Winter means cold weather, plenty of snow, and the chance to shred mountains. What does it take to get out there and get after it safely?
You’ll need your snowboard, jacket, pants, and gear. Of course, each snowboarder has different taste and style. That’s why today we’re going to help you find the best snowboard jacket for you.
Whether you need style, function, or both today’s snowboard coats are made to handle it. By the end of our guide you’ll know which features to look for and which to leave behind.
We’ll also line up some of our top snowboarding jacket picks for you to choose from.
Ladies: We reviewed the Men’s jackets for simplicity, a link to the Women’s model is provided.
Quick Answer: The 7 Best Snowboard Jackets For 2017
- Burton Covert Snowboard Jacket
- 686 Authentic Smarty Form Jacket
- Dakine Smyth Jacket
- Volcom Mails Insulated Jacket
- Oakley Razorback BZI Jacket
- Burton AK 2L Swash Jacket
- The North Face NFZ Jacket
Best Snowboard Jackets
Reviews of Snowboard Jackets for Men and Women
Available in enough colors to outfit two large families without a single duplicate, the Covert jacket is a top choice.
Why? Waterproof breathable fabric makes the jacket tech savvy enough for new or experienced riders.
I like that the jacket has different amounts of insulation in the sleeves versus the arms. However, at 80g of insulation it is a pretty heavily insulated jacket.
Luckily there are pit zip vents so you’ll be able to dump a bunch of heat when the days warm up in the spring.
The fully helmet compatible hood is permanently attached, but that’s a minor drawback. If having a jacket that was manufactured to be environmentally friendly, the Covert is Bluesign approved.
Overall I think the Covert is the best snowboard jacket for the money.
Women’s model: Burton Jet Set Women’s Snowboard Jacket
Similar to “3-1” ski jackets, the 686 Smarty Form jacket has a removable fleece liner. I have mixed feeling about the functionality but if this feature appeals to you, it makes the temperature range much more flexible.
Take out the fleece liner for a thin waterproof shell. Or just wear the fleece around town after a day of boarding.
Taped seams and waterproof fabric are must-have features we find on the Smarty Form jacket. I like the large pockets. They’re seriously large enough to be confused with a small backpack.
Plus, the extra-large hood just might fit over your helmet. Internal goggle pocket and an integrated powder skirt round out this jacket with nearly every feature you could expect.
In my opinion the Smarty Form is the best snowboard jacket under $200. The 686 pants are reviewed here.
Women’s model: 686 Women’s GLCR Solstice Thermagraph Jacket
This Gore-Tex based Men’s snowboard jacket is as sleek as it is functional. I love the abundance of pockets. They’re crafted into the jacket in such a way as to be nearly invisible however. There are four front external pockets and only two of them are really visible on the coat.
A standard sized non-removable hood is attached and I wish they would have made it removable but that’s a minor drawback. I love the pit zips and tall neckline.
Unlike some other jackets, the neckline on the Smyth jacket is just tall enough to keep out wind and snow, but not excessive.
One feature that may seem minor but they put some soft fabric on the inside of the jacket wear it contacts your chin. So when you zip it up fully it doesn’t irritate you. Just another feature on a well thought out jacket.
When the weather gets nasty, the pit vents, powder skirts, and wrist gaiters will allow you to keep out the worst and enjoy your day in style.
If your into listening to music while boarding, they included a headphone pass cord holder. Overall, an excellent choice and I think the best snowboarding jacket under $300.
Women’s model: Dakine Brentwoot Women’s Snowboard Jacket
Another waterproof jacket with taped seams to keep out the water. It will hold up against surprise spring time showers or deep winter blizzards.
I like the little touches, like the suede micro fiber chin guard which protects the jacket from rubbing against your chin when it’s all zipped up.
Pit zips are included and as you know, this is a critical feature. The jacket overall has a more reasonable 40g insulation across the whole jacket.
The one drawback with this particular jacket is that the hood is permanently attached. Again, a minor drawback.
Unique to the Volcom jacket is the ability to zip into Volcom pants. The jackets and pants can be zipped together to form a single unit. It can be had for about $100 and probably the best budget snowboard jacket.
Womens model: Volcom Women’s Bow Insulated Gore-Tex Snow Jacket
When you decide to permanently attach a hood to your jacket, the solution for helmet wearers is simple. Make the hood big enough to fit over the helmet.
That’s what Oakley did here. The hood can stretch to reach up over the entire helmet and then cinch down for protection. I’ve never found helmet compatible hoods to be very helpful, but you may!
Oakley put on the nice touch of including a goggle cloth in this jacket. They also pumped it up with 100g insulation. Beware of that thick insulation on hot days – even pit zips won’t save you if you’re completely overheating.
It’s truly amazing how easy it is to overheat while on the mountain even in the dead of winter.
Women’s model: Oakley Women’s Charlie BZI Jacket
Burton took a note from The North Face and opted for Gore-Tex fabric on this winter snowboard jacket. There are plenty of pockets so you have plenty of storage for snacks, water bottle and phone.
I like the integrated powder skirt with elastic waist and button front. The design of the jacket is similar to a vest where they focused the insulation on the core while keeping the sleeves lighter.
The fully taped seams and water-resistant zippers will keep you and anything in your pockets dry, especially nice in warmer, wetter spring conditions. Burton even included powder cuffs on the sleeves, nice touch!
One drawback is the lack of pitzips, I would have liked to seen them but they do have venting pockets on the chest.
If you match the Swash with a pair of Burton pants, you can zip them together. Nice for complete protection of snow getting in and keeping the cold out.
With a lifetime warranty, hard to find anything wrong with this jacket. If you don’t mind spending a little more, the Swash might be the best snowboard jacket you can buy.
Women’s model: Burton Women’s AK 2L Blade Jacket
The North Face has brought out the big guns. They’ve stitched this jacket up with the original name in waterproof fabric – Gore-Tex.
The jacket is fully seam sealed for wet spring weather or pond skimming, whichever you choose. I love that they stuck with the pit zips on this jacket because it brings the whole unit together as a solid choice for any weather.
With two internal pockets including a goggle pocket, there’s plenty of storage with the three external pockets. I also love the powder skirt in the jacket.
Just like the gaiters on your snow pants, powder skirts help keep snow out when you take a digger and don’t want snow down your pants.
Women’s model: The North Face NFZ Insulated Jacket Women’s
How to Choose the Best Snowboard Jacket for You
- What is Layering?
- Types of Snowboard Jackets
- Hood or No Hood?
- Goggle Cloth
- Powder Skirt
- Best Snowboard Jacket Brands
- Extra Features
At one point, Gore-Tex was the only name in waterproof breathable materials. Today nearly every maker of outdoor gear has an in-house brand of waterproof breathable fabric. Do you need the breathability? In the winter time for snowboarding, it doesn’t hurt.
Watch out for non-breathable fabrics as they can get hot and sweaty quickly. In most conditions, it is possible to vent the jacket by just unzipping. However, that can let in snow if you wipe out which quickly melts and leaves you vulnerable to hypothermia.
I like to keep enough storage in my jacket for all the items I need to be prepared on the mountain. Extra internal pockets are particularly helpful to store extra goggle lenses, snacks, and balaclavas. External pockets can stash a few snacks or extra goodies.
What is Layering?
If you have dressed for winter conditions you are probably familiar with what layering is. Layering is a method for dressing that gives the wearer with a variety of combinations of clothes that can insulate for a wide range of temperatures and conditions.
Snowboard Layer Types
So lets go through the types of layers:
The shell is the outer layer and is the most critical to achieve success of your layering system. Your shell has one main job: create a barrier separating you from the weather. A shell is usually waterproof, windproof and better quality shells are both. If your shell is waterproof then by definition is also windproof. However the opposite is not always true.
The insulation of your layering system is going to be one of two types, natural or synthetic. Three good examples of this are:
- Merino Wool
- Goose Down
For the really cold winter months having goose down insulation is one of your best bets. Unfortunately the most expensive also. Insulation layers will always go under the shell and its primary job is to trap and keep in your natural body heat.
Types of Snowboard Jackets
“3-in-1” Modular Jackets
For a variety of reasons modular jackets are very popular. This type of jacket take a layered approach, when you buy one, they come with everything you need to make 3 separate layers.
Here’s how it works: You get a shell and an insulation layer combined when you purchase a 3-1 system. What makes them so popular and is they are made to zip together and give three separate ways to wear the jacket.
Why is this important? Because, when you zip them zip together, you have a single jacket that forms a layered system; insulation and shell in one. When taken apart you can choose shell or insulation – or both depending on weather conditions.
Modular 3-1 jackets provide an easy no-brainer type solution to layering.
So whats the downside?
You’re stuck with the combination of shell and insulation the manufacturer feels best.The problem is their choices are not always the best. You can normally do better by choosing your own layers. The 686 Authentic Smarty Form Jacket is a good example of a shell with a removable fleece liner.
NOTE: Additional shells or insulation layers may not fit the zipper system of your original 3-1 coat so you may have to wear them as individual layers (something I prefer to do anyways).
Lower end jacket are usually the “insulated shell” type of jacket. It is far less versatile and adjustable than a 3-1 modular jacket, the insulated shell comes with thick insulation sewn inside the jacket and cannot be removed or modified.
I do not advocate this type of jacket, they are usually heavier and bulkier than a 3-1 modular jacket and of course less versatile.
This really becomes apparent when when its spring boarding conditions and everyone else is stripping off layers while you’re soaked in sweat inside your non-adjustable coat. If you plan on doing any spring boarding then I would not even consider this type of jacket.
Other than polar conditions there is really no advantage to this type of jacket other than they maybe cheaper. Only consider this type of jacket for the most extreme cold conditions.
Soft Shell Jackets
A relatively new option in jackets. This type of jacket is a hybrid of a hard shell and an insulation liner such as a fleece jacket. This stye of jacket is a good option in warmer conditions early in the season or spring skiing where it tends to be warmer.
The one caveat is they do not have the same level of water resistance of a hard shell but if don’t fall very much or its not raining then I would recommend this style of jacket.
However, I would purchase this type of jacket if you ski frequently and have other jackets.
Hard Shell Jackets
This style of jacket is designed for protection against the elements, like wind, sleet and snow. A great example of just a quality hard shell is the Dakine Smyth Jacket.
When you buy this type of jacket you are choosing the “Homemade layering” (see above) I would consider this type of jacket for a frequent or experienced skier who wants maximum flexibility with their layer options.
As you get to know the conditions and what layers works best, you can dress exactly the way you need to. For the once a year skier/boarder the 3-1 modular jacket is probably a better option,
Hood or No Hood?
This is a good question. If you’re going to be boarding without a helmet, I would opt for a hood on your snowboard jacket. This will add a bit of protection and warmth to your otherwise vulnerable noggin.
For helmet users, I would opt for a jacket without a hood or one with a removable hood. Why? Because when it starts snowing, the extra hood will funnel all that snow right down your coat. There’s just no need for a hood when you’ve got a nice helmet.
Venting is critical. If you’re picking up snowboard jackets or pants be sure to look for vent zippers. On snowboard jackets the zippers are usually located in the armpits. Sometimes these zippers extend down the sides of jackets.
Either way, ventilation can extend the usable range of temperatures of your jacket. By unzipping the jacket will be able to dump excess heat and you’ll be more comfortable on hot days. Zip them up to stay warm longer on cold days.
Is this really critical? No.
It is nice, however. Some jackets have a dedicated goggle pocket and inside you’ll usually find a microfiber cloth for cleaning your lenses. I find it handy often enough that I would suggest you look for it in a jacket but this feature is sometimes hard to find.
Another mandatory feature of a snowboarding jacket is a powder skirt.
Just about all shells come with an elastic cord around the bottom hem to help seal the jacket against the weather. However, dont confuse this with a true powder skirt – a powder skirt is inside the jacket, usually a few inches above the bottom of the jacket and gives you an adjustable seal around your waist to keep out the snow when you take a digger.
Best Snowboard Jacket Brands
As always choosing the “best” snowboard jacket brands is very subjective. Ask 10 snowboarders and you will get 6-7 different answers. However certain brands always come to the top like Burton. The originator of snowboards and making some of the best jackets available at any price.
Dakine, known for a variety of apparel has come out with a solid line of jackets at very reasonable prices. Newcomer, Oakley being best known for their venerable sunglasses have created a line of excellent jackets. Volcom, a leader in snowboarding is certainly a standout in the budget category.
So the best snowboard jacket brands in my opinion are:
- The North Face
Extra Snowboard Jacket Features
Better snowboard jackets will offer some extra handy features and there are others that are just necessities. One of the more useful features that I like are a special ski pass pocket. Most ski mountain no longer have the clip on paper lift ticket but a RFID card that they scan.
Most all snowboard jackets come with adjustable and sometimes removable hoods. I consider this less valuable because I personally and most boarders wear a helmet. The helmet usually provides plenty of warmth and protection from the elements.
The one feature that I consider a necessity are “pit zips”. When unzipped they allow plenty of air flow under your arms when you start getting warm. They allow you to regulate your temperature your liking.
Lastly, make sure the jacket has plenty of pockets for keeping snacks, a phone, water, a neck gator etc.
Picking out the right jacket is a tough call. Ultimately the Dakine Smyth jacket has a nice modern look with almost all the features we need in a snowboard jacket.
After that I would consider the Burton Covert jacket or the Oakley Razorback. Of course, each person’s needs will be unique and if you can afford a little more, the Burton Swash might be your favorite. Make sure to consider what type of weather and riding you like before settling on the jacket for you.
I hope this guide was helpful for finding the best snowboard jacket to fit your needs. If you want to comment or recommend a jacket I didn’t include, please use my contact form to get in touch.
Have fun and be safe out there!