We’re in the thick of the 2023 ski and snowboard season right now. We’ll assume you’ve already upgraded your most essential gear — new skis, ski boots, and ski goggles. Maybe you even splurged on a new ski backpack. But what about your jacket? A good ski or snowboard jacket is just as important as the hardware you’re riding on. Because, if you’re not warm, dry, and comfortable on the slopes, how fun is that?
The bad news is that the very best ski and snowboard jackets don’t come cheap. Premium outerwear usually incorporates next-gen waterproofing, down or high-grade synthetic insulation, and other technology to ensure you’re ready for the worst mountain conditions. None of that comes cheap. The good news is that we’ve done most of the legwork for you. We’ve found quite a few ski jackets at prices that almost anyone can afford with a good mix of value, functionality, and quality. Here are our picks for the best ski and snowboard jackets for 2023.
Marmot Refuge Jacket
From some of the best four-season tents to bombproof ski and snowboard jackets, Marmot delivers some of the world’s best waterproofing. The all-new Refuge Jacket is no different. The hardshell design is ready to take on storm skiing and hardcore riding with a seam-taped construction and proprietary NanoTech coating that's waterproof yet lightweight and completely breathable. So you'll stay dry and comfortable, even after long days on the slopes. The Refuge boasts plenty of backcountry-friendly features, too, including a helmet-compatible hood, a fixed powder skirt, PitZips for underarm ventilation, and a water-resistant, zippered chest pocket for stashing your essentials.
Outdoor Vitals NovaPro Jacket
You’d be forgiven if you’ve never heard of them, but Utah’s Outdoor Vitals has been quietly kicking ass in the outdoor gear and apparel space since 2014. The brand’s NovaPro is a unique puffy jacket with clever features that make it perfect for hardcore skiers and snowboarders. It’s made with 20 denier zero-stitch fabric that’s woven into place. Unlike traditional bonding or stitching techniques, this makes it remarkably waterproof. It’s also warmer and far more durable. Because it uses DownLT insulation—which, in OV’s own words, “combines mostly 850 Fill Power HyperDry down (Allied RDS down - responsibly sourced) with a small percentage of synthetic LoftTek”—it holds its loft and insulating properties even when wet. Bonus: It weighs just 14 ounces.
Burton [ak] Helitack GORE‑TEX 2L Stretch Jacket
Burton is arguably the best snowboarding brand in the world with industry-leading technical apparel for both skiers and snowboarders. The next-gen [ak] Helitack GORE‑TEX 2L Stretch Jacket is among the company’s flagship offerings and is one of the warmest and most breathable synthetic insulated jackets it offers. Wrapped around that premium insulation is a two-layer, Bluesign-approved, sustainable Gore-Tex outer for maximum waterproofing. The design is bolstered by temperature-regulating pit zips, a snow-blocking waist gaiter, and tons of storage pockets throughout for stashing your essential gear. Plus, it’s backed by Burton’s lifetime warranty to boot. At almost $600, it ain't cheap, but you'll be hard-pressed to find a more feature-packed ski jacket.
The North Face ThermoBall Eco Snow Triclimate 3-in-1 Jacket
It’s hard to beat a 3-in-1 jacket for maximum versatility. The ThermoBall Eco Snow Triclimate 3-in-1 men’s jacket from The North Face is two premium products in one: A warm liner/jacket and a waterproof DryVent shell. Each piece can be worn individually or combined to create a toasty, weather-resistant cocoon when the weather turns south. The lightweight, helmet-compatible design is ideal for skiing, snowboarding, and just about any other active winter pursuit. Plus, at around $350, it’s one of the most affordable, premium 3-in-1 ski jackets on the market.
Helly Hansen Alpha 3.0 Jacket
For resort skiers, Helly Hansen’s Alpha 3.0 is near-perfect. A breathable, waterproof membrane coupled with an adjustable powder skirt helps lock snow out. Inside, the synthetic insulation provides reliable wet-weather warmth in all but the most extreme conditions. An insulated Lifepocket safely stows your smartphone or other mobile electronics, while preserving their battery life.
Arc'teryx Beta AR Jacket
If you can afford it, the Arc’teryx Beta AR is one of the best ski jackets — actually one of the best overall winter jackets — on the market. A staple of the company’s lineup for more than 20 seasons now, this jacket features Gore-Tex waterproofing and a hood large enough to accommodate a helmet. It's also very durable, so it’s likely you’ll tire of this jacket before it begins to show any signs of age. Arc’teryx emphasizes versatility in the Beta AR. You won’t find much in the way of insulation here, but you do get features that make the Beta AR useful in a variety of mountain climates. Some of the most notable are hand pockets, armpit zippers for ventilation, and an updated length and looser fit to accommodate layers. No matter what you’re doing on the slopes, Arc’teryx’s Beta AR is more than up to the task.
Outdoor Research Skyward II Jacket
Hardcore backcountry pursuits require more hardcore apparel. Outdoor Research’s Skyward II Jacket is well-suited for more exciting, off-trail adventures. Thoughtful design features include high hand pockets for easy access when wearing a pack or harness, while enhanced elbow articulation and maximum-stretch fabric promise a greater range of motion. Plus, the double-zipper construction makes for easy access to your belays or beacon.
686 Smarty 3-in-1 Form Jacket
Like Arc’teryx’s Beta AR, it seems like 686’s Smarty Jacket has been around forever. The 3-in-1 jacket is two parts: A waterproof outer shell and an insulated mid-layer jacket which can be zipped together or worn separately, hence the “3-in-1” name. But there’s plenty of other features to get excited about, too Underarm zippers offer additional airflow, and lots of pockets provide space for passes, goggles, energy bars, and whatever else you might need. The adjustable hood is helmet-compatible, and the entire jacket can be rolled up for easy transport. Plus, you’re getting 686’s best waterproofing and warmth for a price that leaves enough money for you to still afford the rest of your gear.
Columbia Cushman Crest Jacket
Beyond Columbia’s deep catalog of outdoor gear, the company also boasts a large line of winter sports clothing, including the Cushman Crest jacket. This jacket performs equally well on- and off-piste with its breathable, waterproof shell with thermal-reflective lining, which looks great on its own. On the mountain, you’ll appreciate the underarm vents, adjustable hood, cuffs, hem, and powder skirt, and all the pockets you could ever need. Given it is one of the lower-priced options on our list, we recommend this jacket to those looking for the best bang for their buck.
Burton Covert Ski/Snowboard Jacket
Another option in Burton’s catalog, the Covert jacket is a great entry-level jacket for novice skiers and snowboarders. The ThermacoreECO insulation keeps you warm on the coldest days. While it may not be as waterproof as other jackets, it includes all the essentials: A removable waist gaiter, a helmet-ready hood, and plenty of storage space. Better yet, select color options are also “bluesign approved,” meaning its manufacture meets strict specifications to limit its environmental impact.
How to Choose the Right Ski and Snowboard Jacket
So how do you go about choosing the best jacket for your skiing and snowboarding habits? It all comes down to what you plan to do and how you typically bomb the mountain. If you're likely to find yourself in a variety of conditions, a versatile, 3-in-1 jacket might make the most sense as you'll be able to customize the jacket to different conditions. An insulated jacket makes more sense for colder conditions.
It may also make sense to choose your ski pants and jacket at the same time. There's no rule that you must buy the same brand, but there are advantages to doing so. Of course, you'll have the advantage of being able to match your pants and jacket perfectly, but that isn't the only reason. As you can see above, your jacket will often have snaps that can attach your pants directly to the jacket. This is especially useful in situations where you'll be skiing or riding in deep powder or on snowy days. Snow inevitably finds its way into any opening, and you'll end up wet regardless of how waterproof your jacket is on the outside. It's not a requirement: Most jackets come with a powder skirt (or "gaiter" — same difference), so you will have some type of protection regardless.
Finally, you will need to figure out how much you're willing to pay. Generally, as you go up in price, overall quality improves, as does waterproofing and the functionality of the jacket itself. While there are some quality budget jackets out there, they can be few and far between. We recommend sticking in the mid-range, price-wise, for a good mix of value and functionality. You'll also find outerwear in this particular price range is much more durable in the long term.
The right snow jacket makes all the difference on the slopes. Whether you’re skiing, snowboarding, tubing, sledding, or training for some other weird winter sport most people have never heard of, you need a top outer layer that’ll keep you warm, comfortable, and dry.
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