Editor Mary Murphy in the backcountry wearing an FW Ski Jacket, GORE-TEX bibs, pink hat and sunglasses
(Photo/Mary Murphy)

The Best Women’s Ski Jackets of 2022

Going skiing? You’ll need a comfortable, well-fitting ski jacket that shields you from the elements. Check out our picks for the best women’s ski jackets.

There are countless ski and snow jackets out there. But what makes a jacket a ski jacket isn’t just protection from the snow. The best ski jackets have a combination of waterproofing, protection from wind, breathability, insulation, a helmet-compatible hood, a powder skirt, and other slope-specific features.

The ski jackets below impressed us not just with their available features but in testing and overall performance out in cold, snowy weather — and they’re also a great choice for other wintry activities like sledding, snowboarding, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing.

Read our full gear guide, or jump to a category below. If you’d like to learn what differentiates ski jackets, check out our buyer’s guide manual and FAQ at the bottom of the article:

The Best Women’s Ski Jackets of 2022

Best Overall Women’s Ski Jacket: Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell Jacket

Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell Jacket

If you need a lightweight, breathable, windproof, and waterproof shell for laps at the resort as well as backcountry adventure, here’s a superstar choice — the women’s Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell Jacket ($349).

The design is 20% more lightweight than its predecessor, the Skyward. This hardy 65-denier nylon and spandex face fabric with a 50-denier knit backer is stalwart against harsh conditions and a loaded pack. The cut is roomy (but not baggy) and long — below our hips — and even longer in the back, covering most of our glutes.

Though strong, the fabric is breathable, pliable, and buttery soft. The jacket feels good to move in whether we’re planting our poles on steep groomers or ascending a skintrack. We appreciate that the hood is wire-brimmed so it doesn’t collapse. The brushed tricot chin guard feels smooth and comfortable against the face.

We also love the pockets. There are two lower hand pockets and two exterior upper chest pockets that open towards the opposite hand, so they’re ergonomic to slide into and access. There’s one internal mesh pocket and another internal pocket with zipper access has a headphone port.

Dual two-way zipper access on the front and in the armpit vents makes the jacket adaptive. And the wrist cuffs are the ideal width, sturdy but not too beefy.

As our top pick, we reach for the Skytour AscentShell for resort days, backcountry skiing, and ski mountaineering as well as snowmobiling and pow surfing. It’s a top-notch all-around winter shell.

Specs:
  • Fit: Relaxed
  • Insulation: Not insulated
  • Shell: 3-layer
  • Waterproof rating (mm): 10,000
  • Breathability (g): 20,000
  • Weight: 576 g
Pros:
  • Soft, durable fabric
  • Great pocket design
  • Relatively economic price tag for such a well-built jacket
Cons:
  • No powder skirt (which some skiers don’t need)
  • Zippers on pit zips are a tad small — we wish they were a smidge bigger to more easily grab

Check Price at REICheck Price at Backcountry

Runner-Up Best Women’s Ski Jacket: Arc’teryx Sentinel AR

Arc'teryx Sentinel AR

Arc’teryx delivers these tough, flexible shell jackets for tackling big mountain ski lines at the resort or in the backcountry. Enter the Arc’teryx Sentinel AR Jacket for women ($675).

The silhouette features a stable yet supple and flexible 70-denier nylon face fabric, so we don’t need to worry about exploring the glades or playing fetch with an excited pooch at the base. From blustery conditions to blower pow, the three-layer GORE-TEX fabric is waterproof and breathable, and it blocks wind well.

The seams are fully sealed to bar moisture. If you build heat on deep-snow laps, the underarm vents are a lifesaver, and the powder skirt helps keep base layers dry.

A soft flannel backer provides a bit of warmth for cooler days on the chair lift. But if it’s really cold, we’ll throw on a fleece midlayer, too. The hood fits nicely over a helmet with a stout laminated brim.

To hold your goods, there are two generously sized hand pockets with exterior zipper access — but, the zippers sit a tad higher than traditional hand pockets on the hips, so walking with your hands in your pockets feels a bit awkward.

There’s one small sleeve pocket for an ID or lift pass, an internal mesh pocket, and one (small) internal pocket with a zip closure. Given the internal pocket is too small for our phone, we wish there was a chest pocket on the outside of the jacket that could hold our phone up higher and off our hips.

Mostly, this streamlined, athletic jacket simply feels good to wear. If you’re looking for a comfortable shell that stands season after season and manages variable conditions from spring sunshine to storms, this is a great choice.

Specs:
  • Fit: Regular / Athletic
  • Insulation: None
  • Shell: 3-layer
  • Waterproof rating (mm): 28,000
  • Breathability (g): 20,000
  • Weight: 590 g
Pros:
  • Lightweight jacket
  • Fabric shields the elements
  • Slightly longer fabric in the back and arm length for extra protection
Cons:
  • Powder skirt is not removable
  • At least one exterior chest pocket would be nice to have

Check Price at REICheck Price at evo

Best Budget Women’s Ski Jacket: Patagonia Powder Bowl Jacket

Patagonia Powder Bowl Jacket

Lady shredders have come back to Patagonia’s Powder Bowl Jacket for years and years. The Powder Bowl ($399) combines a trusted GORE-TEX shell with features like watertight zippers, pit zips for ventilation, a helmet-compatible two-way adjustable hood, and a whopping six pockets. Stash pocket, chest pocket, handwarmer pockets, internal pocket — this jacket has it all.

Patagonia calls it its most “versatile waterproof-breathable hard shell.” On top of that, we celebrate this design boasts 100% recycled polyester GORE-TEX face fabric — strong and 150-denier— that’s Fair Trade Certified sewn. The powder skirt is also a 100% recycled polyester blend.

We found this jacket fits well, albeit a bit baggy (giving it room for layers), and we appreciate the arm length to help tuck in our gloves.

As a shell, there’s no added insulation. In the field, this jacket worked well for us with a lightweight fleece down to about 0-10 degrees F. After that, you’ll want a thicker midlayer or you’ll want to upgrade to the insulated Powder Bowl for $479.

The Powder Bowl jacket also has a RECCO reflector, which is a helpful tool for search and rescue (note: the reflector does not replace the need for a beacon for backcountry travel). As many reviewers commented, this jacket delivers everything you could want, which is why we love it for on-piste ski days, backcountry snowmobile turns in deep powder, and backcountry ski laps.

Specs:
  • Fit: Relaxed
  • Insulation: None
  • Shell: 2-layer
  • Waterproof rating (mm): 28,000
  • Breathability (g): 20,000
  • Weight: 814 g
Pros:
  • Malleable fabric
  • Excellent waterproofness and breathability
Cons:
  • Some curvier, bustier athletes didn’t find the fit suitable
  • Some ladies noted the arm length is too generous

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Best Insulated Women’s Ski Jacket: Patagonia Powder Town Jacket

Patagonia Powder Town Jacket

If you tend to get a bit chilled on the lift ride or your home mountain is frigid or gusty, push this insulated jacket to the top of your wish list.

New for fall 2022 — and ready for a powder day, delivering excellent waterproofness — is the Powder Town Jacket ($399), and we scored an early preview of the insulated silhouette (there’s also a non-insulated Powder Town jacket).

Beyond the overall fit, which Patagonia nailed in the comfort department, the jacket is completely free of PFC chemicals, a multi-year development the brand is rolling out across every product in the All Mountain lineup. The 75-denier shell, liner, and lower body of the jacket are all 100% recycled polyester blends, and the lining is Bluesign approved while the product is Fair Trade Certified sewn.

We really appreciate the pockets on this jacket, which are each ergonomic and functional. There’s a small pass pocket on the left forearm, a large left exterior chest pocket, a wide interior dump pocket with a zip closure, a wide-mouthed interior mesh pocket, and two softly lined hand pockets.

Patagonia is also launching the Warmth Index, a new metric that measures the warmth of each of the brand’s products. That way, skiers can compare jackets side by side for their own insulation needs. The insulated Powder Town is the warmest all-mountain snow jacket that the brand makes, sitting at a 3.7 (on a scale of 1 to 10, and 10 is the warmest possible jacket out there).

Look for the jacket in October 2022.

Specs:
  • Fit: Regular / Athletic
  • Insulation: Yes
  • Shell: 2-layer
  • Waterproof rating (mm): Unavailable
  • Breathability (g): Unavailable
  • Weight: 620 g
Pros:
  • RECCO included
  • Super comfortable to move in
  • Underarm zippers are included
Cons:
  • Perfect amount of warmth on a cold day but a bit toasty on super warm spring days

Best Sustainable Women’s Ski Jacket: Norrona Lofoten

Norrona Lofoten

Well-built and comfortable, the Norrona Lofoten ($549) reached the upper tier of our favorite jackets given its functionality and simple style.

As a leader in sustainable design, the brand outfitted this jacket with eco-friendly manufacturing choices. Namely, more than 50% of the synthetic fibers used in the jacket are recycled. The Lofoten is also Bluesign certified for sustainable, safe production. The factory where the goods are manufactured is also third-party inspected to ensure a sound work environment.

While riding the lift, taking backcountry powder laps via Snowcat with Irwin Guides (a fun, luxurious experience we highly recommend), or skinning slopes, this jacket manages moisture well, keeping wet snow and wind out — it’s 100% windproof. The seams are taped, underarm vents let you dump heat, and the outer material is fairly breathable.

We also like the articulation on the elbow and tapered wrist cuffs, which are slightly longer along the outer edge of the hands. The outermost seam of the interior wrist guards are a bit tight but feel OK once we pull them on all the way — the Lofoten would be better without that element.

Those two upper chest pockets are a great size and in a nice location on the jacket. A mesh dump pocket is on the right side, and a small mesh pocket with a zip closure is on the interior left side. There’s also a small exterior pocket on the left bicep — but there are no hand pockets. We’d also like to see the Velcro tabs on the wrist cuffs lengthened.

With a unique touch, there’s a goggle and sunglasses wipe that attaches via a buckle on an elastic band, which is super handy.

Specs:
  • Fit: Regular / Athletic
  • Insulation: None
  • Shell: 3-layer
  • Waterproof rating (mm): 28,000
  • Breathability (g): Unavailable
  • Weight: 642 g
Pros:
  • Center YKK zipper is strong and water-resistant
  • Storm hood is a great size — not too big — and slides over a helmet
Cons:
  • Wrist gaiters could be less tight and more comfortable
  • Lots of pocket options but no hand pockets

Check Price at evoCheck Price at Norrona

Best Women’s Ski Jacket for Backcountry Travel: ORTOVOX 3L Deep Shell Jacket

ORTOVOX 3L Deep Shell Jacket

Regardless of how harsh the wind gets above treeline or if it’s dumping wet snow, this jacket protects us from cold and damp conditions. The fabric of the ORTOVOX 3L Deep Shell Jacket ($680) is 100% windproof and provides 20,000 mm of waterproofness, which is capable of blocking heavy rain and snow you typically see in the Pacific Northwest. That’s a good safety investment as a backcountry user.

But the jacket still feels super breathable (coming from testers that sweat on the skin track). The brand uses SwissWool for insulation and odor-neutralizing properties as well as Tasmanian merino wool in the chest and collar.

In addition to the spacious, ergonomic underarm zippers, the wool helps manage moisture and temperature. The cuff tabs are wide and easy to grab, and the powder skirt is removable, which is a bonus for some.

One aspect of the 3L Deep Shell we rave about is the pockets. ORTOVOX nails pocket size and functionality. The two large chest pockets are still accessible while wearing a heavy pack with a hip belt. We’ve also used the small arm pocket to hold a ski pass at the resort, and it’s a good spot for a whistle or wallet.

ORTOVOX added an integrated mesh pocket to the left chest pocket that’s well-angled and articulated, so you can easily secure your phone, even if it’s a larger size. (Note: If you wear your backcountry beacon in a chest harness, be sure to separate the beacon a minimum of 20 inches from your phone.)

Specs:
  • Fit: Relaxed
  • Insulation: None
  • Shell: 3-layer
  • Waterproof rating (mm): 20,000
  • Breathability (g): 20,000
  • Weight: 736 g
Pros:
  • Extremely protective against the elements, breathable and waterproof
  • Pockets are super functional, spacious, and ergonomic
Cons:
  • Not the most lightweight ski jacket on our list

Check Price at BackcountryCheck Price at Amazon

Best Women’s Ski Jacket for Plus Sizes: Columbia Bugaboo II Fleece 3-in-1 Interchange Jacket

columbia bugaboo ii plus size

For the price and quality, this jacket is hard to beat. Columbia’s Bugaboo II Interchange Jacket ($200) comprises two pieces: a separate high pile fleece liner layer and an Omni-Heat-equipped two-layer shell that zip together.

Critical seams are sealed, and when worn with both layers together, the fleece provides a boost of warmth. The fleece is super soft, too.

Several hundred reviewers rave about the jacket’s heat-holding ability, thanks to the fleece liner as well as the Omni-Heat thermal-reflective technology, which coats the inside of the shell. The technology features silver dots that retain and reflect body heat to help maintain temperature.

Folks also celebrate the good price and overall quality. And for just $99, you get three jackets in one.

The majority of reviewers said this jacket fits well overall and in the chest, arms, and hips. Plus, it was stylish and flattering. Some reviewers thought the fit felt a bit tight when sitting and bending.

This jacket comes in 1X, 2X, or 3X sizing. To get the best protection possible, the jacket also has an adjustable hood, adjustable cuffs, and adjustable hem.

Specs:
  • Fit: Relaxed
  • Insulation: High pile fleece liner (removable)
  • Shell: 3-layer
  • Waterproof rating (mm): 10,000
  • Breathability (g): 10,000
  • Weight: Unavailable
Pros:
  • Storm hood is removable
  • Super adaptable 3-layer shell with a removable fleece liner
Cons:
  • Not the highest amount of waterproofness and breathability but works for many climates

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female skier in pale pink Flylow Foxy Bib standing on low angle slope
The Best Women's Ski Bibs of 2022
We hit the slopes to find the best women's ski bibs of 2022. Whether you snowboard, ski, or play in the backcountry, we've got you covered. Read more…

Best of the Rest

Helly Hansen Elevation Infinity Shell Jacket

Helly Hansen Elevation Infinity Shell Jacket

If you’re looking for an environmentally friendly jacket for the resort, consider the non-insulated Elevation Infinity Shell Jacket ($750). Helly Hansen’s resort jacket for women features the Lifa Infinity Pro, a waterproof-breathable and wind-resistant textile that nixes the need for a toxic chemical DWR treatment. The brand first launched the groundbreaking technology in the 2020 Odin and Elevation Infinity shells for men then began to roll out the women’s jackets in August 2021.

Life Infinity Pro utilizes the brand’s proprietary hydrophobic Lifa fiber, which it’s been using for 50 years. Helly pairs the Lifa fiber with a polypropylene membrane, which has microscopic holes that allow vapor out yet prevent water from seeping in. The waterproof qualities are permanent.

On the Elevation Infinity, the height of the chin guard is impressive. We can even tuck our nose down for cozy protection from the wind. The soft interior liner not only covers the interior side of the zipper but wraps all the way to the edge of each cheek — a super nice touch we’ve never seen on another ski jacket.

The fit is functional including shoulders with great range of motion and a long, tailored silhouette. The arms are pretty lengthy too, reaching our knuckles when pulled completely straight. When wearing gloves with a plusher gauntlet, we wish the circumference of the cuffs was wider so they could slide over our gloves and we could take advantage of that extra real estate.

The other super cool feature in this jacket is the brand’s Life Pocket+ design, which helps save the battery life of your phone in cold conditions. The left chest pocket features the advanced version with PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Aerogel — which was developed by NASA to protect electronics in space — to preserve a temperature three times warmer compared to a traditional jacket pocket, according to Helly Hansen. We kept our phone in the pocket on extremely cold days ranging from -10 to 10 degrees F with windchill. We never noticed our phone battery drop, which was a good sign the pocket helps protect our phone battery and overall lifespan.

We also like the whole pocket roundup: another exterior chest pocket, two super spacious zip-entry hand pockets, an interior zippered pocket, a wide mesh stash pocket, and a small ski pass pocket on the arm.

Specs:
  • Fit: Relaxed
  • Insulation: None
  • Shell: 3-layer
  • Waterproof rating (mm): Unavailable
  • Breathability (g): Unavailable
  • Weight: 670 g
Pros:
  • Proprietary PFC-free DWR
  • The interior liner of the chin guard has impressive reach for comfort against entire face from ear to ear
  • Some skiers love the extra length
Cons:
  • Hood and brim is a bit large and floppy
  • When zipped up, the collar is rigid
  • Wrist cuffs are a bit too wide and inflexible for our preference

Check Price at evoCheck Price at Helly Hansen

La Sportiva Levia Hoody

La Sportiva Levia Hoody

For uphilling at the resort or speed workouts, this jacket is one of our favorite choices for its protection from wind, lightweight consutrction, and breathability.

The La Sportiva Levia Hoody ($159) is a hybrid shell that’s stretchy, water-resistant, and lightly insulated. It’s not your go-to downhill ski shell but is a great active insulation layer and workout jacket for the ski arsenal.

When we pull it on, it feels like a durable but soft hoodie. And we really like that the soft-shell face fabric is 100% recycled polyester.

Against our hands, the streamlined elastic wrist cuffs are comfortable, and so is the wide, stretchy waist hem.

For holding some small items, there are two hand pockets — which are lined with super soft fabric — with zip closures and one high-placed zippered chest pocket that’s spacious enough for a phone (but it’s not the most comfortable place to hold a phone, in our experience.) We wish the single interior zippered chest pocket wasn’t so small, so we could put our phone there. We’d also like to see a mesh dump pocket to hold a soft flask during workouts.

Specs:
  • Fit: Technical/slim
  • Insulation: None
  • Shell: Hybrid softshell
  • Waterproof rating (mm): None
  • Breathability (g): Unavailable
  • Weight: 357 g
Pros:
  • Highly breathable for workouts
  • Windproof fabric on hood and upper arms
Cons:
  • Not enough insulation for downhill turns in cold temps

Check Price at La Sportiva

The North Face ThermoBall Snow Jacket

the northh face thermoball snow jacket

The North Face’s ThermoBall Snow Jacket system is another great option for female skiers everywhere. The Eco ThermoBall Snow Jacket ($360) has The North Face’s two-layer DryVent fabric tech with a DWR coating and a three-in-one jacket interchange system.

The inner layer is an insulating zip jacket made with recycled polyester. The outer thigh-length shell is nylon.

We love the jacket for multiple reasons, especially its versatility, warmth, and fit. The insulating shell and layer are true to size, and they’re long enough in the arms for even us taller folks. This jacket system offered warmth even on the coldest days inbounds — we can get away with wearing a fairly thin base layer underneath.

With package and interchange jacket systems, sometimes the insulating layer doesn’t live up to performance as much as the outer layer. What we love about this ThermoBall jacket is the insulating layer doesn’t fall short. It’s got great warmth, is super easy to zip into and out of the outer shell, and also works great by itself.

This jacket is a great option for a starter kit — get an insulating layer, shell, and ski jacket system all in one. Also, the zippers work well. Another perk we like with this jacket? The easy goggle stash pocket in the shell.

Specs:
  • Fit: Relaxed
  • Insulation: Removable polyester liner
  • Shell: 2-layer
  • Waterproof rating (mm): 15,000
  • Breathability (g): 15,000
  • Weight: 899 g
Pros:
  • Three-in-one jacket
  • Insulation layer provides great warmth
Cons:
  • Some women didn’t like the silhouette — it was too boxy
  • Other reviewers noted the fabric was not very malleable

Check Price at REICheck Price at evo

Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell

Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell

One of the best touring jackets out there, the Dawn Patrol Shell ($249) has won accolades from several of our testers and many skiers around the globe. The shell is what Black Diamond calls a “high-output piece,” designed for moving uphill.

The hybrid part of the shell refers to the combo of materials: a waterproof-breathable membrane shell in the chest, shoulders, and hood, with more breathable material in key spots like the torso, underarms, and back.

Black Diamond uses its in-house, stretch nylon 3L with a DWR finish as well as a four-way stretch double weave for the softshell. It’s got a 20,000mm water column rating.

Additional features that make this jacket fantastic for touring are the center dual zipper with a built-in mesh panel for venting on the climb. It also sports a perforated panel on the collar for breathability up top. The jacket has an embedded RECCO reflector to aid in search and rescue situations.

Our tester noted this four-way stretch jacket is the perfect layer for backcountry skiers. It lets the sweat out when you’re skinning uphill, and it won’t restrict your movement. A full-length mesh panel along the zip can open for additional venting. The eco DWR treatment that beads water is highly effective and won’t ever wash out. And the spacious pockets are harness-compatible.

The Dawn Patrol shell has wrist gaiters, an internal media pocket, and a hood that’s compatible with a ski helmet. This is also among the lightest shells on our list, at just 455 g.

Specs:
  • Fit: Regular/athletic
  • Insulation: None
  • Shell: 3-layer
  • Waterproof rating (mm): 20,000
  • Breathability (g): 20,000
  • Weight: 455 g
Pros:
  • The two harness-compatible chest pockets can hold skins
  • PFC-free DWR
Cons:
  • Jacket is missing interior mesh and smaller pockets
  • Bustier athletes noted the fit wasn’t dialed in the chest

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Mountain Hardwear Firefall Jacket

Mountain Hardwear firefall jacket

Another great budget option is Mountain Hardwear’s Firefall Insulated Jacket.

Designed for the inbounds skier, the Firefall Insulated Jacket ($285) is a stellar pick for weekenders, ski vacations, and anyone who wants a great ski coat at a decent price. Our tester wore it in the Montana mountains, and she loved the overall design, fit, and coverage.

It’s on the lighter side for a ski coat, so it might not be your go-to for very cold days. However, the parka length is a huge bonus for skiers who might find themselves sitting on the hill, a snowy lift chair, or a patio chair at any point.

Zip vents allow easy ventilation. Pockets are thoughtfully placed. And the cuffs on the sleeves keep snow out and warmth in.

The jacket also includes a RECCO avalanche rescue reflector.

Specs:
  • Fit: Relaxed
  • Insulation: Synthetic insulation (80 g/m² in the torso, 60 g/m² in the sleeves and hood)
  • Shell: 2-layer
  • Waterproof rating (mm): Unavailable
  • Breathability (g): Unavailable
  • Weight: 790 g
Pros:
  • Price is economic
  • Two zippered chest pockets and two zippered hand pockets
Cons:
  • Some users noted the arms were too long for their preference

Check Price at evoCheck Price at Backcountry

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Women’s Ski Jacket

woman skier going downhill on LINE Skis

Insulated vs. Non-insulated

A portion of ski jackets offer no insulation — a shell which is a versatile option to use across a variety of conditions. You can pull on this waterproof and breathable layer to stay dry and protected from the sun, wind, precipitation, surrounding debris like tree branches, or abrasive snow burn if you slide out.

Designs without insulation typically have enough room to add a midlayer in addition to a base layer beneath for chilly or cold days. This type of jacket works well for climates with a range of temperature conditions as well as spring days (with cold mornings and warm afternoons) at the resort or powder days when you typically accumulate heat carving turns.

To decide if a non-insulated jacket is right for you, consider the ambient temperatures where you usually ski or snowboard, if there is frequent windchill, and your body temperature on the lift.

Other designs are insulated. If the temperatures are consistently super cold or windy or if you generally get chilled, an insulated jacket might be a good choice. Some skiers can wear an insulated jacket over a base layer without as much consideration for what midlayer to bring along.

Insulated ski and snowboard jackets can be prime for freezing or blustery conditions, long lift rides (especially with hair-raising gusts), or frequent breaks while going downhill. For some skiers, though, these jackets can pigeonhole them into donning too much warmth.

The type and warmth level of insulation vary across each jacket from flannel to down-filled panels or synthetic proprietary fabrics.

Two-Layer vs. Three-Layer

A two-layer jacket has a face fabric — such as polyester or nylon — connected to an inner liner that protects the fabric, is breathable, and adds comfort. These jackets usually feel less hefty than a three-layer jacket.

Some have an insulation layer, and the outermost surface is usually treated for waterproofness. The price is generally more moderate compared to three-layer jackets.

Dialing up the durability, a three-layer jacket is a waterproof/breathable membrane — often made by GORE-TEX or a brand’s in-house tech, like The North Face’s DryVent or FUTURELIGHT — sandwiched between a tough face fabric and liner. Sometimes the outer fabric is treated for waterproofness. These jackets offer more protection for fierce weather conditions and are pricier.

Broadly, you’ll want to scrutinize how robust you need your jacket to be for the conditions you’ll ski in as well as budget needs.

Waterproofness

A waterproof jacket is ideal for skiing because weather can be flippant, and you don’t want to run the risk of getting wet from snow or rain. The top-tier standard for waterproofness is GORE-TEX, a membrane integrated into various jacket designs.

The material is waterproof, windproof, and breathable. Some brands have a proprietary version of waterproof/breathable fabrics.

Often, waterproofness is measured by the amount of water that can be placed atop a fabric before it leaks, from 5,000 to 20,000 mm or greater. The latter end of the spectrum leads to a less breathable fabric.

  • 0-5,000 mm: Resistant to light rain, dry snow
  • 6,000-10,000 mm: Waterproof for light rain and dry, non-heavy snow
  • 11,000-15,000 mm: Waterproof for moderate rain and dry, non-heavy snow
  • 16,000-20,000 mm: Waterproof for heavy rain and wet snow
  • 20,000 mm and greater: Waterproof for heavy rain and dense, wet, heavy snow

For many locations, a waterproof range of 8,000 to 10,000 mm works well for mild to moderate precipitation. If you generally ski in a wetter climate with heavier snow (meaning, the snow water equivalent, or the water content in the snow, is higher) or you want to use your ski jacket for the backcountry, a jacket with more waterproofness is a good call.

Among the most waterproof ski jackets on our list are the Arc’teryx Sentinel AR and the Patagonia Powder Bowl Jacket, which provide 28,000 mm protection and are great options for the backcountry.

Face fabric treatments, which can be eco-friendly formulas or chemicals toxic to the environment, can also make a jacket waterproof. And some ski jackets have sealed seams and waterproof zippers to help block moisture.

Breathability

A jacket’s breathability is the ability of the fabric to allow your body heat or perspiration to pass through from the interior to the exterior.

Generally, breathability is measured by the grams of water that can pass through one square meter of fabric over a 24-hour period (written as g/m² or an abbreviated g). However, there’s no industry standard for testing a jacket’s breathability, so the methods vary across manufacturers.

  • 5,000-10,000 g/m²: Not the most breathable, suitable for inbounds alpine skiing
  • 10,000-15,000 g/m²: Moderate breathability
  • 15,000-20,000 g/m² and higher: Super breathable, good range for inbounds uphill workouts and backcountry tours

For high-output resort skiing or on powder days, aim for a jacket with breathability of 10,000 to 15,000 g/m². Backcountry skiers and uphill athletes should look for even more breathability — 20,000 g/m² or more.

Ventilation

Ski jackets often offer ventilation by way of underarm zippers, which help regulate body temperature. This feature is great for warm-blooded folks or those who ride or ski in warm conditions and for powder days when your body works hard to make turns (on powder days, remember to close your vents before your descent!).

Some underarm zippers are longer than others. One of the most generous designs in our guide is offered in the Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell Jacket, which stretches from the hem past the entire armpit and to the underside of the arm.

One innovative ventilation design is in the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell, which has a front-facing and closable mesh vent that parallels the front zipper. In terms of quality, YKK zippers are the toughest.

Fit & Sizing

woman skier carrying skis

Generally, ski jacket designs land in two camps: trimmer with a more streamlined, athletic fit or roomier and boxier with a more relaxed silhouette. Both can be comfortable. If you’re wearing a backpack in the backcountry, it can be better to wear a well-fitted jacket so the fabric doesn’t get pinched up. A slightly longer jacket can provide extra protection from wind and snow, but some skiers find the additional fabric cumbersome.

Each manufacturer has its own size charts. Be sure to take your personal measurements and match them up with the size charts, which can differ across brands. And remember to consider the type of mid layer and base layer you’ll wear beneath your jacket. It might be better to size up so the layering doesn’t feel restrictive.

A handful of companies deliver more size inclusivity with broader offerings in the women’s categories, including Columbia, Obermeyer, and L.L.Bean.

Everyone’s body is unique, so check the exchange and return policy before you buy.

Weight

A jacket’s weight can become an important factor for backcountry skiers (or snowshoers) who are carrying a day pack or may need to stash their jacket in a pack and can’t sacrifice space for bulk (weight plays into overall volume).

Similarly, some uphill athletes want to wear a jacket for weather protection but only need a light layer. And occasional resort skiers take laps with a backpack on and might need to store their jackets as the conditions warm.

The lightest jackets in our top picks are 590 g, like the Arc’teryx Sentinel AR, which is a lightweight but durable shell, and achieving a high level of both those traits is reflected in the cost. In comparison, the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid Shell is only 455 g and the Norrona Lofoten is 642 g. Or, there are super light options for uphill workouts like the 357g La Sportiva Levia Hoody.

Slightly heavier but still fairly lightweight designs include the Patagonia Powder Bowl, at 814 g, and Ortovox Guardian Shell Jacket at 736 g.

Ultimately, you shouldn’t compromise a jacket’s protection and durability or comfort features and adequate warmth to drop a little weight.

Collar & Hood

An ergonomic collar and hood are significant features for face, head, and neck protection against sun, snow, sleet, hail, wind, or rain. Pulling up a hood can help the body retain heat in chilly conditions.

Jacket collars vary in height and ideally have an interior chin guard that feels snug against the face — a key component on a gusty chair lift.

Hoods can be helmet-compatible, which is a priority if you need extra protection and warmth around your face and neck while riding a lift or skiing during a snow storm. Some hoods are adjustable via elastic pulls, like the Ortovox 3L Guardian Shell Jacket. And others have an integrated visor so they don’t collapse beneath moisture. A handful of hoods are removable, while others are fixed.

Sleeve Cuffs & Powder Skirt

Powder skirts can be a great addition to a jacket to prevent fluffy flakes from flying up and soaking your base layers or lower back (which isn’t an issue if you prefer women’s ski bibs over ski pants). Some powder skirts are removable, and some have attachment points to connect to your ski pants.

Sleeve cuffs generally have a Velcro closure, though some designs have additional snaps, and cuffs vary in width and length. Some sleeve cuffs have an inner wrist gaiter — a stretchy fabric for warmth that sometimes has thumbholes to help secure the fabric over the top of the hand. Wrist gaiters can help block out wind but they can also be too bulky for some folks especially if they like to wear a watch or tuck their glove gauntlet into their sleeve cuffs.

Pockets

Most jackets include two exterior hand pockets with zip closures, which can be low or placed higher for compatibility with a backpack belt or harness for ski  mountaineering. Other exterior pockets can include small pouches on the arm or on the chest such as for an ID or ski pass. Deep, wide, higher-placed exterior pockets, like a chest pocket, can be nice for stowing a smartphone or notebook in the backcountry or on the lift: in contrast, putting heavier or bigger items in the lower-placed hand pockets can sometimes smack against the upper thigh while uphilling, sitting on the ski lift, bending over to reach your ski boots, or making aggressive downhill turns.

Interior pockets often have a zip closure (these can be great for chambering a credit card or ID), ports for headphones, or a mesh construction with an elastic band at the top. Deep, wide interior mesh pockets with an elastic closure can be essential for holding backcountry skins, especially if the temperature is crisp and you need to prevent the glue from freezing over between use, or gloves or goggles. Occasionally, a zippered pocket is insulated to help extend the battery life of your smartphone like in the Helly Hansen Odin Mountain Infinity 3L Shell jacket.

Examine what you’ll need to carry, the adequate pocket size, and if the pockets are located in the most comfortable place for you.

Why You Should Trust Us

Our team has tested ski jackets and published ski jacket guides for women for many winter seasons with input from expert, lifelong skiers as well as average and beginner skiers. For this guide, we considered the most popular, highly acclaimed, well-made, and size-inclusive ski jackets made for a variety of conditions and across a range of prices.

To determine the best designs, our product testers have worn these jackets in a spectrum of snowy environments, including ski resorts from Crested Butte Mountain Resort to Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, and in a multitude of weather conditions. That includes backcountry skiing and snowmobiling and skimo racing in and around Colorado’s Gunnison Valley, one of the coldest, snowiest destinations in the U.S. Our crew of testers ranged from AIARE-certified, avid backcountry venturers to lifelong resort skiers.

The final list of recommended ski jackets is the combined result of thorough firsthand experience as well as product ratings, online reviews, design accolades, and new technologies. Beyond our field tests and personal experience, we determined the best ski jackets based on a variety of metrics including performance, quality, longevity, fit, features, and value. These ski jackets serve a range of athletes, applications, and budgets.

FAQ

How Much Should I Spend on a Ski Jacket?

The answer to this question largely depends on the type of skier you are. Have you never been in a winter climate and are skiing for the first time? Do you only ski or snowboard on vacation? Maybe look for a jacket for the $200 range or less.

Or do you engage in winter activities that require a durable shell for much of the year? Make sure you get one that has all the features you need — you may need to spend a little extra for technical features.

Our answer is always first, set yourself a budget. Check out all the jackets on this list and find the one or two best for you, and then check to see if it’s on sale. Lots of times, seasonal apparel like ski jackets go on sale after the season ends, so the spring/summer is a great time to shop.

If you are able, we strongly encourage trying jackets on, whether buying from a store with a return policy or shopping in the store. (We’ve included extensive notes on the fit of each jacket for this very reason — finding the right-fitting jacket is hard!)

Do You Really Need a Ski Jacket?

If you’ve made it this far, you can probably guess the answer: Yes, a ski jacket is better than a soft-shell jacket (or any other layer that isn’t fully waterproof).

If you have something waterproof (like a rain jacket), that may work, but not as well. Often, rain jackets don’t fit correctly over other layers, the hoods are too small, and the pockets don’t have glove-friendly zipper pulls. They could also be too short in length to provide enough protection from water and snow. Rain jackets also don’t have insulation while some ski jackets do.

If you are thinking about investing in a ski jacket, we’d definitely recommend getting one. There are many sizes of jackets at a variety of price points on this list. Ski jackets also work great for other winter activities such as snowshoeing, winter hiking, sledding, and so on.

What’s the Difference Between a Ski Jacket and a Normal Jacket?

Ski jackets are a technical piece of clothing. They’re built for very cold conditions but also a high level of activity. They have a combination of waterproofing, windproofing,  breathability, and ventilation, as well as warmth, durability, and tailored features like a helmet-compatible hood and ski season pass pocket. Other sport-specific features include powder skirts to seal out snow or beacon pockets.

With the best ski jackets, you should be able to wear them all day — on the skin in, on a windy chairlift, a sunny day, or a cloudy day with negative temps — all without changing or removing your jacket. (Things like zipper vents and insulation are really important here.)

Should a Ski Jacket Fit Loose or Tight?

Somewhere in between. Not so tight that it restricts movement but not so loose that there’s extra space between the jacket and your body (you’ll lose heat and get cold more easily). Plus, extra material can feel bulky while going downhill or wearing a pack.

Especially if you are buying a shell (an uninsulated jacket), you may want to size up to leave room for a base layer and midlayer underneath. Always try on a ski shell with a sweater or fleece (a thicker layer) underneath — essentially, what you’d wear out in the cold.

You can usually tell if a jacket is too big by looking at the shoulder lines (as in, if the shoulders are too loose) and by zipping it up. If a jacket feels too tight, it probably is, and it won’t be comfortable to ski in.

Also, check a brand’s individual size charts for chest and length dimensions given each brand’s product sizes vary.

Is GORE-TEX Good for Skiing?

GORE-TEX is a waterproof, windproof breathable membrane that is part of the fabric. For a long time, GORE-TEX has been the gold standard in waterproofing.

However, there are lots of other similar apparel membranes out there. Many major brands have their own version of waterproof-breathable fabrics.

Whichever jacket you buy, make sure it’s waterproof. (Jackets have degrees of waterproofing, from 5,000 mm to 10,000 mm to 25,000 mm water column ratings.) Our Colorado-based gear testers, for instance, like to shoot for at least a 10,000-15,000 mm water column rating based on where they live and what kind of snow they experience.

However, the highest level of waterproofing will sacrifice a little on breathability. In mild to medium — not extreme — winter climates, you’ll want a balance.

Also, see what its intended activity and usage are. If a jacket isn’t designed for skiing, and doesn’t have many of the features we listed in this guide, it won’t be the best choice.


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