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What Should I Consider When Buying a Ski Jacket?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated: May 23, 2024

A good ski jacket is a must for all snow sports. You need to be warm and protected from the wind, rain, and snow while not feeling weighed down. The most important things to consider when buying one are warmth, breathability, and layering.

You should always keep the classic "three layer system" in mind when looking for a ski jacket and other ski clothing. In this system, the first layer is thermal underwear, the second is a fleece jacket, turtleneck sweater, or other shirt and the third layer is the jacket. The weight of the layers should depend on the climate and time of year in which you ski.

Some spring skiers may opt for a ski vest rather than a jacket for the final layer. The three layer system is designed so that layers can be removed throughout the day depending on the temperature and wind/water conditions as well as the skier's comfort level. It is better to start out a little too warm and remove layers than to not have enough warmth and protection from the elements when you need it.

A less insulated ski jacket is often less expensive than a more insulated ski coat, but it is unsafe to skimp on warmth if you really need it. If you will be skiing in very cold weather, consider getting a very warm jacket with good insulation. People who are concerned about breathability in a heavily insulated coat should consider a style with zippers at the armpits. You also should look for breathable, yet waterproof fabric in any type of ski jacket. Choosing one in a modern, yet classic style rather than a highly trendy style will keep you looking great for years. You can always wear trendy gloves, sunglasses or hats.

The third layer is called the shell as it provides a waterproof, weatherproof exterior that protects you and your other layers from wind and precipitation. When buying a ski jacket, make sure that the waterproof fabric covers the zippers and other fasteners. If the coat is highly waterproof, then it is also usually very windproof as well.

Sports n' Hobbies is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By closerfan12 — On Nov 23, 2010

Thanks for this article -- it was so informative! My daughter is going skiing for the first time in a few months, and we're trying to find her a good ski jacket before she goes.

Unfortunately, neither my husband or I ski, so we didn't really have any idea where to start until we found this article. After reading this though, I've got it narrowed down to a few different brands.

Between Obermeyer ski jackets, Marker ski jackets and Salomon ski jackets, which one do you think produces the best girls ski jackets? She could probably wear a women's small too, if any of them have a particularly good women's line.

Any input and advice is appreciated!

By galen84basc — On Nov 23, 2010

@tunaline -- Have you looked at Oakley ski jackets? They are usually pretty stylish, and although I haven't looked at all their new season or anything, but I've had good experiences with them in the past.

You might also want to look at Karbon ski jackets. My husband usually gets one of their mens ski jackets every few years, and although they do have a little poof to them, it's certainly less than you find in most ski jackets. I'm not sure how they are for women though.

If you really can't stand the poofiness, then you might want to try a ski vest instead -- that way at least your arms are free, and you only look sort of like a marshmallow instead of entirely like one.

Best of luck!

By TunaLine — On Nov 23, 2010

OK, I need some good advice on choosing a ladies ski jacket. My old winter ski jacket finally gave out on me, and I'm having to buy a new one, but gosh, there's about a thousand styles out there.

The only problem is, whenever I put on most of them, I look like a marshmallow. How can I find a good womens ski jacket that doesn't make me look like the michelin man? It's not like I'm super-chunky to begin with or anything, I'm actually pretty fit, so I can only assume that it is the design of the jacket.

With all that down and poof though, I feel like I'm wearing an airbag, not a jacket. Are there any good brands or styles that make ski jackets that are a little more fitted? I would really appreciate any advice, because I'm going skiing next month and have got to have my jacket by then!

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