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 some jackets.
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.