A ski jacket is the outer most layer of your ski clothing and needs to offer protection
from the elements. There are many features on modern jackets and in this information
page we will explain them to help you choose the best one for you.
There are many different levels of waterproof materials available in our ski clothing
ranges. The industry standard for measuring the fabrics water permeability is to
place a column of water on the fabric and increase the length of the column of water,
thus increasing the water pressure to find the point at which the water starts to
permeate the fabric. The column of water is then measured to give the fabrics waterproof
rating in mm. E.g. 8000mm. Therefore, the higher the figure, the better the waterproofing
level of the jacket.
Some believe that a ski jacket can only be deemed waterproof if all the seams are
taped, thereby preventing water seeping through the stitching. However as you will
read below there may be other reasons why a jacket may not be entirely taped. Some
garments have critically taped seams. When only strategic seams are taped i.e. the
shoulder, hood and chest seams on a jacket, this helps reduce the cost of the jacket
if you are on a tight budget.
Whilst resting, a person
will lose more than half a litre in fluids through their skin everyday. While performing
an activity such as skiing, the amount of liquids one loses increases dramatically.
To release the moisture, a Ski Jacket needs to be able to ventilate or breathe,
not through holes but through the fabric itself, some jackets do offer ventilation
zips to aid in extreme situations. Allowing materials to breathe is not very difficult
as cotton and nylon are already breathable fabrics. The difficulty arises in making
the fabric waterproof and breathable. Beneath the Ski Jacket, the temperature and
humidity are higher than in the outside. This creates a pressure which pushes the
moisture outwards and the better the breathable fabric the easier and faster this
moisture will escape.
For a ski jacket to do its job and keep you dry on the inside, the outer fabric
and lining must be breathable. Breathable jackets allow the moisture from your body
perspiration to exit through the material itself. Even in cold conditions you will
perspire whilst skiing or snow boarding and if a jacket does not have sufficient
breathability, moisture will build up as condensation on the inside of the jacket.
This moisture will then dramatically cool you down when you stop and gives the illusion
that the jacket has let water in when in fact the opposite is true.
It is important to note that you will only benefit from the full breathability of
your garment if it is used in conjunction with a moisture wicking thermal base layer
and mid layer. Perspiration must be transported away from your skin by your base
and mid layers in order to keep you dry and, ultimately, warm. We offer an extensive
range of base layer thermals, mid layer fleeces and insulation layers to help you
build a versatile layering system that will allow you to enjoy your time in the
mountains, no matter what the weather throws at you.
Jacket Or Shell?
You have a selection of jackets that are just shells, jackets that have little insulation
or a large amount of insulation.
A lightly insulated jacket has more insulation in the body of the jacket than in
the sleeves. Still using the layering system to prevent moisture build up this jacket
will provide a warm environment for any user. Insulated jackets tend to be ideal
for people who feel the cold on the slopes, who are going to use skiing as more
of a recreational only sport a few times a year and the coat can than be used for
other things. A lightly insulated jacket also has most of the features included
in the shell jacket.
Shell jackets are useful if you are going to be doing a lot of cross country skiing
or if you tend to get very warm while doing any physical activity. The shell jacket
needs to be used with the layering system that is mentioned above. The idea of a
shell only jacket revolves around keeping you dry and windproof. A shell jacket
tends to have several technical features. High quality storm hood, rip stop material
that prevents tears, pit zips for venting, taped seams, Velcro closures and many
other attractive features that make a shell garment ideal.
Hoods - Most jackets will come with either a fixed or removable hood, which in some
cases can be stored away within the collar. Hoods should be adjustable at the back
or around the face to ensure a correct fit which will prevent snow from entering
and ensure good vision when turning your head. If you wear a helmet check the hood
is compatible. Stow away balaclavas can also be found attached within the hood on
Taped Seams - A waterproof tape applied to the inside of seams
will prevent water passing through the stitching. Sealed critical seams means the
shoulders, hood and arms are taped. Fully sealed means all seams on the jacket or
pant are taped.
Collar - A high fleece or micro-fibre lined collar will prevent
chaffing on your face and prevent your neck getting cold. A cinch draw cord will
tighten the collar.
Storm Flap - A protection flap covering zips to prevent snow, wind
and rain passing through.
Venting Zips - Found under the arm, on the chest or on the back.
Vents come in varying lengths depending on the design and allow you to control your
temperature quickly. Some vents are mesh backed to prevent snow coming in.
Cuffs - They should be adjustable to provide an effective seal
and venting around the wrist and some will have an easy grab tab to aid quick adjustment.
Lycra inners with thumb-holes will prevent the sleeve riding up and give additional
protection and warmth.
Snow skirt - As the name implies, it's designed to prevent snow
from shooting up the jacket when you wipeout. It also acts as a draft excluder helping
retain body heat. They are elasticated, adjustable and in many cases can be attached
to specific loops on the waist of the pants.
Lining - The lining fabric of a jacket will vary depending on its
function. It is usually made of mesh, brushed micro-fibre or fleece, providing warmth,
comfort and moisture transportation.
Pockets - They need to be accessible, so if you are going to wear
a back pack ensure you can still get to them. Fleece lined pockets will help keep
hands warm, while a goggle pocket needs to be accessible from the outside to prevent
heat being lost by opening the jacket.
Goggle Pocket - These are an easily accessible large pocket usually
inside the ski jacket for storing your goggles when not in use.
Reinforcements - Strategic wear points on the shoulders, elbows
and side panels have extra reinforcement to protect against abrasion from your back
pack straps, ice and ski/snowboard edges.
Stretch Panels - Many jackets now incorporate stretch panels to
enhance the fit, comfort and mobility. Stretch panels will usually be positioned
across the back and shoulders where it is required most. Articulated elbows provide
a more ergonomic fit that uses less material, reduces weight and minimises flapping.