Best ski jacket 2021: look cool and stay warm on the slopes

We check out seven of the best ski jackets around, including hi-tech, robust, and budget options

Included in this guide:

best ski jacket: Helly Hansen Odin Mountain Infinity Shell
(Image credit: Helly Hansen)

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

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.

Helly Hansen Alpha Infinity ski jacket

(Image credit: Helly Hansen)

1. Helly Hansen Alpha Infinity

The best premium ski jacket with eco credentials

Specifications
Style: insulated
Material: LIFA Infinity fabric with Primaloft Black insulation
Powder skirt: yes
Reasons to buy
+
Packed with features
+
Warm and comfortable
Reasons to avoid
-
Cumbersome hood
-
Bulky insulation

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 Wedze Freeride ski jacket

(Image credit: Decathlon)

2. Decathlon Wedze Freeride

The best budget ski jacket

Specifications
Style: Softshell
Material: Own brand waterproof/breathable fabric
Powder skirt: Yes
Reasons to buy
+
Excellent value
+
Loads of features
Reasons to avoid
-
Insulation adds weight and bulk
-
Fit not as ergonomic as more expensive jackets

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.

Arc'teryx Rush ski jacket

(Image credit: Arc'teryx)

3. Arc'teryx Rush jacket

The best ski jacket for demanding descents

Specifications
Style: Hardshell
Material: Gore-tex Pro
Powder skirt: Yes
Reasons to buy
+
Superb design
+
High quality materials
Reasons to avoid
-
Expensive
-
'Crinkly' fabric

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.

CimAlp Glacier H ski jacket in orange and blue

(Image credit: CimAlp)

4. CimAlp Glacier H ski jacket

The best ski jacket for flexibility

Specifications
Style:
Material: CimaShell SKI + CimaTherm 100G - 260g/m2
Powder skirt: yes
Reasons to buy
+
Stretchy for unimpeded movement
+
Great quality for the price

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.  

Helly Hansen Odin Mountain Infinity Shell ski jacket

(Image credit: Helly Hansen)

5. Helly Hansen Odin Mountain Infinity Shell

The best minimalist ski jacket

Specifications
Style: Hardshell
Material: HellyTech Professional
Powder skirt: Yes
Reasons to buy
+
Versatile
+
Lightweight
Reasons to avoid
-
Expensive
-
Hood rather unwieldy

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.

Jöttnar Odin Hardshell ski jacket

(Image credit: Jöttnar)

The best rugged ski jacket

Specifications
Style: Hardshell
Material: Jöttnar SKJOLDR
Powder skirt: Yes
Reasons to buy
+
Great weatherproofing and breathability
+
Excellent build quality
+
Stylish, minimal look
Reasons to avoid
-
No insulation

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.

Paramo Enduro ski jacket

(Image credit: Paramo)

7. Paramo Enduro

The best technical ski jacket

Specifications
Style: Softshell
Material: Nikwax Analogy fabric
Powder skirt: No
Reasons to buy
+
Loads of features
+
Helmet- and harness-friendly design
Reasons to avoid
-
Too fussy for some
-
No powder skirt

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.

Alf Alderson is an adventure travel writer and outdoor gear reviewer who splits his time between the Pembrokeshire coast and the French Alps, where he is an 'ambassador' for the ski resort of Les Arcs.