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.
How to choose the best ski jacket for you
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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 Helly Hansen Alpha Infinity is far from cheap, but if you need an insulated technical ski jacket to keep you cosy on the pistes, it's an absolute winner. It features a detachable hood that can get in the way a bit when it's down, but once it's up and cinched it's wonderfully snug and brilliant for keeping snow and wind out. It also has all the pockets you're likely to need (seven in total), including a specially insulated 'Life Pocket' for holding your phone and preventing the cold from draining the battery.
Perfect for keeping you warm, dry and comfortable on the slopes, the Alpha Infinity also has impeccable eco credentials: its LIFA Infinity material is 100 per cent recycled, while its Primaloft Black insulation is 80 per cent recycled. However as it's not a shell jacket, you may find a bit too heavy and bulky for off-piste adventures.
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.
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.
If you're determined to stand out on the slopes, the Animal Arctic Snow Jacket is a sure-fire way to do it. Not only does it pack a bold tri-colour design that's hard to miss (and which honestly may be a bit much for many), it also features a built-in RECCO reflector that'll make you a lot easier to find in the event of an off-piste mishap.
Garish colour scheme aside, the Arctic has a minimal design and excellent build quality, with waterproof recycled polyester keeping you dry and Primaloft insulation ensuring you stay warm; maybe too warm on bluebird days. However if you tend to carry a lot of gear, this may not be the jacket for you; it has no chest pockets, and we found its inner pockets a little on the small side. Find out more in our Animal Arctic Mens Snow Jacket review.
CimaAlp makes some of the best ski jackets around, offering plenty of features and strong quality for a reasonable price point. The Glacier H is available in tomato red or dark blue, and has a pared-back design that nevertheless packs plenty of appealing features. The lined 'CimaTherm' fabric is designed to deliver warmth without too much weight, and reliable protection from the elements while still being nice and breathable. Four-way stretch ensures you won't be restricted in your movements, there's a removable hood, lycra-sleeve ends with thumb holes, and an integrated powder skirt. Finally there are plenty of pockets for stashing your belongings: two zipped hand pockets, a zipped chest pocket, ski pass pocket and two inside pockets.
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.
Another option for anyone willing to spend big on their ski jacket, the Jöttnar Odin Hardshell is a tough, no-nonsense shell that provides everything you need for rugged mountain adventures. With the hood up, zips fastened and the cuffs and hem cinched you'll feel thoroughly protected from whatever the elements can throw at you, while its thoughtful design means you'll feel comfortable in any weather.
Its loose fit means you can make up for its lack of insulation with as many layers as you need, and it's a great looker, too, with plenty of colourways to choose from. It's not cheap, but it's well worth the money and it'll provide you with plenty of seasons' use. Head to our Jottnar Odin hardshell jacket review for more info.
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.