An Expert Guide to North Face Women's Ski JacketsPublished on 07/14/2023 · 16 min readStay warm and stylish on the slopes with our expert guide to North Face women's ski jackets. Discover the top picks for ultimate performance and protection.
Photo by Elizabeth H.
TL;DR: When buying a The North Face women's ski jacket, there are many factors to consider: insulation level, fit, waterproofing, jacket length, and ideal budget. All of these factors are influenced by your typical weather conditions as well as personal warmth and style preferences. Look for specific features like GORE-TEX, FUTURELIGHT, or DryVent technology for superior weather protection and waterproof breathability; Thermoball insulation for warmth; and women-specific fits for comfort.
I’m Elizabeth, a lifelong skier, outdoor enthusiast, and a multi-category Curated Real Expert (Skiing, Camping & Hiking, Floor Care, and Kitchen). I am one of the Apparel Experts here, and I’ve owned and tested a lot of different jackets over my 23 (and counting) years of outdoor adventures. I’m a firm believer in the “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing choices” mindset, and a good jacket is the foundation of that for me. I’ve skied (and made a few attempts at snowboarding) in jackets from The North Face for many years, specifically.
At Curated, I’ve worked with over 650 customers to help them find their perfect winter sports gear and apparel, and I hope that this guide helps you narrow down what to look for when on the hunt for the perfect jacket.
If you get to the end of this article and have questions, feel free to send me a message, and I’ll help you find the perfect jacket for your winter activities!
Why The North Face?
The North Face is an American outdoor gear and apparel company, established in 1966 in San Francisco, California. They are known for their high-quality gear, particularly their durable, weather-resistant jackets. The brand has become synonymous with extreme sports like mountaineering and outdoor adventures of all kinds. A favorite among mountaineers, skiers, hikers, and endurance runners, The North Face jackets are sought after for their comfort, warmth, and innovative designs. The company's commitment to sustainability and outdoor exploration, coupled with their top-notch craftsmanship, make a The North Face jacket a worthy investment for outdoor enthusiasts.
What to Consider When Buying a The North Face Women’s Winter Sports Jacket
1. What Level of Insulation Do You Need in Your North Face Women's Ski or Snowboard Jacket?
The insulation level you need will depend on a lot of different factors: the weather conditions you plan to be recreating in, how active you will be while wearing the jacket, and (most importantly) how well you tolerate cold temperatures. The North Face offers jackets with varying levels of insulation, from shell jackets that provide no insulation to heavy-duty down or synthetic parkas.
It is important to choose a jacket that has the right amount of insulation so that you stay warm but don’t overheat. Sweating can get dangerous in cold temperatures, so finding the balance is key. The North Face offers some great variable insulation jackets which are labeled as Triclimate jackets. These jackets will have a waterproof shell layer and an insulating mid-layer—either fleece, synthetic, or down—which can be worn together or separately to create three levels of warmth from one jacket.
2. What’s Your Size? Which Type Of Fit Do You Prefer: Standard, Relaxed, Or Slim?
The fit is another important aspect to consider as it can affect your mobility and comfort level, as well as how you look. A slim fit offers a sleek, active cut that contours to your body. A standard fit offers a good “Goldilocks” fit, not too tight and not too loose, and a relaxed fit provides room for layering or extra mobility.
Check out this comprehensive sizing guide for men and women to help you find the right size for The North Face based on your measurements. They also offer extended sizing from S-3XL for men and XS-3X for women. Remember that layering can affect sizing—if you plan to wear heavy layers underneath, you may want to size up.
3. What Climate Will You Be Wearing The Jacket In?
All The North Face ski and snowboard specific jackets are designed to withstand snowy conditions, however the level of waterproofing varies from jacket to jacket. If you'll be skiing or snowboarding in wet, heavy snow or rainy conditions, you should look for a jacket with a high waterproof rating. Staying dry is crucial to having a fun and safe day on the slopes.
Jackets that are the most waterproof are given ratings from 15,000 to 20,000mm and sometimes beyond. Waterproof fabrics are tested in a one inch diameter sealed tube, and water is added on top of it: the measurement of when water starts to come through the fabric is what the waterproofing rating is. If you adventure in drier climates, a jacket with a waterproof rating of 5,000mm should be sufficient.
4. What Is Your Preferred Jacket Length: Waist, Hip, or Thigh?
The hem length of your jacket is another factor to consider. Women’s jackets come in three common lengths: waist-length has a hemline near the body's natural waist, hip-length has a hemline that hits at the level of the hips, and thigh-length has a hemline that hits mid-thigh or lower, depending on leg length. Most ski and snowboard jackets will be hip-length, as the extra material keeps you warmer without restricting movement too much.
Waist-length jackets provide excellent mobility, but can also create a gap between your pants and jacket that can make you cold. Thigh-length jackets provide the most coverage and warmth, but start to limit your mobility, especially when skiing. Hip-length jackets are a nice in-between of the two. Your choice for hemline should balance your need for mobility, warmth, and personal style preferences.
5. What’s Your Budget? How Much Do Jackets From The North Face Cost?
The North Face sells women's ski and snowboard jackets at price points between $200 and $650. At the lower end of this range, you can expect to find basic yet high-quality insulated jackets that are perfect for many skiers and snowboarders. The North Face is a great choice for those who are getting started and looking for a good value. Mid-range jackets, typically $300 to $400, offer increased waterproofing and breathability ratings from their entry level lines, and often feature additional pockets, removable insulation, and other useful features such as goggle wipes and removable powder skirts. Jackets above $500 are typically designed for extreme conditions and feature premium materials and insulation technologies. The North Face Summit Series was designed to be top-of-the-line and ideal for mountaineering, backcountry expeditions, and adventure athletes. Consider what features you need, as well as how much you are willing to spend, when deciding your budget for a new jacket.
What Are the Types of The North Face Women’s Ski Jackets?
The North Face has a wide selection of winter sports jackets to suit one's needs and preferences. Let’s dive into the types of jackets sold by The North Face.
1. Insulated Jackets
These jackets are designed to provide warmth in cold conditions. Insulation can be made from synthetic materials or responsibly sourced down, and they come in different warmth levels.
- Provide warmth, ideal for cold climates or those who get chilled easily
- Variety of insulation levels available
- One jacket is all you need to stay warm and dry
Keep in Mind
- Too warm for spring skiing or highly physical activities like touring or mountaineering
- Not as versatile as 3-in-1 jackets, since the insulation can't be removed
Recommended: The North Face Women’s Lenado 2L Insulated Jacket
2. Shell Jackets
Shell jackets provide weather protection without added insulation. They are lightweight and highly packable, and ideal for layering, milder conditions, or high-energy activities where overheating is a concern.
- Highly versatile, allowing you to adjust your layers underneath based on the weather and your activity level
- Lighter and more packable than most insulated jackets
Keep in Mind
- No built in insulation—you are responsible for packing and wearing the right insulating layers
- Not ideal for cold weather or low-energy activities
Recommended: The North Face Women’s Ceptor 3L Jacket
3. Three-in-One Jackets
The North Face was one of the first companies to manufacture a three-in-one jacket. It is essentially an insulated jacket, except that the insulation is removable and can also be worn on its own, making them highly versatile. For the price of one jacket, you get a shell and an insulating mid-layer that can be worn together or separately.
- High versatility, as you can wear the layers together or separately to adjust to changing conditions
- Value oriented—three jackets for the price of one
Keep in Mind
- Bulkier, heavier, and less packable than other jackets
- Shell and mid-layer might not fit as well or be stylish when worn individually
4. Parkas and Anoraks
Parkas are long (think thigh-length or beyond), heavily insulated jackets designed to provide maximum warmth. They are a great choice for extremely cold weather conditions, but not ideal for ease of movement. Anorak jackets have a half-zip pullover design and are a very stylish choice, popular among snowboarders.
- Warmest option available
- Lots of pockets
Keep in Mind
- Longer hemline restricts movement
- Heavy and bulky to wear and carry around
5. Softshell Jackets
Softshell jackets are similar to shell jackets, but are made from more breathable and stretchy fabrics. Ideal for high intensity activities like cross country skiing or touring, where mobility and breathability are key. Softshells offer some water and wind resistance, but not nearly as much protection as a hardshell jacket does.
- Very breathable and offer a great range of motion
- More comfortable and quieter than hardshell jackets
Keep in Mind
- Not ideal for harsh conditions—the light water and wind resistance won’t hold up to stormy weather
- Lack of insulation: like shell jackets, you will need to pack and wear other insulating layers
Recommended: The North Face Women’s Flyweight Hoodie
Each type of jacket comes with its own variety of features, benefits, and drawbacks. The North Face has a plethora of options so you can find the perfect one for your needs. Want to chat about what jacket will work best for you? Reach out to me today!
Features to Look for in The North Face Women’s Ski Jackets
Here are some key features/technologies that you should look for in a winter sports jacket:
- GORE-TEX: A waterproof and breathable fabric membrane. It’s the original outdoor performance fabric and functions similarly to a chain link fence. Raindrops are like basketballs and cannot pass from one side to the other, while sweat vapor is like ping pong balls that can pass through with ease. If you ski or snowboard in wet snow or rainy conditions, Gore-Tex is an important technology to look for.
- Thermoball: A proprietary insulation developed by The North Face in partnership with PrimaLoft. It mimics natural down by trapping heat in small air pockets to maintain warmth. Jackets with Thermoball insulation are a great compromise between down and synthetic insulation. They have the benefit of lightweight compressibility from down, but perform well in wet conditions like a synthetic jacket.
- FUTURELIGHT: A waterproof and breathable fabric that is exclusive to The North Face. Think of it as their version of GORE-TEX. It offers superior breathability without losing waterproofing thanks to a nanomembrane and feels similar to a softshell without sacrificing any performance. FUTURELIGHT fabric is featured in many of The North Face’s highest performance jackets and has been extensively tested by their team of extreme adventure athletes.
- DryVent: Another proprietary waterproof and breathable fabric technology. It's designed to be fully waterproof, windproof, and breathable, and it comes in several different styles. DryVent 3L is made from 3 layers of fabric and is used in technical applications, such as their mid-level jackets. DryVent is also made in 2.5 and 2 layer constructions, which are used in a wide variety of their products. The 2L is the most common shell fabric for their entry level items, such as the Freedom series.
- Underarm Vents: Many ski jackets from The North Face come with underarm vents aka “pit zips.” The two-way zippers follow the underside of the arm from halfway up the bicep into the armpit and down the chest a few more inches. They’re a great way to cool down without unzipping the front of your jacket. This is great for wet and snowy days if you run warm, or for touring use.
- Powder Skirt: An elasticized fabric band that snuggly fits around your waist. They’re built into many jackets to help keep snow from going up your jacket, and some even have removable powder skirts. They’re crucial for keeping you warm and dry in deep powder, or for those who are prone to falling. I’ve been saved from a shirt full of snow by my powder skirt on many days.
- Wrist Gaiters: These function similarly to a powder skirt, but they’re designed to keep snow from entering the sleeves of your jacket. Some inner cuffs also have thumb holes which provide even more security in deep powder or if you fall.
- Helmet-Compatible Hood: These oversized hoods are built to fit over your helmet, meaning you can keep snow out of your jacket without sacrificing your safety and forgoing a helmet. I rarely ski in conditions where I want my hood up, but when a storm rolls in, I’m glad to have a helmet-compatible hood!
The North Face also integrates specific design elements in their women's ski and snowboard jackets to accommodate women’s physical characteristics and needs. Here are some features to look for:
- Women-Specific Fit: The North Face designs their women's jackets to fit a “typical” women’s body shape better, with a narrower waist and wider hip than their straight-cut men’s jackets. I have found that The North Face has a great fit on women’s bodies and is flattering yet functional.
- Pocket Placement: The North Face takes into account the different torso proportions of women when designing their women’s jackets. The pockets are placed in convenient locations that don't interfere with your natural movement, or with backpack or harness straps. This is a small detail that really makes a difference when you are on the slopes.
- Faux Fur Hoods: While not exclusive to their women's jackets, faux fur hood cuffs can be found on several winter sports jackets from The North Face. They add an extra layer of protection against the elements and offer a stylish, feminine look.
How to Choose the Right The North Face Women’s Ski Jacket for You
Let’s walk through a few real examples of customers I’ve worked with to help you narrow down what jacket is right for you!
Susan: The Cold and Casual
Needs: Susan is an experienced skier, but at age 75, she is finally starting to slow down and enjoy some casual resort skiing. She finds herself getting cold easily on the lifts and needs a jacket that will keep her as warm as possible, but she also wants something that is versatile.
Features to look for: Susan should prioritize getting a highly insulated jacket that has enough room for her to put an extra layer underneath it on colder days. She might also look for a jacket with a longer hemline to help keep her hips and thighs warmer.
Jackets to consider:
- The North Face Women's ThermoBall Eco Snow Triclimate® 2L Insulated Jacket: This is a great option to keep Susan warm on her ski days, but she can also use the shell and mid-layer on their own for around town or cross country skiing.
- The North Face Women’s Summit Breithorn Hoodie: Susan might also consider buying a down mid-layer such as this one and pairing it with a shell jacket. This combination would give her more flexibility to choose her level of insulation, as well as the warmth benefits of down.
Rebecka: The High Performance Alpinist
Needs: Rebecka loves skiing and usually tours in the Pacific Northwest. She needs a jacket that is lightweight and packable, but doesn’t sacrifice on waterproofing. Rebecka often finds herself overheated on climbs and takes her jacket off, but the weather doesn’t always allow her to do so.
Features to look for: Rebecka should look for a shell jacket with a very high waterproof rating, as well as a high breathability rating. She might also look for a jacket that has underarm ventilation and backpack-compatible pockets. Insulation is not necessary in this jacket as she already has a great layering system that she tours in.
Jackets to consider:
- The North Face Women's Summit Verbier FUTURELIGHT Jacket: This jacket is a great choice for backcountry touring. The shoulders are reinforced to be able to handle the rubbing of a backpack, and the pockets are placed so you can still access them with your pack on.
- The North Face Women's Powderflo FUTURELIGHT Shell Jacket: Another great option for backcountry adventures. It features 3-layer waterproof, breathable construction, tons of pockets, and underarm vents.
Kathleen: The Fashionable Park Queen
Needs: Kathleen has been skiing for a few years and loves to spend time in the terrain park learning new tricks and hanging out with her boyfriend who snowboards. She is looking for something that is fashionable, yet functional.
Features to look for: Kathleen should look for a jacket that is available in a color that she likes. She could opt for an insulated or shell style jacket, and she should look for waterproof and breathable fabrics and functional pockets. A powder skirt and wrist cuffs might also be helpful for her frequent falls.
Jackets to consider:
- The North Face Women's Mountain Sweatshirt Hoodie: This technical hoodie is a great option for days in the park or around town. It features a full length front zipper, welt style hand pockets, a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating, and reinforced elbow patches.
- The North Face Women's Lenado 2L Insulated Jacket: The Lenado is a great insulated option that has tons of functional pockets in a sleek and modern design. Kathleen will like that it is available in two colors and is packed full of functional features such as a powder skirt and built-in goggle wipe.
Next Steps for Choosing Your The North Face Ski Jacket
I hope that this guide has helped you learn more about what types of jackets The North Face offers, as well as what features and technologies you should look for depending on your needs and priorities.
Still unsure about which ski jacket is right for you? Please reach out to me, and I’ll help you find the perfect jacket to hit the slopes this winter and beyond!