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Best Ski and Snowboard Jackets

426375654_cc31a19019Finding the right ski or snowboarding jacket is an absolute necessity if you want to enjoy your time up on the mountain. Because you can’t have a good time if you are cold or uncomfortable, finding the right jacket that’ll both look great and keep you warm and protected from a wide variety of elements is essential.

There are a few different things you’ll want to think about before you start your quest for the ultimate ski jacket:

How warm does it need to be?

First off, you’ll need to think about how warm of a jacket you’ll need. If you plan on spending most of your time skiing at Big Bear in Southern California, you’ll need a less expensive and sophisticated jacket than someone who skis in Montana.

If you are like me and often find yourself traveling to different places to ski, you are probably best of buying a jacket with a layering system (shell and fleece liner) that you modify to fit your needs depending on the temperatures and conditions outside.

What materials should I look for?

The best ski and snowboard jackets are usually made from GoreTex and Down, though you can get a fairly nice jacket made from artificial down material and other forms of water resistant materials.

Remember that your jacket is an investment.

My North Face shell with a zip-in fleece is still going string after 6 seasons of heavy use. In fact, it was not until this winter that I decided I wanted to get a new jacket (mostly because I just got a little sick of the old one). The point is, ski jackets will last you many, many seasons if you buy a high quality one, so while you may get a little sticker shock at first, remember that it’s investment.

Think about more than just the way it looks.

Sure, that jacket you just tried on looks great on you, is your favorite color and will make your friends jealous over your slope-style, but is it the right jacket for your ski and snowboard needs? Is it warm enough? Does it fit right? Does it have all the features you want in a ski/snowboard jacket? You won’t care so much about what that jacket looks like when you are freezing on top of the Continental Divide in sub zero temps., so make sure you get a jacket that’ll keep you warm AND look stylin’.

Name brands do count

I have never been big into designer labels when it comes to clothing, but with ski equipment, there is definitely something to be said with going with trusted, name brand companies. Now, I’m not saying you buy the North Face jacket just because it has the logo on the chest, but the name-brand companies do have a proven track record with making high quality gear that’ll last you multiple seasons. My favorite brands are North Face, Marmot, Columbia, Lowe and Patagonia.

Make sure it’s the right size.

Fit in ski jackets is immensely important. You want a jacket that’s big enough you can layer plenty of stuff under it for super cold days, but small enough that you won’t be swimming in material and end up cold. Jackets that are too big don’t do a great job at keeping you warm, so keep in mind that the right fit is about functionality and fashion.

Layered Jackets are the most versatile

If you want a ski jacket that you can shred with on sub zero days and on warm spring days, getting a jacket with removeable layers is a great way to go. On cold days, you can hit the mountain with all your layers, and on warm ones, leave a few layers in the car.

>>Figure out everything you need to hit the slopes with the Ski Gear Guide

Some of my favorite ski jackets:

North Face Women’s Amore Jacket
North Face Mountain Light Jacket
North Face Tempest Down Jacket
Marmot Greenland Baffled Down Jacket
Marmot Spellbound 3-in-1 Jacket
Arc’Teryx Stingray Jacket

Photo by Shay Haas on flickr