Ski, Snowboard, Ski touring, Freeride, Freestyle | Dec 23, 2021

How to find the perfect ski jacket

It’s a match
SALOMON
More about the author
* Advertisement

Your best friend on the slopes? Your ski jacket! After all, it keeps you warm in sub-zero temperatures and protects you from the wind and snow.

But how do you find the perfect ski jacket? What qualities should you look for? And which products are really worth their money?

To make finding a ski jacket less of a challenge, we have compiled a little buyers guide for you. The best thing about it: We did it together with the guys from Salomon – so expect some in-depth knowledge from the industry experts!

What types of ski jackets are there?

Someone who still knows very little about ski jackets might answer this one with: blue ones, red ones, green ones … While colours and patterns are also important when choosing your perfect ski jacket, they certainly shouldn’t be your main purchase criterion. After all, there is a number of other qualities a good ski jacket should have.

© Louis Garnier

But let’s start with the basics!

When you shop for new skiwear, you can basically choose from three different types of jackets:

  • Hardshells
    • waterproof and wind-resistant
    • sturdy
    • not insulated
    • not as breathable as softshells
  • Softshells
    • versatile
    • breathable
    • can be worn as mid-layer or outer layer
    • usually come with DWR coating but not waterproof
  • Insulated jackets
    • outer waterproof shell
    • insulation layer beneath
    •  
    • warm and lightweight
    • might be too warm for certain activities

What are the main qualities a good ski jacket should have?

First of all: The qualities of your perfect ski jacket largely depend on one factor: you. Because whether you need a particularly warm, lightweight or breathable jacket is determined by the type of activity you will mostly be using it for.

Are you a backcountry skier, or do you prefer to stick to the groomed slopes? Are you more into ski touring or alpine skiing? Do you mostly ride in the depth of winter, or are you a fan of sunny spring skiing? All these factors should go into your decision which of the following properties of a ski jacket are most relevant for you.

© Louis Garnier
© Louis Garnier

Warmth

Obviously, a good ski jacket should keep you warm and toasty, especially if you love riding in the depth of winter. A well-insulated jacket protects you from the wind and keeps you warm even when you’re queuing for the chairlift.

There are three types of insulation:

  • Down
    Thanks to its lofting ability, goose or duck down has excellent insulation qualities.
     
  • Imitation down
    Mimicking the structure of natural down, synthetic fibre insulation is a viable alternative to down.
     
  • Synthetic fabric insulation
    Economic and durable, compact synthetic fabric insulation also has good (but usually not excellent) insulating properties.

Our tip: While an insulated ski jacket is a great choice for resort skiing in low temperatures, it’s better to dress according to the three-layer system when you’re freeriding or ski touring as you will move more.
Our top pick in warm ski jackets: Salomon’s SLALOM JACKET M

Waterproofing

Without a waterproof jacket, the sleet or snow can soak you through within minutes – and that’s not something you want to happen! That’s why your ski jacket should definitely be waterproof.

The impermeability of your ski jacket’s waterproof membrane is measured on the Schmerber scale. It refers to the material’s resistance to water in a standardised column. Jackets are considered waterproof starting at 10,000 Schmerber.

Our top pick in waterproof ski jackets: Salomon’s GRAVITY GORE-TEX ANORAK

© Louis Garnier
© Louis Garnier

Breathability

The breathability of your ski jacket refers to its ability to allow sweat to dissipate. The more intense your activity, the more sweat you will produce, making the breathability of your jacket even more important. That’s why breathable ski jackets are a must for freeriders and ski tourers.

The breathability of a ski jacket is indicated by two measurements. RET stands for the resistance to evaporative heat transfer, MVTR refers to the moisture vapor transmission rate. As a rule of thumb, you can stick to the following:

  • poor breathability
    • RET: more than 15
    • MVTR: under 10,000
  • good breathability
    • RET: 6–12
    • MVTR: 20,000–30,000
  • very good breathability
    • RET: under 6
    • MVTR: above 30,000

Our top pick in breathable ski jackets: Salomon’s STANCE CARGO JACKET M

Size

© Matt Georges

A ski jacket that feels uncomfortable will probably get chucked out sooner or later. So make sure that you get the right size and fit when buying new sportswear. Try on different products and make sure they neither feel too tight nor too loose!

Cut and style

We won’t deny it: Style is an important factor on the slopes! While most of it comes down to your personal preferences, cuts also vary with the kind of activity you have planned. 

For instance, boften prefer fitted cuts because they give them greater freedom of movement. Freeriders, on the other hand, often go for longer and looser cuts.

© Louis Garnier

Additional features

While they are not strictly necessary, some of the feature below can make the difference between a good ski jacket and a truly great one.

  • hoods
  • snow skirts
  • thumbholes
  • windproof cuffs
  • pockets (interior pockets, ski pass pockets, chest pockets, side pockets, …)
  • ventilation
  • zippers
  • RECCO system

INTERSPORT Rent tip

Your kids have grown out of their old ski jackets? Don’t worry! Instead of having to buy a new one every season, you can also rent top-of-the-line ski clothing for your little ones at INTERSPORT Rent.

At our many INTERSPORT Rent shops, you can find a large selection of ski jackets and pants from leading brands. Plus, our RENTertainers on site will help you find the right size and fit for your youngsters – and for yourself!

Related articles

You may also be interested in:

© Helly Hansen Ski
* Advertisement

Ski clothing 101: Stay warm & dry!

HELLY HANSEN
Make the most of your day in the snow with the right clothing: Find out what to wear on the INTERSPORT Rent blog and fight the cold in style!
© Salomon Ski
* Advertisement

How to find the perfect pair of ski trousers

SALOMON
Keep your legs warm and dry on the slopes: Find out all about ski trousers and their most important qualities!