The 12 Best Ski Jacket Brands
Looking for the right jacket to hit the slopes with? Ski Expert Elizabeth H. gives you the top brands to give a look while on the search for your new jacket.
Getting ready for a powder day on the slopes takes a lot of preparation. You have probably heard of the “there’s no bad weather, only bad clothing” mindset…and it’s true. Wearing the right apparel can make or break your ski day. So let’s break down 12 of the best ski jacket brands to help you narrow down your decision. If you want help finding the best ski clothing, chat with a Curated Expert today!
Originally founded in 1989 as a brand called Rock Solid, Arc’teryx re-branded to their current form in 1991 with a goal to produce high-quality outerwear and climbing gear. Well known for being a luxury brand with a price point to match, Arc’teryx makes all of their harnesses and backpacks as well as some apparel in their own factory in British Columbia, Canada. But as their apparel line has expanded, they have increased manufacturing globally.
Arc’teryx caters to the high-end customer; their price points are significantly higher than many other outdoor brands of a similar quality. They are well known for their use of GORE-TEX fabrics—such as GORE-TEX Pro and GORE-TEX Infinium—as well as revolutionary waterproofing and insulating materials.
Recommendation: Men’s Rush Jacket
Columbia is known for making affordable gear that is still high quality. They focus on casual skiers who need gear that will keep them warm and dry without breaking the bank. Founded in 1938 in Portland, Oregon as Columbia Hat Company, Columbia has grown into a world-wide brand. They sponsored several freestyle ski teams at the 2014 Sochi Olympics as well as outfitting teams (including the USA, Canada, Ukraine, and Brazil) at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang.
They are best known for their Omni-Heat technology that uses metallic dots to reflect body heat back at the wearer. Originally released in 2010, Omni-Heat has been upgraded into several different versions—most recently as Omni-Heat Infinity. Columbia was also one of the first brands to expand their size range to include plus sizes.
Recommendation: Columbia Men's Whirlibird IV Interchange Insulated Jacket
Flylow started with a pair of Colorado natives, Greg Steen and Dan Abrams, who were on a quest to make the perfect pair of ski pants for the backcountry. They found that gear was either built for mountaineering or for ski resorts—neither of which was ideal for their backcountry telemark touring. So they set out to build the best touring clothes possible. Their first products, the Cactus Pant and the Black Coat (which aptly came in one color), debuted in 2005. Since then, they’ve steadily built a cult following around their no-nonsense, reliable gear and have grown the company across the western U.S.
Sustainability has been a cornerstone of their brand, and they are committed to taking action such as only using recycled or environmentally friendly fabrics and treatments and maintaining transparency throughout their manufacturing process. Cult favorites include the Foxy and Moxie Bibs but expand across the skiing spectrum from insulated resort wear all the way to dedicated backcountry apparel.
Recommended: Flylow Men's Quantum Pro Jacket
As one of the oldest outerwear companies on the market, Helly Hansen is well known for their high-quality outerwear. Founded in 1877 by sea captain Helly Juell Hansen to help protect his sailors from the harsh Norwegian elements, they first launched waterproof jackets and pants made from linen that was soaked in linseed oil.
HH has continued to innovate technical apparel throughout the years. They are the number-one apparel brand worn by ski professionals and still maintain their sailing heritage with a line of sailing clothing. Helly Hansen introduced the first technical base layer to the industry in 1970 with the LIFA fabric, which remains standard in their baselayers today. Helly Tech, a waterproof and breathable fabric, was launched in 1984 and has evolved into a proprietary and sustainable yet high-performance material today. In 2018, they launched LifaLloft: an insulation from Primaloft that is 20% lighter but just as warm as traditional Primaloft fibers.
Helly Hansen‘s fit leans towards a euro-style, slimmer cut and their longer hems, sleeves, and inseams tend to fit best on those who are long and lean. They also cater towards higher-end customers and those looking for apparel that can handle extreme adventure.
Recommendation: Helly Hansen Men's Alpha 3.0 Jacket
Norrona is a Norwegian apparel brand that was founded in 1929 by Jørgen Jørgensen, on a search for durable outerwear that could perform in Norway’s harsh and rugged climate. Four generations of Jørgensens later, Norrona is still family owned and operated. Their in-house team of designers works tirelessly to bring in the highest quality of functional products to market. They were also the first company to utilize GORE-TEX fabric in Europe.
Their wide range of clothing has product lines designed for almost any sport from climbing to skiing to cycling to surfing. They also make a variety of backpacks and other accessories. Norrona caters to a wide variety of athletes and sportsmen and was one of the first companies to popularize bright, flashy colors in their outerwear. Their collections are named after the locations they were designed for use in, such as the Lofoten Collection—ideal for big-mountain freeride skiing in Lofoten, Norway.
Recommendation: Norrona Women's lofoten GORE-TEX insulated Jacket
Founded in 1947 on the ski slopes of Aspen, Colorado, Overmyer has long been synonymous with innovation and creating durable ski clothing for anyone. They boast a long line of manufacturing firsts in the ski industry such as the first down ski parka, double lens goggles, and tapered and dual-tapered aluminum poles. Another durable technology of theirs is the “I Grow” series, an extendable length jacket and pants for kids. They rigorously test each of their products in Aspen to this day and have created highly functional garments for the whole family. These include all shapes and sizes, from base layers to top-of-the-line ski jackets and pants.
Their sustainability story reaches back to their main office in Aspen, an award-winning “green” complex built in 1980. The Obermeyer ski product range encompasses a wide variety of fit styles, warmth levels, and waterproofing perfect for almost anyone. Some key technologies include: Thermal Zone Distribution, which helps keep down where it’s supposed to be; as well as Control Zone Ventilation (CSV), which helps keep the wearer at the ideal temperature with a combination of breathability and carefully placed pit zips and thigh vents.
Recommendation: Obermeyer Men's Foundation Jacket
Outdoor Research’s story begins in 1980, with a failed expedition to the summit of Denali. The trip ended with the failure of a simple pair of gaiters. So, founder Ron Gregg decided then and there to not go back to his old job as a nuclear physicist and instead devote his work to his true passion, the outdoors. Their first product was the X-Gaiter, a functional and insulated gaiter that was snug but worked with a variety of boots and prioritized durability. And this research-lead approach to problem solving still defines the OR method today.
Outdoor Research is focused on made-in-USA products; a majority of their items are manufactured in Seattle, Washington or El Monte, California. This allows them to control every aspect of the production to increase speed and efficiency while maintaining high-quality products and a commitment to sustainability.
Some of OR’s notable technologies include SuperStrand, a proprietary synthetic insulation made of—you guessed it—strands! This keeps the insulation where you want it and boasts one of the best warmth-to-weight ratios. The Helium series is a highly durable yet lightweight down jacket collection that utilizes a Pertex shell to protect its down baffles. OR has committed to diversifying the outdoor spaces and that is apparent in their ambassador team, which includes plus size and POC community builders and elite athletes.
Recommendation: Outdoor Research Women's Helium Down Hoodie
Patagonia was founded in Ventura, California, in 1973 by Yvon Chouinard—an accomplished rock climber who started making gear to fulfill his own high-performance needs. Patagonia recently made headlines in September 2022 after transferring the ownership to a trust called the Patagonia Purpose Trust—with the intention to use all profits to address climate change and protect land. Though this move wasn’t made without some controversy surrounding it, as it allows Chouinard to avoid taxes while still maintaining control of the company.
Patagonia has always been focused on environmental issues and was one of the first major companies to introduce a used gear resale program called Worn Wear. Today, customers can still trade in their used Patagonia merchandise in exchange for store credit.
Some of their key technologies include the Nano Puff, which is a recycled prima loft insulation, and 100% recycled down jackets and vests made from old fishing nets. Patagonia caters to skiers looking to transition from the boardroom to the chairlift with ease, and their vests are well known to be popular amongst financial executives.
Recommendation: Women’s Nano Puff Jacket
Founded in the French Alps in 2008 by three friends, Jeremy, Julien, and Vincent, who were ready to tackle a new dream, Picture Organic was built on a 100% commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainability. And that eco-conscious focus is woven into the brand itself. Picture Organic products are made from 100% responsibly sourced materials—including recycled, organic, and biosourced fabrics. Over the years, they have slowly transitioned from all recycled materials to a focus on biosourced polyester made from sugar cane.
Picture Organics motto—“ride, protect, share”—has led them to always push one step ahead of the curve in terms of minimizing their impact on the environment. The textile industry is one of the world's largest polluters, and Picture has continuously pushed to reduce their own impact as well as encourage the apparel industry as a whole to reconsider their manufacturing decisions. Picture Organic has also launched rental programs at resorts across Europe to increase accessibility and reduce the environmental impacts of having appropriate ski apparel for once-a-season users.
Recommendation: Picture Organic Women's Exa Insulated Jacket
Spyder was founded in 1978 in the Boulder, Colorado, kitchen of David L. Jacobs. He was inspired by the lack of variety for clothing when his sons were competing on the ski race circuit. Now, Spider has been partnering with the U.S. Ski Team since 1989, as well as with the Canadian Alpine Ski Team in 2002 and Jamaica in 2009.
Spyder is a brand that focuses on enhancing the ski experience on and off the mountain, offering a variety of technical ski apparel as well as fitness, swim, and lifestyle apparel for all ages. Some of their best-selling women’s ski jackets feature removable fur hood cuffs and feminine silhouettes—combining fashion and function. They utilize many technologies such as PrimaLoft Black, Gold Insulation, YKK waterproof zippers, and functional features like goggle pockets, powder skirts, and helmet-compatible hoods.
Recommendation: Spyder Men's Copper Jacket
Strafe was founded by twin brothers John and Pete Gaston in 2009. It all started with an obsession with a place called Highland Bowl in Aspen, Colorado. The unique demands of that specific area created the need for highly waterproof, breathable fabrics in a mobile fit that could handle a full day of hard charging. Their first product line was launched in 2010, offering technical jackets, pants, and one-piece outfits in a new, distinctly Strafe style.
Because the brand was founded by athletes, Strafe focuses on making gear that is built for athletes who want to ski, ride, and explore as much as they possibly can. Strafe also focuses on building a mountain community to celebrate the beauty of snow sports while minimizing their environmental impact, promoting inclusivity, and trying to make the world a better place. With a distinct cut and style, Strafe jackets are high-quality and cater towards a younger crowd who wants to focus on fashion and functionality. They offer a great range of clothing good for touring the backcountry or riding the lifts.
Recommendation: Strafe Men's Hayden Jacket
The North Face
The North Face was founded in 1966 by Doug Tompkins in a small shop in San Francisco as a brand designed to improve outdoor gear performance. In 1969, they released the Rucksack— one of the first internal-frame backpacks which helped to create backpacking as we know it today. The North Face has consistently been at the forefront of environmental and social justice issues as well as cutting edge technology (like introducing GORE-TEX outerwear in 1977).
Their athlete team consists of everyone from world renowned climbers like Alex Honnold to disabled skiers like Vasu Sojitra and many other incredible athletes across the outdoor sports spectrum. Some of their key technologies include Futurelight—their own waterproof and breathable membrane technology—and Thermoball, a synthetic down alternative that mimics the shape of down clusters. Ideal for cold and wet conditions, this material insulates when wet without losing the lightweight compressibility of down. The North Face makes an incredible range of products at any price point from entry-level beginners skiing at the resort all the way up to high-level mountaineering gear.
Recommendation: The North Face Women's ThermoBall Eco Snow Triclimate Jacket
Ski apparel is a deeply personal and specific choice to make and I hope that this article helped narrow down the plethora of choices that are available.
Still feeling overwhelmed at the number of ski jacket options? I’m always happy to chat about apparel options. We can discuss pros and cons of each brand and tailor recommendations to your location and personal style preferences. Hope to see you on the slopes in some fresh new fits!