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If you’re like most of us, you’re probably salivating at the thought of this year’s first good snowfall. When we finally get the weather that allows us to get the sleds on the trails or into the backcountry life is good.
Getting into harsh winter or spring weather without the right jacket for the ride is anything but fun, however.
Today we’re going to look at the best modern snowmobile jackets. Like any high-performance piece of outdoor clothing we need to know what makes the good, bad, and ugly ones.
We’ll talk in detail about winter clothing characteristics, snowmobiling considerations, and what options you have before you go out and throw down your benjamins.
Let’s get into it!
Best Snowmobiling Jackets
|FXR Octane Jacket||Castle X Platform Jacket||Klim Klimate Parka Jacket|
|Shell:||Nylon with HydrX||Polyester/Nylon||Gore-Tex Performance|
|Insulation:||260g FXR Thermal Flex||200g Thinsulate||300g 3M Thinsulate|
|Other:||3M Reflective patches||Internal lycra hand gaiters||3M Reflective patches|
Quick Answer: The 5 Best Rated Snowmobile Jackets For 2021
- FXR Mens Octane Snowmobile Jacket
- Castle X Men’s Platform Snowmobile Jacket
- Klim Klimate Parka Snowmobile Jacket
- RefrigiWear Softshell Snowmobile Jacket
- Polaris Pro Snowmobile Jacket
Best Backcountry Snowmobile Jacket
- Shell: Nylon with HydrX
- Insulation: 260g FXR Thermal Flex
- Waterproof: Water-resistant
- Other: 3M Scotchlite reflective patches
With lots of color options, modern style, and all of the snowmobiling features you could ask from a technical jacket this one stacks up against the best of them.
While modern sport-cut performance jackets can often exclude bigger riders, there’s not much to worry about here. This jacket is available in sizes small – 6XL so there’s a huge range of sizes to adapt to whatever needs you have.
On the same note, these jackets are also available in 7 total colors – though not all colors are available in all sizes.
As we expect from good high-octane gear this one is loaded with temperature control vents in the chest and sides.
With an adjustable wind skirt, collar, and wrists you can really batten down the hatches against the cutting cold winds on your sled. In addition, you can fine-tune the temp rating with the removable liner.
While the jacket is technically water-resistant (not waterproof), I really don’t see it as an issue.
Unless you’re riding in a spring downpour you’re unlikely to encounter enough liquid water when riding your sled for it to really matter.
Best Value Snowmobile Jacket
- Shell: Polyester/Nylon
- Insulation: 200g Thinsulate
- Waterproof: Waterproof breathable Ven-Tex 1.0
- Other: Internal lycra hand gaiters
Simple, classic, and effective are all words I’d use to categorize this jacket. It won’t break the bank or turn heads, but it will definitely get the job done!
You’ll find this jacket available in sizes small-4XL so keep that in mind before you buy. Don’t forget to go up a size to accommodate winter layers as well!
When it comes to insulation you get 100g in the shell and another 100g in a removable liner.
This is pretty standard for most modern jackets but I just wanted to point out that the finished insulation is technically 200g body/160g sleeves.
This jacket is waterproof breathable. They used Ven-Tex 1.0 to do that, and it’s a material I don’t have personal experience with. These days there are many house-brand WPB fabrics so I’m not concerned about it.
I am always a huge fan of vent zippers and you’ll get that with this jacket as well.
Best for simple, affordable, and effective snowmobiling jacket with no frills.
Best Men’s Snowmobile Jacket
- Shell: Gore-Tex Performance
- Insulation: 300g 3M Thinsulate
- Waterproof: Gore-Tex
- Other: 3M Scotchlite reflective panel
This jacket gets top marks for style, fit, and performance. With the Klim name, it’s pretty hard to go wrong when it’s time to hit the trails.
Available in two colors – safety yellow or classic black – you can put safety first or go with a more modest color.
While I’m sure there are other sizes available, as of this writing only medium and large seem to be options when shopping.
On the jacket are a series of ventilation zippers (must-haves in my book). You’ll also find a beefy two-way YKK zipper on the front with a wind/rain flap.
Inside is a powder skirt to keep wind and snow out, adjustable cuffs, and a high collar to add more robustness against terrible weather.
Warmest Snowmobile Jacket
- Shell: Synthetic softshell
- Insulation: 600g
- Waterproof: No
- Other: Rated to -60F
Need some seriously extreme cold weather protection? If you think you’ll be riding in crazy cold weather this season don’t skip over this option!
This manufacturer saw a problem: crazy cold temps. Then they created a solution – an insanely warm jacket!
Warmth by itself is not the last word, however. This jacket uses a shell, insulation, lining, and a zip system to create the warmest possible final product.
Keep in mind that the jacket is not rated waterproof – it’s just water-resistant. While that has drawbacks, the advantages of a softshell are comfort, flexibility, and fit.
While the jacket does have awesome winter features such as a powder skirt, reflective heat lining inside, and dual zipper system I think it has one big drawback.
When temperatures aren’t insanely cold (a lot of the time for many riders) there are no vents.
This jacket is rated as “600g” of insulation with no vent zippers… that means you may find yourself overheating and sweating if the temps rise at all.
Best Waterproof Snowmobile Jacket
- Shell: Polyester
- Insulation: Shell only
- Waterproof: Yes, Gore-Tex
- Other: Pit Zips, reflective patches
There are few, if any, names in snowmobiling with more experience than Polaris. However, does that mean they also make the best snowmobiling jackets? We’re about to find out.
Let’s get this out of the way – if you’re riding a Polaris sled and you want a matching Polaris jacket then you’re in the right place.
It matters to some people. Fortunately, you’ll also find that this jacket works great on the sled!
It’s built from 600 denier polyester fully seam-sealed with a Gore-Tex membrane liner for breathable waterproofness all day long.
On top of that, it’s got the must-have vent zips. Additionally, you’ll get an awesome modern fit with articulated elbows to stay nimble and comfy.
What’s most surprising to me, honestly, is that this jacket comes in at a very reasonable price.
Buyer beware, however, as the insulation weight rating is not readily listed and I was unable to confirm it through Polaris’s direct website. Best for a top-brand pick that will match your sled along with a wide range of colors and sizes.
Snowmobile Jacket Comparison Table
|FXR Octane Jacket||Nylon with HydrX||260g FXR Thermal Flex||Water-resistant||4.8 / 5.0|
|Castle X Platform Jacket||Polyester/Nylon||200g Thinsulate||Waterproof breathable Ven-Tex 1.0||4.8 / 5.0|
|Klim Klimate Parka Jacket||Gore-Tex Performance||300g 3M Thinsulate||Yes, Gore-Tex||4.5 / 5.0|
|RefrigiWear Extreme Jacket||Synthetic softshell||600g Insulation||No||4.7 / 5.0|
|Polaris Pro Snowmobile Jacket||Polyester||Shell only||Yes, Gore-Tex||4.7 / 5.0|
How to Choose the Best Snowmobile Jacket for You
When it comes to winter insulation there are several different routes you can go. Let’s start with types of insulation.
Synthetic insulation is man-made insulation that keeps you warm. These fibers can come in many brands with subtle variations from one product to the next. To make things worse, there’s a new “hyped” insulation almost every season.
One way or the other, however, synthetic insulation should keep you warm. It excels at performing when wet so if you happen to get soaked synthetic insulation is your friend. Additionally, synthetic insulation is typically cheaper than down.
Down insulation is made from duck and goose fibers. These little under-feathers are crazy lightweight, compress fantastically, and offer insulation value that few synthetics can compete with. Their downfall, as it were, is that down insulation performs very poorly if it happens to get wet and it’s super expensive!
Now that we’ve covered the two main types of insulation let’s talk about insulation ratings.
Ratings come in two forms. A rating will typically either be listed as a temperature rating or a weight rating.
Let’s start by discussing weight ratings. You may see something listed as “200g Thinsulate” or similar when reading about a jacket. These ratings can be translated to grams/square meter.
Thus, a jacket made from 200g insulation will be less warm than one made from 600g insulation. However, different weaves, brands, and technologies are used across varying brands and jacket constructions. Therefore it’s difficult, if not impossible, to create an apples-to-apples comparison even between two jackets both rated with 200g insulation.
Another way you may see jacket insulation listed as through a temp rating. This will look like “rated to -20 degrees Fahrenheit” or similar.
These temperature ratings are even harder to pin down than weight ratings on insulation. Each manufacturer will rate their jackets differently depending on their assessment of materials, insulation used, waterproofness, and other factors. Therefore these temperature ratings should be taken with several grains of salt (if not a whole brick of it).
At the end of the day, I feel that weight ratings are probably a bit more comparable across the board than declared “comfort” ratings. However, they both leave a lot to be desired in terms of the objectivity of a jacket’s final function in the field.
Whether it’s riding a sled or shredding on skis I prefer lightweight outer layers (jackets).
Instead of going with a heavy, thick, warm jacket, I like to go with a windproof/waterproof layer that has minimal insulation. Under that, I will layer up with insulation layers as I need based on current and expected conditions.
This system has a ton of advantages.
- You can use the same shell jacket no matter the time of the season
- You can use the same shell jacket throughout the day as temps change
- You can ditch layers as temps change throughout the day
If you’re going wear base layers underneath be sure that you order your jacket a size up so you can fit your layers without crushing them.
When a word has two suffixes you know it’s going to be a fun one: windproofness. Yeah, okay, I may have made it up but it gets across the message – how well does a jacket block the wind?
Insulation alone is not enough if your jacket won’t stop the wind. After all, insulation in jackets works by trapping “dead air” or non-moving air in a layer around the body. This air then matches your body temperature and shields you from outside temperatures.
If this trapped air can’t stay there, say if a cold draft leaks in, then your body has to do all the work of heating up the air all over again thus defeating the purpose of a jacket’s insulation in the first place.
So, how do you find a windproof jacket? Fortunately, it’s pretty easy. All waterproof jackets are also windproof.
Boom, that’s it.
Now the caveat – windproof jackets aren’t always waterproof. Certain materials such as Windstopper fleece or some softshell materials may be windproof but they won’t stop liquid precipitation.
For winter riding windproof garments are particularly important. You need a windproof layer as your outermost garment to stop cold winter air from penetrating and defeating your insulation underneath.
You might think that winter jackets and waterproof layers go together intrinsically. That’s not the case.
In fact, the dead of winter might be one of the few times when waterproof layers are least necessary. That’s because in the coldest parts of winter, in many places, liquid precipitation is non-existent.
Now don’t get me wrong rain showers can show up in the southern reaches of snowmobile territory even in the dead of winter. On top of that late spring riding could mean slush conditions and the chance of a cloud burst.
However, when the mercury drops and precipitation falls as snow you can really get away with non-waterproof garments without a problem.
When you do need waterproofing you’ll get two main options. Waterproof fabrics won’t let water in but they also won’t let water vapor (some sweat) out. Waterproof breathable fabrics, on the other hand, have the ability to allow the outward passage of some water vapor from inside the jacket.
While waterproof-breathable fabrics can be advantageous in some scenarios they’re probably unnecessary for snowmobiling.
Since you’re almost always on the move it’s easy to dump heat and sweat by using the integrated vent zippers on many jackets (underarm zips allow venting without letting in liquid precipitation). This is a much faster and more effective way to regulate sweat than breathable fabrics.
While there’s nothing wrong with waterproof breathable fabrics, you may be able to save yourself some money by opting for non-waterproof (if appropriate to your riding conditions) or simple non-breathable fabrics. Name-brand breathable fabric can double (or more) the price of a good jacket.
Before you settle on a jacket, take a moment to consider what type of waterproofing, if any, fits your needs and budget.
For snowmobiling, you need to make sure your jacket will hold up against penetrating wind and snow as well as playing nice with your other riding gear.
Powder skirts are great for keeping wind and snow out from below. These usually snap together around your waist and feature elastic fitments to prevent infiltration by snow or wind. This is a must-have in my world unless your jacket zips to your pants.
Cuff adjustment is important for keeping drafts out of your sleeves. I like to crank these down snug (not over tight) and then put a long-cuff glove over them to help deflect wind and snow.
The collar is critical to get right. On snowmobile gear, you need to make sure it’s high enough to keep drafts out while still being comfortable enough not to choke you out.
Reflective panels are great if you want to increase visibility. You never know when you might be out in low-light or no-light conditions so having a few reflective panels can’t hurt to add a little visibility. Plus, if you ever get into a survival or rescue situation some reflective panels can really help others find you in case you need help.
Layering can sometimes be a feature of a jacket. Sometimes it’s a user’s choice. If you’re going to add your own layers under a coat be sure to size your jacket up a size or two.
FAQs About Snowmobile Jackets
Q: Does a snowmobile jacket have to be waterproof?
A: We talked about this earlier but since it’s such a common question, however, I’ve put it down here so people can find the answer easily.
Long story short, you don’t need a waterproof jacket if you don’t plan to encounter liquid precipitation. In the dead of winter, you’ll rarely encounter liquid precipitation due to temps. In the spring or if you live further south and liquid precipitation may happen then you need to keep that in mind when choosing.
For most snowmobiling, I don’t think waterproof jackets are super important. What’s more important is a good windproof hardshell to keep you warm. Before you drop top dollar on your jacket consider whether or not you truly need waterproof features on your winter jacket.
Q: How much insulation do I need?
A: This is a tricky issue. Let’s talk through some of it.
Remember I always advocate for lower insulation on your jacket. Instead, add insulation as layers underneath. That said, how much do you need on a jacket?
I would personally opt for 100-200g insulation on my primary jacket. If you’re in some seriously extreme environments (low temps) then maybe go up higher.
By keeping your jacket insulation low you can dial in your layering underneath to your liking on any given ride.
Q: Is Gore-Tex worth it?
A: Overall I don’t believe that it is.
Gore-Tex jackets are usually much more expensive than similar equivalents. At the very least you can probably save some money by going with an off-brand breathable fabric. In fact, some alternate brands, such as eVent, sometimes boast performance numbers that even beat Gore-Tex fabrics altogether.
Also, given that most snowmobile jackets have vent zips and you’ll be riding with the wind coming at you it’s very easy to manage temperature and perspiration by just opening a vent zip or two.
For those reasons, at the very least, it seems to me that Gore-Tex probably isn’t worth spending extra money on in terms of a snowmobiling jacket. Now, if the jacket you really want happens to have Gore-Tex in it, then by all means go for it. Just don’t go out of your way to find it.
Q: What safety features are worth having?
A: I’d say at the bare minimum you should be considering reflective panels. 3M Scotchlite is super reflective and can be found on many snowmobile jackets. This is great for helping with safety while riding or if you happen to get stranded.
Another consideration is an avalanche beacon (that deserves a separate article) or RECCO reflectors. RECCO reflectors can be sewn into clothing and they help professional rescuers use special modern equipment to locate potential avalanche burials. A jacket with RECCO tech might not be a bad consideration if you spend a lot of time in the backcountry.
Q: What should I wear under a snowmobiling jacket?
Layering under a snowmobile jacket starts with a base layer. I like synthetic base layers but, if your budget allows, a good merino wool base layer can be even nicer! Go with a thin or midweight layer for most riding. If things are super cold a heavyweight base layer can be a good pick.
After your base layer throw on a good mid-layer of insulation. Something like a synthetic or down puffy jacket or vest is a good call for this mid layer. I personally like the Patagonia Nano Puff series but lately, Amazon has been making an in-house brand that’s similar and much cheaper.
If you want, add in a layer between these two in order to dial in your comfort for yourself. A fleece, a vest, or another layer of insulation can add flexibility to your layering system.
Then, over all of this goes your windproof snowmobile jacket to help protect you and your layers from the heat-stealing-cold.
When shopping for snowmobile jackets there are critical elements. It has to stop the wind. It needs to fit you right. You need the jacket to manage your body temperature appropriately. Then there are personal factors such as what type of waterproofing you might want to choose.
Be sure to spend a moment to read through our “how to choose” section if you feel confused about any of these factors.
Then, when you’re ready to get serious, check out our list of this year’s top picks for snowmobiling jackets that you can order fast and easy!
Enjoy, have fun, and be safe on the trails!
How We Researched
To come up with the top snowmobiling jackets we researched a variety of sources for reviews such as REI, Backcountry, Moosejaw, EVO along with our own personal experience.
We also consulted online magazines for product research and reviews to get as much unbiased information as we could. To help weed out fake reviews we used Fakespot.com to make sure we only looked at genuine reviews.
With so much quality gear available, we had to narrow it down based on what we felt were the best options were for the price. The author, Casey Fiedler was a full time ski instructor for Park City and The Canyons in Utah.
To help narrow down the selection he used his personal experience along with recommendations from snowmobile guides.
After extensive research, we came up with our list to help you choose the right jacket for you.