Kay Rodriguez - Chief Adventurer
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Kay Rodriguez

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Kay Rodriguez is the founder of Urban Outdoors. She's also the writer and photographer behind Jetfarer. When she's not writing furiously on her laptop or editing photos, you can find Kay running, hiking, paddling, or playing in the snow.

One of the most important pieces of gear any skier or snowboarder should have is a helmet. Sure, if you go to any resort, you’ll see a handful of people without helmets flying down the slopes. As people who spend dozens of days a year on the slopes, we would recommend everyone wear a ski helmet when you’re skiing or riding, no matter how much experience you have. Helmets not only protect you from head injuries, but also provide a source of warmth while you’re out on the slopes. Through research and testing, we created this comprehensive guide to the best ski helmets to help you choose the perfect helmet for your safety, preferences, and budget.

Click here to jump down to our reviews of the best ski helmets

Happy child playing outdoors. Kid having fun in winter park

What to Look for In A Skiing/Snowboarding Helmet

Construction & Materials

Every ski helmet consists of an outer hard shell and an inner liner, plus an adjustable chin buckle to keep it on your head snugly. They’ll also typically have vents, a goggle strap, adjustment mechanisms, and some kind of safety certification (more on this below). While many helmets look similar on the outside, their construction and materials are incredibly important, as they dictate the helmet’s ability to protect you in case of impact to the head.

All reputable ski helmets will have an ASTM F2040 certification, which is the minimum standard for production of recreational snow helmets. However, you’ll also see a lot of helmets that have Multi-directional Impact Protection Systems, or MIPS. MIPS is a helmet design element where different pieces of the helmet spin when under impact – you can read more about the actual technology here. The reason why MIPS helmets typically command premium prices is because this technology has been patented, and has been thoroughly tested for best-in-class protection.

Does this mean non-MIPS helmets are unsafe? Not necessarily. As you’ll see in our list, not every helmet is MIPS, but all of them are ASTM F2040 certified. This means that they meet the safety standards required for snow sports, but they do not utilize the specific MIPS technology.

Breathability

Every ski helmet comes with vents, but depending on what kind of skiing or riding you’ll be doing, you may need more or less ventilation. For example, if you do a lot of backcountry touring or resort riding in warm temperatures, a higher number of adjustable vents is helpful in circulating air around your head. Alternatively, for higher-altitude or colder-weather skiers, a helmet that can keep heat in may be more essential.

Comfort & Fit

This will vary from person to person, but it’s important to try on a helmet before committing to it. Why? Because you’ll definitely want something that feels good on your head. While we can comment all day about the comfort of the liners, straps, and adjustment systems, we can’t tell you how a specific helmet will feel on your own head. With that said, if you choose to oder online, make sure to do so from a reputable company like REI or Backcountry that has a generous return policy should you decide a helmet isn’t the right fit for you.

Price

While we aim to keep price out of the equation when we’re evaluating each of the individual products, it’s absolutely an important factor to consider when you’re choosing a ski helmet for yourself.

There’s no sugar coating it: ski helmets can be very expensive. Typically, you’ll find that high-quality ski helmets range from $80 to over $300, with MIPS-certified helmets stacked toward the higher end of that range.

For the purposes of this review, we’ve grouped these ski helmets into three price tiers:

  • $ = Under $100
  • $$ = $100 to $200
  • $$$ = $200+
Best women's ski jackets: woman skiing in red jacket with chairlift in the background

Best Ski Helmets for Every Budget

To narrow down our list of the best ski helmets, we performed our research just like any customer would before making a buying decision to bring you the most practical, down-to-earth, and realistic information about each jacket. We know research can be time-consuming and overwhelming, so we sifted through hundreds of reviews and tested several products in-store, at home, and on the slopes to bring you this list of the best ski helmets.

Smith Vantage MIPS
Best Overall & Best Backcountry Helmet

  • Price: $$$
  • MIPS? Yes
  • Notable Features: AirEvac adjustable ventilation with 21 vents, Boa adjustments, plush liner
  • Pros: Very comfortable, easily adjustable, top-of-the-line construction and materials
  • Cons: Expensive

With fantastic breathability, adjustability, and comfort, the Smith Vantage MIPS helmet is, in our opinion, one of the best ski helmets on the market today. While it’s definitely one of the more expensive options, you’ll get what you pay for in a helmet that’s got all of the necessary comfort and safety components plus a few high-end features that will add to your skiing or riding experience.

Containing 21 adjustable vents, you’ll get the most versatile breathability and temperature regulation of any other helmet on our list. The ventilation system is perfect for both resort skiers/riders and those who enjoy backcountry touring, as you can simply open or close the vents when you want to stay cooler or warmer. We evaluated the more expensive Smith Quantum MIPS, and the comparable Anon Prime MIPS and Oakley Mod5 MIPS helmets for this category, but the Vantage won out on basically every dimension – weight, construction, and comfort.

Additionally, the helmet’s boa system means you can adjust it to your own sizing and comfort level. In addition to these comfort aspects, the liner is also quite comfortable. There was no detail that was overlooked when it came to designing the Smith Vantage helmet!

While it’s got everything you could want in a helmet, the Smith Vantage does have a few nuances that may impact your decision to buy. Many customers say that this helmet tends to run small, so we’d recommend sizing up if you’re on the cusp of two different sizes. Additionally, it’s on the very expensive range of the helmets on our list, so if you’re on a budget and are willing to sacrifice comfort and breathability, there may be a more suitable, less expensive option for you on this list.

Note: There are two versions of the Smith Vantage – one with MIPS and one without. We’d strongly recommend getting the MIPS version as it’s not too much more expensive and well worth the extra protective technology.

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR MEN’S SMITH VANTAGE MIPS:

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR WOMEN’S SMITH VANTAGE MIPS:


Giro Ledge MIPS
Best Budget Helmet

  • Price: $
  • MIPS? Yes
  • Notable Features: Removable earpads, AutoLoc adjustment system
  • Pros: Affordable MIPS protection
  • Cons: Cheaper, less comfortable liner materials than higher-end helmets

If you are looking for a fantastic no-frills option to protect your head, the Giro Ledge MIPS is one of the best ski helmets on a budget. This unisex helmet is designed for shredding the slopes and has all of the basic things you’d want in a helmet – an inner liner, MIPS hard shell construction, and an adjustable frame – for less than $100. In terms of value for money, there are a few that offer more than the Giro Ledge.

There were several budget helmets we considered, but the Giro Ledge won out over all of them because of its inclusion of MIPS technology. Neither the Smith Holt nor the Wildhorn Drift (below) have MIPS technology, although some customers mention that the Ledge is slightly less comfortable than the Smith Holt or the Wildhorn Drift.

Giro Ledge is not the most comfortable or the most luxe helmet on the market, but it’s got the basic safety requirements down at a reasonable price. If you’re wanting something a bit more comfortable, adjustable, or breathable, consider some of the higher-end helmets on this list. However, if you simply want to protect your head at an affordable price, you should definitely consider the Giro Ledge.

Note: There are two versions of the Giro Ledge – one with MIPS and one without. We’d strongly recommend getting the MIPS version as it’s just slightly more expensive and well worth the extra protective technology.

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR GIRO LEDGE MIPS:


Salomon MTN Lab
Best Ultralight Helmet

  • Price: $$
  • MIPS? No
  • Notable Features: Ultralight 13 oz weight, included liner
  • Pros: Extremely light, perfect for backcountry touring for those who want to cut down on weight
  • Cons: Bare-bones in terms of comfort and features, non-adjustable ventilation

If ultralight is your preference, there are few better options on our list of the best ski helmets than the Salomon MTN Lab. Weighing in at just 10.5 ounces, this helmet is the lightest option on our list by far, without sacrificing on the necessary features of a helmet – liner inserts and adjustability, in particular. While the Salomon MTN Lab does not have a MIPS option, it is designed to be as light as possible without sacrificing durability.

With an adjustable dial and lots of ventilation, this helmet is especially beloved for backcountry touring, where every extra ounce of weight matters. There’s a removable Merino wool inner liner for comfort and some heat retention, although it’s not quite as robust as other, warmer models on our list. However, it provides lots of air flow through its several large vents. On the other hand, the vents don’t close, so again, this isn’t a great helmet for retaining warmth.

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR SALOMON MTN LAB:


Oakley Mod5 MIPS
Honorable Mention

  • Price: $$
  • MIPS? Yes
  • Notable Features: Modular Brim System, Boa adjustment, removable liner and ear pads
  • Pros: Modular Brim System with two sizes of brims, fine tuned adjustment system
  • Cons: Ear pads not very compatible with headphones, somewhat incompatible with non-Oakley goggles

One of the most respected and beloved ski helmets on the market today is the Oakley Mod5 MIPS helmet. It’s a high-end helmet with lots of customization options for those who want to be able to change configurations based on the conditions. What makes the Oakley Mod5 especially unique is its Modular Brim System (MBS), which includes two brim sizes you can choose from depending on your needs. The MBS also includes adjustable ventilation so you can control heat retention or air flow to your liking. There’s fine tuned adjustments available via a Boa adjustment system, meaning you can customize the fit to your liking.

While the Oakley Mod5 was a contender for our Best Overall category, it was lacking in two specific areas: ventilation and compatibility with non-Oakley goggles. Because of its MBS design, the heat reduction isn’t as seamless as in the Smith Vantage. As a result, it feels a bit less breathable, especially in warmer conditions or in the backcountry where good airflow is a must.

Some customers also complain of difficulties using the Oakley helmet with non-Oakley goggles. While this isn’t a complete deal breaker (Oakley makes some incredible goggles!), it could be a minor annoyance if you have a favorite pair that’s not compatible.

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR OAKLEY MOD5 MIPS:


Wildhorn Drift
Honorable Mention

  • Price: $
  • MIPS? No
  • Notable Features: Adjustable vents, removable ear flaps, official USA Ski & Snowboard supplier
  • Pros: Lightweight, affordable, comfortable
  • Cons: Off-brand, non-MIPS

If you’re looking for some of the fancier features like fine-tuned adjustments and adjustable vents without paying some of the steeper prices of major brands, the Wildhorn Drift is a fantastic lesser-known option. Wildhorn is a bit of a wild card on our list – it’s not sold on major retailers’ sites like REI or Backcountry, but they’re an official supplier to the USA Ski & Snowboard Team, so they definitely meet the standards necessary for riding the slopes.

In terms of features, there are lots of things this helmet has that many other budget helmets do not, including adjustable ventilation and fine-tune adjustment mechanisms. The liner is comfortable and soft, and removable ear pads provide warmth where you need it the most on cold and snowy days.

The reason we’re recommending this helmet is because we have a lot of first-hand experience with this helmet, and we would say it’s great for anyone looking for comfort and breathability on a budget. While it does not have MIPS nor the bells and whistles of a much fancier, high-end option like the Smith Vantage, it’s a fantastic and comfortable option for less than $100. We’d consider it more comfortable than the Smith Holt below and the Giro Ledge above, but we didn’t choose it for our Best on a Budget because it doesn’t have a MIPS option.

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR WILDHORN DRIFT:


POC Obex SPIN
Honorable Mention

  • Price: $$
  • MIPS? No
  • Notable Features: SPIN technology, adjustable ventilation, several colors
  • Pros: Affordable high-end option, stylish, very durable reputation
  • Cons: Only top vents close, less comfortable liner, some suggest this is not compatible with non-POC goggles

POC is a Swedish brand that makes ultra durable snow sports equipment, and the POC Obex SPIN helmet is one of the best ski helmets they sell. While it is technically a non-MIPS option, the proprietary SPIN technology offers similar protection by way of POC’s signature cushioned liner. We also really love the style of this helmet. Of all of the different helmets we evaluated, POC had one of the widest varieties of colors available. For comfort and style, the POC Obex Spin is a dependable and well-respected option.

Despite its light weight, some users mention that the helmet feels bulky compared to others. There are also some complaints that this helmet isn’t compatible with non-POC goggles, which can be tough if you have a favorite pair. However, it’s a fantastic option if you’re hoping for some higher-end features without the high price tag of the premium Smith models.

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR POC OBEX SPIN:


Best Ski Helmets: Side-By-Side Comparison

MIPS?VENTSCOMFORT
Yes21High
Yes9Low
No23Medium
YesN/AHigh
No10Medium
No10Medium

Choosing the Best Ski Helmet For You

If there’s anything you should take away from this guide, it’s that there is no “one size fits all” option for everyone. While we’ve listed our recommendations some of the best ski helmets on the market, some will work better for you than others depending on your circumstances, activities, personal preferences, and body type.

Again, it’s important to order from reputable websites that enable returns, so you can try on your pick(s) before fully committing to them. For making any big gear purchases, we love REI and Backcountry – both have generous return policies and offer great seasonal sales where you can get many of these items at a discount.

Only you can decide which one of these is the best ski helmet for you, so make sure the one you go with fits you well and is comfortable.

Additional Resources

Hikers are a funny breed: they’re always outdoors, they love weird obstacles like chains and scrambles, and they are OBSESSED with their favorite gear. Ask any hiker what their favorite hiking gear is and they’ll probably spit out a recommendation that has at least 4 words in it. Needless to say, choosing the best gifts for hikers can be challenging, because whatever you give needs to be able to withstand many, many miles of adventures.

Luckily, as avid hikers ourselves, we’ve compiled this guide to the best hiking gifts that your loved ones will actually use out on the trails. Trust us – we’ve used every single one of them ourselves!

Overall Best Gifts for Hikers

Waterproof Hiking Boots

Order on Backcountry | REI | Amazon

The only item that a hiker really needs to get out on the trails is a good set of shoes, and a set of waterproof boots is one of the best hiking gifts for an adventurer that loves to be outdoors, rain or shine. The Salomon X Ultra Mid 3 Boots (for men and women) lightweight, durable, and waterproof, with thick treads and Gore-Tex that will keep your feet safe and dry, no matter the conditions.

Black Diamond Trekking Poles

Order on Backcountry | REI | Amazon

Hikers often face trails and conditions where extra support is extremely helpful. That’s why one of the most useful gifts for hikers is a set of durable, portable trekking poles. Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Trekking Poles are perfect for traveling hikers, as they’ll fit into a standard suitcase and are extremely light weight.

Hydro Flask Water Bottle

Hydration is a very important part of staying healthy while hiking, as hours in the sun and on the trails can dehydrate you. To keep water ice cold (or steaming hot during cold weather), a Hydro Flask water bottle is the perfect hiking companion. Hydro Flask boasts that its bottles keep water cold for 24 hours and hot for 12 hours…definitely enough insulation capacity for a full day out on the trails in any conditions.

Osprey Day Pack

Order on Osprey | Backcountry | REI | Amazon

Hikers need to carry gear, water, snacks, and extra clothing for longer hikes, and having a day pack that feels good and distributes weight evenly is absolutely critical. Plus, they definitely don’t want to carry all their stuff in your hands while they’re scrambling up rocks, right? Osprey day packs are hands down the best and most durable option for day packs – we recommend a size between 18 and 30 liters for day hikes.

The North Face Venture Rain Jacket

Order on Backcountry | REI | Amazon

Every hiker knows that conditions in the mountains can change in an instant. That’s why we recommend a rain jacket as one of the smartest and most practical gifts for hikers. We love The North Face Venture 2 Jacket (for women and men) – it is a versatile, lightweight, waterproof jacket for rainy and wet hiking conditions. Ours have lasted for years and keep moisture out in rainy or adverse weather.

PrAna Hiking Pants

Order on PrAna | Backcountry | REI | Amazon

Comfy clothing is an important piece of gear for any hiker, and pants are no exception. The best hiking pants are sweat-wicking, breathable, and flexible. PrAna’s Brion pants for men and Halle pants for women are the best hiking pants we’ve found – they’re lightweight, stretchy, and durable for day hikes and multi-day treks.

Merino Wool Base Layers

Order on Backcountry | REI | Amazon

Many hikers, especially those who hike at higher altitudes, need warm base layers, and they make for some of the most practical hiking gifts out there. Smartwool’s Merino 250 baselayer line offers extra-warm, cozy layers that wick sweat and moisture seamlessly on the trails.

Patagonia Compressible Puffer

Order on Patagonia | Backcountry | REI

When hiking in colder temperatures, it can be important to bring some extra layers, especially if you’re going to be at altitude. The Patagonia Down Sweater is our favorite compressible puffer because it’s a sustainably-made, warm, and cozy thermal layer for cold conditions. When paired with a rain jacket, it can keep hikers warm even in light snow!

Merrell Trail Runners

Order on Backcountry | REI | Amazon

Not all trails warrant wearing big, bulky waterproof hiking shoes. In some cases, lightweight, breathable trail runners can be a much better option, especially in hot climates. Merrell Trail Runners are some of the best trail running shoes on the market, and they make styles for men and women in a variety of different colors.

Cheap Gifts for Hikers on a Budget ($25 and Under)

Smartwool Hiking Socks

It might seem obvious, but think, durable socks are a must-have item in any hiker’s wardrobe. Smartwool’s hiking socks are great companions out on the trails! They’re warm, quick drying, and are super cushioned and comfortable. Give one pair or a few as extra special gifts for hikers in your life.

Quick Dry Towel

A towel can come in handy on any hiking trip. From humid, sweaty trails to impromptu swimming sessions, hikers can always use a towel that’s small and thin enough to carry around in a day pack. Youphoria Outdoors makes an affordable quick-dry microfiber towel that comes in a lot of fun colors and is perfect for shoving in your bag on the way out to the trails.

Neff Beanie

In colder or windy conditions, a beanie is one of the most practical gifts for hikers because it can help keep them safe and warm. For hiking, you don’t need anything fancy, so something like this affordable beanie from Neff is a perfect stocking stuffer for your favorite hiker.

The North Face e-Tip Hiking Gloves

While only really relevant for colder climates, a good pair of gloves can help hikers stay outdoors later in the season, and in higher altitudes where the air tends to be chillier and windier. The North Face e-Tip Gloves are a great hiking companion because they work with touch screens like phones and tablets…meaning you don’t have to take them off for anything, really.

Hiking Snacks

Snacks are a gift that keeps on giving, especially out on the trails where you’re expending energy and burning calories left and right.

From our own experience, some snacks that hikers like include:

  • Clif bars
  • Kind bars
  • Gu gels (caffeinated and uncaffeinated)
  • Trail mix
  • Jerky (vegan and meat varieties)

Carabiners

Carabiners are literally the most useful and versatile item for hikers. Use them to strap things on your bags, to your pants, or onto trees. Hook your bags to your tent while you’re sleeping, or hang dry wet clothes. You can buy a set of 10 colorful carabiners for cheap, and they’ll last your hiker forever.

Hiking Trowel

When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go…and a trowel can help you cover up when you’re doing your business in the woods. The best, most useful trowels are lightweight and have a small loop to hook to the outside of your backpack (with a carabiner!). This hiking trowel is a great, inexpensive gift option for the serious hiker.

Emergency Blanket

What better way to show your loved one you care than by buying them something that will keep them safe? An emergency blanket is a must for hikers, and while its one of the more ‘boring’ gifts for hikers on our list, we truly believe every hiker should bring an emergency blanket with them on hikes, every time. In the event of a natural disaster, or if hikers get lost or injured, an emergency blanket as a thermal insulation tool can mean the different between life and death.

Duct Tape

Duct tape is a hiker’s best friend. Hikers are notorious for destroying their stuff (myself included, no shame!), and duct tape is something we always bring to help mend tears, holes, and animal bites in our stuff until we can get it properly fixed (or, sometimes, forever). If you’re looking for one of the cheapest and most useful gifts for hikers, why not grab a roll or two of Duck Tape duct tape? They come in all kinds of fun colors and will definitely be used at some point or another on the trails by your favorite hiker.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

There are few novels in the hiking genre than Wild by Cheryl Strayed. This popular hiking novel is a classic, especially for adventurous female hikers who are looking for an emotional and physical journey through the Pacific Crest Trail with renowned author Cheryl Strayed.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

For a great fireside book or a read for the hammock after a long day on the trails, A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson is a quintessential read. As an intimate, detailed, entertaining journey into the backwoods of the Appalachian Trail, it’s a fantastic and memorable read for anyone who is passionate about exploration, hiking, or seeing the world and nature from a different lens.

Epic Hikes of the World by Lonely Planet

For a more visual read, Lonely Planet’s Epic Hikes of the World is an inspiring book to have around any hiker’s home. While it’s a hardcover book and not really suitable for taking on the trails, this book is one of the most memorable and fun gifts for hikers in their homes. Leafing through this book is like taking a hiking adventure around the world, with some of the most fun, beautiful, and treacherous treks all over the globe (and world-class photos, too!).

Super Practical Gifts for Hikers

Buff

For outdoor lovers, there are few things as versatile as a Buff. They advertise that it can be worn in 12+ different ways, and it’s touted as 4 times warmer than microfiber. A Buff is great for hikers to wear as a scarf, to tie hair back, or to protect their faces from dust and wind.

ENO DoubleNest Hammock

When you’ve been hiking for hours and are ready for a rest, there’s no better feeling than setting up your hammock between two tall trees and relaxing with someone you love. An ENO DoubleNest Hammock is one of coolest gifts for hikers that you can give to a person or couple who loves being outdoors…especially out on the trails. It’s super portable, lightweight, and easy to set up basically anywhere.

Black Diamond Head Lamp

Sometimes, the best times to hike are in the early morning and late in the afternoon. However, if your favorite hiker plans to hike in non-optimal daylight, it’s critical to bring a head lamp. Needless to say, a head lamp is one of the best gifts for hikers because it’s truly an essential item. Our favorite head lamp is the Black Diamond Spot – it’s lightweight, durable, and isn’t too expensive.

Polarized Sunglasses

Don’t underestimate how powerful the sun can be on a long day of hiking. One of the most useful gifts for hikers is a pair of high-quality, polarized sunglasses to keep their eyes safe and protected while exposed to the sun. There are tons of polarized sunglasses ranging in style and price available, so you’ll have to choose based on your favorite hiker’s preferences.

Foldable Wide-Brimmed Hat

For hotter or sun-exposed hiking, a brimmed hat is a must to protect hikers’ eyes and faces. As one of the cheaper and more practical gifts for hikers, this wide-brimmed hat is a packable companion for any hiker, especially in places like Zion or Joshua Tree where shady spots can be few and far between.

Platypus Water Reservoir

The only thing better than a sturdy water bottle is not having to bring a water bottle at all! With a water reservoir, a hiker can simply stuff the water bag into their day pack and sip from it as needed from the nozzle throughout the day. The Platypus water reservoir is generally well-liked and durable, and it comes at a reasonable price point, too.

First Aid Kit

While it’s not glamorous, a first aid kit can be one of the best gifts for hikers because it’s a must-have for safety on the trails. A small, portable pre-assembled first aid kit, which includes a small bag to hold everything, is a great starting point for a hike. This one is small and light enough to carry anywhere, including a day pack on the trails.

SteriPen Adventurer UV Water Purification System

For hikers, having access to clean water is a must, so a water purification system is one of the most critical gifts for hikers that you can give. We recommend the USB-rechargeable SteriPen Ultra, which is must lighter than the other products in the SteriPen line, and purifies water using UV light.

Solar Rechargeable Battery Pack

It gets harder to keep your phone charged the longer you’re out on the trails, so you can probably imagine this being a big challenge for hikers. If you give the gift of a waterproof solar battery pack, your favorite hiker can recharge the battery as they’re hiking. Pretty nifty, eh?

Technology Gifts and Gadgets for Hikers

Garmin Instinct Hiking Watch

Like many other athletes, hikers are often obsessed with tracking steps and logging their trails. The Garmin Instinct watch does exactly that and was designed specifically for outdoor adventures. If you want to splurge on a useful and totally awesome gift for an adventurous person in your life, is one of the more innovative gifts for hikers out there.

Garmin Foretrex Hiking GPS

For passionate backcountry hikers, a GPS is a must. While mostly used by adventurous hikers and backpackers, a GPS can come in handy for navigation for any hiker out in the wild. This Garmin Foretrex GPS is wearable and works anywhere, so you don’t need to worry about having “service” of any kind.

Rechargeable Hand Warmers

Keeping extremities warm while out on the trails during cold weather is a real challenges for hikers, and a rechargeable hand warmer can be the perfect solution for long days out in snow or sub-freezing temperatures.

GoPro HERO9 Black

A GoPro Hero Black is an excellent gift for the avid hiker who wants to document their adventures. Portable, weatherproof, and high-quality, a GoPro will help your favorite outdoor lover capture and relive their favorite moments on the trails again and again.

Additional Resources


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“Is it safe to ski or snowboard during COVID-19?” We’ve heard this question a lot recently, especially as ski season gears up around the USA and Canada. Many experts say that, with the right precautions and regulations in place, it is largely safe to ski or snowboard during the pandemic. However, ski resorts have drastically changed the way they operate to accommodate guests’ safety this year, so your favorite slopes might look a little bit different this year.

We hit the slopes very early this season to observe how ski resorts are changing their policies to keep skiers and riders safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on what we’ve been seeing, here are some of the changes you can expect during the 2020-2021 ski season.

Best women's ski jackets: woman skiing in red jacket with chairlift in the background

Required Face Coverings

As you may expect, face coverings are a requirement in all public areas of most resorts, unless you are eating or drinking. If you use a neck warmer while you ski or ride, that should be sufficient as long as you continue to keep 6 feet of distance from those not in your party.

Some resorts have specified that it’s okay to take off your mask while skiing or riding, while others have a blanket rule about face coverings at all times. We saw the face covering rules being heavily enforced throughout the ski resorts we visited. Be sure to check the individual resort’s website for the most up-to-date rules, and when in doubt, wear your mask.

Longer, Socially Distant Lift Lines

Most ski resorts’ websites mention that lift lines will be socially distant, with 6 feet of distance between each party. Additionally, most lifts were NOT shared, unless they were 6-seat lifts with one small party on either end. Because of the reduced capacity of the lifts, lines tended to be longer than we expected, even during the early season.

While the rules certainly existed, we found this guideline to be…not well managed. Most of the fellow skiers and riders in lines encroached on our personal space, some even running into us from behind! If you’re planning on going skiing, please respect people’s space and keep your distance, even if the lift managers don’t say anything. It’s just common courtesy to keep everyone safe.

Ski lifts in mountains

Limited Lodge Space & Locker Options

Ski resorts are reducing their lodge space in an attempt to limit the amount of indoor interaction that’s going on. Yup, for those of you who love the apres-ski life, this unfortunately isn’t your year. We saw that many bars and restaurants were closed or required registration to enter, even if you were just buying a bottle of water or a small snack. Keep this in mind when you’re planning what to do for meals or break times.

Most of the lodges we researched and visited mentioned that locker rentals and storage would not be available on-site, and that guests were recommended to keep belongings in their cars. This was rather inconvenient for those of us who want to bring water or other non-slope belongings without running back and forth to the parking lots, which were often far from the lifts. However, it’s a safety measure that’s there for a reason, so we adhered happily to it.

Advance Reservations for Basically Everything

From dining to lift tickets, lessons and rentals, you’ll need a reservation for basically everything. Some resorts aren’t doing window ticket sales at all in order to reduce the amount of contact needed. Instead, this year is heavily favoring online reservations for lift tickets, as well as for rentals and group lessons. Many rentals are also curbside pickup only to reduce indoor lines and crowding.

Additionally, many resorts’ dining areas are only open to those with reservations only, and will have limited capacity and time limits. We wanted to buy some water and snacks from one of the on-site snack bars and had to make a reservation just to enter the building!

The bottom line? Aim to plan your meals, breaks, and skiing around your reservations, and assume you won’t be able to just show up anywhere and snag a ticket. If you plan in advance, you’ll be sure to get what you want.

Breckenridge, Colorado Winter Panorama. Beautiful Clear Sunny Day in Breckenridge, CO, United States.

Priority for Passholders

While passholders have always, in some ways, held priority at ski resorts, this year it will be especially obvious. Many resorts give preference to passholders for booking lift tickets and lodging. If there are specific resorts you go to regularly, consider getting a season pass or investing in a multi-resort pass like Epic or Ikon.

Modified Rental & Group Lesson Policies

There isn’t a very consistent way that ski resorts are handling rentals and group lessons. In our research, it really depends on the staffing and the capacity of each resort. Many resorts are offering curbside pickup for rentals and group lessons with an advance booking only. Walk-up windows, in our experience, were largely reduced this year in favor of online reservations.

If we were to give our two cents on rentals, we’d recommend purchasing your own helmet and goggles this year to prevent any risk of infection, and renting all other gear if you need to.

Additional Paperwork

Depending on each state’s guidelines and whether you’re traveling out of state or not, you may need to fill out additional paperwork before entering a resort or taking a lesson. These are typically provided by the state and are required for contact tracing and ensuring that visiting guests are adhering to the state’s COVID-19 tourism protocols. Each state has its own rules when it comes to entry from out of state, some of which include mandatory negative test results, mandatory quarantines, or proof of essential travel. Check each state’s individual regulations for more specific information.

Slight Chaos, Especially In The Beginning

Just like the rest of us, ski resorts are new at this whole pandemic thing, too. After skiing at a few different resorts, we did notice that there have been some communication issues among staff regarding protocols and processes during this new era. When we were at one ski resort, we were asked to fill out an online form before taking a snowboarding lesson…but no one on-site seemed to have access to the link or the QR code to the form!

As frustrating as it may be, it’s apparent that the resorts are learning what works in this time, too. Have patience and be persistent if you’re unable to get the answers you need – speak to managers to ask questions if the people at the ticket windows or in reception can’t help.

Additional Resources

This post was written by Kay Rodriguez, the founder of Urban Outdoors. Think of it as an annual “state of the union” update on the site and community. She gets extremely personal in this particular update, and some of the topics she discusses may trigger negative emotions.

On December 1, 2019, I officially launched Skyline Adventurer, which is the website that would eventually evolve into Urban Outdoors. Since then, we’ve grown to a team of 6, we’ve published 173 guides across more than 50 USA cities, and a whopping 390,678 individual people have visited our site – nearly 100,000 of them in November alone.

I rarely come onto the site to write in first person, but to celebrate a year since our inception, I wanted to give you all a glimpse at the story behind building Urban Outdoors during a global pandemic, and how it helped me through my own personal trauma in a time where my health nearly killed me. Additionally, I wanted to show you some of the amazing strides our community – yup, including YOU – has made this year.

Humble Beginnings

It was 2019, and I remember walking around the sidewalks of Lincoln Park, Chicago in the sweltering August heat, talking to a friend about this little idea I had to make the outdoors more accessible to city folks. I’d just moved to Chicago, and I was struggling with how inaccessible the outdoors – hiking in particular – felt as an urban dweller in the Midwest without a car.

I’d built several websites before, most recently Jetfarer, which was a blog dedicated to helping millennial professionals maximize their limited vacation time through travel. In the ever saturated travel industry, I found it extremely difficult to differentiate my website and business from the millions of other travel blogs out there.

In the beginning, I simply wanted a change of scenery from the travel industry. I wanted to find a “recession-proof” alternative to Jetfarer that I could work on even when people weren’t traveling. This August afternoon would be the first time I’d verbally articulate my desire to make the outdoors more accessible to the masses. In that moment, Urban Outdoors was born.

From the beginning, Urban Outdoors felt different. The outdoors was an industry that I’d spent a lot of time in personally, but very little time professionally. I wasn’t a champion climber, a speedy skier, or a super fit hiker…I was just a normal, outdoor-loving lady living in what seemed like the least outdoor-friendly city in the country.

I bought a domain name – SkylineAdventurer.com – and built the website soon afterward. With that, our journey began.

Launch and Liftoff

At the time, I was still working full-time at a small startup in Chicago, so I spent what little free time I had working on getting the website ready to launch. I figured I’d pilot with two cities I knew well – Chicago and DC – to see if this idea actually had any traction. I also hired a student to help me with some writing and a social media assistant to help with promotion, using money that I was earning from Jetfarer.

Finally, on December 1, 2019, we launched the website publicly into the world, with just a handful of articles on kayaking, hiking, rock climbing, and biking in DC and Chicago. That month, we’d see 1,583 unique visitors to the site. Not huge, but definitely not negligible. By the end of 2019, we helped 1,583 people get outdoors across two cities, and I felt inspired that this idea could actually work.

Personal Turbulence

And then, something tragic happened. In late December 2019, the Chicago darkness and the loneliness of moving to a new city without many friends or supports hit me HARD. I found it difficult to focus on anything – my full time job, my websites, my hobbies. Even getting out of bed most days was extremely difficult, and I’d sometimes go days without eating anything or doing my normal daily activities.

Each day, I palpably felt the strain of not being able to go outdoors or do anything. Few people knew I was suffering the way that I was. Slowly, these feelings of dread and hopelessness began to consume my life, and just a few days before Christmas, I decided I didn’t want to be alive anymore.

I’ll spare you the specifics, but that day was a blur. Luckily, two people close to me had a feeling that something wasn’t right, and they found me in my apartment and rushed me to the emergency room. I spent nearly two weeks in the hospital, recovering from the severe depression that chewed me up and spit me out.

Following discharge, I’d go on to spend nearly two months in a recovery program to help me get on my feet again. I tried to go back to work full-time, but didn’t last more than a few weeks before I felt so crushed under the weight of everything that I couldn’t continue. Naturally, Urban Outdoors took a back seat during this time. I didn’t touch the site for weeks at a time.

The Pandemic Hits

In March, I finally started to feel like I was recovering, but news of the COVID-19 pandemic started to become more and more prevalent. Chicago was completely locked down, closing nearly every urban park and green space to the public. Even if I wanted to go outdoors now, I couldn’t, along with the millions of others in cities where lockdowns were happening.

Jetfarer took a massive hit to traffic and earnings, I could no longer work at my full-time job because of my mental health, and I felt myself spiraling back into a place of despair. I didn’t have much else to do but pour my energy, heart, and soul back into Urban Outdoors. My trusty writer sidekick, Natalie, and I bulldozed through tons of articles, researching outdoor activities and interviewing locals in cities around the United States to provide much-needed resources on the outdoors.

Despite our efforts, March and April saw little traffic growth because of the pandemic. Then, in May, as more research was released about the outdoors being a safe place to go during the pandemic, things started to change. People flocked to our guides to learn more about hikes and waterways in their local areas where they could practice safe, socially distant outdoor activities. We saw massive spikes from May onward – people all over the United States wanted to get outside, and we were their ready companion.

In the process of building and expanding the website, I personally began to go outside more and more. Not in Chicago, where most trails would remain off-limits until the mid-summer, but in the surrounding areas and parks that I’d never visited or considered before. I’d start with daily walks around my neighborhood, and then eventually took short road trips to hike in nearby state parks.

In the summer, I bought a used Mercedes Sprinter van and converted it into a camper, which I’ve been living in ever since.

Creating Urban Outdoors was the most impactful aspect of my own personal recovery. Without the outdoors, and the thousands of steps I’ve taken on trails this year, I don’t know where I’d be today. Moreover, watching this community grow from just a handful of people to hundreds of thousands of outdoor lovers each month has brought me an incredible sense of joy. It’s like I felt the world healing alongside me as we worked through the difficulties of 2020 together.

Building, growing, and living the mission of Urban Outdoors healed my mind and heart in ways that no medication, hospital program, or therapy ever could have. It gives me a reason wake up in the morning and a reason to smile as I fall asleep. This incredible community has benefitted me in more ways than I can ever articulate – to each and every one of you who went on this journey with me and Urban Outdoors: THANK YOU.

Today & Tomorrow

Our community has grown from 1,583 unique visitors in December 2019 to 98,187 unique visitors in November 2020. We’ve helped over 390,000 people across the United States and Canada get outside in the last year. And we’re definitely not stopping any time soon.

It takes a village, and we’ve seen time and time again that when we grow the number of voices on our platform, we can make the outdoors accessible to even more people. I couldn’t do what I do here at Urban Outdoors without our incredibly thoughtful, passionate writers:

  • Natalie Ringel, Paddling Writer & Our OG Content Manager (circa 2019!!)
  • Lindsey Novakowski, Snow Sports Writer
  • Garston Lam, Rock Climbing Writer
  • Rachael Hilderbrand, Tips & Gear Writer

Side note: We do still have some positions open – check out our Careers page for more information!

We’ve also got a LOT in store for 2021, including more of the guides you love and some fun new projects and products that we’re hoping to launch ASAP! You can sign up for our newsletter here to stay updated on the latest with Urban Outdoors – I promise you’ll want to be the first to hear about our newest developments.

One Last Note

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about myself and our team, but I wanted to give a huge shout out to you, our readers. We cannot do this without you – our business, growth, and livelihoods rely on you. Whether you used our site to get on the trails for the very first time or are an experienced hiker, climber, skier, etc. who wanted some new ideas, we’re so happy that you’ve chosen us as one of your trusted resources for information on the outdoors.

We’re also always open to feedback. We love hearing from you and learning about what you like or don’t like on our website. I am personally committed to listening and responding to each and every person who reaches out via our Contact page or email inbox. Come talk to us.

So, give yourself a hug and know that we’re so happy you’re here. We’ll see you outside!

With so much gratitude,

Kay Rodriguez, Founder of Urban Outdoors

Let’s face it – one of the most important purchases every skier or snowboarder has to make is a perfect jacket for the slopes. After all, this item of clothing is one of the most critical pieces of clothing protecting you from the snow, the cold, and the elements. Of course, you’ll need to pair it with a good set of base layers, gloves or mittens, and boots, but it’s absolutely critical to have one of the best women’s ski jackets for your adventures on the slopes to keep yourself safe and warm. Determining which products are the best women’s ski jackets can feel overwhelming because of the sheer number of options, but don’t worry: we’re here to help.

The perfect ski jacket will feel like an old companion – warm, protective, and comfortable – and will likely cost a bit more than you may be used to paying for an item of clothing. Despite being a big investment, the best women’s ski jackets will last several years, as many seasoned skiers and snowboarders still have some of their decades-old gear on hand when they hit the slopes each year.

This guide is meant to help you narrow down the vast number of ski and snowboard jackets out there to a handful of really fantastic options. To do this, we sifted through dozens of products and reviews, tested out several models ourselves, and settled on a handful of women’s ski jackets that will provide the warmth and comfort you need on the slopes at any price point.

Click here to jump down to our full reviews of the women’s ski jackets

What to Look for In A Women’s Ski or Snowboard Jacket

Weatherproofing

Weatherproofing, along with warmth (see below), is one of the most important features to look for in a ski jacket. A weatherproof jacket will protect your body from all of the usual suspects on the slopes – wind, snow, cold air, and moisture. The materials used in the jacket’s outer shell, as well as the jacket’s construction and weatherproofing features, are what will keep you warm and toasty inside.

Material is key when it comes to weatherproofing. The outer shell of any ski jacket should be waterproof and windproof, using a synthetic or waxed material to keep cold air out and warm air in. Some of the most popular outer shell materials include:

  • Gore-Tex
  • Polyurethane
  • Nylon

The ski jacket’s construction is also a huge contributor to its weatherproofing capabilities. Many jackets come with cinches for your wrists and waist that are designed to keep cold air out by adjusting the fit of the jacket to your own body. Additionally, a powder skirt is something you may want to look for in a jacket, which is an additional piece of fabric in the waist area that is designed to keep snow out if you’re sitting on the ground (as snowboarders often do) or if you fall in the snow. Lastly, a spacious hood that fits over your helmet and has a cinch or tightening mechanism is an important feature to look for when you’re sifting through the best women’s ski jackets.

Warmth

Another one of the most important (if not the most important) features in the best women’s ski jackets is warmth. Wind and frigid air are par for the course when it comes to skiing and snowboarding, and it’s critical to have a jacket that will keep your arms and torso warm and comfortable in sub-freezing temperatures. Some of the most common insulation types you’ll see include:

  • Primaloft (& variations)
  • Thinsulate
  • Wool or Merino wool
  • Fleece

Depending on where you live and ski/ride, different jackets may make sense. For example, the alpine temperatures of the Rockies differ from the extreme lows of the Midwest and the Northeast, which will differ from the warmer temperatures of California and Mid-Atlantic resorts. Additionally, if you’ll be resort skiing, you may need a different level of warmth and insulation than backcountry skiing, which provides less access to the indoors for warmth.

Note that some ski jackets are non-insulated – these are for skiing in warmer temperatures or for using on top of separate mid-layers and base layers. If you prefer to layer rather than having one thick, bulkier jacket, a non-insulated ski jacket may be a good choice for you.

Best women's ski jackets: woman skiing in red jacket with chairlift in the background

Breathability

While it may seem counter-intuitive, breathability is an essential feature of a good ski jacket. Why? Because non-breathable jackets will hold in sweat and moisture, and will make you feel like you’re swimming in a swamp the whole time you’re wearing them. (If you’ve ever spent hours sweating in a cotton t-shirt in 80+ degree weather, you’ll know what this feels like.)

Materials and construction also play a huge role in the breathability of a jacket. Breathable fabrics like Merino wool and certain synthetics wick sweat and provide air to flow freely through. Adjustable cinches and zippers provide fresh air in places that need it throughout the day. In our review of each jacket, we’ve tried to gauge breathability from the specific features built for moisture wicking and distribution of air.

Comfort, Fit, & Style

Although it’s highly individualized, the comfort, fit, and style of a ski jacket should absolutely factor into your decision. You’ll want one that fits your specific body well without being too tight or too baggy. If you’re planning on wearing lots of layers underneath your jacket, you’ll want to factor that into your buying decision by looking for a jacket that provides space inside to wear whatever you’d like. Here are some of the comfort elements people look for:

  • Internal lining material softness
  • Fit of the jacket on your body
  • Number of pockets and storage areas
  • Style and color

While it might seem silly, color and style should be a part of your purchasing decision, too. Some people prefer muted tones and dark colors, while others enjoy wearing bright colors or patterns. If you’re going to spend hundreds of dollars on a ski jacket, you’ll definitely want to make sure it matches the aesthetic you’re looking for! Just make sure that you’ve considered the other functional aspects – weatherproofing, warmth, and breathability – first.

Price

While we aim to keep price out of the equation when we’re evaluating each of the individual women’s ski jackets, it’s absolutely an important factor to consider when you’re choosing a jacket for yourself.

There’s no sugar coating it: ski jackets are expensive. Typically, you’ll find that high-quality ski jackets range from $150 to over $700, with premium materials and features stacked in the higher end of that range. However, just because a jacket costs less does not mean that it is less warm!

For the purposes of this review, we’ve grouped these ski jackets into four price tiers:

  • $ = Under $200
  • $$ = $200 to 350
  • $$$ = $350 to $500
  • $$$$ = $500+

Best Women’s Ski Jackets for Every Budget

To narrow down our list of the best women’s ski jackets, we performed our research just like any customer would before making a buying decision to bring you the most practical, down-to-earth, and realistic information about each jacket. We know research can be time-consuming and overwhelming, so we sifted through hundreds of reviews and tested several products in-store, at home, and on the slopes to bring you this list of fantastic jackets.

Our main goal with this guide is to help you make an informed decision on the best women’s ski jackets for your own activities, budget, and style.

Helly Hansen Powchaser Lifaloft Jacket
Overall Best Women’s Ski Jacket

  • Price: $$
  • Materials: HELLY TECH® Performance fabric (nylon and polyurethane), LIFALOFT™ Insulation
  • Notable Features: Pit zippers, several external & internal pockets, removable powder skirt
  • Pros: Very warm and waterproof, great pocket and zipper functionality for convenience and breathability
  • Cons: Some reviewers say this jacket fits larger than normal for the size

Helly Hansen is one of the premier ski brands out there, and their jackets provide top-of-the-line warmth, weatherproofing, and breathability for resort and backcountry activities. They’ve made some of the best women’s ski jackets for years, and their Powchaser Lifaloft Jacket is no exception.

With a tough outer shell featuring high-quality synthetic HELLY TECH materials and Durable Water Repellency (DWR) treatment, it’s designed specifically to keep the elements out. Eighty grams of LIFALOFT Insulation keep you warm in this dual-layered jacket, and reviewers have nothing but glowing recommendations about how warm and lightweight the Powchaser Lifaloft Jacket is on the slopes.

We’ve chosen this as our best overall ski jacket for women because of its exceptional weatherproofing and warmth, with tons of great functional features like several pockets, a removable powder skirt, and pit zippers for breathability. We had trouble finding any cons about this jacket – it’s actually that good.

This jacket truly has the best of all of the ski jackets on our list, and it’s right in the middle of the pack in terms of price. If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, we have no reservations recommending the Helly Hansen Powchaser Lifaloft Jacket as your companion for skiing or snowboarding.

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR POWCHASER LIFALOFT JACKET:


Columbia Whirlibird IV Interchange Jacket
Best Women’s Ski Jacket on A Budget

  • Price: $
  • Materials: Omni-Tech™ waterproofing, Omni-Heat™ thermal material, Thermarator™ insulation
  • Notable Features: 3-in-1 construction, pit zippers, lots of internal & external pockets
  • Pros: Affordable, breathable, very functional with pockets and zippers, lots of colors
  • Cons: Less warm and weatherproof than higher-end options, inconsistent zipper quality

Columbia is well-known for making affordable, functional outerwear, and their Whirlibird IV Jacket is the best of the best when it comes to buying a ski jacket on a budget. It’s got all of the requirements of a great ski jacket: waterproofing, warm insulation, lots of pockets, and breathability elements like pit zippers. By far the most affordable option on our list, the Whirlibird IV is a 3-in-1 jacket that comes with an insulated liner, a durable outer shell, and connector zippers to create a great insulated ski jacket.

While this is an excellent jacket for resort sports, you won’t find the premium materials and construction that the higher-end jackets possess. This means it’s generally less waterproof/warm than some of the other options on our list, and it’s probably not great for backcountry activities. Some reviewers also complain of the zippers breaking or being difficult to put together, which can be a pain when you’re trying to maneuver around on the slopes.

However, if you’re mostly planning on skiing in warmer places or don’t feel you need the warmest jacket on the market, the Whirlibird IV is a fantastic option for the price.

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR THE WHIRLIBIRD IV JACKET:


Arc’teryx Sentinel AR Jacket
Best High-End Women’s Ski Jacket

  • Price: $$$$
  • Materials: GORE-TEX outer shell
  • Notable Features: Pit zippers, longer jacket length, “StormHood™,” powder skirt
  • Pros: Lightweight, breathable, very weatherproof and windproof, high-end GORE-TEX construction
  • Cons: Expensive, requires thermal mid-layer in colder temperatures

Arc’teryx makes some of the best and most high-end outerwear in existence, and their Sentinel AR Jacket is one of the best women’s ski jackets for avid skiers and riders. While it’s not as insulated as some others on our list, it’s great for layering or using in warmer temperatures, and is a very versatile and weatherproof option (possibly the best weatherproofing of all of the options on our list).

These jackets are made with advanced skiers and snowboarders in mind, and come with all of the bells and whistles that make being on the slopes smoother and easier. Pit zips, lots of pockets, and the adjustable, helmet-compatible StormHood™ add to the durable build and weatherproofing of this jacket. WaterTight™ zippers are water resistant and prevent pesky moisture and ice from entering when they’re zipped tight.

The biggest drawback of the Sentinel AR? It’s very expensive – one of the priciest on our list. For most resort skiers who only go a couple of times a year, this jacket may be overkill for the price, especially since you’ll need a midlayer to stay warm enough in it throughout the season.

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR THE SENTINEL AR JACKET:


Outdoor Research Hemispheres
Best Women’s Ski Jacket for Backcountry

  • Price: $$$ to $$$$
  • Materials: GORE-TEX
  • Notable Features: Stretch panels, TorsoFlo™ ventilation zippers along the sides
  • Pros: Very warm, solid weatherproofing, great flexibility and mobility, breathable for touring
  • Cons: Expensive

Outdoor Research is another well-known cold weather outerwear brand, and their Hemispheres Jacket (in addition to their gloves and mittens) is an excellent jacket for all-mountain and backcountry skiing and riding. It’s beloved among skiers and riders for its superior construction, excellent weatherproofing, and breathability, which is best-in-class.

Experts largely agree that this is one of the best women’s ski jackets out there, and it even won POWDER Magazine’s “Apparel of the Year” Award. Made of GORE-TEX with special stretch capabilities, this jacket provides the warmth, weatherproofing, and flexibility necessary for long days of touring or resort skiing. It was a very strong contender for our “Best Overall” jacket, but its higher price and hit-or-miss construction left it slightly behind the Helly Hansen Powchaser.

Despite being a fantastic jacket for all types of terrain, there are some nuances that make this product a little different from others on the market. First of all, there are no pit zippers – instead, there’s a large torso zipper that you can open or close as much as you want. Some people love this, some hate it. Reviewers also say this jacket runs a little small, especially if you want to use a puffer or thicker mid-layer underneath.

Despite these minor drawbacks, this is hands-down one of the best women’s ski jackets on the market, and we’d recommend it to anyone wanting a fantastic, weatherproof outer shell for the winter.

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR THE HEMISPHERES JACKET:


Patagonia Primo Puff
Warmest Insulated Ski Jacket for Women

  • Price: $$$$
  • Materials: GORE-TEX, Plumafill insulation
  • Notable Features: 65g of Plumaloft insulation for extra warmth, pit zippers
  • Pros: Extremely warm, slim and stylish fit
  • Cons: Very expensive, zipper construction can be challenging to open and close
Best women's ski jackets - black Patagonia Primo Puff jacket

Eco-friendly and conscious, Patagonia is a leader in the outdoor gear world for thermal layers and outerwear. Their products are highly functional and comfortable, and are well worth the often premium price tags. One of their warmest offerings is the Primo Puff jacket, which was designed with snowboarders and skiers in mind, and it is arguably the warmest jacket on the market.

With 65 grams of heavy-duty insulation and a GORE-TEX outer shell, you’ll get top-of-the-line materials and construction with this jacket. Sub-freezing temperatures and inclement weather are no match for the Primo Puff. The weatherproofing on this thing is incredible, protecting your body from wind and moisture. For those looking for an eco-friendly option, the GORE-TEX on this jacket is made of recycled polyester.

While the Primo Puff is an outstanding jacket, it is the most expensive option on our list, with a price tag that’s more than double that of some of the other fantastic, high-end options. Despite the fact that this is possibly the warmest ski jacket we’d recommend, there are others that are comparable in warmth and weatherproofing that are available for a much lower price. It’s also a bit less breathable than other offerings. If budget isn’t a concern and you want to invest in the absolute warmest ski jacket on our list, the Patagonia Primo Puff is second to none.

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR THE PRIMO PUFF JACKET:


Burton Women’s Prowess
Best Women’s Snowboarding Jacket

  • Price: $$
  • Materials: Dryride Durashell, Sherpa fleece collar
  • Notable Features: Sherpa fleece lined collar, pit zippers, powder skirt
  • Pros: Affordable, lightweight, longer torso great for snowboarding, lots of colors to choose from
  • Cons: Thinner construction, less warm, looser fit on torso than other jackets

Burton is one of the world’s leading snowboarding brands, making gear that’s great for spending a lot of time on (and in) the snow. Their Prowess Jacket is a fantastic option for snowboarders or skiers looking for a looser, longer fit in a comfy and warm shell. It’s waterproof, weatherproof, and functional, perfect for a day of riding or wearing around during aprés-ski activities.

One of the best things about this jacket is its length, making it great for sitting in the snow (or wiping out), like snowboarders often have to do. There are several giant pockets for storing electronics and necessities, and the powder skirt helps prevent pesky snowflakes from getting into the inside of the jacket. Additionally, it comes in a lot of fun colors (possibly the widest range of all of the jackets listed here), and it’s more reasonably priced than most of the other options here.

Despite being a fantastic jacket, it’s a little thinner and less insulated than most of the options on our list, so you’ll need to pair it with a fleece or down mid-layer in colder temperatures. It runs a little large, which some people like and others dislike. However, if you like to wear layers or ski in milder temperatures, the Prowess Jacket is an excellent companion that we’d recommend wholeheartedly.

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR THE PROWESS JACKET:


Norrøna Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro
Best Non-Insulated Ski Jacket

  • Price: $$$$
  • Materials: GORE-TEX® Pro
  • Notable Features: Non-insulated, made of 50% recycled fibers, zip-off powder skirt, ventilation & pit zippers
  • Pros: Lightweight, versatile for milder or more extreme conditions, weatherproofing is top-tier
  • Cons: Expensive, not very warm
Best women's ski jackets: light blue Norrøna Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro

While many people aren’t as familiar with Norrøna, this family-owned Norwegian brand creates high-quality outerwear for the extreme weather found within the country’s northern borders. The Lofoten Jacket – named after a super picturesque region in the northern part of Norway – is one of the best non-insulated ski jackets available, and comes highly recommended by avid skiers and riders.

Outside of warmth, the Lofoten has it all – the best weatherproofing, smart zippers, a removable powder skirt, and lots of internal and external pockets to protect your things. There’s also a great mesh-lined ventilation system along the front to get as much (or as little) air as you want. What’s better? Over 50% of the synthetic materials found in the Lofoten are from recycled fibers, meaning your purchase is more eco-friendly than non-recycled options.

The Lofoten is somewhat of a niche jacket – it’s best for those who are specifically looking for a non-insulated outer shell that’s completely weatherproof and blocks out the elements well. If that’s what you’re looking for, this is the clear winner. However, if you’re seeking a warm, thick winter coat, this jacket is probably not your cup of tea. This is not a cheap jacket (actually, it’s one of the more expensive ones we recommend), but it’s got premium materials and construction that provide best-in-class weatherproofing and protection from extreme conditions.

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR THE LOFOTEN GORE-TEX PRO JACKET:


The North Face Thermoball Eco Snow Triclimate 3-in-1
Best Multi-Layer Women’s Ski Jacket

  • Price: $$
  • Materials: DryVent 100% recycled polyester shell, PrimaLoft® Silver Insulation inner puffer
  • Notable Features: 3-in-1 construction
  • Pros: Affordable, very versatile, with two jackets that can be worn separately or together
  • Cons: No wrist gaiters, not suitable for extreme temperatures

The North Face makes excellent winter outerwear, and their Thermoball Eco Snow Triclimate 3-in-1 jacket is a fantastic, versatile option for skiers and snowboarders who want some variety. Its high-quality construction and durable materials make it a great contender for both snow sports and casual use, since it can be worn in 3 different ways.

As most 3-in-1 options go, there are two separate layers (an outer shell and an inner insulated jacket) that can also be worn attached to each other. Perfect for skiing in mild temperatures or on sunny days, this jacket has a lot of versatility without too much bulkiness. The outer shell is very weatherproof and windproof, and it works seamlessly to keep the elements out.

Some customers note that the zippers can be faulty in this jacket, and the pockets are an awkward angle to use frequently. Others mention that the velcro lining that goes all the way up the zipper is a pain to use and can cause damage to the fabric of the jacket. The most common issue, however, is that the jacket simply isn’t warm enough for extreme weather, which may or may not be an issue for you. Either way, we’d recommend this jacket for milder temperatures, and it’s a pretty good deal for the price.

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR THE THERMOBALL ECO SNOW JACKET:


Patagonia Snowbelle 3-in-1
Honorable Mention

  • Price: $$$
  • Materials: H2No® Performance Standard outer shell, Thermogreen® insulation
  • Notable Features: 3-in-1 construction, pit zippers, removable hood, Fair Trade Certified™
  • Pros: Very versatile design, lots of pockets, well-insulated
  • Cons: Tight fit, inconsistent zippers, small pocket sizes
Best women's ski jackets: green Patagonia Snowbelle 3-in-1

Patagonia makes a second appearance on our list with its Snowbelle 3-in-1 Jacket, a fantastic alternative to The North Face’s Thermoball 3-in-1 we mentioned above. Made with premium materials and lots of insulation, this two-jacket combo offers versatility and weatherproofing for long days on the slopes.

We felt that the Patagonia Snowbelle 3-in-1 was worth a mention on our list because it’s a bit warmer than the Thermoball Eco Snow 3-in-1 (The North Face). However, too many reviewers complained of poor zipper quality, lack of pockets, and a tight fit (especially around the hips) for us to feel good recommending it for everyone.

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR THE SNOWBELLE 3-IN-1 JACKET:


Outdoor Research Skyward II Jacket
Honorable Mention

  • Price: $$
  • Materials: AscentShell waterproof outer layer
  • Notable Features: Designed for backcountry, AscentShell 3-layer technology, pit zippers
  • Pros: Great jacket for backcountry touring, spacious pockets, very weatherproof
  • Cons: Poor fit for some body types

Outdoor Research creates fantastic winter gear, and we couldn’t help but mention it twice, this time with its Skyward II touring jacket. This non-insulated outer shell is a great piece for those who prefer to layer and for those who focus much of their time and energy on the backcountry. Its minimalist, functional design and lightweight construction make it a great skiing or snowboarding companion as a weatherproof outer shell.

We felt the Skyward II was well worth a mention on our list because it is a fantastic non-insulated shell option. Customers especially love this jacket for touring in the backcountry and many have praised its breathability and weatherproofing for that exact purpose. However, it’s not as versatile for resort skiing and riding in extreme weather because it does not provide insulation, and the Norrøna Lofoten won out for the best non-insulated jacket with its superior weatherproofing and durability.

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR THE SKYWARD II JACKET:


Flylow Billie Coat
Honorable Mention

  • Price: $$$
  • Materials: OmniBloq DWR outer shell, 3L Poly Intuitive insulation/lining
  • Notable Features: Slim fit, removable powder skirt
  • Pros: Stylish with a slim fit, good ventilation and breathability, lightweight
  • Cons: Lesser-known brand, rough outer shell material

Flylow makes quality gear for touring and resort activities, and their Billie Coat is an excellent shell to consider. This jacket is a non-insulated outer shell, meaning that it doesn’t come with any insulation. The Flylow Billie Coat excels in many areas, including fantastic weatherproofing, but it is most beloved for its beautiful aesthetics and style. Customers love the way this coat fits them and many opt to purchase it primarily because it looks good.

However, complaints included rough or stiff outer shell material and strained mobility, which were huge detractors for us. If you’re looking for a stylish, fitted women’s ski jacket and don’t mind a stiffer fabric feel, this could be a great coat for you.

CHECK REVIEWS & PRICES FOR THE FLYLOW BILLIE COAT:


Best Women’s Ski Jackets: Side-By-Side Comparison

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*Scores are rated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest possible

Choosing the Best Women’s Ski Jacket For You

If there’s anything you should take away from this guide, it’s that there is no “one size fits all” option for everyone. While we’ve listed our recommendations some of the best women’s ski jackets on the market here, some will work better for you than others depending on your circumstances, activities, personal preferences, and body type.

With that said, it’s important to order from reputable websites that enable returns, so you can try on your pick(s) before fully committing to them. For making any big gear purchases, we love REI and Backcountry – both have generous return policies and offer great seasonal sales where you can get many of these items at a discount.

Only you can decide which one of these is the best ski jacket for you, so make sure the one you go with fits you well, is comfortable and stylish, and keeps you toasty warm and dry.

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