A ski jacket is an essential bit of kit for any skier. The best ski jackets should keep you warm and comfortable in any conditions, and ideally look good too. You'll find some of the same features included in the best waterproof jackets, but with plenty more besides geared specifically for use on the slopes.
You don't need to resemble the Michelin man in order to stay toasty on the mountain – you can choose between jackets featuring relatively lightweight and low-bulk insulation such as the budget Decathlon Freeride, or shell jackets like the Helly Hansen Odin Mountain Infinity and Arc'teryx Rush, which require you to layer up beneath them to stay warm (so you may need to go up a size in order to allow for said layering – head to our best ski base layers guide for our recommendations).
Read on for some buying advice, followed by our pick of the best ski jackets for a range of budgets right now. Complete your kit with a pair of the best ski pants, and grab some of the best ski goggles to ensure clear vision on the slopes.
- Explore the best women's ski jackets specifically
- Tote your kit in comfort with one of the best ski backpacks
How to choose the best ski jacket for you
Whether you go for an insulated jacket or a shell will depend to a large extent on the kind of skiing you do. If you're mainly a piste skier and spend a lot of time sitting on cold chair lifts in between runs an insulated jacket is a good idea; conversely, if you tend to head off-piste and maybe have to hike a bit to get to your favourite slopes you'll be better off with a lighter shell jacket.
Essential features from the top include an ergonomic hood which allows decent peripheral vision, high collar to keep your neck warm, zippered pockets to keep your gear in and snow out and adjustable cuffs and hem to also keep the snow on the outside. Off-piste skiers will also want an internal powder skirt for additional protection against the snow and pit zips to help keep you cool if you have to schlep up the hill in search of 'pow'.
It goes without saying that all the jackets we've reviewed here are waterproof, windproof and breathable, and most are also versatile enough to be used for other activities like hiking and mountaineering.
The Vinson Peak is a sturdy waterproof hardshell jacket with excellent breathability (80,000 MVP) and unlike a lot of hardshells it comes with loads of pockets – three zippered external pockets, one zippered internal security pocket and two internal stash pockets, providing plenty of storage space if you prefer to ski without a pack (and if you do ski with a pack the shoulders have Kevlar reinforcements).
The helmet-compatible hood has an ergonomic fit, whilst additional useful features include pit zips, Velcro adjustable cuffs and hand gaiters. For skiers who give their kit a lot of stick the Cimalp Vinson Peak is a very good option and provides you with a lot of jacket for your money.
Designed specifically for big mountain adventures the Arc’teryx Rush is a great combination of lightweight, windproof, breathable and waterproof fabric designed to withstand all you can throw at it; and you also get all the essential features for a big day out in the mountains.
The Rush utilises Gore-tex Pro ‘Most Rugged’ fabric – the strongest available – and has a quite loose fit to allow for comfortable layering. Features include an ergonomic, helmet-compatible hood, waterproof pit zips, two large zippered hand pockets, a lift pass pocket, two internal stash pockets and a zippered internal security pocket along with a fixed powder skirt – in effect everything any serious skier or boarder requires in their jacket.
Decathlon's Wedze Freeride jacket is amazing value for money and despite the budget price it doesn't skimp on features. These include a waterproof, breathable and windproof outer fabric plus 150 g/square metre wadding (chest) and 60 g (arm) to protect from the cold – this does however add weight and bulk and means you may want to go up a size to take account of any layering you need to do. There are so many features there isn't space to do more than list them, so – you get five pockets (two hand, two chest (one inside, one outside) and a ski pass pocket on the arm), a helmet-compatible hood, pit zips, powder skirt, hand gaiters and Recco avalanche reflector whilst adjustable cuffs and hem round it all off – hard to fault given the price.
If budget isn't an issue and you're looking for one jacket for everything from skiing to mountaineering and hiking the Odin Mountain Infinity Shell is a good option. Features such as the removable powder skirt and decent-sized pit zips make it very versatile, it's light in weight, very waterproof and breathable and eco-warriors will appreciate the fact that it's made entirely without the use of chemicals to aid with water repellency. Additional features include two internal pockets (one zippered), three external zippered pockets and a huge (possibly too huge) helmet-compatible hood.
If you're serious about your snow sports the Paramo Enduro is worth checking out – it's aimed fair and square at ski tourers, ski mountaineers and the like who will benefit from the efficient heat and moisture control of its Nikwax Analogy waterproof fabric, which helps to minimise changing your layers on the mountain and provides great freedom of movement and functionality. On top of this you get stretch panels and great ventilation through arm zips and hand pockets which also act as vents. There's also a map-compatible chest pocket and a smaller, Velcro-fastening chest pocket whilst above this is a high, snug collar and a helmet-compatible, ergonomic hood, whilst inside you'll find a small zippered security pocket.