Women’s ski jackets today feature tons of advanced tech and style. So, what’s worth your time and what should you try to avoid?
Let’s find out!
Picking the best Women’s ski jacket can be difficult task because it has to perform well in a wide range of conditions.
Having been a ski instructor for over five years in Utah I can tell you what makes a good ski jacket. There are features you must have and some you can leave behind.
Now I’m going to help you find the right ski jacket.
We’ll look at some factors in choosing your next ski jacket and suggest a few top performers.
Quick Answer: The 5 Best Ski Jackets For Women
- The North Face Cinnabar Triclimate Jacket
- Helly Hansen Women’s Motion Stretch Jacket
- Columbia Whirlibird Interchange Jacket
- Spyder Women’s Amp Ski Jacket
- Arc’teryx Women’s Beta AR Ski Jacket
Best Women’s Ski Jackets
Women’s Ski Jacket Reviews
- Shell: 100% Waterproof nylon
- Style: 3-1 Modular jacket
- Insulation: 100 g/m² grams Heatseeker™ insulation
- Other: Breathable, fully seam-sealed and adjustable, removable hood
The North Face, makers of quality outdoor apparel since the 60’s have an excellent jacket here with the Cinnabar Triclimate.
This is a “3-1” jacket so effectively you are getting 3 jackets for the price of one. The inner fleece liner unzips and comes out for a standalone coat or when you just want to use the shell for warm ski conditions.
The breathable “HyVent” shell fabric allow this jacket to breathe keeping you warm and dry by allowing any moisture to evaporate from the jacket.
The North Face’s “Heatseeker” insulated liner makes this an extremely warm jacket.
For the style conscious skier, the jacket is available in a variety of colors to match your preference and ski pants. The Cinnabar has “pit zips” for ventilation if conditions turn warm and you need to cool off.
There is a fully adjustable hood that can be removed completely, overall this is the best Women’s ski jacket.
- Shell: 100% Waterproof, 2 way dynamic stretch fabric
- Style:One piece
- Insulation: PrimaLoft® Black ECO Insulation 100g in body, 80g in sleeves
- Other: Fully seam taped, articulated arms and elbows, powder skirt
The Helly Hansen Motion Stretch Jacket is probably the most comfortable ski jacket on our list. Even though it’s a form fitting jacket, the 4-way stretch fabric that it is constructed from makes it easy to move in.
The articulated elbows add to the comfort factor along with a stretch lining make skiing all day a pleasure. Being a Helly Hanson ski jacket it is fully waterproof with full seam taping along with being windproof and breathable.
Not only is it one of the most comfortable jackets, it’s also one of the warmest with PrimaLoft® Black ECO Insulation that will keep you warm on those frigid winter days!
It also has venting so you don’t overheat when you are skiing aggressively or on warmer spring days. It has all the features you would expect in a quality ski jacket like a powder skirt, a detachable hood that is compatable with your ski helmet.
Helly Hanson rounds out a complete ski jacket with a few “niceties” like a ski pass pocket for the RFID lift ticket that many ski resorts are using nowadays. Lastly an “electronics” pocket for your phone rounds out one of the best ski jackets for Women!
- Shell: 100% Waterproof polyester
- Style: 3-1 Modular jacket
- Insulation: 80 g/m² Omni-Heat™ Reflective Microtex
- Other: Zip-off hood with brim and drawcord
Just like the Men’s Whirlibird reviewed above this is one of the best womens ski jackets on a price/value basis. It features their patented “Omni Tech” shell that is waterproof and windproof for protection from the elements.
The Women’s Whirlibird has their “Omni-Heat” technology, which is a fancy way of saying the liner of the jacket reflects your body heat, keeping you nice and toasty. Especially nice on the ski lifts with the wind blowing.
Being a mid-range price jacket, only the “critical seams” are taped for extra water resistance. Unless it is pouring rain, this should not be an issue.
The jacket has a hood that folds neatly into the back, though honestly with almost everyone using helmets, the hood is rarely used.
Even at the price point the Columbia Whirlibird is at, it has underarm venting for when the weather turns warm. This is a great ski jacket for a bargain price.
- Shell: 100% Waterproof polyester DWR
- Style: One piece
- Insulation: 100 g/m² 3M™ Thinsulate™ Insulation
- Other: Fully seam taped, removable helmet compatible hood
Spyder is an official supplier to the US Olympic team so that should tell you something about the quality of Spyder’s outdoor apparel. The Spyder AMP is their latest offering for a quality Women’s ski jacket.
The AMP has 100g of 3M Thinsulate insulation in the liner of the jacket which is on the heavier side meaning this jacket is above average in warmth.
The Thinsulate keeps the jacket lightweight and thin while still providing plenty of flexibility. Being a 3 layer jacket, it has a membrane sandwiched between the shell and liner providing an extra measure of waterproofing and breathability.
The AMP uses Syder’s “Spylon” which is a waterproof, water repellant finish that beads water up and lets it roll off so it cannot penetrate the shell. Not only does it keep water out it provides resistance to dirt and stains keeping it looking brand new for years.
The “critical seams” are taped for an extra measure of water resistance and has zippered hand pockets for storage or to keep your hands warm when not wearing gloves. There are a variety of colors available so you should be able to find one to match your style.
Spyder has always been one of my favorite brand of jackets and the Sypder AMP is definitely one of the warmest women’s ski jackets.
- Shell: 100% Ripstop nylon waterproof GORE-TEX®
- Style: One piece
- Insulation: Liner only
- Other: Helmet compatible Drop Hood with pit zippers
Stepping it up a notch in quality, performance and price is the Arc’teryx Women’s Beta AR Jacket. Arc’teryx is a premium brand from Canada who got their start from making clothing for the Mounties.
The fit and finish of the jacket is flawless, providing unrestricted movement for when you are carving up the slopes. This is not a “3-1” jacket and is primarily a shell. It features a Gore-Tex shell for unmatched water and wind resistance.
If conditions warrant, there an adjustable hood that stows away when not needed. For ventilation there are “pit zips” that are water tight. For extra durability the shoulders and elbows are reinforced ensuring this jacket will last you a long time.
Being primarily a shell, you will need to layer with this jacket, which is the way to go in my book anyway for ultimate flexibility.
The Arc’teryx Women’s Beta AR Jacket is not cheap but if you are looking for the best quality that money can buy, this jacket is for you.
Women’s Ski Jacket Comparison Table
|Women's Ski Jacket||Shell||Style||Insulation||Features|
|The North Face Cinnabar Triclimate||100% Nylon waterproof||3-1 Modular jacket||100 g/m² grams Heatseeker™ insulation||Breathable, fully seam-sealed & removable hood|
|Helly Hansen Women's Motion||100% Waterproof polyester DWR||One piece||PrimaLoft® 100g in body, 80g in sleeves||Breathable, fully seam-sealed & removable hood|
|Columbia Whirlibird Interchange||100% Nylon waterproof||3-1 Modular jacket||80 g/m² Omni-Heat™ Reflective Microtex||Zip-off hood with brim and drawcord|
|Spyder Women's Amp||100% Waterproof polyester DWR||One piece||100 g/m² 3M™ Thinsulate™ Insulation||Fully seam taped, removable helmet compatible hood|
|Arc'teryx Women's Beta AR||100% GORE-TEX® ripstop nylon waterproof||One piece shell||Liner only||Helmet compatible Drop Hood with pit zippers|
How to Choose the Best Women’s Ski Jacket – Buyers Guide
- Ski Jacket Materials
- Types of Women’s Ski Jackets
- Ski Jacket Venting
- Ski Jacket Hoods
- Jacket Cuffs and Powder Skirts
- FAQs For Women’s Ski Jackets
Ski Jacket Materials
When you start looking for your next ski jacket, you’ll find all sorts of materials to pick from. Of course, in most cases we don’t really care what it’s made from as long as it works, right?
Well, that might be the case for some things but certainly not ski jackets.
When it comes to spending time on the mountain, your jacket needs to survive wind, snow, and even rain sometimes. Waterproof and windproof jackets are a must-have if you want to survive and thrive on the slopes.
If you’re on a budget, waterproof non-breathable jackets are the way to go. They block wind, snow, and rain with ease. However they can be a bit stuffy at times.
Many skiers opt for waterproof/breathable materials. These advanced layers allow some water vapor to escape through the coat as you ski. This increases but not as much as my personal favorite ski jacket feature…
Types of Women’s Ski Jackets
When it comes to ski jackets we’re going to look at a few styles with different approaches to layering:
Modular “3-in-1” Jackets
Becoming very popular are the modular jackets. These jackets take an all-encompassing approach to layering and when you purchase 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 when you purchase a 3-1 system. The only real neat feature here is that they’re usually made to zip together.
Why is this even important?
Because, when zipped together, you have a single jacket which acts as your insulation and shell in one. When zipped apart you can choose shell or insulation – or both.
These systems provide an easy solution to layering.
The major downside?
You’re stuck with whatever combination of shell and insulation the manufacturer deems appropriate. This isn’t so good for customizing but you can always just get a different shell insulation later and swap them out. The The North Face Carto Jacket is an excellent example of this type of jacket.
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).
Most “budget” ski jackets are the “insulated shell” type of jacket. It is far and away the least versatile type of jacket. The jacket comes with thick insulation permanently sewn inside the jacket.
I’m not a huge fan of this type of jacket, mainly because they tend to be heavier and bulkier than a 3-1 modular jacket.
This is a disadvantage when its spring skiing 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 skiing then I would not consider this type of jacket, even though you may save some money.
There are very few situations outside of arctic conditions where insulated shells have an advantage over good adjustable layering systems.
Only consider these options 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 jacket is not a bad option in warmer conditions early in the season or spring skiing where it tends to be warmer.
They do not offer the same water resistance of a hard shell but if don’t fall often or its not raining then I think this a good way to go. I would consider this only if you ski frequently and have other jackets.
Hard Shell Jackets
This type of jacket is mainly for protection from the elements, like wind, sleet and snow. A great example of just a quality hard shell is the Arc’teryx Beta AR Jacket.
When you choose this option you are choosing the “Homemade layering” (see below) I would consider this option for a frequent or experienced skier who needs maximum flexibility with their layering.
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, like the Columbia Whirlibird Interchange Jacket or the The North Face Carto Jacket.
Ski Jacket Venting
When I go to buy a ski jacket the number one feature on my list is the pit zips!
Pit zips are armpit zippers which can be opened and closed to allow that fresh cool mountain air to breeze away your heat and sweat as you ski. When things are really nasty, keep them zipped up and stay toasty! When you start to overheat, open up the pit zips to quickly dump a ton of heat and sweat.
Thanks to pit zips and the cool mountain temperatures, I rarely feel the need to have expensive waterproof/breathable coats. I’d rather have a coat with good venting than breathable materials!
If you look for quality jackets you can often find other types of venting. Makers of ski coats often include smaller chest vents that are sneakily hidden and can be opened and closed to help manage temperatures easily.
Ski Jacket Hoods
There was a day when ski jacket hoods were necessary. Today they just collect snow. So, why the hate for ski jacket hoods?
I’ve spent well over 100 days a season on skis over the last 5 years and not one of them involved a hood. As a professional ski instructor I see everyone on the hills these days wearing a helmet and that kind of precludes the need for a hood.
Of course for the most hardcore situations a hood that can fit over the helmet can sometimes, but rarely, be helpful. Most of us don’t ski in conditions that call for helmet hoods!
A good helmet not only protects your noggin but it keeps the snow off of you. Helmets that are well made also feature adjustable vents to cool your head down so you can ski comfortably all day. No need for a hood.
In fact, hoods when not used tend to fill up with snow. That snow invariably will end up getting accidentally dumped down your neck and leave you cold and upset! Look for jackets without hoods, or with removable hoods if you’re wearing a helmet.
Jacket Cuffs and Powder Skirts
What is a powder skirt? Nope, not a skirt for apres skiing but a skirt to shred!
Powder skirts are internal fabric gussets that snap closed around your waist. Then you button or zip the jacket up over the top of that. When you take a nasty digger or zip through that bottomless pow the powder skirt in your jacket keeps the snow out of your shirt!
If you find a ski jacket that lacks a powder skirt you may want to ski to the next one!
Of course, I wear a jacket without a powder skirt but I just keep it cinched up around the bottom hem. It is possible to enjoy the mountain without a powder skirt in your jacket, but they sure do help keep you dry and happy!
That brings up the next point. When it’s time to rip through the powder and the weather is nasty, you need to batten down the hatches and keep yourself comfy. That means good cuffs on your jacket.
Great cuffs are elastic so that they can expand as you move. They should be easily adjustable so you can cinch them down and put your gloves over the top of them (or vice versa depending on your preference).
Ski jackets are the place to store everything! Seriously I stuff lunch, snacks, rub on wax, extra goggle lenses, and the kitchen sink (of course).
The most important storage is the goggle pocket. Most modern ski goggles have interchange lenses. That means you need to be able to change lenses on the fly and store them without scratching them.
Look for a ski jacket that has a chest pocket made for storing lenses or goggles. These also usually have built in lens cloths for cleaning your lenses. An ideal accessory!
Be on the lookout for jackets with season pass pockets, too. If you’re a pass holder it’s far more convenient to have one built into your jacket than to have to add an armband later.
I like to have tons of internal jacket storage. My extra stuff goes in here like a balaclava, hat, and phone. It’s pretty important, actually that you keep your phone inside your jacket.
Because the cold temperatures of winter will cause your battery to die very fast. You’ll be lucky to make it to lunch with a cold phone so keep it tucked into an inner pocket warmed by your body heat.
FAQs For Women’s Ski Jackets
Q: Should I buy a size larger than usual?
A: If you haven’t heard of this it might seem confusing. Why buy a larger jacket than your actual size?
Well, it’s not a 90’s fashion rewind, but instead simply a matter of practicality. In order to stay warm your clothing and insulation has to have enough room to trap “dead” air around your body. Your body heat warms up this pocket of air to keep you warm all day!
So, if you get a jacket that’s too small and you wear a couple warm layers under it (like a puffy jacket or a sweater) there won’t be room for that trapped air. Plus, it’ll feel constricting on your elbows and shoulders.
What I usually recommend is that people try on jackets while wearing the rest of their ski clothes. Put on a warm shirt and a puffy jacket and then try on ski jackets over the top of that. Make sure it’s big enough to not constrict your movement or squish the layers underneath and you’ll be good to go!
Q: What’s the best color for a ski jacket?
A: No, I’m not about to give you fashion advice. Instead I’ll just try to point out a few things to think about when you’re choosing ski jacket colors.
Imagine you’re on the mountain and suddenly the temperature plunges, clouds roll in, and a huge white out storm dumps flurries so hard you can’t see more than a couple yards. Now imagine you’re wearing white pants and a white ski jacket.
Every year I see skiers taken off the mountain by ambulance or helicopter due to skier-skier collisions. Now, I’m not saying you should ski around in a caution vest but something with color doesn’t hurt as far as visibility to other skiers (or ski patrol should you get injured).
Q: Are fur collars and hoods really worth having on a ski jacket?
A: At one point, seemingly, fur lined collars and hoods served arctic explorers by buffering winds and snow from the face. Today, however, it’s a roll of the dice whether or not fur lining on your ski jacket might be fashion or function.
If you’re going to wear a hood, some fur lining actually can help slow down winds and keep snow out of your eyes. However, you probably should be wearing a helmet and goggles anyways. If you don’t use your hood and just leave it hanging from the back of your coat it will get filled with snow and eventually dumped down the back of your neck.
For that reason I have to say that both hoods and fur accents on ski jackets don’t really make sense in most cases.
Pro Tip: Look for helmet compatible hoods which are extra tall and can fit over the top of a skiing helmet.
Q: Where’s the best spot to keep your phone or MP3 player?
A: Skiing while you listen to music can be a lot of fun. It’s easy to get lost in your own little world and feel like Rocky during a training montage.
Unfortunately phones and MP3 players are well out of their element on the mountain. Every year, when the snow melts, cleanup crews on ski mountains find dozens of iPhones and Zunes littering the landscape after they escape the gloved clutches of skiers.
The cold weather is equally harsh on the battery life of phones and electronics. For that reason I recommend keeping your devices in a pocket on one of your under layers or inside the jacket.
I never keep my phone in an outside pocket because it’ll get cold and the battery will die very quickly. Plus if you take a nasty wipeout, landing on your phone and breaking it will just add insult to injury. Keep it protected deep inside your layers!
Pro Tip: Only listen to music when there is little or no ski traffic around you. Hearing approaching skiers around you or being able to hear someone shouting for help could just save a life.
Q: Is Gore-Tex the best material for a ski jacket?
A: Gore-Tex is a form of waterproof breathable membrane which can be added to just about any type of clothing. Gore-Tex works by using several layers of material and many manufacturer can buy and use Gore-Tex in their gear.
Today, however, tons of gear brands have their own in-house versions of waterproof breathable membranes with other names like HyVent, eVent, and other brand names. There’s tons of research and comparison data out there but what it boils down to is that you’re not stuck with just Gore-Tex anymore.
If you really want waterproof breathable jackets I’d recommend that you not pay attention to the brand name at all. Most of them are all as good or better than Gore-Tex anyways so just go with whatever brand suits your fancy.
I hope this guide was helpful for finding the best Women’s ski jackets 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.
New to skiing? See my beginners guide to skiing for tips and advice.
Have fun and be safe out there!
If your looking for a good helmet, see my recommended ski helmets here.