Top travel tips shop animated banner

What To Look For When
Buying Ski Jacket

Your ski jacket plays a vital role in protecting you from the elements when skiing. Your ski or snowboard jacket is possibly the most important item of your skiwear after your ski boots.

Ski apparel comes in different quality and prices. Avid skiers should buy the best ski or snowboard jacket they can afford. Good quality skiing clothes last you for a long time if you look after them properly. Look at your ski apparel as an investment in the sport you love.

Beginners, and those that seldom ski, might be hesitant in spending much on skiing clothes.

Fortunately, you can find good ski jackets that do not cost a fortune, especially if you look out for special offers and sales.

Bear in mind that you can use your ski jacket also when you are not skiing.

Good ski jacket is an excellent cold weather clothes garment. Okay, it could have variety of features you will not need off the slopes, but it is still a great garment on a cold day.

Features To Have In Mind
When Buying Ski Jacket

Dressing in layers is recommended for all outdoor activities and not least when skiing. When skiing, you need protection from both the cold and the heat and wearing layers is the best way to control your temperature.

You want a ski jacket that not only looks great but also keeps you warm... without making you too warm. Good insulation and breathability is therefore at the top of your criteria.

Your ski jacket must be weatherproof, i.e. water- and windproof, as well as breathable and durable.

Ski jackets are though different from typical waterproof or insulated jackets. Their cut is different and they have various specialized features designed for spending lot of time outdoors in various weather conditions.

Your Ski Pants should also be weatherproof, we recommend using the same criteria when buying ski pants

How Do You Know
If Your Ski Jacket Is Weatherproof?


The fabric is the most important factor. The industry standard to test this is to place a column of water on the fabric and find the point at which the water starts to seep into the fabric. The outcome is waterproof rating in millimetres (mm). The higher the mm figure is, the more waterproof the fabric is.

Waterproof rating around 8,000 mm should be more than adequate for most leisure skiers, i.e. good quality rating without breaking the bank. Those that are skiing off the beaten track should go for higher rating. While those only skiing in patrolled area on good days might go for lower rating.

Waterproof RatingDescription
0 mmNot waterproof in any way
0 - 1,000 mmRain resistant but not rainproof
1,000 - 5,000 mmRainproof but not waterproof under pressure
5,000 - 15,000 mmTotally rainproof and waterproof unless under serious pressure
15,000 - 30,000 mmTotally waterproof even under serious pressure

Gore-Tex is without a doubt the best material for windy and wet conditions. It is however expensive so unless you are an avid skier you might want to consider DWR (durable water repelling coating) as a cheaper alternative.

DWR coating is applied to the fabric to allow the water to bead off the ski jacket. DWR coating needs to be re-applied on regular bases, but it is usually enough to do it once a year.

Seams are the weak spots where waterproofing is concerned (think of tents), so they must be sealed and coated to prevent leaking. Taped seams give the best protection. A waterproof tape applied to the inside of seams will prevent water passing through the stitching.

Sealed critical seams means the shoulders, hood and arms are taped. Fully sealed means that all seams are taped. Zippers are another weak spot so look for waterproof zippers, or well shielded zippers.


Wind can strongly influence how you feel in your ski jacket. Strong wind is not only uncomfortable, it also negatively affects the breathing quality of the outer layer. Most fabric used in ski and snowboard jackets is windproof.


When we are physically active, we tend to sweat. When we stop, we can cool down very quickly. This is why breathability is so important feature, not least for outdoor sports in cold climates. Skiing clothes must be insulating and keep us warm by allowing moisture from our body to escape through them (breathability).

For ski jacket to keep us dry on the inside, the outer fabric and the lining must both be made of breathable material. Breathable ski jacket allow the moisture from your body perspiration to exit through the material itself. If it cannot escape, then the moisture will build up as condensation on the inside of the jacket and will cool you down quickly.

Top Ski Jacket Travel Tips

You will only benefit from the breathability of your ski or snowboard jacket if it is used with moisture wicking base and mid layer garments, i.e. your perspiration does not stay next to your body. The perspiration needs to be transported away from your skin through your base, mid and to the outer layer.

You must therefore make sure your base and middle Clothing Layers are also made from breathable material, not just your ski jacket or outer shell.


Good ski or snowboarding jacket cost fair amount so you want it to last you for a long time. That is though not the only reason. You ski jacket must be durable because tear on your outer layer can ruin your whole layering system.

Jacket Or Shell?

The difference between a jacket and a shell lies in the insulation they offer, i.e. jacket offers more insulation than a shell does.

Insulated jacket is ideal for those that feel the cold on the slopes, or want to use the jacket for other outdoor activities as well. The insulation varies; most jackets have more insulation on the body of the jacket than in the sleeves and hood.

Down jackets warm you quickly and maintain the heat for long time. However, down has some disadvantage in wet conditions if the down itself gets wet, e.g. takes long time to dry and loses its' insulation capabilities.

Synthetic insulation replicates the warming and heating effects of a down, but is less bulky and more breathable. Synthetic insulation costs less than down and allows you more freedom of movement.

Shell is ideal if you tend to get warm while doing physical activities outdoor, e.g. if doing cross-country skiing. The idea of the shell jacket is to keep you dry and windproof so it must be used with other breathable clothing layers.

Shell jackets tend to have several technical features, e.g. rip stop material to prevent tears, taped seams, pit zips for venting, Velcro closures, high quality storm hood, etc.

Other Important
Ski Jacket Features


You jacket should fit well, i.e. not too tight nor too loose. It should be loose enough to allow you to wear layers when needed but tight enough to keep you warm when wearing no or less layers. Jacket for downhill skiing tend to be closer fitting, i.e. to keep out the air and the snow during downhill runs.

Stretch Panels

Are usually positioned across the back and shoulders and enhance fit, comfort and mobility. Articulated elbows provide a more ergonomic fit that uses less material, reduces weight and minimizes flapping.


The lining fabric is usually made of mesh, brushed micro-fiber or fleece, providing warmth, comfort and the important moisture transportation. Removable insulation, like zip out fleece liners, are ideal if you tend to vary your activities or climate.


Strategic points, like shoulders, elbows and side panels, can have extra reinforcement to protect them from wear and tear.

Snow Skirt

Snow skirt prevents any snow or cold air to get into the jacket. It consists of elasticized waistband and section of a material that is fixed to the inside of the jacket.

Venting Zips

Venting zips allow you to control your temperature quickly and can be found under the arm, on the chest or back. Some vents are mesh backed, i.e. to prevent the snow from coming through.


Hoods can be either fixed or removable and some have stow away balaclavas attached to them. You should be able to adjust them at the back or around the face to prevent snow from entering and ensure good vision when turning your head. If you use ski helmet, make sure your hood is helmet compatible.


High fleece collar or micro-fiber lined collar will prevent your neck getting cold. A cinch draw cord will tighten the collar.


Cuffs should be adjustable to provide effective seal and venting around the wrist. Lycra inners with thumbholes will prevent the sleeve riding up and give extra protection and warmth.


Pockets are good to store your personal belongings while skiing. They need to be easily accessible, e.g. the goggle pocket should ideally be accessible from the outside to prevent heat being lost by opening the ski jacket. Fleece lined pockets are nice for warming the hands.

Storm Flap

Protection flap that covers zips and prevents snow, wind and rain passing through them.

Where To Buy Online?

We at Top Travel Tips think that Amazon is a good place to buy ski jackets and other ski related products online. You'll find large range and availability, and very competitive prices.

Ps. have you remembered to pack all the essential Ski Clothes Accessories?