10 best men’s ski and snowboard jackets for 2019/2020 you need to hit the slopes
Choose between a hardshell – very versatile as they’ll be waterproof, windproof and breathable – ideal for ski touring and layering or insulated for resort and on piste skiing, finds Fergus Scholes
A ski or snowboard jacket is critical to fully enjoying your ski holiday, keeping you warm and comfortable for a day on the mountains.
It’s also a style statement that will – at a glance – tell everyone else on the slope what type of skier you are, plus double up for possible apres ski wear!
Broadly speaking, the choice is between either a hardshell or insulated jacket. Hardshells are very versatile as they’ll be waterproof, windproof and breathable – therefore ideal for ski touring and warmer days – yet by layering with a fleece or thermals you’ll be set for cold days or resort skiing. Insulated jackets on the other hand are ideal for resort and on piste skiing, or for all types of skiing in the colder months – if you’re touring or going at Easter, you won’t want this.
Waterproofness is of course key. It’s worth knowing that waterproof garments are often tested against a universal performance scale and rated from 0-50,000mm+. The lowest you’d really want is 10,000mm, with high end performance gear up at 20-30,000mm (being highly waterproof yet still flexible and breathable).
Also, more premium options might feature a concealed Recco reflector. This is a neat plaster sized passive reflector meaning you can be detected by an avalanche transceiver in that worst case scenario.
We have selected a range of jackets suitable for all conditions and types of skiing, and tested them in terms of their fit, comfort, build and materials quality, and importantly their performance in adverse weather.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Norrona Lofoten insulated Gore-Tex jacket: £449, Norrona
Lofoten is Norrona’s top line ski range, and this – its most premium insulated offering – is fantastic if you’re looking for an all-rounder with great weather protection and a nice level of built in extra warmth. Made from a two-layer Gore-Tex fabric, it’s highly waterproof (min. 20,000mm), durable, and the synthetic insulation (50 per cent recycled) is thicker in the body than the arms, but with generous pit vents you can cool you down if you get hot (there’s always Norrona’s brilliant uninsulated version if that suits you better).
The stretchy snowskirt (nb not non-removable) will help keep snow out, as will the elasticated hand gaiters and generous big helmet compatible hood. The arm length, body length and general cut is ideal (not too baggy/tight), the fleece lined hand warming pockets are a nice luxurious touch (plus there’s three other external and two internal). This is the essence of the ski jacket and will have you totally set for a first-to-last lift day on the slopes.
Picture Organic harvest jacket: £389.90, Picture organic
If sustainability and the environment are a priority to you, Picture is all about this, while still turning out very capable products indeed. The brand has nailed aesthetics with this jacket – it’s great looking – and importantly it’s feels great and is really comfortable. It’s well cut and proportioned (not too long) with enough bagginess for layering and free movement whilst not making you feeling swamped. It uses a three layer highly waterproof (20,000mm) and breathable bio-based fabric which uses a renewable castor oil, as well as more earth friendly water repellent treatment to provide its waterproofness.
All seams are fully taped, all zips are fully waterproof YKK and there’s a great pocket configuration (four on the front exterior, non on the inside) with two zippered pit vents to keep you cool. They have really comfortable hand gaiters to keep snow out, plus there’s a (removable, via a zip) snowskirt too. This is a really impressive jacket at a fair price.
Arc’Teryx sabre AR jacket: £480, Arc’Teryx
Arc’Teryx is unquestionably one of the best outdoor apparel brands out there and – as expected – this minimal jacket is phenomenally built and will last years. Immediately noticeable is it’s generously sized – the arms are quite long and baggy – if you’re skinny you could find it too bulky (drop down a size?), but then again it makes the jacket more versatile, ideal to generously layer underneath, plus it will never restrict your movement.
Length wise in the body, coming to just below your crotch it is long, so it’s ideal for backcountry skiing. Made of a super durable three layer Gore Tex with soft flannel backer plus taped seams, it’s a highly waterproof jacket with snow skirt and velcro wrist tabs (nb, there’s no wrist gaiters). Two internal pockets (one zip and looser one for goggles) and two generous ones on the exterior, plus two way zippered pit vents. The hood is generously sized affording room to go over your helmet in adverse weather.
Eider camber jacket 3.0: £260, Eider
This is a really well executed jacket, that’s well fitting with quite high levels of insulation – 120g/m² in the body and slightly lighter in the arms at 80g/m² – so you’ll be kept very warm even on a very cold day. All importantly too, it’s highly waterproof (20,000m) with taped seams, so both the synthetic insulation and you will stay dry in all but the wettest conditions.
Utilising two types of fabric – a stretchy one around the lower parts (torso and arms) with more hard wearing one around the upper shoulders for durability – it’s super comfortable plus it’s a great length in the arms, body and fit around the waist (nb with toggles to for adjustment). It’s fitted with snow gaiter (that handily stows away too if you don’t need it) removable hood, taped seams, velcro wrist gaiters and a plethora of pockets. In short, there’s nothing not to love about this jacket.
Mountain Hardwear cloudbank Gore-Tex jacket: £299.99, Add Nature
A very versatile lightly insulated jacket, ideal for both skier and snowboarder alike. It is really nicely sized – on the generous side of things, but yet doesn’t swamp you and not too long – with an insulation level of 60g/m² (with 100 per cent recycled polyester) so you won’t be overheating either. With two layer Gore-Tex (a tougher fabric on the torso and around the back of the hem for added durability), it’ll keep you warm and dry, and the fleece lined pockets when you’re hanging around the life station before heading up the mountain. Smaller pit vents, a handy lift pass pockets, Recco reflector and fixed snow gaiter, this is a perfectly specced jacket.
Helly Hansen elevation shell jacket 2.0: £550, Helly Hansen
A freeride thoroughbred, this oversized garish jacket will turn heads. Made from a super durable three layer fabric – it has a stiff quality to it, akin to Gore-Tex Pro – it’s a highly waterproof and windproof shell that comes with features like an insulated vest (removable) and especially designed insulated pocket to extend the battery life of your electrical gear. The brightly coloured hood easily goes over a helmet, and elastic hand gaiters and snowskirt will keep weather out. Fitted with a Recco reflector it has fully taped seams and good vents. Every aspect of this screams big mountain backcountry riding, so if that’s your thing this is the ultimate jacket for you.
Outdoor Research hemisphere jacket: £585, Countryside
This Seattle based brand has produced a quality item in this, its flagship ski jacket. It’s a highly breathable and durable more minimal shell distilling those elements you’ll need and discards those it deems you won’t. For instance, it has no snowskirt or hand gaiters, but with a three layer Gore-Tex nylon combined with super stretchy Gore-Tex panels around the back of the shoulder blades and pits, it affords a great range of movement and is comfortable.
It would also even double up perfectly as a general outdoors waterproof shell or around town too because its sizing isn’t excessive – it’s more trim and just feels right and nicely roomy without too much space for cold air to find. There’s a generous vent on either side from the hem up to the pit – it’s very well suited to ski touring – and in keeping with the minimal vibe the backs of all the pockets inside the jacket are mesh.
Jack Wolfskin powder mountain: £260, Jack Wolfskin
A great all-rounder for on piste skiing, its two layer outer shell is really waterproof (20,000mm) and breathable, plus with a nice level of insulation, it’s ideal for colds day on the slope. Both the outer fabric and insulation are made from 100 per cent recycled material, so Jack Wolfskin is doing more than most here which is great. The removable hood is well integrated and can be unzipped in more favourable conditions to leave you with a classical looking ski jacket, and the inside of the generous collar is really cosy and fleece lined keeping your neck warm. With one internal phone pocket and three external pockets, Recco reflector and arm pit vents, at the price this is ideal for resort skiers.
Patagonia snowdrifter jacket: £360, Patagonia
Made from 70 per cent post-consumer (eg bottles, mattresses, clothing) recycled polyester, this is a top choice for the environmentally conscious. It’s made of a three layer fabric which provides great waterproofness and breathability (20,000mm), with fully taped seams, a large hood that’s compatible with a helmet, pit vents and six pockets (two large internal and four external). The fit is certainly on the generous side and, coming to below crotch level, it’s the longest cut of any in this line up, and the arms are long too. It’s fitted with a stretch drawcord snowskirt (nb, not removable), Recco reflector, and – as is the case with many more snowboard style jackets – completes most of the features on this more minimal jacket.
Salewa sesvenna active Gore-Tex jacket: £360, Salewa
Salewa is a lesser known brand in the UK, however founded in 1935 – this Italian Dolomites based brand has a rich heritage and is very popular on the continent, reputed for turning out functional and technical mountaineering kit. True to this mantra, this jacket is intended for high intensity mountain activities such as ski touring, or perhaps those warmer ski months of March and April. At just 312g, it’s lightweight, extremely waterproof (28,000mm) and highly breathable. The fit is on the slimmer side of things and there’s less features – just two outside pockets, no vents and no snowskirt – but it’s still very well suited to the purist.
The verdict: Men’s ski and snowboard jackets 2019/2020
The best all rounder jacket is the Norrona Lofoten insulated jacket: lightly insulated to take the edge of colder days, yet good vents still mean it’d cross over to some touring too. Very well cut, great attention to detail, and little luxuries like the fleece lined pockets add up to make this our top pick.
But if you’re solely an in resort skier, the Eider camber jacket is a fantastic jacket – well built, very well insulated and great fitting.
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