Last updated: August 11, 2021

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Welcome to our big ski jacket test 2021. Here we present all the ski jackets we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best ski jacket for you. You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy a ski jacket.




The most important facts

  • An ideal ski jacket should protect you from wind and cold while skiing and be breathable at the same time.
  • The most important types of ski jackets are hardshell jackets, down jackets and 3-in-1 jackets, the latter combining the advantages of hardshell jackets and down jackets.
  • The most important criteria to consider are: the outer material, the water column, the performance, the fit & style and the price-performance ratio.

The Best Ski Jacket: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a ski jacket

Soon it will be time to hit the slopes again. However, the most important outerwear must not be missing - the ski jacket. As the top layer of your winter clothing, it has an extremely important job to do - to keep you warm and dry through the coldest ski days.

What should you pay special attention to when buying, what are the most important decision criteria and how do you know if the ski jacket meets your needs? We look at some of these questions in our guide to ski anoraks

What is the function of a ski jacket and why do you need one?

You're probably wondering what makes a ski jacket different from any other winter jacket and what its specific function is. The main difference is the integrated snow guard and a higher water column. It is basically waterproof and windproof.

Which ski jacket you buy is a matter of taste. However, there are some criteria you should pay attention to. (Image source: pexels.com / Leroy Filon)

If you spend a little more time on the subject of ski jackets, you will soon realise that there is a wide range of ski anoraks within these basic criteria. Therefore, other features such as hoods, pockets and zips are also a criterion for choosing the right jacket.

How important the respective features are for you, you have to answer yourself. Why do you need a special ski jacket? The answer is quite simple. Ski jackets are much better than conventional winter jackets because of their functionality.

The better waterproofing and windproof function alone are important on the slopes, not to mention the breathability.

Did you know that there are ski jackets that consist of about 500 individual parts? The manufacturer Kjus puts together its clothing from around 500 individual parts.

What is important when buying a ski jacket and what should you consider?

Ski jackets are now a dime a dozen. With so many variants, cuts, shapes, colours, materials and features, it's often impossible to keep track and pick out the most important criteria and judge them accordingly. Before we get to the criteria, it is important that you ask yourself for what purpose you want to buy a new jacket.

Will the ski jacket be used for freeriding, ski touring or traditional alpine skiing? For the first two of these, you'll definitely be well advised to go with the two-layer principle. Once you have clarified the intended use, you need to consider the actual purchase criteria. In order for the ski jacket to have a certain longevity, it should be made of high-quality materials.

It is also important that the ski jacket is water-repellent and protects against wind, so that a certain level of comfort is ensured even in bad weather conditions. Good breathability is also important to be able to quickly transport moisture to the outside.

In addition to these criteria, you should also inform yourself about the different manufacturers and read customer reviews. Good things take time, especially when it comes to the perfect ski jacket. However, the first rule is and remains that you should buy the ski jacket that you like, that you feel comfortable in and that has the right price-performance ratio. If you also pay attention to certain criteria, you will certainly find what you are looking for.

How warm does a snow jacket keep you and what should you wear underneath?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to how warm a ski jacket will keep you, as people's perception of warmth varies from person to person and the area of use often differs as well.

For downhill-oriented skiers, a simple padded ski jacket is probably more recommended, whereas downhill-oriented freeriders and tourers prefer a hardshell jacket. What can be said, however, is that a ski jacket is basically designed to build up and store warmth. Various materials are used for this, from synthetic fibres to down and wool.

It is not only the ski jacket you wear that is important, but also what you wear underneath. The basis for solid ski equipment is thermal underwear. Consisting of long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, they lie directly on the skin. Thanks to their breathable function, they wick sweat away from the body and keep you warm and cosy.

Then put on the ski pants on your legs and you're ready for the slopes. To keep the upper body warm, one layer is usually not enough and it is advisable to put on a jumper or a fleece jacket before putting on your ski jacket.

What are the useful features of ski jackets and why do you need them?

In addition to the usual functions, ski jackets have many useful features that you should not do without, depending on the weather and type of slope. The following table gives you an overview of the additional features and what they are good for.
Feature Description Advantage
Hood The hood must fit really well and tightly to the head so that it does not slip even in windy conditions. It should also be helmet-compatible to prevent snow from getting into your collar in case of snowfall or a fall.
Snow skirt The snow skirt is actually indispensable. It fits tightly around your waist and prevents snow or cold from getting into your jacket A snow skirt is especially important on cold, windy days. The jacket doesn't slip upwards and cold, wind and snow can't get through.
Ventilation zip You should neither freeze nor overheat under your ski jacket. Especially when you're on your skis all day, ventilation slits (especially at the armpits) are worth their weight in gold especially on warm ski days, ventilation zips are worth a lot and protect you from overheating.
Ski pass pocket The ski pass pocket should ideally be on the left arm or chest area, so that you can get onto the slopes without any problems This puts an end to the eternal search for the ski pass and you don't have to take your gloves off every time to get the pass out.
Enough pockets If you want to travel without a backpack, make sure your jacket has enough pockets to fit everything you can leave the backpack at home and always have everything right where you need it.
Inner cuff with thumb loop This refers to extending the sleeve with a thinner, more flexible layer. It has a hole at the end through which you can put your thumb the thumb loops prevent the jacket from slipping and always close flush with your gloves. It also provides your hands with a little extra warmth.
Velcro sleeve closure The velcro closure allows the sleeves to close flush with the gloves. Your jacket should be fitted at the wrists so that you can tighten it as much as possible on the one hand, this prevents snow from getting into your sleeve in the event of a fall, and on the other hand, the jacket fits your gloves perfectly and does not slip easily.

What does water column mean in connection with ski jackets?

The degree of water column shows how waterproof a material actually is. According to the DIN standard EN 343:2010-05, a jacket with a water column of 1,500 mm is already considered waterproof. It is also important to consider the time the jacket is exposed to rain and the pressure with which it hits the jacket.

The more pressure is exerted on the jacket, the longer the ski jacket is exposed to rain, and the lower the water column of the ski jacket, the faster the water penetrates the jacket.

How high should the water column actually be for ski jackets? A water column of at least 5,000 mm is recommended, but most ski jackets already have a water column of 10,000 mm. Since the water column decreases over time due to wear and tear, it is advisable to pay attention to a higher water column value when buying.

Decision: What types of ski jackets are there and which is the right one for you?

With so many ski jackets on the market, it is difficult to keep an overview and find out which different types of ski jackets there are. We have researched all types of jackets and would like to present the 4 most important types. These include:

  • Hardshell Jackets
  • Down jackets
  • 3-in-1 Jackets

What are the differences between hardshell jackets and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

The biggest advantage of hardshell jackets is their breathability. Thanks to a certain membrane technology, hardshell jackets are totally wind- and water-repellent on the one hand and allow good air circulation on the other. Thanks to the principle of breathability, sweat is immediately wicked to the outside and you won't catch a cold while waiting in line for the lift after a strenuous downhill run.

Thanks to the high-quality material, hardshell jackets are also extremely hard-wearing and durable. In addition, they offer a certain freedom of movement through the use of two-and-a-half or three-layer laminate. As they are not the warmest of ski jackets, the onion principle is recommended for this type of jacket. This means you should definitely add thermal underwear and a fleece waistcoat if you want to buy a hardshell ski jacket.

Hardshell jackets are ideal for ski tourers, freeriders, sporty skiers and anyone who wants to use their ski jacket on more than just the slopes.

Advantages
  • Breathability
  • wind and water repellent
Disadvantages
  • Unwadded and therefore basically not too "warm"

What are the differences between down jackets and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

Down jackets are lined with either goose or duck feathers. They keep you cosy and warm even at very low temperatures. They are characterised above all by their incredibly high warmth-to-weight ratio and their packability.

Down is known to be very fluffy, yet it can be compressed quickly and easily and is therefore suitable for any transport. Padded ski jackets excel especially in cold ski resorts or on cold ski days for stop-and-go activities, as they keep the body warm during rest phases and yet are breathable enough not to be completely soaked in sweat.

Because of these advantages, skiers often use classic down-filled winter jackets on the slopes. The problem is that these often lose their insulating effect and are not completely waterproof.

In addition, they largely lose their warming effect when damp. Therefore, it makes sense to use down jackets only in dry and cold areas. Down jackets are the optimal solution for piste skiing, people who freeze easily, children and anyone who also wants to use their ski jacket as a winter jacket.

Advantages
  • Very warm and light
Disadvantages
  • Not insulating enough

What are the differences between 3-in-1 jackets and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

3-in-1 jackets are basically a combination of hardshell jackets and padded jackets. They are intended to combine the advantages of both types of jackets and thus cancel out the disadvantages. To get around the problem of not being completely waterproof, special technologies are used.

At the moment, outdoor manufacturers are using Primaloft or Thermoball. These materials are supposed to be both warming and waterproof. With 3-in-1 jackets, also called double jackets, two solo jackets are combined.

A hardshell jacket is used as the outer layer, while the inner jacket consists of fleece or a thermal jacket. This jacket is ideal for anyone who wants to combine the advantages of a hardshell jacket with those of a down jacket.

Advantages
  • Warm and waterproof
Disadvantages
  • Maybe a little uncomfortable

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and rate ski jackets

To help you decide which ski jacket you should buy, we have summarised the most important criteria you should consider when buying. As with all our tips, you have to decide individually which criterion or criteria are more important to you.

  • Outer material
  • Water column
  • Use properties
  • Fit & Style
  • Price-performance ratio

Outer material

The outer material of the ski jacket deserves more attention than you might think, because here too there are some differences between the various models. For example, you have to distinguish between fabrics with coating and fabrics without coating.

In addition, the elasticity also plays an important role. Fabrics with a coating, for example Gore-Tex, Dermizax or Sympatex, are waterproof or water-repellent. In addition, coated fabrics are definitely more breathable than uncoated ones. The disadvantage is that they wear out more quickly.

That's why you should pay attention to abrasion, especially when transporting skis on your shoulders.

Once the fabric wears out, it loses its functionality and is irreparable.

Water column

As explained above, the water column is a unit of measurement that indicates the waterproofness of outer fabrics. It determines how much pressure must be exerted to push a drop of water through the fabric.

The water column is therefore one of the most important criteria when buying a ski jacket, as you certainly don't want to be standing on the slopes soaking wet.

Use properties

The other usage properties are thermal insulation, breathability, elasticity and the snow guard. Thermal protection can be provided by a suitable, warming inner lining, which can ideally also be removed. Like a 3-in-1 jacket. This allows you to adapt to any cold situation.

In addition, there is breathability. Skiing on the slopes is a stop-and-go activity, so it's important to keep warm during the rest phases and to keep sweat away during the exertion phases. As far as elasticity is concerned, this should be given so that you have enough freedom of movement while skiing and the jacket does not remain inflexible and rigid throughout.

To prevent snow from penetrating the ski clothing in the event of a fall, there is a snow guard. This is located once around the hips and often also on the sleeves at wrist level. The snow guard is also the biggest difference to a conventional winter jacket.

The right ski jacket is essential so that you don't freeze while skiing. (Photo source: 123rf.com / 46156645).

Fit & Style

One of the most frequently asked questions about the fit of ski jackets relates to their length. In principle, everyone has to decide for themselves which length suits them best, but there is one basic rule that you should follow: The jacket must fit! If the jacket is too long and wide, the insulation won't work properly and the snow guard won't hold.

But if the jacket is too tight and short, this has a negative effect on freedom of movement. Nowadays there are many different cuts, whether you prefer a fitted jacket, a slightly shorter one or a longer one depends on your individual taste. The important thing is that it fits you. In order to take advantage of the benefits of a ski jacket, it should be like a second skin, but still be elastic enough and allow for freedom of movement.

When it comes to colour, it's not a bad idea to choose a coloured one so you're more visible on the slopes. Reflective applications are also a good additional feature.

Price-performance ratio

To determine value for money, you need to do enough research beforehand. The most important question to ask yourself is whether the outer material, water column, performance and fit are in line with the price. By doing enough research, you will quickly get a feeling for this and can buy good quality at a reasonable price.

Especially with ski jackets, you should be willing to spend a little more so that you can benefit from them for a long time. The optimal ski jacket reliably protects you from wind and moisture and keeps you warm while skiing. The water column of the outer material should be at least 10,000 mm.

Which jacket you really want depends on your individual needs. Whether it should be a thin hardshell jacket, a warm down jacket or a combination of both depends on your personal temperature sensitivity and what you want to use the jacket for most often - freeriding, touring or normal piste skiing?

You also have to ask yourself whether you want any special features or not. In principle, you have to decide for yourself which jacket best suits your taste. We hope that this guide has helped you a little in your decision-making process.

Facts worth knowing about ski jackets

How do you wash your ski jacket properly and what do you have to bear in mind when washing your ski suit?

Once you have bought a ski jacket and put it through its paces on the slopes, you will soon be faced with the next question: "How do you wash a ski jacket properly? In principle, before you do anything hasty or googling on the internet, just look at the manufacturer's label.

It will tell you exactly how to wash your jacket and what to look out for. An important note is always that you should not use fabric softener with any type of functional underwear, as this impairs the protective properties. It is also advisable to use a special detergent for functional clothing and a waterproofing agent.

The temperature of the wash cycle should not exceed 40°C on a gentle cycle and you should also be on the safe side when spinning and choose a programme that is as gentle as possible, otherwise the material could be damaged. Once the material is damaged, you may not be able to repair it and the ski jacket may no longer function properly. When it comes to drying, you should also follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Some dryers can even improve the impregnation of the functional material. But be careful with the temperature! Always choose the lowest possible temperature, otherwise the material could be damaged.

Did you know that you should pay attention to a few things when washing your ski jacket? It is best to use a special detergent. This not only gets your jacket clean, but also impregnates it. Afterwards, the jacket should dry evenly.

Is the water column the only thing that matters with ski jackets?

Even with ski jackets, the overall waterproof concept, and especially taped seams, is crucial. If this is only half-heartedly pursued, even the highest water column is of no use. The rather complex production process of taped seams is not followed very cleanly, especially in the discount sector.

The water then finds its way into the inside of the jacket through seams that are not well welded. Here it certainly pays off to use branded products. Products with branded membranes are subject to very strict quality control. Here, even ready-made goods are checked for their functionality and thus guarantee optimal waterproofness.

Image source: unsplash.com / Willem De Meyer

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