As your main line of defense against snow and wind, a quality snowboard jacket is a key piece of your kit. Designs fall into three basic categories: versatile and light shells, insulated models for a boost in warmth, and 3-in-1 jackets that include a zip-out midlayer. Prices also vary, ranging from budget-oriented models that sneak under $200 to Gore-Tex-equipped technical pieces that cost $500 or more. Below we break down the best snowboard jackets of winter 2021, which cover everything from resort and park favorites from popular brands like Volcom and Quiksilver to uncompromising, premium designs for serious riders. For more background information, see our comparison table and buying advice below the picks.
Waterproofing: 2L Gore-Tex
What we like: Sturdy protection, premium features, and high-quality build.
What we don’t: Not a standout in breathability or weight.
Burton’s AK line has a well-earned reputation for quality builds, and their men’s Cyclic and women’s Upshift hit the nice balance of protection, comfort, and features. The non-insulated jackets are built around a sturdy 2-layer Gore-Tex construction that shrugs off high winds and heavy precipitation, but the interior has a surprisingly plush and soft feel thanks to the mixed mesh and taffeta lining. Tack on premium extras like a dedicated phone pocket that’s insulated to keep your battery fresh, pit zips, and large, mitten-friendly zippers, and you get our top snowboard jacket pick for 2021.
As with the full AK collection, the Cyclic and Upshift have high price tags ($400 and $380 respectively), and they’ll likely be overkill for occasional riders and those just getting into the sport. Designs like the Quicksilver Mission and Volcom Bolt below are better options for beginners or fair-weather boarders. And on the other end of the spectrum, Arc’teryx’s Sabre/Sentinel series gets you improved breathability at a lighter weight, but with a serious jump in price. This brings us back to the Burton, which hits a great combination of proven Gore-Tex protection for deep days, comfort and mobility for sidecountry hikes, and practical features for discerning riders.
See the Men's Burton AK Cyclic See the Women's Burton AK Upshift
Best Men’s Budget Snowboard Jacket
Insulation: 100g (body); 80g (sleeves); 60g (hood)
Waterproofing: 2L DryFlight
What we like: Good combination of price and performance for beginners and occasional riders.
What we don’t: Not well-equipped for wet snow conditions.
It’s difficult to find a quality snowboard jacket for under $200—particularly one that’s insulated—but Quiksilver’s Mission is just that. This men’s-specific design (our top women’s pick is below) includes the essentials for getting you on the slopes: a wind- and snow-blocking shell, powder skirt, and six total pockets (including a dedicated spot for your pass on the sleeve). For warmth, Quiksilver uses a basic WarmFlight synthetic (an in-house design), but it delivers sufficient insulation with 100-gram fill in the body and lighter 80-gram in the sleeves. Priced at $180, the Mission is a solid all-around value.
At less than half the price of our top-rated Burton above, there are some inevitable compromises with the budget-oriented Quiksilver. Everything from the Velcro used to secure the flap over the center zipper to the interior lining is a step down in material quality. Further, the shell fabric, while surprisingly soft, is prone to absorbing moisture throughout the day. Combined with seam taping that only covers critical areas, and the jacket won’t hold up as well during extended periods of rough and rowdy weather. Riders who get out a lot will be better off spending up for a more weatherproof and longer-lasting design, but the Mission lines up well for beginners and those sticking to a budget.
See the Men's Quiksilver Mission Insulated
Best Women’s Budget Snowboard Jacket
Insulation: 80g (body); 60g (sleeves)
Waterproofing: 2L V-Science
What we like: A warm and affordable design from a well-respected brand.
What we don’t: Not fully seam taped and no pit zips.
California-based Volcom has a strong foothold in the snowboard jacket market, with a wide range of options for park, resort, and backcountry use. At the budget end is their women’s-specific Bolt, which offers clean styling, a cozy interior, and a basic but well-rounded feature set, all for an affordable $175. Starting with warmth, the jacket is moderately insulated with 80-gram Polyfill in the body and less bulky 60-gram in the arms. Another nice touch is the jacket’s compatibility with Volcom’s Zip Tech system: if you have a pair of Volcom pants, you can connect the two for an integrated set-up that does a great job sealing out drafts and moisture.
Like our men’s budget pick above, Volcom had to cut a few corners to keep the Bolt’s costs down. In this case, you compromise full seam taping—it’s only partially taped—which means the jacket isn’t as well-suited for sustained and heavy snowfall, and particularly in warm and wet conditions. Further, you don’t get pit zips, so the jacket will run warm on milder days and for sidecountry hikes. But if you only get out a few times a year, the Bolt is a more-than-capable snowboarding jacket and looks good to boot.
See the Women's Volcom Bolt Insulated
Best Technical Shell for Snowboarding
Insulation: None (light flannel backer)
Waterproofing: 3L Gore-Tex
What we like: Great fit and mobility, fantastic protection, and premium look and feel.
What we don’t: Very pricey.
For a technical snow jacket that puts it all together—protection, mobility, comfort, and features—we turn to Arc’teryx and their legendary men’s Sabre and women’s Sentinel line. Everything about the design has a premium look and feel: the 3-layer Gore-Tex is light but bombproof, its large hood offers standout coverage while remaining easy to adjust, and the sturdy face fabric holds up well to extended use. Best of all, the excellent fit and mobility mean you barely notice the jacket throughout the day. For everything from battening down the hatches in stormy conditions to sidecountry hikes and even the occasional backcountry tour, this Arc’teryx is our all-time favorite shell.
What keeps the Sabre and Sentinel from taking our top spot? Price is the biggest obstacle—at $275 more than the Burton Cyclic above, it’s hard to justify the added expense for most resort boarders. That’s not a knock on the jacket’s performance, however, and the attention to detail is the best on the market. Everything from the minimalist seam taping to the soft flannel backer has been well-executed. In the end, many people will prefer one of the more affordable options on our list, but for those who want the best of the best, we think the Sabre and Sentinel live up to the hype... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Arc'teryx Sabre AR See the Women's Arc'teryx Sentinel AR
Best 3-in-1 Snowboard Jacket
Insulation: 160g Polyfill
Waterproofing: 2L infiniDRY
What we like: 3-in-1 versatility and a great value.
What we don’t: Heavy, bulky, and prone to feeling drafty.
For those looking to maximize bang for buck, the 3-in-1 style has a lot of appeal. A single purchase gets you both your insulated midlayer—with the option to remove it on warm days—as well as your waterproof shell. Nearly every major outerwear manufacturer offers a 3-in-1, but 686’s Smarty is our favorite. It’s properly outfitted with a burly outer layer that sheds moisture and blocks wind, and we found its exterior storage to be generously sized and easy to access on the lift. Further, the zip-out insulated jacket is quite warm thanks to its 160-gram synthetic fill. At a reasonable $270, the 686 also manages to undercut popular competitors like The North Face Clement Triclimate ($300) and Patagonia’s Snowshot 3-in-1 ($399).
If you’re set on a 3-in-1, the 686 is a solid choice, but it’s important to understand the compromises with this style of jacket. For starters, they’re consistently the heaviest and bulkiest options due to the extra zippers and snaps required to connect the mid and outer layers. In addition, the two-piece system can be drafty and doesn’t keep you as warm and cozy as a dedicated insulated snowboard jacket. Finally, it’s far from a high-performance piece: we ran warm quickly on a sidecountry hike and opening the pit zips only partially helped in dumping heat. But for those wanting to maximize versatility and value for lift-assisted or terrain park days, the 686 Smarty is a well-built 3-in-1 design.
See the Men's 686 Smarty 3-in-1 Form See the Women's 686 Smarty Spellbound
Best of the Rest
Insulation: 80g (body); 40g (sleeves)
Waterproofing: 2L H2No
What we like: Great mix of comfort and warmth for resort riders.
What we don’t: Not an ideal choice for active use.
Patagonia doesn’t offer any true entry-level products, but their men’s Snowshot and women’s Snowbelle cover all the basics for resort riders at a reasonable price. The insulated model uses quality Thermogreen synthetic fill (80g in the body and 40g in the sleeves) that’s just-right for keeping you comfortable on most resort days, and comfort is top-notch thanks to the soft and smooth polyester taffeta lining. We’ve also been impressed by the in-house H2No’s water and wind protection, and the adjustable hood and powder skirt do a nice job sealing out the cold and wet. For days lapping the resort, the Snowshot/Snowbelle is a cozy and well-built option.
Where this Patagonia jacket comes up short is for active use. We found breathability to be lacking, and the warm construction means you can quickly work up a sweat on a sidecountry trudge, riding in the trees, or when hitting the park. The non-insulated variation of the Snowshot is the better choice in these situations, although its mesh liner is a step down in comfort from the synthetic-filled model. And a final note: Patagonia also offers the Snowshot/Snowbelle in a 3-in-1 variation, although we found that model to be fairly disappointing, especially when factoring in its premium $399 MSRP... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Patagonia Snowshot See the Women's Patagonia Snowbelle
Waterproofing: 3L Gore-Tex
What we like: Top-end Gore-Tex build in a stylish design.
What we don’t: Can’t match the technical prowess of the Arc’teryx above.
Dakine may have recently moved their operations outside of Hood River, Oregon, but the brand has a strong reputation in the Pacific Northwest for making trustworthy and stylish gear. Their Sawtooth 3L Jacket is a great-looking shell that packs a serious punch thanks to its premium Gore-Tex construction. Like the Arc’teryx Sabre above, you get a high-end 3-layer build that’s super weatherproof and tough, and they’ve incorporated a number of thoughtful features, including soft-touch hand gaiters (a real luxury we’ve enjoyed), water-resistant zippers for keeping moisture out, and a long yet sculpted fit that moves nicely with you. For riders dipping in and out of the trees and exploring the outer edges of the resort, the Sawtooth has a lot of appeal.
What keeps the Dakine from unseating the performance-oriented Arc’teryx above? It can’t match the comfort of the Sabre and its flannel-backed interior, and in comparison, the Sawtooth is more crinkly and stiff. Further, the flaps that cover the main zipper and chest and hand pockets add bulk and weight. And while the Dakine does offer a way to dump heat with its core vents, it can’t equal the effectiveness of the Sabre’s pit zips. As such, we think the Sabre is worth the added investment, but the Dakine matches it in weatherproofing and toughness at a significant discount.
See the Men's Dakine Sawtooth 3L See the Women's Dakine Beretta 3L
Waterproofing: 2L Gore-Tex
What we like: Gore-Tex protection, clean looks, and a great price.
What we don’t: Fairly bland styling.
One of the more popular snowboard jackets on the hill, Volcom’s L combines quality Gore-Tex waterproofing at an excellent price. For well under $300, you get Gore’s proven 2-layer build, a versatile non-insulated design that leaves plenty of room for layering (an insulated version is also available for $290), and a solid storm hood that impressed us with its adjustability and protection on a deep day at British Columbia’s Red Mountain. And like the Bolt above, we were smitten with the performance of the Zip Tech system, which connected to our Volcom pant for bib-like protection.
From a styling perspective, the Volcom is on the bland end of the spectrum with mostly solid colors, a shiny finish, and a simple overall design. In addition, the mesh lining has a fairly cheap look and feel—our tester mentioned it was reminiscent of gym shorts. And the partial elastic wrist closure is also noticeably flimsier than more secure, premium alternatives. But the mesh does an admirable job wicking moisture, and the drop in comfort wasn’t too noticeable even on sidecountry hikes. If you don’t mind its simple looks, the Volcom L is a well-rounded uninsulated option.
See the Men's Volcom L Gore-Tex
Insulation: 60g PrimaLoft Black Eco
Waterproofing: 2L Intuitive Stretch
What we like: Stretchy and breathable with quality materials throughout.
What we don’t: Can’t match the all-out protection of Gore-Tex.
Pairing a breathable and stretchy shell with just a touch of lightweight warmth is Flylow’s innovative Albert Jacket. This model is packed with comfort-related features: its face fabric has some extra “give” for improved mobility for the terrain park, the baffled interior has a puffy jacket-like feel, and the high-end PrimaLoft insulation keeps bulk to a minimum. Styling is also a high point, particularly in the two-tone colorway options (Flylow consistently executes these well). And to top it off, the 60-gram synthetic insulation is just warm enough to take the sting out of a cold day without making yourself prone to overheating.
Who is the Flylow Albert best for? Active riders who spend most of their time away from groomers will appreciate its excellent range of motion and breathability. On the other hand, the Albert is not as well-suited for very wet snow (the somewhat thin and stretchy face fabric can’t match Gore-Tex in all-out protection), and resort riders who prioritize warmth will be disappointed by the modest insulation. It’s worth noting that the women’s variation of the jacket, the Daphne, differs slightly in design with 80-gram PrimaLoft (rather than 60g) and an additional exterior pocket on the sleeve.
See the Men's Flylow Albert See the Women's Flylow Daphne
Insulation: 120g (body); 100g (sleeves); 60g (hood)
Waterproofing: 2L DryFlight
What we like: Well-executed women’s-specific build with a good fit and lots of storage.
What we don’t: Can be too warm on mild days.
Roxy is a clear leader in women’s-specific snowboard jackets, and their popular Jetty line hits a sweet spot in price and performance for resort use. The shell and interior are smooth and soft—the polyester taffeta lining is particularly cozy—and with 120-gram synthetic in the body, it’s among the warmest jackets on our list. We also think Roxy nailed the organization with dedicated media storage, a pass pocket on the sleeve, and a mesh drop-in-style pocket for tossing in goggles or gloves. Top it off with a fit that’s not too trim and not too baggy and some fun styling, and it’s easy to see why the Jetty Block is a consistent favorite.
Like most designs in its price range, the biggest compromise with the Jetty Block is weather protection. You miss out on a DWR coating, which means it doesn’t do a great job resisting wet snow (the face fabric will start to absorb moisture fairly quickly). And with only partial seam sealing, the jacket simply won’t cut it when exposed to extended, harsh weather. If you like to head out in these types of rough conditions, we recommend upgrading to Roxy’s Gore-Tex-equipped Glade and Essence collections.
See the Women's Roxy Jetty Block
Waterproofing: 3L Gore-Tex Pro
What we like: Uncompromising backcountry design: light, mobile, and highly protective.
What we don’t: It’s one of the priciest shells on the market.
The Arc’teryx Sabre AR above is ideal for serious resort and occasional backcountry use, but dedicated splitboarders will be better off with the brand’s Rush Jacket. Most notably, this uninsulated shell swaps the Sabre’s standard 3-layer Gore-Tex and flannel backer for a top-end Gore-Tex Pro build. Combined with a burly face fabric and lightweight liner, the Rush manages to be both more breathable and durable than the Sabre. And the backcountry focus continues with a moderately trim fit that moves nicely on the skin track. It’s undeniably expensive at $749, but the Rush is as good as it gets for situations when you really need to trust your gear.
Why did we rank the Sabre AR above the Rush? The primary reason is the Sabre’s do-everything nature: its roomier fit is more accommodating for a range of midlayers, the aforementioned flannel backer gives it the clear edge in comfort (it’s less stiff and noisy than the Rush), and you don’t give up anything in terms of organization and features between the two. The Rush’s backcountry performance and longevity are hard to knock, but if you dabble in a little of everything and want a one-jacket quiver, the Sabre is the shell to get... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Arc'teryx Rush
Insulation: 100g (body); 80g (sleeves)
Waterproofing: 2L DryVent
What we like: A well-rounded and good-looking 3-in-1 jacket.
What we don’t: Only moderately warm; you pay a premium for the brand.
The North Face isn’t a big-time player in the snowboard jacket market, but they do offer a solid range of 3-in-1 designs (TNF calls them “Triclimate”). Our current favorite is the Clement, which hits a good mix of price, features, and styling for season-long use. There are plenty of exterior pockets for storing items you want close at hand—we especially appreciate the RFID-friendly pass pocket on the sleeve—and the large hood is helmet-compatible and fairly easy to adjust. The zip-in midlayer uses The North Face’s budget-oriented Heatseeker insulation, but there’s enough of it for staying warm in moderate temperatures. Like all 3-in-1s, there are compromises—the jacket is undeniably bulky and we’d prefer an adjustable hem on the midlayer—but the Clement is a thoughtfully put together, quality design nevertheless.
How does the Triclimate stack up to the 686 Smarty above? Both cover the basics thanks to snow- and wind-shedding exteriors with full seam taping and DWR coatings. Plus, their hoods are easy to adjust and fit reasonably well over a helmet. Neither will be confused with performance pieces—they’re prone to feeling swampy on sidecountry hikes—although the two designs feature pit zips for regulating heat. It’s a close call, but the clincher for us is price: the 686 is a little warmer and doesn’t give up much in features or material quality while coming in $30 less.
See the Men's North Face Clement See the Women's North Face Clementine
Waterproofing: 2L DryFlight
What we like: Stretchy construction delivers excellent range of motion and comfort.
What we don’t: Bulky and not very breathable for a non-insulated shell.
Travis Rice hardly needs an introduction—his Art of Flight video is a classic way to get stoked for an upcoming season—and this snowboarding legend has put his name on one of Quiksilver’s signature jackets. What sets the design apart is the “stretch” in the name: this shell includes panels of blended polyester and elastane to maximize range of motion and comfort for hitting jumps and off-trail features. Combined with a smooth and seamless interior that’s also quite stretchy, and the Quiksilver shell offers standout levels of comfort and all-around mobility.
One downside of the stretchy construction is that the jacket is heavier and bulkier than you’d expect for a non-insulated build. As such, it doesn’t have that barely-there feel of a premium hardshell. Another nitpick is that the separate interior lining makes the jacket run a bit warm, although there are pit zips for dumping heat. Finally, it’s not a class leader in build quality as the zippers are a bit stiff and hard to move with one gloved hand. But many will find those to be fair tradeoffs for the improved range of motion, and the Quiksilver is a decent value at around half the cost of the similarly stretchy (but more streamlined) Outdoor Research Hemispheres below.
See the Men's Quiksilver TR Stretch
Insulation: 80g (body); 60g (sleeves)
Waterproofing: 2L Dryride
What we like: A jump in comfort and material quality from our top budget picks.
What we don’t: Protection is more in line with cheaper jackets.
Burton’s AK jacket above covers the bases for serious riders who get out a lot, while their budget-oriented men’s Covert and women’s Jet Set check the right boxes for occasional resort and park use. This jacket features a tough and durable face fabric, a nice array of pockets to keep your essentials secure, and a moderate amount of synthetic insulation (80g in the body and 60g in the sleeves). You also get some nice touches that you don’t often find on cheaper jackets, including Burton’s smooth and moisture-wicking interior, pit zips, and one of the widest size ranges on the market (from XXS to XXXL).
Our main issue with the Burton is price. At $210, it’s $20 to $40 more than its primary competition, and you’re not getting any upgrades in terms of protection. The shell can withstand moderate conditions, but heavy, wet snow will make its way through the cheaper membrane and partially taped seams. It’s true the touch points are an upgrade from an alternative like the Quiksilver Mission above, but the extra cost doesn’t net you a big change in weatherproofing. That said, if you like the styling and boost in comfort—we certainly do—it may be worth the added cost.
See the Men's Burton Covert Insulated
Waterproofing: 2L Gore-Tex
What we like: Burly construction but decent breathability for active resort and sidecountry use.
What we don’t: Pricey for a fairly simple 2-layer Gore-Tex design.
The second Patagonia product to make our list is their mid-range Powder Bowl. Unlike the resort-focused Snowshot above, this model gets upgrades in durability with a hardwearing 150-denier shell (the Snowshot is 75D) and waterproofing with to its Gore-Tex construction. It’s also a better breather: on numerous 15- to 20-minute steep sidecountry hikes at our local hill, the mesh-lined interior, upgraded membrane, and pit zips combined to keep us reasonably cool and comfortable. In terms of fit, the Powder Bowl is on the large and boxy end of the spectrum, but mobility is still quite good, and we were able to layer a wide range of jackets underneath.
Where the Powder Bowl suffers is value. At $399, it’s on the pricey side for 2-layer Gore-Tex—for reference, the $260 Volcom L above uses the same waterproof tech. It’s true the Patagonia has a nicer face fabric (and it’s made with recycled nylon), the liner is softer, and organization is a bit better. That said, it’s a big jump in cost without a major performance upgrade. This pushes the Powder Bowl to a midpack finish—and below the equally solid Snowshot above—but it remains a proven, well-made jacket... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Patagonia Powder Bowl See the Women's Patagonia Powder Bowl
Waterproofing: 3L Gore-Tex Pro
What we like: Gore-Tex Pro and long cut deliver top-end protection.
What we don’t: Very pricey and overkill for many riders.
Packing nearly every imaginable high-end feature into one serious backcountry shell is Norrøna’s Tamok. For touring in areas known for deep conditions like Mount Baker, the jacket has the goods: 3-layer Gore-Tex that’s truly bomber, a tall collar for sealing out biting winds, and a large and easily customizable hood. Perhaps most impressively, the jacket manages to avoid the overly technical look of many Gore-Tex Pro shells, and you even get comfort-related touches like stretchy and soft hand gaiters and generous storage. It also dumps heat with the best of them thanks to large pit zips and mesh-backed chest vents. For ambitious days in the alpine, the Tamok is hard to beat.
Aside from its steep price tag, the Tamok lands towards the bottom of our list due to its somewhat limited versatility. The Pro construction and extended back length hold up well in the worst of conditions, but its thick materials and comfort-related features are more in line with a resort piece (they add weight and bulk). As such, it’s not the kind of shell you want to be stuffing into a pack, but it’s also overkill for most lift-assisted days. This tweener status hurts the Tamok in our rankings, but it’s unquestionably an extremely capable jacket.
See the Men's Norrøna Tamok Gore-Tex Pro
Insulation: Coremax (5/10 rating)
Waterproofing: 2L Dryplay
What we like: Sustainably built with stretchy and soft materials.
What we don’t: Not proven over the long term.
A relative newcomer, Picture Organic have separated themselves with sleek styling, competitive pricing, and a strong focus on sustainability. Their products incorporate recycled materials, PFC-free durable water repellants, and the company recently become a certified B Corp (joining Burton, Patagonia, and others). From their growing collection, we like the Naikoon best, which mixes sustainable efforts like 58-percent recycled polyester with a stretchy exterior and soft lining for day-long comfort.
How does the Naikoon compare with Patagonia’s Snowshot above? Both jackets are solidly weatherproof and have plush interiors that justify their mid-range price tags. Further, there’s a strong emphasis on sustainability with both designs (the Patagonia features recycled materials in the shell and insulation). The Naikoon can’t match the Snowshot’s warmth, but it’s a better breather and includes dedicated storage for a lift pass (something the Patagonia omits). But outside of the pass pocket, the Snowshot strikes us as the cozier and superior option for days at the resort, and far more proven from a long-term durability perspective. The fact that the Patagonia also saves you $21 is enough for us to give it the edge.
See the Men's Picture Organic Naikoon See the Women's Picture Organic Haakon
Waterproofing: 3L Gore-Tex; 2L Gore-Tex Stretch
What we like: Excellent mix of mobility, ventilation, and weather protection.
What we don’t: A few fit and finish letdowns.
Outdoor Research may not be on the radar of many snowboarders, but their products offer a compelling mix of price and performance. At the top of their lineup is the impressive Hemispheres jacket, which is designed for the backcountry and combines premium 3-layer Gore-Tex with stretchy panels (also from Gore) for top-notch comfort and mobility. It’s also a leader in ventilation thanks to its unique TorsoFlo side vents that extend from the underams all the way to the hem. For anything from splitboarding adventures to active use at the resort, the Hemispheres is a great premium choice.
At $599, the Hemispheres is undeniably pricey, and we found a few fit and finish complaints with the build. For one, the hood is on the small side, and we struggled to get it comfortably over our helmet (a size large Smith Quantum). In addition, the hood’s cord lock system is tricky to manipulate and adjust with gloves on. The fit also is a little less foolproof than Arc’teryx’s better-tailored Sabre AR above—it runs narrower in the shoulders and waist than we prefer. These nitpicks push the Hemispheres down our list, but if it fits you well, it’s hard to knock the capabilities and comfort in the backcountry. And for a more affordable touring alternative that excels in milder conditions, check out OR’s Skyward II kit... Read in-depth review
See the Men's OR Hemispheres See the Women's OR Hemispheres
Waterproofing: 3L Gore-Tex
What we like: Super tough and feature-rich hardshell.
What we don’t: Stiff enough to be a letdown for active use.
Popular outdoor retailer Backcountry has jumped into the apparel world with a surprisingly complete line of outwear, insulation, and more. Their Cottonwoods Jacket (it’s also offered in a matching bib) is their hardwearing and premium resort shell. It’s uninsulated but includes a tough and highly weatherproof face fabric, 3-layer Gore-Tex construction, and well-sorted organization. There are a grand total of seven pockets—five along the exterior and two inside—that make is easy to distribute gear and snacks, and Backcountry nailed the basics with easy adjustments at the hood, cuffs, and hem, as well as soft hand gaiters for an extra dose of comfort. It’s even priced well at $400, and we’ve found the Cottonwoods on sale a number of times throughout the season (including at the time of publishing).
We often have long-term concerns about brand-new products, but the Cottonwoods puts those mostly at ease with its combination of very durable materials and a proven Gore-Tex build. The downside of the construction is that the jacket is among the stiffest and least comfortable on our list. Not only is it fairly noisy, but it lacks the supple and mobile feel of alternatives like Arc’teryx’s Sabre AR, Patagonia’s Powder Bowl, and even the Gore-Tex Pro-equipped Norrøna Tamok. For deep days at the resort or if you spend a lot of time in the trees, the bombproof design is a fair tradeoff, but we think many riders will be happier with better mobility and less restriction from their snowboard shell.
See the Men's Backcountry Cottonwoods See the Women's Backcountry Cottonwoods
Insulation: 80g (body); 60g (hood & sleeves)
Waterproofing: 2L in-house construction
What we like: Great price for a surprisingly protective and good-looking jacket.
What we don’t: Overly compromised feature set.
Armada is a ski brand, but many of their freestyle-focused designs work well for single plankers too. The affordable Baxter Insulated Jacket is a great case in point: its long cut provides plenty of coverage while sitting and scoping out a new feature in the terrain park, the baggy fit is plenty roomy for layering underneath, and you even get full seam taping (a rarity at this price point). They’ve also packed it with a versatile amount of insulation (80g Polyfill in the body) that’ll keep the cold off on the lift without overheating on mild, late-season days. Offered in a wide range of colors and designs, the Baxter should be on the short list for park riders.
The main sacrifice with the Armada’s affordable price tag is its minimalist feature set. You give up functional items like pit zips and a powder skirt, plus both the hem and wrists are only elastic, so they can’t be fully cinched down. This makes the jacket a less than ideal choice for powder days and rowdy weather. In addition, organization is almost non-existent with only two zippered hand pockets at the front. All told, we think most resort-goers will be better off with more well-rounded options like the Quiksilver Mission or Burton’s Covert above.
See the Men's Armada Baxter Insulated
|Burton AK Gore-Tex Cyclic||$400||Shell||None||2L Gore-Tex||Fully taped|
|Quiksilver Mission Insulated||$180||Insulated||100g / 80g / 60g||2L DryFlight||Critically taped|
|Volcom Bolt Insulated||$175||Insulated||80g / 60g||2L V-Science||Critically taped|
|Arc’teryx Sabre AR||$675||Shell||None (flannel backer)||3L Gore-Tex||Fully taped|
|686 Smarty 3-in-1 Form||$270||3-in-1||160g Polyfill||2L infiniDRY||Fully taped|
|Patagonia Snowshot Insulated||$329||Insulated||80g / 40g||2L H2No||Fully taped|
|Dakine Sawtooth Gore-Tex 3L||$450||Shell||None||3L Gore-Tex||Fully taped|
|Volcom L Gore-Tex Jacket||$260||Shell||None||2L Gore-Tex||Fully taped|
|Flylow Albert Insulated||$450||Insulated||60g PrimaLoft||2L Intuitive Stretch||Fully taped|
|Roxy Jetty Block||$200||Insulated||120g / 100g / 60g||2L DryFlight||Critically taped|
|Arc’teryx Rush Jacket||$749||Shell||None||3L Gore-Tex Pro||Fully taped|
|The North Face Clement 3-in-1||$300||3-in-1||100g / 80g||2L DryVent||Fully taped|
|Quiksilver TR Stretch||$390||Shell||None||2L DryFlight||Fully taped|
|Burton Covert Insulated||$210||Insulated||80g / 60g||2L Dryride||Critically taped|
|Patagonia Powder Bowl||$399||Shell||None||2L Gore-Tex||Fully taped|
|Norrøna Tamok Gore-Tex Pro||$649||Shell||None||3L Gore-Tex Pro||Fully taped|
|Picture Organic Naikoon||$350||Insulated||Coremax (5/10)||2L Dryplay||Fully taped|
|Outdoor Research Hemispheres||$599||Shell||None||3L Gore-Tex||Fully taped|
|Backcountry Cottonwoods||$400||Shell||None||3L Gore-Tex||Fully taped|
|Armada Baxter Insulated||$170||Insulated||80g / 60g||2L in-house||Fully taped|
- Snowboard Jacket Categories
- Warmth and Insulation
- Waterproofing: Construction, DWR, and Seam Taping
- Waterproof and Breathability Ratings
- Snowboard Jacket Durability
- Fit and Sizing
- Common Features
- Snowboard Jackets vs. Ski Jackets
The snowboard jacket market can be separated into three general categories: non-insulated shells, warmer models filled synthetic or down insulation, and 3-in-1 designs. Starting with shells, these are the most versatile option for season-long use. Their lack of insulation means you can tune your layers underneath based on conditions and where you’ll be riding—go light for mild-weather days or throw on a thick midlayer to stay warm in cold temperatures. Premium shells also are the preferred option for sidecountry and splitboarding uses because they’re more breathable and less apt to overheat. The main downside is cost: since they don’t provide much warmth, you’ll need to purchase a separate insulating layer. Top shells from our list include Burton’s AK Cyclic, Arc’teryx’s Sabre AR, and Volcom’s L Gore-Tex.
As the name implies, jackets in this category have insulation stuffed in between their outer shell and inner lining to keep you warm on the hill. The vast majority of models use synthetic fill thanks to its affordable nature and ability to continue insulating even when wet (unlike goose or duck down). This style of jacket is particularly valuable for those that run cold or live in frigid regions like the Northeast of the United States or in high elevations in the Rocky Mountains. That said, on mild days or for those that like to hike, overheating can be an issue (a shell jacket is best for these circumstances). Some of our favorite insulated snowboard models include Patagonia’s men’s Snowshot and women’s Snowbelle, Flylow Gear’s Albert/Daphne, and Burton’s Covert/Jet Set.
The final category is the 3-in-1 jacket, which includes two pieces: a waterproof hardshell and an insulating layer that can be zipped in or out depending on conditions (or worn on its own around town). 3-in-1s fall consistently on the budget end of the spectrum—most designs cost between $200 and $350—and their strong value proposition (at least on paper) make them a popular choice among beginners and casual resort riders.
In use, however, 3-in-1 jackets come with their fair share of compromises. First off, the extra zippers and buttons required to attach the layers add a fair amount of weight, making 3-in-1s consistently the heaviest and bulkiest options. Second, they’re not efficient insulators and we’ve found them prone to being drafty on foul-weather days. And finally, their zip-out layers are rarely high-quality pieces. Most don’t have an adjustable hem, so they often fit awkwardly when worn on their own (hurting their appeal for everyday use). To be fair, 3-in-1s have their place for those looking to save (including the 686 Smarty Form, which retails for $270), but it’s good to be aware of the pit falls.
Given the stop and start nature of snowboarding—sitting on the lift, strapping in and out of bindings, and hanging out in the park—many resort riders opt for a jacket with some form of insulation. The amount of warmth can vary widely between models, so it’s important to think through how much fill you realistically need. Are you always cold on the mountain? Are winters at your local hill consistently frigid? You’ll likely want a more heavily insulated design. But if you run warm or temperatures are variable (such as in regions of the Pacific Northwest), going with light insulation (or none at all) is best. Either way, we highly recommend not over-insulating, as it’s far easier to add layers underneath than roasting in a too-warm jacket (which can lead to other issues like your snow goggles fogging up).
As we touched on above, the vast majority of designs use synthetic fill, which is measured in grams per square meter (typically shortened to “g”). The quality of the material plays a role in how well they insulate, but you can make generalizations based on the listed fill weight. Jackets with 40- to 60-gram synthetic are on the light end and most riders will still need a midlayer in average winter conditions. The upside is this amount of fill keeps you from overheating on mild days or if you’ll be mixing in a sidecountry hike. Stepping up to 80- to 100-gram (or more) is best for riders that want to ditch their insulated midlayer on all but the coldest days. And a final note here: you’ll often see jackets include more fill around your core than the sleeves, which helps keep your body warm while reducing bulk and improving mobility.
All of the jackets that made our list above are designed to protect you from snow and wind, although their performance will vary. Three important factors come into play: the quality of the waterproof construction, DWR coating, and seam taping along the interior. Starting with waterproofing, for the best in terms of protection and longevity, it’s hard to beat Gore-Tex. In both their mid-range 2-layer and lighter and more breathable 3-layer varieties, we’ve found them to be reliably wind and waterproof even in harsh and wet conditions. To save money, many manufacturers utilize an in-house design, and proven options here include Patagonia’s H2No and Flylow Gear’s Intuitive. That said, stepping down to budget-oriented models in the $150 to $250 price range gets you a noticeable drop in quality. They’ll provide sufficient protection in moderate and dry conditions, but the lower-end builds aren’t as reliable on particularly wet days or long-lasting.
Durable Water Repellant (DWR)
Durable Water Repellant coatings (referred to as DWRs) are added to the face fabric to keep the nylon or polyester material from wetting out. This in turn helps prevent the internal waterproof membrane from being overwhelmed by moisture, which can cause issues with breathability and even leakage. A properly functioning DWR is easy to spot: snow and water will mostly stay on the surface of your jacket and be easy to shake or brush off with your gloves. It’s worth noting that many snowboard jackets priced $200 and under do not include a DWR coating, which is why we often recommend serious riders spend up for a higher-performing piece (particularly those in areas with wet snow like the Pacific Northwest).
Seam taping is just as it sounds: assembling a jacket requires connecting multiple pieces of fabric, which leaves potential vulnerabilities for moisture to seep through. By applying tape to the interior lining, you can provide an effective and mostly watertight seal. Jackets in the mid- and high-end of the market will feature full seam taping, while budget-oriented models like the Volcom Bolt Insulated or Quiksilver’s Mission only protect the “critical” seams. This typically refers to areas subjected to the most moisture, including the shoulders and front zipper. Finally, the quality of the taping can vary—Arc’teryx is a market leader with taping that’s minimalist and keeps bulk down while having a very long lifespan. Cheaper seam taping can peel back or even partially disintegrate over time.
For most lift-assisted snowboarding, breathability isn’t a top consideration. As long as you’re not overdoing it with insulation and sticking to groomers or shorter runs in the trees, most jackets are breathable enough to keep you comfortable. But for active riders, those that like to hike into the sidecountry, or for splitboarding, breathability jumps up the priority list.
Overall, among waterproof designs, the best ventilators are non-insulated and feature premium 3-layer constructions (an outer layer, internal membrane, and liner all bonded together). Designs like Outdoor Research’s Hemispheres, Norrøna’s Tamok, and Arc’teryx’s Sabre AR have 3-layer Gore-Tex builds that do a great job wicking moisture and drawing hot air out of the shell. Finally, if breathability is a top consideration—such as for springtime splitboarding—you may want to consider a non-waterproof softshell, which is more air permeable and does a better job keeping you cool. That said, softshells come with clear compromises in protection from snow, so they’re not as capable for resort or season-long use (they’re a better secondary jacket).
In researching snowboarding jackets, you’ll consistently find two numbers being marketed heavily: a waterproof rating (usually listed in millimeters) and a breathability rating (provided in grams). For waterproofing, many manufacturers use what’s commonly referred to as a static-column test: a piece of the jacket’s shell fabric is set below a 1-inch diameter tube, which is then filled with water until the fabric begins to leak. The height of the water at that point of failure is its rating. The breathability test is more convoluted and less standardized, but it measures how much water vapor travels from the inside to the outside of the fabric over a 24-hour stretch.
What should be immediately clear from both of these tests is that they don’t perfectly simulate winter conditions, and we don’t recommend relying on them heavily in selecting a jacket. In particular, we wouldn’t put much weight on the breathability rating: there isn’t an established procedure to compare products and the test is done in a controlled lab environment (in other words, not out in snow). There is some value in the static-column rating—a higher number will typically lead to better waterproofing—but plenty of other factors come into play, including DWR coating, fabric denier, and seam taping. Rather than focusing on the numbers, we think it’s best to look at it this way: spending up gets you better waterproofing (Gore-Tex is a safe bet), and if you prioritize breathability, opt for a high-end, uninsulated shell.
Snowboard jackets are a durable bunch, relying on substantial face fabrics to fend off harsh weather and withstand rough use around chairlifts, park features, and sharp gear. Unlike rain and hardshell jackets, most manufacturers don’t provide a fabric denier (a measurement of density and thickness), so it can be hard to compare models without seeing them in person. That said, designs fall in basic categories: cheap jackets are often quite tear-resistant and tough, using thick materials to provide weatherproofing. And it’s a similar story for mid-range builds like Volcom’s L Gore-Tex or Burton’s AK Cyclic, which have higher-end materials that are lighter but still durable. Backcountry designs and technical shells sacrifice a little durability for less weight and improved range of motion and breathability, but we’ve found even models like the Outdoor Research Hemispheres or Arc’teryx’s Sabre AR are reliably tough.
Closely tied to durability is weight: a thicker and very tough snowboard jacket will logically weigh more. In addition, weight correlates with the categories we’ve listed above: shells are the thinnest and lightest, while insulated models typically undercut 3-in-1s. For most resort uses, weight is only a mid-level consideration. While it’s nice to reduce bulk (a common complaint of ours with 3-in-1s), many resort riders are perfectly content with a moderately heavy design. In fact, most snowboard manufacturers don’t provide a weight listing as it’s not a popular point of comparison. But if you’ll be hitting the backcountry or even spending a fair amount of time off-trail, a lighter shell will provide a nice boost in mobility and all-around comfort. It’s one of the standout features of Arc’teryx’s Sabre AR, which provides bombproof protection while going largely unnoticed throughout the day.
Snowboard jackets are known for having fairly large and baggy fits—and this holds true for a lot of market—although there are a growing number of designs with trimmer cuts that reduce bulk. Most park rats prefer extra space to maximize range of motion and limit pinch points (and style undeniably plays a role), while riders that seek out sidecountry lines typically like a pared-down shape (often referred to as a “standard” or “regular” fit). When choosing a jacket, it’s important to also think through the thickness of your layers underneath to avoid any binding and comfort-related problems. Finally, consider the back length: while most snowboard jackets provide plenty of coverage for sitting on a lift or in the snow, some park designs are excessively long for active use. And on the other end, dedicated backcountry models may be too short for resort riding.
For high winds and serious snowfall, a snow helmet-compatible hood (meaning it’s large enough to fit over your helmet) is a key element of a jacket’s overall protection. For the most part, the quality of the design goes up with price: cheap models will offer less adjustability to get an even and secure fit. Spending up to a higher-end piece will get you improved coverage with less skin exposed, often a solid bill that helps reduce the amount of snow hitting your goggles, and multiple points of adjustability to hone in fit. Standout hood designs include Burton’s AK models, Arc’teryx’s well-respected StormHood, and the mid-range offerings from Patagonia (on their Snowshot and Powder Bowl) and Volcom’s L Gore-Tex.
Pockets and Organization
Just about all snowboard jackets include pockets, although some designs are more feature-rich than others. For carrying the basics like a phone and wallet, it’s nice to have dedicated storage at chest-height for easy access. Taking this to another level is Burton’s Therma-Pocket, which surrounds the media pocket with insulation to keep the battery from draining in the cold. Handwarmer pockets are also useful for stuffing gloved hands, and for those with an RFID pass, look for exterior storage on the left side arm or sleeve. Finally, if you plan to store your snow goggles, gloves, or gear like splitboard climbing skins along the interior, large, mesh drop-in pockets (like what’s included with Outdoor Research’s Hemispheres) are extremely useful.
Pit Zips (Underarm Vents)
Pit zips are one of those sneaky-valuable features. You may go multiple days without touching them, but then if you decide to hit the sidecountry, the temperature jumps up mid-day, or you’ve overdone it a little with the layering, opening those underarm vents is a welcome relief. Designs vary a little, with the biggest differentiator being whether or not the openings are mesh-lined. We find the added material useful for keeping blowing snow out—a plus if you’ll be riding in inclement weather or in powder—but it does come at a small sacrifice in heat-dumping abilities. No matter your preferences on the lining, we advise putting pit zips on your must-have list (and the good news is that nearly all of our picks above include them).
To improve protection from boarding in deep conditions or in a crash, many riders utilize a powder skirt (also referred to as a waist gaiter). These secure with buttons at the front of the jacket and are positioned above the hem. We consider them a valuable but not essential feature for most conditions—a solid hem cinch and an extended back length will do the trick on the majority of resort days. But they do add a degree of security and reduce the risk of drafts and moisture seeping through. Leaving them unbuttoned can be an annoyance for some people—they hang somewhat loosely and add bulk—so those folks may prefer a model with a zip-out powder skirt that can be left behind on mild-weather days.
Jacket-to-Pant Attachment System
Like the powder skirt, jacket-to-pant attachment systems are all about maximizing protection and warmth. Designs vary from a simple button built into the powder skirt that secures to a loop on the pant (Patagonia) to a zippered system that mimics a one-piece snowsuit in its effectiveness (Volcom’s Zip Tech). The upside with the system is a very effective way to seal out the wet and cold, but they’re not a required feature (although some riders swear by them, especially those that wipe out a lot). It’s worth noting that in nearly all cases you’ll need to purchase a pant from the same brand for the interface system to work.
On some mid-range to high-end snowboard jackets, you may see “RECCO” listed as an included feature. These reflectors are for boarders that make their way out of bounds or into areas where they may experience avalanche dangers. The RECCO reflector built into your snowboard jacket or pant is a passive unit that doesn’t require batteries and can be picked up by RECCO detectors often carried by resort search and rescue. They lack the technology and strong signal of a dedicated avalanche beacon, but they do provide an additional safety measure should you venture off-trail. For more information about the tech, we’ve found the RECCO System website to be a good resource.
In recent years, there’s been a noticeable shift in sustainable practices within the snowboarding jacket market. Led by brands like Patagonia and Picture Organic, we’re seeing greater use of recycled materials, particularly in the shell and lining fabrics. Further, a growing number of manufacturers, including Burton and Flylow Gear, are using DWR coatings that are PFC-free (short for perfluorocarbons, which is a non-biodegradable chemical). And many brands are recognized as certified B Corps and/or utilize the bluesign system for sourcing materials responsibly. One final way to purchase sustainably is to select quality products and repair old gear rather than buy cheap items that don’t last. Patagonia is a leader here as well, with an excellent repair program that’s managed both online and in their brick-and-mortar stores.
Given the similarities between the two sports, it’s not surprising that many ski jackets are perfectly capable for both snowboarding and vice versa. In fact, you’ll see a lot of crossover in products when searching on a manufacturer or retailer site, and brands like Patagonia and Arc’teryx specifically state their jackets are intended for both activities. That said, fit is one area where snowboarding jackets differ slightly. In general, snowboarders prefer a looser cut for less possible restrictions in movement. They also like a longer back length for more coverage and protection when sitting down on snow. And given the popularity with mittens among snowboarders—it’s harder for skiers to grip a pole with mittens, so they mostly stick to gloves—zipper pulls on the jackets are typically larger and easier to grab. For many riders, the differences are small enough to not be deal-breakers, and to see our favorite ski-ready designs, check out our article on the best ski jackets.
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