As an avid skier and snowboarder living in the Rocky Mountains, having the best women’s ski jacket for my chosen winter sport is essential.
Though the best womens ski jacket and snowboard jackets may look similar, they are designed with different features to optimize performance based on the differences between skiing and snowboarding.
I learned this the hard way during my first trip to Vail two winters ago. I had just taken up snowboarding but made the rookie mistake of wearing my ski jacket on the slopes.
By the end of the day, I was frozen solid!
The jacket’s longer cut and lack of wrist gaiters left my back completely exposed to snow and frigid air every time I strapped in and rode down the mountain.
How Ski and Snowboard Jacket Fit Differs?
One of the biggest differences between ski and snowboard jackets is the cut and fit.
Ski jackets are designed longer in the back with a more relaxed fit to allow for greater mobility and to keep you covered as you lean forward during your descent.
They also have longer sleeves to accommodate the outstretched arm positions of skiing.
Comparatively, snowboard jackets have a shorter torso and sleeves to avoid bunching up and impeding movement as you crouch down and extend your arms to balance on a snowboard.
The sleeves are also articulated to allow natural arm-bending motions.
For women snowboarders, an hourglass shape and waist-defining silhouette are also key for a flattering, non-restrictive fit when riding.
As a female boarder myself, I look for jackets designed specifically for our contours, like those from Burton and 686.
Snowboard Jackets Have More Weatherproofing Features
Given the greater exposure snowboarders have to the elements, snowboard jackets tend to provide more weather protection and insulation. Key features I look for include:
- Wrist gaiters with thumb loops to seal out snow from going up sleeves
- Pant-to-jacket interface to prevent snow from going up your back
- A powder skirt to keep snow from getting underneath the jacket
- Venting zips under armpits to regulate temperature
- A stable hood that fits snugly under a helmet
While ski jackets may have some of these features, a snowboard jacket will have all of them to block wind, snow, and moisture from all angles.
I also look for good waterproofing technology, like Gore-Tex or a high denier fabric, along with fully taped seams to keep out moisture.
PrimaLoft insulation provides lightweight yet highly effective warmth for active snowboarding.
Additional Ski Jacket Features
Beyond a longer, looser fit and better sleeve coverage, ski jackets incorporate features specific to the sport’s needs:
- High collars and optionally integrated face masks for facial protection
- Internal goggle pockets to safely stow eyewear when not in use
- Venting zits in the underarms and sides for temperature regulation
- Internal media pockets with headphone cord access to listen to music on the go
- Ample cargo pockets for gear storage accessiblewhile wearing skis
- Powder skirts to keep snow out that are compatible with ski harnesses
- Recco® reflectors for avalanche rescue detection