The 7 Best Resort Jackets of 2013

   Photo: Arc'teryx

Arc'teryx Modon Resort Jacket

GEAR OF THE YEAR: Thanks to fancy new synthetic insulation, the Modon was just as warm as heavier, puffier jackets we tested. It’s also tougher than it looks. The Modon’s new face fabric, N80p-X, was developed with Gore, and it’s the company’s most abrasion resistant yet. Which means that even after a season or two of slashing through the trees, there’ll be fewer broken fibers to disturb the fabric’s surface tension. Translation: the Modon will stay completely waterproof longer. Arc’teryx preserves that weather protection by keeping the design simple—just three waterproof zippered pockets and two pit-zips perforate the shell. Then there’s the meticulous tailoring, which somehow managed to accommodate testers of every size and shape equally well. It may cost twice as much as other jackets, but it’ll last twice as long, too.

Versatility: 4
Value: 3.5
Performance: 5

Patagonia Snowshot Resort Jacket

  Photo: Patagonia

BEST FOR: Wet or warm conditions.

THE TEST: The uninsulated Snowshot isn’t the lightest or most tricked-out ski jacket Patagonia makes. But for the price, it’s among the best. When an Oregon powder day became a downpour, the waterproof-breathable H2No fabric and extra-long sleeves, collar, and hemline were just the ticket. “This thing would keep a giraffe dry,” said one tester. In-bounds, we appreciated the powder skirt, headphone port, and fleece-lined hand-warmer pockets. And while it’s a bit heavy to pull double-duty as a backcountry touring shell, giant pit zips help prevent overheating on warmer days or quick sidecountry hikes.

THE VERDICT: Do-it-all snow-sports parka with a bonus: The shell is made of nearly 50 percent recycled fibers.

Versatility: 4
Value: 5
Performance: 3.5

Spyder Rocket Down Resort Jacket

  Photo: Spyder

BEST FOR: Arctic days.

THE TEST: This down-filled puffy kept us comfy during a single-digit December freeze we endured at Jackson Hole. The Rocket’s stretchy, waterproof exterior sealed out drafts (and moisture) on long, windswept chairlift rides—and held the lofty 700-fill insulation snug against the body, eliminating what one tester called “the flying muffin phenomenon.” Small pit zips dump heat, but if you tend to hike for your turns or prefer a jacket for warmer resort days, too, this ain’t it.

THE VERDICT: Mega warmth combined with handy features (powder skirt, wrist gaiters, goggle pockets, and a tethered goggle wipe) make this the best ski puffy we’ve tested.

Versatility: 2.5
Value: 3.5
Performance: 4.5

Because they seal in heat and keep out snow, wrist gaiters, like those on the Spyder Rocket, boost a jacket's warmth factor.

Marmot LZ Resort Jacket

  Photo: Marmot

BEST FOR: Keeping everything in its place.

THE TEST: We know a jacket is worth including when nearly every tester has a different favorite feature. The LZ’s durable face fabric stood up to months of sniffing out fresh snow in tight trees. There’s just enough synthetic insulation to keep you toasty on midseason days in the teens, and we loved that, on sunnier, drier days, we could zip off the hood and powder skirt. Two interior pockets hold bulkier items like skins and spare goggles, and there are exterior pockets galore.

THE VERDICT: Great price for a full-featured jacket.

Versatility: 3.5
Value: 5
Performance: 3.5

Columbia Ultrachange Resort Jacket

  Photo: Columbia

BEST FOR: Skiing in all conditions.

THE TEST: The Ultrachange is the lightest incarnation of Columbia's popular three-in-one parka system, pairing a whispery (12 ounce) waterproof shell with a synthetic puffy. Alone, the shell makes a great backcountry touring piece, with a broad-brimmed, helmet-compatible hood and large chest pockets, which are smartly situated above a pack's waist belt (so you can quickly stash climbing skins). Testers snapped in the insulation and stayed toasty in sideways snow during a wicked Whistler storm cycle, thanks in part to the reflective metallic lining, which modestly boosts warmth without adding bulk.

THE VERDICT: The most versatile jacket here.

Versatility: 5
Value: 4
Performance: 4.5

Also in the market for a waterproof-breathable all-season shell? At just 12 ounces, the outer jacket of Columbia's three-in-one Ultrachange fits that bill, too.

Aether Cloud Resort Jacket

  Photo: Aether

BEST FOR: City dwellers who like to look good—and rip.

THE TEST: The Cloud is stuffed with a generous amount of PrimaLoft insulation, making it one of the warmest jackets in our test. With no conspicuous logos or doodads adorning the exterior, it’s also impressively sleek: wear it on the streets of Chicago or New York City and no one will know you’re sporting a fully featured ski jacket. Four exterior pockets are cleverly concealed, and the cuffs expand with subtle longitudinal zippers instead of bulky Velcro closures. It ain’t cheap, but it’s made with top-shelf materials and fits and feels like a hand-tailored suit.

THE VERDICT: The inside pocket’s hokey cell-phone ejector notwithstanding, this thing is a work of art.

Versatility: 3
Value: 2.5
Performance: 4

Mammut Avers Resort Jacket

  Photo: Mammut

BEST FOR: Drier climes.

THE TEST: Because they’re not as noisy or crinkly as hard shells—and because they’re generally stretchier and more breathable—many riders prefer soft shells. The trim, athletic-cut, fleece-lined Avers checks all those boxes. Plus, it’s practically waterproof: the Polartec Power Shield Pro fabric will keep you dry all day, unless you live in the Northwest and ski for hours on end in heavy, wet snow (or, ahem, rain). Inside, we like how comfy the swaths of furry fleece are. Too bad there are no interior pockets (or pit zips, for that matter).

THE VERDICT: Stretchy and moderately breathable: a great choice for sidecountry skiers.

Versatility: 3
Value: 2.5
Performance: 4

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