How to Shop for a Ski Jacket
BY RACHEL CAVANAUGH
Insulated ski jackets versus shells: Which is better?
- Insulated jackets: These are warm ski jackets that feature built-in insulation so you don’t have to wear much underneath them. Typically, these jackets are made with cozy insulation (goose or synthetic) and they sometimes have fleece or faux fur components as well. With these types of coats, you don’t have to worry about buying multiple clothing items or learning how to layer—they’re easy all-in-one pieces.
- Outer Shells: These high-tech ski jackets are extremely thin and lightweight with rugged exteriors that provide 100% waterproofing and wind-resistance. The idea is to bundle up in your favorite fleece or puffy jacket underneath and wear the shell on top to protect you from the elements. This system allows you to add or remove layers as the day goes on, regulating your body temperature as you see fit.
- Interchangeable (3-in-1): These interchangeable ski coats feature both an insulated layer and an outer shell. You can zip them together to form one jacket or wear each of them separately, resulting in three different pieces of gear.
How to choose a ski jacket: Things to consider
- Insulation: This is the section in the middle that traps heat and keeps you warm. The best options feature natural goose down or high-quality synthetic insulation.
- Liner: This is the innermost part of the jacket that lines the inside, providing a soft texture and keeping the insulation in place. The warmest ski jackets feature reflective liners such as Omni-Heat , Omni-Heat 3D, or Omni-Heat Infinity, which rely on foil patterns that reflect your body heat back at you, adding extra warmth.
- Exterior: Jackets made with Omni-Heat Black Dot take it a step further by incorporating warming technology into the exterior of the coat as well. If you’re in a particularly cold climate with extreme conditions, or you tend to get cold easily, opt for a ski jacket with Omni-Heat Black Dot that can soak up solar heat to add extra warmth.
To keep your jacket performing at its best it is important to understand proper gear maintenance and cleaning instructions. Check out Columbia Sportswear’s guide on How to Wash a Puffer Jacket to learn more about how to care for jackets with natural and synthetic down insulation.
- Powder skirts
- Wrist gaiters
- Adjustable hoods
- Goggle pockets
- Pass sleeves
- RECCO safety technology
Our top picks: Columbia Sportwear's ski jackets of 2022
The best insulated ski jacket
The best shell ski jacket
If you opt for a layering system, the Peak Pursuit is one of Columbia’s Sportswear’s best outer shell ski jackets. In addition to a tough waterproof shell but additional features such as an adjustable hood, goggle pocket, pit zips, pass sleeve, and integrated RECCO safety technology.
The best 3-In-1 ski jacket
For folks seeking a 3-in-1 option, this interchangeable ski jacket is a wonderful choice. The waterproof-breathable coat is warm and durable with fantastic moisture management features. On top of the cozy synthetic insulation and toasty reflective liner (with Omni-Heat technology), it has a pass pocket, goggle pocket, pit zips, adjustable hood, and powder skirt. (Check out the women’s version of this ski jacket here.)
Want to complete you snow gear setup? Check out our guide to finding the best snow pants.