The Best Ski Jacket for Women Review

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Testing our women's ski jackets at Kirkwood Ski Resort. Life is rough!
Credit: Luke Lydiard
What makes the best ski jacket? We tested several top-of-the-line insulated jackets for skiing to help you find the best. We skied numerous runs at Mammoth Mountain and Kirkwood in California, sat on many chair lifts, went to multiple happy hours, and partook in numerous winter activities such as an overnight ski trip in the Sierra backcountry and ice climbing in Ouray, Colorado, to put these to the test.

We compared the unique features in different mountain conditions, testing for warmth, ski features, water resistance, ventilation, style, comfort, and fit. Check out our Buying Advice article for details on the most important considerations for finding the perfect jacket for skiing or boarding at the resort. Also see our men's review.

Read the full review below >

Review by: ⋅ Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab

Top Ranked Ski Jackets - Women's

Displaying 1 - 5 of 10 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product Name
Patagonia Primo Down Jacket - Women's
Patagonia Primo Down Jacket - Women's
Read the Review
Arc'teryx Andessa
Arc'teryx Andessa
Read the Review
Arc'teryx Meta
Arc'teryx Meta
Read the Review
Orage Loulou
Orage Loulou
Read the Review
The North Face Point It Down - Women's
The North Face Point It Down - Women's
Read the Review
Editors' Awards  Editors' Choice Award    Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award   
Street Price $649
Compare at 2 sellers
Varies $595 - $679
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Varies $524 - $699
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$300$244
Compare at 1 sellers
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User Rating Be the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate it
Pros Stylish looks, quality materials, lightweight, useful ski featuresHigh quality materials, warm, great ski features and attention to detailHigh quality materials and construction, lightweight, versatileStylish, warm, flattering fit, great ski featuresWarm, flattering for a down jacket, inexpensive
Cons Expensive, afraid the potential lack of breathability could affect the down insulation.Fits small, stains easily, expensiveFits small, expensiveHood is small for over a helmet, could be more breathableShows dirt easily, not very water resistant
Best Uses Resort skiing or snowboardingResort skiing or snowboardingResort skiing or snowboarding, backcountry skiing, cold weather sports like ice climbingResort skiing or snowboarding, around town winter useSkiing and snowboarding in cold, dry climates
Date Reviewed Mar 10, 2015Feb 02, 2014Mar 10, 2015Mar 10, 2015Mar 10, 2015
Weighted Scores Patagonia Primo Down Jacket - Women's Arc'teryx Andessa Arc'teryx Meta Orage Loulou The North Face Point It Down - Women's
Warmth - 20%
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9
Ventilation - 10%
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7
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9
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7
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7
Water Resistance - 20%
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7
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6
Features - 20%
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Style - 15%
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Comfort And Fit - 15%
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Product Specs Patagonia Primo Down Jacket - Women's Arc'teryx Andessa Arc'teryx Meta Orage Loulou The North Face Point It Down - Women's
Main Fabric 2-layer, 4.3-oz 70-denier 100% recycled nylon GORE-TEX fabric with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish. Lining: 1.4-oz 20-denier 100% recycled polyester mini-ripstop. GORE-TEX three-layer construction GORE-TEX Pro Nylon Twill 2 Poly fabric 50D 83 g/m² (2.45 oz/yd²) Windstopper 2L fabricâ" 100% polyester
Insulation 600-fill-power Traceable Down insulation synthetic Coreloft, along the hem, collar, sleeves and underarms; 750 cu-in fill European Goose down lines the core and sleeves Coreloft Compact insulation 100 grams of synthetic insulation in the body and 80 grams in the sleeves 700 fill ProDown
Waterproofing Gore Tex DWR DWR DWR 10k waterproof and breathable with fully sealed seams Water resistant
Unique Features Touch Point System embeds cord locks in the hood and hem, media pocket with cable routing RECCO reflector, " Down Composite Mapping " of insulation RECCO reflector Wrist gaiters Flap-cover wrist utility pocket with goggle cloth, RECCO reflector, media pocket with headphone port
Weight 2 lbs, 1oz 1 lb 12 oz 1 lb 10 oz 2 lbs 2 oz 1lb 12 oz
# of Pockets 7 3 out, 2 in 3 out, 2 in 4 out, 2 in 3 out, 3 in
Hood Option? Hood, non-detachable in this version - down lined Yes, non-detachable, lined with 850 fp down Yes, non detachable Yes, detachable yes
Pit Zips? Yes Yes, mesh lined Yes, mesh lined Yes, mesh lined yes
Cuff construction Pleated gusset, over or under gloves Laminated Velcro® cuff adjusters Laminated die-cut Velcro® cuff adjusters Adjustable cuffs with wrist gaiters Hook-and-loop adjustable cuff tabs
Ski features Powder skirt is detatchable with webbing to connect to pants Removable powder skirt, pass pocket, mesh lined pit-zips, helmet compatable hood, large mesh goggle pocket Powder skirt, goggle pocket, pass pocket, mesh lined pit-zips, helmet compatable hood. Powder skirt, mesh lined pit-zips helmet compatable hood, pass pocket. Powder skirt, pass pocket, goggle chamois, goggle pocket

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review



Selecting the Right Product


If you're into riding the lifts from first chair till closing, you'll want a ski jacket that will keep you warm, dry, and functioning well all day. We also think that style is a huge factor when choosing your outfit for riding. That outfit will become your on-hill identity that people will recognize. ("There she is, in the pink coat!") Where you live and how often you ski will affect which jacket will work best for you. Are you a fair weather skier who likes cruising the groomers and then having happy hour on the deck? Or do you want to slay the pow and work hard all day doing it? We have broken down what to look for if you want to do either of these things in our evaluation below.

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Double duty jacket testing. The Arc'teryx Meta (left) and the Primo Down (right) had the highest quality materials we tested, both featuring a waterproof Gore-Tex shell.
Credit: Luke Lydiard

Types of Ski Jackets


The products we tested are meant to be worn on the slopes - your resort slopes - so we specifically tested and evaluated them for this use. Every product in this review is insulated, water resistant (some are waterproof), and most of them have features specific to skiing, such as powder-skirts and goggle pockets, to make your day riding the lifts more enjoyable.

If you're looking for a good backcountry ski jacket or one for cross-country skiing, consider a hardshell or a softshell. Hardshells can be multi-purpose or targeted towards a specific sport, and there are many ski specific hardshells on the market, like the Helly Hansen Verglas Jacket - Women's, that come with powder skirts and goggle pockets but don't have the insulation that the jackets in this test have. Hardshells are completely waterproof. Softshells are stretchier, more breathable, and not waterproof. Similarly, there are many multi-purpose softshells out there, but you can find some that are specific to backcountry skiing or riding.

3-In-1 Jackets


These jackets are often the best bang for your buck if you're looking for a jacket that can do it all. If you want one jacket that you can wear for cold powder days and warm spring skiing, you may want to consider getting yourself a 3-in-1 style – especially if you are on a budget. These jackets come with two layers that are detachable and can be worn separately or together, hence the 3 jackets in 1. We like the Columbia Whirlibird Interchange - Women's, its synthetic inner jacket is stylish enough to wear out to the bar for aprčs ski. We do think that with proper ventilation and design some of the higher quality jackets such as the Arc'teryx Meta could be a better all-around jacket than some of the 3-in-1's we tested.

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Here you can see the outer shell and the interior synthetic layer of the Columbia Whirlybird Interchange 3-in-1. These layers work better when zipped independently rather than zipped together.
Credit: Jessica Haist

Criteria for Evaluation



Warmth


The first thing most people think about when heading out for a ski is "Will I be warm enough?" We rated each jacket on how warm they kept us on cold, windy, storm days. We skied fast and sat on windy chair lifts to find out if there were any drafts in strange places and tried out all the special features designed to help retain heat. The Arc'teryx Andessa and the Patagonia Primo Down - Women's are the warmest in the review, and both use high quality down insulation. The Andessa uses down insulation in combination with strategically mapped synthetic insulation in areas prone to dampness, such as the underarms, hem, and hood. The Primo Down is, well, filled with down.

The Columbia Whirlibird uses a foil-like lining Columbia calls Omni-Heat that is designed to reflect heat back towards your body. This, in combination with synthetic insulation, keeps you warm. We were skeptical about this flashy material but found this was one of the warmer jackets in the review. We really like the lightweight Core-Loft insulation of the Arc'teryx Meta. This jacket is not as warm as some of the others, but its warmth-to-weight ratio is very high. The North Face Point It Down - Women's is a lightweight, inexpensive down option with a long hemline that kept us warm.

Other design factors that contribute to warmth are wrist gaiters that keep the drafts out of your sleeves, chin guards that are able to zip up over a neck gaiter, and well fitting, insulated hoods that will fit all the way over a helmet.

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We were always warm enough in the down insulated Primo Down, and were able to ventilate when we were working hard on storm days by opening the pit-zips.
Credit: Luke Lydiard

Water Resistance


Depending on the time of year and the climate you're skiing in, this category can be the most important feature of a ski jacket. Ski areas in a maritime climate tend to have wetter, heavier snow that can easily soak through a jacket without decent water resistance. This is important because the more water that soaks into your jacket, the heavier and more uncomfortable it becomes. And the wetter you get, the colder you become, meaning less skiing for a cold and wet you.

Many of the products we evaluated are constructed with a waterproof/breathable shell material such as Gore-Tex. The Meta, Andessa, and Primo Down all feature Gore-Tex. In addition, everything we tested was given added water resistance with the application of each manufacturer's proprietary DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating, but some jackets repelled water better than others. We discuss waterproof materials in greater detail in the individual reviews.

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The Meta's Gore-Tex Pro shell material is very water proof and we tested it in torrential rain.
Credit: Jessica Haist

Along with field testing, we sprayed each jacket with water to closely evaluate how well water beaded off of the surface, and how long it took the water to soak into the material. The spray test evaluated the DWR coatings on these jackets, not the overall waterproofness of the materials. It is important to note that DWR coatings will wear off over time from washing and use, but garments can be re-treated. The Arc'teryx Meta and Patagonia Primo Down with Gore-Tex shells and DWR coatings held up the best and beaded water easily, whereas the Flylow Jane and Spyder Amp soaked the water right up. To learn more about DWR coatings and how to choose the right waterproof material for your outerwear, we recommend checking out the Hardshell Buying Advice Article.

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We tested the Jane in high winds and whipping snow and did not notice any drafts coming through.
Credit: Luke Lydiard

Ventilation


When you're working hard making turns in deep powder, you can work up a sweat. You don't want to feel clammy and sweaty under your jacket, which will leave you chilled when sitting still on the lift, so you want your jacket to be somewhat breathable or have the ability to ventilate. The materials it is made of as well as the ventilation features incorporated in the jacket are both effective ways to release heat and moisture. With an easy-to-open pit-zip you can immediately get airflow to your body, allowing you to regulate your temperature quickly. Since all the contenders in this review are thick and insulated, meaning not very breathable, the ventilation features are important for staying comfortable in varying conditions on the ski hill.

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We think the Meta has great gaping pit zips and is well ventilated.
Credit: Jessica Haist

The Arc'teryx Meta is the best ventilated product we tested. Its large pit-zips and lightweight synthetic insulation allow moisture to wick away from skin easily. Some of the others made with waterproof materials can be more stifling, however most have some type of pit-zip feature for venting, allowing for air to circulate inside the jacket on warmer days. Some of the jacket's pit-zips were mesh backed to keep the snow out, like on The North Face Point It Down, whereas some had no mesh like the Flylow Jane. Without mesh, the pit-zips are able to open up wider for maxiumun ventilation, but also can allow snow inside the jacket if you happen to tumble. The Columbia Whirlibird Interchange has pit-zips on the exterior shell, but not on the interior insulating layer, which makes them much less effective. The Sypder Amp and the Obermeyer Brigitte are the only ones in this review with no pit-zips.

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We think the Whirlibird's inner and outer layers perform better individually. Here Jessica Haist is shredding in just the shell layer.
Credit: Luke Lydiard

Ski Features


Each item in this review has different ski-specific features that make spending a day on the ski hill easier and more comfortable. Most jackets have powder skirts, designed to keep snow from going up your back on a powder day or from going down the pants when falling down. We love the powder skirts on the Andessa, Jane, and Primo Down because they are removable for times when they aren't needed. Many brand's powder skirts are compatible with the same brand's ski pants, and you are able to attach them together so they become impenetrable to snow. This is the most effective way to wear a powder skirt.

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We like the integrated electronics pocket for rocking out on the slopes. We also like the new liner colors on the 2015 Primo Down.
Credit: Vanessa Baker

There are many convenient and unique features on all the different models on our test. Features we look for in our favorites are:

Pockets
We need lots of places to stash our stuff. We particularly like it when jackets have media pockets with headphone ports like in the Flylow Jane so we can listen to our tunes while we shred. We also like big mesh goggle pockets and fleece lined hand warmer pockets as well as interior zippered pockets for keeping the important things like credit cards and car keys.

Wrist Gaiters
These help keep the drafts out of your sleeves and keep your hands warmer when you don't have your gloves on. Wrist gaiters made out of thin, sleek materials are better for wearing underneath gloves, like in the Orage LouLou.

RECCO Reflector
This feature seems to be a growing trend, and will soon become an industry standard for all ski jackets. The RECCO system will potentially aid ski patrol in finding you more quickly if you are caught up in an in-bounds avalanche. Read more about RECCO in our Buying Advice Article

Another unique and helpful feature that is worthy of note is the mini stylus in the pocket of the Obermeyer Brigitte. This allows you to use your smartphone's touchscreen with your gloves on!

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It took us a while to figure out what the thing in our pocket was, but the mini stylus is a great feature!
Credit: Jessica Haist

Style


We think that having good style is super important when you ski at the resort often. People begin to recognize you by what you wear every day, and your outfit essentially becomes your identity when your head and face is otherwise cloaked in a helmet and goggles. Your friends can no longer see your face or hair, but will certainly notice your jacket. Selecting one that represents your style and personality is just as important as finding one with properly placed vents and warm enough insulation.

The Urban Dictionary defines Steezy as: "a snowboarder term that combines the word 'style' with 'ease' to create the act of doing a trick with style and ease to make it done with super steez. A rider with steez, would be referred to as "steezy" whether it be because of his/her sick tricks, gangster apparel, or watevs." We think you should feel steezy in your new jacket, however you may define it.

As of our most recent update for 2015, we have noticed a trend for women's jackets. There are less patterns and multi-colored jackets, and more solids with bright liner fabrics. We noticed this with the LouLou, Jane, and Brigitte in particular. This could be because there is a trend towards brightly colored ski pants, so having a more understated jacket can better match a bright pair of bottoms. Check out Best Ski Pants for Women Review to see what we thought of the top pants on the market.

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Ladies jacket testing on the gondola, from left to right: Arc'teryx Meta, The North Face Point it Down, and the Orage LouLou jackets.
Credit: Jessica Haist

All of the items in this review come in many different color combinations so you can find the one that best suits you. We think that the Flylow Jane and The North Face Point it Down - Women's are the steeziest of the bunch because of their ability to make you stand out on the mountain. They feature extra long hemlines, bright color options, and funky patterns. (Making our testers stand out with style quite easily!) We also think the Patagonia Primo Down and the Arc'teryx Meta are simple and clean looking for those of us who prefer a more understated style.

Comfort and Fit


Comfort and fit are very important because you want to be able to move around and feel good while wearing your jacket all day. Some have stretchy shel materials that flex with movement, like the LouLou and the Jane. Some are extra roomy so you can wear more layers underneath, like the Whirlibird and the Brigitte. The fit of your jacket can also affect the warmth of it. If it is too small and you are not able to put extra layers on for those biting cold days, you won't be as comfortable. Conversely, if it is too roomy and lets in drafts, it will also be less warm and comfortable. The latest version of the Primo Down has a softer, less crinkly feeling Gore-Tex material that we like a lot.

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The Jane is warm and stylish and kept us happy on storm days.
Credit: McKenzie Long

We compared all of the manufacturer's size charts to see if they matched up with our tester's dimensions to give you some extra information for how to select a fit for yourself. Some models we recommend sizing up, down, or purchasing your normal size. We talk about this in more detail in each individual review, but in general we found Arc'teryx sizes to be on the smaller side and Columbia's to be on the bigger side.

Accessories


To keep your legs nice and warm while hitting the slopes, we recommend the Marmot Women's Freerider and The North Face Freedom LRBC. Both of these pants fit very well and are very warm. For a more in-depth look at all the ski pants we reviewed, check out The Best Ski Pants for Women Review.

Don't forget about your hands as well. For the most warmth and dexterity, we recommend the Arc'teryx Beta AR Glove - Women's and the Outdoor Research Arete - Women's. Check out The Best Women's Ski Gloves Review for a full look at all the gloves we tested.

Editors' Choice Award: Patagonia Primo Down



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The Patagonia Primo Down is simple and stylish as well as lightweight and incredibly warm. We like the longer cut of this year's version.
Credit: Jessica Haist

The Patagonia Primo Down Jacket - Women's takes the award for Editors' Choice for the third year running. It is one of the warmest we tested, sleekly stylish, and constructed with high quality materials, including a waterproof/breathable Gore-Tex shell and 600-fill traceable down insulation. It is the only jacket to combine a Gore-Tex exterior and all down insulation, allowing it to be lightweight AND waterproof. It also has many special features to keep you warm, looking good, and functioning well on the ski hill. We particularly love its special pockets for iPods, keys, and ski passes, its helmet compatible down-lined hood, and its removable snow skirt. This is one of the lightest pieces in the review and it is comfortable and moves well with the wearer. It will keep you warm on most frigid days, with extra room to layer underneath. No complaints here! The newest version of the Primo Down has a longer cut to cover more of your rear end, diamond sewn baffles that go all the way to the hem of the jacket (the previous version did not), and a softer, suppler feeling Gore-Tex material.

Top Pick Award for Stylish Resort Jacket: Orage LouLou



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A stylish and high performing ski jacket, the Orage Loulou does it all.
Credit: Jessica Haist

We loved wearing the LouLou! The Orage LouLou is super comfortable and stylish, making it our no-brainer choice for our Top Pick Award for best looking jacket. It is a feel-good layer that looks good and has all the right ski features to keep you functioning well at the resort. We love its comfy wrist gaiters and that it has all the stash pockets you could need, including a large mesh goggle pocket, pass pocket, and interior zipper pocket for keys or electronics. The stretchy shell material moves well with the wearer on the slopes and it is insulated enough to keep us warm on most days. We wore this in all kinds of weather on Mammoth Mountain and it also became our go-to around town jacket for everyday winter use. It performs better and has more ski features than the Spyder Amp, is a better value than the Arc'teryx Andessa, and is a little warmer than the Arc'teryx Meta. The LouLou comes in a wide variety of single and two-tone colors so you can find one to match your preference. If you're looking for a stand alone (not 3-in-1) resort-oriented piece that has it all in a stylish package, the Orage LouLou is for you.

Top Pick Award for Most Versatile: Arc'teryx Meta



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The Arc'teryx Meta is a very versatile jacket that you can wear in all kinds of weather.
Credit: Luke Lydiard

Arc'teryx is known for its quality products, and this is certainly no exception. This jacket is a very lightly insulated hardshell, which allows it to cross over to other outdoor activities quite well. We took the Arc'teryx Meta with us everywhere, from the ski resort and backcountry skiing in California to ice climbing in Ouray, Colorado. The Meta combines a Gore-Tex shell with a thin layer of synthetic Core Loft insulation. It is the lightest weight and least insulated jacket in this review, allowing us to stuff it in a pack wherever we went. We stood around in the cold teaching an avalanche course and got drenched in a torrential downpour while wearing this jacket – all the while staying warm and dry. We also skied in super warm conditions and were able to vent enough to stay reasonably cool. Arc'teryx has added just a few perfectly placed ski features to make this insulated shell ski specific – including a powder skirt, a mesh goggle pocket, and RECCO Avalanche Rescue Technology. The Meta is one of the more expensive products we tested at $699, but if you're looking for a versatile ski jacket that you can bring with you on all your winter adventures, consider the Meta as your quiver of one.

Best Buy Award: Columbia Whirlibird Interchange



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We tested the Whirlibird at high speeds and did not feel any drafts through the zippers or seams.
Credit: Luke Lydiard

The Columbia Whirlibird Interchange - Women's is our favorite of the three-in-one style we tested, and it wins the Best Buy award because it provides the most function and versatility for the least amount of money. It is the most stylish of these combo-style jackets, being very similar in function to the Columbia Bugaboo Interchange - Women's, but we think this one is slightly more comfortable and flattering. We particularly like how the two layers (a synthetic insulated interior jacket and a wind/water resistant outer shell) perform individually, and enjoyed peeling off the shell and wearing the inner layer around town and to happy hours; but found that they don't work in combination quite as well as we would have hoped. Although we believe it is a less durable and functional option than both the LouLou and Primo Down, it is a great value for your money, retailing for only $250. For this price you get two separate jackets with three wear options for around town and on the ski hill.

While you are putting together your ski or riding kit, you might want to check out our Ski and Snowboard Gear Dream List. Also, check out our Best Ski Boots for Women Review and stay tuned for our exciting Women's All Mountain Ski review, coming soon!

Jessica Haist
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