Best Ski Jackets of 2012

The Arc'teryx Keibo is a moderately insulated, synthetic-fill snowsports hard shell with a relaxed fit

Keibo. (Arc'teryx)

Gear Institute's 2012 Ski Jacket Reviews: Arc'teryx Keibo

THE GOOD
    •    Great fit—good range of motion without billowing.
    •    Very durable outer fabric.
    •    High weight-to-warmth ratio.
    •    High collar, long hem, simple exterior means very weatherproof.
    •    Helmet compatible hood.

THE BAD
    •    Front zipper sometimes snags (may be fixed).
    •    Expensive.

THE VERDICT
Bottom line: If you can afford it, buy it. The Keibo is an exceptionally well-fitting, meticulously tailored, and uncommonly well-designed ski jacket built from top-shelf materials. It’s also extremely expensive. Few people will need the performance this jacket offers on piste, but those who can afford it will not be disappointed.

Read the full review at Gear Institute, a network of the best outdoor gear testers in America, dedicated to providing the most professional, objective, and helpful advice you can get about the gear you depend on.

Gear Institute's 2012 Ski Jacket Reviews: Outdoor Research Igneo

The Outdoor Research Igneo is a relaxed-fitting ski shell, lightly insulated with synthetic fill

Igneo. (Outdoor Research)

THE GOOD
    •    Good wet-weather rig.
    •    Helmet compatible hood.
    •    Lots of pockets for stashing gear for sidecountry missions.
    •    Removable powder skirt.
    •    Very good price.

THE BAD
    •    Too little insulation.
    •    A little baggy.
    •    Crinkly shell.

THE VERDICT
The Igneo has such a slight amount of insulation that it is sort of a tweener—not quite a shell, not quite an insulated jacket. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it might be hard to justify a spot in the closet for it. It has some great features like Recco and pockets right where you want them, excellent waterproofness and breathability, etc. without a big price tag. The fit is on the baggy side, even for a freeride rig.

Read the full review at Gear Institute, a network of the best outdoor gear testers in America, dedicated to providing the most professional, objective, and helpful advice you can get about the gear you depend on.

Gear Institute's 2012 Ski Jacket Reviews: Eider Tamos

The Eider Tamos is a moderately insulated, ski specific parka system consisting of a shell paired with synthetic insulation

Tamos. (Eider)

THE GOOD
    •    Great fit.
    •    Removable powder skirt/hood.
    •    Fabric a bit stretchy.
    •    Very weatherproof.
    •    Lightweight.

THE BAD
    •    Hood not helmet compatible.
    •    A bit expensive.

THE VERDICT
Eider hangs its hat on tailoring, and the very toasty Tamos jacket certainly fits and performs very well. It’s certainly full-featured—hosting a virtual library of ski resort jacket bells and whistles. Even with the full slate of features and close attention to detail, though, it is definitely a bit expensive compared with other jackets offering similar performance.

Read the full review at Gear Institute, a network of the best outdoor gear testers in America, dedicated to providing the most professional, objective, and helpful advice you can get about the gear you depend on.

Gear Institute's 2012 Ski Jacket Reviews: Scott Ralston

Scott’s Ralston is a moderately insulted, ski specific Gore-Tex shell

Ralston. (Scott)

THE GOOD
    •    Good weatherproofing.
    •    Powder skirt.
    •    Helmet compatible/removable hood.
    •    Great materials.
    •    Well built.

THE BAD
    •    Pocket zippers catch the wind.
    •    Pit zips a little small.

THE VERDICT
The Ralston is a solid, all-around performer. It has all the features skiers will likely look for in a ski jacket, and is generally well designed (quality materials and construction), but not in a way that makes this jacket stand out from the many others out there like it. The price seems slightly on the higher end, but is still reasonable given the cost of even basic Gore-Tex.

Read the full review at Gear Institute, a network of the best outdoor gear testers in America, dedicated to providing the most professional, objective, and helpful advice you can get about the gear you depend on.

Gear Institute's 2012 Ski Jacket Reviews: White Sierra High Camp 3-in-1

White Sierra’s High Camp 3-in-1 is a combination parka system consisting of a shell paired with a synthetic-fill insulated jacket

High Camp 3-in-1. (White Sierra)

THE GOOD
    •    Good weatherproofing.
    •    Powder skirt.
    •    Helmet compatible/removable hood.
    •    Great materials.
    •    Well built.

THE BAD
    •    Heavy.
    •    A little baggy.
    •    Fabric has low breathability.
    •    No pit zips or powder skirt.
    •    Seams not taped (not waterproof).

THE VERDICT
With a zip-out liner that can also be worn alone, the High Camp 3-in-1 is a versatile, acceptably functional jacket at a very reasonable price. While the jacket provides adequate warmth and weatherproofing, it is relatively heavy and less breathable than others in the test. It also lacks many of the resort-specific amenities of others in the test. At the cheapest price of any jacket we tested, you get what you pay for.

Read the full review at Gear Institute, a network of the best outdoor gear testers in America, dedicated to providing the most professional, objective, and helpful advice you can get about the gear you depend on.

Gear Institute's 2012 Ski Jacket Reviews: Helly Hansen Enigma

The Helly Hansen Enigma is a full-featured snowsports jacket with a stretchy shell and synthetic (Primaloft) and down insulation system

Enigma. (Helly Hansen)

THE GOOD
    •    Stretchy material for dynamic riding and a good fit.
    •    Full-featured for snowsports.
    •    Venting system superior to pit zips.
    •    RECCO system.
    •    Helmet compatible hood.

THE BAD
    •    A bit heavy.
    •    Very expensive.

THE VERDICT
Helly Hansen’s Enigma is an excellent and well-designed jacket—versatile, nicely fitting, and built with top-shelf materials, like stretchy waterproof fabric, Primaloft, and down insulation. It has a superior ventilation system than most super-warm ski jackets, making it a more versatile choice for spring-like or frigid conditions. Bummer: it’s heavier than most similar jackets (3.5 pounds) and very expensive.

Read the full review at Gear Institute, a network of the best outdoor gear testers in America, dedicated to providing the most professional, objective, and helpful advice you can get about the gear you depend on.

Gear Institute's 2012 Ski Jacket Reviews: Mountainforce Park Down Jacket

A full-featured snowsports jacket with a stretchy shell and insulated with 800-fill down

Park Down Jacket. (Mountainforce)

THE GOOD
    •    Very stretchy shell keeps down insulation from speed compression.
    •    Great fit.
    •    High warmth-to-weight ratio.
    •    Welded baffles make the jacket totally waterproof.
    •    Powder skirt and wrist gaiters seal out snow.

THE BAD
    •    Extremely expensive.
    •    Hood is a touch small for some helmets.

THE VERDICT
If you don’t mind paying for a double-dose of luxury with your top-level performance, the Mountainforce Park Down delivers. It was the best performing jacket we tested, but it’s triple the cost of average jackets. The stretchy fabric is exquisite—as elastic as a rubber band. It keeps the down from being compressed and allows for a snug fit, yet never feels constrictive. It’s the best fitting ski jacket I’ve worn, and the 800-fill down keeps it light.

Read the full review at Gear Institute, a network of the best outdoor gear testers in America, dedicated to providing the most professional, objective, and helpful advice you can get about the gear you depend on.

Gear Institute's 2012 Ski Jacket Reviews: Flylow Iceman

The Flylow Iceman is a 700-fill down insulated jacket encased in a hard shell for the coldest conditions

Iceman. (Flylow)

THE GOOD
    •    Fully waterproof.
    •    Huge pit zips if things get warm.
    •    Long hemline and freeride fit.
    •    Helmet compatible hood.
    •    Light weight.

THE BAD
    •    Few resort-specific bells and whistles.
    •    A little billowy even for a freeride cut.

THE VERDICT
The Flylow Iceman is totally waterproof, making it very versatile, and is very light for the impressive warmth and weather protection it offers. It’s so warm you can leave a few layers behind, and if things get overheated on a slackcountry hike, the huge pit zips help dump heat in a hurry. It’s durably built and eschews bells and whistles in the name of simplicity and weight savings.

Read the full review at Gear Institute, a network of the best outdoor gear testers in America, dedicated to providing the most professional, objective, and helpful advice you can get about the gear you depend on.

Gear Institute's 2012 Ski Jacket Reviews: Spyder Rocket Down Jacket

The Spyder Rocket Down Jacket is a 700-fill down insulated ski jacket for the coldest conditions

Rocket Down Jacket. (Spyder)

THE GOOD
    •    Stretchy face fabric reduces insulation compression at speed.
    •    Welded baffle seams ensure waterproofness.
    •    High weight to warmth ratio.
    •    Lots of pockets, bells, whistles.
    •    Wrist gaiters and powder skirt seal out snowdrift.

THE BAD
    •    Pit zips too small for effective venting.
    •    Zippers a bit small for easy operation.
    •    Kind of bulky.
    •    Hood not helmet-compatible, but zips off.

THE VERDICT
The Spyder Rocket is a very good, cold-weather ski jacket—ready for serious and sloppy storms, and high-speed skiing. The stretchy fabric improves fit and resists compression (i.e. stays warmer at speed), and the full waterproofing makes it versatile enough for a range of conditions, though the fabric does make it heavier and bulkier than others here.

Read the full review at Gear Institute, a network of the best outdoor gear testers in America, dedicated to providing the most professional, objective, and helpful advice you can get about the gear you depend on.

Gear Institute's 2012 Ski Jacket Reviews: Patagonia Rubicon Down Jacket

The Patagonia Rubicon Down is a 700-fill down insulated jacket outfitted with ski-specific features for the coldest conditions

patagonia rubicon ski jackets
Rubicon Down Jacket. (Patagonia)

THE GOOD
    •    Freeride fit is roomy without being bulky.
    •    Lots of pockets.
    •    Helmet compatible hood.
    •    Long hem and snug, warm collar.
    •    Lightweight.

THE BAD
    •    Less weatherproof.

THE VERDICT
Patagonia applies their excellent ski-jacket approach to a super-warm, overstuffed down jacket. It’s got a roomy freeride cut for great freedom of movement, but doesn’t feel bulky thanks to smart tailoring, and comes with plenty of bells and whistles—like removable powder skirt and lots of pockets for goggles and shades and backcountry gear. Its not seam-taped, so wouldn’t be appropriate for very wet conditions.

Read the full review at Gear Institute, a network of the best outdoor gear testers in America, dedicated to providing the most professional, objective, and helpful advice you can get about the gear you depend on.

Gear Institute's 2012 Ski Jacket Reviews: Dakine Drift Down Jacket

The Dakine Drift Down Jacket is a 550-fill down insulated jacket outfitted with snowsports-specific features for the coldest conditions

Drift Down Jacket. (Dakine)

THE GOOD
    •    Good price.
    •    Powder skirt, wrist gaiters seal out snow.
    •    Long hem length.
    •    Lightweight.

THE BAD
    •    Less weatherproof.
    •    Hood not helmet compatible, but zips off.
    •    Kind of bulky.

THE VERDICT
Dakine’s Drift Down is a super warm jacket whose 550-fill down insulation helps keep the price a little lower. Tricked out with snowsports features with a relaxed fit for dynamic riding—though it’s a bit too relaxed around the waist, making it a bit bulky.

Read the full review at Gear Institute, a network of the best outdoor gear testers in America, dedicated to providing the most professional, objective, and helpful advice you can get about the gear you depend on.

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