Once you’ve figured out the type of jacket you need, you then need to understand the features which will best suit your favorite activities. Key features include:
- Powder Skirt
- Pant Connectors
- Wrist and Cuffs
- Waterproof Zippers
Ski Jacket Venting
When picking a ski jacket, look for how well the jacket “breathes” or vents. You don’t want a jacket that locks in sweat, but rather a jacket that wicks it away from the body. Typically, the thicker shelled jackets have less venting than the soft shell. However, where the venting may be slightly lower on thicker jackets, the insulation is higher. The trick is to balance the warmth of the jacket with how well it deals with wind, rain, and sweat.
Ski Jacket Pockets
Most ski jackets have pockets. The question which you should ask is how functional are they. In many cases, those who hike and climb prefer the technical jackets where the pockets are higher and easily accessible. Also, look for ski jackets with pocket zippers to secure your gear.
Ski Jacket Hood
There are various hoods available on a ski jacket. For 3-in-1 jackets it is normally a zippered connected hood attached to the thicker outer jacket. Hard Shells, technical, and soft shells normally include a pocket hood that zips into the collar. When trying on the jacket make sure you have good visibility. Hoods should protect the ears and the face adequately while allowing ample movement of the head and neck. While most hoods do allow for the use of helmets and other equipment, it is very important that you check to see how the hood actually accommodates your specific equipment.
An important feature of a ski jacket is the powder skirt. Its primary function is to prevent powder snow from reaching your body. For this reason, some associate the powder skirt with novice wear. Yet, the powder skirt does more than keep you from freezing your butt off, if it’s removable you can decrease the jacket’s weight which will help on those long runs. A powder skirt also Reduces heat loss and allows for better movement. And if you’re skiing in the backcountry or in areas where winds have high powder content a powder skirt will be a real life saving.
Like the name suggests, pant connectors secure the jacket to the pants. Normally ski pants have suspenders which fit under the jacket. But is some cases the jacket may have the ability to snap directly to the pants (usually if the jacket and pants are sold as a pair). If purchasing a ski jacket with pant connectors, keep your mobility and flexibility in mind. When pant connects are part of the jacket design, look for loop designs rather than buckles (as falling on a buckle snap could be quite painful). Additionally, if pant connectors are a specific feature you desire, check the pants available from the manufacturer to ensure the best fit to the jacket.
Ski Jacket Cuffs
The functionality you’re looking for in cuffs is pretty straightforward. Cuffs should fit securely around the wrists and be made of materials which are flexible while at the same time secure enough to keep water and snow from getting down the sleeve.
It is critical that the ski jacket that you choose have waterproof zippers. Check to ensure that not only the main zipper but also the pockets and any supporting zippers are waterproof. In addition to the zippers, make sure the jacket has taped seams where the jacket and zipper connect.
The lining of your jacket needs to have stitching that is tight, the fabric needs to be durable, and the design sensible. Granted, some jackets have insulation built into the outer layers and the lining is primarily for aesthetics and for an extra layer of moisture protection, but even in these cases, you will want to ensure that you have a quality lining. It would be a shame to have a great jacket which gets frayed and turns useless because the interior design was not given proper consideration.
While the other features are important, the fit is the most. Jackets should cover the torso, have coverage of the neck, and overlap the upper thigh slightly. You should be able to lift your hands above your head without exposing your belly. If your torso is exposed, then you need a longer jacket. Cuffs on a jacket should allow for lifting and movement of the hands without exposing the wrists. Keep in mind that you do not want a jacket to be baggy, but you do want to have enough extra space to allow for movement and growth.