The Best Ski Jackets for Women
Best Women's Insulated Ski Jacket
Patagonia Primo Puff - Women's
We decided to give two Editors' Choice Awards this year, and the Primo Puff wins (for the seventh year in a row!) for our insulated option. The classic offering from Patagonia impressed us with bomber durability and the ability to protect us from the elements. It also might be the toastiest jacket we've ever tested; the 135g PlumaFill insulation in the body of the jacket (and 90g in the panels and sleeves) made us feel like we were snuggled into a sleeping bag every time we put it on. For really high output days, it was too warm, but the change from down to synthetic insulation has addressed this issue a little bit. The pit zips certainly help with insulation, too, and we often used these when skiing more technical terrain or on warmer days.
Patagonia is known for weather resistance in all aspects of their jackets, and the Primo Puff is no different; the zippers are watertight, coated, and easy to use. The pockets are all useful as well, from the soft, lined hand pockets to the one zippered and one goggle pocket on the interior. Of course, the jacket has a pass pocket and a headphone gasket in the chest pocket. If you're someone who tends to stay warm and likes to play with layers rather than having insulation all the time, this might not be the jacket for you. But, if you want stay toasty and dry no matter what you're doing, the award-winning Primo Puff is a great option.
Read review: Patagonia Primo Puff - Women's
Best Women's Hardshell Resort Ski Jacket
The North Face A-CAD FUTURELIGHT - Women's
The North Face kept us in suspense for the past year with its newly-released FUTURELIGHT series, and we here at OGL feel that the wait was worth it. The A-CAD FUTURELIGHT is ou highest rated uninsulated/hardshell resort-styled jacket this year because of the supreme usability of the piece. We loved it for everything from carving blue groomers, getting sweaty in hike-to terrain at the resort, and being outside all day during a massive storm. The jacket is extremely weatherproof (we wore it on windy days and days when it alternated between rain and snow), but it's not hot, heavy, or stifling. The FUTURELIGHT fabric wicks moisture while allowing air through. The soft tricot backer feels great on the inside. The hood and cuffs are huge and accommodating. The fit is generous without feeling sloppy; it looks really good on.
If you're not at all interested in breathability and prefer an insulated jacket, this jacket is not for you. It's also expensive. Nevertheless, we love the A-CAD FUTURELIGHT for how incredibly weatherproof, breathable, and highly functioning it is on the mountain. It looks good, feels good, and The North Face spared no expense in using materials that are both functional and fashionable. If you charge hard at the resort, this is our top recommendation.
Read review: The North Face A-CAD FUTURELIGHT - Women's
Best Bang for the Buck
For the second year running, the Armada Stadium jacket wins our Best Buy Award for its ability to combine fashion and function all at a surprisingly low price. We felt that the jacket had enough weatherproofing qualities to keep us dry all day, its insulation was warm but not stifling, and it looks great on. We loved the big, dual chest pockets and stashed snacks, phones, money, and hand warmers inside without feeling weighed down. The jacket also had wrist gaiters and a huge, adjustable hood that fits snugly over our helmets. It's really versatile both on and off the mountain; we wore it skiing both blue groomers and icy blacks and didn't want to take it off when we left the hill and headed out for dinner afterward (i.e., it wasn't stinky or damp, and it's stylish enough to function as a cute layer, off-mountain!).
One note — the Stadium has a flattering, tapered silhouette, and some of our testers found that it fit a little too snugly around the hips. We'd recommend sizing up if you're on the cusp of a size. Nevertheless, we think this jacket had a winning combo of features + style, and it kept us warm and dry all day. It also comes with a price tag that can't be beat.
Read review: Armada Stadium
Best for Versatility
The North Face Thermoball Eco Snow Triclimate 3-in-1 - Women's
We were pleasantly surprised by the The North Face Thermoball Eco Snow Triclimate 3-in-1 this year and gave it a Top Pick Award for its versatility and performance. Despite its slim fit (we recommend sizing up), the jacket had almost all of the features we look for in a ski jacket (deep pockets, quick and reactive zippers), and it impressed with its weather resistance. Best of all, it's two separate pieces that, when combined, make a warm and high functioning ski jacket. The inner synthetic jacket is warm and looks great on its own, and we often wear it around town. The outer shell stands perfectly well on its own on days that are warmer or when we wanted to play with light layers underneath.
The jacket was very comfortable, but should probably be sized up to allow the best movement when skiing. The hood doesn't fit super well over a ski helmet, but we think that would also be improved upon by sizing up. The jacket comes in enough colors that you can personalize it to your liking, and it works well with fun, patterned ski pants. We think the The North Face THERMOBALL ECO SNOW TRICLIMATE is a jacket that could work for almost anyone, and that's why we've given it a Top Pick.
Why You Should Trust Us
This review is brought to you by OutdoorGearLab Review Editor Betsy Welch. Betsy hails from the Front Range of Colorado, although you'll usually find her adventuring in the mountains or abroad. In the summer, she's all about bikes - gravel, mountain, bikepacking, and commuting around town. When the snow flies, Betsy likes to rip around local resorts, nordic ski, and dabble in skimo racing. She also tries to pair all winter activities with a visit to a hot spring. Betsy has a background in public health nursing and thinks that being outside is the best medicine.
A long-time contributor to this review is OutdoorGearLab Review Editor dedicated skier Jessica Haist. Originally from Toronto, Canada, Jessica made her way west into the states, and now resides in Mammoth Lakes, California. With Mammoth mountain's varied slopes available all season long, Jessica has acquired the gear connoisseur's eye for detail and function. She's also lived and worked all over the US as an outdoor educator and guide and holds a Master's Degree in Outdoor Education from Arizona's Prescott College.
Finding the best Women's ski jacket started with ample online research. We made an initial cut of 50 jackets before selecting and purchasing the 12 models discussed here for testing. We took them out in a variety of locations from Canada to California to Colorado, including the backcountry. We paid attention to critical areas of performance like warmth, weather resistance, features, ventilation, and even style. When called for, we supplemented field use with controlled tests, like spraying the jackets down to test water resistance. All-in-all, we think you'll find this study to be a comprehensive and helpful starting point in the selection of your next ski jacket.
Related: How We Tested Ski Jacket for Women
Analysis and Test Results
If you're into riding the lifts from the first chair till last, you'll want a ski jacket that will keep you warm, dry, and functioning well all day. Style is also 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 on a storm day and work hard all day doing it? We've outlined the best choices for each scenario.
Trying to figure out which ski jacket hits the sweet spot between performance and price can feel like diving into a black hole. Consider how much you get out on the mountain to help you justify your spending on your next ski jacket. For only a few weekends every winter, you might be happier with a less expensive option. However, if you call into work sick every powder day and get dozens of days on the mountain each year, it's easier to swallow the prices of some high-end gear like our award-winning Patagonia Primo Puff and the A-CAD FUTURELIGHT. Then again, there are a few models that combine great performance with relatively modest price tags, like The North Face THERMOBALL ECO SNOW TRICLIMATE and Armada Stadium.
We evaluated all jackets on how well they keep you protected from the elements.
The Patagonia Primo Puff stands on top of the mountain in terms of weather resistance with a GORE-TEX outer fabric, high-quality DWR coating, well-designed hood, and burly zipper that keeps howling winds at bay. As an uninsulated alternative, The North Face A-CAD FUTURELIGHT is right there on top, too. Hardshell jackets like the Patagonia Powder Bowl and the Flylow Billie Coat scored high in this category because of their super durable and water resistant shell materials and large storm hoods. Depending on the time of year and the climate you're skiing in, this category can be the most essential feature of a ski jacket. Ski areas in a maritime environment tend to have wetter, heavier snow that can easily soak through a jacket without decent water resistance. This is important because 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 Powder Bowl, Arc'teryx Tiya, and Primo Puff all feature GORE-TEX. Also, 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.
Along with field testing, we sprayed each jacket with water to carefully evaluate how well water beaded off of the surface, and how long it took the water to soak into the material. The spray test assessed the DWR coatings on these jackets, not the overall waterproofness of the materials. Every jacket we tested did well at repelling moisture during our spray tests. We were curious about the protective qualities in the shells of the Columbia Whirlibird IV Interchange and The North Face THERMOBALL ECO SNOW TRICLIMATE and took them out in wet snowfall. Moisture beaded right off of both. It is important to note that DWR coatings will wear off over time from washing and use, but garments can be re-treated. The Powder Bowl and Primo Puff from Patagonia both have with GORE-TEX shells with DWR coatings that held up the best and beaded water quickly, whereas the Orage Nina soaked the water right up.
Other factors we considered in this category are how wind resistant the jacket's construction is — do we feel drafts through zippers or seams? The North Face A-CAD FUTURELIGHT and the Patagonia jackets had bombproof, weather-protected zippers. We also evaluate if hoods are adjustable, insulated, and will fit all the way over a helmet to protect you from winds and precipitation while sitting still on the chairlift or skiing down in stormy weather. All of the shells have non-insulated hoods, while the fully insulated jackets all had some degree of insulation in the hood. We especially love all three of the Patagonia jackets huge hoods, and the tall, stand-up neck cuff of the Burton Jet Set was a great compliment to its large hood. The Billie Coat also had a generous, protective hood.
Comfort and Fit
Comfort and fit are paramount because you want to be able to move around and feel good while wearing your jacket all day.
Some jackets have stretchy shell materials that flex with movement, like the Nina. Some are roomier so you can wear more layers underneath, like the Billie Coat and the Powder Bowl. 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 Puff has a softer, less crinkly feeling Gore-Tex material that we like a lot. The most comfortable of the shells we tested was the A-CAD FUTURELIGHT, and the Primo Puff was the comfiest insulated jacket. The Burton Jet Set came in as a close second in the insulated category; we found that even after we'd come inside, we'd forget to take this jacket off since it felt like a second skin.
We compared all of the manufacturer's size charts to see if they matched up with our testers' dimensions to give you some extra information on how to select a fit for yourself. Some models we recommend sizing up, down, or purchasing your normal size. In general, we found Arc'teryx sizes to be on the smaller side and Patagonia's "Regular Fit" to be roomy but not too big. In The North Face and Columbia 3-in-1 styles, we recommend sizing up since the inner insulating layer can feel a bit bulky. Same goes for the Armada Stadium
How warm (or cold) you are on the hill can make or break your ski day. In our test, we rated each jacket on how warm it kept us on cold, windy, stormy days. We skied fast and sat on windy chairlifts to find out if there were any drafts in strange places and tried out all the special features designed to help retain heat. We also made sure that the jackets we tried had different types of and degrees of insulation. The Patagonia Primo Puff is by far the warmest in the review, using high-quality synthetic down insulation. The Arc'teryx Tiya was second in the warmth department, filled with warm synthetic insulation. The Armada Stadium and Burton Jet Set were also surprisingly toasty budget options.
The Columbia models use a foil-like lining they call 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 that the Whirlibird is one of the warmer jackets in the review. The North Face THERMOBALL ECO SNOW TRICLIMATE 3-in-1 was also super toasty, albeit a bit slim fitting. The uninsulated shell jackets we tested all provide a similar level or warmth. With these jackets, layering appropriately underneath is the best way to manage their warmth.
Other design factors that contribute to warmth are wrist gaiters that keep the drafts out of your sleeves like in the Armada Stadium, chin guards that can zip up over a neck gaiter like in the Burton Jet Set and baffles around your neck to keep drafts from creeping down your spine like in the Patagonia models.
When you're working hard making turns in deep powder or hiking in bounds, you can work up a sweat quickly. If you get sweaty, you can become clammy and cold which can end your ski day quickly. You want a jacket that breathes well or has the ability to let air pass through with the use of pit zips and other features.
A jacket's materials, 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 like on the Powder Bowl and Billie Coat you can immediately get airflow to your body, allowing you to regulate your temperature quickly. Since most of the contenders in this review are thick and insulated, meaning not very breathable, the ventilation features are essential for staying comfortable in varying conditions on the ski hill. The un-insulated shells we tested had the best ventilation of the bunch, with the A-CAD FUTURELIGHT leading the pack.
Almost all of the jackets in this test have some pit-zip feature for venting, allowing for air to circulate inside the jacket on warmer days, some allowing more air in than others. Some of the jacket's pit-zips were mesh-backed to keep the snow out, like on the Arc'teryx Tiya, Armada Stadium, and Burton Jet Set, whereas some had no mesh. Without mesh, the pit-zips can open up wider for maximum ventilation, but also can allow snow inside the jacket if you happen to tumble. All of the 3-in-1 styles, like the Columbia Whirlibird IV, have pit-zips on the exterior shell, but not on the interior insulating layer, which makes them much less useful. Of course, being able to remove or add the insulating layer is a fantastic way to regulate temperature. The only jacket we tested this round without pit-zips is the Columbia Alpine Action.
Style may be subjective, but we think it's important! Feeling good in your jacket can affect how you ski and how you feel on the hill. Then, there's the fact that people begin to recognize you by what you wear while skiing and your outfit essentially becomes your identity when your head and face are otherwise cloaked in a helmet and goggles. It's how people find you out on the mountain. Selecting a jacket that represents your style and personality is important, just as finding one with properly placed vents and warm enough insulation is, too.
Extra-long cuts to cover your backside and two-tone designs with different colored hoods and sleeves continue to be the latest style on the slopes, and the A-CAD FUTURELIGHT fits right in here. We also like the color offerings for the Burton Jet Set. We love contrasting zippers like on the Stadium and Billie Coat. We were generally unimpressed with Patagonia's bland color offerings this year.
We dig the look of long hemlines — like on the North Face A_CAD FUTURELIGHT, Flylow Billie Coat, and Armada Stadium — but also thought that the more traditional shapes of the Patagonia Powder Bowl, Arc'teryx Tiya, and The North Face THERMOBALL ECO SNOW TRICLIMATE looked nice and clean for those of us who prefer a more understated style.
This year, we found that almost all of the jackets had the same essential ski features in common (pass pockets, google pockets, YKK zippers, and adjustable hoods). It seems that the manufacturers have caught on to what makes a great day on the hill, and they've incorporated these essential features into the jackets. Most ski-specific jackets also have powder skirts, designed to keep snow from going up your back on a powder day or from going down the pants when falling.
We love the powder skirts on the Billie Coat and Primo Puff because they are removable for times when they aren't needed, like wearing the jacket around town and when there isn't pow to slay on the mountain. Many brands' powder skirts are compatible with the same brand's ski pants, and you can attach them so they become impenetrable to snow. This is the most efficient way to wear a powder skirt, but it's not very helpful if you have different brands of jackets/pants.
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 Armada Stadium and Primo Puff so we can listen to our tunes while we ski. More jackets than ever are including this feature. We also like big mesh goggle pockets and fleece-lined handwarmer pockets like in the Tiya and Jet Set. A zippered interior pocket or chest pocket is essential for keeping important things like credit cards and car keys safe and sound. The Flylow Billie Coat had a great variety of pockets, and we were impressed with how big both the hand pockets and inside pockets were on the The North Face Thermoball Eco. We found it odd that the chest pocket on the Burton Jet Set only affixed with velcro rather than a zipper.
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. The Armada Stadium was the only jacket we tested with this feature, and we found that we could take it or leave it.RECCO Reflector
This feature seems to be a growing trend and is becoming 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. The Primo Puff, Tiya, Snowbelle, and Powder Bowl jackets all have a RECCO reflector.
Other unique features that we came across this year were a cord to attach your cell phone to your jacket, so it doesn't fall when you're on the chairlift in the Orage Nina.
Aside from your skis and boots, your ski jacket is probably the most important piece of gear for a day on the hill. It has to keep you warm, dry, and able to rip all day long. All of the jackets in this review have features that seek to do just that. For many people, weather resistance and warmth are the most important factors to consider, while for others, features like pockets and where they're placed matter the most. For skiiers who like to shred hard and maybe get out in the backcountry, ventilation is a key factor. And of course, you want a jacket that looks good, makes you feel great, and reflects your personal style! We hope that our observations in this review have helped you select the right kind of jacket for your unique needs on the slopes.
— Betsy Welch and Jessica Haist