Let me start off this article by saying that staying warm and comfortable throughout the course of the day is essential to enjoying your day of skiing. With nearly two decades of experience as a ski instructor, and keeping in mind I’m not that old, I have seen pretty much everything when it comes to what some skiers wear on the hill. If you fail to prepare yourself for the elements, you will be hard-pressed to enjoy any part of your day. The last thing that you want to have happen to you is to wake up in the morning and head to the mountain with 32(F) degree weather, and by the afternoon have the temperature plummet to -10(F) degrees. You can take my word for it on this one too because this has actually happened to me. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was dressed properly, but so many others were not, and skiers were getting frostbite left and right.
For this reason I am writing this article for you. I want you to be educated and well-informed when you are considering which ski clothing items to purchase. Whether it is a ski jacket, a pair of pants, and even gloves, I want you to know what is going to protect you best. From there, you can make the decision on what you will need to make your ski adventure most enjoyable. Between working as a sales representative in a ski shop, being a ski instructor, and being a consumer myself, I have a well-rounded understanding of what you will need to look for, and the questions you may have.
The following materials are common among ski jackets and you should familiarize yourself with them and what benefits they provide so that you can make the best decision for yourself.
Gore-Tex: A durable material that provides both a waterproof and breathable material.
Wind Stopper: A specific material that’s sole purpose is to prevent wind from entering.
10,000mm/20,000mm: Ratings that are used to describe the different levels of water resistance. The most common rating you will find is 10,000mm. A rating of 20,000mm is better, but you may not need a rating this high unless you are an avid outdoor enthusiast.
Thinsulate: An insulation that is used to keep you warm and is measured in grams. The higher the number, the warmer the jacket will be.
Note: Gore-Tex will be your most costly material, but it is also one of the best too.
I would be willing to bet that when you look at a jacket, for example, and the price is over $300.00 you will be looking at a jacket that will contain at least one (likely more) of the terms discussed above. Please do not let the cost deter you from considering this as a possible purchase. Stop and ask yourself what you are looking for. Ask yourself how important your personal comfort will be when you are outdoors. If you are spending money on all of the equipment to go skiing, for example, wouldn’t you want to be able to be outside long enough to use it?
Keep in mind that the items outlined above are also meant to last a long time. If you spend $300 now, you can enjoy your outdoor activities without worry. If you purchase a $75 jacket that doesn’t protect you, then you purchase another, you’ve already spent $150. The second isn’t likely to protect you any more than the first, and ultimately you’re just throwing money away.
Also, the more you wear and wash your jacket, the faster the protection will wear away. If you’re going with a less expensive jacket, it will wear out even faster. Keep this in mind when considering new ski wear.
When it comes to the visible features between jackets, you will find many variances that exist. My first ski jacket contained 3 pockets, 2 outside and 1 inside. By comparison, most jackets are now equipped with at least 6 pockets, with each serving a different purpose. You will find jackets with pockets that are specific for cell phones, iPods, goggles, and many other items.
The following are additional functional features that you may find on your jacket and the benefits they provide:
Taped Seams: Helps keep moisture and wind out – More durable than Stitched Seams, which you will also find on ski jackets.
Hood: Versatile, as it may either fold up or zip off. The greatest benefit to this is that you have the option to remove or stow-away the hood when it isn’t needed. This way it won’t bunch up at the back of your neck or flap in the wind.
Pit Zip Venting: Pit Zips allow air to flow through your jacket when you feel like getting a bit of a breeze. This feature is especially nice on warm weather ski days.
Pockets: This is an important consideration when selecting a jacket because you need to know if your jacket will carry the accessories that you take on the hill with you.
Electronics Pocket: Used for iPods, cell phones, and other electronic devices.
Goggle Pocket: Large enough to store your goggles when you are not wearing them.
Sleeve Pocket: Provides easy access, usually used as a money pocket.
Goggle Cloth: Usually in the outside pocket and attached to something elastic. This will allow you to wipe goggles without scratching them.
Powder Skirt: Designed to keep snow and/or wind from entering the bottom of the jacket. This is a terrific feature regardless of skier level.
Cuff Adjustment: Allow you to either seal the cuff around your glove on really cold days. Or you can tighten it around your wrist to keep wind out.
Pass Holder: Used to hold your season or daily pass so that you do not have to worry about where your wicket (ticket holder) needs to go.
Draw Cord: Located at the bottom of the jacket to keep snow out of the inside of your jacket. This is similar to a Powder Skirt and is ideal for skiers who like deep snow.
I hope that everything you have read here is of the greatest use for you when shopping for a ski jacket. With new technologies being developed each year, it can sometimes be difficult to know what is what. With the information contained here, you can now make a more educated decision on the type of jacket you need and also identify the differences that exist. I hope to be back with more information for you soon, so keep checking back for more from me in the future.