Updated August 2022
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Buying guide for best men’s ski jackets

Alongside your skis and boots, your ski jacket is one of the most important pieces of gear on the mountain. A good jacket should provide insulation appropriate to your environment and allow for comfort and mobility.

Some of the main qualities to look for in a ski jacket are breathability, waterproofing, insulation, and venting. Different conditions call for different jackets, and some jackets are more versatile than others. Most skiers only own one jacket, so you should find one that suits your usual skiing conditions or is adaptable to different temperatures. Shell jackets are popular for their wind resistance and mobility but have no insulation. Insulated jackets tend to be warmer but are somewhat bulkier. Three-in-one jackets include an outer shell layer and an inner insulated layer, which can be worn together or separately for three options.

Your ski jacket can be the biggest factor in determining how long you can stay on the slopes. This shopping guide breaks down the different types of jackets available and what to look for to best protect yourself from the elements. When you’re ready to buy, check out our favorites.

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As with any skiing gear, try on your jacket before you hit the slopes. You should check that it works well with your helmet, gloves, and snow pants to keep you comfortable and warm.

Key considerations

When looking for a ski jacket, you should of course look for one that fits you well. But you also need to think about the jacket’s insulation, breathability, and waterproofing to help make sure that you stay dry and comfortably warm on the slopes. Most jackets list ratings for all three of these features.

You should also decide whether you’re looking for the mobility and versatility of a shell jacket or  the warmth of an insulated jacket.

Shell vs. insulated

The two primary types of ski jackets are shell and insulated. Each has benefits and drawbacks.

  • Shell jackets consist of one layer of lightweight material that allows you to move easily. These typically rate highly for waterproofing and breathability. While shells provide no insulation of their own, their windproofing offers some protection from the cold, and the fit may allow you to layer or wear a slim-fit, insulating jacket underneath.

  • Insulated jackets are bulkier than shell jackets and may restrict your movement, but they’re far warmer and softer. Most insulated jackets have an outer layer that provides waterproofing and wind resistance, though shell jackets tend to excel in these categories. Breathability may be more of a consideration with an insulated jacket, so look closely for ventilation zippers at the armpits (pit zips) and other venting features.

  • Three-in-one jackets eliminate the need to decide between a shell and insulated jacket since you can make this choice when you gear up. These jackets have two layers: an outer shell and an inner liner jacket that are usually connected to each other with a zipper. You can wear these jackets in three ways by donning the shell, the liner, or both, hence the name “three-in-one.” These jackets are an excellent choice if want the ability to adapt to changing weather conditions.


Ski jackets come in three different styles, each of which fits differently on your body. There’s no right choice here, but you should have an idea of your preference before you pick out a jacket.

  • Slim-fit jackets fit snugly to your torso and tend to be stylish and compact.

  • Regular-fit jackets are still fairly slim while offering you a bit more mobility.

  • Relaxed-fit jackets are looser, offering more room around the chest and shoulders. These are the best choice if you plan to wear more layers beneath the jacket.


How much warmth a jacket provides depends on the type and amount of insulation material. Down is a tried-and-tested insulator that provides excellent warmth but suffers if it gets wet. Synthetic insulation is very popular for its light weight and ability to maintain loft even when damp.

Insulation is measured in grams, with lighter jackets coming in around 50 grams and the jackets with the heaviest insulation measuring around 100 grams. More insulation isn’t always better. You should choose a jacket with insulation appropriate for your typical skiing conditions.


Breathability may not sound like a good thing when you’re looking for a jacket to keep you warm in winter, but if you start sweating on the mountain, your insulation can become damp and lose its effectiveness. And if you’re slicked with sweat, you can get cold quickly.

The breathability rating of a jacket comes from the moisture vapor transmission rate (MVTR), which measures the ability of moisture to escape your jacket. Most jackets range from around 5,000 grams to 20,000 grams of breathability. The more likely you are to work up a sweat, the more breathability you need, even if you’re skiing in very cold conditions.


Just as with breathability, there is no such thing as too waterproof. Waterproofing is measured by putting the end of a one-square-inch tube on the jacket and filling the tube with varying depths of water to see at which point water begins to permeate the material. Waterproofing is measured in millimeters, with most jackets offering anywhere from 5,000 mm to 30,000 mm (about 17 feet to 100 feet) of waterproofing. Some jackets may be coated with a durable water repellent (DWR), which can aid in keeping you dry. However, the waterproof rating is the key factor to pay attention to.

  • Seams: A jacket’s seams represent a potential weak point and so also play a large role in keeping moisture out. Standard seams have small holes that water can get through. Some jackets have “critically taped” seams, meaning that only seams in areas prone to moisture have waterproof taping. On jackets with fully taped seams, all the seams are protected by waterproof taping. Jackets with welded seams offer the most protection because there is no stitching for water to seep through.

Men’s ski jacket features

Once you know what style of jacket is right for you and how much protection from the elements you need, consider a few additional features that can help to improve your experience on the slopes.

Helmet-compatible hood: For extra protection from wind and snow, look for a jacket with a hood designed to fit over your helmet. This can prevent wind and snow from biting at your neck. In many jackets, the hood can be stowed in the collar to keep it from creating air resistance when you’re not using it.

Closure: Zippers are standard for the main closure of any jacket, and metal zippers are always superior to plastic. Some jackets may have additional closure methods, such as buttons or hook-and-loop fasteners. To keep your wrists warm and prevent cold air and snow from getting in, some jackets have wrist closures in the form of elastic, hook-and-loop fasteners, buttons, or other methods.

Pockets: Having adequate pockets can be important if you intend to keep items like your phone, wallet, or keys with you. Some jackets may have a pocket specifically to protect your goggles when you aren’t using them. Pockets may be locate on the sides, chest, or inside the jacket and usually close with zippers.

Venting: The ability to open vents, typically located in the armpits (pit zips) can allow you to easily lower your temperature while you’re on the mountain. Decent venting shouldn’t be confused with a jacket’s breathability, but it can reduce your chances of sweating and building up moisture in the first place.

Powder skirt: A powder skirt is a piece of fabric that helps to seal the area between the jacket and snow pants. It closes with a button or zipper to create a tight seal and prevent air from getting into your jacket. This is a jacket component that many skiers consider essential.

Men’s ski jacket prices


Ski jackets in the $50 to $100 range typically offer minimal waterproofing and breathability. The zippers and stitching are often less durable, but you might find a decent entry-level jacket in this price range.


For  $100 to $200, you can find a reliable jacket with moderate to excellent waterproofing and breathability. Some jackets in this range may have additional features like extra pockets or pit zips.


Higher-end jackets that cost $200 to $300 tend to have the best breathability and waterproofing ratings available. The seams are often durable and fully taped or welded. Jackets in this range are designed for the most brutal conditions and will likely last for years.


A ski jacket is sized differently from a regular jacket because you need mobility and the option to layer beneath your jacket. Look into the sizing methods of the manufacturer before selecting a size, especially if you know your measurements don’t fit the standard small, medium, and large categories. There are three main measurements for sizing a jacket:

  • Measure your chest around its widest point to get the chest measurement.

  • Measure around the collar area to get the neck measurement.

  • Measure your bent arm from the wrist to the side or center of the neck to get the arm measurement. Note that jacket arm measurements vary from brand to brand.

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Ski jackets can vary in length, so you should have an idea of what you’re comfortable with and what length fits your needs.


Q. How should I wash my ski jacket?

A. Check the manufacturer’s recommended method. Most jackets can be machine washed, often in the delicate cycle. Unzip all pockets to prevent detergent or water from building up in them. If you don’t want to put your jacket in the machine, hand-washing is usually an option.

Q. How long should a ski jacket last?

A. Even less-expensive ski jackets tend to be made of durable materials that will last for years or even decades. The main parts of a jacket to worry about are the seams and zippers, but as long as you aren’t too rough with the jacket and follow the manufacturer’s washing instructions, any jacket should last you for a long time.

Q. What do I do if my jacket gets soaked?

A. Hanging your jacket up away from a heat source is the safest option. Some manufacturers might recommend that you put the jacket in the dryer, but this should only be done if it’s recommended.

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