Men's Ski & Snowboard Jackets: How to Choose the Right One for You

Published on 05/04/2023 · 13 min readThere are tons of options when it comes to ski and snowboard jackets! Snowboarding Expert Will Koons dives into what to look for in a jacket!
By Snowboarding Expert will koons

Photo by E. Katerina Bolotsova

Tl;dr Men’s ski and snowboard jackets are designed to keep athletes warm and protected during outdoor adventures. When choosing which model is best for you, consider your budget, type of conditions you ride in, and what features you’d like to have. In this article, I’ll discuss all of the ins and outs of ski and snowboarding jackets, and use the examples of real athletes I’ve helped at Curated to offer a few gear recommendations.

Hey there! I'm Will, and I'm stoked to be your guide in finding the best men's ski and snowboard jacket. Having spent over a decade working in the ski and snowboard industry, and hitting the slopes for more than 20 years, I've become a bit of a jacket connoisseur.

But my love for snow sports doesn't end at carving down the mountain. At Curated, I'm all about helping others find the perfect gear to make their ride an absolute blast. With experience as a ski guide and shop owner, I've learned the value of not just picking the right equipment, but also making sure it fits like a glove for peak performance and comfort.

Whether you're a seasoned veteran or just dipping your toes into the snow, I'm here to share my expertise and passion with you—making sure you snag the ski and snowboard jacket that's tailor-made for your needs.

What Is a Men’s Ski and Snowboard Jacket?

A men's ski/snowboard jacket is your trusty outerwear buddy who’s specifically designed to keep you warm, comfy, and protected during your outdoor escapades. These jackets are crafted to be waterproof, breathable, and insulated—shielding you from unforgiving elements like snow, wind, and chilly temperatures.

What sets a men's ski/snowboard jacket apart from others is a design, fit, and style that cater to the male physique. Men's jackets are thoughtfully tailored to fit broader shoulders and longer torsos, and feature more generous armholes compared to their female counterparts. This attention to detail ensures you'll feel comfortable and well-fitted as you conquer the slopes.

What to Consider When Buying a Men’s Jacket

How Much Should a Men's Snow Jacket Cost?

The price spectrum for men's ski/snowboard jackets is wide, ranging from around $100—$1000+. Think about your budget and the features that matter most to you to find the perfect balance between cost and performance.

Lower price points will cover the basics, such as waterproofing, breathability, and insulation. Though as you go up the price ladder, you'll find jackets with more advanced technical features (powder skirts, cinching cuffs, taped seams, etc), higher-quality materials (3L GORE-TEX stretch fabric for example), and a prestigious brand reputation (think Patagonia, North Face, etc).

What Level of Waterproofing and Breathability Do You Need?

Staying dry and comfortable on the slopes is essential. Waterproof (10k-20k+ mm) and breathability (10k-20k+ g) ratings can vary significantly, with higher numbers indicating better performance. Make your choice based on the weather conditions you're likely to encounter, your activity level, and personal preferences.

What Type of Insulation Is Best for You?

When it comes to insulation, you have two primary options: down and synthetic materials. Down boasts an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio but may not keep you warm when wet. Synthetic insulation, on the other hand, is less compressible but keeps you warm even in damp conditions. Take your priorities (warmth, weight, packability) and the weather conditions into account when making your decision.

Do You Need More Than One Jacket?

If you ski or snowboard in varying conditions or require different levels of insulation, owning multiple jackets might be a smart move. As someone who spends a lot of time riding in different locations and conditions, I have accumulated a fleet of jackets over the years.

I use a heavy duty shell, a softshell, and a lighter-weight shell regularly, depending on the conditions. If you don’t want to shell out for multiple jackets, a versatile 3-in-1 jacket with a removable insulating layer offers adaptability to changing temperatures and conditions.

Do You Want a Snowboard-Specific Jacket?

Snowboard-specific jackets often feature a looser, longer fit, allowing for greater freedom of movement and catering to style preferences. While not a necessity, snowboarders may appreciate these design elements. Ultimately, ski and snowboard jackets offer similar functionality, so choose based on what feels comfortable, suits your style, and matches your intended use.

What Are the Types of Ski & Snowboard Jackets?

Photo by Greg Rosenke

There are several types of men's ski/snowboard jackets, each designed to cater to different preferences, performance needs, and weather conditions.

1. Insulated Jackets

Imagine slipping into a cozy, all-in-one jacket that wraps you in warmth and protection like a comforting hug. That's precisely what jackets with built-in insulation (down or synthetic) have to offer. They are ideal for those who prefer a single, all-encompassing garment to brave the cold.


  • Provides built-in warmth, eliminating the need for additional layers
  • Suitable for cold conditions, offering protection from the elements
  • Available in various insulation types and weights to cater to individual needs

Keep in Mind:

  • Less versatile in changing temperatures, as insulation cannot be removed or adjusted
  • Can cause overheating during high-intensity activities or in warmer conditions

2. Shell Jackets

Shells are lightweight, waterproof, and breathable jackets that give you the freedom to layer up as you please. These versatile wonders are perfect for those who love to mix and match their layers to create the ideal temperature control system tailored to their activities and preferences.


  • Lightweight and versatile, allowing for custom layering based on weather and activity
  • Offers excellent protection from wind and moisture
  • Suitable for a wide range of conditions and activities

Keep in Mind:

  • Requires proper layering to achieve optimal warmth
  • Can be less warm than insulated jackets if not layered appropriately

3. Softshell Jackets

Softshell jackets strike a delicate balance between a shell and an insulated jacket, providing just the right amount of warmth, water resistance, and breathability. They're the go-to choice for mild to moderate conditions or high-intensity adventures where overheating is a concern.


  • Provides moderate warmth, water resistance, and breathability
  • Ideal for mild to moderate conditions or high-intensity activities
  • Comfortable and flexible, allowing for freedom of movement

Keep in Mind:

  • Not as waterproof or wind-resistant as hardshell jackets
  • May not provide adequate warmth or protection in extreme conditions

4. 3-in-1 Jackets

3-in-1 jackets, also known as system or component jackets, adjust like a chameleon to your ever-changing needs. These adaptable marvels feature an outer waterproof shell and a removable insulating inner layer, typically made of fleece or synthetic insulation. Wear them separately or combined to conquer the elements.


  • Offers the most versatility, with separate layers that can be worn together or independently
  • Adaptable to changing temperatures and conditions
  • Often more cost-effective than purchasing separate jackets

Keep in Mind:

  • Can be bulkier and heavier compared to other jacket types
  • May not offer the same level of performance as specialized jackets

5. Parkas

Parkas are longer, insulated jackets that keep you toasty by extending protection to your lower back and buttocks. They’re ideal for colder conditions, or for those who crave a longer fit for added style and coziness.


  • Provides extra coverage and warmth, particularly for the lower back and buttocks
  • Suitable for colder conditions or for those who prefer a longer fit
  • Stylish and functional, offering protection and fashion appeal

Keep in Mind:

  • Can be too warm or bulky for some activities or conditions
  • Limited mobility due to their longer length

6. Technical Jackets

Technical, high-performance jackets are the crème de la crème of ski and snowboard outerwear. Designed for advanced enthusiasts, these jackets boast premium materials, cutting-edge waterproofing and breathability, and specialized features that cater to your every need on the mountain. While they may come with a heftier price tag, the performance and durability they offer are unmatched.


  • High-performance jackets with premium materials and advanced features
  • Offers superior waterproofing, breathability, and durability
  • Designed to cater to the needs of advanced skiers and snowboarders

Keep in Mind:

  • Often more expensive than other jacket types
  • May be overkill for casual or beginner skiers and snowboarders who don't require advanced features

Features to Look for in Men’s Ski and Snowboard Jackets

Photo by Fanny Rascale

The right features and cutting-edge technologies can truly elevate your skiing or snowboarding escapades to new heights. So, when shopping for men's ski/snowboard jackets, consider the following features and technologies to ensure optimal performance, comfort, and protection on the slopes:

  • Waterproofing: Look for jackets with a waterproof rating of at least 10,000 mm. Higher ratings (20,000 mm+) offer better protection in wet conditions. Technologies like GORE-TEX, or proprietary fabrics from various brands provide excellent waterproofing.
  • Breathability: Choose jackets with a breathability rating of at least 10,000 g to prevent overheating and moisture buildup. Higher breathability ratings (20,000 g+) improve moisture management during high-intensity activities. GORE-TEX and other proprietary membranes can enhance breathability as well.
  • Insulation: Determine whether you prefer down or synthetic insulation, considering factors like warmth, weight, packability, and performance when wet.
  • Sealed Seams: Fully taped or sealed seams prevent moisture from seeping through the stitching, ensuring the jacket remains waterproof.
  • Venting System: Look for jackets with zippered vents—usually located under the arms or on the chest—to allow for temperature regulation and moisture management during physical activities.
  • Powder Skirt: A powder skirt is an elasticized band that prevents snow from entering the jacket, keeping you dry and warm.
  • Wrist Gaiters: Wrist gaiters are elastic cuffs with thumb holes that cover your wrists and prevent snow from entering your jacket sleeves.
  • Adjustable, Helmet-Compatible Hood: A hood that can be adjusted for a secure fit and is large enough to accommodate a helmet provides extra protection from wind and snow.
  • Pockets: Multiple pockets—including internal and external options—are useful for storing essentials like your phone, ski pass, goggles, and snacks.
  • RECCO Reflector: Some jackets come equipped with a RECCO reflector, which is a safety feature that helps rescue teams locate you in the event of an avalanche.
  • Durable Water Repellent (DWR) Coating: A DWR treatment on the outer fabric helps repel water and keep the jacket dry, prolonging its lifespan and effectiveness.

Features to Avoid in Men’s Ski and Snowboard Jackets

While most features in men's snow jackets aim to enhance performance and comfort, there are some aspects you may want to avoid, depending on your preferences and needs:

  • Bulky Designs: Some jackets can be overly bulky or heavy, making it difficult to move freely while skiing or snowboarding. Opt for jackets with a streamlined design that allow for a comfortable range of motion.
  • Poorly Placed Vents: Vents that are difficult to access or do not provide adequate airflow may not effectively regulate your body temperature. Look for jackets with well-placed, easily accessible vents to ensure proper ventilation.
  • Non-Adjustable or Non-Detachable Hoods: Hoods that cannot be adjusted or removed may not fit well with helmets or may feel restrictive. Opt for jackets with adjustable and helmet-compatible hoods for a more comfortable fit and increased protection.
  • Non-Breathable Materials: Jackets made of non-breathable fabrics (such as PVC rain gear) can cause excessive sweating and overheating during physical activities. Choose jackets with breathable materials and adequate ventilation to maintain comfort on the slopes.
  • Low-Quality Zippers or Closures: Poorly constructed zippers or closures can compromise the jacket's performance and durability. Look for jackets with high-quality, durable zippers and closures to ensure long-lasting protection.

How to Choose the Right Jacket for You

Photo by PXFuel

With so many options on the market, selecting the perfect ski/snowboarding jacket may seem difficult. But by carefully considering the features you need, your skiing or snowboarding style, and the conditions you will encounter, you can more easily narrow down your choices. Below are three different types of athletes I’ve helped at Curated, and the key factors I considered before suggesting the proper jacket for them.

Andrew: A Beginner Snowboarder

Andrew is just learning to snowboard. He’s been a few times over the years but now he wants to invest in his own gear. He really enjoys snowboarding, but it isn’t his whole life. He needs a jacket that is warm and comfortable but affordable and versatile enough that it can be used for more than just snowboarding.

Features Andrew should look for:

  • As a beginner, insulation and waterproofing should be at the top of Andrew’s list in order to not have to worry about layering systems
  • Wrist gaiters to keep snow and cold air from entering through the sleeves
  • Integrated snow skirt to help keep snow out of the jacket and provide extra warmth on the slopes

Jacket examples:

Trent: A Freestyle Enthusiast

Trent has been riding for years and loves doing tricks. He spends most of his time in the terrain park or hitting natural features around the mountain. He needs a jacket that has a lot of flexibility and mobility for his riding style. As a park rider, he also takes a lot of slams and needs a jacket that is durable and will stand up to a lot of abuse. Occasionally Trent will also hike rails so a jacket that is very breathable is a must-have. Features Trent should look for:

  • Stretch fabric construction to ensure mobility while hucking tricks in the terrain park
  • Ventilation zippers for enhanced breathability
  • Reinforced impact areas to keep up with Trent’s hard riding style

Jacket examples:

Max: A Backcountry Adventurer

Max spends most of his season hiking in the backcountry chasing fresh lines. Every ounce counts when you hike uphill so Max needs a lightweight, packable jacket that will provide ample weather protection in the mountains. Max also needs ample venting, pockets for gear, and technical features like harness and helmet compatibility.

Features Max should look for:

  • High-quality waterproof and breathable materials to be prepared for all weather conditions in the backcountry
  • Harness-compatible pockets that are strategically placed to remain accessible while wearing a harness or backpack, ensuring easy access to essentials during backcountry trips
  • Packability to maximize every ounce and cubic inch, as Max often has to carry his gear uphill

Jacket examples:

Chat With a Real Expert

We've covered a variety of needs and preferences for men's ski and snowboard jackets, from beginners to freestyle enthusiasts and backcountry adventurers. So when shopping, remember to consider your specific needs and look for features that cater to your style of riding.

If you feel you need further assistance in making the right decision, reach out to a Curated Ski and Snowboard Expert, like me! We offer free, customized advice to help you find the perfect jacket for whatever winter adventure you have planned!

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Have a question about the article you just read or want personal recommendations? Connect with a Curated expert and get free recommendations for whatever you’re looking for!
Written by:
will koons, Snowboarding Expert
will koons
Snowboarding Expert
As a life long outdoor enthusiast I have been skiing and snowboarding since age 3 and I also love to climb, paddle, surf and skydive. I love playing outside and chatting with people about gear..Consider me your on-demand concierge for all things gear related!

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