When preparing for a snowboarding adventure, a reliable jacket is one of the most important things you need to take with you. You’re going out to have fun, and a well-made jacket makes that possible – it keeps you dry and protected, while also allowing you to be comfortable the whole time. This is why a snowboarding jacket is much more than the regular jacket you wear every day, especially in terms of materials used to make it and the features you get with it.
However, not all snowboard jackets offer the same level of performance and reliability. There isn’t a single universal product that we can say is the best choice for everybody, so you have to discover on your own what works best for you. To help you, we’ve compiled a buying guide with some pointers on what to look for. But first, we’ve handpicked some of the best snowboard jackets on the market based on different criteria (quality, performance, features, affordability), so take a look.
How To Choose A Snowboard Jacket – Buying Guide
Buying a new jacket can be exciting, but you shouldn’t get carried away and get the one that looks the prettiest. When choosing a snowboard jacket, its function is much more important than how it looks. Sure, we all like to be stylish when going down the track, but it’s more important that the jacket keeps us dry and warm.
The type of jacket, it’s waterproof and breathability ratings, and the materials used to make it all play a role in this. In addition, some features are specific only to ski and snowboard jackets, and will make your day on the snow much better. We’re going to go through every aspect, so you’ll have enough useful information to pick the best snowboarding jackets on your own. Take a look.
Shell vs Insulated (Type of Jacket)
Many people have a dilemma when buying a new jacket – whether to buy just a shell or to go with a jacket that already comes with insulation and lining to keep you warm. In all honesty, both have their advantages and disadvantages.
A shell jacket is designed to give you protection from the weather, especially hardshell jackets. Their main purpose is to block out wind, rain, and snow, and keep your body dry. However, they aren’t able to keep you warm, so if you choose this type of jacket, you’ll need to think about warm clothing you’re going to wear underneath. In addition, some cheaper hardshells are not particularly breathable.
On the other hand, a softshell jacket can be much more comfortable to wear. They are often very breathable and you won’t feel soaked in sweat even during intense activity. However, they will fall short in terms of keeping snow and wind out. Make sure to read about the differences between a softshell and a hardshell if you want to learn more.
Then we have combo jackets that have both the protective properties of a shell, and some type of insulation to keep you warm. The insulation is made of different materials, usually synthetic fleece, wool, or down, as we’ll discuss a bit later. What’s important is that a jacket can have non-removable or removable insulation.
The 3-in-1 jackets (some of which we featured in our reviews) come with removable inner jackets (which work as insulation), so they give added versatility to the person who buys them. They are cost-effective, because you get both the protective shell and the warm lining for a reasonable amount of money, which is a big plus for many snow enthusiasts.
They also allow you to wear them separately – shell for weather protection or the inner thermal jacket when you just need the warmth. The downside of 3-in-1 jackets is that they are sometimes less breathable, and also the fact that some people prefer choosing the layers themselves.
Materials used in making a jacket ultimately determine its performance in different conditions. Usually, snowboard jackets are made of either nylon or polyester, and both can be a great choice. Nylon is a great material for keeping you dry and blocking out wind, while polyester allows a bit more breathability but is not always very waterproof. Because of this, polyester jackets often have added surface coatings that help repel water. Some jackets are made of a combination of materials, so they manage to get the most out of each type.
Of course, some of the best snowboard jackets (and winter jackets in general) are made from top-level materials such as Gore-Tex, eVent and similar. The advantage of these is that they are very sophisticated in terms of performance – they completely block out water and wind from getting in, while allowing water vapor to easily escape, so the jacket can “breathe” and keep you dry. However, the downside of these jackets is that they can be significantly pricier. For this reason, many snowboarders who aren’t after top-of-the-line performance opt for cheaper jackets that can work well too.
It’s important that you look for materials that are going to work best in your circumstances. If you expect bad weather with lots of snow and strong wind, then you should look for highly waterproof materials that can give you a similar level of protection to windbreaker jackets. On the other hand, if comfort is your main concent and you don’t want to feel sweaty, look for materials with better breathability.
Insulation type and Layering
As we mentioned a bit earlier, some jackets come with their own warm insulation, while others work as shells and need you to layer your clothing underneath in order to keep warm. When it comes to insulation materials, the most common choice is synthetic fleece. In addition to this, wool is also used, as well as down and cotton as jacket filling.
Synthetic fleece is a solid performer, and also much cheaper than down (which is a big plus for many buyers). It stays warm even when it gets wet, and can feel really soft and comfortable to wear. On the other hand, it can feel heavy, bulky, and not so easy to pack. However, a huge advantage is if you get a removable fleece jacket, which you can then wear on its own on many different occasions when you need added warmth.
Down is often used as a filling material in many winter jackets because of its incredible insulating abilities. Even in a thin layer, down is going to keep you warm. This adds to its value, since the jacket is able to remain lightweight and thin, and still give you all the warmth you need. However, there are some downsides here too – down loses its insulating properties when it gets wet. This is why wearing a down jacket (without a shell on top), is not the best idea when going snowboarding or skiing. Furthermore, it is often more expensive than synthetics.
Good news is that many manufacturers make jackets that combine these two to give you the best experience. For example, a jacket has down insulation in the area where you need the most warmth, and synthetic insulation in the areas where you’re most likely to get wet (from falling down, or from rain or snow falling on you). No matter if you choose to get an insulated jacket or layer your clothing yourself, you must think about breathability if you want to feel comfortable (as we’ll explain a bit later).
But first, let us say a couple of things about layering. Even though it’s not directly related to jackets per se, it’s one of the crucial things to do when preparing to take your snowboard out. Like we said, if you choose to get only a shell jacket to protect you from wind and snow, you’re also going to need functional layers underneath to keep you warm. How many of them depends on the conditions, but we are going to discuss base- and midlayers as the most common.
Base layers go right against your body, and their main function is to wick the moisture away so you don’t end up wet from your own sweat. They also help a bit in preventing the heat from escaping from your body, but that is mainly the task of a midlayer. It serves as an insulator that blocks the heat you generated, and keeps it close to your body. You also need to think about whether or not the midlayer is breathable, to let the mentioned moisture out. In any case, if you plan on wearing several layers under your snowboard jacket, make sure you get a wide enough fit that is going to have enough room.
This is one of the most important aspects not just for snowboarding jackets, but for all winter jackets in general. Sure, all snowboarding jackets are waterproof – the question is to what extent. They need to be good performers in this area, and the best snowboarding jackets are going to keep you dry throughout a whole day of rolling in the snow, even if there is heavy snowfall and wind.
Most of the jackets we come across claim that they are waterproof, but some of them also offer a number to show you exactly how much. This waterproof (hydrostatic head) rating represents how many millimeters of water a fabric can hold (in a tube, over a square inch) before it gives in and starts leaking. And, as you can see, the results vary greatly.
Waterproof ratings range from under 5000mm for some lighter jackets, to up to 20,000 for top-level snowboard jackets. It’s also significant whether or not a jacket has an added water-repellent coating on top (Teflon, DWR) which significantly increases its performance because the water rolls off the jacket instead of soaking into the fabric.
One other thing worth thinking about is the type of seams a jacket has. It’s no use having a jacket made from even the most waterproof material, if the water is going to find its way in through the seams. For this reason, many winter jackets use taped seams. This means that the seams are sealed by a special tape that prevents the water from coming in through the small holes.
However, you will come across jackets that have fully and critically sealed seams. Fully sealed means that all the seams are watertight. On the other hand, critically sealed seams mean that only those with the highest exposure and risk of leaking have been sealed – for example in the shoulder area. All this is worth noting because it can make a difference at some point, so think about it when buying.
While taking part in an intense activity like snowboarding, you are bound to get sweaty. This is why all good snowboarding jackets allow a decent level of breathability. What this means is that they allow a certain amount of water vapor to escape from the jacket, instead of condensing inside in the form of sweat. However, as with waterproofing, not all jackets are equal.
The breathability rating of jackets is presented in g/m2/24h, and determined using an MVTR (Moisture Vapor Transmission Test). We won’t go further into unnecessary details, but just want to tell you that a larger number means that a jacket is more breathable. Most of the jacket we reviewed are in the range of 3000-5000 g/m2/24h, meaning they have modest breathability.
There are jackets out there that have ratings that are much higher than this (for example lighter softshell jackets), but then you get a problem with waterproofing. Jackets that can do both (like the Gore-Tex or similar materials we mentioned) are on the upper end of the price scale unfortunately. The thing is finding a good balance in all these ratings, so you get the protection and comfort you deserve, without ruining your budget along the way.
Some of the best snow jackets on the market come with plenty of additional features that not only increase the jacket’s functionality, but also improves the comfort and convenience when wearing it the whole day. Unlike your everyday jacket, some features are pretty specific for snowboard jackets and other jackets designed to tackle winter. Some of these features include a hood, waterproof pockets, underarm vents, powder skirts, and many others. Take a look at what each of them can give you.
When it comes to hoods, snowboarders are generally pretty divided. Some people like to hoods on a jacket because it gives them additional protection from bad weather, especially if the hood can fit over the helmet. Others say that they are already protected enough with their helmet, and that the hood only annoys them. We think that having a hood is a useful addition since it gives the jacket added versatility, but it’s certainly a huge bonus if it can be removed (or stowed in the collar) when you don’t need it.
One of the things that are particularly useful to snowboarders is a powder skirt (snow skirt, waist gaiter). This is an elastic skirt on the inside of the jacket that goes around your waist and prevents snow from going up the jacket and making you wet. In addition, some skirts can be attached to your ski pants, so you can make sure there is no space in between where snow or cold air can come in. It’s also nice if you can remove the skirt from your jacket when you want to wear the jacket casually.
Pockets are an essential part of every jacket, and even more so on jackets made for winter sports. They add to the practicality, allowing you to bring some smaller items with you. However, pockets on snowboard jackets need to have waterproof zippers so you can safely store your stuff. It’s also very useful if they have flap covers over that prevents the chance of leaking into the pocket.
Most jackets we talked about have pockets both on the outside and the inside, and the inside pockets are useful for valuables (wallet, mobile phone). Many also have chest or sleeve pockets designed to fit a ski pass, so you can easily access it and get on the ski lift. When they need increased storage, some snowboarders even wear a waterproof backpack because it gives them more options. Still, we would argue that you should get a jacket with plenty of pockets because you might need them at one point.
Cuff design is very important when it comes to snowboard jackets, because nobody likes it when snow gets up their sleeve. This is why you should look for adjustable cuffs that can be tightened around your wrist. Of course, it’s even better if the cuffs have thumb loops that prevent the sleeves from moving and sliding up. The design of the cuff will also determine whether or not you can wear a waterproof watch when on the snow, which many people like to do.
When it comes to your personal comfort, we must mention the underarm vents. We think that this is a fantastic addition, and many jackets we featured have this option. Basically, it’s a zipper in the armpit area which you unzip to uncover a mesh window and quickly let the heat out when you need to cool down. This is particularly useful to those of you who are very active on the snow, and those that get sweaty easily and need a way to cool.
Finally, we want to mention a safety feature that many jackets come with nowadays. A Recco reflector is a passive unit in your jacket that doesn’t require any maintenance from your part. It serves as a locating beacon for the rescue services to locate you quickly using a Recco detector, in case you get buried under the snow (a plus if you’re one of those who like to venture off-piste).
Fit and Style
When talking about fit, snowboarders usually prefer regular and looser (baggy) jackets. There are several reasons for this, but the main one is that you often use your hands to keep balance and maneuver the snowboard, and you need to be able to move them without the jacket constricting you. Also, a looser fit allows you to layer clothing underneath and allow you to adjust the warmth level to the current conditions. Slim fit jackets are not best suited for snowboarders – they are mainly used by backcountry and technical skiers, so we won’t be discussing them here.
For most jackets we featured, you’ll be able to find a sizing chart on the manufacturer’s webpage to guide you through the selection process. Keep in mind that the sleeves also need to be long enough, and that a longer jacket back can give you added protection when sitting down on the ground.
Snowboard jackets are usually a bit longer than your standard ski jackets – they go from a few inches below the hip, to the mid-thigh area. However, this mainly depends on your personal preference. Some of the best snowboarding jackets come with adjustable hems, cuffs and hoods, so you can customize the fit however you like it.
Durability and Quality
Most snowboard jackets are fairly tough pieces of clothing, because they need to withstand a lot of falls and scratches. Some jackets even advertise as being made of non-tear fabric, so you don’t have to worry about the jacket getting ripped open the first time you end up on the ground.
However, how durable a jacket will be is difficult to say. It’s certainly smart to go with a well-known snowboard jacket brand, but this can also be pretty expensive and it doesn’t always guarantee you’re getting the best option. There are many lesser-known brands that are trying to find their way into the market and offer a very high quality level for a decent amount of money.
Our advice is to take all the things we suggested so far into consideration, and also read opinions of other users to see whether or not they had any problems with it. Also, it’s a big plus if the manufacturer offers a generous warranty period after the purchase, so you can have peace of mind if something happens. Finally, if you want the jacket to last for many years, you need to take care of it. Clean it after use, dry it off and keep it in a dry and ventilated place to get the most of it in the years to come.
Q: Are Snowboard Jackets Warm?
A: This mainly depends on the type of jacket you get. Snowboarder coats will protect you from water and wind, but not all of them are equally warm. It depends on the material used to make the jacket, as well as whether or not the jacket comes with insulation.
A good insulated 3-in-1 jacket can go a long way in terms of warmth, not just in terms of snowboarding. These are going to be great on the slopes, but also have the added versatility so you can use them for other winter activities – winter camping for example. To conclude, not all of them are warm, so you need to pay attention when buying. If you’re a recreational snowboarder, we would certainly advise that you get an insulated jacket.
Q: Are Snowboard Jackets Waterproof?
A: Yes, they are. However, as we mentioned earlier in the text, they aren’t waterproof to the same extent. Some will protect you from light rain and snow, while others are similar to waterproof jackets and are able to withstand heavy rainfall. Always be sure to check the waterproof rating (if available), since it can give you valuable information on what you can expect.
In addition, there are many waterproofing sprays available that can help repel water from any material, including snowboard jackets. This can be helpful if you already own a jacket that has been known to leak from time to time, and you want to make it perform better. Finally, make sure you know the difference between water-resistant and waterproof, so you know what to look for when looking for best snowboarding jackets.
Q: Do I Need A Powder Skirt Inside My Jacket?
A: Yes. You could live without it, but your day on the snow will be much easier if you have it. This feature is even more useful to snowboarders than traditional skiers, so you should definitely think about it. Because of the way boarders sit down and fall, a snow skit is essential to keeping the snow out of your jacket.
This addition is really easy to adjust, and many jackets nowadays give you the option of removing it if you don’t want/need it. As we suggested earlier, it’s useful when it can be snapped into the pants, so it prevents the jacket from moving and creates a protective barrier against snow and wind.
Q: What Is The Difference Between A Ski And A Snowboard Jacket?
A: Basically, these jackets are very similar, with only slight differences that make your primary activity easier. Of course, they can be used interchangeably if you enjoy both activities. This being said, there are often some small differences in the design, even though the materials and features are often the same.
Unlike skiers, snowboarders like a looser-fitting jacket that can follow their body and arm movements without restraining them. Ski jackets are often slimmer to allow for swifter, more aerodynamic movement on the skis. Furthermore, snowboard jackets are often longer in the back, for added protection. But, as we said, there are many universal ski snowboard jackets out there that are going to perform well regardless of your favorite snow activity.
Globo Surf Overview
A jacket is a vital piece of your equipment when getting out on the snow. You must be aware that mountain conditions can be very unforgiving, and a good snowboard jacket is a barrier that protects you from the elements and allows you to enjoy your holiday. As you had the chance to see, different types of jackets are available, to cater to the needs of every individual snowboarder.
We did our best to give you advice on how to determine what’s going to work the best for you, so we hope we made your choice easier. There are many great jackets featured in our reviews, and, as long as you know what you need on the snow, we’re sure you won’t be disappointed.
- How To Buy Ski/Snowboard Jackets, theskibum.com
- The Key Specs to Look Out For In a Snowboard Jacket, snowboardingprofiles.com
- How to Buy Outerwear for Skiing & Snowboarding by Region, evo.com
- The Difference Between Ski and Snowboard Clothing, trespass.com
Globo Surf Snowboard Jackets Reviews