Having an appropriate ski jacket suitable to the weather and climate conditions of the region you will be skiing in is of utmost importance to make the best out of the experience. It might even be the most important thing in your skiing pack apart from what is beneath your feet.
Skiing is not an easy sport; it is done in low temperatures where it is essential to wear clothes that will protect you from the elements along with keeping you dry, warm and comfortable as you exert yourself up there in the mountains.
Don’t know where to start? Or are you confused about the right option for you because of the overwhelming choices you have? Then don’t worry. You have landed yourself in the right place to know all you need to! Here are the characteristics you will need to consider:
Waterproof rating and water resistant
To classify a jacket as waterproof, it should have the waterproof fabric and taped seams. The waterproof rating is a measure of the jacket’s ability to keep you dry in wet conditions. The rating is measured in millimeters and the higher the rating, the more waterproof the fabric.
A jacket with a 0-1500mm range is only suitable for dry conditions to very light showers. If you know, it will not snow or rain, but you are a beginner skier or snowboarder who will be sitting in the snow this jacket will work. For light to average rainfall, a jacket rated from 1500-5000mm is suitable. A jacket rated from 5000-10000mm is highly waterproof and is suitable for moderate to high rainfall or snowfall. Taped seams are necessary; it stops moisture from leaking through the seams.
If you happen to ski in the area where there is only light rain, water resistant jackets will work. Water resistant jackets have a water repellent film or DWR coating on them, so the water droplets just roll off.
The amount of insulation in a jacket is measured in grammes per meter square. A jacket with 50-100g is suitable for the spring or fall, and 100-200g is suitable for extreme winter conditions.
Synthetic insulation is a lot cheaper than down and can also endure the wet conditions better. Therefore it is more ideal for cold, humid and rainy areas. It is less bulky with a higher level of breathability. Down insulation will keep you warmer in colder tempatures and is incrediably lightweight.
It is advisable to leave room for layers beneath the jacket. Make sure these layers have the ability to wick, meaning they pull moisture away from the body. Skiers and snowboarders perspire and if the jacket is not breathable, the inside of the jacket will get soaked and wet as the water vapours from the sweat would condense inside, causing you to feel cold. Some jackets also have ventilation zips and mesh lining under the arms to help as well.
Types of Jackets
Shell jackets work well in wind and water, along with being durable and breathable, but they lack insulation. They won't provide the warmth, so it's better to use a shell jacket with layers of clothing with it being the outermost layer.
Technical Shell Jackets
Technical shell jackets are for those who like to live life on the edge. These jackets are made to endure extreme weather conditions, be it water or the wind, without restricting mobility. This is why you may find these jackets with fewer features as they are reduced to make it lightweight, but this comes with the finest fabric and fully taped seams which justify its high cost.
Soft Shell Jacket
On the other end of the shell spectrum, there is the soft shell jacket. This is the most versatile jacket and people even tend to wear them as hoodies for mildly cold climates. They have the same features as a shell jacket, but just to a lesser extent; higher than hoodies on the weather resistant scale, but lower than hard shell jackets. Therefore, they are only made for mild to medium cold weather and tend to be inexpensive.
3 in 1 Jackets
The 3 in 1 Ski jacket is a combination of the shell jacket and the insulated jacket. The inner layer is usually a kind of an insulated jacket which can be zipped up to the neck, or it can be worn alone in cold weather (5-10 degree Celsius). The outer layer is a shell jacket made to endure harsh climate without getting damaged or soaked, which can also be used separately all year round for spring-mild winter weather. When putting together, these two jackets provide the individual with insulation, durability, mobility, and protection from all kinds of weather. These jackets are for people who anticipate being in a range of weather conditions and want to have one jacket that fits for all situations.
A snow skirt or a waist gaiter is designed to prevent snow from entering inside your jacket if you fall. It is removable and is a necessary feature of a ski jacket. Some may also have the option to be attached to your pants to give you more resistance against the weather.
Most have waterproof zippers, inner, and outer pockets for your belongings. Some even have dedicated spaces for gadgets, but they are at the pricier end of the scale.
RECCO Reflectors are an integral part of a ski jacket. It is part of a rescue system which allows skiers to be located and rescued if they are trapped under an avalanche or lost in the snow.
A hood keeps your head warm, dry, and safe from the weather. It is usually detachable, and some may be fit for use with helmets as well. The lining affects the overall warmth and fit of the jacket. Most have a mesh or a fleece lining to help with the insulation.
Cuffs depend on what kind of gloves you are wearing. The ones that are tighter at the end are better for gloves that go under the cuffs and all others work well with large, leather gloves that go a few inches beyond your wrist.
A storm flap is a strip of the jacket which runs along with the zip and covers it to keep snow or water away
Ventilation is done by zipping or a mesh found at the underarms or the chest that allows the person to release some heat without having to unzip the whole jacket.
The fit is something an individual can figure it out rather quickly, but in the case of ski jackets one should be careful to leave space for extra room inside the jacket for layers of clothes to protect against the cold. The sleeves should be a bit longer than usual, and the jacket shouldn't hinder movement either. Beyond this, a person should be aware of the climatic conditions of where they will be skiing and select a jacket according to the requirements of that particular place.
Choosing the tight type of jacket plays a significant role in providing you comfort. So, if you have decided the type of activity you will be doing and in what region then it's time to decide the right type of jacket too; a one which provides comfort, protection and is attractive all the same. Wait no more, start deciding right away!