An Expert Guide to 686 JacketsPublished on 07/13/2023 · 10 min readDiscover the world of 686 jackets with our expert guide. Find the perfect combination of style, performance, and durability for your winter adventures.
Photo courtesy of 686
TL;DR: When buying 686 snowboard jackets, your main considerations should be waterproofing, breathability, insulation, and fit. You can further narrow down your options by considering unique 686 technologies like infiDRY fabric, SMARTY 3-in-1 system, Thermagraph insulation, Hydrastash, and Vader Vents.
Hiya! My name is Gaelen, and over the past 11 years, I’ve spent my winters snowboarding with an average of 50+ days a season. You might call me a cold-weather fanatic. The key to enjoying cold weather activities like snowboarding always comes down to the right outerwear, with jackets being one of the most important pieces! Luckily for you, I’ve gained extensive knowledge of outerwear tech through personal experience and by helping thousands of customers online as a Snowboarding Expert at Curated.
Today I’ll be sharing this outerwear knowledge, focusing on 686 snowboard jackets!
686 was founded in 1992 in Southern California as a technical apparel brand. Over the past three decades, they’ve been recognized as a reputable brand specializing in snowboarding and skiing apparel. 686 is based around “innovation, people, and purpose,” and this idea is displayed throughout the brand. They have brought many innovative technologies to their apparel, they’re a climate-neutral company, and their products are all tested out in the field by athletes who contribute to improving these products using real-world data.
What to Consider When Buying a 686 Snowboard Jacket
1. Does 686 produce professional-level jackets?
686 produces many options for professional-level jackets that are both waterproof and breathable, meaning they can handle extreme wintery conditions. 686 jackets feature infiDRY or GORE-TEX technologies, which offer varying levels of waterproofing and breathability. The amount of each that you'll actually need depends on the typical weather conditions at your local resort and your personal preferences. I’ll explore these technologies later, so take some time to ponder what level of waterproofing and breathability you’ll need.
2. Is a More Expensive Jacket a Better Jacket?
No, absolutely not. While it is true that you get what you pay for, that adage only applies to a certain extent. Any jacket from the 686 is going to be a great jacket, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be a great jacket for you. It’s far more important to choose a jacket with the correct waterproofing and breathability you need, as well as extra features you’ll actually use.
3. Which Jacket Size is Best for You?
I think it goes without saying that having a jacket that fits properly is crucial for comfort and mobility. 686 offers jackets in different sizes and also different fits such as “articulated,” “modern,” “performance,” and “wide.” Therefore you should take some time to think about how big you want your jacket to be and how you want it to fit. You might even consider trying on a few different styles. You can also get a better idea of 686 jacket sizing by checking out this
686's size chart as a reference.
4. How Much Should a 686 Jacket Cost?
686 jacket prices can vary a TON depending on which one you’re considering for their 2023 collection. Jackets range from about $180 to $500 in price, but most male and female jackets will fall into the $200-$350 range. While still pricey, 686 jackets are considerably less expensive than other leading brands, such as The North Face, whose jackets start at $250 and go all the way up to $650+.
What Are the Types of 686 Snowboard Jackets?
1. DWR (Durable Water Repellent)
DWR jackets have a water-repellent coating, which helps them shed light rain and snow. These jackets are suitable for mild conditions or as a light shell layer. However, they don't offer the same level of waterproofing and breathability as the other options and shouldn’t be considered as a standalone jacket for harsh winters.
- They are lightweight and packable, making them easy to carry around
- Suitable for mild conditions or as a shell layer
Keep in Mind:
- Not as waterproof or breathable as other options
- Not ideal for heavy rain, snow, or colder conditions
GORE-TEX jackets provide excellent waterproofing and breathability, ensuring you stay dry and comfortable in various weather conditions. These jackets feature a GORE-TEX membrane, which is known for its high performance and durability in even the gnarliest conditions. This makes them ideal for demanding riders and the harshest conditions.
- Outstanding waterproofing and breathability
- Highly durable
- Suitable for harsh weather conditions and demanding riders
Keep in Mind:
- Typically more expensive compared to other options
- Unnecessary for milder conditions or casual rider
3. infiDRY 10K
infiDRY 10K jackets have a 10,000mm waterproof rating and a 10,000gm breathability rating. These jackets are suitable for moderate conditions, providing good protection from snow and rain while still allowing moisture to escape, keeping you comfortable on the mountain. They’re also generally cheaper than other options.
- Balanced waterproofing and breathability for moderate conditions
- Generally more affordable than GORE-TEX or infiDRY 20K jackets
Keep in Mind:
- Not as waterproof or breathable as GORE-TEX or infiDRY 20K options
- They may not provide enough protection in harsher conditions without another layer
4. infiDRY 15K
InfiDRY 15K jackets are one step above infiDRY 10K jackets. As the name suggests, they have a 15,000 mm waterproof rating and a 10,000 gm breathability rating. IinfiDRY 15K jackets provide better protection against wet and snowy conditions than infiDRY 10K jackets with the same amount of breathability. These jackets are designed for riders who need more weather resistance in gnarlier conditions.
- Improved waterproofing compared to infiDRY 10K jackets
- Better suited for challenging conditions and demanding riders
Keep in Mind
- Slightly less breathable than infiDRY 20K jackets
- The same amount of breathability as an infiDRY 10K jacket
- They can be more expensive than infiDRY 10K options
5. infiDRY 20K
performance. InfiDRY 20K jackets boast a 20,000 mm waterproof rating and a 15,000 gm breathability rating. These jackets are built for extreme conditions and demanding riders who need the best possible weather protection and moisture management they can get.
- Top-tier waterproofing and breathability for extreme conditions
- Ideal for demanding riders who need maximum protection
Keep in Mind:
- Usually only found on the most expensive jackets in the 686 lineup
- Unnecessary for riders who don’t ride in extreme conditions
Features to Look for in 686 Snowboard Jackets
Below are two lists of features to look for in snowboard jackets. The first is a generalized list of features you should look for in any snowboard jacket, including a 686 one. Since we’ve already discussed the importance of waterproofing and breathability, I won’t include them here. The second list is features that are specific to 686 jackets.
- Sealed Seams: Moisture from snow and water can actually seep through the area where jackets are stitched. However, some snowboard jackets will have “fully taped” or “critically taped” seams to prevent this moisture seepage.
- Powder Skirt: This is an integrated powder skirt at the bottom of the jacket that prevents snow from going under your jacket and up your torso — very handy for powder days.
- Ventilation Zippers: Many jackets will have zippers in the armpit or side area, which you can unzip to cool off, making the jacket more versatile for different temperatures.
- Adjustable Hood: Many snowboard jackets have hoods that can be adjusted to be large enough to fit over your helmet. This can provide an extra layer of weather protection when needed. It’s clutch on a windy chairlift ride!
- Cuff and/or Wrist Gaiters: These pieces of tech allow you to create a seal between your mitten or glove and your jacket, ensuring that no snow can go down them.
- Pockets: Jackets with zipper pockets will be your best friend for keeping essentials on you while riding. Deeper or larger pockets are better as you can fit more, and the items will feel less bulky on you as you ride.
Specific features and technologies that are unique to 686 jackets.
- SMARTY 3-in-1 System: Some 686 jackets feature a removable “SMARTY” liner, providing versatile layering options for changing temperatures and activity levels. These jackets are similar to 3-in-1 jackets you can find from other brands but have a unique name.
- InfiDRY: We’ve already discussed this technology quite a bit, but it’s worth highlighting again as it’s a technical fabric that’s both waterproof and breathable — and it’s exclusive to 686 products.
- Thermagraph Insulation: Jackets with this technology have circular-like filament groupings that individually retain extra warmth in the areas where you need it most and provide air movement between each grouping.
- Hydrastash: The Hydrastash system integrates a hydration bladder and drink tube into the jacket so that you can drink water while riding without carrying a bulky water bottle or backpack.
- Vader Vents: These vents are found on some 686 jackets and are located around the collar. They’re designed to provide face ventilation and reduce fogging on your goggles.
How to Choose the Right 686 Jacket for You
Here are some examples of folks I’ve helped out here at Curated. Let’s look at each of their unique needs and the jacket options I recommend.
Derek is a big backcountry shredder looking for a new jacket that can keep him warm and dry. He’ll be doing lots of hiking and won’t have easy access to somewhere to warm up or refuel, so he’s willing to spend a little extra to get a jacket that’ll help him stay out all day.
Features to Look For:
- GORE-TEX or infiDRY 20k weatherproofing
- Hurdrastash system so he can hydrate on the go (optional)
- Thermagraph insulation to stay warmer on the coldest days
686 Jackets to Consider:
Brad rides all over the country in the winter and therefore rides in a ton of different conditions and temperatures. He’s looking to find just one jacket that can be used for any day on the mountain so she doesn’t have to make multiple purchases.
Features to Look For:
- A jacket with at least an infiDRY 15k rating for colder conditions
- A jacket that has a SMARTY 3-in-1 system to use in moderate or milder conditions
Jackets to Consider:
Tiff is brand new to snowboarding, so she (understandably) doesn’t want to spend a ton of money. She’s looking for an affordable jacket that’ll keep her warm and dry for a couple of days of snowboarding this winter in the Midwest.
Features to Look For:
- A jacket under $200 to keep things budget-friendly
- A jacket with infiDRY 10k waterproofing for a mild winter climate
Products to consider:
Find the Best Jacket for You
While this buying guide is meant to give you a headstart on your 686 jacket research, you don’t need to continue your shopping journey on your own. Here at Curated, you can connect with me or another Curated Expert in just minutes. You can chat with me in real-time, and I can offer you any sort of recommendations from dozens of snowboard gear categories.
Whether you’ve got no idea where to start or you just want to confirm a couple of specs, shopping with a Curated Snowboarding Expert is the easiest way to get the right gear the first time around. With free shipping on orders over $50 and free exchanges, what are you waiting for? Find your new 686 jacket now and have it at your door in just a few days!