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The Best Ski Jackets of 2023

the best ski jackets of 2023 Gear Tester Sean McCoy putting the Arc'teryx Sabre AR Jacket through its paces at Crested Butte; (photo/Jason Hummel)
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Whether you’re skiing in sunny or stormy conditions, here are our top picks for the most durable, protective, and comfortable ski jackets to keep you outside longer.

Whether at a ski area or out of bounds, you’ll need to be protected from a sphere of elements. That includes beaming sunshine, bitter wind, wet snowflakes, and slashing hail. Finding the best ski jacket will keep you warm, dry, and on the mountain longer.

To help you find the best fit and option for your needs, we created this guide with our favorite jackets for alpine skiing at the resort or heading into the backcountry. Many of these jackets also work well for other winter activities from sledding to snowboarding or winter hikes. These top picks suit all types of skiers whether you’re new or experienced, be it ripping down corduroy at the resort or adventuring off-piste.

If you’d like to learn more about the details of ski jackets, jump down to our buyer’s guide , FAQ , and comparison chart lower on the page. Otherwise, scroll through our top picks or jump to a category below:

The Best Ski Jackets of 2023

Best Overall Ski Jacket: Arc’teryx Sabre for Men & Sentinel for Women

Arc'teryx Sabre and Sentinel Ski Jackets

Arc’teryx delivers these tough, flexible shell jackets for tackling big mountain ski lines at the resort or in the backcountry: the Arc’teryx Sabre for men and the Arc’teryx Sentinel Jacket for women ($700).

While both of these ski jackets are an investment, they continue to be at the top of our stack because they’re so functional, perform exceptionally well, withstand years of abuse, and look good. We can depend on them. These ski jackets are hands down some of our favorites ever made.

The designs feature a durable yet buttery 70-denier nylon face fabric, so we don’t need to worry about exploring the glades or playing fetch with an excited pooch at the base. From blustery conditions to blower powder, the three-layer GORE-TEX fabric is waterproof, breathable, and blocks wind well.

And the seams are fully sealed to bar moisture. If you build heat on deep-snow laps, the underarm vents are a lifesaver, and the powder skirt helps keep base layers dry.

A soft flannel backer provides a bit of warmth for cooler days on the chair lift. The hood fits over a helmet. Both jackets feature two external hand pockets, one small sleeve pocket, an internal mesh pocket, and one internal pocket with a zip closure.

If you’re looking for a comfortable, lightweight shell that stands season after season and manages variable conditions from spring sunshine to storms, the Sabre and Sentinel are a worthy choice.

  • Fit: Relaxed
  • Insulation: Flannel backer
  • Shell: 3-layer
  • Waterproof rating (mm): 28,000
  • Breathability (g): 20,000
  • Weight: 590 g (women’s size S); 700 g (men’s size M)
  • Enough room to layer up a fleece or micro puff jacket beneath the shell
  • Extremely durable
  • Slightly longer drop in the back for extra protection
  • Color selection could use more bright options for backcountry visibility
  • Expensive

Check Men’s Price at REI Check Women’s Price at REI

Best Budget: Picture Organic Fines for Men & Sany for Women

Picture Organic Fines and Sany Ski Jackets

Picture produced these two hardshells with sustainability at the forefront and friendliness for the pocketbook. The recycled polyester face fabrics of the Picture Organic Fines Jacket for men ($235) and Picture Organic Sany Jacket for women ($225) are topped off with recycled insulation. For jackets a smidge above $200, these designs don’t leave out any of the bells and whistles.

The fabric of both the Sany and Fines is 64% recycled polyester. To shield the elements, the PFC-free DWR is Teflon EcoElite, a plant-based repellent for textiles that wards off water as well as water-based stains. The interior liner includes recycled polyester taffeta in the sleeves and hood.

We tested our Picture jackets throughout a winter season of skiing in the Colorado Rockies where the high-altitude lifts are often met with windchill and temperatures drop below zero degrees.

With high marks, we liked the jacket’s hint of warmth while sitting on the lift or skiing in below-freezing conditions. That’s thanks to the body-mapped construction with recycled insulation throughout the body, sleeves, and hood, which blocks the cold in just the right spots.

This jacket is just bulky and insulated enough that we don’t wear it backcountry skiing. But it’s perfect for enjoying in-bounds terrain in a variety of temperatures. We can wear a long-sleeve fleece beneath it mid-winter and feel comfortable despite windy lift rides.

On warm spring days, we’re thankful for the underarm vents because the jacket can get a bit toasty — it isn’t the most breathable. The waterproof rating is also on the lower end, so beware if you plan to ski in bell-to-bell whiteout conditions, especially on back-to-back days. Otherwise, the amount of waterproofing plus critically taped seams is certainly on par with most skiers’ needs.

The inside of the arms feature lengthy wrist gaiters with thumbholes, so it’s better to layer gauntlet gloves over the cuff. All the YKK zippers are waterproof, and the seams are fully taped, so moisture doesn’t squeeze in.

The Fines and Sany Jackets also boast great pockets: four exterior zip-enclosed pockets and an interior mesh pocket.

  • Fit: Straight and boxy
  • Insulation: Recycled Thermal STD 60 g in the body and sleeves plus 40 g in the hood
  • Shell: 2-layer
  • Waterproof rating (mm): 10,000
  • Breathability (g): 10,000
  • Weight: 1,020 g; 1,240 g
  • Functional pockets
  • Eco-friendly focus
  • Holds a Global Recycle Standard certification
  • Not the lightest shell for warmer conditions
  • Hood is a tad tight when pulled around a helmet

Check Men’s Price at REI Check Women’s Price at evo

Best Runner-Up: Rab Khroma Kinetic Waterproof Jacket — Men’s & Women’s

Rab Khroma Kinetic Waterproof Ski Jacket

The Men’s Rab Khroma Kinetic and Women’s Rab Khroma Kinetic ($230-385) is one of our favorite choices thanks to its versatile features set. For both guys and gals, this jacket is at home on or off-piste, and performs admirably during grueling tours or chilly days riding the lift.

Constructed from Rab’s proprietary Proflex material, the Khroma Kinetic balances breathability and weather resistance. The shell fabric has the stretchy, comfortable feel of a soft shell, while still being waterproof. A fluorocarbon-free DWR treatment keeps wet snow beading off the face fabric, preventing it from “wetting out.”

In terms of comfort, our testers love the stretch factor. A little stretch goes a long way, especially on cold days when we had to layer a fleece and a light puffy jacket underneath the shell. A large, two-way adjustable hood easily accommodates a ski helmet without restricting mobility, and we love the low-profile internal cordlocks.

This jacket also has a few venting options for when it’s time to shed some heat on the skin track. We found that opening the rear arm vents and the chest pockets can create a nice draft.

When it comes to technical features, the Khroma Kinetic is better equipped for touring and mountaineering than powder days at the resort. It has two large chest pockets with plenty of room for bars, a GPS, and a cell phone, plus a tiny stash pocket for keys. A two-way zipper makes for easy access to a harness during mountaineering endeavors.

This jacket doesn’t have a powder skirt. If we wanted a jacket exclusively for resort skiing, we’d like it to be a bit longer, but it does have a small shoulder pocket for a ski pass.

Versatility always involves a little compromise, but for skiers hoping to get by with one jacket for the resort and the backcountry, the Rab Khroma Kinetic is an excellent choice.

  • Fit: Regular
  • Insulation: None
  • Shell: 3-layer 20D Proflex
  • Waterproof rating (mm): 20,000mm
  • Breathability (g): Unavailable
  • Weight: 474 g (women’s size 10); 538 g (men’s size M)
  • Stretchy
  • Breathable
  • Very comfortable
  • No powder skirt
  • Hemline a little high

Check Men’s Price at Amazon Check Women’s Price at Amazon

Best 3-in-1 Ski Jacket: Columbia Whirlibird IV Interchange Jacket — Men’s & Women’s

Columbia Whirlibird IV Interchange Ski Jacket

For skiers that would like to maximize their ski jackets with an integrated insulation layer that can be worn separately, look no further than this 3-in-1 jacket from Columbia.

The Men’s Whirlibird IV Interchange Jacket ($230) and Women’s Whirlibird IV Interchange Jacket ($230) are solid choices. Both offer a waterproof shell and second light puffy jacket that can be worn independently or zipped together.

We love that these jackets come in a broad size run — the best available. The guy’s jacket is offered in standard, big, and tall sizes up to 6XL and 5XT. The women’s includes XS through 2XL and plus sizes 1X through 3X.

The shell is waterproof/breathable with underarm vents, which is key for hitting the slopes at any point in the season. Five pockets are integrated into the exterior shell for carrying goggles, ski passes, and credit cards including to two zippered hand pockets.

The insulated jacket also has two exterior hand pockets and an interior pocket with zip closures. With synthetic fill, the micropuffy is toasty and resistant to moisture. The shell’s interior helps keep the body more cozy, thanks to the patented Omni-Heat Reflective liner that reflects and retains body heat.

Some features are fixed like the attached hood and powder skirt. Otherwise, the Whirlibird IV Interchange Jacket for guys and gals is an extremely adaptive choice. For skiers that want to maximize the utility of their jackets and make sure their layering system is streamlined, this one’s for you.

  • Fit: Relaxed
  • Insulation: Omni-Heat Reflective liner
  • Shell: 2-layer
  • Waterproof rating (mm): Unavailable
  • Breathability (g): Unavailable
  • Weight: Unavailable
  • Adaptable for variable conditions from spring to winter
  • Lower-end price tag
  • Fits well over base layers and extra midlayer
  • Interior material is a bit noisy

Check Men’s Price at REI Check Women’s Price at REI

Warmest Insulated Ski Jacket: Sync Performance Stretch Puffy Jacket — Men’s & Women’s

Sync Performance Stretch Puffy Jacket

Have you ever skied with a down jacket on beneath a shell? Despite stinging cold conditions, the internal heat that builds up can be stifling, as most lack ventilation and underarm zippers. The fit can be cumbersome, too.

Our solution: the Men’s Sync Performance Stretch Puffy Jacket and Women’s Stretch Sync Performance Stretch Puffy Jacket ($399) with synthetic insulation. We’ve reached for this jacket countless times for nail-biting temperatures — between -10 and 10 degrees — while skiing the slopes at Crested Butte Mountain Resort and Telluride Ski Resort where the conditions can be variable and wild in Southwest Colorado.

Even with windchill, this jacket holds body heat yet is breathable when we hop into the trees or charge moguls and work up a sweat. This performance puffy is very stretchy (including the hood), pliable, and doesn’t feel fragile. We can reach down to adjust our boots or pick up a pole or put our arms overhead with no problem.

The shoulders feature additional fabric reinforcements, so skis can’t slice in when we’re carrying gear around. Built with tenacious fabric and water-resistant construction, the Sync Performance for men or women is our number-one choice if we need extra warmth on a frigid day on the slopes.

  • Fit: Athletic
  • Insulation: 50/50 PrimaLoft Black ThermoPlume and polyester insulation
  • Waterproof rating (mm): 10,000
  • Breathability (g): 10,000
  • Weight: Unavailable for women’s jacket; 453 g (men’s size L)
  • Extremely warm
  • Flexible fabric
  • Streamlined fit
  • No underarm vents
  • Too much insulation for warm spring days

Check Men’s Price at Sync Performance Check Women’s Price at Sync Performance

Best of the Rest

Patagonia Insulated Powder Town Jacket — Men’s & Women’s

Patagonia Insulated Powder Town Ski Jacket

If you tend to get a bit chilled on the lift ride or your home mountain is frigid or gusty, push this insulated jacket to the top of your wish list. New for fall 2022 and back in the 2023 lineup — ready for a powder day, delivering excellent waterproofness — is Patagonia’s Insulated Powder Town Jacket for Men and Insulated Powder Town Jacket for Women ($399).

Patagonia nailed the comfort and fit of this design. Beyond that, the jacket is completely free of PFC chemicals, a multiyear development the brand is rolling out across every product in the All Mountain lineup.

The 75-denier shell, liner, and lower body of the jacket are all 100% recycled polyester blends. Even the insulation is 100% recycled polyester. The lining is Bluesign approved while the product is Fair Trade Certified sewn.

Inside, a taffeta liner is smooth without noise and ups the jacket’s class and quality.

We really appreciate the pockets on this jacket, which are ergonomic and functional. There’s a small pass pocket on the left forearm, a large left exterior chest pocket, a wide interior dump pocket with a zip closure, a wide-mouthed interior mesh pocket, and two softly lined hand pockets.

Patagonia is also launching the Warmth Index, a new metric that measures the warmth of each of the brand’s products. That way, skiers can compare jackets side by side for their own insulation needs. The insulated Powder Town for men and women is the warmest all-mountain snow jacket that the brand makes.

The Powder Town is available in a noninsulated version, too — for women and men .

  • Fit: Regular
  • Insulation: Yes
  • Shell: 2-layer
  • Waterproof rating (mm): Unavailable
  • Breathability (g): Unavailable
  • Weight: 620 g
  • RECCO included
  • Super comfortable to move in
  • Underarm zippers are included
  • Perfect amount of warmth on a cold day but a bit toasty on super warm spring days

Check Men’s Price at Patagonia Check Women’s Price at Patagonia

REI Co-op First Chair GTX Jacket — Men’s & Women’s

rei co-op first chair gtx jacket

Another celebrated shell for skiing and riding is the REI Co-op First Chair GTX Jacket for Men ($299) and the REI Co-op First Chair GTX Jacket for Women ($299). This jacket excludes insulation, so it’s a versatile all-season piece with underarm vents plus room for midlayers and base layers beneath.

The high collar is coated with soft fabric for comfort, and the hood is spacious enough to pull over a helmet. The hem is longer in the back for extra protection. To shield against moisture, the GORE-TEX waterproof/breathable fabric is treated with PFC-free DWR.

  • Fit: Relaxed
  • Insulation: Not insulated
  • Shell: 2-layer
  • Waterproof rating (mm): Unavailable
  • Breathability (g): Unavailable
  • Weight: 706 g (women’s size S); 786 g (men’s size M)
  • Eco-friendly DWR treatment
  • Underarm zippers are great for releasing heat
  • Recycled polyester liner
  • Hood is roomy sans helmet
  • Boxy fit might not be a top choice for some skiers and riders

Check Men’s Price at REI Check Women’s Price at REI

Helly Hansen Odin Infinity 3L Shell Jacket — Men’s & Women’s

Helly Hansen Odin Mountain Infinity 3L Ski Jacket

If a toasty hug isn’t what you need, pull on the noninsulated men’s Odin Mountain Infinity 3L Shell Jacket ($700). The jacket is also available in a women’s version with all the same high-end qualities. The Odin Infinity features the brand’s proprietary Lifa Infinity Pro textile.

The eco-friendly fabric is waterproof/breathable, wind-resistant, and hydrophobic meaning it eliminates the need for a toxic DWR treatment — the water repellency is inherent to the fabric.

We wore this shell while skinning in a wintry spring climate. There was usually cloud coverage mixed with spurts of sunshine. Temperatures ranged from 16 to 40 degrees, and gusts peaked around 30 mph.

Typically, we took continuous 1,000-foot ascents with the underarm vents open and never felt hot or clammy. This shell is breathable yet provides a solid barrier against wind and fairly wet, heavy snowfall.

To stash small goods, the shell has two exterior hand pockets and one chest pocket. Inside, there’s a mesh pocket and another tiny pocket with a zip closure. We mostly used the outermost big pockets during ski tours.

Another highlight is the laminated brim, which is shaped for a full-angle view.

One drawback: The powder skirt has a snap attachment point in the back that occasionally got stuck beneath our pack while skinning up. We could usually shift it out of the way. If this bothers you, the powder skirt is removable.

Ultimately, this eco-conscious shell is soft, quiet, and comfortable. The design is easy to move in while climbing.

Read our full review of the women’s Odin Mountain Infinity 3L Shell Jacket to learn more.

  • Fit: Athletic
  • I nsulation: Not insulated
  • Shell: 3-layer
  • Waterproof rating (mm): Unavailable
  • Breathability (g): Unavailable
  • Weight: 515 g (women’s size M); 600 g (men’s size L)
  • Inherently waterproof without chemicals
  • Flexible fabric and range of movement
  • Durable
  • Expensive

Check Men’s Price at Backcountry Check Women’s Price at Amazon

Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell Jacket — Men’s & Women’s

outdoor research skytour ascentshell jacket

If you need a lightweight, breathable, windproof, and waterproof shell for backcountry adventure, here’s a superstar choice: the men’s Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell Jacket ($379) and women’s Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell Jacket ($379).

The design is 20% more lightweight than its predecessor, the Skyward. This hardy 50-denier nylon and spandex face fabric is a stalwart against harsh conditions and a loaded pack. The cut is roomy and long. We appreciate that the hood is wire-brimmed so it doesn’t collapse.

We love that the vents are super tall — they stretch from the hem all the way past our armpit and up to the inside of the chest. So we don’t need to stop to remove our pack and jacket on uphill climbs with these huge vents.

There are two lower hand pockets and two upper chest pockets on the exterior and internal mesh pockets for skins. The fabric is breathable and buttery soft. We reach for this jacket for backcountry skiing and snowmobiling.

  • Fit: Relaxed
  • Insulation: Not insulated
  • Shell: 3-layer
  • Waterproof rating (mm): 10,000
  • Breathability (g): 20,000
  • Weight: 576 g (women’s size M); 627 g (men’s size M)
  • Very durable fabric
  • Comfortable shell for big movement
  • Over-sized underarm vents
  • No insulation

Check Men’s Price at REI Check Women’s Price at REI

Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell — Men’s & Women’s

black diamond dawn patrol hybrid shell

The Men’s Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell ($350) and Women’s Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell ($350) — which received a gold-level ISPO award — are stretchy and sturdy for backcountry and uphill use.

The breathable softshell material is treated with the brand’s proprietary waterproof/breathable and windproof solution in the chest, shoulders, and hood. There’s also a PFC-free DWR, which enhances durability.

One of the most innovative features of this jacket is a center-front dual zipper that opens to a mesh panel for ventilation while uphilling.

The two large chest pockets are harness-compatible and roomy enough for skins, and the hood fits over a helmet. The thumbhole wrist gaiter helps protect wrists from getting chilled.

Ultimately, the lightweight Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell for men or women is a comfortable, stretchy, and very waterproof choice for skiers.

  • Fit: Relaxed
  • Insulation: Not insulated
  • Shell: 3-layer
  • Waterproof rating (mm): 20,000
  • Breathability (g): 20,000
  • Weight: 455 g (women’s size S); 500 g (men’s size M)
  • Unique center ventilation zipper
  • Eco-friendly DWR finish
  • RECCO technology in hood for safety
  • No hand pockets

Check Men’s Price at Amazon Check Women’s Price at Backcountry

L.L.Bean Pathfinder GORE-TEX Shell Jacket — Men’s & Women’s

l.l. bean pathfinder gore-tex shell jacket

For a simple, no-frills ski jacket, L.L.Bean sure serves up a well-constructed option. The Men’s L.L.Bean Pathfinder GORE-TEX Shell Jacket ($249) offers a size range of S to 2XL, and the Women’s L.L.Bean Pathfinder GORE-TEX Shell Jacket ($249) features sizes XXS to XL.

This 100% recycled polyester shell is an excellent choice for heat-building winter activities like groomer laps or powder skiing, especially in above-freezing conditions.

Functional pockets let you stay organized including a mesh drop pocket inside and a secure zippered pocket. On the outside, there are two hand pockets and a chest pocket, all zipper-secured.

The underarm zippers allow you to dispense heat while working up a sweat whether you’re skiing moguls or hiking to sled with the kids. The three-layer jacket features waterproof/breathable GORE-TEX to withstand light rain in addition to wind and snow.

  • Fit: Athletic
  • Insulation: Not insulated
  • Shell: 3-layer
  • Waterproof rating (mm): Unavailable
  • Breathability (g): Unavailable
  • Weight: Unavailable
  • Great layer for high-output activities or warmer conditions
  • Pliable fabric for mobility
  • Lower price
  • Curvy women might find the waist too fitted (opt for men’s jacket instead)
  • Material can be a tad loud
  • One-way zipper only

Check Men’s Price at L.L.Bean Check Women’s Price at L.L.Bean

Dynafit Beast Hybrid Jacket — Men’s & Women’s

Dynafit Beast Hybrid Jacket

One of our most dependable jackets in the backcountry has been the Dynafit Beast Hybrid Jacket for men ($400) and women ($400).

The unique hybrid design uses a softshell core on the lower half around the torso for breathability. Then a full three-layer fabric is used across the upper body’s shoulders and arms for enhanced durability and protection from the elements.

When skinning uphill, the Beast Hybrid offers plenty of breathability and stretch thanks to its Dynastretch material located across the torso and back. Meanwhile, the waterproof shell that covers the hood, chest, and shoulders is durable enough for ripping in and out of the trees. We also love that the whole jacket stashes away easily in a pack.

The well-placed pockets are deep and compatible with a pack’s hipbelt — one also features a dedicated sleeve to preserve a cellphone battery. Reflective detailing adds much-appreciated visibility while skiing in the dark.

  • Fit: Athletic
  • Insulation: None
  • Shell: 3-layer
  • Waterproof rating (mm): Unavailable
  • Breathability (g): Unavailable
  • Weight: 490 g (women’s size M); 599 g (men’s size M)
  • Very breathable
  • Tenacious construction
  • Lightweight
  • Not ideal for frigid temps
  • Other jackets feature a greater quantity of pockets

Check Men’s Price at Dynafit Check Women’s Price at Backcountry

Ski Jackets Comparison Chart

Ski Jackets Price Fit Insulation Shell Waterproof Rating Weight
Arc’teryx Sabre for Men & Sentinel for Women $700 Relaxed Flannel backer 3-layer 28k 590 g (W); 700 g (M)
Picture Organic Fines for Men & Sany for Women $225-235 Straight and boxy Recycled Thermal STD 60 g 2-layer 10k 1,020 g; 1,240 g
Rab Khroma Kinetic Waterproof Jacket $385 Regular None 3-layer 20D Proflex 20k 474 g (W); 538 g (M)
Columbia Whirlibird IV Interchange Jacket $230 Relaxed Omni-Heat Reflective liner 2-layer N/A N/A
Sync Performance Stretch Puffy Jacket $400 Athletic 50/50 PrimaLoft Black ThermoPlume and polyester insulation N/A 10k 453 g (M)
Patagonia Insulated Powder Town Jacket $399 Regular Synthetic 2-layer N/A 620 g
REI Co-op First Chair GTX Jacket $299 Relaxed Not Insulated 2-layer N/A 706 g (W) & 785 g (M)
Helly Hansen Odin Infinity 3L Shell Jacket $700 Athletic Not insulated 3-layer N/A 515 g (W) & 600 g (M)
Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell Jacket $349-379 Relaxed Not insulated 3-layer 10k 576 g (W) & 627 g (M)
Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell $350 Relaxed Not insulated 3-layer 20K 455 g (W) & 500g (M)
L.L.Bean Pathfinder GORE-TEX Shell Jacket $249 Athletic Not insulated 3-layer N/A N/A
Dynafit Beast Hybrid Jacket $399 Athletic Not insulated 3-Layer N/A 490 g (W) 599 g (M)
the best ski jackets
Noninsulated jackets work well for a range of temperatures and conditions; (photo/Jason Hummel)

Why You Should Trust Us

Our team has tested ski jackets and published ski jacket guides for men and women for many winter seasons. Those test runs include input from expert, lifelong, backcountry, and avalanche-certified skiers as well as average and beginner skiers.

To determine the best designs, our team wore these ski jackets in a spectrum of snowy environments including ski resorts, off-piste, while steering snowmobiles on backcountry tours, and in various weather conditions.

We’ve backcountry and alpine skied, snowmobiled, and skimo raced in Colorado’s Gunnison Valley, one of the coldest, snowiest destinations in the United States.

Throughout our field tests, we determined the best ski jackets based on a variety of metrics including performance, protection, quality, longevity, fit, functionality, features, size range, and value.

In addition to our personal experience, we also take into consideration the most novel, style-specific, popular, highly rated, and legacy products across a range of price points.

These men’s and women’s ski jackets serve a range of athletes, applications, and budgets.

ski jackets and pants
Insulated ski jackets are suitable for blustery, cold conditions; (photo/Jason Hummel)

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Ski Jacket

Ski jackets work well for a range of activities outside of laps at your local ski hill or in the backcountry. These winter jackets are so functional that they also work well for shoveling the driveway, walking the dog, snowmobiling, snowboarding, and more.

If you’re on the browse for a jacket that’s more specific to snowboarding, check out our Best Snowboard Jackets of 2023 guide. The main difference is the fit and style as well as brand alliance.


Some ski jackets offer no insulation, which is a versatile option to use across a variety of conditions. You can pull on this waterproof and breathable layer to stay dry and protected from the sun or snow burn if you slide out.

Designs without insulation typically have enough room to add a midlayer and base layer beneath for chilly or cold days. This type of jacket works well for warm spring turns at the resort or powder days when you typically accumulate heat carving turns.

To decide if a noninsulated jacket is right for you, consider the ambient temperatures where you usually ski, if there is frequent windchill, and your body temperature on the lift.

Other designs are insulated for warmth in cold or windy locations. You can wear an insulated jacket over a base layer without as much consideration for what midlayer to bring along.

Insulated ski jackets can be prime for freezing conditions, S-carves on groomers, and long lift rides with hair-raising gusts. They can also be a good idea for the backcountry to pull on at the top of sweaty climbs, which can often be wind-exposed. For some skiers, though, these jackets can pigeonhole them into donning too much warmth.

The type and warmth level of insulation varies across each jacket from flannel to down-filled panels or synthetic proprietary fabrics.

2-Layer vs. 3-Layer

A two-layer jacket has a face fabric — such as polyester or nylon — connected to an inner liner that protects the fabric, is breathable, and adds comfort. These jackets usually feel less hefty than a three-layer jacket.

Some have an insulation layer, and the outermost surface is usually treated for waterproofness. The price is generally more moderate compared to three-layer jackets.

Dialing up the durability, a three-layer jacket is a waterproof/breathable membrane — often made by GORE-TEX — sandwiched between a tough face fabric and liner. Sometimes the outer fabric is treated for waterproofness. These jackets offer more protection for fierce weather conditions and are pricier.

Broadly, you’ll want to scrutinize how robust you need your jacket to be for the conditions you’ll ski in.

the best ski jackets
Many ski jackets include an interior mesh drop pocket wide enough for gloves; (photo/Jason Hummel)


A waterproof jacket is ideal for skiing because weather can be flippant, and you don’t want to run the risk of getting wet from snow or rain. The top-tier standard for waterproofness is GORE-TEX, a membrane integrated into various jacket designs.

The material is waterproof, windproof, and breathable. Some brands have a proprietary version of waterproof/breathable fabrics.

Waterproofness is measured by the amount of water that can be placed atop a fabric before it leaks from 5,000 to 20,000 mm or greater. The latter end of the spectrum leads to a less breathable fabric.

  • 0-5,000 mm: Resistant to light rain, dry snow
  • 6,000-10,000 mm: Waterproof for light rain and dry, non-heavy snow
  • 11,000-15,000 mm: Waterproof for moderate rain and dry, non-heavy snow
  • 16,000-20,000 mm: Waterproof for heavy rain and wet snow
  • 20,000 mm and greater: Waterproof for heavy rain and dense, wet, heavy snow

The most waterproof jackets on our list are the Arc’teryx Sabre AR and Sentinel AR and the Patagonia Powder Bowl Jacket , which all provide 28,000mm protection. Jackets at 10,000 mm are adequate for many skiers and riders, though it depends on the environment.

Face fabric treatments, which can be eco-friendly formulas or chemicals toxic to the environment, can also make a jacket waterproof. And some jackets have sealed seams to block moisture.


For high-output skiing on powder days, aim for a jacket with breathability of 10,000 to 15,000 g. Backcountry skiers and uphill athletes should look for even more breathability — 20,000 g or more.

ski jacket ventilation
Underarm vents add adaptability to a ski jacket; (photo/Jason Hummel)


Often ski jackets offer ventilation by way of underarm zippers, which help regulate body temperature. This feature is great for warm-blooded folks or those who ski in warm conditions and for powder days when your body works hard to make turns.

Some underarm zippers are longer than others. The most generous design in our guide is offered in the Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell Jacket , which stretches from the hem past the entire armpit and to the underside of the arm.

One innovative ventilation design is in the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell , which has a front-facing and closable mesh vent that parallels the front zipper. In terms of quality, YKK zippers are the toughest.

Collar & Hood

An ergonomic collar and hood are significant features for face, head, and neck protection against sun, snow, sleet, hail, wind, or rain. Pulling up a hood can help the body retain heat in chilly conditions.

Jacket collars vary in height and ideally have an interior chin guard that feels snug against the face — a key component on a gusty chair lift.

Hoods can be helmet-compatible, which is a priority if you need extra protection and warmth around your face and neck while riding a lift or skiing during a snowstorm. Some hoods are adjustable via elastic pulls. And others have an integrated visor so they don’t collapse beneath moisture. A handful of hoods are removable, while others are fixed.

ski jacket hoods
Ski jackets typically have a helmet-compatible hood with cinch cords to adjust and tighten the fit; (photo/Jason Hummel)

Sleeve Cuffs & Powder Skirt

Powder skirts can be a great addition to a jacket to prevent fluffy flakes from flying up and soaking your base layers or lower back. Some powder skirts are removable, and some have attachment points to connect to your ski pants.

Sleeve cuffs generally have a Velcro closure, though some designs have additional snaps that vary in width. Many cuffs have an inner wrist gaiter — a stretchy fabric for warmth that sometimes has thumbholes to help secure the fabric over the top of the hand.


Most ski jackets include two exterior hand pockets with zip closures, which can be low or placed higher for compatibility with a backpack belt or harness for ski mountaineering. Other exterior pockets can include small pouches on the arm or on the chest. Deep, wide, higher-placed exterior pockets can be nice for stowing a smartphone or notebook in the backcountry.

Interior pockets often have a zip closure, ports for headphones, or a mesh construction with an elastic band at the top. These can be great for chambering a credit card or ID.

Deep, wide interior pockets can be essential for holding backcountry skins, especially if the temperature is crisp and you need to prevent the glue from freezing over between use. Occasionally, a pocket is insulated to help extend the battery life of your smartphone.

Examine what you’ll need to carry, the adequate pocket size, and if the pockets are located in the most comfortable place for you.

ski jacket pockets
Ski jackets often include a ski pass pocket on the arm; (photo/Jason Hummel)


Generally, ski jacket designs land in two camps — trimmer with a more streamlined, athletic fit or roomier and boxier with a more relaxed silhouette. Both can be comfortable. If you’re wearing a backpack in the backcountry, it can be better to wear a well-fitted jacket so the fabric doesn’t get pinched up.

Size-wise, each manufacturer has its own size charts for male and female models. Be sure to take your personal measurements and match them up with the size charts, which can differ across brands.

A handful of companies deliver more size inclusivity with broader offerings in the men’s and women’s categories including Columbia, Obermeyer, and L.L.Bean.

Everyone’s body is unique, so check the exchange and return policy before you buy.


A jacket’s weight can become an important factor for backcountry skiers who often need to stash their jackets in a pack and can’t sacrifice space for bulk.

Similarly, some uphill athletes want to wear a jacket for weather protection but only need a light layer. And occasional resort skiers take laps with a backpack on and might need to store their jackets as the conditions warm.

The lightest jackets in our top picks are 450 to 550 g: the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell , and Helly Hansen Odin Infinity 3L Shell Jacket . Heavier jackets are closer to 900 to 1,000 g.

Ultimately, you shouldn’t compromise a jacket’s safety or comfort features and adequate warmth to drop a little weight.

best budget ski jackets
Ski jackets come in a range of waterproofness levels to help keep you dry; (photo/Jason Hummel)


Can I Wear Any Jacket to Ski?

Ski jackets are specifically constructed to be waterproof/breathable and windproof to protect your health and safety while playing outside in the snow all day.

These designs are also comfortable and ergonomic for the sport’s big movements, like bending over to adjust boots and bindings, planting a pole, or shifting your shoulder orientation while riding moguls.

Overall, it’s a good idea to invest in a ski jacket that will help you stay warm and dry in the conditions where you most often ski.

How Do I Choose a Ski Jacket?

Study the average temperatures and weather conditions where and when you most often ski. Choose a jacket that will keep you comfortable and dry in your given environment, according to how much body heat you’ll build up during your activity.

Backcountry-centric ski jackets are typically more substantial and slender with specific features for off-piste travel. They’re often more expensive.

If you want a ski jacket that works well for other heat-inducing applications, like shoveling the driveway, look for a noninsulated jacket. You can also choose a jacket that you can add layers beneath.

Alternatively, if you want a cozy jacket for cold-weather walks, low-output commutes, mellow groomer skiing in icebox conditions, or alpine skiing with cold lift rides, choose an insulated jacket.

You’ll also want to mull over your preferred features including adequate pockets and other garnishes like thumbholes in the wrist gaiters and a fixed or removable hood.

Should I Size Up in a Ski Jacket?

Usually, both athletic and relaxed ski jackets are a bit roomy so you can fit a base layer and midlayer beneath if needed.

Each manufacturer has its own size charts for male or female categories. Match up your personal measurements to the size charts and check the return or exchange policy before purchase.

What Should I Wear Under a Ski Jacket?

Next to your skin, wear a long-sleeve synthetic base layer. On super-warm spring days, you might even be more comfortable in a synthetic T-shirt.

On colder days and with noninsulated jackets, skiers often opt to add a midlayer — usually a fleece jacket or synthetic jacket.

To learn more about fleece midlayers, read our Best Fleece Jackets for Women and Best Fleece Jackets for men and women guides.

lightweight ski jackets
Ski jackets can be layered with fleece or micro puffy jackets for extra warmth at the ski area; (photo/Jason Hummel)

Can I Wear a Ski Jacket Every Day?

Sure! If the day-to-day outdoor conditions where you live are a match for the jacket’s insulation, waterproofness, and breathability, you could be comfortable wearing that ski jacket as a daily winter driver.

However, a ski jacket can get dirty with time, so it might not be ideal for certain occasions or you might need to wash it more frequently. The wash instructions are unique for each jacket and are located on the interior label.

Also, you might not want to increase the jacket’s wear and tear through daily use. Often, skiers prefer to wear a different cozier, longer, more insulated, more fashion-forward, and quieter style of jacket for everyday use.

What’s the Warmest Ski Jacket?

The warmest ski jacket is an insulated puffy jacket like the Sync Performance Stretch Puffy Jacket , which has a synthetic fill.

What’s a Good Price for a Ski Jacket?

Ski jackets are a long-term investment and worth the money for the protection and comfort they provide in a winter environment.

The most economic options usually range from $200 to $300, and the average cost is $300 to $400. The most robust designs, which can be best for long days in variable conditions, can reach up to $750.

Should a Ski Jacket Fit Loose or Tight?

You don’t want a ski jacket to fit tight because skiing requires a lot of freedom of movement. Plus, it’s nice to have room for a comfortable, wicking synthetic long-sleeve beneath the jacket and a fleece midlayer if the temperatures are low or a micro-puffy if the temps plummet.

Why Do Ski Jackets Have Hoods?

Hoods offer protection and warmth around your face, head, and neck for chair lift rides and skiing during a snow or wind storm. An ergonomic hood shields the elements, including sun, snow, sleet, hail, wind, and rain.

Pulling up a hood can help the body retain heat in chilly conditions. It’s important to look for a ski jacket with a helmet-compatible hood. Some hoods are removable while others are fixed.

How Long Should a Ski Jacket Last?

A ski jacket can break down for a multitude of reasons, including exposure to sunshine, rain, and snow. The materials wear due to the rub points of a heavy pack, brushes against equipment, and even contact with human skin.

Frequency of use, the roughness of the activity, and overall user care are factors that can dissolve a jacket, too. If you use your ski jacket for everyday activity, anticipate the jacket will deteriorate faster. Be sure to follow the care instructions, which are unique for each jacket.

You can clean your ski jacket and then reapply the DWR coating to help extend the use.

With so many variables, you can’t predict the exact lifespan of each ski jacket. We typically find ourselves using our favorite well-constructed ski jackets for 5-6 years, but that number is often lower for backcountry gear.

If you ski inbounds a couple of weeks each season and take good care of your jacket, you can easily assume the product life will be longer — even a decade.

skier putting on Smartwool socks and ski boots

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