Snowboard jackets are one of the keys to having a good day whenever you go snowboarding or skiing. Let’s face it: no one likes to be cold. And on top of that, no one likes to be wet. Snow can make one very cold and very wet, and snowboard jackets are there to protect you. This is a vital piece of clothing for the user, not only because it keeps you warm and comfortable, but because it can also save your life is you do have an unfortunate accident. No one likes to think about these possibilities, but in a tough outdoor sport, you have to plan for every eventuality. Snowboarding jackets aren’t just to look cool (that is always a factor), they are meant to support and protect oneself from the harsh elements. Originally, the first snowboarding “jackets” were just sweaters or whatever else people could find. Over time, they have grown into their own very cool thing. This guide will go over some of the ins and outs of snowboarding jackets, which will it much easier on you. We will then review the top ten men’s and women’s jackets so that you get an example of what is out there on the market!
Top Snowboard Jacket Comparison Charts
Snowboard Jacket Buyer’s Guide
Styles: Shells and Insulated Jackets
Shells and insulated jackets are the two subsets in the snowboarding jacket market. Shells are the most common as they are meant for more general use. Just because there is snow doesn’t necessarily mean that the weather conditions are awful. So, these, as a result, are more common because they are very versatile in their nature. They are versatile because they are a little oversized. This oversizing is important because they want people to be able to wear some layers underneath if they choose. This oversizing also allows the wearer to not wear anything but the jacket for days when it is much warmer than usual outside. So, if you’re on a slope where the snow is artificial, these may be your best bet. Just because shells are more common doesn’t mean that they are made of poor materials, however. Most of them are still waterproof, so you will be able to go out and not have to worry about getting too wet. It is important to point out that the shell does NOT give you warmth, so if it is cold you need to base layer and potentially mid layer yourself to make sure you do not get cold.
Insulated jackets aren’t quite as popular as shells simply because of the fact that they are more geared toward extreme weather conditions. Because of today’s slopes having artificial snow in a lot of cases, the need for insulated jackets has been lessened to an extent. However, these can still be a very useful tool as you try to fight off the water and the wind. Insulated jackets are typically waterproof and are wind resistant as well. The insulation is made of synthetic stitching that is measured by its weight in grams. The higher the weight, the higher the warmth is. Anything over 100 is considered to be a very extreme condition-type jacket, while anything under 60 grams is good for mild.
The way you choose between these two comes down to the type of person you are, and how well you handle the hot and cold. Your natural body temperature plays a large role here. If you’re usually a cold person (we all know that person), then you should lean toward the insulated jacket for obvious reasons. If your blood runs a little warmer, then you should be fine with the shell. Before we move on any further, we should point out that these are just the two main types of jackets in this sport. There are others, but they typically fall under one of these two categories and they are very like them.
One of the keys to any snowboarding jacket is the waterproof rating. The waterproof rating measures how well water is resisted. This definition is sometimes important because some things that claim to be “waterproof” are not really waterproof at all. In regards to snowboarding, this is a key area. There are a number of ways for this rating to be expressed. It can either be expressed (using 10) in 10.000mm, 10K, or 10,000. This can be confusing, but it all does mean the same thing if you see it. So what is the scale that we are looking at? The scale runs from 1K all the way up to 30K. Above that, there is a more, but these are all proprietary blends that companies have come up with. One such is called “Gore-tex.” The scale is very easy to understand as the higher you go, the more waterproof you get. At 1K, you are just water resistant, albeit to a small amount. At 30K or above, you’re essentially waterproof. What you need does depend on your purposes, and we are going to quickly break down those specific purposes. Keep in mind that as you go higher and higher on the scale, the price range does increase. However, a small amount of extra money spent can make a whole world of difference in this area.
1K jackets are meant to be rain jackets. You can see these types of jackets in a lot of different fields, such as golf or soccer. These are meant for normal conditions, typically, and not so much extreme or even mountain conditions.
5K is the range that snowboarding jackets typically start at. This is a lower price point than anything you will see below, and because of that, the material is not quite as good. So if you’ve been snowing all day and it’s been sitting on there or you’ve been sitting, it will start to show through eventually.
If you are to encounter consistent snowing like in the example above, then this level would go above and beyond that. You would see a noticeable difference in the amount of dryness that you have in comparison to the 5K.
At this range and at its price point, you can essentially just sit in the snow all day and have absolutely zero problems with getting wet. For many, this is the point where they don’t desire to go any further.
These are induced with “membranes” that are put on the outside of the jacket to increase the waterproof rating. These are quite expensive.
As we it mentioned above, we should mention it here. Gore-Tex is the most waterproof jacket on the market and the most commonly-used proprietary blend out on the market. As such, they are quite expensive, but they will not get you wet!
Much like the rating system above, breathability is rated in the same exact way. Their is a scale from 1K all the way up to Gore-Tex. This scale measures how well, or how poorly, a jacket is at letting moisture escape. This means that when you have been at it for a while and you are starting to sweat that you can breathe. It means that the material doesn’t confine your sweat, thus weighing you down. The higher you go on this scale, like the last, the more breathable the material becomes. And as mentioned above, it does get more and more costly. This one isn’t nearly as essential as the waterproof rating because this isn’t going to determine whether you die or not in an extreme case. The amount of breathability that you need really depends on whether you sweat easily or not. If you don’t have a big problem with that, then you can probably just settle for something at a lower range. We recommend a little bit of breathability, even if you are just looking for the minimum necessary. Base layers play a role here as well. Without the right base layer, you may find it pointless anyway because the base layer may make you sweat!
Types of Insulation
To go a little further on our discussion earlier about the two types of jackets that are most seen, we need to talk about the types of insulation. Insulation refers to the inside of the jacket, and it helps keep you warm internally. We all have jackets at home that are for various normal uses, and most of those are simply warming from the outside only. Insulation warms from the inside, which is one of the reasons why snowboarding jackets or jackets for any type of extreme weather sport or activity are more expensive.
After the first wave of synthetic materials, down insulation lost a lot of its mojo and its followers, but it has now come back in vogue. Down insulation refers to “down feathers,” which refers to the way that geese and ducks stay warm in nature. The “down” essentially traps air molecules in order to allow a thermal barrier so the bird can keep at an optimum, steady temperature at all time. The reason why this type of insulation is pure brilliance is due to giving the absolute maximum amount of warmth while also being the lowest weight possible. This all makes sense because those birds wouldn’t last very long out in the wild if they were heavier because of this. So, this is where the inspiration comes from. There is a small downside with down insulation, and it is that it also needs another insulator to keep you from getting water trapped to the feathers. However, they can be paired to great effect with the Gore-Tex technology, which is possibly the best combination that can be found out on the market. Just keep in mind that you do have to find ONE single jacket that has both in it. This isn’t an additive process where you can take one thing and add on to it with another, unfortunately!
Synthetic insulation is man-made material that is typically made in any number of areas because they want to create something that is more durable. One of the most common occurrences today in sports of all kinds is to see the traditional materials being paired with synthetics to make them even better. But in more crude and cheaper products, you will see fully synthetic material to help drive down the price a little. This option is also great for those that build up a lot of body heat when they are snowboarding. This is an option for those that just get too warm in down insulation. So, if you are someone that is bigger or a real pro at it, and you are going up and down frequently, synthetics or at least some combination of synthetic insulation is probably a good way to go for you. Two of the most popular forms of the synthetic insulation are 3M Thinsulate and Primaloft. Primaloft does its best to mimic down feathers by giving you fibers that are soft like feathers, water resistant, and trap body heat with little air pockets. Much like that, 3M Thinsulate helps maintain your warmth when you are wet. There are truly very little differences between these two types.
As we discussed before, sometimes you will not need or want any insulation. A shell is the bare bones as its like an exoskeleton that you can use to surround yourself. It is up to you whether you decide to wear any base layers, which will provide you with the warmth from inside or not. So, shells have no insulation as all of the properties come from the outside i.e. the shell!
What kind of seams are used to hold everything together is the instrumental part that goes hand-in-hand with insulation. Without the stitching to hold it all together, you’d simply be lost. Seams have several subsets such as critically taped, full taped, Gore-Seam tiny tape, and welded. Most of them are fairly easy to understand are obviously named. Critically taped mean that only the seams that are recognized as the most crucial are taped. Full taped means all of the seams are taped. Gore-Seam is similar to Gore-Tex because it helps increase breathability and give you protection from water while keeping it much less bulky, so you won’t weigh as much and be protected out on the slopes. Welded seams aren’t really seams at all as the companies that have gone this route have decided to get rid of seams altogether in favor of welding together the fabric. They do, however, usually have seam tape on the inside to help back up the welding job.
The number of layers that the snowboarding jacket itself uses is very important in determining price and quality. What you need depends on what kind of person you are, once again. There are two main options here and they are both fairly simple to explain and understand. The two choices are two-layered and three-layered jackets. Those with only two layers is more bulky and offers less protection than a typical three layered jacket would. This is because the materials that are used are cheaper, so you don’t quite get as much as you would if you bought a three layered jacket. The three layered jacket is going to be lighter in weight and more durable, likely because of the down feathers or some combination that is superior. The main difference between the two, when Gore-Tex technology is involved is that the Gore-Tex is bonded to the liner (seams) and the shell so that no movement occurs between the layers. This means that the three layered one will also last much longer than two layers because that kinetic energy isn’t happening. So if you are looking for something that will withstand a little bit longer, then you may want to just go ahead and invest in a three layered snowboarding jacket!
Many of the snowboarding jackets on the market today have a venting system of some sort. These are evenly commonly seen in normal everyday use types of jackets nowadays. The vents typically, in snowboarding jackets, have a zipper that can be pulled up or down, so that you can decide when or when not to use them. These vents are designed to help alleviate moisture from your body as well heat. This is so important because your moisture (i.e. sweat) will eventually turn cold if it remains on the skin or inside the jacket. So the easiest way to get rid of that threat is to open up the vent and let that out. This keeps your comfortable and safer. There are also some that are placed on the chest, though that is not always the case. Either way, venting may be something for you to look at when you purchase a jacket because it can make a big difference out on the slopes.
Before we get to the reviews, we’ll look at some other features that can be included on a snowboarding jacket. Hoods are one such item. Hoods are a little different on snowboarding jackets because they almost always allow the wearer of the jacket to be able to also wear a helmet. Without this, they’d essentially be useless out on the slopes. Some hoods have cinches or some type of mechanism that allows you to either tighten or loosen it. Other hoods are removable, but not all.
Pockets are another thing that have to be considered. Depending on the jacket, a variety of different pockets can be present. What you want really just depends on what you’re looking for out there. If you are possibly going off trail, the ability to have more pockets is much more valuable to you. If you’re just staying at the ski resort, then you’ll probably be just fine with a minimal number of pockets. It may be overlooked, but it is a factor.
Cuffs are another factor to look. Cuffs keep your wrist enclosed inside the jacket by using Velcro or maybe another type of cinch to ensure it’s as tight at possible. This is another way to help keep moisture and the wind out, which makes you more comfortable on the slopes!
Men’s vs Women’s
We wanted to quickly go over the small differences between men’s and women’s jackets before we get to the top ten list with both on it. Both men’s and women’s snowboarding jackets have all of the same features we mentioned above or at least some combination of them. However, there are differences. First off, women’s jackets are sized by number, while men’s are sized with the traditional small-medium-large- extra large combination. Secondly, while a woman can probably go to a men’s jacket (they’ll like be a little big in the midsection and/or on the arms) on most cases without problems, it would be difficult for a man to do so. Most women’s jackets are a more narrow fit but they flare out at the bottom because of the size and/or shape of the hips. So more than likely, men will want to steer clear. Other than that, the only other differences would be the colors, which isn’t always a big deal. In the end, you’ll probably want to try them on just in case if you’re thinking about doing this. Typically, they are around the same price, though, so it probably wouldn’t be worth trying to squeeze into something that looks weird or fits you a little bit oddly.
Best Snowboard Jacket Reviews
Coming in at number one on the list is a jacket with plenty of style. If you’re looking for something that looks good out on the town AND on the slopes, then this is your jacket. It comes in a variety of colors, but most importantly it is equipped for snow with its two layers. It has a 10K rating for waterproof and it is does have insulation. Because of all of this, it is moderately priced.
- Very stylish and w/hood
- Good price for low/mid-range
- Enviro-friendly as its 40% recycled material
- Will only keep you dry to an extent
- Will likely take more layers underneath
Here’s a mid-priced jacket that comes from a company who is adamant that they are the absolute best snowboard-maker out there. There’s good reason to believe them too! This is a softshell that includes an audio pocket, vents under the arms, and zippers. The waterproof rating is at 10K, which lends itself to the price. You’ll likely need and want some layers underneath as this is more of just a shell than an insulated jacket as it has little insulation. It is very long if you get the normal size, which helps deflect snow from getting in under you.
- Won’t keep you too warm if you don’t want to be
- Good price
- Has all kinds of extra gadgets.
- Not much insulation if you need that
- Won’t hold up quite as well as others
this offering from Burton comes at much higher price range. Included are less styles, but the quality more than makes up for that. The seams are fully taped, which is the best you can ask for because there’s practically no way for moisture to get in. It has a hood that can be “dropped” and moved easily. In addition to all this, it is reinforced with Gore-Seam tape and has cuffs, a waist gaiter, and zippers that repel water.
- Gore anything is great
- Fully taped ensures no problems
- Will allow you stay on the slopes during the worst weather
- Substantial price difficult for tight budgets
- Lack of style if its a concern
Coming in at a great lower price and with a nice look, this women’s jacket is a great mid-range option. It has a rating of 15K on breathability and 10K on waterproof, putting it in line with most entry-level offerings. It also has zippers under the armpits that can be unzipped if it is a warmer day. It is larger than normal, but it is this way so that clothing can be worn under it because it doesn’t offer a ton of insulation.
- Great price
- Zippers for warmer days
- Softshell allows you to add or remove layers for optimum temperature
- Doesn’t offer as much insulation as some would like
- Won’t withstand huge amounts of snow for long
With a variety of colors and styles to this offering, this is a good choice for women looking for a mid-range snowboarding jacket. It has a two-layered durashell with 10K rating on the waterproof scale. It also has thermolite insulation, so this one is actually quite warm in there and may not need layers unless the weather is just terrible. Wrist cuffs can be removed and it features critically taped seams.
- Decent price
- Good for cold-natured people
- Nice colors and styles
- Not the greatest in terms of waterproof rating
- Critically taped seams could cause problems down the road
This jacket is as cool as the name suggests, and it also offers the wearer a higher mid-range option in terms of waterproof at a rating of 15K. Also coming with it is a good breathability rating at 10K (it does have armpit zippers included) and the cooly-named Ninja cuffs that can be used or not according to your needs. Just in case it isn’t a good fit, there are pull strings to help with that also.
- A step up from the usual with its waterproof rating
- Mid-level to high pricing brings quality
- Style sets it apart
- It may run a little larger than snowboarding jackets usually do
- Armpit zippers are a little uncomfortable
Stepping up in price but remaining at the mid-range level, this is a stylish men’s jacket that could double for fashion assuming you don’t mind the “HH” on the front across the heart. It comes with quite a bit of insulation (80g), it is breathable and waterproof, but not to the ridiculous levels. It has an adjustable hood as well as many pockets to store various items that you may need with you.
- Nice fashion style
- Great insulation
- Pockets give plenty of room for additional things
- The price is quite high
- The breathability and waterproof may be a bit questionable
This women’s jacket comes in a few different colors and is fashionable, but that fashion is surpassed by its functionality. It has an adjustable hood as well as what they call control zone ventilation, meaning they have vents placed strategically for you. The waterproof rating is at 30K, which makes this an exceptional snowboarding jacket. It is also quite lightweight, so it is able to be very versatile!
Waterproof rating is great
- Lots of versatility and functionality
- The price is high for those that don’t need higher-end material
- May need to be a size larger if you’re going out in extreme conditions
The first and only vest on the list comes in here, and it looks absolutely awesome while also being quite functional at a higher-end price. The vest is insulated very well at 70gm of insulation, which isn’t bad considering you’re going to have to have some base layers unless you want your arms to freeze off. It even has a media cord port inside the internal pockets as well as outside pockets. It is a “bubble” look, so be aware of that!
- Very warm for a vest
- Pockets provide versatility
- Won’t be enough to keep you warm by itself
- Price is a bit higher than some would like prefer
This one has that Bob Marley/hippie type look to it, and it comes at a hefty price, but it has qualities that might overcome that for you. Despite only having a rating of 10K on both breathability and waterproof, it has 3M Thinsulate insulation to help keep you warm. It essentially, then, combines your hoodie, a flannel, and a base layer all in one for you, which explains the price. It also includes venting and an adjustable hood!
- Very warm because of 3M Thinsulate
- Nice style for eccentric folks
- Massive price
- Waterproof and breathability are questionable despite other great qualities
It is important to remember that unlike items such as shoes, there is no right or wrong fit. What is right for you may not be right for the next person. As we’ve said several times throughout this guide, a lot of it comes down to how you withstand the cold. If you’re cold natured, you’re going to want something more heavy duty than someone that can handle less. Even if you do want a little less warmth in the jacket, you can always add base layers to it to warm you up. This is simply an area where experience and trying on a few products will make a difference.