Women's Ski Jackets


Women’s Ski Jackets

When it comes to buying a womens ski jacket, the most important thing to ensure before you purchase a jacket is that will keep you warm, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook how it looks on you too. There are many ways to combine fashion and function, and a quality women’s ski jacket is an essential in your ski gear. Womens ski jackets come in various styles with many different features, such as insulation, breathability, waterproof rating and more. It is important to select the right one for you and, lucky for you, this guide was created to help do just that.


Types of Women's Ski Jackets


There are two main types of women’s ski jackets: insulated women’s ski jackets and shell women’s ski jackets. There is no exact answer for which is better because there are a number of factors to consider when making this choice. When looking for the perfect women’s ski jacket to purchase, always remember to factor in the type of skiing you will be doing and the expected weather conditions.


Insulated Jackets


The construction characteristics of an insulated women’s ski jacket include an outer layer that is waterproof and windproof, along with an insulated layer that is built directly into the ski jacket to provide extra warmth. The insulating inner layer is likely to be made of fleece, down or a synthetic fabric such as Primaloft or Thinsulate, which are used in many synthetic-insulated jackets by brands such as The North Face, Spyder and Descente. PrimaLoft is incredibly soft, lightweight and breathable with excellent water repellency to remain dry, warm and comfortable.


Many insulated ski jackets will contain an additional insulator piece that can be removed. These types of insulated jackets are sometimes referred to as system jackets or 3-in-1 jackets. Both pieces can be worn alone or together so that you are prepared for a change in temperature. Look for pieces made with waterproof or water-resistant fabrics for even more convenient possibilities.


The insulation found in insulated jackets is most commonly measured in grams. The greater the number weight in grams, the warmer the ski jacket will be. Insulation types can range as low as 30 grams and go as high as 800 grams, which is most commonly found with down material. For people who are colder by nature or skiing in colder places, an insulated ski jacket is the most suitable option.


Shell Jackets


Shell jackets are ski jackets that have no internal insulation. Waterproof and breathable outer layers help keep skiers protected from the wind and rain, while nonetheless allowing sweat to evaporate and escape. This type of ski jacket is ideal for someone who always finds themselves warm naturally. Another reason that one may choose this type of ski jacket is because they prefer to have added mobility that is not available with an insulated ski jacket. As shell ski jackets are usually worn over a base layer and a mid layer, they do not have the added bulkiness of an insulated ski jacket. This means that you can contain the warmth of your body via your base layer and mid layer, but have an added range of motion.


A shell ski jacket can be worn on its own on warmer days or layered with base and mid layers for colder days. However, for extremely cold temperatures and extended periods of time outdoors, a shell ski jacket is probably not the best option.




Fit is all about the shape of the jacket, which generally comes in three varieties: slim, regular or relaxed. The fit you prefer will depend on the style and look you prefer.


Slim Fit: Form fitting, tailored at the shoulders, body and waist. These pieces offer a more active fit that sits close to the body.


Regular Fit: Standard fitting, tailored at just below the waist. These pieces often offer a flattering fit without being too tight or constricting, and are true to size.


Relaxed Fit: A larger fit, little to no tailoring with more room in the shoulders and chest. These pieces offer more room for comfort and layering.


Waterproof Rating


One of the most important factors in choosing a ski jacket is the waterproof rating. This rating will tell how quickly your jacket will become saturated and begin allowing water to penetrate to the layers below. For a fabric to be classified as waterproof it needs to withstand water pressure applied from a 1m high column and not leak. Waterproof ratings are measured and indicated in millimeters and determined by placing a tube filled on the fabric and filling it with water. The level at which the water begins to penetrate through the fabric is the waterproof rating. The higher the number, the more waterproof the ski jacket is and the longer it will withstand snow and rain.


For ski jackets to be deemed legally waterproof, it must achieve a minimum 1,500mm rating. Women’s ski jackets can be rated as high as 30,000mm but the average rating is typically between 5,000 and 10,000mm. Keep in mind that as the rating goes higher, so too will the price.


There are many different types of waterproof fabrics used on the market today. Among the more well-known materials used are Gore-Tex, Hyvent and Event. What makes materials such as these so effective is that they contain pores. Pores are larger than a molecule of sweat but smaller than a molecule of water. This means that not only is the material waterproof but also very breathable.




Just like the waterproof rating measures how effective a ski jacket is at keeping water outside, the breathability rating of a women’s ski jacket measures how effective a ski jacket is at transferring moisture from the inside to the outside. Even while resting, a person loses more than half a liter in fluids through their skin every day. The same fabric pores that help prevent water from penetrating inside a ski jacket allow sweat molecules to escape and ultimately keep your warmer.


To release the moisture, ski jackets needs to be able to ventilate or breathe, not through holes but through the fabric itself. This is not very difficult, as cotton and nylon are already breathable fabrics. The difficulty arises in making the fabric waterproof aside from being breathable. This seems very exotic but there are many different layers that can achieve this based on a simple physics principle. Beneath the jacket, the temperature and humidity are higher than in the outside. This creates a pressure whereby pushing the moisture outside.


Breathability rating is measured and indicated in grams (g). The measurement is determined by finding the Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate (MVTR). The MVTR determines how many grams of sweat per 1 square meter can escape the jacket in a 24-hour period. The higher the number, the more moisture escapes and the more breathable it is. Entry-level breathable fabrics will have MVTR ratings in the range of 2,000-5000g. Fabrics at the high end of the breathability scale will have an MVTR around 20,000g.


Fabric Durability


Contrary to popular belief, ski jackets are very different than everyday winter jackets. A women’s ski jacket has the potential to suffice as your everyday jacket, but a jacket not created specifically for skiing will be detrimental to your warmth, comfort level and performance on the slopes. There are several reasons for this, but one of the most prominent reasons is that a ski jacket is going to be far more durable and able to withstand the added abuse from skiing.


Most women's ski jackets are made of tightly woven nylon or polyester. These are materials that are designed for high performance use against the elements of winter. Extended exposure to high winds and the wet elements of winter are what make the construction of a ski jacket a better fit for snow riding than your everyday winter jacket.


Cut or Length


Women’s ski jackets come in different lengths and these cuts can be ideal for different reasons. A shorter athletic cut is better for hard packed and groomed snow riding. It offers a stylish and flattering look while still covering what you need to keep you warm. Longer lengths are ideal for backcountry and powder skiing, or for wetter conditions. It will provide your behind with more coverage and warmth from moisture and snow.


Length refers to the actual length of the jacket. The length of the jacket you prefer is related to the fit and style that you are looking for.


Cropped: Hem sits at waist length or higher, accentuating the waist for a flattering fit.


Hip Length: Hem sits right at the hip bone or 1 - 2 inches below offering an athletic, tailored fit and style.


Thigh Length: Hem sits 3-4 inches below the hip offering full bottom coverage and a tailored fit for additional protection.


Knee Length: Hem sits just above the knee or right on the knee offering bottom and thigh coverage, often a more tailored fit for a flattering silhouette.


Full Length: Hem sits just below the knee or lower - can be ankle length providing full coverage, often a more tailored fit for a flattering silhouette. Full-length jackets also encompass one-piece suits like the Air Blaster Freedom One-Piece Ski Suit.




Fully-Taped: Fully-taped seams means the stitched seams have been taped for waterproofing. This is done with a waterproof tape that is glued on the interior and exterior of the seam. Fully-taped seams are the best option if you want to be waterproof in these important areas that are prone for moisture. They will, however, cost more than jackets with critically-taped seams. As an additional note, higher-end garments will offer welded seams, which are even more effective at protecting against moisture penetration at the seams.


Critically-Taped: A less expensive option than welded or fully-taped seams are critically-taped seams. Critically-taped seams means that only some of the seams are taped and protect against moisture penetration. This is not necessarily a bad thing, so don’t be scared off by the fact that not all seams are covered. These types of seams are ideal for skiers planning on spending most of their time inbounds on groomers and cruisers. As long as you don’t spend long periods of time in wet weather or spend a lot of time falling in the snow, a women’s ski jacket with critically taped seams will offer the protection you need.




When shopping for a woman’s ski jacket, it is important to know that beyond how waterproof and breathable a ski jacket is, there are a number of features that you can expect to find available to you. Selecting the right features for your ski jacket is important so that it fits your skiing needs. In the following sections, we’ll cover some of the more noteworthy features so you will know what to expect when shopping from one model to the next.


Front Zipper Cover


This feature is sometimes referred to as a storm flap. The purpose of this feature is to cover the front zipper of your ski jacket to prevent the wind and moisture from penetrating inside. Additionally, some storm flaps have soft fleece over the top of the zipper so your face does not get irritated from cold metal. As the zipper can be a highly prone area for moisture, this is considered by many as a must-have feature.


Powder Skirt


A powder skirt is an elastic band that is located inside of a ski jacket at the waist. It provides a snap closure in the front and is intended to keep snow from going up the front or back of your ski jacket. Additionally, it helps retain heat and keeps you warmer when you are out on the slopes. This also means that if you are starting to feel a bit warm, you can unsnap the skirt for a moment to allow heat to escape and cool you down, then snap it back up to protect against the snow. These powder skirts are often removable either by snaps or zippers. This feature is highly recommended for anyone planning on doing any powder skiing.




While not all women’s ski jackets offer a hood, those that do will offer a hood in one of several options: attached (non-removable), detachable or stowaway. Attached hoods are fixed to the ski jacket and cannot be removed. Detachable hoods offer the luxury of protection on windy or snowy days, while also offering the versatility of being able to be removed on warmer or fair weather ski days. Stowaway hoods offer the same luxuries as a detachable hood, with the only difference being that stowaway hoods do not need to be removed from the jacket. Instead, they will roll or fold up and be tucked into a designated area on the jacket.


As your hood is intended to protect your head and neck from the elements, you want to make sure that it can fit over your helmet. Your hood should have enough room so that you can look from side to side, and it should also comfortably fit your helmet. The bill of your hood should be generous enough in size to shed rain from your goggles and eyes. Many hoods come with a drawstring in order to adjust to your head or helmet. Hoods, regardless of their style, are highly recommended for protection against the elements.


Wrist Closure


Wrist closures are one of the more common adjustability features you can expect to find on women’s ski jackets. Wrist closures will be present as an elastic, Velcro, snap or thumbhole adjustment at the wrist that will close around your wrist or over your glove. This purpose of such an adjustment is to help keep cold air and snow from going up your arms. You will want to make sure that the wrist adjustment will work in tandem with your gloves. Some gloves are meant to go over the wrist closures and have their own synching on the end of the glove, while others are meant to go under the wrist closure and have the adjustment close around them.


Pit Zips


Pit Zips or underarm zippers are zippers located under the arm that can be adjusted on the fly to help retain or release heat that builds up inside of the jacket while skiing. If you are cold, or the temperature starts to drop, you can close them up to help keep heat close to the body. On warmer days, these can be opened up fully to allow heat to escape while you remain fully protected from the elements everywhere else While not considered a must-have, they are certainly suggested if you want the luxury of regulating your core temperature easily.


For video reviews of this year’s best women’s ski jackets and more, visit our YouTube page.


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