Whether you are new to skiing or you have decided it's time to update your ski kit and perhaps buy something more technical for more advanced skiing, our buyer's guide to women's ski jackets is a good place to start. There are seemingly endless options, with new designs appearing every winter, but we've pulled together our favourites for a range of uses and budgets in this guide. Here you'll find women's jackets specifically – head to our general best ski jackets guide for men's and unisex options.
If you're after a budget jacket, we'd recommend the Dare 2b Enclave jacket, or at the top end, Patagonia has released a new ski touring line for winter 2020 that includes the Women's Stormstride jacket. The good news is that there is something for everyone, regardless of your budget and experience or whether you want to glide down the nursery slopes or go ski touring.
How to choose the best women's ski jacket
Trying to figure out the best women's ski jacket is a bit like trying to find the perfect ski resort. What works for you is specific to your own needs; whether you feel the cold, what time of year you plan to go skiing, if you ski mainly on pistes or enjoy more active off-piste skiing. If you plan to do more off-piste skiing or ski touring than piste skiing, you will get warm and it's worth considering a layering system including a lightweight shell jacket that will allow you to add ski base layers and mid-layers underneath.
On the other hand, if you're new to skiing, or you only go once a year and have a tight budget, it's best to look at a less specific kit and more of an all-rounder that you can also wear at home in order to get the most for your money (some of these wouldn't be out of place in our best waterproof jackets guide, for example).
After you've nailed down the job you want your ski jacket to do, it's time to consider finer details such as cut and colour, whether it has enough handy pockets, a fleece-lined neck for comfort or thumb loops and powder skirt to keep you snug. The best bit? Women's ski jackets come in all guises and even at the budget end are packed with all sorts of great features.
The best women's ski jacket all round is the Helly Hansen Imperial Puffy. This warm, practical, feminine jacket will look (and importantly feel) equally at home on the mountain or on the street at home. It's warm, designed for resort skiing and off-piste or 'side-country' skiing (in other words everything except ski touring) with a slim cut that flatters but has enough room for layers beneath (we tried a size small on a size 10 reviewer). The jacket has a high neck with a strip of softer fabric covering the zip at the top, so it won't rub your chin.
Among the useful pockets are one for a lift pass on the left sleeve, an inside mesh 'stash' pocket for sunglasses or gloves, and another, secure, inner pocket containing Helly Hansen's unique Life Pocket technology which is made with thermal resistant materials designed to preserve the battery life of your mobile phone. It has thumb loops (wrist gaiters), an insulated, helmet-compatible hood, fixed powder skirt and the softest, comfiest cuffs we've ever tried. YKK Metalux zips, armpit zips, stretch wrist gaiters and articulated sleeves for maximum movement and comfort.
The Dare 2 B Enclave jacket is a solidly built jacket in a range of colours at a great price point. It's warm, made from a four-way stretch polyester with articulated sleeves for ease of movement and we found it very breathable unlike some jackets at the cheaper end of the spectrum. The jacket has a snug, high neck for cold-weather skiing as well as an inbuilt snow skirt. There are adjustable cuffs but no thumb loops (which are useful for keeping out the cold) and the hood isn't made to wear over a ski helmet – though it can be rolled up and stowed beneath a Velcro flap.
There are two internal mesh 'stash' pockets but crucially no zipped chest pocket to securely store a mobile phone – though it does have a 'hidden' sleeve pocket for ski passes. This jacket is perfect for resort skiing and Dare 2 B guarantees to repair, replace or refund any of its kit containing Ared technology if you're unhappy with its performance (the company promises it's "truly windproof".
The Warm Ambition W is Salomon's warmest yet, made with 600 FILLPOWER (traceable) down. Although it has a slim, figure-flattering fit it offers surprising freedom of movement. That's thanks to the way the fabric and membrane are bonded together (normally this construction would need a separate lining), as well as the fabric's four-way stretch and what Salomon describes as an 'active fit' – not too tight, not too loose. As you'd expect at this price, the Salomon Warm Ambition jacket is packed with features including a large inner 'stash' pocket and smaller secure chest pocket, lift pass pocket on the sleeve, a detachable, ergonomic hood, goggle wipe, powder skirt and a lovely soft fabric around the neck to protect your chin from chaffing.
The filling (80% down, 20% feather) is traceable and sustainable, and the removable trim on the hood is made from faux fur. The only downside is that the sleeves are snug fitting and the zips on them that go up above the wrist are a bit bulky.
The Stormstride women's ski jacket is part of Patagonia's first foray into kit designed specifically for ski tourers. Designed to be worn as part of a layering system, the shell has no insulation but is, as the name would suggest, aimed at high-octane exercise in all weathers. (Also in the new range is the softshell Patagonia Upstride jacket.) The Stormstride is an incredibly lightweight (428g) highly technical jacket with three-layer, 3.5oz 40-denier Pertex 100% nylon plain weave fabric with two-way stretch and a softer, polyester knit backer. Unlike some other super lightweight, technical jackets, the Stormstride is packed with features: a helmet-compatible, two-way adjustable hood with laminated visor, discreet powder skirt, RECCO reflector, easy-to-use pit zips and low-profile cuffs that you can secure under or over gloves. There are also four excellent stash pockets including one big enough to hold a pair of skins.
Clothing manufacturers are under ever increasing scrutiny for their environmental practices, and the ski industry is leading the way by using recycled and natural materials with as few chemicals as possible during production. Picture Organic is particularly devoted to this, and the Aeron ski jacket contains a brand-new material made from 58% repurposed sugarcane waste that is converted into bio-based polyester. Its DWR treatment is PFOA/PFOS-free. Behind the scenes, like many other ski-specific brands, Picture Organic is committed to wiping out fossil fuels in every aspect of its business, from shipping to packaging to creating a sustainable company culture.
As shell jackets go, the Aeron is feminine and surprisingly warm, with fully taped seams and YKK waterproof zips – though it comes up small so buy a size larger than you would normally to pack layers beneath. It has handy pockets everywhere on the outside – four big ones on the front and a sleeve pocket for a lift pass – but there's no inner mesh 'stash' pockets or secure inner pocket for electronics. The jacket has a high, spacious collar with an adjustable, ergonomic hood, detachable snow skirt and elasticated wrist gaiters, goggle cleaner and pit zips, as well as Picture's XPORT body mapping for comfort.