Reviews You Can Rely On

The 6 Best Ski Jackets for Women of 2024

We tested women's ski jackets from Arc'teryx, Patagonia, Helly Hansen, Outdoor Research, and others to find the best models for hitting the slopes
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Best Ski Jacket Women Review (From resorts to the backcountry, we test every product thoroughly in a range of environments and conditions to...)
From resorts to the backcountry, we test every product thoroughly in a range of environments and conditions to evaluate which models perform the best.
Credit: Scott Rokis
Wednesday May 1, 2024

Over the past decade, our expert shredders have tested 50 of the best women's ski jackets. For this update, we bought 18 top-ranked models to test back-to-back on the ski hill. From California to Colorado to Canada, we ride chairs, carve turns, slash pow, and crush happy hours to put each model to the test. When it came time to leave the resort behind and head to the more rugged backcountry, we put each jacket's versatility, weather resistance, and ski-specific features to the test. We've made all the side-by-side comparisons of warmth, weather protection, value, and style for you to find the best model to meet your needs.

We have in-depth reviews covering more technical hardshell jackets to mix and match with an insulated jacket, and we've also got the scoop on the top-ranked women's ski pants and the best women's base layers so you can stay toasty on the slopes. And if hard goods are what you need, a fresh pair of the best women's skis and ski boots can help get you out there and ripping it.

Editor's Note: On May 1, 2024, we added two new jackets to our review.

Related: Best Ski Jackets for Men

Top 18 Ski Jackets - Test Results

Displaying 1 - 5 of 18
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $599.93 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$189.99 at Evo
Compare at 3 sellers
$247.50 at Backcountry
Compare at 4 sellers
$799 List
Check Price at Backcountry
$139.99 at Evo
Compare at 4 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
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71
Star Rating
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Pros Durable, weather resistant, stylish, breathable, refinedWarm and lofty insulation, breathable for an insulated jacket, very comfortable, good valueWarm, lofty insulation, soft, very mobile despite insulation, excellent comfort and fitDurable, weather resistant, thoughtful design, excellent for ski touringRelatively inexpensive yet high-quality, breathable, great mobility, great ventilation
Cons Expensive, powder skirt non-removableRuns a little large, no insulation on collarLackluster ventilationExpensive, less ideal for regular resort useNon-insulating, thin shell material, not for most casual skiers
Bottom Line A high-tech, durable, and weather-resistant resort shell that stands out above the competitionThis reasonably priced jacket is a top insulated performer in many categoriesA super warm and soft resort jacket with a cool utilitarian look, this is perfect for someone who runs a little colderThis high end shell is a striking and thoughtfully designed piece for the avid backcountry skierAn excellent value for a high performing technical shell that serves inbounds or in the backcountry
Rating Categories Arc'teryx Sentinel... Patagonia Insulated... Helly Hansen Powder... Norrona Lofoten Gor... Outdoor Research Ca...
Warmth (20%)
5.0
8.0
8.0
3.0
2.0
Weather Resistance (20%)
9.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
8.0
Comfort and Fit (20%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
Ventilation (20%)
8.0
7.0
6.0
9.0
9.0
Style (10%)
9.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
Features (10%)
8.0
7.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
Specs Arc'teryx Sentinel... Patagonia Insulated... Helly Hansen Powder... Norrona Lofoten Gor... Outdoor Research Ca...
Main Fabric 70D nylon 75D postconsumer recycled polyester 70% nylon, 30% polyester 70D x 70D recycled Gore-Tex Pro 100% nylon
Insulation Flannel backer Body: 80g Thermogreen recycled polyester; sleeves: 40g Thermogreen recycled polyester Body: 60g PrimaLoft; sleeves: 40g PrimaLoft None None
Waterproofing Gore-Tex 2-layer H2No waterproof membrane PFC free DWR Gore-Tex Pro 3-layer Pertex Shield
Pockets 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered pass, one internal mesh, 1 zippered internal 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest, 1 zippered internal stash, 1 internal drop-in 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest, 1 zippered sleeve, 2 internal drop-in 2 zippered chest, 1 zippered arm, 1 zippered internal, 1 internal mesh 2 zippered chest, 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered arm, 1 internal mesh, 1 internal zippered chest
Weight 1.3 lb 1.7 lb 2.2 lb 1.3 lb (with powderskirt) 1.2 lb
Hood Option Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Pit Zips Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cuff construction Velcro Velcro Velcro with wrist gaiters Velcro with wrist gaiters Velcro
Powder skirt Yes Yes, snap away Yes Yes, removable Yes
RECCO Yes Yes Yes No No


The Best Women's Ski Jacket for 2024


Best Overall Women's Ski Jacket Shell


Arc'teryx Sentinel - Women's


79
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth 5.0
  • Weather Resistance 9.0
  • Comfort and Fit 9.0
  • Ventilation 8.0
  • Style 9.0
  • Features 8.0
Insulation: Flannel backer | Weight: 1.3 lb
REASONS TO BUY
Extremely weather-resistant
Stylish
Versatile
Breathable
REASONS TO AVOID
Stiff material
Not warm
Since our test period, Arc'teryx revised the Sentinel with updated style lines and bigger hand pockets to stash your stuff on the slopes. Arc'teryx also offers an insulated version of the Sentinel, but it's even pricier.

The Arc'teryx Sentinel is our favorite shell jacket for ripping around the resort. The Sentinel has a sleek, high-quality construction with fully taped seams and DWR-treated and taped zippers to keep the moisture out. We love how the pit zips can quickly increase ventilation with their large open design. While working hard on the uphills and downhills, we found the shell material extremely breathable, allowing us to stay dry all day. To match all of the high-end construction, this shell has enough features to keep us happy at the resort. The 3L Gore-Tex shell screams bombproof weather resistance from the first feel, and it did not disappoint over our rigorous testing.

The flip side of the breathability and versatility of a hardshell design is that it does not provide any inherent insulation. The Sentinel has a soft flannel backer, but this doesn't provide any significant insulation. Maintaining the proper temperature through layering and sweat-wicking is certainly an important part of staying warm. That said, if you are looking for a jacket that keeps you both warm and dry, you may want to consider one of the insulated models we tested, like the Helly Hansen Powderqueen 3.0. However, if you're looking for one of the highest-end hardshells on the market, we believe the Sentinel is worth the investment.

Read more: Arc'teryx Sentinel review

ski jacket womens - the sentinel is great for crushing pow on a stormy day in colorado.
The Sentinel is great for crushing pow on a stormy day in Colorado.
Credit: Jacqueline Kearney

Best Overall Insulated Women's Ski Jacket


Patagonia Insulated Powder Town - Women's


78
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth 8.0
  • Weather Resistance 8.0
  • Comfort and Fit 9.0
  • Ventilation 7.0
  • Style 7.0
  • Features 7.0
Insulation: 80g Thermogreen (body), 40g Thermogreen (sleeves) | Weight: 1.7 lb
REASONS TO BUY
Warm
Lofty insulation
Extremely smooth liner
Good breathability and ventilation
REASONS TO AVOID
Slightly boxy cut

The Patagonia Insulated Powder Town took us by surprise with how warm it is for how light and lofty the insulation is. The jacket itself comes in more at the weight range of some of the shells in this review than the insulated jackets. Not to mention, the actual material of the liner is supremely soft and slid easily over any base layer we paired with it. The insulation is not only warm — we found this jacket to be surprisingly breathable for an insulated jacket. When the going gets hot, the large, open pit zips are a great last-ditch ventilation feature.

It was really hard to find any critiques of this incredibly comfy layer. However, we do think the comfort comes at a bit of a cost. The cut of the Powder Town is large and boxy compared to some of the more tailored jackets we tested. This isn't a huge deal because this jacket still looks plenty stylish when paired with the right pants, and that extra room allows for lots of layering freedom. Overall, we really love the Powder Town and think it's an excellent value.

Read more: Patagonia Insulated Powder Town review

ski jacket womens - the insulated powder town is a great all around resort selection...
The insulated Powder Town is a great all around resort selection that will keep you warm while you shred in comfort.
Credit: Jacqueline Kearney

Best Bang for Your Buck


Outdoor Research Carbide - Women's


71
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth 2.0
  • Weather Resistance 8.0
  • Comfort and Fit 9.0
  • Ventilation 9.0
  • Style 8.0
  • Features 7.0
Insulation: None | Weight: 1.2 lb
REASONS TO BUY
Good for resort or backcountry
Breathes and vents well
Comfortable, stretchy fabric
Excellent value
REASONS TO AVOID
No insulation
Thin shell material

The Outdoor Research Carbide shines thanks to its extremely breathable and comfortable shell material. The 3L (three-layer) Pertex Shield fabric is one of the most breathable and comfortable materials we've worn. The DWR coating is also convincing, providing excellent weather protection for its weight. Combine all of this with ski-specific features to take you from the resort to the backcountry, and you have a stellar value for an excellent price.

While this stretchy 3-layer jacket provides excellent breathability and water resistance, we felt the more biting winds permeate the thin material. This more backcountry-oriented shell is so thin that we have some questions about how it will hold up to the test of time, but after months of use, we have no reason to believe it will perform poorly. We wish you could remove the powder skirt, like on the Black Diamond Recon Stretch Shell. Overall, though, we believe the Carbide performs similarly to many high-end shells on the market at a fraction of the price.

Read more: Outdoor Research Carbide review

ski jacket womens - the carbide falls somewhere between a looser, freeride style and a...
The Carbide falls somewhere between a looser, freeride style and a technical shell in its fit, and the stretch in the material allows great comfort and mobility.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Best Women's Ski Jacket Under $100


Wantdo Mountain Hooded - Women's


53
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth 8.0
  • Weather Resistance 6.0
  • Comfort and Fit 6.0
  • Ventilation 1.0
  • Style 6.0
  • Features 5.0
Insulation: 240g synthetic | Weight: 3.0 lb
REASONS TO BUY
Very inexpensive but with classic ski features
Extremely warm
Soft and cozy inside
Sturdy build
REASONS TO AVOID
Not very breathable and lacks ventilation
Heavy and untechnical

If you don't want to break the bank on your outerwear, look no further than the Wantdo Mountain Hooded. We were extremely impressed by the performance of this jacket at its price point. The hand warmer pockets, large internal drop pockets, and stash pockets on the chest are classic features we've come to expect from a ski jacket. We also love the very soft fleece that lines the body of this coat, which makes it so comfortable to throw over even the thinnest of baselayers. We found that we didn't need much more than that with this jacket, as its synthetic insulation was extremely effective at locking in heat and keeping wind and snow out.

While the Wantdo Mountain was very warm and effective at keeping the elements at bay, we did find it also trapped moisture and all the excess heat we produced while skiing. For the price point, however, we couldn't be too disappointed with this, as the higher-end waterproof/breathable membranes also come with higher-end price tags. Overall, we found this jacket kept us adequately warm and dry and was comparatively far from breaking any equipment budgets. This is a great option for a skier who prefers mostly lift accessed skiing and runs on the cold side.

Read more: Wantdo Mountain Hooded review

ski jacket womens - for warmth, protection, and a plethora of bright color options all...
For warmth, protection, and a plethora of bright color options all on a tight budget, the Wantdo Mountain Hooded is a fantastic option.
Credit: Jacqueline Kearney

Best for Backcountry Skiing


Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro - Women's


73
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth 3.0
  • Weather Resistance 9.0
  • Comfort and Fit 8.0
  • Ventilation 9.0
  • Style 9.0
  • Features 6.0
Insulation: None | Weight: 1.3 lb (including powder skirt)
REASONS TO BUY
Durable
Weather resistant
Extremely thoughtful design
Comfortable cut
Very breathable
REASONS TO AVOID
Expensive

We are completely enamored with the technical, high-end Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro. It feels like they thought of everything when designing this jacket. Its performance begins with the most breathable of Gore-Tex membranes with a hefty 70D weave. The shell feels like it can handle any weather, and we know it wicks moisture as well as any of the best options on the market. Every zipper is water-resistant and taped. The removable powder skirt and super lightweight wrist gaiters also add a little more versatility than standard in a backcountry-specific shell.

The features of this jacket are fairly sparse compared to some resort-specific models, which lands it more squarely in the backcountry shell category. Often, less is more for the backcountry, and this jacket is no exception. Still, the double chest pockets and single internal zip pockets are more than adequate for days at the resort. We found it hard to find a flaw in either the construction or performance of this high-end shell. If you are in a position to invest in a top-end piece of gear, especially for the backcountry, the Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro is an outstanding choice. If you'd like a shell that can do both resort and backcountry at a much more affordable cost, the Flylow Lucy will keep you and your wallet happy.

Read more: Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro - Women's review

ski jacket womens - we love the color blocking and longer tapered cut of the norrona...
We love the color blocking and longer tapered cut of the Norrona, which stands out without being too flashy.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Best Versatility for an Insulated Jacket


The North Face Thermoball Eco Snow Triclimate 3-in-1 - Women's


66
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth 8.0
  • Weather Resistance 8.0
  • Comfort and Fit 5.0
  • Ventilation 4.0
  • Style 8.0
  • Features 8.0
Insulation: 100% postconsumer recycled polyester | Weight: 2.0 lb
REASONS TO BUY
Good ski features
Versatile; each jacket performs well alone and in combination
Warm
REASONS TO AVOID
Fits small
Hood is tight over a helmet

We were pleasantly surprised by the versatility and performance of The North Face Thermoball Eco Snow Triclimate 3-in-1. Despite its slim fit, the jacket has almost all of the features we look for in a ski jacket (like deep pockets and quick and reactive zippers), and it impressed us with its weather resistance. Best of all, its two separate pieces make a warm and high-functioning ski jacket when combined, but are highly satisfying as individual pieces, too. 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 alone on warmer days or when we want to play with light layers underneath.

This jacket is very comfortable but should probably be sized up to allow the best movement when skiing with all layers. We felt tightness primarily across the shoulders and chest, which hindered movement somewhat. The jacket comes in various colors to personalize it with fun, patterned ski pants. We think Thermoball Triclimate is a jacket that could work for almost anyone looking for a great deal on an insulated jacket. However, if the tightness of the slim fit is problematic, check out the Patagonia Insulated Powder Town, which has a looser fit.

Read more: The North Face Thermoball Eco Snow Triclimate 3-in-1 review

ski jacket womens - the tnf triclimate is a highly versatile jacket that can keep you...
The TNF Triclimate is a highly versatile jacket that can keep you warm on chilly midwinter mornings and strip down to a breathable shell for warm spring afternoons.
Credit: Jacqueline Kearney

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
79
Arc'teryx Sentinel - Women's
Best Overall Women's Ski Jacket Shell
$750
Editors' Choice Award
78
Patagonia Insulated Powder Town - Women's
Best Overall Insulated Women's Ski Jacket
$399
Editors' Choice Award
76
Helly Hansen Powderqueen 3.0
$450
73
Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro - Women's
Best for Backcountry Skiing
$799
Top Pick Award
71
Outdoor Research Carbide - Women's
Best Bang for Your Buck
$329
Best Buy Award
71
Black Diamond Recon Stretch Shell - Women's
$450
70
Flylow Billie Coat
$430
66
The North Face Thermoball Eco Snow Triclimate 3-in-1 - Women's
Best Versatility for an Insulated Jacket
$400
Top Pick Award
65
Flylow Lucy
$400
64
REI Co-op First Chair GTX - Women's
$319
63
Burton Jet Set
$220
62
Columbia Whirlibird IV Interchange - Women's
$230
62
Outdoor Research Skytour AscentShell - Women's
$399
60
REI Co-op Powderbound Insulated
$199
56
Helly Hansen Alphelia LIFALOFT Insulated
$550
53
Wantdo Mountain Hooded - Women's
Best Women's Ski Jacket Under $100
$69
Best Buy Award
48
Wantdo Snowboarding Hooded - Women's
$70
34
Obermeyer Tuscany II Insulated
$279

ski jacket womens - we want to set you up for endless powder fields like this one.
We want to set you up for endless powder fields like this one.

How We Test Women's Ski Jackets


Since 2013, our team of experts has tested over 75 of the best and most popular women's ski jackets. We buy them just like you would and then test them side-by-side on mountains from Canada to Vermont and California to Colorado, both inbounds and in the backcountry. These jackets underwent more than 100 individual tests paying special attention to critical areas of performance to make this a very rigorous assessment. When called for, we supplemented field use with controlled tests, like spraying the jackets with water to test water resistance. We know you'll find this study a thorough and helpful starting point in selecting your next ski jacket.

Our examination of women's ski jackets is based on six rating metrics:
  • Warmth (20% of overall score weighting)
  • Weather Resistance (20% weighting)
  • Comfort and Fit (20% weighting)
  • Ventilation (20% weighting)
  • Style (10% weighting)
  • Features (10% weighting)

Why Trust GearLab


This review is brought to you by Betsy Welch, Jessica Haist, and Jackie Kearney. Betsy hails from the Front Range of Colorado, although you'll usually find her adventuring in the mountains or abroad. She likes to rip around local resorts, nordic ski, and dabble in skimo racing when the snow flies. Originally from Toronto, Canada, Jessica made her way west into the States and now resides in Mammoth Lakes, California. Jessica has acquired the gear connoisseur's eye for detail and function with Mammoth Mountain's varied slopes available all season long. 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. Jackie has skied and lived in several places in the American West. After ski patrolling for several years at Kirkwood Mountain in Lake Tahoe, California, she returned to the San Juan Mountains of Colorado to pursue the same work at Telluride.

The Skytour can take you from mostly backcountry to the lifts when...
The Skytour can take you from mostly backcountry to the lifts when you just need your powder fix.
We got some serious time in on long resort groomers on cold and warm...
We got some serious time in on long resort groomers on cold and warm days alike.
The OR Skytour Ascentshell is great for slaying pow all day.
The OR Skytour Ascentshell is great for slaying pow all day.
From bluebird days at the resort to powder days in the backcountry to parking lot apres parties, we've tested these jackets in all kinds of skiing and ski-related situations.

Analysis and Test Results


If you're into riding the lifts from the first chair until the last call, 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, as it often becomes one's on-hill identity that your ski partners recognize (“There she is, in the teal 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.


Value


Determining which ski jacket hits the sweet spot between performance and price is difficult. Consider how much you get out on the mountain to help you justify your spending. For only a few weekends every winter, you might be happier with a less expensive option like the extra-affordable, warm Wantdo Mountain Hooded ski jacket. However, if you call into work sick every powder day (hey, we don't judge) and get dozens of days on the mountain each year, it's easier to swallow the prices of some high-end gear. In our experience, spending more often leads to superior weather resistance, better versatility for the way you ski, and better tailoring and fit. The Arc'teryx Sentinel and Norrona Lofoten are great examples of this. Their thoughtful construction with taped or welded seams and fully water-resistant zippers meld with high-end Gore-Tex to put them a step above the rest. They'll keep you skiing all day and will likely last several ski seasons — at least. Relatedly, they consistently impress with their on-trend and flattering tailoring. However, if you are looking for a jacket with similar weather resistance and a similar cut, consider the Outdoor Research Carbide at a fraction of the price.

ski jacket womens - delivering exceptional performance at a competitive price, the...
Delivering exceptional performance at a competitive price, the Carbide rivals jackets that cost significantly more.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Going for an insulated jacket could potentially save you money on insulating mid-layers, which alone are often as expensive as any of these jackets. Many insulated jackets today tend to cost less than the pricey shell jackets. The Patagonia Powder Town is our favorite insulated model and is extremely reasonably priced. For further savings, the versatility and price-point of The North Face Thermoball Eco Snow Triclimate 3-in-1 is a very appealing bargain to cover your bases adequately, adding and removing layers as you like.

ski jacket womens - the versatile triclimate on a very windy and deceptively cold day at...
The versatile Triclimate on a very windy and deceptively cold day at A-Basin in Colorado.

Warmth


How warm you are while skiing can make or break your day. During our test, we rated each jacket on how warm it kept us on chilly, blustery, stormy days. We skied fast and sat on windy chairlifts to check for drafts in strange places. All the special features designed to help retain heat were put to the test. We also ensured that the jackets we tried had different types and degrees of insulation.


The Columbia Whirlibird IV uses a foil-like lining called Omni-Heat that is designed to reflect heat toward your body. This design, in combination with synthetic insulation, effectively retains warmth. We were skeptical about this flashy material but found that the Whirlibird is one of the warmer jackets in this review. The North Face Triclimate 3-in-1 is also super toasty, albeit a bit slim fitting.

Consider the winter climate where you typically ski and your average level of exertion on the ski hill. Intermediate to advanced skiers in warmer, maritime climates might not want to opt for the warmest model, as the outside temps and generation of body heat are already warm enough.

Another of our favorite top-performing products here is the Patagonia Powder Town. With 80 grams of proprietary Thermogreen recycled polyester insulation in the body and 40 grams in the sleeves, this jacket has plenty of insulation for most cold days skiing. We were initially a little skeptical of this insulation due to the extremely light weight of the jacket overall but we found that this lofty insulation kept us more than warm enough.

ski jacket womens - the fun, flashy inside of the insulated layer of the whirlibird iv.
The fun, flashy inside of the insulated layer of the Whirlibird IV.
Credit: Betsy Welch

The uninsulated shell jackets we tested all provide a similar, but not equal, level of warmth. The weight of the face fabric and the backer material contribute to their overall warmth. Notably, the Arc'teryx Sentinel has a flannel backer and a 70-denier face fabric. This design made it the warmest of the shells we tested and the warmest option for a shell jacket. With these jackets, layering appropriately underneath is the best way to manage warmth. While not incredibly warm on their own, these jackets provide the added benefit of helping you manage your temperature based on exertion, which is a key element to staying dry inside your jacket and consistently warm all day.

ski jacket womens - the flannel backing in the arc&#039;teryx sentinel provides just a thin...
The flannel backing in the Arc'teryx Sentinel provides just a thin layer of added warmth to this shell ski jacket.
Credit: Jacqueline Kearney

Other design factors that contribute to warmth are wrist gaiters to keep the drafts out of your sleeves like in the Helly Hansen Alphelia Lifaloft Insulated and Wantdo Mountain Hooded, 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 on the The North Face Triclimate.

ski jacket womens - effective wrist gaiters, like those on the alphelia lifaloft, are...
Effective wrist gaiters, like those on the Alphelia Lifaloft, are soft, keep the snow out and don't bunch up inside gloves.
Credit: Jacqueline Kearney

Weather Resistance


We evaluated all jackets on how well they protect you from the elements. Hardshell jackets like the Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro, Flylow Billie Coat, and Arc'teryx Sentinel score high in this metric 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, weather resistance can be the most essential feature of a ski jacket. For example, the wetter, heavier snow of a maritime climate can quickly soak through a jacket without decent water resistance. The wetter you get, the colder you become, which can result in an abrupt end to your ski day.

ski jacket womens - the sentinel comes up high enough to protect your face, but can be...
The Sentinel comes up high enough to protect your face, but can be adjusted to stay out of your face even if you are not wearing a helmet.
Credit: Jacqueline Kearney

Many of the products we evaluated are constructed with a waterproof/breathable shell material such as Gore-Tex. The Arc'teryx Sentinel, Norrona Lofoten, and REI First Chair GTX feature Gore-Tex. Like the Black Diamond Recon Stretch, some products we tested also have a highly rated, proprietary waterproof/breathable material like BD.dry. Nearly everything we tested has a DWR (durable water repellent) coating, but in our testing some jackets repelled water better than others.

Waterproofness is rated on an industry-standard test in which labs determine how many millimeters of water in a square-inch tube it takes for a material to start leaking. As a general rule, something with a 15K waterproof rating will work for most resort use, but if you live in a maritime climate or go on a lot of all-day tours in stormy weather, look for something closer to the 20K+ range.

Breathability, on the other hand, is not so simple. Water vapor behaves differently in different climates, and there is no standard test for breathability. Manufacturers will want to report the highest number here, so taking this information with a grain of salt is important.

Along with field testing, we spray each jacket with water to carefully evaluate how well water beads off the surface and how long it takes the water to soak into the material, if at all. The spray test largely assesses 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 3-in-1, so we took them out in wet snowfall. Moisture beaded right off of both.

ski jacket womens - ski jackets that are just shells were generally the most...
Ski jackets that are just shells were generally the most weather-resistant (and breathable!) jackets we tested.
Credit: Jacqueline Kearney

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 Sentinel and Norrona Lofoten have Gore-Tex shells with DWR coatings that held up the best and beaded water quickly, whereas the Helly Hansen Alphelia Lifaloft and Obermeyer Tuscany II Insulated absorbed some water into their exterior shells over time. The Billie Coat has an OmniBloq Durable Water Repellent coating that is said to be even more protective than the standard DWR used in the industry — we can't say if that's for sure true, but we can say that it's very effective.

ski jacket womens - with a dwr treatment, liquid beads and slides off instead of being...
With a DWR treatment, liquid beads and slides off instead of being absorbed into the fabric. This hydrophobic ability diminishes over time, but happens more slowly with high-quality treatments.
Credit: Scott Rokis

We also considered other factors in this metric: how wind-resistant is the jacket's construction? Do we feel drafts through zippers or seams? The Sentinel, Lofoten, and Billie Coat performed highly in this regard, effectively keeping out stiff winds. Additionally, we evaluate if hoods are adjustable, insulated, and will fit over a ski helmet to protect you from whipping winds and incessant precipitation while sitting still on the chairlift or skiing down in stormy weather. We love the technical performance of the oversized hoods on these three jackets and how well they protected our chins and faces with or without a helmet underneath. All of the shells have non-insulated hoods, while the fully insulated jackets all have some degree of insulation in the hood. For example, the Powder Town and the HH Alphelia Lifaloft each have a tall baffled hood for extra buffer on storm days.

ski jacket womens - the billie coat is stylish and highly weather resistant.
The Billie Coat is stylish and highly weather resistant.
Credit: Scott Rokis

Comfort and Fit


Comfort and fit are paramount because you want to move around and feel good all day while wearing your jacket. There are various ways manufacturers address comfort and fit in their jackets. In our experience, two main things make the biggest differences: the tailoring and the mobility of the actual material. For example, burlier shells like the Arc'teryx Sentinel and Norrona Lofoten feel crinkly out of the box as they do not have any stretch. What sets them apart from each other are their varying levels of tailoring.


We especially like how the Arc'teryx Sentinel has articulated elbows, a fold of fabric at the elbow that allows you to bend without pinching or shortening the arm. The Sentinel and the Norrona Lofoten are tailored with ample room in the shoulders, which we love, and a taper at the waist to allow easy movement and limit the jacket from shifting around and rubbing or pulling uncomfortably.

ski jacket womens - the norrona lofoten&#039;s extended cut in the sleeves and hem impressed...
The Norrona Lofoten's extended cut in the sleeves and hem impressed us. This provided more layering flexibility and overall enhanced comfort.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Some jackets have stretchy shell materials that flex with movement, like the Flylow Lucy, Outdoor Research Carbide, and Black Diamond Recon Stretch. Some insulated models also incorporate stretch to counteract the bulk of insulation.

ski jacket womens - the black diamond recon&#039;s 4-way stretch fabric offers excellent...
The Black Diamond Recon's 4-way stretch fabric offers excellent freedom of movement for your shoulders, making it comfortable to wear with a backpack during long backcountry tours.
Credit: Jacqueline Kearney

The fit of your jacket can also affect its warmth. You won't be as comfortable if it is too small, and you cannot put on extra layers for those biting cold days. Conversely, if it is too roomy and lets in drafts, it will also be less warm and comfortable. We like the extra room all of the hard shells in this review left for layering. For insulated models, the Patagonia Powder Town and Helly Hansen Powderqueen 3.0 are notable for their “just right” fits.

ski jacket womens - pillowy baffling and silky material put the powder town a step above...
Pillowy baffling and silky material put the Powder Town a step above in comfort.
Credit: Jacqueline Kearney

Ventilation


It's easy to break a sweat when you're working hard, making turns in deep powder, or hiking in-bounds. If you get sweaty, you can become clammy and cold, quickly causing a premature end to your ski day. You want a jacket that breathes well or can let air pass through using pit zips and other features. A jacket's materials and the incorporated ventilation features effectively release heat and moisture, keeping your temperature regulated.


With an easy-to-open pit-zip, you can immediately get airflow to your body, allowing you to dump heat and quickly regulate your temperature. Some jackets, like the Norrona Lofoten, feature central and chest zips for ventilation. The OR Carbide also has mesh backing on the chest and hand pockets, and the Arc'teryx Sentinel has notably long pit zips. Since many of the contenders in this review are thick and insulated (meaning not very breathable), ventilation features are essential for staying comfortable in varying conditions on the ski hill. The uninsulated shells we tested had the best ventilation of the bunch.

ski jacket womens - the sentinel has some of the largest open pit zips we tested, which...
The Sentinel has some of the largest open pit zips we tested, which greatly improved airflow without the need to unzip the jacket.

Almost all of the jackets in this test have some pit-zip feature for venting, allowing air to circulate inside the jacket on warmer days, some allowing more air in than others. Some of the jacket's pit zips are mesh-backed to keep snow out, but without mesh, the pit zips can open up wider for maximum ventilation. That said, they can allow snow inside the jacket if you happen to tumble. Unless you're brand new to skiing, we usually recommend open pit zips without any mesh liner. All of the 3-in-1 styles have pit zips on the exterior shell but not on the interior insulating layer, making them useful when worn as a single layer.

ski jacket womens - the pit vents on the alphelia are lined with a thick mesh that kept...
The pit vents on the Alphelia are lined with a thick mesh that kept out snow but keeps in some heat.
Credit: Jacqueline Kearney

Style


Style may be subjective, but it's still important to many skiers. Feeling good in your jacket can affect how you ski and feel on the hill. Then, there's the fact that people begin to recognize you by your pants and jacket, 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 essential, too.


Color-blocked designs with different colored hoods, bodies, and sleeves continue to be the latest style on the slopes, as is found on the Norrona Lofoten and the Arc'teryx Sentinel. We like the color offerings for the Burton Jet Set as well. We also love contrasting zippers like on the Sentinel and the super-stylish Flylow Billie Coat.

ski jacket womens - this version of the jet set won us many compliments.
This version of the Jet Set won us many compliments.
Credit: Betsy Welch

We dig the look of long hemlines like on the Arc'teryx Sentinel, Norrona Lofoten, and Black Diamond Recon Stretch. These jackets, along with the Outdoor Research Carbide, taper at the waist and extend back out, creating a look that flatters natural contours. We also think that the more traditional, straighter cut of The North Face Triclimate 3-in-1 looks nice and clean for those who prefer a more understated style.

ski jacket womens - the bright color combo of earth tones and neons on the lofoten...
The bright color combo of earth tones and neons on the Lofoten stands out in a crowd on gray days.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Features


Almost all of the jackets have the same essential ski features in common: pass pockets, goggle pockets, YKK zippers, and adjustable hoods. The manufacturers seem to 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 your pants when falling.


We particularly love the powder skirts on the Black Diamond Recon Stretch and Norrona Lofoten because they're removable when not needed, like for around-town use or 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 together so they become impenetrable to snow. This compatibility is the most efficient way to wear a powder skirt, but it's not very helpful if you have different brands of jackets/pants.

ski jacket womens - the recon stretch&#039;s removable powder skirt offers on-demand weather...
The Recon Stretch's removable powder skirt offers on-demand weather protection. Attach it for deep snow days and remove it for warmer conditions, maximizing the jacket's versatility.

There are many convenient and unique features on all the different models in 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 Arc'teryx Sentinel and Patagonia Powder Town so we can listen to our tunes while we ski. More jackets have been incorporating this feature, although, with the popularity of wireless earbuds, we wouldn't be surprised to see this feature vanish as quickly as it appeared. We also appreciate big mesh goggle pockets and fleece-lined handwarmer pockets like the Burton Jet Set and Powder Town have. A zippered interior or chest pocket is essential for keeping important things like credit cards and car keys safe and sound. The Flylow Billie Coat has a great variety of pockets we love.

ski jacket womens - our favorite feature of the sentinel were the hand pockets placed...
Our favorite feature of the Sentinel were the hand pockets placed high enough on the torso to access while wearing a pack.
Credit: Jacqueline Kearney

Wrist Gaiters


These help keep drafts out of your sleeves and warm your hands when you don't have your gloves on. Wrist gaiters made of thin, sleek materials are better for wearing underneath gloves. These can cut off circulation or be just downright uncomfortable if poorly designed. The Norrona Lofoten, Wantdo Mountain, and Helly Hansen Alphelia Lifaloft have notably effective and comfortable wrist gaiters.

ski jacket womens - the wrist gaiter and upper arm pocket on the lofoten.
The wrist gaiter and upper arm pocket on the Lofoten.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

RECCO Reflector


This feature is a growing trend and is becoming an industry standard for all ski jackets. If you are caught in an in-bounds avalanche, the RECCO system could potentially aid ski patrol in finding you faster. The Arc'teryx Sentinel, the Patagonia Powder Town, and the Helly Hansen Powderqueen 3.0 and Alphelia Lifaloft all have a RECCO reflector.

The Norrona Lofoten is the only jacket in this review with a “Rescue Pocket.” This pocket is not actually a pocket but more a vent in the chest with a mesh backer velcroed to the body of the jacket. The intention is to reach a transceiver on a body harness beneath your shell without having to undo a chest strap on a backpack or fully unzip your jacket. When practiced extensively, this innovative feature could improve efficiency in a search. Our only warning would be not to use it as a real pocket.

ski jacket womens - powder skiing in the the warm and weather resistant patagonia...
Powder skiing in the the warm and weather resistant Patagonia Insulated Powder Town.
Credit: Jacqueline Kearney

Conclusion


Aside from your skis, boots, and helmet, 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 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 their placement matter most. Ventilation is key for skiers who like to shred hard or get out in the backcountry. And, of course, you want a jacket that looks good, makes you feel great, and reflects your style. We hope our tests, observations, and recommendations have helped you select the right jacket for your unique needs on the slopes. For other ski equipment we love, check out our favorite ski gear to see our top-rated products across all ski categories.

Jacqueline Kearney, Betsy Welch, and Jessica Haist