Not all ski jackets are created equal. If you’ve searched for a ski jacket before, you probably know that elements such as features, fit, and quality can widely differ from jacket to jacket.
Warmth is something many skiers often look for when purchasing a new jacket. After all, if you are planning to spend hours in the snow, you want to be wearing something that keeps you at a decent temperature! We’re going to cover some of the elements of what makes the warmest ski jackets, so keep reading to learn more! The same can be applied to snowboard jackets as well, so if you ride sideways down the hill, this is also for you.
Types of Ski Jackets
When you’re first looking for one of the warmest ski jackets, you will likely notice that ski jackets are divided into 3 different categories:
- Shell – This is an outer layer that is either worn by itself on warmer days or layered over another jacket. Shells are usually designed to be waterproof and windproof. They are not intended to be worn for warmth.
- Insulated – Unlike shells, insulated jackets are designed for warmth. While they likely also have some waterproofing elements, they are primarily designed for wearing to keep you warm on chilly days and protecting you from freezing temperatures.
- 3-in-1 – These offer the best of both worlds. 3-in-1 jackets feature an outer shell that is weatherproof with an inner layer to provide insulation. Both the shell and inside layer can be worn by themselves or together.
Insulated or 3-in-1 ski jackets will be your best choice when it comes to picking something that will keep you warm! This may also depend slightly on what you already have in your closet to layer with.
What makes a ski jacket warm?
One of the biggest factors when it comes to warmest ski jackets is insulation. There are two types of insulation: natural down and synthetic fill. Natural down is made from duck or goose plumage—the fluffy layer underneath their feathers. Synthetic fill, on the other hand, is made from polyester fibers and designed to replicate natural down.
Is one type of insulation better than the other when it comes to the warmest ski jackets? Both have their benefits in keeping you warm. Natural down is typically lighter weight than synthetic fill. It may also do a better job of keeping you warm. However, when it gets wet, it loses its effectiveness. Synthetic fill is specifically designed to eliminate this problem. It usually does a better job of retaining its heat when it gets wet.
What is fill power?
When looking for the warmest ski jackets, you’ve maybe come across the phrase “fill power.” Fill power is used for jackets with natural down insulation. The number associated with the fill power is the cubic inches of loft that that once ounce of down produces. A higher number means that less fill is required to provide the same amount of warmth.
Therefore, jackets with higher fill power numbers are lighter weight than those with lower numbers. It does not necessarily mean that they are warmer, however. There are still several other factors that contribute to a ski jacket’s warmth.
Other Factors that Affect Warmth
Although insulation is a big part of what makes the warmest ski jackets, there are also other factors to consider:
While it might not seem like it makes that much of a difference at first glance, the length of a ski jacket can make all the difference when it comes to keeping you warm. Shorter jackets may be slightly better when it comes to offering more room for movement, but longer ski jackets that go down to your thighs will keep you significantly warmer, especially on days that are extra chilly.
A jacket that doesn’t keep you dry sure won’t keep you warm! A jacket’s waterproofing is measured in millimeters (mm). The higher the number, the more waterproofing it offers. Look for a jacket with a rating of 10,000mm or higher for something that offers moderate to high waterproofing. In addition to this, a jacket with fully taped seams will also do a good job of keeping any moisture out.
Hoods and Powder Skirts
These are designed to keep the elements out and add a little bit of extra protection and warmth. While not necessary, hoods and powder skirts can definitely help you stay extra warm and are nice features to look for when looking at the warmest ski jackets.
Some skiing outerwear brands offer other technologies that aid in warmth. For example, some Columbia products offer Omni-Heat™ Reflective technology that retains your body heat and reflects it back to you rather than using down insulation. It helps to do a little research and see what else is out there if you are looking for alternative options for maximum warmth.
If you’re truly looking to buy one of the warmest ski jackets, you will want something insulated and with a high waterproof rating. However, it’s also important that you don’t overheat while on the slopes!
Even though a warm ski jacket may sound nice and cozy, you may find yourself sweating early on, especially during early season or spring skiing. Be sure you select a jacket that also offers breathability and some kind of ventilation (such as underarm vents). This way, you’ll feel comfortable no matter what the conditions are!
Browse our entire ski shop this season to find all of the outerwear you need to stay warm!