How To Choose The Right Jacket
Whether you are heading to Canada, New Zealand or the Swiss Alps, chances are, you will treat yourself to a swanky new jacket for your instructor course.
In this article, we take you through the technical jargon and what to look out for to make sure you choose the perfect ski or snowboard jacket.
Where are you going?
This is important, the climates of resorts vary wildly across the world – the jacket that keeps you warm and dry in Europe during April will probably not do the job in Canada during the chilly January mornings where temperatures can drop below -20 celsius.
Most our instructor courses are over 10 weeks longs, and so we recommend planning for cold weather – but having a contingency plan for the beautifully warm bluebird days. Purchasing your perfect jacket is all about balance, it needs to protect you from the outside elements but also allow not be so warm your own body heat becomes the enemy and you are damp from your own sweat.
Understand the stats & facts
No jacket will ever be 100% waterproof – unless you start skiing in a rubber mac (which will earn you the nickname ‘Sweaty McSweatSweat).
Water resistance is measured in mm and for an instructor course you should aim high – a minimum of 10,000mm. The more water resistant, the better and so for the best performance look for jackets that are waterproofed to 20,000+.
Breathability is measured in grams, the lower the number, the less breathable the material.
The amount of breathability you need depends very much on your activity. On your instructor course you will be active, so we recommend a breathability of 10,000 – 15,000gm. However, if you’re a hardcore powder hound and often break a sweat on the slopes or you’re quick unclip your bindings to hike for fresh powder, look for a jacket with a breathability of 20,000+ grams.
Tip: For breathability and water resistance, GORE-TEX is the most trusted fabric and used by most outdoor brands. There are brands which use alternatives such as Polartec NeoShell, Pertex Shield+ and eVent.
Fully Taped Seams:
When you’re spending day after day in the snow, having fully taped seams is essential. This means all seams on the jacket have been coated after the stitching process, preventing any leaks.
Look for a jacket with a moisture wicking lining to transport sweat away from your body to help keep you dry.
Tip: it is worth also investing in moisture wicking base layers – as having the technology on your jacket lining is pretty pointless unless you’re wearing layers that are doing the same job.
Consider a shell
Most ski jackets are insulated, which is great for the cold and snowy conditions, however, wear an insulated jacket on sunny days and you may begin to melt.
As technology has advanced, we are noticing more and more people wearing shell jackets on the slopes. A shell is a thin waterproof and breathable layer, a high quality shell will protect you against the elements and you can use base layers, thermals and micro fleeces to control your temperature.
The extra features
Sometimes, these can seal the deal as to whether a snowboard jacket is right for you, we all have our preferences. For some, a jacket without snow cuffs and thumb loops is a no-go, whereas others may make their decision based on a jacket having a headphone insert. Things to consider and look for are:
- Ventilation zips
- Snow skirt – with/without poppers or loops to connect to trousers
- High collar – for ultimate protection on windy chairlift rides
- Hood – fixed or detachable? If you wear a helmet, does it go over it?
- Snow cuffs – with/without thumb loops
- Lift pass pocket – usually on the left forearm
- Other pockets and pouches – consider what you have with you and is there space for everything? (phone/mp3/camera/goggles/lift pass/suncream/lip balm/piste map/wallet)
- Recco reflector – a small insert to help ski patrol find you if the worst happens. (Although we recommend using an avalanche transceiver for the back country)
- Colour – For some this is the most important – it distinguishes their style on the mountain. Remember, you need to like your jacket, you’ll be wearing it for the whole season and seasons to come.
Make sure it fits
This sounds obvious, but seriously, try jackets on. There is no point ticking every box if the jacket you end up with doesn’t fit. We all have different body shapes, so finding a style that is comfortable and fits well is essential for enjoying those long days skiing or boarding.
Don’t be a brand snob
But equally, don’t be a bargain Bob!
The end of season sales are usually a great time to pick up a decent jacket for a fraction of a price but don’t settle for something that isn’t quite right. This guide should have given you a list of essentials to help your ski/snowboard jacket search. Don’t be surprised if you have to spend a little more than you budgeted to get a good all-round jacket. For most us snow-enthusiasts, our jacket is the most expensive item in our wardrobe because generally, the more you spend, the longer the jacket will last (within reason).
Care for your jacket like it’s your child
Ok, maybe this is an exaggeration, but if you’ve spent hundreds of pounds on a jacket and expect it to last a long time, you’ll need look after it. Read the care label and make sure you wash it as instructed.
Almost all garments are treated with a durable water repellent (DWR), however, this will wear off over time. To get season after season out of your jacket you will need to invest in an after market DWR, these can come in spray or wash-in varieties and will recondition your jacket.