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The Ski Jacket is your outer shell that protects you when you ski. It is essential to choose the correct ski jacket to ensure you remain warm and dry whilst on the slopes. Please refer to our separate guide ‘Waterproofing, Breathability and Windproofing‘.
Jackets will either have an synthetic insulation or down/feather insulation.
This is a man-made equivalent to Down and is normally less expensive. It provides the same warming and heating effects of down but is generally less bulky, achieves higher level of breathability and performs better in wet weather. The only downside with a synthetic insulation is that it tends to lose heat quicker than a Down/Feather Insulation.
These are made with natural goose down and can provide warmth very quickly on a cold day. However, once you start skiing you will generate your own heat and become hot very quickly. Down jackets are also unsuitable in wet weather as the insulation will become saturated very quickly and will then be unable to loft and produce heat. Once wet a Down or Feather Jacket will take a long time to dry.
The seams are another important consideration to ensure you remain warm and dry. A garment could have a really high waterproof rating but if the seams are not sealed then water will find a way in. Taped seams means that a waterproof tape has been applied to the inside seams of the garment.
There are two levels of Taped Seams:
- Taped Critical Seams
Critical seams are defined as the shoulders, hood and arms. All other seams on the Ski Jacket are not taped and therefore could absorb moisture
- Fully Taped Seams:
All seams on the Ski Jacket or Ski Pants are taped and hence are waterproof
Most Ski Jackets have either a fixed, detachable or stowaway hood.
- A fixed hood is permanently in place on the back of your jacket
- A detachable hood enables you to unzip the hood during warmer weather conditions.
- A stowaway hood can be packed into the collar of the Jacket
It is really down to your own preference on which you would find most suitable. However, there are some things that you need to look out for on all Hoods. These are listed below:
Hood Space – is there enough space to pull your hood up when you are wearing a Beanie? When you are out on the Mountain on a really cold day you will really be glad to have thought about this.
Adjustable Drawcords – it is important that you are able to adjust the hood so that it moves with you when you turn your head and to prevent snow from entering when skiing. Drawcord adjusters allow the hood to be adjusted to suit your own particular needs. An adjuster on the back of the hood enables you to alter the space inside of the hood whilst adjusters on the front enable you to adjust the size around your face.
Hood Awning – This is the same principle as a tent awning. It ensures water running off of your hood does not run directly down your face.
The material on the back of a Ski Jacket will often be longer than the front of the Jacket. This will stop the wind blowing up the back of your Jacket on a wintery day. The front of the Jacket is left shorter to prevent any restriction on movement.
Under Arm Venting (often called ‘pit zips’) will allow you to regulate the temperature on the inside of the jacket. Vents can be used to retain or release heat whilst skiing. On hot days the vent can be opened to allow heat to escape whilst on cold days the vent can be closed to retain the heat. An important feature to look out for is whether the Jacket has a mesh lining on the inside of the vent opening. This will prevent snow entering the jacket through the vent in the event that you fall over.
A Ski Jacket should have a number of different pockets with zip closing. The last thing you need to worry about is carrying big and bulky rucksacks when skiing down a mountain. Another important thing to think about is will the Jacket be roomy enough when the pockets are full to still be able to ski. For example, when you have your goggles or hat in the pockets will the Jacket feel tight and restrict movement.
There are various pockets, as detailed below, but as a minimum all pockets should:
- Be easily accessible
- Have a large enough entry point
Types of Pockets:
- Hand warming pocket – normally a pocket either side of the Jacket at waist level that you can place your hands in. Consideration should be given to the internal lining of the pocket. A nice soft fleece lining will feel warm and soft to touch on a cold day.
- Electronic Communication pocket – pocket for mobile phone or MP3 player with a hole where earphones can be fed through. Often Jackets will have this pocket accessible under the storm flap but outside of the main zip so that access can be obtained without having to undo the main zip and therefore letting the cold air in.
- Goggle, Gloves or Hat pocket – Usually an internal pocket of mesh material that is large enough to store goggles or a hat in when not being used
- Sleeve Pocket – usually a pocket on the left sleeve large enough for ski pass
When the snow and wind are blowing directly in your face you will be really glad of a nice fleece lined neck and chin guard. This not only keeps you warm but also prevents the top of the main zip rubbing on your face.
A good functioning zip is really important as it will allow you to get your Jacket on or off quickly when the weather suddenly changes. Zips should be easy to open or close with gloves on as the last thing you want to do is to remove your gloves on a cold day. Often zips will have pull tags to make them easier to grip.
Cuffs should have an adjustable wrist closure (often Velcro) that enables you to adjust the size of the cuff around your glove and also to act as a vent. Cuffs can also have a Gaitor which is a piece of material that extends from the inside of the sleeve and fits over your thumb and sits inside of your glove. The Gaitor and adjustable wrist closure ensures no snow can enter your glove or the inside of the Jacket sleeve.
A Snow Skirt (often also called a ‘Powder Skirt’) can be fixed or detachable. It is fastened around the inside waist of the Ski Jacket and its purpose is to stop snow entering the bottom of the jacket when you fall over in deep snow. Snow Skirts will normally have a rubber grip at the bottom to stop it riding up inside the jacket.
The Hem Drawcord allows the Skier to tighten the bottom of the Jacket and when opened can allow heat to escape from the inside of the Jacket.
A storm flap is a piece of material that covers the main zip. On some jackets you will also find a storm flap over the pocket zips to prevent snow being able to enter through the zip. A storm flap will run the complete length of the zip and will also prevent ice and snow building up and causing your zip to freeze.
Trouser Clips allow you to attach your ski trousers to your Jacket which means there are no gaps for snow to enter when falling in deep snow. When buying trousers it is important to ensure the clips are in the correct place to match your Ski Jacket.