Should Ski Jacket Be Tight or Loose? How To Get The Perfect Ski Jacket Fit

by Simon Knott | Updated: January 5th, 2023 |  Skiing Articles

Your ski jacket might not seem that exciting when you compare it to other equipment you use on the slopes. However, every time you go out in it, it keeps you alive. So, maybe we need to reappraise its importance?

A ski jacket shouldn’t be too tight or too loose. It should fit loosley so it keeps you warm but with enough room to wear several layers underneath. You should always have a full range of movement.

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Advice: Choosing the right ski jacket can be a tough ask with so many variables on offer. However, establishing your main types of activity will go a long way to narrowing down the best fit and style.

For resort skiing, your main priorities are keeping warm and dry, but breathability is an important factor if you’re venturing into the backcountry.

You want moisture from those long climbs to easily wick away and evaporate, freedom of movement for when you need to change, and lightness, so you can fold and stow your jacket in your backpack on harder ascents.

As well as style most ski jackets are designed to keep you warm, keep the wind out, and be breathable, so moisture from your body can escape. Beyond these essentials style also plays a part in fit, so some jackets are cut to hug figures, while others are looser, for example for snowboarders, who need the extra freedom of movement.

How Should A Ski Jacket Fit?

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Tip: The fit of the ski jacket you finally choose is going to be a compromise mostly determined by the weather you ski in. You need to have a jacket with enough room so you can wear a base layer underneath and even a mid-layer for when it’s really cold.

However, when the temperature is warmer you will only need a base layer, and you don’t want the extra bulk of your jacket restricting your movement. Ski jackets offer different levels of insulation using synthetic insulation like fleece or either goose or duck down.

The thickness and the insulation properties of the filling will naturally affect how many layers you need to wear underneath. So, with a well-insulated jacket, you won’t need to go for a larger size jacket because most of the time you will only be needing a base layer underneath.

Modern designs of jackets are often of a longer cut, which can make life a lot easier when you have to sit on iced chairlift seats.

What To Consider With Fitting A Ski Jacket?

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Key Takeaway: A ski jacket is an expensive item of clothing, which you will only use for a few weeks of the year, so it will hopefully offer more than 10 years of reliable service. As such, it is a good idea to spend extra time trying on several jackets just to weigh up how each one feels.

On your trip to the fitting take a base layer, a mid-layer, and ski gloves along with you. Then try some fittings wearing just the base layer and the jacket and then try the fit with the base, mid-layer, and jacket, so you can get a good idea of the overall fit.

It is also useful to simulate a range of typical ski movements you are likely to make when the jacket is done up. With the jacket on try crouching down as if you’re doing up your ski boots, then try sitting down. Does the jacket bunch up? Or is it still comfortable?

Then try putting your arms above your head, as you do when you pull the chairlift bar down. Also, try reaching forward with your arms extended, as you do when poling with ski poles. The fabric across the back and shoulders of the jacket shouldn’t be feeling too tight

If your jacket is the right size, you should be able to carry out each of these simulated ski movements without it feeling too awkward or cumbersome. Finally, put on your ski gloves and make sure the sleeve length of the jacket is adequate and meets the cuff of the glove to create a comfortable seal against wind and snow.

Two similar-sized makes of jackets from different manufacturers will often be designed with different cuts, so it can be difficult to make objective comparisons when there are no one size fits. The only real way of finding exactly what you want is by trying on different sizes and makes.

Check The Jacket Fit Against Different Parts Of The Body

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Check the following parts of the body for how the ski jacket fits:

Arm Length

The jacket arms should be long enough but should finish at the wrist. No bare skin will be exposed when you wear gloves.

Shoulders and Back

When your arms are outstretched and held together there shouldn’t be tightness in the shoulders and back. Similarly, lifting your arms up over your head shouldn’t create a bunching in the jacket.

Waist Length

Some skiers prefer a longer waist to their jacket, which offers better windchill protection, but it can feel bulkier. Snowboarders often prefer a longer waist which offers more protection as they sit down on the snow more frequently.

What’s The Best Way Of Getting A Correct-fitting Ski Jacket?

A ski jacket is an expensive item of clothing, which should last for quite a few years. So, it’s well worth spending some time making sure you buy one that will serve your requirements. Check the insulation level of each of the jackets you try, as this will markedly affect how many layers you will need to wear underneath.

Trying on different jackets in a ski store is the only way to be sure that the fitting is just right. Also, check the waterproofing and breathability to make sure its performance suits the kind of conditions you’re likely to encounter.