Gliding down a mountain through fresh snow with the sun on your face surrounding snow covered peaks, with fresh air and blue sky. For me this is the most incredible feeling on earth…
But having the right jacket can be essential. Here are a few tips on what to look for when buying a new ski/snowboarding jacket!
Skiing can be a very expensive past time and you can spend anything on £50 up to £400 on a jacket depending on how influenced you are by fashion and the latest brands. I personally have a penchant for the more expensive items of clothing but this is generally because I am easily influenced by extremely clever advertisers!
When I started to learn I made my way to the old faithful TK Maxx store on the high street where you can pick up perfectly good jackets for around £50, some of them maybe last season but they do the trick.
There are generally two types of ski jackets, winter and spring jackets. The spring jackets are much thinner and more breathable so make sure you know when you are going before you buy your clothing. There are many features you can get on jackets these days ranging from holes for Ipods through to burger recipes (yes you heard me correctly, the latest jacket my best friend bought had a burger recipe).
Here are my top 7 suggestions that I would recommend you wouldn’t want to do without
1. A waterproof, breathable fabric
You need a fabric that keeps the snow and rain out, and lets your sweat escape too. Gore-Tex is still the industry leader in this respect: a membrane which is sandwiched between an outer and inner layer of fabric, and has over 1.4 billion pores per square centimetre.
Gore-Tex isn’t completely essential, though – there are many waterproof and breathable membranes available which are just as good. Look for fabrics waterproof to 16,000-20,000mm which have a breathability rating of 10,000-15,000grams. There’s a great guide to what these ratings mean at Evo.com.
2. Taped Seems
There’s no hope your ski jacket will be waterproof unless it’s got taped seams. Why not? Because the stitching in a seam goes right through the waterproof membrane and offers the perfect entry-point for water. Pictured, left, are the taped seams on Peak Performance’s top-of-the-range Heli Alpine jacket.
Speaking of weak points in your jacket, remember that the main zip at the front of the jacket will let in moisture too, unless you’ve got some kind of covering for it. A fabric flap held in place by Velcro fastenings is best.
3. A High Collar
I’ve spent many a chair-lift ride on windy, sub-zero days wishing the collar on my ski jacket was higher. High collars can be pulled up over your chin, lips and even the tip of your nose to keep the wind off. If it’s properly Arctic, then you should probably invest in a neoprene facemask, too, but it’s great to have the extra protection offered by a good ski jacket. This one, modelled by Peter Sidebo at Peak Performance, does the trick nicely.
If the jacket has a hood, make sure there are drawstrings which let you tighten the collar independently of it. Otherwise, the hood acts like a wind funnel, gathering any gusts and channeling them around your neck. Yuck.
4. Extra Long Sleeves/or Snow Cuffs
You don’t want snow up your sleeves, and there are two ways the design of a ski jacket can help you avoid the problem. The first, is if the sleeves are extra long (for example, the sleeves on a Peak Performance Heli Alpine jacket come right up to your knuckles). The second is by the inclusion of stretchy inner cuffs which hook over your thumb (as you’ll see in the Elevenate jacket shown here). Not only do these stop the snow from finding a way in, they are also prevent your sleeves riding up your arms.
5. Underarm Ventilation
You are on a mountain covered in snow and asking yourself the question, how am I hot? This happens all the time and is one of the mistakes a lot of people make when they go skiing for the first time. If you are a boarder you”ll know that feeling of burning up as your skooting along all too well. As soon as the sun comes out you can find yourself really getting hot even in sub zero temperatures. Thats where ventilation comes in very handy!
6. A lift-pass pocket on your left arm
Most of the time these days lift passes are electronic, however I did find out last year that Whistler of all places was still in the technological dark ages when it came to lift passes. Because most places are electronic that means you don’t need to get your left pass out to scan each time you go through the turnstiles. Most of the sensors are located on the left hand side so try to get a jacket with a pocket either on your left arm or left of your chest where you can keep your left pass safe. You don’t want to be opening this pocket all the time as you will risk loosing your lift pass – not good.
7. A Snow Skirt
Yep you heard me guys, this isn’t a cross dressing exercise instead this is a very helpful extra length of material that sits inside your jacket and fastens around the top of your legs to stops and snow coming in to your jacket when you fall over – which is inevitable, if you don’t fall your not pushing yourself, at least that’s what I tell my partner!