Ski jackets have long benefited from trickle-down technology: the features developed for serious backcountry shells work just as well when you’re huddled on a wet chairlift. This year there are more excellent options than ever. To whittle our initial list down to these seven, we spent a season skiing both sides of the ropes in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We tried jackets with everything from an aerogel fill, developed by NASA and said to be the best insulator ever made, to a new design that features overlapping down baffles. The difference between enjoying a powder day and warming up in the lodge often comes down to what you’re wearing—it’s worth investing in quality outerwear. 


Arc’teryx Rethel

Gear of the Year

The supple Rethel is hands-down the most comfortable ski jacket we’ve ever tested. Imagine your favorite sweatshirt, but built to shred. A soft shell with synthetic insulation in the torso and arms plus stretchy fabric along the sides, it offers fantastic mobility and a stellar warmth-to-weight ratio. Arc’teryx kept the design blessedly simple by slimming down the powder skirt and putting diagonal vents over the ribs, which cool remarkably well for their size.

Price $475 Versatility 5  Durability 4


Marmot Storm King 

Best For: Spring slush. 
The Test: Soft shells used to be restricted to mild days on the hill; they were comfortable and breathable, but they wouldn’t keep you dry. The Storm King can handle it all. Marmot embedded a Polartec NeoShell layer into the thick, fleece-lined fabric and taped the seams, making the jacket almost as waterproof as a traditional hard shell while offering much better breathability. The massive hood covered large helmets on blustery chairlift rides. Tip: zip off the powder skirt to shave a few ounces. 
The Verdict: An overachieving soft shell. 

Price $550 Versatility 5 Durability 4


Under Armour Nimbus

Best For: Rippers who run hot. 
The Test: The Nimbus ditches standard pit zips in favor of 14-inch-long mesh-backed vents on the chest. Open them up when you’re skiing and it’s like having an air conditioner blowing right at your core. There’s also an ingenious zipper at the base of the collar that expands the hood to accommodate a wide range of large helmets. Pair those nifty features with bomber three-layer Gore-Tex Pro fabric and you have an exceptionally durable waterproof-breathable shell.
The Verdict: Equal parts clever and tough. 

Price $599 Versatility 4 Durability 5

(Black Diamond)

Black Diamond Mission 

Best For: Skiing in a blizzard. 
The Test: The Mission is built for the worst days on the mountain, with burly 70-denier nylon face fabric, a one-inch-long drop hem, and a massive helmet-compatible hood. Testers appreciated the 18-inch-long pit zips, which dumped heat in a hurry huffing up Jackson’s sidecountry boot-packs. The Mission happily does double-duty as a backcountry shell, with large internal mesh pockets that fit climbing skins for even the fattest planks. 
The Verdict: Everything an expert needs, including seven pockets. 

Price $599 Versatility 5 Durability 4

(Faction Skis)

Faction Darwin Aerogel

Best For: Early adopters. 
The Test: Faction filled the Darwin with a NASA-designed insulation called aerogel, developed to keep astronauts warm and comfortable in space. The ultralight, porous material is limited to just six of the jacket’s panels, but in testing we found it to be much warmer than a standard shell and just as waterproof. The Darwin earns bonus points for its soft, stretchy face fabric, supple wrist cuffs with thumb holes, and seven huge pockets designed to hold all the essentials. 
The Verdict: High-tech armor for chilly days. 

Price $569 Versatility 4 Durability 4

(Helly Hansen)

Helly Hansen Alpha 2.0

Best For: Cruising groomers. 
The Test: If your ski day revolves around ripping down blue runs and hunting for fresh corduroy, this is your jacket. With plump PrimaLoft insulation wrapped in a soft, stretchy, waterproof exterior fabric and trimmed with a cozy fleece-lined collar, it’s as plush a coat as you’ll find on the slopes. Bells and whistles for resort skiing include a tethered goggle wipe, a slick cable port for headphones, and a zip-off hood. The only downside to all this luxury? You end up with a heavier rig. 
The Verdict: The ultimate deluxe downhiller. 

Price $450 Versatility 3 Durability 3


Columbia Heatzone 1000 TurboDown

Best For: Surviving a night on the ski lift. 
The Test: Most down parkas have cold spots at the seams where the baffles are stitched together. Not the Heatzone 1000, which stacks a second overlapping layer of fill above the first to eliminate the lines where heat can escape. The result: arguably the warmest ski jacket for its weight ever made. The 900-fill feathers, fortified by a thin outer layer of synthetic insulation, maintain their loft in the slop, while thicker fabric on the shoulders adds durability. 
The Verdict: The toastiest jacket here. 1.4 lbs

Price $450 Versatility 3 Durability 3

The Best Après Jackets of 2016

We love high-performance outerwear (see our lists of the best resort and backcountry jackets of the year). But we also love the street-smart looks of these hoodies, shakets, and midlayers, which make them ideal for urban adventures once the ski and snowboard boots come off.  (Berghaus) Berghaus VapourLight Hydroloft Reversible Hoody  Most reversibles give you two distinct styles and not much else. Not so the eight-ounce VapourLight. Wear the dual-tone fabric on the outside for increased wind protection, or flip it around for a bump in breathability. Perfect for high-output bike commuting or hiking the steeps.  Price $220 (Fjällräven) Fjällräven Ovik 3 in 1  The

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The Best Running Jackets of 2016

These six reflective jackets will help you log miles—safely—by trail or road.  (Brooks) Brooks Bolt Thicker and more insulating than the other shells here, the Bolt showed legit wind and water resistance, although it was a bit stiffer and heavier than the other options—best suited for easy cold-weather runs. The hem cinch and media pouch tucked into the zippered pocket are nice touches.  Price $140 Weight 13.6 oz (The North Face) The North Face Ultra Lite Waterproof If you haven’t yet known the well-ventilated glory of a short-sleeve waterproof jacket, start here. Slim, pocket compressible, and supple, the Ultra Lite

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The Best Backcountry Jackets of 2016

There’s been a lot of upheaval in this category recently. The race to create the lightest, most breathable—but still bomber—jacket has destroyed longstanding paradigms. The lines that once divided soft and hard shells have blurred so much, they’re all but gone. Waterproof down has gone from pipe dream to commonplace, while new lightweight synthetic insulations keep you warm on the coldest days. Now, in another leap forward, mad-scientist engineers are using surprising new materials like corn (that’s right, corn) and rain-shedding wool. The upshot? There are more high-quality jacket options than we ever thought possible. (Outdoor Research) Outdoor

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The Best Women’s Jackets of 2016

From running to skiing to après-ing, these six power players will keep you warm, dry, and comfortable—no matter the conditions. (Showers Pass) Showers Pass Rogue Hoodie  Like a highly functional iteration of your favorite sweatshirt, the Rogue bridges the urban-technical divide. A cozy fleece lining is encased in a waterproof-breathable exterior, while commuter-friendly elements like reflective trim, a loop for hanging a light, and a helmet-compatible hood make it ideal for winter bike rides. Price $175 (Faction Skis) Faction Harper Aerogel  The Harper is one of the first jackets to incorporate NASA-developed aerogel, a super-lightweight insulation that’s a fraction of the

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