Three Features to Consider Before Buying a Women’s Ski Jacket

You don’t have to spend a fortune to find a women’s ski jacket, but you do need to know what to look for.

With so many companies manufacturing quality ski garments these days, it’s hard to choose the right ski jacket—especially if you’re a woman. Yes, style counts, but not as much as being comfortable to ski all day no matter what the conditions are. Before you invest in a ski jacket, take these points into consideration. They’ll not only save you time by narrowing your choices, they’ll help guarantee you find the right ski jacket for the conditions you’re apt to ski in most.

This shell has 240 grams of polyester fiber for excellent heat retention. Wantdo

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Two key questions that will help you begin to narrow your choices on women’s ski jackets are where will you be skiing, and when? In cold, dry climates, like ski areas in the Rocky Mountains, waterproofness may not be a big consideration, but insulation will be—especially if you’re skiing in the cold months of December through February when air temperatures and high winds can create sub-zero chill factors. If you ski in the East or in the Pacific Northwest, where damp snow (and even rain) may be a factor, definitely consider a waterproof parka made with a wicking-type fabric like Gore-Tex. If you’re just into spring skiing, then a lightweight shell that allows you to layer underneath may be just the thing.

This fully seam sealed shell features Omni-Tech technology. Columbia

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If you’re visiting a commercial ski area, where you might encounter long lift lines, having an insulated parka that’s warm (and windproof) is critical. Look for models with pit-zips for added ventilation. For those heading into the backcountry, where long spells of physical exertion are likely to be the norm, you’ll roast in a fully-insulated jacket. Those adventures are when lightweight shells can shine, provided you have ample layers underneath, but make sure it’s made with breathable fabrics.

The age-old argument about what type of insulation works best has been going on for years. The bottom line is, down is lighter (great for packing a jacket down tight for backcountry skiing) and it insulates well, provided you keep it dry (think about a waterproof shell over the top). Synthetic insulation is a bit heavier (and bulkier), but it will still provide some warmth even when it’s wet. Here again, the conditions where you’re skiing—damp and wet, versus cold and dry—should be the driving factors in your decision.

This parka has an adjustable fit and a stretchable glove hole to help seal in warmth. MOERDENG

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Your jacket can’t have enough pockets. Just be sure whatever jacket you choose has at least one zippered pocket (preferably on the inside) for keeping cash, credit cards, keys, and your phone safe. A media pocket is really nice to have for those who can’t ski without their earbuds on. Some makers are even building RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) into jacket designs to block identity thieves from ripping off your personal information.

Hoods are excellent for preserving warmth. Just make sure the hood on the jacket you’re considering will fit over your ski helmet. Having the option to remove the hood on those warmer days when you won’t need it is nice, so it’s not flapping behind you all day.

Pick a jacket that fits you and your skiing style. If you’re an aggressive skier and love being the center of attention, go for it. You’ll find plenty of styles that are “loud and proud.” If you’re a bit more conservative or a beginner who doesn’t want to draw too much attention to yourself, a more conservative color may feel more comfortable.

Make sure whatever jacket you choose has enough room for movement. Some of the three-in-one styles can feel snug, especially if you add a base layer or two underneath. Buying a jacket that’s too big will feel bulky and drafty. Buy one too small and you’ll feel cramped and not have enough room to allow insulating layers to work well. Pay close attention to the manufacturer’s sizing charts and compare them to your own measurements.