Hitting the slopes in winter is something to look forward to for sure. But as anyone who appreciates the joy of skiing would know, you need to be adequately prepared. Not only do you need the right pair of skis and the best accessories like ski goggles, but you also need the right clothes.
Choosing a ski jacket depends on your preferences, and there are many options to choose from. For that reason, it can be quite frustrating to choose the right one. This article will serve as your guide in choosing the best ski jacket for yourself by looking at the types of jackets as well as how to choose between these types.
Let’s jump right into it, shall we?
The Types of Ski Jackets for Men
1. Hardshell Jackets
This type of jacket has no industry-wide definition, but there are several common features that all hardshell jackets have. If the following doesn’t describe the ski jacket you have in mind, it’s not a hardshell jacket. They all have a three-layer build, you won’t find a hardshell jacket with fewer layers.
This means they all come with a breathable and waterproof membrane between a highly durable exterior fabric and a warm interior layer. Hardshell ski jackets usually have taped seams and are typically good for water resistance. These jackets will protect you against the wind as well as cold snow and heavy rain at all times while being nice and warm.
These may not be the most streamlined jackets, but they’re really good at keeping the wearer protected against the elements.
2. Softshell Jackets
Softshell jackets are actually the least common type you’ll find but they’re rather popular with skiers who like to hang out in areas where there is lots of dry snow, like Colorado and Utah. These jackets don’t have full waterproofing, which is why they’re not ideal for rough weather. However, the lack of the extra material that makes jackets waterproof means these jackets are highly breathable.
Typically, softshell ski jackets are made of a lot of spandex, which means they’re awesome when it comes to mobility and comfort when you’re moving around a lot, in addition to skiing. Softshell ski jackets are great as a secondary jacket when you’re at a ski resort or someplace similar. You can wear it when you’re not chasing new heights on the slopes without worrying about being overly warm.
3. Insulated Jackets
Insulated ski jackets are the go-to option if you’re planning to spend time in a harsh, intense environment where mother nature is unforgiving. They’re especially recommended for areas where storms and very icy conditions are to be expected. Not only do these jackets look really cool, but they’re also great at keeping the wearer protected from the environment and comfortable.
They typically come with a layer of insulation as well as a sturdy and reliable outer shell as one protective piece. Some insulated ski jackets come with removable or adjustable hoods and cuffs that can be adjusted as well. These jackets should be enough to keep you warm and comfy during your skiing adventures, but they can be a bit bulky, so they might not be ideal for the times when you’re not on the slopes.
4. Synthetic Insulation Ski Jackets
Synthetic insulation ski jackets for men offer the wearer a nice balance of breathability and warmth that is highly appreciated by skiers. With these jackets, you can face wet and cold conditions with ease and comfort. They are made of polyester that has been spun into filaments that create air pockets between the fibers.
When paired with a good baselayer, synthetic insulation ski jackets can keep you protected against freezing temperatures. They are also more affordable than most other ski jackets, but that doesn’t mean they’re inferior. They do a good job, and there are many luxurious jackets in this category that look and feel wonderful.
5. Down Ski Jackets
These are our least favorite ski jackets because, while they are very warm and lightweight, they’re not truly suitable for skiing. They can keep you nice and warm when you’re not on the slopes, but when the time comes to pick up your skis, you might want to opt for a different jacket. The thing with these jackets is, that when they get wet, they lose their insulating properties, so you’ll get cold and uncomfortable in wet conditions.
That also means that should you fall in the snow while wearing this jacket, you will get cold quickly. On the other hand, if you’re not in wet conditions and confident that you won’t fall, these jackets offer great maneuverability, so you might like them regardless of the loss of insulation.
6. 3-in-1 Ski Jackets
Last, but certainly not least, on our list are 3-in-1 ski jackets. They are very popular, especially among skiers who don’t like to spend a lot of money but still want to be comfortable and warm. These jackets combine a zip-in insulated layer and an outer shell in one package.
That means these jackets are great for spending time on the slopes (in most cases—some aren’t suitable because they’re not warm enough) but can also be worn when you’re having other kinds of fun at the ski resort. The liners within the 3-in-1 ski jackets can vary from thin fleece to warmer synthetic fill. They are convenient to wear while offering good waterproof protection and impressive warmth.
Note, however, that while these are great jackets, they do not perform as well as the shell or insulated jackets. Still, they’re great as a first ski jacket and very affordable. They can also be rather bulky because of the many layers of fabric, so moving around in them might not be as easy as with the other types of ski jackets that you can choose from.
The Different Parts and Features of a Top-Notch Ski Jacket
How to Choose a Ski Jacket?
Right, so now you know all about the various kinds of ski jackets there are. Let’s move on to how you can decide between all these options to find the best one for your next skiing adventure. We’ll discuss all the features and factors you should consider to make a good decision.
Firstly, you need to consider when and where you’ll be wearing the ski jacket. Obviously, you’ll want to wear it when you rush down and up slopes. But it might be that you’re looking for a jacket that can be worn when you’re sitting in your room sipping on hot chocolate, or exploring nearby shops too.
Most people want a ski jacket that offers comfort, ventilation, protection against the elements, warmth, and freedom of movement. But that’s often not possible unless you’re willing to spend a lot of money. For this reason, it’s important that you think carefully about how you plan to wear a ski jacket before buying it.
Your most important consideration should be staying warm and dry, but you can also look at the comfortability and the build quality of the jacket. The materials it is made of can play a role as well. If it’s thin, it won’t offer great protection against extreme cold.
Would it be a good jacket for skiing only, and should you take it off while doing anything else? Is that okay with you?
Typically, ski jackets come in different layer options, with two layers and three layers being the most common. This refers to the way the jacket was made, and a two-layer jacket will have an outer face fabric and a waterproof membrane that is bonded together, and a separate liner inside that is usually made with mesh. A three-layer ski jacket connects these three pieces together, which is the difference between the two styles.
Two-layer ski jackets offer good waterproof protection and are durable. However, the separate liner causes a lack of breathability. These jackets can also be rather bulky, making movement more constricted and maneuvering tricky slopes more difficult.
The three-layer jackets can be more expensive, but they weigh much less, are very breathable, and offer good protection against the elements as well as comfort and warmth. If you’re looking for a ski jacket for men that you’ll be wearing for many seasons without complaint, a three-layer style is your best bet.
Another important factor to keep in mind is the durability of the ski jacket unless you plan to buy a new one every winter. Skiing through trees and even the friction of getting on and off the lift can wear down the material of a ski jacket. For this reason, you need a jacket made of high-quality materials so it won’t rip in the middle of your adventure.
You should look out for the thickness rating of the jacket, which is indicated with a number, and the letter ‘D’, which stands for Denier. You’ll find that a jacket with a higher number has a thicker build. For example, a jacket with a rating of 100D is thicker than one with a rating of 70D and thus will be more durable.
If the jacket you want does not have this specification, you should feel the material to determine how durable it is. If you’re buying online, look at reviews to find out more about the jacket.
This is an important feature if you’re looking to do side-country hikes or backcountry touring, or any kind of serious adventuring during the winter. A breathable jacket will make your experience a better one, and you’ll be glad you took this feature into consideration. But if you’re only going to be spending your time skiing on downhill slopes, you won’t have to worry about breathability that much because you can simply unzip the jacket you’re wearing.
The best jackets for breathability are typically the softshell kind, but three-layer hardshell ski jackets can be a good option as well.
This may not seem like a big deal to you, but pit zips, also known as underarm vents, can make a big difference to how comfortable your ski jacket is. You can easily get rid of a lot of heat during your adventures by opening these zips. Pit zips aren’t as essential if you’re not too worried about getting very warm, but they’re an important feature if you are doing a lot of uphill adventuring or skiing in the backcountry.
Yet another seemingly unimportant feature is the pockets on your ski jacket. New skiers are especially taken by surprise by how many items they need to store in their jackets, and if they don’t have enough pockets, things can become rather frustrating. Items like your keys, lift pass, and snacks are just a few of the things you’ll want to be able to put in your jacket.
Having many pockets is a lot better than having to carry a backpack around, and skiing with a backpack is not really something you want to do. You have many options to choose from when it comes to pockets, from a minimal setup with only a couple of hand pockets and a chest or sleeve pocket to something with more space for gear, such as a jacket with five or more pockets.
Hood and Powder Skirt
There are two other notable features to look out for when ski jacket shopping and they are powder skirts and hoods. Powder skirts are connected to jackets near the waist and when you button them up, they help to prevent snow from sneaking inside when you’re skiing. (Don’t worry, not buttoning them up won’t cause discomfort).
You’ll find that most jackets have powder skirts because they’re important for keeping you dry and warm. Hoods give your head and neck an extra layer of protection against the elements and most jackets come with them attached. Some make it possible to remove the hood, which is good if you’re going to wear your jacket at all times.
Just make sure that the jacket’s hood is big enough to fit over ski helmets without making wearing it uncomfortable.
The weight of a ski jacket is determined by the material it is made of and the type of jacket it is (three-in-one, insulated, shell), as well as how much it costs. The weight will affect your experience, as a heavy jacket will offer less maneuverability and feel less comfortable. The ski jacket you wear’s weight can also affect how streamlined your movements are, so if you want to zoom around on the slopes, this is something important to keep in mind.
In general, shell jackets tend to be the lightest and three-in-one ski jackets are the heaviest because of the many layers of material. The more expensive a jacket, the better the quality of the fabric used, so the lighter it will be.
Fit and Sizing
The last factors to keep in mind when shopping for a ski jacket are the fit of the jacket and its size. You will have to figure out your ideal fit, so having the opportunity to try on the jacket before buying it can be important. Your jacket shouldn’t fit too tightly because you need to be able to move your arms around freely and with ease.
Some ski jacket brands fit more snugly than others, so it’s a good idea to shop around before settling on one. If you want protection for your legs as well, you may want to go with a jacket that has a long cut and fits around your thighs as well. This all depends on your personal preference, of course.
Ski Jacket Waterproof Ratings
You now have a lot of knowledge on ski jackets for men, but before you go and buy one, there is one important factor to keep in mind: the two ratings that indicate how much protection against water a jacket has. There are two options: water-resistant, and waterproof. They’re not the same thing, and you should know the difference between the two terms so you can choose the best one for your unique needs.
For a ski jacket to be water-resistant, it needs to be treated with a coating that is able to resist water and keep you protected during wet conditions. The material will also be durable enough to handle wet situations. This means that instead of the moisture being absorbed by the material, it will run off the fabric.
Waterproof ski jackets for men have a hydrostatic head rating of, at the very least, 1500mm. This indicates the waterproof level of the jacket and you should keep that in mind while shopping. The fabric of the jacket will be treated with a DWR coating (durable water repellence coating), it will have a protective membrane on the inner surface, and taped seams to prevent water from entering.
Whether you choose a waterproof jacket or a water-resistant one depends on your own preference, but keep in mind that a waterproof jacket will offer you more protection against snow and rain.