Best Ski Jackets For 2020 Season (Ultimate Buyers Guide)
When looking for the best ski jackets, it can turn out to be quite a tricky predicament. Therefore, we wrote this article to help you make the right decision and find the skiing jacket that is perfect just for you.
Because honestly, there is no such thing as the “one” ski jacket that suits everyone’s needs or budget. So we will break it down a bit, and list our top pick of ski jackets for multiple types of skiing, skiers, and budgets so that you can easily find the best one for you.
You will also learn more about what to look for in a skiing jacket, the essential features, and what the numbers and acronyms stand for — providing you with the tools you need to navigate the skiing jacket jungle on your own.
The Best Ski Jackets Roundup
For those of you in a rush, here’s a quick selection of the best skiing jackets 2019/2020.
And further down, you can find more tips and guidance about what to look for when choosing a new ski jacket, and we also list some additional worthy mentions that came close to making our final list of top rated ski jackets for 2020.
Best Overall Ski Jacket
Dope Adept Jacket
The best overall ski jacket, it’s a big title, and many things were taken into consideration when we came to this conclusion.
The Adept jacket is a traditional front zipped jacket, made with high-quality materials, has high waterproofing and breathing performance, and is packed with handy features.
And the best thing, the price tag tells a different story, all of the premium features and performance comes in at an affordable price of €180.
The features and built of the Adept jacket make it, in our opinion, a fantastic skiing jacket. In combination with the quality, performance, and relatively low price it makes the best overall skiing jacket for 2019/2020.
Best Backcountry Ski Jacket
The best backcountry jacket, a prestigious title for every snow jacket! And actually, a rather tough one to judge. That’s why we have two joint winners for this title.
One jacket in the affordable price range and the other a premium one.
The North Face - Brigandine Futurelight
The premium choose is the Brigandine Futurelight from The North Face.
This jacket is pretty much made for the backcountry terrain down to every detail. It has incredible performance when it comes to waterproofing and breathability.
The new Futurelight nano-fiber structure technique from North Face offers even better breathability, at lower weight without sacrificing any waterproofing performance.
Maybe the best backcountry jacket there is to be found to this date?
But it comes at a price, €749 to be precise.
And that’s why we have two jackets on this list. The North Face would be our top pick if the price would not be a factor.
But our second pick is the best Backcountry ski jacket from a price to performance perspective.
Montec Fenix Jacket
The Fenix jacket from Montec, a lightweight three-layer membrane ski jacket with super high performance. The 25K of waterproofing and 25K of waterproofing will keep you dry and warm in the harshest scenarios.
Apart from the performance and high-quality build, the Fenix jacket is filled with handy features for a better time in the backcountry terrain.
And the price? €249.90.
Best Bang For The Buck
If you want the best ski jacket to money spent ratio, the Fawk jacket is our top pick!
But in all honesty, deciding between which was the best skiing jacket overall and best bang for the buck was a close call. Both are almost the same thing, right?
The Adept jacket takes the best overall, but if you add 10 euros, you get the Fawk jacket. Two great jackets for skiing, and in some ways, quite similar to each other.
But that extra 10 euros gives you an upgrade from 15/15K to 25/25K in waterproofing/breathability.
Which gives us the absolute best price to performance ratio. Price is €189.90.
How to choose the best skiing jacket
That was three quick suggestions if you just wanted a short and to the point list of our top picks. But, now we will learn how to evaluate a skiing jacket so that you can pick your own perfect jacket.
Our top suggestions will fit most skiers. Still, everyone is different and has different needs and criteria for what makes the perfect skiing jacket. Stuff like how easily you get warm, how active of a skiing style you have, or where you do most of your skiing will affect what makes the best jacket for you.
So keep on reading and become your own expert! We will also list more of our top picks at the bottom of this article.
Types of Ski Jackets
To start with, let’s get familiar with the most common types of ski jackets on the market so you can narrow your selection down and decide which type of jacket you want to go for.
Where you ski and which time of the season plays a significant role in which type of jacket you should pick, also what kind of skiing you do. But more about that in a bit.
First, let’s get to know the different types of skiing jackets.
Hardshell Skiing jackets
Shell jackets, no matter if they are hard or softshell, do not have any padding. And therefore, they do not add that much warmth. It’s the outermost layer you have as a protection against the snow and weather you are out in.
Why would you ever buy a skiing jacket that does not add warmth?
The answer is actually straightforward and spells versatility.
Having a jacket that does not add any warmth makes it a good jacket on warm days, or when you are doing very active skiing.
But actually works just as good on cold days. However on these days, you need to adjust with layering under the skiing jacket to the outside temperature.
You could have a base layer and a warm fleece second layer on a cold day.
The best thing is that if you get warm, you can just remove a layer. Which makes is flexible.
A hardshell jacket is usually thin and has high waterproofing and breathing performance.
Hardshell jackets are a typical pick for backcountry riders and ski touring. Because of the flexibility to control the warmth. Getting sweaty on an ascent to the top of a mountain can end up being a really unpleasant day.
The solution is having total control over your layering and warmth while still retaining high waterproofing and breathability.
If you, however, mostly ski in the groomed slopes on cold mid-winter days, a shell jacket might not be the best pick.
Softshell skiing jackets
So how does a softshell differ from a hardshell jacket?
They are only alike each other in one way. Basically, they do not have any padding or insulation.
But a softshell do, in most cases, not have performance anywhere near a hardshell jacket. 10/10k in waterproofing and breathability is desirable for a softshell, while a hardshell usually has 20/20k or more.
Some softshells add warmth, but not like an insulated jacket. But, commonly, the inside is made out of thin fleece or similar, which adds some warmth.
A softshell would typically be designed more like a hoodie or sweatshirt, giving you a very laid back style on the slopes.
They are also flexible and stretchy, which makes them very comfortable and easy to move in.
When using a softshell jacket, you do also need to be a little bit more aware of the outdoor temperature and adjust your layering accordingly.
Park riders are usually fans of the softshell jackets because they do not restrict movement. And you can easily take one layer off if you get too warm from lapping the park. Also, of course, the hoodie design with high-grade waterproofing performance is an appealing factor.
But a softshell jacket is also great for spring riding or warmer slushy days, high breathability, and not too warm. You won’t get soaking wet if you fall in the slush like you would with a regular hoodie.
Even on cold winter days, the softshell could be the right choice, there is plenty of space under it to add layers of warmth underneath.
So even if you only are skiing in icy conditions, you can shred a softshell jacket, as long as you are aware that you need to add layers for warmth.
Insulated skiing jackets
The most common type of ski jacket, and for good reasons. It fits the needs of most people, and comes with a lot of handy features.
An insulated jacket like the name suggests is a jacket with insulation or padding. That adds warmth. Making it the perfect type of jacket for most resort skiers and a tremendous overall winter jacket.
Insulated skiing jackets can vary a lot when it comes to performance. Make sure to know what you need before you head on and buy an insulated ski jacket. (Or any type of ski jacket, but with the insulated ones the performance difference can be the biggest)
You can find insulated jackets with excellent waterproofing and breathability or ones with weak or almost non-existing. More about that down in the waterproofing and breathability section.
Insulated ski jackets do also, in most cases, have a lot of handy pockets and other features that will make your time on the slopes much better.
An insulated jacket is the best choice if you just want a jacket that will do the work for most winter scenarios. If you go for a week or two every year in mid-winter, an insulated jacket is a perfect choice.
If you, however, go skiing more often than that, and maybe in different climates, some kind of shell jacket might be a good pick for you.
Learn How To Pick The Best Ski Jacket
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.
Ski jacket buying advice
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.
Ski Jacket Insulation
Insulation or padding is what adds warmth to your body.
If your jacket does not have any insulation, 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 cold 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 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 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 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.
Ski jacket warmth
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 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, they 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 skiing 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 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.
Powder Skirt (Snow Skirt)
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 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 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.
So 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:
No taped seams
As the name suggests, no seams are taped. Usually found on jackets with a cheaper build quality.
Seams taped in critical places
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.
All seams taped
This means that every seam on the 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 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.
Ski jacket style
Technically not a feature, but let’s be honest, the looks of our ski jacket is pretty damn important, right?
So do not get too obsessed with the technical stuff, make sure that you find a ski jacket that really looks just right for you. And make sure it will also do the job, based on your criteria. That is the best ski jacket for you.
Best Ski Jackets Worthy Mentions List
So now you have learned what you need to make your own best ski jacket list based on your own criteria.
Or maybe just view our list of worthy mentions with more trained eyes and also understand why these jackets are some the best ski jackets in our picks.
Peak Performance Gravity Ski Jacket
This is a super high-performance hardshell jacket from Peak Performance, with exceptional waterproofing and breathability, the Gravity jacket will keep up with every challenge you put it through.
It’s made out of GoreTex® and has multiple features that will make your day on or off the slopes great.
This jacket works great on the slopes, but it’s more aimed towards the serious freeride skiers. Rightfully so, if you spend €599 on a ski jacket, you better put it to good use and significant challenges.
The performance, freeride skiing features, and looks make it one of our top picks for skiing jackets 2019/2020, one of the premium picks.
Dope Puffer Ski Jacket
The Puffer jacket from Dope, a jacket to look into if you get cold quickly. It’s a puffer style jacket insulated with synthetic dune, keeping you really warm on the slopes.
Not only is it warm, but it has high waterproofing and breathability performance, allowing your steam to evaporate and preventing water from entering the jacket.
One thing we really love with the Puffer jacket is the looks. It could be used as a casual winter jacket in urban environments, but still having beasty performance and it’s packed with features.
The combination of looks, multiple functionalities, performance, and affordable price (€189.90) makes the Dope Puffer jacket one of our top picks.
Montec Tempest Ski Jacket
Our favorite softshell jacket, the new Tempest jacket from Montec! To be frank, style played a significant role here, since a lot of softshell jackets have very similar performance and features, style is the more substantial factor.
The Tempest from Montec has that clean hoodie style look to it, while still offering top performance for a softshell, so you can shred the hoodie style look in both good and bad weathers.
The inside is also made out of brushed fleece, which adds a bit of warmth and makes it very comfortable to wear. It’s also very stretchy and easy to move in, and it has the most essential features and some handy pockets.
For €149, this jacket is all yours, and all of that style and performance for that price made it quite easy to add the Montec Tempest jacket to the best ski jacket list.
The North Face A-Cad Futurelight Ski Jacket
Maybe our all-time favorite jacket for skiing, so far. There’s just everything to like about this jacket, except maybe one thing. But to be fair, one can not really complain about the price, because you get a lot for the €549 here.
The North Face is a world-famous brand for high quality and innovative products, and the A-Cad jacket is no exception. Made with the new Futurelight technology, which gives you more breathability and waterproofing while keeping it lightweight and flexible.
Packed with all features you need in the deep backcountry terrain as well as in the groomed slopes.
Although this jacket is more aimed towards the most severe backcountry skiing enthusiasts.
Montec Doom Ski Jacket
Not sure if you want to get an anorak style jacket or a traditional front zipped one? Well, there is an in-between. The Doom jacket from Montec.
We really liked the innovative and unique design of this one. And also the performance, 25K of waterproofing and 25K of breathability, and all the features you can ever need both on the slopes and in the far-out backcountry.
The Doom jacket opens fully like a front zipped jacket. Still, the zipper is located on the side, almost giving the illusion that there’s no zipper at all.
Apart from that, it’s full of handy pockets, has a high-quality build, and follows your movement in the right way when skiing, giving you great freedom of movement.
For €199, your money really goes a long way. Making the Doom jacket one of our top picks and among the best ski jackets for 2019/2020.
Dope Blizzard Ski Jacket
Before continuing, this was my personal favorite jacket of all the tested ones. Mostly because of the lightweight, no added padding, and a baggy stripped-down look.
But, with high performance. Even the best of looks need to be able to withstand adverse weather and the Blizzard jacket, well, is ready for a blizzard.
All seams are taped on this jacket, there is a lot of handy pockets and features that ensure a great day on the slopes.
The price is just about right as well for this type of jacket, €150 make it a no brainer and a definite jacket to include on our list for best skiing jackets 2019/2020.
How we did the test
When looking for the best ski jacket, we looked at more than 50 jackets from the leading developers and skiing brands when making the test, and there is a lot of great jackets out there!
And it’s hard to make a 100% fair list since sometimes there are very close calls between jackets. When that’s the case, we look at the price if there is nothing else to separate the jackets. If you can pay less for equal or better performance/quality, that’s a win in our books.
We have been taking into consideration the features that are the most important for most skiers. Performance, build quality, style, and price when comparing the jackets against each other.
To make a good list with at least one jacket that will fit everyone, we have different price ranges and various types of jackets for multiple skiing styles.