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A Guide to Help You Buy a Ski Jacket

Rohini Mohan
Ski jackets are not designed or intended to be used like usual winter jackets. They should provide you with adequate insulation, mobility, and must be waterproof and breathable. Know the other features to consider before selecting one for yourself.
During the mid 1950s, safari jackets inspired the design of ski jackets.

Apart from being extremely warm and weatherproof, ski jackets also lend some protection to the skiers from minor bruises and scratches. Since there are so many varieties of ski jackets available in the market today, choosing the perfect one for yourself can become daunting. Following are some features that you can specifically look for in a ski jacket, which will help streamline your options.
Ski Jacket Buying Guide

While shopping, you will come across three different types of ski jackets, each providing varying levels of warmth. However, the task of choosing the perfect jacket for yourself can be made a lot easier by assessing how much additional warmth you expect your jacket to provide you.
For instance, if you feel colder than others, you will need a jacket with more insulation. On the contrary, someone whose body temperature remains higher than others may be comfortable using a non-insulated shell jacket while skiing. Here is what you need to know about the three types of ski jackets.
Insulated Jackets

Insulated jackets have an insulated inner layer that traps body heat and keeps the wearer warm. Secondly, most insulated ski jackets will usually have an additional insulation layer inside that can be used or removed as per the requirement of the wearer. The inner lining may be made of wool, synthetic, or down.
These jackets also have a waterproof and windproof exterior layer. At first glance, you may not notice much difference between an insulated and shell jacket; however, insulated ski jackets are slightly thicker because of their multiple layers. On the other hand, puffy ski jackets are big, warm, and very comfortable to wear and ski in.
Shell Ski Jackets

A shell jacket is comparatively thinner than other types of ski jackets because it does not provide any insulation. Such jackets are meant to be worn over a well-fitted base and mid ski layer. Wearing body-fitting insulated layers under a shell jacket allows the skier more mobility.
Secondly, such jackets are waterproof while being breathable, thereby, allowing sweat to evaporate. Without additional mid and base layers, these jackets are not preferable for being worn in extremely cold conditions, because shell ski jackets in itself will not be able to help acclimatize the body temperature of the wearer for too long.
System Ski Jacket

If you're unsure of whether to go in for a insulated or shell jacket, you can always opt for a system ski jacket that integrates the features of both insulated and non-insulated jackets. Such jackets have removable layers and parts that can be used when the temperature dips. These jackets look like normal shell jackets but are equipped with attachable features that allow the wearer to add extra layers in the interior of the ski jacket.
Features to Look For

Waterproof Ability

Waterproof rating is measured in millimeters and refers to the quantity of water the jacket can repel. In order for any jacket to be labeled as waterproof, it must have a minimum rating of 1,500 mm. Always go in for a ski jacket that has a waterproof rating of 6,000-10,000 mm or higher. A jacket with higher waterproof rating will be able to keep the wearer dry for longer.

You must go in for a ski jacket that has high breathability ratings. Such a rating refers to the ability of the jacket to dispel moisture from inside, thereby, preventing the jacket from getting drenched in sweat. Since skiing is an intensive activity, you will need to select a jacket that does not trap excessive heat or sweat within its layers.
The breathability ratings of a ski jacket are measured and featured in grams, wherein greater the Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate (MTVR), the more grams of moisture it will transfer or dispel. Therefore, go in for a ski jacket that has MVTR ratings of 5,000-15,000 grams.
Zip Cover

The zip cover is an essential feature of the ski jacket, as it prevents body heat from escaping and moisture from entering through the gaps of the zipper. The cover or flap near the zip comes with Velcro or buttons that can be fastened to protect the torso of the wearer from chilly winds and water.

Depending on your requirement, you can go in for a ski jacket that has a stowaway, fixed, or detachable hood. Make sure that your head fits comfortably in the hood, which should also be able to accommodate a skiing helmet, protective cap, or earmuffs.
Powder Skirt

The powder skirt is another unique feature of the ski jacket that is present at the waist of the jacket and under the main zipper. The powder skirt is a stretchable band that winds around the waist and prevents snow from entering through the underside of the jacket.
Pit Zips

Pit zips are great for getting rid of excess heat and moisture from under the arms while skiing. Since some heat up and sweat more than others, these additional zippers help regulate the body temperature of the wearer.
Wrist Straps

While choosing a ski jacket, go for one that has adjustable wrist straps that can be tightened to prevent snow and cool air from entering the jacket. Most jackets use Velcro, buttons, or buckles to fasten the wrist straps.
Taped Seams

Another extremely important feature that you must consider is whether the seams of the jacket have been taped or not. Fully taped seams are those that have been taped from the underside as well as the exterior of the jacket. This method of taping ensures that moisture does not seep into the jacket through its most vulnerable points.
Critically taped seams are those that have been strategically taped from the underside of the jacket, in order to provide adequate protection against moisture. This method of taping is not fail-proof but is effective in keeping the wearer dry for casual skiing purposes.
On the other hand, fully taped as well as welded seams provide more protection against moisture. However, these jackets are also more waterproof and expensive, because of their high quality standards.
Some ski jackets can get really expensive; therefore, in order to minimize your budget, consider going in for a shell jacket and wear insulated base and mid layers to help keep you warm while skiing.