It’s important to put some time and effort into choosing your snowboard jacket. When all is said and done, it’s arguably as important as choosing the right snowboard, and the right pair of bindings to match. Whether you’re a keen backcountry explorer or an in-bounds rider, a certain amount of thought should go into picking the best outerwear for you. While this list focuses on the best jackets, most are available with a matching pair of pants to complete the set, similar in spec and tech to ensure you’ve got the same level of protection head to toe.
“What’s important to remember is that it’s all a balancing act between being waterproof and being breathable”
First of all, you need to consider where you will be doing most of your snowboarding, what kind of conditions you are likely to face, and how much time you will spend wearing your jacket. Once you’ve answered the basic questions about the kind of snowboarder you are, it’s time to look at the more technical aspects of your outerwear.
If you’re looking for a more in-depth guide to choosing your outerwear, take a look at our ‘how to choose the best snowboard jackets and pants’, but if you’re already clued up on this, scroll down for our shortlist.
Waterproofing and Breathability
What’s important to remember is that it’s all a balancing act between being waterproof and being breathable. If something’s extremely waterproof but doesn’t have that breathability, you begin to sweat. In turn, this means your sweat will have nowhere to go and you’ll be soaked after only a couple of laps.
The waterproof rating is measured in millimetres (mm). This refers to the depth of water that is required to penetrate the fabric (based on filling a one-inch diameter tube). The higher the rating, the more waterproof the outerwear.
Breathability is measured in grams. The ratings refer to the weight of water that can pass through a square metre of fabric in 24hours. Bear in mind though, that the testing protocols aren’t universal and can lack consistency between brands. Usually, you’ll find the breathability ratings to be somewhere between 5k and 20k – with the higher number being a more breathable option.
Shell / Insulation
Another two key factors when it comes to choosing your snowboard outerwear is the fabric and insulation. You can choose between a hard shell, soft shell or an insulated model.
The main benefits of a hardshell is its ability to resist the most extreme weather conditions you’re likely to face on the mountain. The jackets / pants are designed to provide shelter against rain and wind. They’re also designed to be extremely breathable and durable, hence the reason why they’re so often preferred by backcountry enthusiasts.
“You can choose between a hard shell, soft shell or an insulated model”
If you’re looking for something a bit more comfortable, a softshell jacket / pants combo might be more up your street. Softshells often allow for more mobility, whilst also offering a decent amount of waterproofing and breathability.
You can also choose to go with an insulated option. Head over to our best snowboard mid-layer to get the low down on the difference between down and synthetic insulation.
Sustainability and Durability
Choosing more sustainable options has become the norm these days. It’s also, we’re happy to report, something that’s become much popular within the snowboard industry. Brands are putting more effort into producing products sustainably, and this is clear when looking at this season’s outerwear.
When purchasing a new product, you should bear in mind that even though the manufacturing of products has become more sustainable – the key to sustainability lies in the durability of the product itself. It may, for example, be worth spending a bit more money on a jacket that can last you up to five years rather than a cheaper option that might only take you through one season and has to be replaced sooner.
In the end, it’s down to you what you choose to spend your money on. Just make sure that whatever you choose has the right fit, as it’d be a shame if you couldn’t fit an extra layer underneath or the jacket pops its zip after a big lunch down the slope.