When shopping for snowboarding gear and supplies, most people tend to spend all their cash on the latest bindings and boards and fail to put much thought into their outerwear. But truthfully, the type of jacket you’re wearing can have a major impact on your experiences out on the slopes and can even make or break your day. The best snowboard jacket can keep you warm and dry and won’t negatively affect your moves, so you can shred all day long.
Awesome Snowboarding Jackets Buying Guide
If you’re out in heavy snowfall and you’re only wearing a softshell, you’re bound to get soaked and frozen. If you decide to wear a puffy jacket in the spring, you’ll end up tying it around your waist for most of the day.
Before you choose a jacket, it’s important to know the basic differences available and the key features to look for. While there are a number of differences between individual jackets, the main categories that most jackets can be lumped into are: three in ones, technical shells, insulated jackets and shells.
Shells are the type of jacket you’ll see the most out on the slopes. This style of snowboarding jacket is considered very versatile and they’re basically waterproof enough for most weather conditions and have at least a few taped seams. They also usually come equipped with vents for improved breathability. If you choose the right size, there should be enough room for you to add layers underneath, for colder days. If you only want one jacket for all weather conditions, the shell will probably be your best choice.
If you’re planning on riding in extremely cold weather, you’ll want to take a look at insulated jackets. These jackets can fall into a couple of categories: down and synthetic fill. Jackets that use synthetic fill utilize a type of synthetic insulation because it’s able to still insulate and provide warmth, even when it’s wet. This is a good choice if the area is often wet and bitter cold, such as the Midwest or Northeast.
A traditional down jacket will use either duck or goose for insulation in order to help you cope with the coldest temperatures. Jackets that use traditional down are valued for their high weight to heat ratio and easy packability. They’re very lightweight and can be easily compressed. However, it will lose all of its insulating properties when it’s wet, which is a major downside and the wrong choice if you live in a humid climate. However, down jackets are a good option if you live in dry cold areas such as Wyoming or Colorado.
If you spend a lot of your time searching for new lines to ride and bagging peaks, then a technical shell is just what you’re looking for. These jackets are highly breathable and lightweight, so you’ll remain dry and comfortable in changing conditions or on a long climb. These jackets are also very waterproof and often use high end fabrics such as eVent or Gore-Tex. However, they’re usually more expensive than other snowboarding jackets, but if you’re a dedicated backcountry explorer, the performance and quality of this type of jacket is priceless.
A softshell jacket will feature stretchy, soft fabric that’s equipped with waterproof properties. They are usually not as water-resistant as a hard shell jacket and don’t come with as many features. They’re basically hoodies that won’t get drenched the minute they come into contact with snow. They’re also more affordable and ideal for sunny, warmer days.
The three in one jacket is probably the most versatile choice. This type of jacket features a technical fleece that usually zips into a shell. This will give the user the option of wearing just the fleece or shell or wearing them both once the temperature drops. These jackets are a good choice for riders who are in an area that experiences a wide range of weather conditions.
Snowboarding jackets should keep you both warm and dry, which is why a jacket’s waterproof rating is very important. This rating will tell you the amount of water a jacket can handle before it penetrates the material. This rating is for the outer shell material and stands for how many millimeters of water a jacket can withstand for a period of twenty-four hours before it starts to leak. Jackets with a twenty thousand MM rating are able to withstand up to sixteen feet of rain in a twenty-four hour period before you’ll get wet. You should also keep in mind that the waterproof rating is just for the fabric not for the whole jacket. While the fabric on the jacket can handle several feet of snow, you can still get wet if the seams are not sealed. If you want the ultimate protection against snow, make sure your jacket is fully taped.
The jacket’s breathability is another important function because water can attack from the inside as well as from the outside. If the jacket you’re wearing is unable to expel the moisture on the inside, your clothes can become soaked with perspiration, especially if you’re boarding or skiing.
When you’re considering the length of a jacket, it can all boil down to your taste in fashion and personal preference, but you should also consider chair lifts, which can easily get incredibly chilly on colder days. Because of this, wearing a longer jacket can provide a much-needed layer between you and the freezing lift chair, which can make all the difference on extra cold days.
When you purchase a non-insulated jacket, they should keep in mind that it’s designed to be combined with other layers, so look for a model that offers a more relaxed fit and one that can easily accommodate a sweater or fleece worn underneath it.
Relying on brands with a reputation for providing comfortable, durable wear out in the snow can help you to weed out the lesser quality models. Some of the top brand names include Columbia, Burton and Mountain Hardware.
Snowboarding Jacket Features to Look For
These days, jackets can boast a ton of crazy features such as heating vests with electric elements inside them, to iPod controls that allow you to enjoy your favorite music as you shred. But if your main focus is to find a jacket that will keep you warm, dry, and out in the snow for longer periods of time, then the following features will provide everything you’ll need to shred for hours at a time.
Waterproof zippers and taped seams can prevent moisture from getting in through fastenings of a garment or the stitching. While this may seem like overkill, if you plan on spending long days out in extreme weather, then these features are totally worth it. Some snowboard jackets feature crucially taped seams, which means that only the most visible seams will be taped. Higher quality jackets that run on the pricey side will feature fully taped seams.
Choose a jacket that comes with linings that are labeled as moisture wicking. These linings have special materials that can help to draw sweat or moisture away from the body.
Vents that are strategically placed on your jacket can allow air to flow into the jacket when you’re sweaty and hot. These vents are often found along the sides and under the armpits.
iPod pockets and headphone loops are quickly becoming the standard on snowboard jackets. These features can make it easier to safely and securely listen to your music when you’re out on the slopes and can even allow you to switch tracks and control the volume effortlessly.
Boot gaiters are elasticated bands that can seal the gaps between the pants and boots, preventing snow from creeping in and they’re a must-have if you enjoy boarding in fresh, deep powder.
Some jackets are also equipped with a piece of cloth with elastic that’s attached to the bottom of the jacket and it’s designed to prevent snow from getting under the jacket. This feature is called a powder skirt. Most pros highly recommend this feature if you’re new to snowboarding because you’ll spend a lot of time crashing your first few times on the slopes. Some powder skirts also have a snap system that attaches to the pants, which works to completely seal off access. Whether or not you actually need this feature will basically depend on user preference. If you’re going to spend a lot of time in deep powder, than the powder skirt can be very useful, but if you’re someone who prefers only groomed slopes, then the powder skirt will be pretty useless.
These days, many boarding jackets are equipped with a ton of pockets. So, when it comes to the pockets on a jacket, ask yourself if there’s a larger pocket that can handle your gloves, a small pocket on the sleeve where you can attach a ski pass and pockets that are easily accessible and can store your phone, keys, wallet and other important personal items.
The Recoo reflector is an inexpensive piece of equipment that’s commonly built into jackets and the odds are you probably weren’t aware that it existed. But in certain circumstances, such as accidents on the snow or avalanches, these reflectors can potentially save your life. Currently, more than six hundred resorts all over the world use Recco locator equipment that will help to locate a person in the event of an emergency.
Your Snowboard Jacket Buying Experience
To recap, buy a jacket that has at least 10k breathability. If you tend to sweat a lot or it’s during the warmer season, go for a 20k. Purchase a jacket with a waterproof rate of at least 20k, which can work to keep you dry in almost any weather condition. Purchase a hard shell if you’re boarding during colder winter months and wear a breathable one with less layers on underneath in warmer conditions. Buy a jacket that’s well insulated. If you’re just learning to board, use a powder skirt, otherwise you’ll end up soaked during the first hour. Make sure you choose a jacket with enough pockets for your boarding accessories, phone and iPod. And remember, a jacket is designed to be combined with more than one layer, so purchase one that’s relaxed fit and able to accommodate multiple layers.
Choose your new jacket wisely, because your jacket is going to play a big part in how much time you spend on the hill.