Staying warm and being comfortable is essential when you’re skiing.
In order to do this you’ll need a good jacket and in this post I’ll show you how to choose a ski and snowboard jacket. After you’re done I’m sure you’ll be ready to purchase a jacket.
Let’s get into it!
What To Consider When Making Your Choose
This decision basically comes down to personal needs like where you’ll be skiing, weather conditions and budget.
Here’s a video that can help:
Not bad, right?
Now you’ll see a description of all the different types of jackets you can choose from.
3 in 1 Jacket
Here’s a video that describes a 3 in 1 jacket:
Contrary to it’s name, a 3 in 1 jacket actually consists of two pieces, which can be worn separately or together, depending on weather conditions. Since you can wear either piece by itself or wear them both together, this gives you 3 different weight and climate options. Hence the name 3 in 1.
A 3 in 1 jacket usually consists of an exterior lightweight waterproof shell that protects against snow and rain but doesn’t provide a lot of warmth. An inner liner jacket is generally made from a warmer fleece or polartec material that is specifically designed to maintain body heat. When paired with the outer shell, the inner lining will maintain body heat even better and can become extremely warm.
Generally the outer shell and inner lining zip together to create one smooth, seamless jacket, however you can also wear them together but unzipped to regulate warmth by zipping the inner lining and leaving the outer shell open.
3 in 1 jackets are best for fall and spring skiing, when temperatures can fluctuate drastically, but don’t drop terribly low. Because the lining of a 3 in 1 jacket is generally some type of fleece or lighter weight material, it doesn’t protect well against brutally cold temperatures.
3 in 1 jackets allow you to stay warm during brisk or chilly mornings, but then you can remove the inner lining when the temperature warms up in the afternoon. Many ski shells will fold up into a small bundle and often come with their own bag, so you can fold them up and throw them in a backpack rather than having to take them to store them in a car or locker.
One important thing to keep in mind is that 3 in 1 jackets are made for a wide variety of activities, including regular winter jackets. You want to buy a 3 in 1 jacket that is specifically designed for skiing, as it will have a number of different pockets and features specially designed for skiing gear and implements.
It may not occur to you to need a small clip on your sleeve to attach your gloves or mittens to until you get up on the side of a mountain and keep losing them or have to keep track of them. Jackets designed for skiing will also often have a small slit in the back of the neck and a pocket on the inside to hold your iPhone or iPod so you can listen to headphones while on the slopes.
An insulated jacket generally provides far superior warmth to the lining of a 3 in 1 jacket and is generally preferred during cold winter months when the temperatures stay consistently below freezing. Some insulated jackets have a waterproof exterior and are meant to be worn as a single piece.
Other insulated jackets can be worn as a liner underneath a water proof shell, similar to a 3 in 1 jacket but significantly warmer. Some skiers purchase a 3 in 1 jacket and an insulated jacket and use the shell over the insulated jacket in colder temps and the 3 in 1 liner in warmer temps.
The insulation in these jackets is generally some form of down, either natural or synthetic. While down jackets have always been a favorite among winter outdoor enthusiasts, they also came with a huge drawback in the past – that being that they were huge.
Down jackets have come a long way and today’s packable down jackets can actually be compressed into an incredibly small bundle that may weigh only a few ounces. Like a waterproof shell, if the temp climb high enough, you can pack up your insulated shell and throw it in a backpack instead of having to carry it out to a car or locker.
The type of insulation you choose is very important. When it comes to warmth, nothing beats the insulating power of natural goose or duck down. The downside, however, is that natural down loses all it’s insulation power when it gets wet.
If you plan on wearing your insulated jacket under a shell, then you’ll get the most heat out of a natural down jacket. If you want the ability to take your shell off and just wear your insulated jacket by itself, however, you might want to go with a synthetic down.
Insulator or Soft Shell Jacket
An insulator jacket, sometimes known as a soft shell jacket, is generally a quilted or padded jacket of some kind with a waterproof exterior. This type of jacket is best for people who want the lighter weight of a 3 in 1 jacket without the hassle of multiple pieces.
An insulator jacket will not do as well in bitterly cold temps as an insulated jacket, but it breathes well and will keep you warm in cooler conditions, but not too warm in warmer weather. The outer fabric of an insulator jacket is generally some kind of water resistant fabric, so you only need to wear one layer as opposed to wearing an insulated liner and waterproof shell.
One thing to keep in mind about insulator or soft shell jackets, however, is that they are generally not designed specifically for skiing, so you won’t have any of the specialty features of most ski jackets.
A shell jacket is generally made of a waterproof material and generally contains very little, if any insulation. A shell jacket can be worn by itself for skiing in warmer weather or paired with a fleece or insulated lining for colder skiing.
Unlike an insulator jacket, there are a wide range of shell jackets that are made specifically for skiing so you might be better off getting a shell jacket versus an insulator jacket for skiing in warmer temps.
In addition, when the weather turns warm, it can be tempting to want to shed your outer shell entirely. If you have a soft shell or insulator jacket, this is going to be even more tempting because you will likely overheat in warm weather.
Shedding your waterproof layer entirely, however, is a bad idea. Snow on the ground may stay frozen, but the minute you get any snow on you, it quickly melts, leaving you damp. You may not feel this damp when you are on the ground or in the sunshine, but at some time you are going to get on a lift.
The breeze from the movement of the lift, combined with being above the shelter of the tree line can quickly turn that small amount of moisture ice cold. If you want to avoid freezing your butt off on the lift, you want to keep a waterproof layer on you at all times.
Having a waterproof shell with no insulating layer provides you a far wider range of options than a shell with even a small amount of insulation.
For skiers who want to prepare for a wide range of temperatures and climates, but don’t want to buy several different jackets, the best system would be either a shell, a fleece or polartec jacket and a synthetic or down insulated jacket or a 3 in 1 jacket and a packable down or synthetic insulated jacket.
Are You Ready To Look At Jackets?
Getting the right jacket is so important to having a good day on the slopes. If you pick the right one you’ll have a warm and enjoyable day – pick the wrong one and you’ll be uncomfortable.
It really comes down to your needs and the type of coat that’ll satisfy those needs.
If you’d like to check out my top picks for both men and women for this ski season, click below:
If you have anymore questions you can comment below and I’ll get back to you as quickly as possible. You can search around the ski section up top for more tips and gear reviews too.
Are you ready to try out your new jacket?