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What Jacket & Pants Should I Buy?

By Ethan

What’s the best ski jacket? What snow pants should I get? Outerwear is one of your best friends in the snow. Choosing the right gear will keep you warm, dry and comfortable. This guide will briefly explain the various features of outwear and what to look for when buying.

Burton AK jacket in ballad blue. Super comfortable and very technical.

Comfort and Fit

You could have the most waterproof, nicest-looking jacket on earth, but you won’t enjoy your time in the snow if it’s uncomfortable.

Sizing

Jackets and pants come in various types of sizing, from US (S, M, L) to European sizing (38, 40, 42). If you’re buying online, check out the product’s size chart, as each brand’s sizing differs. If you’re buying in-store, try on various brands and sizes to see what fits you best.

Stretch

When buying a jacket and pants, check out their stretch level. Stretch is often advertised as “4-way stretch” or something similar. Stretchy outerwear will give you more freedom of movement when skiing and snowboarding, increasing your comfort level. For example, check out this 3-layer stretch shell from Burton AK.

Waterproofing and Breathability

Waterproofing and breathability are critical when choosing outerwear, as they are a significant factor in keeping you happy on the slopes.

What is waterproofing?

Most brands use a waterproofing membrane, a sheet made from plastic, rubber or some other fancy material. This sheet has many tiny holes, stopping large drops of water from entering the jacket and allowing small sweat molecules to escape. Some brands don’t use a membrane, instead opting for a waterproofing coating or spray.

How is it measured?

Waterproofing is generally communicated through a millimetre measurement. This measurement indicates how many millimetres of water can be suspended in a tube above the membrane/coating before the pressure pushes water through the tiny holes. Interesting right?

What should you look for?

We recommend buying a jacket and pants with a waterproofing/breathability rating of 10,000mm / 10,000g/m2 or higher. Anything below will get you wet, especially in wet Australian snow.

20,000mm / 20,000g/m2 is recommended for most resort skiers, as it offers high comfort and protection from the elements. If you plan on heading out in adverse conditions or want to stay extra dry, opt for something like Gore-Tex, which has a very high waterproofing/breathability rating of 28,000mm / 28,000g/m2. Consider the waterproofing level you need; only some people need Gore-Tex.

Breathability

When considering which level to choose, remember breathability, which is indicated by the second number in the rating. You exert a lot of energy on the slopes, making you sweat. A highly breathable jacket and pants will help limit sweat, keeping you warmer (and less sticky).

Insulation

The next thing to consider is your outerwear style. Insulated jackets and pants are warm and cozy because they are packed with insulation like Prima-loft or down feathers. Different jackets and pants will have varying levels of insulation for you to choose from. If you’re heading somewhere cold, this might be the right choice for you. Helly Hansenmake fantastic insulated outwear for both men and women.

Shell jackets and pants have no insulation, acting only as waterproofing. Shells are generally accompanied by base and mid-layers to keep you warm. Shells provide versatility; you can strip out layers depending on the weather. They are also much lighter, the Mammut Haldigrat HS is a great example.

What ski jacket should I buy? People staying within the resort generally prefer the simplicity of insulated outerwear, whilst people venturing into the backcountry appreciate the versatility of shells.

Kjus ski jacket. This jacket is stretchy, breathable, waterproof and looks great.

Additional Features

Each jacket and pant will have its own arsenal of features to look out for. Think about what you may want from your outwear when skiing or snowboarding.

What are some examples?

Features like powder skirts can help keep snow out of your jacket and pants. Vents can help to dump extra heat if you get particularly hot. Additional pockets can help carry snacks and lift passes. Bib pants help lock in heat around your chest. There are thousands of unique features; they should be listed in the product’s features and description.

Fashion

Of course, we can’t forget how you look on the slopes. Make sure to choose outerwear you like the aesthetic of so you look good in the photos. Kjus are the perfect brand if you want highly technical pieces that look great.

What Do I Wear?

I am a resort snowboarder who ventures out into any and all conditions because there’s no way I’m missing a day on the hill because of the weather.

Therefore, I wear a high-stretch Gore-tex shell jacket to give me versatility when the weather changes. It keeps me dry, gives me plenty of movement, and feels comfortable. I accompany it with a lightweight puffer jacket for some warmth. If I head overseas, I bulk up my mid-layers.

I also wear insulated bib pants to keep my legs warm and dry. The bib pants have a chest pocket for extra stash space, as I usually bring snacks up the mountain. The bib also does a great job of keeping snow out.

Conclusion

What’s the best ski jacket? What snow pants should I get? You now know what to look for when shopping for your next trip. Consider fit, stretch, waterproofing, breathability, insulation, features and fashion when browsing outwear. If you need any more help, give us a call, shoot us an email or come in-store!

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