When you’re buying a ski or snowboard jacket, the most important things to consider are: is it warm? And is it waterproof? There’s only one thing worse than being cold on the mountain, and that’s being cold and wet on the mountain.
But it doesn’t matter how snug and dry you are on the chairlift if your jacket fabric isn’t breathable, for as soon as you start to ski or snowboard down with any kind of pace or effort, your jacket will collect moisture on the inside. This will then freeze on your next chairlift ride, leaving you pretty uncomfortable.
Fortunately, the makers of snow outerwear have seriously upped their game in recent years. In the Eighties, the era O’Neill pays tribute to with its 88’ Frozen Wave Anorak, a snowy day almost always equalled a soggy jacket. But today, snow brands have invested in their product technology so that their clothes should enhance not ruin your day on the mountain.
We’ve included a range of prices here. If you’re going on your first ski or snowboard trip and you’ve no idea whether you’ll like it, you clearly won’t want to spend too much. But equally we’d warn against heading to the high street and picking up any old winter jacket, as the brands selected here have been chosen for their snowsports heritage and expertise in making clothes for harsh mountain environments.
Our pick includes a mix of insulated and shell jackets. Shells work best with a mid-layer, usually a down jacket or fleece, when in the coldest months of winter, though they can be worn without in warmer spring conditions. If you plan on doing any ski touring, splitboarding or hiking into the backcountry, a shell jacket is the best option as they are easily shed and lightweight enough to be stored in your backpack.
Other key things to look out for? Stretch, as the fabric on some jackets allows for greater mobility than others, and armpit zips, as these are another good way to regulate heat. Helmet-compatible hoods are useful for bad weather conditions and powder skirts will keep fresh snow from sneaking up your back.
The Iceland from Picture Organic (an impressive young ski and snowboard brand from France) is warm and waterproof, but it is also one of the most stretchy and flexible on the market. This freedom of movement is as important for snowboarders and skiers who are linking their first turns on the nursery slope as it is for more experienced riders practising new tricks in the snow park. Picture Organic achieves this through the use of a new innovative knitted fabric technology, whereas most technical shells are made using woven fabric. It’s made from 100 per cent recycled polyester and the fit is regular, not too baggy nor too tight.
Here’s an amazing value, entry-level jacket from the perennially popular snowboard brand Burton. It’s not a shell but it is at the more lightweight end of the insulation spectrum, so on colder days you may want to pair it with another layer, though its water and windproof qualities are top-notch. The cut is less baggy than a traditional snowboard jacket but it’s still long, giving you extra protection if you’re the kind of rider who likes to sit down to put your snowboard on. Available in a range of colours including tie-dye and grey tiger print.
3. Arc’teryx Tauri Jacket: £520, Arc’teryx
This is an insulated jacket for serious skiers and snowboarders that brings it all to the party. It has the warmth of a mid-layer, with the snow and wind protection plus breathability of a top-level shell jacket, yet all in one single layer. It also has good stretch and flex in the fabric. It is available in royal blue or black but we prefer this striking red.
4. DC Command Snow Jacket: £235, DC Shoes
This is one of the best-value shell snow jackets around, yet it doesn’t compromise on waterproofing or breathability, thanks to the brand’s patented weather defence system. The DC pro snowboard team are involved in jacket design and testing and with Command’s slick shape and zip detailing it shows. We also love the toasty hand-warmer pockets. This one also comes in light brown and dark red.
5. Patagonia PowSlayer Jacket: £600, Patagonia
The PowSlayer is a shell jacket, so naturally it's lightweight and packable, but it’s also more waterproof and windproof than you'd expect from a shell, and breathable so it's a great choice if you're the kind of adventurous skier or snowboarder who likes to hike beyond the pistes. The Gore-Tex PRO fabric is made from recycled nylon and features ripstop technology, which makes it less likely to tear, traditionally a curse of these lighter weight jackets.
6. Columbia Powder Keg Jacket: £320, Columbia
Seriously warm, insulated snow jackets can sometimes feel heavy but that’s happily not the case with this from Columbia, which has a nice, lightweight feel. It achieves this by using a shiny reflective thermal material to keep you toasty by reflecting your own body heat back at you. The fit is tighter and length shorter than some of the other jackets featured, and the sleeves are adjustable so you can tighten them more if you need. Also comes in black.
7. O’Neill 88’ Frozen Wave Anorak: £199.99, O'Neill
O’Neill is bringing back its fun, pop colour-designs from the Eighties but with all the tech knowhow you’d expect from a modern jacket, such as 10K/10K waterproofing (the minimum rating you should look for in a snow jacket) and breathability, plus insulation that targets the parts of your body that need it most. The over-the-head style creates a clean form but if that sounds like a faff for the slopes, the range includes other jackets with normal zips down the centre.
8. The North Face Steep Series Fuse Brigandine Jacket: £700, The North Face
This top-of-the-range offering from The North Face may come with a hefty price tag but it also promises some of the most advanced water-repelling technology to date. The fabric is also designed to be hyper durable and abrasion-resistant, as when you’re spending this much money on a jacket you need to know it’s going to last a good few snow seasons. For a strong technical jacket, it has a lightweight feel and we especially like the goggle wipe feature in the wrist zip pocket. Also available in orange.
The Good Times jacket is a solid insulated option from a fun, youthful brand that’s popular with freeskiers. That is, skiers who prefer the snow park to the pistes. The fit is relaxed but this is a seriously warm jacket, which you can rely on for top-level water repellence and windproofing. It has a lot of pockets, and is also available with a desert camo design.
10. Salomon X Alp Jacket: £200, Salomon
The X Alp is a great value shell jacket from Salomon. It’s waterproof and windproof, even down to the zips but it also feels light on and the fabric is breathable enough to stop you steaming up. Our favourite feature was the jacket's extreme venting system, which allows you to unzip the sides and let the fresh air cool your body while you ski or snowboard along, without even needing to remove your backpack.
The Verdict: Ski and snowboard jackets
Choose from our 10 contenders according to what kind of skier or snowboarder you are. The Picture Organic Iceland is the best value technical snow jacket for the price. Though if you’re relatively new to the sports, the Burton Hilltop, DC Command, Planks Good Times and Salomon X Alp are great choices, while the O’Neill 88’ Frozen Wave is the most fun option for the slopes. More passionate and seasoned skiers and riders should look to the Picture Organic Iceland, Arc’teryx Tauri, or Patagonia PowSlayer.
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Source : http://www.independent.co.uk/extras/indybest/outdoor-activity/winter-sports/best-mens-ski-jackets-snowboard-under-200-2017-brands-top-rated-north-face-cheap-columbia-burton-a7432021.html