Before You Buy

Outerwear Jargon Explained

All you need to know about fit, waterproofing, breathability and insulation for snowboard jackets and pants

Photo: Matt Georges


Each brand describes how their clothes fit differently. The catalogue spiel can be confusing at first – “True Action Fit”, anyone? – but usually it’s self-explanatory.

There isn’t any objective advantage to baggier or tighter-fitting outfits – it’s just whatever you prefer!

The range of options is huge, so there’s no need to go for anything that isn’t the style you like. Wherever possible, get down to a local snowboard shop and try things on for yourself before you buy.

Photo: Matt Georges


If you’ve ever heard anyone discussing ‘mil rating’ when talking about outerwear, this is what they’re referring to.

Most jackets and pants rate their waterproofing in thousands of millilitres (eg 10,000mm or ‘10K’), which represents the height of the column of water that can be poured on top of the fabric before any moisture makes it through the membrane. The higher the number, the better the waterproofing.

Materials such as Gore-Tex don’t follow this system, so the best thing is to read up on them individually to check what they’re capable of withstanding.

Another important factor to consider is the taping. Fully-taped jackets and pants have a seal over all seams, which makes them more waterproof and more durable – but also pricier. Critically-taped ones target the sealing only at the most important areas, keeping the cost down.

Photo: Matt Georges


Measured in grams rather than millilitres, breathability ratings tell you how much moisture can pass through the material per square metre, over a 24-hour period.

While this might sound like something you don’t want, remember that snowboarding makes you sweat, and if that moisture can’t escape you’ll get clammy, uncomfortable and – if the temperatures are low – dangerously cold.

Jut as it is with waterproofing, those with higher ratings will perform better in this department, and read up on the ones that don’t provide numbers.

Your own activity comes in to play too – those who partake in three-hour backcountry hikes require much higher levels of breathability than those who ride the lifts.

Photo: Matt Georges


It’s cold in them there mountains, so ensure you’re wrapped up warm enough for the conditions.

There’s nothing wrong with a thin shell-type jacket – and in many cases it’s preferable – but lots of outerwear comes with built-in insulation systems that are highly efficient and comfortable. How cold it’ll be, and how much of a sweat you’re likely to work up, will determine how much insulation you should go for.

A good rule of thumb is that it’s better to be too hot than too cold, and with a bit of experience you’ll soon figure out how best to suit up for the shred.

Stay tuned for the best snowboard jackets & pants for 2015-2016


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