Ski touring, Freeride | Mar 2, 2022

It’s a match: How to find the perfect ski touring jacket

More about the author
* Advertisement

Ski touring might be one of the trickiest winter sports to dress for. On your way to the top, you can work up quite a sweat while skinning up a steep mountain face. On the way down, the wind can quickly leave you cold while swooshing down the mountain. And how about all those times you stop to take a break or have a snack?

What’s more, ski tourers are often faced with unpredictable conditions in the backcountry. So what’s the best way to dress for the many different demands? Is there a ski touring jacket that ticks all the boxes?

Check out the buyer’s guide by INTERSPORT Rent and Helly Hansen and discover how to find the perfect ski touring jacket!

How should I dress for ski touring?

Yes, a good-quality ski touring jacket is important. And yes, we’re going to tell you how to find one that matches your needs. But first we need to talk about something else: layering

Because ski touring (or basically any other winter sport) is not just about your jacket – it’s about a thought-out combination of all your clothes.

You have probably heard it before: The secret weapon of winter sports is dressing in layers. It allows you to adapt to changing conditions by adding or removing individual layers.

© Helly Hansen / Cam McLeod
© Helly Hansen / Cam McLeod

The 3-layer system for ski touring

Base layer

  • wicks moisture away from your skin
  • is vital for temperature regulation
  • for instance, a LIFA® Merino top and bottom (or LIFA® Active base layer for warmer days)

Mid layer

  • keeps you warm
  • should have an optimal weight-to-warmth ratio
  • for instance, a LIFALOFT Air Hooded Insulator garment

Outer shell layer

  • protects you from wind and snow
  • should be breathable to allow proper ventilation
  • for instance, Helly Hansen’s ODIN 9 WORLDS INFINITY 3L SHELL JACKET

Expert tip: It’s a good idea to bring an extra down coat or puffy jacket for breaks. Make sure that it’s lightweight and that it fits over your outer layer. Top picks: Helly Hansen’s VERGLAS GLACIER DOWN JACKET or VERGLAS POLAR DOWN JACKET.

What features should I look for when buying a ski touring jacket?

Now that you know all about layering, let’s have a closer look at your outermost layer: the jacket.

A good ski touring jacket should …

  • … be breathable.
  • … offer excellent moisture management.
  • … be thin and lightweight.
  • … be easy to pack.
  • … have strategically placed ventilation zippers.
  • … be wind-proof and water-repellent.
  • … offer freedom of movement.
  • … have quick-drying properties.
  • … have Recco reflectors.
  • … have a helmet-compatible hood.
  • … feature roomy (chest) pockets to store your mobile phone, climbing skins or maps.
© Helly Hansen / Cam McLeod

Softshell or hardshell jacket

What’s better?

It depends! While softshell jackets are generally more suitable for sunny, mild days, hardshell jackets come in handy in stormy weather and difficult terrain. In addition, both types of jackets have other pros and cons.

Softshell jackets

  • are ideal for non-severe weather
  • are breathable
  • have excellent moisture-wicking capabilities
  • can be worn as an outer layer or mid layer
  • offer mobility, flexibility and comfort
  • are lightweight and easy to pack
  • are usually cheaper than hardshell jackets
  • are only water-resistant, not waterproof
  • don’t keep you as warm as hardshell jackets
© Helly Hansen / Cam McLeod

Hardshell jackets

© Helly Hansen / Cam McLeod
  • are ideal for rough weather
  • come with hoods for extra protection
  • keep you warm and dry in heavy snow
  • are super sturdy
  • are ideal for skiers who want to push their limits
  • are more expensive than softshell jackets
  • wick sweat less effectively than softshell jackets

Which products do we recommend?

As we said before, your perfect jacket match depends on the conditions and terrain you will be using it in. However, if you’re looking for a general product recommendation for ski touring jackets, these are two of our top picks:


  • built with 3L HELLY TECH® Professional fabric and a microporous membrane
  • wicks moisture away from your body when hiking up a mountain
  • keeps you warm on the way down


  • features LIFA INFINITY PRO™ technology
  • is waterproof and breathable
  • effectively blocks out the wind and protects you from snow and rain 
  • ideally combined with the ODIN MOUNTAIN 3L SHELL BIB PANT 


Our winter sports experts on site, the RENTertainers, will help you pick the outfit that best suits your needs. And psssst … they’re sure to have a few secret ski touring tips up their sleeve as well!

Related articles

You may also be interested in:

© Helly Hansen / Cam McLeod Freeride
* Advertisement

Freeride jackets for maximum off-piste fun

Are you looking for a high-quality jacket for your next freeride adventure? Read the INTERSPORT Rent blog to find out what makes a jacket perfect for use in the backcountry!
© Louis Garnier Ski
* Advertisement

Buyers guide for ski jackets

Can’t wait to hit the slopes this winter? Check out our buyers guide for ski jackets before heading out into the snow!