The Best Ski Jackets in 2021

Everyone wants to feel good and look good, which makes finding the right functional ski jacket important for most winter activities. Your choice of the jacket may very well determine whether it is the laughs and perfect conditions that are most memorable, or the fact that you were cold or wet the whole time. Of course, these aren’t only “ski” jackets – whether you are a snowshoer, snowboarder, skier or sledder these could be right up your alley.

Check out the pros and cons of some of the best ski jackets available. We have summarized the most important technical details as well as looked into some of those burning questions about ease of use: Will the hood fit over your ski helmet? Can the zippers be easily operated without taking off your ski gloves?

Take a look!

arcteryx alpha sv jacket mens
  • Weight: 490g
  • Waterproofing: 100 denier Gore-Tex
  • Waterproofed zippers
  • Helmet compatible StormHood
  • RECCO reflector
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This jacket is the top of the Arc’teryx line in terms of protection in severe winter weather conditions. It is one of the toughest jackets out there whether you are headed off on a mountain expedition, anticipating extreme conditions or just want the assurance of having the best weather protection money can buy. Easily to operate zippers provide access to two large chest pockets and allow for ventilation adjustments on the go. The bulkier fit allows for great freedom of movement; however, if you prefer form-fitting styles, this one might not be your cup of tea.

The hood of this jacket fits especially well thanks to the rear drawstring and reinforced rim. It all comes down to the details with the Alpha SV: secure, Velcro wrist closures, underarm vents, 5 storage pockets and a well planned flat area at the waist to prevent friction with backpacks or harnesses.

This jacket is likely overkill for the average winter outing and its weight could be a disadvantage if you don’t really need the heavy-duty protection. Extreme protection also comes at a price.

Pros:
  • extremely durable
  • comfortable, functional hood
  • easy to operate zippers
  • advanced weather protection
  • pit zips
Cons:
  • no handwarmer pockets
  • expensive

Patagonia Snowshot 3-in-1 Jacket – Men’s

The Best 3-in-1 Ski Jacket

patagonia snowshot 3-in-1 jacket mens
  • Outer Fabric: Nylon
  • Insulation: 60g Thermogreen synthetic
  • Waterproofing: H2No membrane
  • Weight: 1330g
  • RECCO reflector
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This is arguably one of the highest quality, most durable 3-in-1 jackets on the market. While a fully insulated single layer jacket has its advantages, the 3-in-1 component provides flexibility as well as bang for your buck. We aren’t kidding about flexibility: the Snowshot’s liner is reversible and there are 3 external pockets, as well as 2 internal pockets in the shell providing ample storage options. The pockets include fleece-lined hand warmers.

The double layers do somewhat restrict movement and result in a bulkier jacket; however, this is one of the compromises common with 3-in-1 designs. The bulk of this jacket isn’t all bad, the separate layers that form the shell of the jacket make for not only a warmer stand-alone shell, but for a very warm jacket on the whole. While not as good as Gore-Tex, this jacket still lives up to Patagonia’s reputation for quality with sealed seams and an effective H2No waterproof, breathable membrane that can stand up to everything but the very worst conditions.

There are a few small drawbacks: the snow skirt on the shell isn’t very effective when the jacket is zipped together due to the position of the liner and the underarm vents have no mesh backings. Nonetheless, the quality and functionality are spot on.

If you are looking for versatile value and a high-end spin on the classic 3-in-1 jacket, then the Snowshot is for you.

Pros:
  • 3 jackets in 1!
  • great waterproofing
  • sealed seams
  • very warm
  • pit zips (but no mesh covering)
Cons:
  • bulky
  • boxy fit
  • snow skirt functionality impeded by liner

Helly Hansen Odin Mountain 3L Shell Jacket – Men’s

The Best Backcountry Ski Jacket

helly hansen odin mountain 3l shell jacket mens
  • Outer Material: 100% polyamide
  • Main Fabric: HELLYTECH Professional 3-layer construction
  • Waterproofing: HLELLYTECH Professional Weight: 509g
  • Helmet, backpack & harness compatible
  • RECCO reflector
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This jacket was designed for the backcountry, although it naturally serves well in the resort too. Sleek, yet still roomy enough for plenty of layering, it is ready for whatever Mother Nature delivers. Perfectly waterproof and impressively breathable, the Odin will keep you comfortable from storms to sunshine. Easy to operate zippers and details such as the removable snow skirt make this streamlined jacket effortless to wear.

Not only functional, but the Odin Mountain 3L is also undeniable fashionable as well with its form-fitting cut, articulated elbows and tapered body – all without compromising freedom of movement.

If you are looking for a top-end backcountry kit, you cannot go wrong with this jacket.

Pros:
  • great durability
  • excellent weather protection
  • large pull tabs on all zippers
  • extremely waterproof
  • very breathable
Cons:
  • no internal pockets

Columbia Wild Card Interchange 3-in-1 Jacket – Men’s

The Best Value Ski Jacket

columbia wild card interchange 3-in-1 jacket mens
  • Main Fabric: nylon
  • Insulation: 80g MicroTemp Synthetic
  • Waterproofing: Columbia’s OmniTech membrane
  • Weight: 1333g
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This jacket really does offer excellent value, as a complete jacket and even more so due to its 3-in-1 versatility. It fulfills basic expectations in all departments being decently waterproof and quite warm. With 3 external and 1 internal pockets in the shell as well as 2 external and 1 internal pockets in the liner there is no shortage of storage. The fleece-lined handwarmer pockets are a pleasure as is the adjustable hood.

The biggest drawbacks are that the seams and zippers aren’t waterproofed and that, despite having average length underarm vents, the whole jacket is not particularly breathable.

Here is an ideal option for anyone who enjoys hitting the slopes on nice weekends, but isn’t planning on spending weeks in the backcountry or heading out in severe winter conditions. Great versatility, great value.

Pros:
  • 3 jackets in 1!
  • very warm
  • ample pockets including hand warmers
  • pit zips (but no mesh covering)
  • snow skirt
Cons:
  • mediocre waterproofing
  • bulky fit
  • limited ventilation

Black Diamond Mission Jacket – Men’s

The Best All-Mountain Ski Jacket

black diamond mission jacket mens
  • Main Fabric: 62% nylon, 26% polyester, 11% elastane
  • Waterproofing: Gore-Tex
  • Weight: 640g
  • Helmet-compatible hood
  • RECCO reflector
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Here is a jacket you can take anywhere from the groomed runs to the depth of the backcountry. The thick, Gore-Tex outer material provides 100% waterproofing and is durable enough to handle descents through the trees or brush. This jacket is lightweight and breathable which make it deal for the trek up or the rip back down.

The zippers are a touch beefier than average are designed to endure; they also have large pull-tabs for use with gloves. The overall design is relatively sleek and has a minimalistic look, but don’t let that fool you, the details are all there, right down to waterproofed zippers (even on the underarm vents), the snow skirt and the helmet-compatible, adjustable hood.

Pros:
  • fully waterproof
  • great durability
  • lightweight
  • lots of pockets
  • large pit zips
Cons:
  • large fit could be a disadvantage

Flylow Lab Coat – Men’s

The Best Shell Ski Jacket

flylow lab coat mens
  • Main Fabric: nylon
  • Insulation: none
  • Weight: 600g
  • Waterproofing: eVent fabric
  • RECCO reflector
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This jacket is very lightweight and highly breathable. It will move with you up any mountain and can be packed down small for transport. Minimalistic performance is the name of the game here: ample pockets, a removable snow skirt and robust Velcro cuffs are all this jacket needs. The pockets include hand warmers, an internal zip pocket and a waterproofed external pocket.

The Flylow Lab shell is intended for warmer conditions or as an outer shell with warm layers underneath: it is not designed to deliver warmth, but rather lightweight, breathable weather protection. With its tapered fit and great freedom of movement, this jacket is an ideal layer for the backcountry or anywhere else your winter adventures may take you.

Pros:
  • super lightweight
  • highly breathable
  • great weather protection
Cons:
  • not very warm
  • not completely windproof

Arc’teryx Macai Jacket – Men’s

The Best Cold Weather Performance Ski Jacket

arcteryx macai jacket mens
  • Main material: N40p-X Gore-Tex
  • Insulation: Coreloft 100 & 750-fill goose down
  • Waterproofing: 3L Gore-Tex Pro
  • Weight: 1120g
  • RECCO reflector
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As far as jackets are concerned, it doesn’t get better than this. This is essentially the ultimate cold-weather performance ski jacket, and if it is within your budget, you will certainly not be disappointed. The Arc’teryx Macai delivers unparalleled warmth and waterproofing in a high quality, well-tailored package.

There are no shortcuts with this jacket: it has multiple internal and external pockets, including hand warmers and a sleeve pocket which provide ample storage. The hood is adjustable and removable, as is the snow skirt and the integrated goggle wipe. Mesh-backed underarm vents and reflective detailing keep you comfortable and improve visibility.

This jacket does not have any additional vents, which is to be expected given that its main feature is its warmth, but it may mean that the Macai is actually too warm in some conditions.

Pros:
  • extremely warm
  • 100% weather protection
  • excellent durability
  • exceptional quality
  • fully featured
Cons:
  • potentially too warm!
  • expensive

Marmot Spire GORE-TEX Jacket – Women’s

The Best In-Bounds Women’s Ski Jacket

marmot spire gore-tex jacket womens
  • Main Fabric: 3L Gore-Tex
  • Waterproofing Gore-Tex
  • Weight: 400g
  • Helmet-compatible hood
  • RECCO reflector
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Although the name indicates otherwise, this jacket is ideally suited for in-bounds skiing or boarding: expect a highly durable, warm and waterproof jacket that doesn’t skimp of features. The hood is helmet-compatible, highly adjustable and has a reinforced rim to keep water off your face. The snow skirt is removable and there is an additional inner drawstring at the waist to keep out any cold drafts. A series on uniquely placed pockets, including a convenient pass pocket, provide ample storage options.

The Marmot Spire is lightweight enough, but many testers felt that it doesn’t allow for enough freedom of movement to be recommended for the backcountry or for high-aerobic skiing, but if you prefer a snug fit and are looking for something high quality and stormproof for the resort then this could be a perfect match.

Pros:
  • great durability
  • excellent waterproofing
  • great weather protection
Cons:
  • limited mobility (stiff)
  • not harness compatible

Arc’teryx Beta AR Jacket – Women’s

The Best All-Mountain Women’s Ski Jacket

arcteryx beta ar jacket womens
  • Main body material: N40p-X 3L Gore-Tex
  • Main arm material: N80p-X 3L Gore-Tex
  • Weight: 380g
  • Helmet, harness and backpack compatible
  • RECCO reflector
CHECK PRICES

This jacket delivers it all: durability combined with unrestricted freedom of movement and excellent weather protection. It is highly versatile and will serve you well in the backcountry or on-piste. Tactical pocket placement makes this jacket compatible and comfortable for use with harnesses or backpacks. The hood is also helmet-compatible and highly adjustable. There are 2 external handwarmer pockets and one internal pocket.

Fully waterproofed, this jacket is well thought through with complete Gore-Tex coverage including carefully selected thicker Gore-Tex material on the arms where wear and tear is more likely. It is also very warm, but the underarm vents provide enough ventilation for highly aerobic skiing, climbing or touring. The Beta AR more than delivers what it promises and more – a truly versatile, high-quality jacket.

Pros:
  • lightweight
  • great weather protection
  • excellent freedom of movement
  • versatile use
  • great durability
Cons:
  • shorter cut body length

Mountain Hardwear Boundary Line GORE-TEX Insulated Jacket – Women’s

The Best Anorak Style Women’s Ski Jacket

mountain hardwear boundary line gore-tex insulated jacket womens
  • Main Fabric: 2L Gore-Tex stretch weave
  • Waterproofing: Gore-Tex
  • Weight: 623g
  • Helmet-compatible hood
  • RECCO reflector
CHECK PRICES

Let’s take a look at Mountain Hardwear’s top of the line, fully featured women’s jacket. Great warmth and fully waterproofed, this jacket is ready to take on the elements. The articulated fit still allows for decent freedom of movement without feeling bulky. Designed for everything out-of-bounds this jacket has you covered for the backcountry, heli-skiing or whatever Mother Nature may throw at you.

The pockets include hand warmers, chest pockets and a pass pocket, providing plenty of storage while still keeping to the sleek, lightweight design. The adjustable hood, snow skirt, underarm vents and fleece-lined collar make this jacket a pleasure to wear.

The biggest drawback is also the Boundary Line’s most stylish feature: the anorak design. Without a full front zipper, quick layer changes and opening up to cool off are inconvenient at best, although a unique back zipper does help for cooling off; however, you should expect restricted access if you are wearing a backpack. On the flip side, if you don’t mind taking an extra minute to change clothes or tend not to overheat, the pullover style looks super cool.

Pros:
  • fully waterproof
  • adjustable hood
  • snow skirt
Cons:
  • no full front zipper
  • anorak style is inconvenient for layer changes
  • sleeves fit a bit short for taller women

Burton GORE-TEX Stark Jacket – Kids’

The Best All-Mountain Kid’s Ski Jacket

burton gore-tex stark jacket kids
  • Outer material: 2L Gore-Tex
  • Insulation: 80-100g zoned Thermacore™
  • Helmet-compatible hood
CHECK PRICES

Here is Burton’s top-of-the-line, unisex kid’s jacket. It is kid-friendly but packs a lot of high-performance features including mesh-backed underarm vents, fully taped seams and an adjustable, helmet-compatible hood. The ample pockets include fleece-lined hand warmers, a zippered interior mesh pocket, a pass pocket and an insulated pocket with a media port.

Burton’s Room-To-Grow™ sleeves are designed so that the sleeve lining can be extended with a few quick snips of red stitching to accommodate growing kids. Quite warm and very waterproof, this jacket will keep your young skier comfortable even on the longest snow days.

Pros:
  • good warmth
  • great waterproofing
  • features Room-To-Grow™ sleeves
Cons:
  • Nothing – this jacket isn’t cheap, but it delivers in all departments!

The North Face Freedom Insulated Anorak – Kids’

The Best Lightweight Kid’s Ski Jacket

the north face freedom insulated anorak kids
  • Outer material: 100% Polyester Micro-Dobby
  • Insulation: 100-200g zoned Heatseeker™
  • Weight: 670g
  • Helmet-compatible hood
CHECK PRICES

This fully wind and waterproofed jacket measures up right in the middle of the warmth scale and is a perfect option for young skiers. Featuring a snow skirt and a helmet-compatible hood, this jacket is ready to take on the mountain.

One drawback of this super stylish anorak is that no front zipper does make changing layers a bit more time consuming and it isn’t as easy to unzip to quickly cool off either, although the side zipper make it really easy to pull the jacket on and off. It isn’t the warmest jacket out there, but the fit allows for layering on colder days, which makes the Freedom Anorak a very versatile option from the deep of winter to sunny spring conditions.

Pros:
  • excellent waterproofing
  • completely windproof
  • decent warmth
Cons:
  • stiff zippers
  • no full-frontal zipper

What to Consider When Buying a Ski Jacket

There is a lot of personal style and preference involved in selecting a ski jacket, but there are some functional features that should always be taken into consideration as well.

Waterproofing

This is arguable one of the most critical areas of functionality and there are several materials and treatments that provide varying degrees of waterproofing. Most jackets are waterproof, but the quality of the waterproofing determines how much water they can withstand before leakage begins. Many clothing companies have their own unique, patented technical waterproof fabrics – most of which are quite good.

The basic options are either material that is a waterproof membrane (think of a material that allows vapors to pass through its microscopic pores but not water) or a waterproof coating applied to another fabric. In addition, sealed seams and waterproofed zippers are a must-have if you require your gear to be 100% waterproof.

The advantage of a waterproof membrane, such as Gore-Tex, is that it never wears off. That being said, the technology behind waterproof coatings has become so advanced that many treatments can last for several seasons of wear before the waterproofing starts to wear off – and even if it does wear off, waterproof coatings can be renewed with kits at home.

Type of Skiing

This is more important than many people think! If you are planning on sticking to the ski resorts then you might love having lots of pockets, a snug-fitting hood and an extra sleeve pocket for your lift pass may be important to you. If you are planning on touring in the backcountry you will need to consider some other aspects such as: Are the location of the pockets compatible with your backpack or possibly your climbing harness? Is the hood compatible with your helmet?

Regardless of where you are skiing, consider whether you need a fit that provides freedom of movement for touring uphill or mobility for tricks in the snow park, or whether you prefer a more form-fitting jacket. Likewise, whether you need a snow skirt in your jacket will depend of whether you expect to be skiing in deeper powder or not.

Intensity of Skiing

The more intense, or high-cardio your activities are, the more important breathability and ventilation become. If you are riding the lifts and cruising back down, you may not care much about ventilation; however, if you are skiing hard or hiking uphill, underarm vents and breathable fabric are a must-have.

Recco

Recco Avalanche Rescue Technology has become the industry standard. It consists of a tiny reflector that weighs just under 4g that is integrated into the ski jacket, or other gear. The reflector chip has an unlimited lifetime and you won’t even know it is there; however, if a rescue team needed to search for you, the Recco reflector chip could be detected from up to 200m away in the air and 30m through the snow. It is a highly recommended safety feature for anyone heading out of bounds.

Additional Details

There is a long list of ‘nice-to-have’ extras, and it really comes down to your budget and what features are important to you. Some jackets have extra pockets for your ski goggles including an integrated goggle wipe. Others are highly adjustable with removable hoods and snow skirts. Some have 2 directional zippers or fleece-lined handwarmer pockets. There is no going wrong in this department – it is all personal preference, so have fun picking out the right combination for you.

Happy shopping!

About The Author

AthletePath Staff

We are a team of enthusiasts and professional athletes thriving to provide you with helpful advice on buying everything you may ever need to become a better athlete.

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