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Best Women’s Ski Jackets: Which Ski Jacket is Worth Your Money?

Woman skiing
Sean Nelson
Written by Sean Nelson

For just about any skier, securing the right gear and clothing is very important – and that of course includes your trusty ski jacket. Stumbling on this article, there’s a good chance that you need a new ski jacket and want to choose from the best women’s ski jackets that the market has to offer. But how do you go about deciding which one is the best for you since there are so many models and brands out there?

Our guide will teach you what to look out for to sort the winners from the losers and find the jacket that meets your needs exactly. Whether you want high performance or high fashion we can help – hey, we can even find you a jacket that matches both aspects. Plus, we have a couple of products that you will want to check out.

Product nameWeightSizeMaterial Price
Helly Hansen Women’s Aurora Shell Jacket2 lbs–0.91 kgS, M, L, XLPolyesterCheck price on Amazon
Scott Women’s Explorair Pro Gtx 3l Hooded Jacket2.3 lbs – 1.04 kgXS, S, M, LGore-Tex Pro waterproof fabricCheck price on Amazon
Eider Jager Women’s Jacket2.9 lbs – 1.31 kg8 and 1060 g Primaloft Silver Eco InsulationCheck price on Amazon
Arc’teryx Women’s Lillooet Jacket2.3 lbs – 1.04 kgXS, S, M, LGore-Tex fabric, down and synthetic insulationCheck price on Amazon
Descente Kaya Jacket Women’s4 lbs – 1.81 kg6, 8, 10, 12, 14Glamour twill fabric, Heat Navi synthetic insulationCheck price on Amazon
Eider Crans Montana Down Jacket4 lbs – 1.81 kg36 – 44Down fabric, duck down and E-loft synthetic insulationCheck price on Amazon
Obermeyer Women’s Cortina Jacket1 lb – 0.46 kg8 - 16HydroBlock Elite 100% Polyester StretchCheck price on Amazon

How To Choose The Perfect Jacket For You

Depending on how much skiing you intend to do, or whether you plan on using your jacket for other activities, you can expect to use it for at least two or three years. Taking your time and making sure you consider your choice carefully is wise and will ensure you make the right choice.

Women's ski jacket

So, what are some of the things you need to consider when investing in a new ski jacket?

Waterproofing

The different fabrics that ski jackets are available in can be a bit bewildering. Names like ‘Gore-tex’ are simply brand names that describe a particular fabric, and you don’t need to know how they work to choose a decent jacket.

It can also be confusing when jackets are labeled as ‘water-resistant’, ‘showerproof’, and ‘waterproof’. What exactly does each term mean, and which one will meet your needs?

For a definitive guide to how much rain or snow a garment can cope with, what is important is that you check out the jacket’s ‘HH’ rating. HH stands for Hydrostatic Head, and it refers to the test manufacturers put their fabrics through to rate their effectiveness at keeping water out.

Women's ski jacket waterproof

A piece of fabric is stretched across the bottom of a tube and various amounts of water are added to the tube. The more water in the tube, the more pressure is on the fabric at the bottom. A HH rating of 5000 mm means that the fabric withstood 5000 mm of water in the tube for 24 hours without leaking. A 20,000 mm HH means that the fabric withstood four times that amount of pressure.

While a jacket with a high HH number should keep out the most water, other features will have an effect on its performance. Water can enter jackets through the collar and cuffs, the zips or pockets and seams. More expensive jackets will generally have been well designed to cut down on compromises in these areas.

At the very least, to maintain full waterproof capabilities, garment seams should be ‘taped’. This means that during the manufacturing process, any areas that have been pierced by the needle and thread are reinforced and heat-sealed on the reverse to stop water entry.

Waterproof ski jacket for women

The following table breaks down what those HH ratings mean in real life.

‘HH’ in mmLevel of WaterproofingSuitable For
0 – 1,500 mmWater-Resistant/SnowproofDry snow and dry conditions
1,500 – 5,000 mmShowerproofVery light snow or rain showers
5,000mm – 15,000 mmWaterproofWet snow, snow or rain showers
15,000 – 20,000 mmHighly WaterproofHeavy rain or snow

Breathability

For an aerobic activity like skiing, a jacket will need to be made from a breathable fabric. Unlike waterproofing, with its HH, there is no recognized standard measurement for rating a fabric’s breathability.

Modern breathable fabrics work because they are made up of layers. Inner layers will have millions of microscopic holes to allow moisture to move towards the outside of the garment.

Woman wearing ski jacket

The outer layer is the waterproof layer which can absorb this moisture that is coming from the inside and transfer it to the air. Rain and snow water cannot penetrate this outer layer due to a coating called the DWR (Durable Water Repellancy).

While the DWR is all about waterproofing, your jacket’s breathability will be compromised if the DWR coating is worn from use or dirt. Moisture from the rain and snow will soak into the outer layer of fabric instead of beading on the surface. This means that there is less space for moisture to soak through from the inside, and you may find it trapped on the inside as condensation (which you might misinterpret as a leak).

For this reason it is important to maintain your clothing’s performance with specialist cleaning products, which you can purchase alongside your jacket.

Insulation

There are two main types of insulation to be found in ski wear – man-made synthetics (such as fleece fabrics) and natural insulation (such as down). Down is well-known as the best insulator nature could design. It is extremely warm for the weight and bulk, and can’t yet be beaten by synthetic products on these criteria alone.

Insulated ski jacket

However, down and water do not get on, and as soon as your down garment is wet, it will lose those incredible insulative properties. Manufacturers have found ways to treat down to improve its resistance to moisture, but treated down should still be kept dry as it is not a complete solution. Once wet, down takes a long time to dry, and will not insulate well at all. Both natural and treated down are highly compressible, making them a great option for packing, but both are expensive.

If animal welfare is a particular concern for you, then you will be pleased to know that many brands are striving to make the sources of their down traceable and as humane as possible. If you choose not to wear down at all, then you will need to go for a synthetic insulation.

Synthetic insulation is designed to mimic down as far as possible, but is not quite as good an insulator just yet. Synthetics are less compressible too, so add bulk. A decent synthetic jacket will be significantly cheaper, though, and will also be much quicker to dry out. Although you should still keep synthetic insulation dry, it will be slightly more effective than down if it does get wet.

Colmar ski jacket

Again, there is no recognized industry standard for rating the insulative properties of different materials. Down can be rated by ‘fill’ or ‘loft’ which refers to how much space 1 oz of down will occupy once it has been fluffed and allowed to re-settle. The more space the down takes up, the more it will insulate, and the higher its ‘fill’ or ‘loft’ number will be.

What Type Of Skiing Will You Do?

For downhill skiing you need to get up the hill first, and this can mean a lot of waiting around for ski lifts. In these circumstances, in addition to the season and the weather you’ll be skiing in, you will need to remember that you may get cold in between runs, so a more heavily insulated jacket may be necessary. If you are going to be taking ski lessons that might involve periods of relatively low activity, you may need the extra warmth, too.

Backcountry skiing

Skiing cross country is a highly aerobic workout and you will be developing a lot of body heat. Breathability is an important consideration for a cross country jacket. Looking out for wind-proof fabrics is important too to cut down on wind-chill.

If you are intending to get out into the remote countryside, flexibility, pack weight and pack size will all be important features. Layers will be beneficial, as you may need more warmth on rest breaks and meal stops, but less insulation when moving.

A light, down packaway jacket will add flexibility, but remember that down will not keep you warm if it gets wet, so you will also need a waterproof layer. A snowboard jacket will typically have a more generous cut to allow for more freedom of movement.

Fit

When trying on a ski jacket, move about. It’s easy to get carried away investigating zips and pockets, only to find that when you move your arms into a skiing position, the sleeves are too short. Check that the back length is enough to keep your lower back covered when you lean or crouch forward. You need to be unrestricted in the jacket, and for it to stay put as you move around.

Ski jacket with pockets

Don’t forget that you may be wearing a few more layers when you actually ski, so bear that in mind and make sure to choose a size that will allow for layers.

Pockets

A good selection of pockets for keys and cash is essential, but there are a couple of pockets you’ll be particularly grateful for.

A zipped cell-phone pocket on the inside of a ski-jacket is a must. A bit like sand, snow has a habit of getting everywhere, so an inside pocket is your best bet for protecting your phone. Check the size – some jackets have pockets that are just too small for some of the larger models.

Womens Ski Jacket pockets

A special pocket for your ski-pass on the left sleeve of your jacket will save you lots of time and cold fingers. As most gates are now automatic, they will be able to senseyour pass through the fabric as you walk by. Just in case the gate sensor needs a bit of extra help, a pocket on the lower left sleeve is best, so you can wave it around till the sensor gets the message.

You will also need somewhere to stash goggles (usually on the inside) and ski maps, so check out the possibilities on each jacket you consider.

Hood

Most people wear a helmet to ski nowadays. If a jacket you are considering has a hood, make sure it will pull up over your helmet, or you may be disappointed. You probably won’t ski with your hood up, due to the restricted visibility, but being able to hunker down inside a warm hood on a ski-lift is a bonus. On a windy day you will need drawstrings to pull tight to keep a hood in place. These should be easy to operate even with cold fingers.

Collar & Cuffs

Like a hood, a high collar is great for retreating into on a windy ski-lift. It can also help to keep rain out of the inside. In really cold conditions, a face mask will be more effective, but for flexibility, a high collar is great.

High collar ski jacket for women

Cuffs should have two layers – an inner layer (often long enough to cover the hands and featuring thumb holes for anchoring) that will keep snow, rain and wind on theoutside, and an outer layer that will fit over gloves and complete the weather-proofing. Adjustable outer cuffs will keep more weather out, helping you to avoid soggy sleeves.

Recco Reflectors

Some jackets feature RECCO reflectors – a safety feature designed to help rescuers find you as quickly as possible. They won’t add any extra weight, and will operate without any input or effort from the wearer.

In an emergency, the reflectors will bounce back a directional signal to search and rescue teams, who carry a detector, allowing them to find you more quickly, even if they can’t see you. Wearing more reflectors can help the rescuers find you more easily.

Best Products on Today’s Market

After we went through everything that you should need from a ski jacket when considering buying one, let’s make it easier and see which jackets available on the market fulfill those important criteria.

Helly Hansen Women’s Aurora Shell JacketHelly Hansen Women's Aurora Shell Jacket

Price: Approximately $333

Weight: 2 lbs–0.91 kg

Size: S, M, L, XL

Features: Waterproof, Windproof, Breathable

Best use: Outdoor clothing, outdoor recreation, skiing, winter sports

Attention to detail is what makes the Helly Hansen Aurora Shell Jacket a really practical choice – the hood can be pulled up over a helmet, the cuffs are adjustable and can be used while wearing gloves, and the detachable snow-skirt is designed for powder. The ventilation zips have been designed for easy use with back-packs – this is a very well thought out jacket. It even includes a goggle wipe in the internal goggle pocket.

This jacket is sure to please the ladies, as it was designed with the input of pro female free-skiers, who wanted a relaxed fit with a longer back length for added protection with maximum movement. Since the aurora is a shell jacket it is lightweight and ideal for layering in changeable conditions, making this a choice you can rely on in all your adventures.

However, people have found that this jacket is not true to size since it tends to be too tight. Also, they say that it does not keep you as warm as it should, so you might have to wear more clothes on. Finally, it is not as waterproof as some other jackets from this list.

PROS:

  • Adjustable cuffs
  • Comfortable
  • Hood accordingly sized

CONS:

  • Not true to size
  • Not warm enough
  • Not very waterproof

Related: We also recommend the Helly Hansen Women’s Kirkwall Rain Coat. It is a very fashionable piece of clothing that will keep you protected from water and wind whenever you need it, it is made of polyester, has welded seams and pockets, and lined hood.

Check the price on Amazon

Scott Women’s Explorair Pro GTX 3L Hooded JacketScott Explorair Pro GTX 3L Hooded Jacket

Price: Approximately $450

Weight: 2.3 lbs – 1.04 kg

Size: XS, S, M, L

Dimensions: 21 x 15 x 2 inches

Features: Waterproof, Windproof, Breathable, Gore-Tex Pro New Generation 3L

Best use: Outdoor clothing, outdoor recreation, skiing, winter sports, winter casual

Designed to be the ultimate in weather protection, the hip-length Scott Explorair Pro GTX 3L is made with the new generation Gore-Tex Pro waterproof fabric, which is 28% more breathable than previous jackets, but it still provides full protection against rain, snow and pretty much everything that might get you soak while skiing.

This jacket is designed for your comfort too – an anti-chafe chin panel, roll-away, helmet compatible hood and pack friendly shoulder seams will keep your attention on the skiing. A rugged, reliable choice with all the features you would expect in a high-end jacket.

When buying this jacket, consider the fact that it does not provide an entire protection against wind. Also, users say that the hood is not big enough, so if you have a big helmet, this might not be the right choice for you. Additionally, it have a fit so slim that it is just too tight for some women.

PROS:

  • Waterproof
  • Breathable
  • Comfortable

CONS:

  • Not very windproof
  • Hood not big enough
  • Too slim fit

Related: The Itp Carslisle Tire 15X5X6 – 5170081 is a must-have goggles when it comes to skiing. It can withstand a lot of damage and the strap is made of silicone. It is adjustable too, so it can be used with any helmet you have.

Check the price on Amazon

Eider Jager Women’s JacketEider Jager JKT

Price: Approximately $350

Weight: 2.9 lbs – 1.31 kg

Size: 8 and 10

Features: Waterproof, Windproof, Breathable, Tough Fabric, Hand Pockets

Best use: Outdoor clothing, outdoor recreation, skiing, winter sports, resort skiing

The Eider Jager Jacket is designed with flexibility in mind – with its stretch fabric able to keep up with you both on the track and in the backcountry. Comfortable and light, this jacket is nevertheless packed with performance – the airflow system lining will keep you cool and dry, while the synthetic 60 g Primaloft Silver Eco Insulation will keep you warm.

It has adjustable cuffs to make sure the air will not reach your body, a removable snow skirt, pass pocket and helmet compatible hood. All those aspects make this jacket great for every single kind of outdoor activity that takes place in very low temperatures, and it also gives a fitted look that you will love to be seen in.

Nevertheless, women who have used this item say that it is too heavy if you compare it with jackets from other brands. Also, they said that the materials used to create it are not as durable as they should since it might tear apart it not treated carefully. Finally, there are not a wide range of sizes to choose from.

PROS:

  • Stretchable
  • Comfort
  • Adjustable cuffs

CONS:

  • Too heavy
  • Weak materials
  • Limited sizes

Related: The Eider Naeba Women’s Jacket is another great choice. It is made of strong and elastic materials perfect for skiing or being in the snow, it is completely waterproof, very breathable and will keep you as warm as possible.

Check the price on Amazon

Arc’teryx Women’s Lillooet JacketArc'teryx Lillooet Jacket - Women's

Price: Approximately $855

Weight: 2.3 lbs – 1.04 kg

Size: XS, S, M, L

Features: 750-fill goose down, Coreloft, Fully taped seams, Athletic Fit

Best use: Outdoor clothing, outdoor recreation, skiing, winter sports, resort skiing

The Arc’teryx Lillooet Jacket is the warmest jacket ever made for this company. It combines both down and synthetic insulation to reduce weight and to enhance weather protection, compressibility and warmness. It has the best of both world’s – the insulation of a puffie and the waterproofing of shell, and is designed for ski and snowboard use both on piste and backcountry.

The insulation in this high performance garment is distributed where you’ll need it most, allowing for the best possible temperature control, and the Gore-Tex fabric will keep the insulation effective in even the wettest conditions. With plenty of pockets, a helmet-friendly hood and snow skirt and ventilation zips, there is a lot to love about this jacket.

People say that the Velcro material used in the cuffs to ensure a tight fit is too weak. In fact, it tends to unfasten easily. Also, they say that it is not as comfy as some other jackets from different brands, and that the zippers are made of a very weak material.

PROS:

  • Very warm
  • Waterproof
  • Plenty of pockets

CONS:

  • Weak zippers
  • Cuffs do not fasten securely
  • Not too comfy

Related: We also recommend the Arc’teryx Women’s Beta LT Jacket since it is made 100% of nylon, it is very breathable thanks to the GORE-TEX Pro Shell, it is very lightweight, water resistant, comfortable and helmet compatible.

Check the price on Amazon

Descente Kaya Jacket Women’sDescente Kaya Jacket

Price: Approximately $600

Weight: 4 lbs – 1.81 kg

Size: 6, 8, 10, 12, 14.

Features: New Glamour Twill Fabric, Heat Navi Insulation, Removable Fur Trim

Best use: Outdoor clothing, outdoor recreation, skiing, resort skiing

High on looks, Descente Kaya Jacket is perhaps best suited to the occasional skier, since it is not exactly design to ski, but for wearing it in any winter occasion. This jacket is highly detailed to look stylish, with leather detailing, accent zips and a removable real raccoon fur hood trim that enhances warmness.

The glamour twill fabric does boast a 20,000 mm HH so is bound to keep out water, snow and any wet weather you might get into. Also, the Heat Navi synthetic insulation provides additional warmth. With its glamorous look, this jacket is versatile enough to wear all winter.

Before buying it, you should truly take into consideration the raccoon fur hood. Not everyone is willing to use that kind of material on them. Also, people say that the jacket is not comfortable enough when doing physical activities, and that the hood is somehow small, so big helmets might be a problem for this item.

PROS:

  • Very stylish
  • Completely waterproof
  • Very warm

CONS:

  • Raccoon hood
  • Not comfy enough
  • Small hood

Related: The Descente Lauren Womens Jacket is another good option that Descente has to offer. It is very breathable due to the materials it is made of, it has a chest pocket that comes in really handy when skiing, it has a stretchable fabric and it is comfy enough to do any physical activities during winter.

Check the price on Amazon

Eider Crans Montana Down JacketEider Crans Montana Down Jacket

Price: Approximately $550

Weight: 4 lbs – 1.81 kg

Size: 36 – 44

Features: Windproof exterior, Slimming side softshell panels, Wrist gaiters

Best use: Outdoor clothing, skiing, resort skiing, winter casual

Designed to be ultra-feminine, the Eider Crans Montana Down Jacket, has slimmed down wind defender fabric side panels that ensure a flat fit. It also has a combination of duck down and E-loft synthetic insulation, meaning that you’ll stay warm no matter what.

A lack of ventilation zips proves this jacket to be a stylish all-rounder rather than a highly technical piece of equipment. However, it still has plenty of features for most needs. A removable snow skirt, and removable hood with removable fur trim (in real or faux fur options) give this jacket the flexibility to really earn its keep.

Just like the previous jacket, the fur trim that this one includes might not be fitted for everyone. Also, it is not very comfortable since its weight is very high compared with other ski jacket. Finally, the hood is not as big as it should, so big helmets are not recommended to wear along with this jacket.

PROS:

  • Windproof
  • Very warm
  • Very stylish

CONS:

  • Fur hood
  • Heavyweight
  • Small hood

Related: We also recommend the Eider Shibuya 2.0 Jacket. It is made with sturdy and fashionable materials that guarantee both comfort and warmness for pretty much every physical activity you might do during winter. Also, it has plenty of pockets that come in very handy.

Check the price on Amazon

Obermeyer Women’s Cortina JacketObermeyer Women's Cortina Jacket

Price: Approximately $300

Weight: 1 lb – 0.46 kg

Size: 8 – 16

Features: HydroBlock Elite 100% Polyester Stretch, Integrated water-resistant powder skirt, Neck gaiter, Skier Critical seam sealing

Best use: Outdoor clothing, skiing, resort skiing, winter casual, winter hiking

With a blend of style and performance that will suit the weekend skier, the Obermeyer Cortina Jacket features Primaloft synthetic insulation, a packaway hood, ventilation zips, and an integrated snow skirt. All those features ensure you will be as warm as possible while also having a comfortable feeling while moving.

This jacket’s fit is described as ‘body skimming’ active – but don’t be fooled – there is still plenty of room for layers underneath. The outer fabric is stretch for comfort and movement, and also has a highly waterproof 30,000 mm HH, which means it is very water resistant.

Nevertheless, users say that the fit is too tight for some people. Also, its hood is not big enough to wear a big helmet along with this jacket, and the materials used to make it are pretty weak, so it might not be as durable as most people would like to. It is a good jacket for beginners.

PROS:

  • Very warm
  • Completely waterproof
  • Comfortable

CONS:

  • Tight fit
  • Small hood
  • Weak materials

Related: The Obermeyer Thumbs Up Mittens is a must have for skiers since they are made of a waterproof and breathable nylon than will keep your hands warm in any situation, they have a hook and loop tab closure on the cuffs, and integrated clips to retain mittens.

Check the price on Amazon

In conclusion

So there you have it, our run-down of what to look out for to find the best women’s ski jacket for you. You know what to look out for, and how to think about what you need from a jacket, so you can get the most out of your budget. We’ve shown you a selection of the best jackets that 2017 has to offer.

Ski jackets for women

What do you think? Did we manage to balance features with style? Which jacket would you go for? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sean Nelson
Sean Nelson

Sean was backpacking since he was 7. He was born close to the RMNP and his father was a ranger, so life surrounded by mountains and wildlife is a norm for Colorado. He likes to explore, but prefers to stay in USA. In his opinion, there are too many trails and options in US to go abroad.

  • Holly Edwards

    The Obermeyer Cortina Jacket fits me just perfectly. I’ve used it in temperatures as cold as 20 degrees and it has performed beautifully with one base layer underneath. A really great jacket even if you’re going to be out on the slopes for eight hours!

  • Sean Nelson

    Great choice Holly and I must say this is a well-constructed jacket that will keep you warm for hours on the slopes. There’s a similar version – the feminine Eider Crans Montana Down Jacket, which I think is gorgeous, too.

  • Sean Nelson

    I believe everyone loves the Helly Hansen because of its durability and reliability. It’s a strong brand that has continuously innovated through the years. No wonder they have quite a loyal following.

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