Ski jackets may be dime a dozen, but they cost a lot more than that! As such you can't afford to make the wrong choice. So dig into our guide to the best ski jackets around below.
Well, heck. You don’t make this easy, do you? When the question of the ‘best’ ski jacket crops up, it’s very difficult to answer. Some jackets are the best for specific things, some jackets are good at all things, and then some jackets are just… yikes. But luckily we’ll have plenty of the first, plenty of the second, and none of the last, so let’s get down to business!
Below, we’ve rounded up our top picks for men and women, along with their intended uses, and why we love them. The features that make a ski jacket great are pretty simple. Does it look good? Does it perform? Do you feel freaking rad when you’re wearing it? If it has a big thumbs up for all those, then you’re on to a winner. But fear not, because you can keep your thumbs firmly in your pockets for the duration — we’ve done all the hard work for you.
When it comes to choosing the best ski jacket (if you’re not going off our list) then it’s good to know how they’re made, what they’re made for, and what you’re going to need out there on the slopes.
Our top picks will fit most skiers’s needs. Still, everyone is different and has different criteria for what makes the perfect ski jacket. Stuff like how warm you’ll be, how active of a skiing style you have, or where you do most of your skiing will affect what decides the best jacket for you. So keep reading to see how you can choose the perfect ski jacket for you.
To begin with, it’s probably good to go over the types of ski jackets available.
There are a few common ones, and choosing between them will depend on what kind of riding you do, where you’re doing it, and the location/time of year. As you can imagine, someone skiing in the article circle or the far north will need a different sort of ski jacket from someone cruising around the parks in SoCal.
So let’s lay them out.
A hardshell or shell ski jacket is one that doesn’t have any insulation. Shell jackets can either be hardshells (just one thin outer layer that provides waterproofing) or a lined shell (which has a lining, pockets, and is more comfortable). Why anyone would want a jacket with no insulation may sound strange, but they’re actually super versatile!
If you get too warm in an insulated ski jacket, you can’t take the insulation out. But with a shell jacket, you can strip right down to a base layer if need be in order to stay cool. As such, shells can be useful as they’re more versatile. And during backcountry hikes or warmer conditions, could be a better choice for you. This is added to by their usually high waterproofing and breathability ratings, which are designed to tackle the tougher conditions you’ll find outside the bounds of the ski resort.
Softshells are generally made from polyester, and are laminated or bonded fabrics consisting of an outer ‘shell’ layer which is often DWR coated for waterproofness, followed by a middle ‘insulating’ layer and an inner ‘fleece’ layer for comfort.
They’re often not as waterproof as a true jacket, but they’re super cosy and warm. This makes these jackets suitable for resort riding primarily, but they’re also versatile off the mountain as well as they feel like a regular hoodie for the most part! Definitely something useful to have in your wardrobe, but not suitable for riding everywhere, softshell ski jackets are more niche and focused on casual riding than all-mountain adventures.
The most common type of ski jacket is the insulated jacket, which consists of an outer shell (like a hardshell), an insulation layer, and then the liner, which has your pockets, etc.
These jackets can vary from resort-focused to backcountry ready, but generally they fall in the middle, designed as ‘all rounders’. They’ll often have 10-15k of waterproofing, 40-80gsm of insulation, and will be good to wear everywhere, featuring things like vents to help you cool off on the slopes when it gets warm.
You can wear these ski jackets over midlayers or just your baselayer, and generally, they’ll be a good, solid choice for any resort holiday. Though you may get a bit toasty on backcountry hikes, so beware!
Learn more about ratings and what they mean in the waterproofing and breathability section.
The Montec Fawk is the flagship jacket in the Montec lineup and has been a rider-favourite since its introduction almost five years ago. With a classic zip-through construction, bomb-proof specs, and a full suite of features to make your day of riding that much better, this all-mountain weapon is the perfect jacket for anyone that rides the same coat all winter long.
Let’s talk specs. Built around Montec’s ShieldTec 20k platform, they use their own membrane and super-durable shell combination, topped off with an eco-friendly, high-performance DWR treatment to ward off any moisture ingress, meaning you can rip spring slush or plough through bottomless pow in total comfort. Under the hood, things get better. A three-way adjustable, helmet compatible hood, fully-waterproofed external storage, wrist gaiters, dedicated media pocket, powder skirts, this jacket is the whole package.
In regards to real-life performance, this jacket offers a great straight-cut fit, meaning there’s plenty of room to move around without it feeling overly baggy. It also comes in both insulated and lined-shell options so you can take your pick of weight and bulk depending on conditions or your preference. If you’re looking for one jacket that can handle it all this season, then the Montec Fawk is the way to go.
The Montec Dune is a classic anorak with mountain-proof specs and an innovative design with an asymmetrical half-zip construction and side-zip entry. This asymmetrical zip provides enhanced waterproofing and comfort in tough conditions, making the Dune the ideal choice for the anorak-lover who wants to ride it all.
Utilising Montec’s ShieldTec 20k platform and eco-DWR combo, the Dune can handle the deepest pow or the harshest snow storms. With an oversized kangaroo pouch for storage, zippered vents and fully waterproof zips, as well as elasticated wrist gaiters and a powder skirt, this jacket is ready for anything.
If you’re in need of an anorak that can take on everything in its path, then the Dune is a great choice. A staple in the Montec lineup, and the inspiration for their A-sym Doom jacket, the Dune has always been a trail blazer and powder laser!
The Annok is one of the most popular jackets in the Dope range, and for good reason! This handsome anorak has a super stylish look thanks to its external drawstring accents and big cowl neck. But, beyond its stellar looks, it’s also a super capable jacket, which is why it continues to dominate the Dope lineup year after year.
Utilising Dope’s own DryTech 15k membrane and eco-DWR combo, the Annok doesn’t balk at anything. Deep pow or blizzards, this medium-weight insulated anorak is ready for anything. And now with a helmet-compatible, adjustable storm-guard hood and all the bells and whistles you want — like wrist gaiters, powder skirt, oversized storage, waterproof zips and underarm vents, and dedicated media and pass pockets, there’s nothing this jacket is lacking.
On the mountain, the performance matches the specs. With a built-in layer of compact insulation it’s super toasty without feeling overly bulky, and thanks to its cowled and gusseted collar, it’s ideal for riding in colder conditions or for using as a base-and-jacket duo with no midlayer. A jacket you can ride all day with confidence.
The Arch jacket from Montec is a big-mountain bruiser with the capability of taking on the biggest lines the world has to offer, but is comfy and versatile enough to be a daily driver, making it the perfect choice for any rider who wants to ride everything inside the resort and out.
Built on the back of Montec’s ShieldTec 20k shell, the Arch offers an oversized fit with a drop-tail design for maximum comfort and coverage. Fully waterproof zips are combined with lots of internal and external storage, lycra wrist gaiters, a powder skirt, and Montec’s storm-ready hood for total elemental protection. Working in tandem with the marching Arch Bib, the Arch jacket is fully stocked, locked, and loaded up for an epic day (or season!) in the snow.
This jacket performs day in, day out, and is the ideal choice for anyone who wants a classic jacket that can be worn on a backcountry expedition as well as every day at the resort. It feels great everywhere, looks even better, and is lightweight thanks to its lined-shell construction.
The Dope Adept is the flagship zip-through in the Dope lineup and has been a top-seller season after season. With a super stylish cut, contrast accents, and tech specs to take you everywhere you want to go, the Adept is ready to ride park, pow, and groomers — all in the same day.
With Dope’s DryTech 15k membrane and eco-DWR combo, this jacket can stand up to anything the mountains throw at it. And with a layer of compact insulation, it’s perfect for colder days or ditching that midlayer. Waterproof zips, lots of pocket space, and a slew of all-mountain features like wrist gaiters, powder skirt, dedicated externally-access media pocket, dump pocket, and lift pass pocket all make this a very pretty package whose beauty is much more than skin deep.
A simple yet highly effective choice, the Adept is the daily driver for thousands of riders everywhere, and all of them swear by its performance, durability, and unmistakable, inarguable style.
The Doom W jacket from Montec is a super stylish A-sym designed zip-through with lots of technical prowess to go with its unique look. This jacket is fully stacked with capability thanks to its ShieldTec 20k waterproof shell and waterproof zip combo.
Its asymmetrical zip design means that you get all the pocket storage convenience of an anorak — the big kangaroo pouch, as well as huge dump pockets inside, but the added entry and exit convenience of a zip-through. A trailblazing jacket by any yardstick, this jacket also features wrist gaiters, a storm-ready hood, powder skirt, fully-waterproof pockets, underarm vents, and so much more!
Perfect as a daily jacket, this coat can do burly backcountry lines, groomer runs, or park laps. Whatever you’re in the mood for, the Doom is ready to deliver.
The Dope Puffer jacket is the perfect choice for anyone riding in the coldest weather. Equipped with 200gsm of synthetic down insulation, this jacket earns its namesake! It’s a puffy jacket guaranteed to lock heat in. But that doesn’t mean it’s a one trick pony.
Using Dope’s DryTech 15k shell, it’s as capable as any jacket on the mountain, and comes with lots of other great features, too, like a powder skirt, wrist gaiters, lots of waterproof storage, side access and an adjustable hood! But of course, it’s the insulation that’s key. Synthetic down traps air to create a barrier that prevents excess heat loss, making this the only jacket to reach for if you’re riding in temperatures to make others run inside and sit by the fire. Or if you just prefer to take things slow at the resort and don’t want to worry about the cold.
Stylish and capable, the Puffer may not be the best choice for spring laps in the Italian alps, but if you’re a cold person or you like to ride even when the mercury gets into those minus numbers, this is the jacket for you!
The Moss jacket is a capable choice for any female rider looking for a jacket ready to tackle big lines in the back and side country, as well as ripping up the groomers. With a unique style, slightly cinched waist, and Montec’s ShieldTec 20k shell platform, this jacket has everything you need to rip the whole mountain in two.
The Moss is a super popular choice for anyone looking for a pow-ready coat thanks to its lined-shell design, keeping it light without sacrificing performance or durability. Its flared shape means you get plenty of room to move and can size up comfortably as a woman without the jacket feeling overly baggy. Combine this with Montec’s storm-ready adjustable hood, wrist gaiters, powder skirt, and a whole host of waterproof pocket-storage, and you’ve got a super capable jacket that’s never going to feel out of place or like the wrong choice.
With so many jackets to choose from in the Montec range, the Moss may not stand out at first glance. But if you like to ride hard and want a jacket that can keep up, the Moss is hungry for pow shots, and ready to head outside the resort on any adventure you like!
The Akin remains a fan-favourite in the Dope range, and for good reason. The original seven-pocket design still persists, with the idea being that you never have to unzip to get access to your goggles, gloves, phone, pass, or anything else! And with Dope’s DryTech shell platform backing up this awesome design, the Akin is one of the most capable jackets in the line, as well as on the mountain.
With Dope’s signature triple-pocket front pouch, you get a nested handwarmer, phone holder, and kangaroo pouch all in one space. Combine that with the cowl and double-zip collar for comfort and waterproofing, side access for ease of entry, dedicated media and pass pockets, as well as lycra wrist gaiters and a powder skirt, and this jacket is ready to rock, no matter what’s in front of it.
Thanks to a layer of compact insulation, this jacket is warm too, without feeling bulky, meaning it hits the holy trifecta: waterproof, versatile, and toasty. Is this a jacket that can ride inside and outside the resort, on dry and snowy days, and in both waist-deep powder and in spring slush? Well, it’s the one we reach for when we need one jacket for all that, so yeah, I’d say so!
The Virago is a unique jacket in the Montec range, and embodies a utilitarian style, built on top of the bombproof ShieldTec 20k shell platform. With a longer fit, oversized cargo pockets, and a 60gsm layer of compact insulation, the Virago was designed to tackle deep pow and long days in the snow.
Some interesting design features set this apart for us. The oversized external cargo pockets have been created specifically for goggles so you don’t have to unzip in bad weather, and the underarm vents can be operated without taking off a backpack, too. These two features make this jacket perfect for those treks when you’re loaded up but don’t want to keep stopping and undressing every five minutes to cool down or swap goggles for sunnies!
Overall, the Virago has everything you need for riding inside and outside the resort, with wrist gaiters, a storm-ready hood, lots of storage, an oversized fit for comfort and mobility, and, of course, a powder skirt to keep those face-shots on the outside of your jacket. Need a warm coat for touring? You’re looking at it.
Now you know all about the common types of ski jackets there are out there. So it is time to dig even deeper and go through the most essential features, so you know how they are all connected with your skiing experience.
When you know more about the features and how they work, you can start sorting out what’s essential for you, and what’s not. And that is how you find the perfect skiing jacket for just you, by knowing what you need.
Let’s start with the basics, your number one goal with a skiing jacket is that you are kept warm and dry. But it’s not as easy as just picking the warmest jacket if you want to stay warm, a lot of factors work together to achieve the goal of being dry and warm in your jacket.
Insulation or padding is what adds warmth to your body. If your jacket is not insulated, you will need to warm up your body in other ways. Either with layers of clothing or activity.
A skiing jacket with a lot of padding or insulation can sometimes feel a bit bulky and hard to move with. Still, modern ones usually have a more compact type of padding, that warms just as good but takes less space. Either synthetic made padding or dune.
How much padding do I need in my ski jacket? If you ski in icy temperatures, just ski from the lift and not intensively, you should pick a jacket with quite a lot of insulation.
If you, however, ski very actively and sweat a lot, go for a jacket with a medium padding. Maybe a 2 on a 0-3 insulation scale. Where 0 is no insulation and 3 is max. If you ski even more active or planning to do some ski touring, you should pick a ski jacket with little or no insulation.
Keep in mind that this is a general recommendation if you get cold very quickly, you might want to have a warmer jacket even if you ski active. Also, the temperature of the place where you are skiing plays a role. If it’s usually cold, go for more insulation, if it’s generally quite warm and sunny, go for less.
This one is pretty straight forward, how waterproof is the jacket. This does not mean waterproof as in, you can go for a swim with it and except to be dry. But how much water it can resist before it starts to leak through.
You have maybe seen the 10/10K or 15/15K symbol when looking at skiing jackets, that’s the measurement of how water resistant the jacket is. You do not need to know what the number stands for, but if you want to see, you will find the answer in the bottom part of this segment. But in short, the higher the better.
A hardshell jacket or an insulated jacket should have 15K of waterproofing, that will keep you dry in most weathers you can end up in on a ski resort. A good waterproofing will also ensure that you have a good day, even if the weather is terrible. For a softshell jacket, 10K is a good number.
But eventually, if you are out for a full day of heavy rain, you will get wet. Because we do not actually want a totally waterproof jacket. More about that soon.
But first, how is waterproofing measured? (Skip if you do not care) Take 15K for example, K stands for thousand, so 15K = 15.000. And the measurement is in millimeters. So 15.000 MM is what 15K stands for. And it means that the jacket can take the pressure of 15.000 millimeters water before it starts to sip through.
Now, let’s get back to why we do not want to have a fully waterproof ski jacket. That would mean that no water can come in, great, right? But that also means that nothing can come out…
So all steam that’s generated by your body heat will stay inside, and that steam will do what? That’s right, it will become liquid, and you will get wet, soaked even if you would ski actively. And as soon as you stop, all of that wet would grow cold, and all of a sudden, you are soaking wet and cold.
So we avoid that by having a breathable ski jacket, which will lead the steam away from your body before it makes you wet. Good skiing jackets have techniques to keep the water out while allowing steam to pass through. To ensure that’s the case, make sure your jacket has both proper waterproofing and breathability.
The breathability works the same as waterproofing, you will see 10K, 15K and etc. Usually, they go hand in hand, 15/15K is first waterproofing and then breathability. So 15/15K means that the jacket has 15K in both waterproofing and breathability.
For a hardshell skiing jacket or an insulated skiing jacket, you should look for something with 15K or more. 15K will do the job for almost every type of skier, so if you do not know why you would need more, you probably do not need it. But having more will never hurt. For a softshell, you can look for something in the 10K of breathability.
There are a few more features that will help you to not get sweaty and wet as well, more about that soon. Spoiler alert: Pit Zips.
Now that you know even more about how the above factors work together, let’s do a quick breakdown before heading on further. To keep warm, we need to stay dry. To stay dry, the jacket needs to lead water away and allow steam to come out.
That’s why a warm jacket with poor breathability will, in the long run, make you cold. Most, or, all of the steam from your body, will stay inside and make you both wet and cold.
Having a super warm jacket with decent breathability on a warm day will eventually make you cold. Most likely, if your jacket is too warm for the climate you are skiing in, you will out sweat the breathability, no matter how good it is.
If this is the case, open up the jacket in the lift to let steam out, which might save your day.
This is also a reason why most ski jackets are not super warm, like the ski jackets you see on a north pole expedition. Even if you are going skiing in super cold climates, a too warm jacket is never good in the long run.
Like magic, they help you to stay dry and warm. Ventilation zippers are an essential feature. Usually, the zips are placed under the arms of the jacket, where you can let out a lot of steam.
If you use them a lot, you can proactively avoid getting sweaty and wet. Just make sure to not use them when riding, in case you get snow in there. But using them in the lift and whenever you are not skiing is going to make your day a lot better.
Most ski jackets have this, but you should make sure before buying a jacket.
If you do not ski actively, and not get sweaty when skiing at all, you can get away without having this feature.
If you do not ski with a backpack, the pockets are your storage. So think about what you might want to bring while skiing, and make sure that your jacket has enough pockets to store it conveniently.
(Some ski jackets have a lot of pockets, so don’t go crazy and bring all you own just because you can). A ski pass pocket is also a handy feature to look for.
The snow skirt, powder skirt, or snow stop, call it whatever you want. But it’s a great feature if you are planning to go off-piste, or just where there is some fresh snow. It seals in the bottom of the jacket and makes sure that no snow will come in from underneath if you fall or just shred in the deep snow.
Park riders usually prefer to ride without it, or with a jacket that does not have this, to have as little as possible that can restrict movement.
Some ski jackets also have a removable snow stop, so you clip it off if you are going in the park or just in the groomed slopes, and clip it right back on when you need it.
This is an invisible layer of coating that goes on top of the fabric of your ski jacket. And it makes the jacket even more waterproof. It’s like magic, almost. When water or any liquid comes onto a DWR treated fabric, it pearls and falls off.
Just like a duck out in nature, water does not get the chance to soak in, because it will fall off before that. But, and a big but. Make sure that you buy something with a PFC free DWR coating (free from perfluorinated compounds).
Basically, those are chemicals that are really bad for us, the environment and the animals who live there. Choosing a jacket that has a PFC free DWR coating is more or less a must, in our opinion. Most more prominent brands use PFC free and ECO-friendly DWR coating, but double-check before buying.
Another small detail with a significant effect is if the jacket has taped seams or not. The seams on your ski jacket are actually many small holes, where water can come in.
So no matter how excellent waterproofing the fabric has, its no good if there are small holes in it. To solve this problem, the seams are taped from the inside. Which makes sure that water does not come in that way, or makes it a lot harder at least. There are three categories of taped seams:
As the name suggests, no seams are taped. Usually found on jackets with a cheaper build quality.
This means that the seams which are most likely to leak water are taped. While the seams that are less likely to let water through are not taped.
This means that every seam on the ski jacket is taped for maximum waterproofing. This is common for jackets of high quality. If you are serious about skiing, you should look for a ski jacket with all seams taped or at least taped in critical places. The exception is on softshells, where another technique is common to use for more waterproof seams.
We’re just skiers at the end of the day. Like you, we’re on the hunt for the best jacket at the best price.
To make these lists, we compared lots of jackets from the major brands and weighed up lots of pros and cons to produce recommendations that will suit everyone.
But when it comes down to it, you may agree, or disagree with our choices. And hey, that’s fine! They’re just opinions. But if you choose one from above, we know you’ll love it!
Though if not, we hope that you’re now armed with the information you need to make an informed decision either way.
Have fun out there, folks.
Winter is coming, and we’re praying for pow. And of course, a new ski jacket to go along with it!