gore-Tex 3L fabric keeps me dry on wet powder days or torrential rains during shoulder seasons. It is also a great jacket paired with layers such as my Pinion Down Pullover when heading out for a cooler day of resort skiing.” Available in four colors, the Credential is packed with stretch and a soft, flannel-esque interior lining that is warm but breathable, as well as a fixed, helmet-compatible hood, a storm-sealed hem and pockets galore.
Beloved by several of the skiers we spoke with, the Verbier has a breathable 3L shell that is packed with vents and pockets, a fixed, helmet-compatible hood and reinforced elbows for ultra-durability.
“The Verbier jacket is my go to when I’m riding chairlifts. I love the longer cut, the softness of the fabric, and the perfect amount of pockets it has,” says Hammer. “I layer it with either the Casaval Hoodie for warmer days or the Breithorn jacket on colder days. And a pair of bibs to keep the snow out when I take a tumble.” Adds professional big mountain skier Caite Zeliff, “The Verbier jacket is my go-to resort skiing jacket because it’s stylish, comfortable and is perfect for those bluebird days, but will also keep you dry and warm while storm skiing.” Also a fan is Backstrom, who says, “This is a lighter weight shell jacket, great for springtime, sunny days, or days with lots of movement, like ski touring on a nice day. It’s super soft and breathable, yet still has great waterproofing.”
Made with input from pro skiers, this jacket is made from a breathable, waterproof fabric and features a helmet- and backpack-compatible design, a “life pocket” that preserves your phone battery in cold temps and a Recco Advanced Rescue system transponder — a bandaid-sized reflector embedded into the jacket that helps rescuers teams quickly find you in the event of an avalanche. “This jacket is made for maximum freedom of movement in the backcountry, especially on powder days,” says pro skier and two-time Olympian Kaylin Richardson. Available in blue and black hues, the jacket also comes in a men’s version.
The men’s counterpart to the Verbier beloved by Hammer, Zeliff and Backstrom, this jacket is comprised of 100% recycled material that is intertwined with ripstop, making it one of the most durable options out there — not to mention backpack-compatible thanks to strategic vent and pocket placement. “This has been a solid jacket for me in so many scenarios from ski touring, lift access skiing, heli-skiing and snowmobiling,” says Sojitra. “It’s durable and the fit and colors are perfect.”
Waterproof, windproof and loaded with breathable ventilation, this Gore-Tex shell also comes with a built-in powder skirt and a helmet-compatible hood. “If I am opting to wear a shell instead of an insulated jacket, this is it — it’s functional, and I love the [pullover] style of the anorak,” says Lynch, adding that the brand’s Proton Hoody is her favorite compatible layering piece. “This is the perfect layer for ski touring or skiing the resort. I wear it skiing all winter, and cold weather running or hiking in the fall and spring. I find it the perfect combo of breathability and protection from the elements.”
Made from 100% recyclable material, this men’s shell from Stio includes a powder skirt, a removable, helmet-compatible hood and even a forearm RFID pass pocket. “A great shell jacket is a vital piece of anyone’s kit and I opt for the Stio Environ Jacket for its thoughtful design and excellent performance — the shift to recycled fabric is a bonus that allows me to feel better about my impact on the places I like to explore,” says Smaine. “I’ve easily put in 100 days in my Environ jacket and haven’t noticed any loss of performance, waterproofing, or color fade. That durability and trust is crucial in the harshest elements. It also means you won’t need to replace it as often, adding to its already eco-conscious sourcing.” Available in six colors, the Environ also comes in a women’s cut.
If big mountain riding is your thing, look no further than the Tsirku is made from 100% recycled material that’s reinforced throughout with ripstop — making it one of the most durable shells on our list. “This is my everyday, go-to jacket, all winter long, in all conditions,” says Backstrom. “I love this jacket because it’s like my uniform — it feels great, very comfortable and moveable with great articulation in the arms, but it’s extremely waterproof, which is necessary where I live in the Northwest. It’s breathable, has all the right pockets and a high collar for keeping my face protected and my neck warm. The hood fits over my helmet which is a must on storm days. I wear it over an insulating puffy layer on most days, or just over a long underwear top in the spring.” More to know: It’s got a pass pocket with a goggle wipe! Looking for the men’s version? Check it out here.
Breathable and completely waterproof thanks to being seam-sealed, the Raymer has zippered core vents, not to mention interior and exterior pockets galore. “As the type of skiing I primarily do has shifted towards hiking in the backcountry, my mindset on shells has started to shift — if you spend a fair amount of time sweating or hiking in the backcountry the balance shifts from wanting the maximum waterproofing performance to valuing breathability and flexibility,” says Smaine. “The Raymer has this really valuable balance of protection from the harshest elements, while providing industry-leading breathability and stretch that allows me to move through the mountains more effortlessly.” Available in four contrasting colorways, the coat also comes tailored for women.
A technical shell made for mountaineering and high alpine performance, the 100% recycled Chamlang is waterproof and breathable, and comes with harness-compatible hand pockets and underarm vents. “I love the length of this jacket,” says Lusti. “It’s a nice style when it covers your bum, but it’s also super warm with the added length.” More to know: The jacket was designed to use with a pack, and as such it doesn’t have shoulder seams (to reduce chafing) and it has higher body pockets for easy access with a waist belt. Want to add some insulation? Lusti recommends the brand’s Ventrix “for adding a layer of armor!” Looking for a men’s version? Check it out here.
Calling all vintage lovers! This relaxed-fit shell is waterproof and warm, not to mention oozing design details that harken good ol’ 1986. “I love [this jacket’s] retro vibe and also it’s very durable and ideal for rain, or snowy days out on the hill,” says Sojitra. “Plus, it’s a piece that holds a lot of history!” Available in five colorways, the jacket has a lay-flat hood, pit zips for ventilation and a matte finish.
Perfect for traveling skiers, the Stimson is ultra-lightweight making it super easy to pack without taking up too much space. Made from 100% recycled material, the jacket also has an adjustable, helmet-compatible hood, an arm pocket with a built-in goggle wipe and adjustable cuffs. “I love this jacket for when I am out on long tours on sunny spring days,” says Zeliff. “This Jacket is so comfortable, I LOVE the material. It is really lightweight, breathable and packs down really small which is a great feature.” Available in a striking purple/green colorway, the Stimson also comes in a men’s cut that you can check out here.
We’re huge fans of pretty much everything outdoors brand REI churns out. Offering several hundred ski jacket options, REI’s selection ranges from top-of-the-line gear to its own high-quality but extremely-affordable Co-op brand — including this First Chair Jacket. Comprised of a tough, two-layer Gore-Tex outer shell that is topped with a durable water repellent treatment that causes water to bead up and roll off, the jacket has all the amenities of its fancier competitors like a helmet-compatible hood, a removable powder skirt, pit zips, adjustable cuffs, a lift pass pocket on the sleeve and an interior drop pocket for goggles — all for just $209. Check out the men’s version here.
Perfect for downhill or freeride skiing, the Powderqueen is made from 100% recycled materials and is waterproof, windproof, breathable and packed with PrimaLoft throughout. “For those days when you rule the mountain, the women’s Powderqueen 3.0 Jacket has all the ski features you need to stay warm and dry,” says Richardson. “The jacket’s cut is a longer, more relaxed fit than the average downhill ski jacket, so it performs freeriding as well, and the high collar keeps you warm during cold lift rides and protected against deep powder.” More to know: The Powderqueen has a helmet-compatible hood, a powder skirt, pit zips for ventilation, a “life pocket” for preserving your phone battery in the cold, a goggle shammy and the Recco advanced rescue system. Also, if we were to pick a jacket with the best name… this one is definitely it!
A breathable mid-layer ideal for non-wet days on the hill, the Breithorn is packed with 800-fill down insulation arranged into tubes within the jacket that are body-mapped out specifically to keep a woman’s physique warm. A cinch cord will keep the wind at bay, and the pre-tension hood fits underneath the helmet. “This jacket goes everywhere with me — it’s like my security blanket,” says Backstrom. “It’s great as an insulating layer when skiing, cozy like my favorite hoodie, and I can ski tour or run or skate ski in it all winter.” Adds Zeliff, “This is one of my favorite jackets for layering. It is perfect for adding under your puffy jacket for extra warmth on those super cold days or a nice lightweight puffy option for the days when the sun is shining and the temps are favorable. I love this jacket for spring tours or keeping me extra warm in those winter months when lots of layering is your only option!”
L.L.Bean is known for its last-forever craftsmanship — and its fair pricing — but the Maine-based company also knows a thing or two about snow. As such, the brand has a slew of great ski jackets on offer, the most popular of which is this Rugged Ridge Parka. Boasting nearly 1,200 positive reviews, the jacket has a waterproof nylon exterior and a primaloft liner that will keep that work to keep you dry and warm. We love that the hood is insulated and detachable, that the neck is lined with a fleecy warmer and that the price is sub-$200. Check out the women’s version of the same coat here.
Ideal for both backcountry and resort skiing alike, the Arc’teryx Insulated Sentinel Jacket is armed with a waterproof and windproof Gore-Tex shell and an internal synthetic insulation that is simultaneously warm and quick-drying. In addition to an insulated, helmet-compatible hood, the jacket has a powder skirt plus a whopping five pockets and pit zippers for easy ventilation. “I wear this jacket most days on the resort and touring,” says Lynch. “It’s perfect for Revelstoke (where I live), because we see a ton of precipitation all winter long. It keeps me warm and dry.”
We love a twofer over here at Underscored, and the Shot 7 Down from Stio is just that. Featuring a waterproof, windproof Gore-Tex outer shell, the jacket’s interior is packed with an ultra-warm 800-fill down that is going to keep you toasty — and ripping groomers — on even the most freezing of days. Available in four punchy colors—from a pretty pink to a rich emerald green—the jacket also has a helmet-compatible hood, mesh pit venting , a zippered sleeve pocket for your RFID pass and a zip-off powder skirt. Fear not: It comes in a men’s cut, too.
Cropped and cute, the Georgie Jacket is also super functional, with a forearm pass pocket and goggle wipe, storm cuffs, a cell phone leash, a helmet-compatible removable hood and a removable powder skirt. “My personal favorite Halfdays jacket is the Georgie,” says Halfdays founder and pro skier Kiley McKinnon. “This is our ski pure jacket and is the warmest option which means it is great for colder climates. The reason I love this jacket is because I never get cold in it and it looks great on and off the mountain. I always pair this jacket with the Carson bib pant so that I can cinch the waist and have a slightly more cropped look but still feel covered because of the bib.” Available sizes XS to 2X, the jacket comes in a slew of muted and bright colors alike.
Another beloved midlayer by The North Face, the Casaval came up multiple times when we spoke to the pro skiers. “It’s so versatile with base layers and under a shell jacket,” says Sojitra. “It’s been a perfect jacket to help me thermoregulate during the shifts in temperature and also when I’m fairly active and sweating.” Primed with a stretchy, synthetic insulation, the breathable jacket doesn’t overheat thanks to thermoregulating perforations in the fabric, and it’s got a pre-tension hood that fits under the helmet. More to know: The style is also beloved by women. “No matter the season, nor the activity, I pack a Casaval hoodie,” says Hammer of the Women’s Summit Series Casaval Hoodie. “This is the perfect layer for movement. Skiing, climbing, touring, hiking and even winter runs. The fabric is soft and quiet — you won’t annoy your ears with any swishing of your arms. It’s durable and stands up to a lot of wear and tear. I put it under my shells or use it alone for ski touring.”
Designed with help from search-and-rescue pros, the Odin Infinity is a world-class jacket that will keep you warm even on the coldest, wettest days. Lightweight and packable, the jacket’s shell is waterproof and breathable, while the interior has a “Lifaloft” insulation that is lighter (and warmer) than most. We love that the design is helmet-, backpack- and harness-compatible, and that it comes equipped with a RECCO Advanced Rescue system transponder, zippered and plunge gear pockets and an emergency whistle. Available in navy and black, the jacket also comes in a women’s version.
Offering loads of flexibility, the ThermoBall is a fan favorite list thanks to its removable in ThermoBall insulated jacket that zips directly into the outer shell. A great budget option — reminder you’re getting a shell and a puffer for under 400 bucks — this jacket comes equipped with all the must-haves too, like a powder skirt, pit vents, a helmet-compatible hood and pockets galore for storing all the ski things. Available in six hues, the jacket also comes in a like-minded men’s version.
Listen, we are more than a little suspicious about the quality of a ski jacket that costs just 45 bucks — but given that this option from Moerdeng also has nearly 20,000 positive reviews on Amazon, we’re giving it a look. Available in 11 colorways and sizes XS to XXL, the jacket has a water- and windproof exterior polyester shell, an interior fleece lining, a detachable hood, an interior pocket and adjustable cuffs. Is this the jacket you should get for a 10-day ski excursion? Probably not. But if you’re testing out the slopes for the first time and don’t want to spend a fortune on a warm jacket, this will likely get the job done. More to know: The women’s version of the jacket is currently the same price, and has a whopping 26,000 reviews.
Skiing… but make it fashion! Hip-length and waist-nipping with a flattering belt, this jacket comes in two colorways and features a detachable hood. “Performance-ready and incredibly stylish, the Nora Long Puffy Jacket is characterized by a minimalistic Scandinavian aesthetic that also includes smart functionality, such as elastic waist and hood adjustments, as well as vents and details for adaptable warmth and comfort,” says Richardson. “This jacket is the epitome of a technical and protective jacket that still delivers on comfort with a minimalistic and stylish design.”
Eco-friendly and ultra-warm, the Lawrence has a 10,000mm waterproof rating, fully-taped seams, a cell-phone leash and forearm pocket with a built-in goggle wipe. “This is our most classic ski jacket style,” says McKinnon. “I use this jacket when I know I am going to be skiing more difficult terrain and working up more of a sweat. I usually pair this jacket with our core Alessandra pant. Together, these two products make the perfect set for everyday skiing!” Available in eight colorways — from a neon pink to a mellow sage — the jacket can easily coordinate with the brand’s other pieces.
Packed with all the utility of an adult Helly Hanson jacket, the Junior Diamond is a going to keep kiddos extra-warm from the first ride on the chair lift to the last — with nary an midlayer necessary! Like a puffer and a shell intertwined, the jacket comes back with PrimaLoft insulation, not to mention a powder skirt, a RECCO Advanced Rescue system transponder, a sleeve pocket for the ski pass and the brand’s signature “life pocket” that will keep their phone battery up and running in frigid temperatures. Available in four sharp colorways, the closest boys’ option is the Venture Ski Jacket, which is similarly insulated and designed.
A solid insulated option for girls, the Pallie is a waterproof, breathable jacket embedded with 550-fill goose down insulation that will keep them comfortably warm — even on a chilly lift ride. Highly functional, the jacket comes with a snow skirt, a sleeve pocket for the lift pass, internal draft flaps for staying warm and a goggle cloth for those really wet days. Available in three patterns, the jacket comes in sizes XS to XXL.
Windproof up to 60 miles per hour, this utilitarian jacket from REI Co-op is going to take them from sledding in the backyard to skiing black diamonds, thanks to insulation strategically mapped to all the right areas. Comprising a soft microfleece lining, the waterproof jacket has a removable, helmet-friendly hood, snow cuffs with thumb holes, a pass pocket and a low-profile powder skirt.
If you’re leaning towards investing in a shell for your kiddo, this is a great option. Designed with the brand’s signature tech performance three-layer construction, the water- and windproof jacket is also breathable, and packed with pockets (including one to keep your phone battery alive and well in chilly temps!), an adjustable powder skirt and high visual and reflective details that will make it easy to spot them on the hill.
Waterproof, breathable and packed with lots of stretch — perfect for little shredders in ski school — this classic shell from The North Face also has a powder skirt, adjustable hem, a goggle cloth and pit vents and more. Available in four colorways, the jacket can be paired with a midlayer for additional warmth, or worn solo on milder days.