We Know: How to Buy a Ski Jacket

 

What are the most Important Factors in Shopping for a Ski Jacket?

You might find it surprising that the best ski jacket is not the warmest one. Instead, the perfect ski jacket should be judged on how windproof it is, how well you can seal out the snow, and whether you have an easy way to cool down.

 

How Important Is Warmth?

Though the traditional depiction of ski jackets is of a thick waist-length down coat, you're better off insulating your body with layers of clothing under the jacket. A ski jacket that keeps out the wind and damp is doing its job.

Instead of buying the thickest jacket, find one with a very tight weave that's guaranteed waterproof, and check the seams to make sure you can't see light through them.

The other part of warmth is letting it out. Skiing is a strenuous sport, and it's just as important to minimize sweat as it is to keep your body warm. You should have a ski jacket that will allow you to unzip the front, sides, bottom, and cuffs so that you can let some cool air in when it's necessary.


Should Ski Jackets Be Aerodynamic?

Yes. A smooth, close-fitting jacket helps you really fly down the best hills. And a slick texture not only keeps the wind resistance down, it also lets water and snow slide off easily.

Your ski jacket should also not have anything that does not seal well. All zippers should seal and lock; pockets should zip, collars should fasten down. This minimizes the chance of getting snow in your jacket that can melt and get you wet, or slow you down on the slopes.


What About Gore-Tex?

Jackets made of Gore-Tex are among the best ski jackets, but they can be expensive. Gore-Tex is a high-tech polymer fabric that is extremely lightweight, and while it's waterproof from the outside, it allows water vapor to escape, ensuring that you don't get wet next to the skin from sweat.

It's not an essential, though it's nice to have if you can afford it. If you can't afford to spend a lot on your ski clothes, invest more money in the best pair of gloves you can find. Your fingers will suffer more than your torso.

 

What Other Clothes Should I Consider?

A ski jacket made of a thin waterproof fabric is essential, and a pair of ski pants made of the same material, especially if they can be sealed at the waist to the jacket, are an excellent investment. Never choose a one-piece; consider the practicalities of going to the restroom when you may be in sub-zero temperatures!

You should layer the rest of your clothing -- t-shirt, winter underwear, warm but thin shirt, and maybe a sweater or light jacket. If you think you need more, take it with you. By layering your clothing, you give yourself the widest range of options when you actually get out on the slopes; you can add or subtract warmth as needed.



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