Your Guide to the Best Women’s Ski Jackets (2021)

by Simon Naylor | Updated On: January 23rd, 2021
winter-ski

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Women’s Ski Jacket

Product

Price

Best Overall

Helly Hansen Women’s Alphelia Lifaloft Jacket

  • LIFALOFT insulation

  • Slim-fit with a four-way full stretch fabric

  • Waterproof

  • Moderate breathability

  • An avalanche rescue system

Best on Budget

Wantdo Women’s Mountain Waterproof Ski Jacket

  • Affordable

  • Quick-dry and stain-repellent fabric

  • Windproof

  • Many pockets

Most Versatile

OutdoorMaster Women’s 3-in-1 Ski Jacket

  • Incredibly versatile

  • Durable

  • True to size

  • Affordable

Best Insulation

Columbia Women’s Snowshoe Mountain Ski Jacket

  • Omni-Heat thermal reflective system

  • Omni-Tech waterproofing

  • Modern and futuristic design

  • Removable and adjustable hood

Best Shell Jacket

The North Face Women’s Thermoball Triclimate Jacket

  • Versatile with three separate layers

  • Double Insulation

  • Waterproof and windproof

Top 5 Best Women’s Ski Jackets

  1. Helly Hansen Women’s Alphelia Lifaloft Jacket (Best Overall)
  2. Wantdo Women’s Mountain Waterproof Ski Jacket (Best on Budget)
  3. OutdoorMaster Women’s 3-in-1 Ski Jacket (Most Versatile)
  4. Columbia Women’s Snowshoe Mountain Ski Jacket (Best Insulation)
  5. The North Face Women’s Thermoball Triclimate Jacket (Best Shell Jacket)

Best Women’s Ski Jackets

Shopping is fun, but finding the right jacket may take a while. This section is my attempt to help you navigate your choices according to your needs. I present to you my five favorite women’s ski jackets.

1. Helly Hansen Women’s Alphelia Lifaloft Jacket

Best Overall

Helly Hansen has been around in the market for centuries. They’re known for providing top-notch service and unwavering quality. Their women’s Alphelia Lifaloft jacket is no different. It’s a mixture of style, comfort, and functionality. It’s based on the design of the Alphelia jacket, but with the addition of LIFALOFT insulation. This makes all the difference in warmth.

First, it’s form-fitting yet gives you a lot of freedom in mobility thanks to its four-way full stretch fabric. The arms and elbows are articulated with slick and slide shoulder panels for a better fit and added comfort.

Second, Helly Hansen’s ski jacket is waterproof with fully-taped seams. It’s moderately breathable with a rating of 15,000g. It’s also windproof, coated with Durable Water Repellency treatment. The zippers are also water-resistant. 

Third, this ski jacket has great additions. These include multiple pockets, wrist gaiters, and an avalanche rescue system. It features dual hand warming pockets, two chest pockets, internal pockets for goggles and electronics, and a ski-pass pocket. It’s also equipped with an adjustable helmet-compatible hood.

The Alphelia Lifaloft Ski Jacket is quite expensive. This could be a deal-breaker for some people, which is understandable. However, keep in mind that investing in longlasting skiing gear can actually save you a lot of money.

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2. Wantdo Women’s Mountain Waterproof Ski Jacket

Best on Budget

Wantdo was surprisingly capable of coming up with a ski jacket that’s comparable to its counterparts for a fraction of the price. It’s remarkable. The Mountain Waterproof ski jacket is made of polyester fiber. Polyester dries quickly, naturally retains heat, and is stain repellant.

It’s coated with water-repellant and has a waterproof rating of 10,000 mm. Although that isn’t the best, it would be enough for the amateur skier. Along with the windproof snap-skirt, Wantdo’s high-density fabric and film composite completely prevent air entry. This is aided by adjustable cuffs and stretchable gloves. The result is absolute wind resistance and warmth. 

When it comes to warmth, this ski jacket is soft and locks the heat inside to keep you dry and warm on cold days. However, it’s not highly insulated and might not work in freezing cold temperatures.

Moreover, with more than 5 pockets of different sizes, you can leave your bag at home for more freedom. There’s also an earphone line fastening and supporting fixture. This allows you to enjoy background music.

Finally, the jacket is a relaxed fit, which makes for better mobility. However, that also means that it doesn’t always look as flattering as you’d like.

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3. OutdoorMaster Women’s 3-in-1 Ski Jacket

Most Versatile

The Outdoor Master Women’s ski jacket is like buying 3 jackets for the price of one, practically a steal! Outdoor Master has designed its jacket as an epitome of versatility. It’s suitable for many winter sports or outdoor activities. You can wear the hooded waterproof shell and the inner fleece jacket together or separately.

The external softshell is made from breathable material with TEFLON surface protection. Plus, it has a helmet-compatible removable hood. This acts as a barrier against harsh weather conditions and offers additional protection. Yet, the softshell isn’t particularly waterproof.

The inner layer is made of a soft fleece liner. This gives you a balance of warmth and minimal weight. It comes in handy in extremely cold weather without being a burden making it ideal for winter sports.

Moreover, it’s highly durable, which can be surprising, given its affordable price. But the cherry on top is undoubtedly the OutdoorMaster customer service. OutdoorMaster offers 6 months 100% satisfaction guarantee warranty. They also promise a prompt response to any complaints.

On the downside, this isn’t a fancy ski jacket. Then again, you get what you pay for. It doesn’t include powder skirts or an avalanche rescue system. 

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4. Columbia Women’s Snowshoe Mountain Ski Jacket

Best Insulation

Columbia delivers a highly efficient ski jacket. It combines superior synthetic insulation and a thermal-reflective lining.

First, I would consider this jacket the best on the market in terms of insulation. The Omni-Heat thermal reflective system provides unprecedented heat retention.

Inspired by the space blanket, it’s designed in a pattern of tiny silver dots with aluminum. The aluminum reflects a portion of your radiant, infrared body heat back to you to keep you warm. However, the dots are discontinuous and cover only about a third of the fabric. This helps avoid overheating and leaves room for ventilation. 

This mechanism ensures moderate breathability to keep you dry at all times, even after strenuous skiing routines. It’s also moderately waterproof. The jacket features Omni-Tech technology and an attached snapback powder skirt.

Additionally, it’s an active fit with a modern and futuristic design, unlike any other. It’s truly a visual, apparel-functional technology.

This functionality extends further into the removable and adjustable storm hood. The adjustable feature gives you full freedom to adjust your jacket as you like. There are also plenty of pockets. You’ll find zippered chest and hand pockets, an interior security pocket, a goggles pocket, and a ski-pass pocket.

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5. The North Face Women’s Thermoball Triclimate Jacket

Best Shell Jacket

North Face doesn’t need any introduction. It’s the well-known brand delivering quality outdoor apparel since the sixties. The North Face Women’s Thermoball Triclimate Jacket is a remarkable addition to the market.

It’s made of three layers. The inner fleece liner can function as a standalone coat. There’s also an outer shell and an insulating layer. The latter is an insulation system that features both ThermoBall™ insulation and PrimaLoft® insulation. This combination offers exceptional heat in any weather.

The outer layer is made of a breathable DryVent™ 2.5L shell, contributing to the warmth. It also keeps you dry and allows moisture to evaporate. It’s of moderate breathability, which is more than enough for most amateur skiers. There are also open-pit zips for quick dumping of excess heat and efficient ventilation.

Furthermore, it’s windproof and waterproof with fully seam-sealed protection. The jacket is also coated with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish offering an added water-resistance.

Last but not least, The North Face Women’s Thermoball Triclimate Jacket provides an attached brimmed hood with three-point-adjustability. It also features adjustable hook-and-loop tab cuffs. These features offer exceptional protection and a fitted look.

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How to Choose Women’s Ski Jackets?

Choosing a ski jacket in this age is, dare I say, pretty tricky. With all the features that companies throw around, it’s challenging to know what to look for.

However, many of these features are actually essential for your experience as a skier. They can make or break your skiing trip. Here’s how to choose the best women’s ski jacket.

1. Type of Skiing

The type of skiing determines everything about your ski wear. There are three main types of skiing: mountain skiing, backcountry skiing, and freestyle skiing. For mountain skiing, you’ve got two options. You can either go for an insulated jacket or a hardshell jacket depending on the weather in which you plan to ski.

However, if you’re looking for some peace in the backcountry, a hardshell ski jacket would be the wiser choice. Remember, the weather in rural areas is often extreme.  Don’t go unprepared. Consider an insulated jacket or a  double-shell jacket, a softshell to provide warmth, and a hard shell to keep out the elements on the ridges.

Alternatively, if you’re a bit more adventurous, you’re going to want to add or remove layers easily. A hardshell ski jacket with a softshell in your backpack can work perfectly for you as a freestyler.

2. Climate

Temperatures, humidity, and snow quality are all important factors to take into consideration. Here’s why.

If you’re going skiing in freezing cold weather, it would be wise to invest in an insulated ski jacket. However, if most of the skiing you do is in warm weather, consider going for uninsulated ones. You can layer under them as needed. 

If you intend to go skiing in areas of high chances of rain, look into jackets with water resistance.

3. Insulation

gray jacket

Insulated women’s ski jackets are made of two layers. The outer layer is waterproof and windproof. The built-in insulated layer, on the other hand, provides warmth. The latter is usually made of down, synthetic fabric, or less commonly, fleece.

Down has a high warmth-to-weight ratio but a low water resistance index. That’s why it loses its insulating power if wet. On the other hand, the synthetic fabric can withstand rain and keep its insulating ability. It’s tougher, more economical, and more versatile than down, yet a bit bulkier.

Fleece gives a balance between lightweight and warmth. Some jackets have combined insulation. They use synthetic insulation in areas likely to get wet, such as the sleeves and underarms. 

The level of insulation is usually measured in grams. The greater the weight, the warmer the jacket. This can range from 30 grams up to 800 grams, which is more common in down than in a synthetic fabric.

Some jackets are very adaptable, providing a removable insulator layer. They’re known as system jackets or 3-in-1 jackets. This is very convenient for skiing in different weather conditions.

4. Shell

Shell jackets are uninsulated women’s ski jackets. They’re designed to protect you from weather conditions with little warmth. They provide mobility, breathability, and weatherproofing while compromising on warmth. There are two types of shell jackets, hardshell jackets, and softshell jackets.

A hardshell is a waterproof and wind-resistant outer layer. It also comes with ventilation options and high durability. It’s more versatile and much lighter than an insulated ski jacket.

In contrast, a softshell jacket is more breathable than a hardshell jacket. It isn’t waterproof, though. It can be worn as a mid-layer or an outer layer if you’re skiing in a dry climate. It’s sometimes treated with a durable water repellent (DWR) coating, though.

A shell jacket is especially useful in backcountry skiing, more so than in casual skiing. That’s because it’s resilient and can withstand almost any weather conditions. It can be worn on warmer days on its own or with more layers on colder ones.

However, if you go skiing in extreme weather conditions, this might not be the ideal choice for you. It provides mobility and flexibility, with attached special powder skirts and goggle pockets. On the downside, shell jackets are expensive as they integrate high-end membrane technologies.

5. Breathability

Skiing isn’t an easy sport. It’ll leave you sweating and gasping for air. For this reason, breathability is just as important as warmth. Some airflow and body temperature regulation can make all the difference.

woman with ski

Breathability is the efficacy of a jacket in letting moisture out through fabrics like cotton and nylon. This is achieved by utilizing the pressure gradient created by the higher temperature and humidity inside the jacket. 

As a rating, breathability is determined by the Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate (MVTR) and measured in grams. Briefly, the MVTR is defined by the number of grams of sweat per one square meter that can escape a ski jacket in 24 hours. The higher the value, the more breathable the jacket is, and the more comfortable you’ll feel.

Low (<5,000 g) and mild (5,001-10,000 grams) breathability offer some kind of ventilation. Yet, it’s not enough if you’re doing strenuous activity. You might also feel chilly if you take a break as a result of sweat staying on your skin.

Moderate breathability (10,001-15,000 grams) is by far the most commonly used. It’s a combination of high functionality and an affordable price. They can work for you during demanding activity. They’ll keep you dry and comfortable.

High breathability ranges from 15,001 grams to more than 20,000 grams. Professional athletes and skiers who frequently ski on difficult routes for long hours opt for high breathability.

6. Waterproof Rating

All ski jackets are waterproof, to an extent, but with different levels. Some use their own technology, while others use other technologies, namely Gore-Tex. What makes some materials efficient is that their pores are smaller than water molecules. They still maintain breathability, though.

Much like breathability, waterproofing has a rating that determines the speed at which a ski jacket lets water in. The higher the number, the longer the ski jacket keeps you dry. It’s measured in millimeters.

The first and lowest level of protection is water resistance (<5,000 mm). These jackets are treated with DWR. They have the ability to keep you dry in light snow, but not in rain. 

Then comes mild (5,001 mm-10,000 mm) and moderate (10,001 mm-15,000 mm) waterproofing. These are the most commonly used waterproofing systems. They’re usually based on a waterproof fabric as well as a water repellent DWR coat. This can keep you dry in average snowfall and light rain.

Finally, high (15,001 mm-20,000 mm) and very high (>20,000) waterproofing are the most efficient in keeping you dry.  They even work in the worst and most extreme of circumstances. They’re suited for the more experienced backcountry skier.

7. Style

Perfectionism is the best and worst feature of us women. Our desire to look flawless at all times, including while skiing has built a demand for different ski jacket’s fits and cuts.

Fit

There are various types of fitting you can choose from.

1. Slim Fit

Slim fit is a bodycon ski jacket that’s mainly suited for technical skiers. It reduces resistance and drag forces, giving you better control. It also looks fabulous. One downside is that the tight fit sometimes makes it hard to layer underneath.

2. Regular Fit

The regular fit is the standard fitting, tailored at the waist. It offers a combination of high mobility, good technical feel, and flattering design. It’s truly the best of both worlds.

3. Loose Fit

Loose fit is a large fit that lacks tailoring, allowing maximum comfort. It also leaves space for more layering as well as freedom for mobility. It’s a good choice for freestyle skiers.

Cut

The cut refers to the length of the jacket. It can be cropped, hip, thigh, knee or full length. The choice depends on your coverage preference and style.

Cropped jackets are quite flattering and compliment the waist. Hip-length jackets are a little longer, resembling the style of activewear.

Thigh and knee-length jackets have their hems at the said areas, respectively. This allows coverage and protection. As for full-length jackets, they reach below the knee or even to the ankle. They provide full coverage and often an appealing silhouette.   

8. Durability

A ski jacket is a piece of apparel that has to withstand wear and tear and extreme weather conditions. That’s one reason why you shouldn’t go skiing in your winter jacket.

Its durability depends primarily on the material used. This is achieved by either using high-end fabrics or having more layers. Tough fabrics, such as tightly woven nylon or polyester, are designed for high performance and resilience against wind and rain.

Using multilayered materials is another way of producing hard-wearing abrasion-resistant women’s ski jackets. However, they tend to feel heavier and less malleable. 

9. Seams

Women’s ski jackets have taped, not stitched, seams. This allows them to be waterproof. Some jackets have tape on vulnerable areas such as shoulders, keeping the weight light. Others have all their seams sealed with tape.

Critically Taped

Critically taped seams work perfectly for the amateur skier. They’re affordable and waterproof in all the important areas. Consider this type if you don’t spend a lot of time skiing in wet weather.

Fully Taped

Fully taped seams refer to waterproof tape glued to the inside and outside of all stitched seams. This is a great addition if you tend to go skiing during rain and heavy snow. One drawback of fully taped seams is their cost. It tends to be much higher than critically taped seams.

10. Other Features

Many extras can add immense functionality to your ski jacket, making your skiing trips more convenient and comfortable.

1. Pockets

Pockets are -hands down- among the most useful additions in any garment or bag. Yet, we don’t find them quite as often as we’d like. However, ski jackets are here to compensate us for the lack of pockets in our jeans. By giving us many pockets, each for a different purpose.

There are bigger pockets for your snacks, smaller zipped pockets for your keys, cellphone, and secure inner pockets for money or credit cards. Some brands even add media-compatible pockets for your headphones or RFID pockets to protect your credit card information.

For your goggles, there are often special pockets made of mesh to protect your goggles’ lenses from damage and allow ventilation.

2. Hoods

Hoods can be fixed, detachable, or stowaway.

Fixed hoods are attached to the ski jacket and can’t be removed. You can adjust them using an elastic drawstring at the back. Some have a faux-fur trim for a classy touch.

Detachable hoods are more versatile, giving you the ability and freedom to attach or remove them according to the weather. Stowaway hoods are even more adaptable. You can roll and tuck them inside a designated area without fully removing them.

Regardless of the type of hood you have, it’s important to know how to adjust it to the right fit. It should, at all times, leave some room to allow you to look from side to side. It should let out rain from your goggles. Also, you’ll want to make sure that the hood is designed to fit over the helmet.

3. Powder Skirts

A powder skirt, or a snow skirt, is an interior elastic band attached to the ski jacket at the waist. Its purpose is to prevent snow from going up the front and back of your jacket using a snap closure system. It can also come in handy in retaining warmth.

4. Wrist Gaiters

Wrist gaiters are an extremely useful feature in cold climates. They’re basically sleeves with thumbholes that you wear under your gloves. They fulfill two purposes. The first is to keep snow from going up your sleeve. The second is to keep your hand extra warm, especially if you have Raynaud’s.

5. Avalanche Rescue System

An avalanche rescue system is one of the newest and most valuable technologies introduced to ski jackets. It’s a life or death addition. A small transponder is incorporated inside the jacket so that rescue teams can find skiers. One of the prominent providers of this technology is RECCO®.

The Final Verdict

To choose the right ski jacket, you have to take many factors into consideration. These factors include waterproofing, style, and durability, to name a few. That’s the easy way to find a ski jacket tailored to your needs and personality.

After reviewing my top picks, I couldn’t help but admire the Helly Hansen Women’s Alphelia Lifaloft Jacket.

This remarkable brand designed a ski jacket that simply has it all. It’s the paradigm of functionality. I also like that it features an avalanche rescue system. 

However, if you’re looking for something more affordable, I’d definitely recommend Wantdo Women’s Mountain Waterproof Ski Jacket. This jacket is an excellent alternative, but it won’t break the bank. It’s also a good choice for beginners. 

Simon Naylor, the founder of New To Ski, started skiing in 2005. He has continued to practice his skills and wanted to share his journey and knowledge with other new skiers. He launched New To Ski in 2018 to help first-time skiers have more fun on the slopes and get out and explore the mountains safely.