A:Using a ski jacket that breathes well and keeps you dry won’t make you a better skier. But it will increase your comfort level and your time on the slopes.
It's easy to spend more than $400 on a great ski jacket, but guess what? You don’t have to dish out that kind of dough on high-performance outerwear. While none of the following jackets are exactly inexpensive, they are a great value. These products are hard to beat when it comes to build quality and smart design features.
Marmot Aegis Jacket ($165)
I was surprised to find a waterproof-breathable jacket from Marmot for less than $200. The Aegis uses the company's proprietary PU MemBrain material, which Marmot claims is very durable. This hard shell weighs just 13.4 ounces (less than a pound), and comes with taped seams and fleece-lined hand pockets.
Trew Wy' East ($135)
Oregon-based Trew builds jackets for core skiers and the Wy' East is no exception. The soft shell is made from a burly 75-denier polyester ripstop fabric that should stand up to many seasons of heavy use. Even though it’s built to last, the Wy' East has nice features like a fleece-lined hood and hand-warmer pockets. As one of the most breathable jackets on this list, it’s a great choice for backcountry skiers.
Columbia Alpine Stunner ($200)
The Alpine Stunner is a waterproof insulated ski jacket with about twenty notable design features. It includes Columbia’s Omni-heat thermal reflective material, which looks like a space blanket on the inside and can give any après party a disco-feel when turned inside out. The Alpine Stunner is one of the warmest jackets on this list, and so should probably stay in the resort.
Line Hacket Jacket ($170)
The Hacket is the steeziest jacket on this list, but it also has some intelligent design features. This waterproof-breathable jacket has pit zips to dump heat while you’re bootpacking and it comes with a removable powder skirt. The jacket wears like a hoody—as long as you change your bibs, you can easily wear it during a night on the town.
Helly Hansen Zeta Jacket ($154)
Helly Hansen often charges a premium for their apparel, and for good reason. Over the last 137 years, the Norwegian company has built a sterling reputation for producing harsh-environment gear. The Zeta features a mesh lining to create airspace between your body and the exterior fabric, which will keep you warm. The jacket also has long pit zips when you need to cool off. The two-layer Zeta is waterproof-breathable, compatible with a harness and a pack, and thanks to its snow skirt, well-suited for resort skiing, too.
Eddie Bauer Downlines Jacket ($210)
Yes, this is $10 over the $200 ceiling, but it is by far the least expensive down waterproof-breathable jacket I have ever seen. The low price isn't the result of sub-par materials either—the Downlines is made with 700-fill down and an abrasion resistant 110-denier waterproof-breathable exterior. This is the warmest jacket on the list, so you’ll be thankful for its pit zips come spring.
Black Diamond Crag Hoody ($113)
Black Diamond calling the Crag a “casual jacket” is a bit like calling a marathon a training run. This hoodie has more design features—a smart media pocket with cord-organizing capabilities, for example—than some companies’ top-of-the-line jackets. This soft shell uses Polartec Windbloc fabric—our favorite windproof material—in a super stylish cut.
Stio Men's Vescent Jacket ($172)
Wyoming-based Stio made the Vescent for high-output snow activities. The stretchy soft-shell exterior is extremely breathable for those times when you’re skinning up. Plus, it’s bonded with a fleece interior to keep you warm while you get ready to ski back down.