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The Best Ski and Snowboard Jackets for 2020

Ski season is closer than you think, and now is the perfect time to start getting ready to hit that ski resort. While you might think that your ski or snowboard is the piece of gear to splurge on, we might disagree. You can have the best ski or snowboard, but if you don’t dress right, it could ruin that perfect powder day. Staying warm and dry is key.

We do have a bit of bad news, though. A good ski and snowboard jacket is not going to be cheap, unfortunately, much like your helmet. These jackets often have less effective waterproofing, which you’ll especially notice in wet conditions. It also will have less insulation, which will make you miserable on those cold mid-winter days.

But we do have some good news for you. We’ve found quite a few jackets at prices that anyone can afford with a good mix of value, functionality, and quality. We listed our favorites for both men and women below.

Men’s Jackets

Arcteryx Beta AR

If you can afford it, the Arc’teryx Beta AR is one of the best ski jackets on the market. A staple of Arc’teryx’s clothing lineup for close to 20 seasons now, this jacket features Gore-Tex waterproofing and a hood that is large enough to accommodate a helmet underneath. It also is very durable: It’s likely you’ll get tired of this jacket before it begins to show any signs of age: Arc’teryx as one of the best ski brands and outdoor clothing brands, and that’s why its jackets are so expensive.

Arc’teryx also emphasizes versatility in the Beta AR. You won’t find much in the way of insulation with this jacket, 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.

686 Smarty 3-in-1 Form Jacket

686 is one of our favorite snowboard jacket brands because it offers a wide variety of options at a variety of prices. It’s Smarty 3-in-1 jackets like Arc’teryx’s Beta AR have been in the lineup for what seems like forever, and are one of the bestselling styles. The jacket is two parts: A waterproof outer shell and an interior 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.

Underarm zippers give you additional airflow, and lots of pockets give you space to store passes, goggles, energy bars, and whatever else you might need. The hood is helmet-compatible and adjustable, and the entire jacket can be rolled up for easy transport. And you’re getting 686’s best waterproofing and warmth for a price that leaves enough money for you to buy the rest of your gear.

Columbia Cushman Crest

Columbia is a name that many should recognize, given its clothing is sold in many brick-and-mortar outdoor stores. But that is only a small portion of their business: The company also has a large line of winter sports clothing as well, including the Cushman Crest jacket.

This jacket does equally well on and off-piste with its breathable and 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

Burton is a name synonymous with snowboarding. While you may know them for their snowboards, the company also sports an extensive clothing line, too. The Burton Covert jacket is one of their entry-level options, and well suited for those just starting out.

Thermolite insulation keeps you warm on the coldest days. While it may not be as waterproof as other jackets, it includes a removable waist gaiter, a helmet-ready hood, and plenty of storage space. Better yet, select color options are also “blue sign approved,” meaning its manufacture met strict specifications to limit its environmental impact.

Women’s Jackets

Roxy Jetty 3-in-1

Roxy has a reputation for both style and quality with incredible value and is one of the top women-focused winter sports clothing brands on the market today. The Roxy Jetty 3-in-1 is a good example of this. The Jetty has a removable insulated inner liner like the Smarty than can be worn either by itself or inside the waterproof outer shell for extra warmth on those cold days.

The coat itself can also be connected to compatible Roxy pants and the included power skirt. No matter which way you wear it, you’ll have plenty of pockets to store just about anything you can think of. While there are jackets out there with more waterproofing unless you’re in pow day after pow day, the Jetty is a perfect option for most — and pretty stylish to boot.

Burton Jet Set

Roxy’s Jetty 3-in-1 is a nice jacket, but the color options are limited. That’s not the case with the Burton Jet Set, which has nearly 30 options to choose from. You lose the flexibility of the 3-in-1 system of the Jetty, however, we think you’ll find the Jet Set a warmer coat overall thanks to the Thermolite insulation inside. We’re also big fans of the way this jacket is cut, offering a more slim fit — a rare feature when it comes to ski and snowboard jackets.

Other features include a removable waist gaiter, hidden hem cinch, mesh-lined sleeve vents to keep you cool, and included goggle/media pockets.

North Face Cinnabar

North Face outerwear is always high-quality. The Cinnabar is one of these jackets that is also not so ungodly expensive that you’d have to mortgage a house to get it, and is a 3-in-1 like the Roxy Jetty. You get a zip-in insulated inner liner that can be worn either on its own or as part of the jacket itself, simplifying the layering process. The hood is removable and helmet ready, and if you already own some North Face gear, you may be able to zip that right in to customize the warmth of your jacket to your exact preferences.

We should warn you that this particular jacket style seems to run small, so you might want to opt for a size larger than you usually wear unless you prefer a more snug fit. But regardless, it’s North Face, so you know it’s quality. One word of caution: we did notice following the holidays that some of the more common sizes were beginning to sell out. Order soon to have the best selection.

Patagonia Snowbelle

Patagonia is another well-known outerwear brand that makes our list. The Snowbelle is one of the clothier’s jackets that does well both on and off the mountain. Its “H2No” waterproofing keeps moisture out, and eco-friendly insulation will keep you warm even on the coldest of days while not harming the environment in the process.

When you’re too warm, just open up the underarm zippers to cool down quickly, and the adjustable helmet-compatible hood and low-profile powder skirt keeps powder out even in the stormiest of weather. If you own a set of compatible Patagonia pants, snap them to the jacket for even more protection.

How to choose the right jacket

So how do you go about choosing the best jacket for your needs? It all comes down to what you plan to do. If you think you’ll find yourself in a variety of conditions, a 3-in-1 jacket might make the most sense as you’ll be able to customize the jacket to the conditions. An insulated jacket makes more sense for colder conditions.

It may also make sense to choose your pants and jacket at the same time. While there is no rule that you must buy the same brand, 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 is not the only reason. As you can see from above, your jacket will often have snaps that you can attach your pants directly to the jacket.

We find this especially useful in situations where you’ll be skiing or riding in deep powder or on snowy days. Snow will find 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 (some may call it a gaiter, same thing), so you will have some type of protection regardless.

Finally, you will need to figure out how much you want to pay. Generally, as you go up in price, the waterproofing improves as well as the functionality of the jacket itself. Why there are some quality budget jackets out there, they can be few and far between. Stick in the middle range 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.

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