Whether you’re a resort rider or like to earn your turns outside the ropes, a high-quality jacket is an essential part of every snowboarder’s kit. Over the years, we’ve seen performance gradually catch up with style, and today’s offerings offer a really impressive dose of weather protection alongside cozy comfort and fun freeride vibes. Core snowboard brands like Burton, Volcom, and Jones comprise the majority of the market, but you won’t want to overlook premium designs from Arc’teryx, Patagonia, and Mountain Hardwear (among others). Below we break down the best women’s snowboard jackets of 2023, from high-end Gore-Tex shells to insulated resort pieces and functional 3-in-1 combos. For more background information, see our comparison table and buying advice below the picks.
- Best Overall Women’s Snowboard Jacket: Burton [ak] Embark 2L Gore-Tex
- Best Budget Women’s Snowboard Jacket: Volcom Bolt Insulated
- Best Technical Shell for Snowboarding: Arc’teryx Sentinel
- Best 3-in-1 Snowboard Jacket for Women: 686 Smarty 3-in-1 Spellbound
Best Overall Women’s Snowboard Jacket
Insulation: PrimaLoft Silver (60 g)
Waterproofing: 2L Gore-Tex
What we like: A warm, weatherproof, and stylish resort jacket from snowboarding’s marquee apparel brand.
What we don’t: When left off, the hood (and collar) funnels snow into the jacket.
Burton is practically synonymous with snowboarding, and the [ak] badge represents their high-performance collection of outerwear. The Embark is the most popular women’s jacket in the lineup, deftly balancing weatherproofing, warmth, and style for resort riders. We put the Embark through the wringer during a stormy PNW winter and it stood up to the test: The 2-layer Gore-Tex membrane proved impermeable even on the wettest of days, the insulation offered a nice dose of warmth without too much bulk, and the feature set checked (almost) all the boxes. We particularly loved the lightweight and quick-drying wrist gaskets, fleece-lined collar, goggle-sized internal pocket, and insulated chest pocket, which kept our phone warm and dry throughout days on the slopes.
Our main gripe with the [ak] Embark is its oversized hood and collar. While it’s nice to have a hood that sufficiently swallows our helmet on storm days, the Embark’s design has inherent vulnerabilities when left off: It collects snow and funnels it through the baggy collar, straight into the jacket (unfortunately, there’s no way to snug up the collar). In terms of fit, we found the jacket to run fairly large (given its insulated design, we’d often layer it over just a thin wool baselayer), but were still happy that we sized up for a baggier fit. Gripes aside, the Embark is an easy “yes” for resort riders looking for a stylish yet weatherproof jacket, and our top overall pick of 2023. For a non-insulated version that will be a better match for mild spring conditions, try the [ak] Upshift Gore-Tex 2L; if you’re on the hunt for a more breathable 3-layer Burton design, check out the [ak] Kimmy Gore-Tex Stretch.
See the Burton [ak] Embark 2L Gore-Tex
Best Budget Women’s Snowboard Jacket
Insulation: Synthetic (80/60 g)
Waterproofing: 2L V-Science
What we like: A stylish and warm jacket for just $190.
What we don’t: Not well suited for particularly wet or mild climates.
Not every snowboarder wants to spend upwards of $500 on a jacket, especially if you only get out a few times a year. For those looking to keep prices low, the Volcom Bolt is a good place to start. This $190 jacket has style in spades—we love the button-up collar, classy faux-leather lapel badge, and nice selection of colorways—and it’s also a cozy place to be, with 80-gram insulation in the body and 60-gram fill in the arms. In terms of protection, the 10K waterproof rating is sufficient for dry and cold resort days, such as those common in the Mountain West and Northeast. And finally, the Bolt features Volcom’s Zip Tech system: if you have a pair of Volcom pants, you can connect the jacket for an integrated setup that does a great job sealing out drafts and moisture.
We do hesitate to recommend the Bolt for those based in the Pacific North-wet. Along with the low 10K waterproof rating (more premium jackets are rated up to 30K—for more, see our buying advice below), the jacket is only partially seam-taped and will certainly spring a leak when drenched. It also forgoes pit zips, meaning you’re bound to run warm on mild days or during sidecountry hikes. Finally, the Bolt only has two pockets, which is perhaps its biggest shortfall: No RFID card storage on the arm, no internal dump stash, no insulated chest pocket for your phone. But if you’re a casual rider who only gets out a few times a year, it checks most of the boxes, and looks good to boot. In terms of fit, the Bolt gets Volcom’s slimmest designation, which means many riders will want to size up. For a low-cost alternative from Burton, check out the Jet Set ($220) below.
See the Volcom Bolt Insulated
Best Technical Shell for Snowboarding
Insulation: Light flannel backer
Waterproofing: 3L Gore-Tex
What we like: High-end fit and finishes; premium 3-layer Gore-Tex weatherproofing.
What we don’t: Pricey; might be too warm for spring touring.
Many resort riders will appreciate the added warmth of an insulated jacket, but they’re a no-go for bootpacking into the sidecountry or splitboarding. If you’re earning your turns, a 3-layer shell will give you full control over your layering, along with best-in-class breathability. Arc’teryx’s legendary Sentinel jacket has long been a pinnacle jacket for off-trail exploration: You get a reliable 3-layer Gore-Tex construction with light flannel backer, brilliantly designed hood, and water-resistant zippers throughout. Further, the pockets are an ode to Arc’teryx’s thoughtful design—including an internal dump stash and hipbelt-compatible hand pockets—and pit zips allow you to release heat on the uphill. For one of the most premium freeride touring shells, look no further than the Sentinel.
At $700, the Sentinel is not cheap, but you get what you pay for. Among 3-layer Gore-Tex shells, Arc’teryx’s design and build quality are truly hard to beat. It’s also decently lightweight for what you get (1 lb. 4.4 oz. on our scale in a size small) and is streamlined enough to stuff into your pack during high-intensity climbs. On the other hand, it might be a bit too much jacket for some uphill enthusiasts, namely due to the flannel backer—some riders will prefer a standard (i.e. not ski- or snowboard-specific) hardshell instead, or even opt for a lightweight softshell or wind jacket on the skin track. But for everything from powder riding at the resort to deep-winter touring, the Sentinel offers a near-ideal combination of comfort, weight, and weatherproofing, making it a technical standout... Read in-depth review
See the Arc'teryx Sentinel
Best 3-in-1 Snowboard Jacket for Women
Insulation: Synthetic (100 g)/fleece
Waterproofing: 2L infiDry
What we like: A versatile and affordable design with really fun styling.
What we don’t: Bulky and not particularly breathable.
The 686 Smarty 3-in-1 Spellbound offers the height of versatility for riders just starting to build their kit. With the 3-in-1 design, you get a 2-layer shell with a 20K waterproof rating and fully taped seams, along with a cozy synthetic midlayer with fleece sleeves. On midwinter days, zip the two jackets together for a warm integrated piece; on mild days, wear just the shell (over a baselayer, that is) and save the midlayer for après. And 686 didn’t skimp on style, with fun stitching details at the cuffs and collar, cozy sherpa fleece at the midlayer’s neck and sleeves, and a trendy relaxed fit. For just $300, it all adds up to a true steal of a deal.
In terms of features, the Smarty Spellbound packs in everything the modern resort rider might need. You get a chest pocket with built-in cord routing for your headphones, internal goggle pocket, powder skirt, pit zips, and more. However, 3-in-1s do have their compromises: They’re consistently the heaviest and bulkiest options due to the extra zippers and snaps, and the two-piece system can be drafty compared to a dedicated insulated jacket. Finally, the 2-layer shell is far from a high-performance piece, and lacks sufficient breathability for backcountry use. But for those wanting to maximize versatility and value for lift-assisted or terrain park days, the 686 Smarty is our favorite 3-in-1 design. Within this category, other options include the Roxy Jetty 3-in-1 ($240), The North Face’s ThermoBall Eco Snow Triclimate ($360), and Patagonia’s 3-in-1 Powder Town ($499).
See the 686 Smarty 3-in-1 Spellbound
Best of the Rest
Insulation: PrimaLoft Gold Stretch (60 g)
Waterproofing: 2L Gore-Tex
What we like: A great value for a warm, protective, and stretchy resort jacket.
What we don’t: Not as premium as the other Gore-Tex offerings here.
California-based Volcom has a strong foothold in the snowboard jacket market, with a wide range of options for park, resort, and backcountry use. The 3D Stretch GTX is their premier women’s offering, combining a stretchy face fabric and liner with Gore-Tex waterproofing and a sleek layer of PrimaLoft Gold Stretch insulation for a warm, protective, and highly mobile jacket. Volcom knows what snowboarders need, and the 3D Stretch is case in point, with everything from mesh-lined pit zips and wrist gaiters to a powder skirt and pockets galore. And as with the Bolt above, we’re smitten with the performance of the Zip Tech system, which connects the jacket to Volcom pants for bib-like protection.
At $430, the 3D Stretch is a great deal for proven Gore-Tex (on our list, the next cheapest GTX option is the $479 Patagonia Storm Shift), but keep in mind it’s still not a super high-end jacket. The build quality simply can’t match that of brands like Arc’teryx, Mountain Hardwear, and Patagonia, which will be apparent in smaller details like the cuffs and hood, seams, and overall fit and finish. We also expect durability to lag behind as a result, although we have yet to put more than a season on a Volcom jacket (we’ll report back when we do). Gripes aside, there's a lot to love about the stretchy and comfortable Volcom, and it’s nice to see the California-based company trying their hand at the more premium market.
See the Volcom 3D Stretch GTX
Waterproofing: 3L Primo
What we like: Stylish, durable, and very weather protective.
What we don’t: Pretty heavy for an uninsulated shell.
For those who haven’t been introduced, Trew Gear is an Oregon-based company that excels in the mid-range of the resort and backcountry markets. Their designs are super well made and have clean styling—the look and feel often reminds us of Gore-Tex—and durability and weatherproofing are performance hallmarks. The women’s Stella Primo is their core, uninsulated 3-layer jacket that hits a desirable combination of price ($479), toughness, and coverage. Added up, it excels in the kind of conditions you learn to accept in the Pacific Northwest: wet, rowdy, and—at times—deep.
We think Trew Gear nailed the Stella’s style, with a long cut, angled pockets, and a fun flare at the cuffs. They also managed to check the right boxes with features like pit zips and a nice assortment of interior and exterior pockets. One downside of the build is that it’s pretty heavy for a jacket that lacks insulation (at 1 lb. 9 oz., it's about 5 oz. heavier than the Sentinel above), so we wouldn’t recommend hauling it on any significant splitboard adventures, and mobility is a bit compromised by the thick shell. But for over $200 less than the Sentinel, it’s a well-sorted, long-lasting, and very weather-protective shell for resort riders or those who access backcountry terrain via heli or snow machine.
See the Trew Gear Stella Primo
Insulation: Greenloft (100/80 g)
Waterproofing: 2L Specter
What we like: Stretchy and warm, with quality materials throughout.
What we don’t: Not ideal for mild temperatures; can’t match the protection or quality of Gore-Tex.
Pairing a supple and stretchy shell with some heavy-duty warmth is Flylow’s Avery. This jacket is packed with comfort-related features: Its face fabric has some extra “give” for improved mobility, the baffled interior has a puffy jacket-like feel, and the recycled Greenloft insulation keeps you warm on the coldest of days. You also get cozy wrist gaskets and a removable powder skirt, which go a long way toward keeping snow at bay. And finally, styling is a high point, with fun colorways, contrasting zippers, and a functional yet flattering fit. Not only is the Avery one of our resort jackets of choice for cold days, but it’s such a class act that we’ll also throw it on to walk the dog, shovel the driveway, or wear around town.
The Avery is ideal for resort riding in temperatures around 20 degrees or colder, but it starts to show its weaknesses in warmer conditions or during quick slogs to the sidecountry. The jacket’s Specter membrane falls short of Gore-Tex in terms of both waterproofing and breathability, and the stretchy and relatively thin (40D) face fabric has a tendency to absorb moisture. What’s more, the Avery is far from the most durable jacket here—after just a month and a half of regular wear, ours had already gathered some light piling at the sleeves, wrists, and chest, in addition to a cornucopia of stains throughout. All told, the Flylow can’t match the premium quality of Burton’s [ak] lineup or Arc’teryx’s shells, but for $400, it’s nevertheless a very capable and fun jacket for cold days at the resort.
See the Flylow Avery
Insulation: None (fleece liner)
Waterproofing: 2L Gore-Tex
What we like: Industry-leading sustainability, burly construction, and decent breathability for both resort and sidecountry use.
What we don’t: Pricey for a 2-layer jacket; not styled for snowboarders in particular.
Patagonia’s snow jacket lineup is designed for both skiers and snowboarders, and headlining their resort offerings is the venerable Storm Shift. The Storm Shift features a hardwearing 150-denier shell and Gore-Tex waterproofing, which has kept us bone dry in wet PNW conditions. Breathability is top notch for a 2-layer design, thanks to the premium membrane, wicking fleece liner (reminiscent of Patagonia’s R1 Air material), and pit zips that will keep you reasonably cool and comfortable on uphill jaunts into the sidecountry. Finally, we’ve found the Storm Shift to be surprisingly supple and mobile despite the thick fabric. It all adds up to a high-end jacket for serious resort riders who put a lot of mileage on their gear.
The headlining story with the Storm Shift is its fully PFC-free Gore-Tex design—the first of its kind from Patagonia (most of their products use a PFC-free DWR, but the harmful chemical is still present in most Gore-Tex membranes). At $479, the jacket isn’t the priciest 2-layer Gore-Tex jacket here (that prize goes to the Burton [ak] Embark), but it's $49 more than the Volcom 3D Stretch GTX above. Compared to the Volcom, the Patagonia does include a nicer and more durable face fabric, softer liner, and more thoughtful organization (although we do wish the internal and external chest pockets were on different sides); held up against the Burton, it’s overall a more premium jacket, although it lacks the snowboard-specific style (and it lacks the Embark's insulation). All told, if you value premium build quality and are willing to pay the price, the Storm Shift is one of the most well-made resort shells here.
See the Patagonia Storm Shift
Insulation: ThermocoreECO (80 g)
Waterproofing: 2L Dryride
What we like: A versatile jacket that’s stylish both on and off the slopes.
What we don’t: Heavy and will wet out in heavy snow.
If your Rule No 1. is “look good,” the Burton Prowess might be the jacket for you. Big on style, the Prowess features a long and contoured drop hem, waist cinch, fun cargo-style front pockets, and fleece-lined collar that looks the part both on and off the hill. What’s more, the stretch polyester shell has the same casual vibe and weighted feel as your urban winter jacket, and the thick insulation and taffeta liner is cozy next-to-skin. You’ll want to wear it around town, but the Prowess is also fully ready for the slopes, with pit zips, an in-house Dryride waterproof membrane with fully taped seams, powder skirt, and large assortment of pockets.
There’s a lot to like about the Burton Prowess, including its price: For $275, it’s a very versatile, warm, and weather-resistant jacket that you could potentially wear every day of the winter. But—and this is probably obvious—it’s simply not for serious riders. The polyester shell will wet out after sustained exposure to moisture, and the jacket is a relative behemoth at 2 pounds 2.8 ounces. As a result, we don't love this jacket for wet climates like the Pacific Northwest, and it’s not a feasible option for bootpacking. But if you’re a casual rider in dry areas like Colorado or Utah, the Prowess offers a really fun combination of style and performance.
See the Burton Prowess
Waterproofing: 3L Gore-Tex
What we like: A stylish and premium 3L Gore-Tex shell for big-mountain riders.
What we don’t: Heavy and fit can be tricky.
There’s no shortage of 3-layer Gore-Tex shells, but it’s not every day that the premium tech is combined with a healthy dose of freeride style. Enter the Mountain Hardwear Boundary Ridge GTX, one of the steeziest yet most serious jackets here. With a long and baggy cut, large pockets, and beefy cuffs, the Boundary Ridge looks the part in big-mountain terrain, and it’s prepared for all manner of conditions, too: The burly 75-denier shell is confidence-inspiring in heavy snowfall, and you can batten down the hatches with features like a powder skirt and pant attachments, drawcord hem, high collar, and high-quality hood with three-way adjustment. Added up, the Boundary Ridge is purpose-built for serious days in the backcountry, whether your access is via snow machine, heli, or boot pack.
It’s hard to beat the mix of protection and breathability of 3-layer Gore-Tex, and the Boundary Ridge also features large pit zips for dumping heat in a hurry. And at 1 pound 7.7 ounces, it's not considerably heavier than the Sentinel above—although, like the Arc'teryx, some uphill enthusiasts will still find it to be a bit too much jacket during sweat-inducing climbs (better to get a softshell or more air-permeable design in that case). But for deep-winter pow days, slackcountry riders, or those with motorized access to big terrain, the Mountain Hardwear is a protective and stylish alternative that will save you over $200. It is worth noting that many women have struck out on fit with the Boundary Ridge—we recommend trying the jacket on before buying, or purchasing from a retailer with a convenient return policy. But there’s nevertheless a lot to like about this shell, which will keep you dry both in and out of the ropes.
See the Mountain Hardwear Boundary Ridge GTX
Insulation: Lifaloft (80 g)
Waterproofing: 2L Helly Tech Professional
What we like: Great performance for less than much of the competition.
What we don’t: Among snowboarders, Helly Hansen doesn’t have the brand cachet of names like Burton and Volcom.
Helly Hansen is a big name among skiers, but their Powchaser Lifaloft is a very suitable option for snowboarders, too. This jacket has performance and style in spades: Freeride vibes and fun colorways check the steezy box, and high-quality materials take it to the next level, including Helly Hansen’s premium Helly Tech Professional waterproofing and low-bulk Lifaloft insulation. A healthy set of features rounds out the build: You get pit zips, wide cuffs and wrist gaiters, a detachable powder skirt with pant attachment system, three-way hood adjustment, and pockets galore.
Helly Hansen’s offerings are often priced lower than the competition, and the Powchaser Lifaloft is no exception. Compared to jackets like the Volcom 3D Stretch and Burton [ak] Embark above, the Powchaser saves you $80 to $150 with very little compromise. Of course, Burton and Volcom’s brand cachet will appeal to many snowboarders, and it’s hard to beat the reliability of Gore-Tex waterproofing. But Helly Tech Professional is a very solid alternative (better than most in-house membranes), and we’ve found Helly Hansen’s build quality to be on par with that of the aforementioned offerings. We won’t blame you if your allegiance is to cult snowboard companies, but the Powchaser is certainly worth considering. And for a step up in warmth and waterproofing, check out Helly Hansen’s more premium Powderqueen ($450).
See the Helly Hansen Powchaser Lifaloft
Insulation: PrimaLoft Silver (40 g)
Waterproofing: 2L laminate
What we like: Durable and weatherproof materials; not too warm for sidecountry hikes.
What we don’t: We found the fit to be fairly short and boxy, with short arms.
Built from the ground up by the legendary freerider Jeremy Jones, Jones Snowboards makes some of the best boards in the business. Recently, they expanded their lineup to include outerwear, and the MTN Surf is their versatile jacket for everything from lift-served riding to mid-winter splitboarding. We’ve been impressed with the balanced nature of the MTN Surf, which offers a nice dose of insulation without being overkill (we didn’t overheat on sidecountry hikes or during fast pow laps) and is impressively waterproof for a non-Gore-Tex design. Wrap it into a stretchy and durable 75-denier shell, and the result is a premium quality jacket that’s competitive with offerings from brands like Arc’teryx and Burton [ak].
Our primary gripe with the MTN Surf has to do with fit: Our male testers love their Jones jackets, but apparently the Truckee, Calif.-based brand needs to do some more women’s R&D. We found the women’s jacket to be short and boxy, and the sleeves much too short (not ideal, especially considering the lack of wrist gaskets). What’s more, the collar is verging on too short, and we found that the hood adjustment didn't work particularly well. But the MTN Surf nails the most important factors (waterproofing and durability), and we’re excited to see Jones refine it in the years to come. Note: The same style is also available in an anorak version ($440), and it’s also worth checking out Jones’ women’s Shralpinist Stretch Jacket ($550), although it’s pricey and not as waterproof as the MTN Surf here.
See the Jones MTN Surf Recycled
Waterproofing: 3L YamaPro
What we like: A stylish 3-layer design for just $500.
What we don’t: Issues with durability and waterproofing; lots of features for a backcountry shell.
Based in Japan’s powder capital, Oyuki has a growing lineup of outerwear designed for skiers and snowboarders. Their jackets combine fun freeride styling with real-deal performance, and the Nimi sits at the top of the food chain. Combining Oyuki’s in-house YamaPro waterproof membrane with a lightweight and supple face fabric (noticeably thinner than most shells here), the Nimi is a comfortable and breathable option for mild climates and those who split their time on- and off-trail. Along with the stretchy fit and great freedom of movement, we particularly loved the jacket’s stylish fit and nice finishes, including a high collar, artsy seam taping, well-designed cuffs, and large hood.
But we do hesitate to rank the Nimi among the ranks of jackets like the Sentinel, Stella, and Boundary Ridge above. For one, its durability has been disappointing: After one season, the laminated logos are peeling off, the fabric zipper pulls have unraveled, and raw edges of frayed material are showing around the seam tape. What’s more, the face fabric routinely wets out, and the YamaPro membrane is prone to being overwhelmed by moisture, too. Finally, the Nimi seems to have a bit of identity confusion—on one hand, it’s a lightweight option for weight-conscious backcountry missions; on the other, it’s overly featured (with a few too many pockets), yet the pit zips are on the small side. We gotta hand it to Oyuki for making a very comfortable, stylish jacket, but it needs some refinement to be competitive with the other 3-layer options here.
See the Oyuki Nimi YamaPro
Insulation: Thermal STD (40/60 g)
Waterproofing: 2L Dryplay
What we like: A fun and functional fairweather snowboarding jacket for just $300.
What we don’t: Unreliable waterproofing.
A relative newcomer to the world of snowboard jackets, Picture Organic has set themselves apart from the competition with sleek styling, competitive pricing, and a strong focus on sustainability. Their products incorporate recycled materials and PFC-free DWR treatments, and the company also recently became a certified B Corp (joining Burton, Patagonia, and others). The Seen is their insulated 2-layer resort jacket, built to keep you warm on the lift without overheating during rowdy resort laps. You get a 20K/20K waterproof breathable membrane, insulation throughout the body and sleeves, pit zips, and a soft tricot lining for day-long comfort. And true to form, 58% of the Seen’s shell is made with polyester sourced from repurposed sugar cane waste (the other 42% is recycled polyester).
Like the Flylow Avery above, the Seen is a great choice for cold days at the resort, but woefully unprepared for wet conditions. No match for Gore-Tex, Picture Organic’s Dryplay membrane was quickly overwhelmed by moisture during our testing (one day even prompting a full change of layers at lunch) and unfortunately did not live up to its 20K specification. But if you don’t need to prioritize waterproofing (say, if you’re a fairweather snowboarder, live in the Rockies, or don’t mind the excuse to head to the lodge to dry out), the Seen is a really fun jacket: We loved the wide assortment of features—particularly the neoprene wrist gaskets, removable goggle wipe inside the chest pocket, and snug-fitting powder skirt—and the styling and colorways are unique and eye-catching. And for just $300, it’s one of the more affordable options on our list.
See the Picture Organic Seen
Waterproofing: 3L Gore-Tex; 2L Gore-Tex w/ Stretch
What we like: Excellent mix of mobility, ventilation, and weather protection.
What we don’t: Expensive and purpose-built for the backcountry.
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 II—one of our tester’s go-to jackets for backcountry use. The Hemispheres combines premium 3-layer Gore-Tex with stretchy panels (also from Gore) for top-notch comfort and mobility, and it’s a leader in ventilation, too, thanks to its unique TorsoFlo side vents that extend from the underarms all the way to the hem. You also get a full suite of high-quality features, including Aquaguard zippers and an internal mesh drop pocket for storing skins. For anything from splitboarding adventures to active use at the resort, the Hemispheres is a great premium choice.
At $629, the Hemispheres is undeniably pricey, and you’ll want to be spending a good amount of time in the backcountry to justify the investment. But as one of the lightest and most packable jackets here (2 oz. lighter and more compressible than our top-ranked Sentinel), it's a great choice for speedy tours or long traverses, and the breathability and ventilation is a cut above most 3-layer Gore-Tex shells. Frontcountry riders should also consider OR’s own Kulshan Storm (previously known as the Mt. Baker Storm), which tacks on resort-specific features like a pass pocket and burly 150-denier nylon at the hood, shoulders, and forearms to keep you protected on particularly stormy days. But for backcountry exploration, it’s hard to knock the capabilities and comfort of the Hemispheres II, making it a viable alternative to jackets like the Arc’teryx Sentinel and Trew Gear Stella Primo above—especially for those who like to earn their turns.
See the Outdoor Research Hemispheres II
Insulation: ThermoBall Eco (100/80 g)
Waterproofing: 2L DryVent
What we like: A well-rounded and good-looking 3-in-1 jacket.
What we don’t: More expensive and not as stylish as the 686 Smarty above.
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 ThermoBall Eco Snow, 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. And in terms of the zip-in midlayer, you get The North Face’s high-end ThermoBall Eco insulation and classy blocked baffles. Like all 3-in-1s, there are compromises—the jacket is undeniably bulky and doesn’t necessarily scream “snowboarder”—but it’s a thoughtfully put together, quality design nevertheless.
How does the ThermoBall Eco Snow Triclimate stack up to the 686 Smarty Spellbound 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. But the 686 wins out in price (it’s $60 less), and its casual, laid-back style will be much more appealing to most snowboarders.
See the The North Face ThermoBall Eco Snow Triclimate
Insulation: ThermacoreECO (80 g)
Waterproofing: 2L Dryride
What we like: Burton brand cachet in an affordable and insulated jacket.
What we don’t: Middling weather protection and durability.
Burton’s [ak] Embark above covers the bases for serious riders who get out a lot, while their budget-oriented Jet Set checks 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 healthy amount of synthetic insulation. 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).
The Jet Set nails the traditional street-style look that many snowboarders are going for—with the brand cachet of Burton to boot—but it doesn't offer the same performance and durability of the more premium jackets here. Heavy, wet snow will make its way through the cheaper membrane and partially taped seams, and the insulation will pack out over time. It’s true the touch points are an upgrade from an alternative like the Volcom Bolt above ($190), but the extra $30 doesn’t net you a big change in weatherproofing. However, if you like the styling and boost in comfort—we certainly do—it may be worth the added cost.
See the Burton Jet Set
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 outerwear, insulation, and more. The Cottonwoods Jacket (they also offer 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 total of five exterior pockets that make it easy to distribute gear and snacks, and Backcountry nailed the basics with easy adjustments at the hood, cuffs, and hem. The Cottonwoods is even priced well at $399, and we’ve found it on sale a number of times throughout the season (including at the time of publishing).
The Cottonwoods is one of the most burly jackets we’ve tested—its 1-pound-14-ounce weight gives a little window into its robust nature—and is set to withstand season after season of serious use. But the flipside of the durable construction is that the jacket is among the stiffest and least comfortable on our list. Not only is it fairly noisy, but the Cottonwoods lacks the supple and mobile feel of alternatives like Arc’teryx’s Sentinel and Patagonia’s Storm Shift (the most recent version also forgoes wrist gaskets and internal dump pockets, which in our opinion isn’t an improvement over the outgoing design). 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 freedom of movement from their snowboard shell.
See the Backcountry Cottonwoods
|Burton [ak] Embark 2L Gore-Tex||$500||Insulated||60g PrimaLoft Silver||2L Gore-Tex||Fully taped|
|Volcom Bolt Insulated||$190||Insulated||80 / 60g||2L V-Science||Critically taped|
|Arc’teryx Sentinel||$700||Shell||None (flannel backer)||3L Gore-Tex||Fully taped|
|686 Smarty 3-in-1 Spellbound||$300||3-in-1||100g/ fleece||2L infiniDRY||Fully taped|
|Volcom 3D Stretch GTX||$430||Insulated||60g PrimaLoft Gold||2L Gore-Tex||Fully taped|
|Trew Gear Stella Primo||$479||Shell||None||3L Primo||Fully taped|
|Flylow Avery||$400||Insulated||100/80g Greenloft||2L Specter||Fully taped|
|Patagonia Storm Shift||$479||Shell||None (fleece liner)||2L Gore-Tex||Fully taped|
|Burton Prowess||$275||Insulated||80g ThermocoreECO||2L Dryride||Fully taped|
|Mtn Hardwear Boundary Ridge GTX||$475||Shell||None||3L Gore-Tex||Fully taped|
|Helly Hansen Powchaser Lifaloft||$350||Insulated||80g Lifaloft||2L Helly Tech||Fully taped|
|Jones MTN Surf Recycled||$500||Insulated||40g PrimaLoft Silver||2L laminate||Fully taped|
|Oyuki Nimi YamaPro||$500||Shell||None||3L YamaPro||Fully taped|
|Picture Organic Seen||$300||Insulated||40/60g Thermal STD||2L Dryplay||Fully taped|
|Outdoor Research Hemispheres II||$629||Shell||None||3L Gore-Tex||Fully taped|
|TNF ThermoBall Eco Snow Triclimate||$360||3-in-1||100/80g ThermoBall||2L DryVent||Fully taped|
|Burton Jet Set||$220||Insulated||80g ThermacoreECO||3L Dryride||Critically taped|
|Backcountry Cottonwoods||$399||Shell||None||3L Gore-Tex||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 with 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 the Arc’teryx Sentinel, Trew Gear Stella, Mountain Hardwear Boundary Ridge GTX, and Outdoor Research Hemispheres II.
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 who 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 who like to hike, overheating can be an issue (a shell jacket is best for these circumstances). Some of our favorite insulated snowboard models include Burton's [ak] Embark 2L Gore-Tex, Flylow Gear’s Avery, and the Patagonia Storm Shift.
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). These jackets fall consistently on the budget end of the spectrum—most designs cost between $200 and $400—and their strong value proposition (at least on paper) makes 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 3-in-1 Spellbound, which retails for $300), but it’s good to be aware of the pitfalls.
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 preferable to add layers underneath instead of 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 who 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—the most premium brand name in waterproof membranes. In both their mid-range 2-layer and lighter and more breathable 3-layer varieties, we’ve found Gore-Tex 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 Helly Hansen’s Helly Tech Professional and Trew Gear’s Primo. Stepping down to budget-oriented models in the $200 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 throughout seasons of use.
Durable Water Repellent (DWR)
Durable water repellent 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 mittens. 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 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 who 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 waterproof membrane, and liner all bonded together). Designs like Arc’teryx’s Sentinel and Trew Gear's Stella Primo 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 3D Stretch GTX, which have higher-end materials that are lighter but still durable. Backcountry designs and technical shells sacrifice a little durability in exchange for less weight and improved range of motion and breathability, but we’ve found even lightweight models like the Outdoor Research Hemispheres II or Arc’teryx’s Sentinel 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 Sentinel, which provides bombproof protection while going largely unnoticed throughout the day.
Snowboard jackets are known for having fairly large and baggy fits, which is a function of both style and performance. In fact, regardless of their snowboarding style (resort or backcountry), all of our female testers prefer to size up a full size. Not only does this earn you street cred, but it also maximizes range of motion and limits pinch points. It’s also important to think through the thickness of your layers underneath (including midlayers like a fleece, synthetic, or down jacket) 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 (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 Patagonia Storm Shift and Volcom 3D Stretch Gore-Tex.
Cuffs and Wrist Gaskets
Almost every snowboard jacket features adjustable cuffs with hook-and-loop (i.e. Velcro) closure, and most resort models tack on wrist gaskets to keep snow from creeping up the sleeves. Unless you're wearing snowboard gloves or mittens with a large gasket, most snowboarders prefer to place the jacket's cuff over their handwear, and the velcro adjustment allows you to snug the opening to minimize snow entry. If weight is not a factor (as it might be in a true backcountry jacket), we love wide Velcro tabs for easy adjustment when wearing bulky gloves or mittens.
Wrist gaskets are standard fare on most resort-oriented snowboard jackets and are a great extra line of defense against snow entering at the cuff. They're generally built with stretchy, snug-fitting material and feature a thumb loop for coverage past the wrist. We've found that some thicker, neoprene-esque designs have a tendency to absorb water, which isn't great news—with minimal airflow, they don't dry out quickly and can grow heavy and cold throughout a day out (this was our experience with the Flylow Avery's wrist gaskets). On the other hand, we loved the more mesh-like construction on the Burton [ak] Embark, which effectively kept snow out without absorbing too much moisture. Another benefit of thin designs is that they are much more comfortable under a glove or mitten.
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 if you use 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 mittens, or gear like splitboard climbing skins along the interior, large, mesh drop-in pockets (like what’s included with Outdoor Research's Hemispheres II) 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 midday, 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 it's 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 who wipe out a lot). It’s worth noting that in nearly all cases you’ll need to purchase a snowboard 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 who 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.
The outdoor apparel world has seen a sizable uptick in the use of sustainable practices in recent years, and snowboard jackets are no exception. Two key measures include recycled materials and PFC-free DWR coatings (traditional coatings use perfluorocarbons—chemicals known to be harmful to the environment). Fabrics that are bluesign-approved are also becoming more common. These materials have been sourced and produced to minimize their overall impact on the environment. Finally, many companies tack on a Fair Trade certification, which helps ensure the fair and ethical treatment of workers.
The good news is that most sustainability-conscious brands are transparent about these practices and clearly indicate which (if any) measures each product uses. Patagonia is a clear leader in this realm: Their Storm Shift jacket, for example, is Fair Trade Certified and uses 100% recycled and PFC-free Gore-Tex, as well as a partially recycled lining and PFC-free DWR finish. Several other brands have followed suit, including Burton, Picture Organic, Jones, and more. There’s still a long way to go in the industry, but the current trajectory and momentum from many of the key players are encouraging. And of course, a final way to shop sustainably is to purchase quality products that will last and repair old gear rather than buy cheap items that will need to be replaced in a season or two.
Given the similarities between the two sports, it’s not surprising that many ski jackets are also perfectly capable for 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 of 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. To see our favorite ski-ready designs, check out our article on the best women’s ski jackets.
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