From resort days to deep backcountry missions, Patagonia’s 2019-2020 ski jacket lineup covers nearly the full gamut of possible designs. At the time of publishing, a grand total of eight different models are offered—not to mention insulated, 3-in-1, and standard shell variations—so there’s a lot to consider. To help you better understand Patagonia’s ski jacket line, we’ve broken down each product to highlight where it excels (or doesn’t), who it’s best for, and how they compare to one another. For more information, see our comparison table and buying advice below the write-ups. And for a wider look at the market, see our article on the best ski jackets.
Best for: Resort
Waterproofing: 2L H2No
Insulated: Yes (80g & 40g synthetic)
What we like: Great mix of comfort and warmth for resort skiers.
What we don’t: Not super breathable and the shell isn’t as burly or protective as the pricier options below.
Patagonia’s leading resort jacket is the Insulated Snowshot (the men’s version) and Insulated Snowbelle (the women’s version), which checks all the right boxes for downhill use. The recycled polyester shell and lining is surprisingly soft given the price, the jacket is quite cozy and warm with 80-gram synthetic in the body and 40g in the sleeves, and the regular fits allow for layering underneath without unnecessary bulk. Plus, it’s easy to batten down the hatches on the lift with a helmet-compatible hood that offers intuitive adjustments, or you can open the pit zips for short sidecountry hikes or on warm days. All told, we think the Insulated Snowshot/Snowbelle offers a great mix of comfort, performance, and price (for Patagonia).
Patagonia doesn’t really do budget—in price or in quality—but the Snowshot and Snowbelle are their cheapest ski jackets at around $300. As such, you get an in-house 2-layer waterproof construction that is a little less weather-worthy than upgraded Gore-Tex designs like the Powder Bowl or PowSlayer below. Further, their 75-denier (D) shell is on the thin end of the spectrum for a resort-focused jacket. But that does help keep bulk to a minimum, and we haven’t had any issues thus far with ours after a full season of use. Finally, it’s worth noting that both the Snowshot and Snowbelle are made in 3-in-1 variations for $399, but we recommend steering clear as we found them to be excessively heavy and uncomfortable... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Patagonia Insulated Snowshot See the Women's Insulated Snowbelle
A More Fully Featured All-Mountain Jacket
Best for: Resort
Waterproofing: 2L Gore-Tex
Insulated: No (available)
What we like: Burly construction holds up well to extended use.
What we don’t: Pricey for a 2-layer Gore-Tex jacket.
Patagonia’s Powder Bowl collection is one of their most popular and represents a step up in price and performance from the Snowshot and Snowbelle above. The biggest changes come in the form of a burlier 150-denier (D) shell—which is noticeably thicker than the 75D Snowshot/Snowbelle—along with the addition of a Gore-Tex membrane. This translates to better durability and all-around protection in bad conditions, which is a plus for hard chargers and those who spend a fair amount of time in the trees. The Powder Bowl also is a superior breather thanks to a mesh lining that keeps you cool better than the smooth taffeta in the entry-level model. Non-insulated and insulated versions of the Powder Bowl are available, and the latter is quite warm with a mix 100g and 60g polyester fill.
Our biggest complaint with the Powder Bowl is its cost. Compared to the Insulated Snowshot and Snowbelle above, you see a significant jump in price of $150 for the men’s and $180 for the women’s, but perhaps without enough to show for it. Both designs are fully resort-ready and share important features like powder skirts, pit zips, and plenty of pockets (although the Powder Bowl’s zippered forearm pocket is a nice touch for storing a ski pass). In the end, the Powder Bowl’s added durability and premium touches may be worth it for serious resort skiers, but if you only get up to the mountains a handful of times each year, it’s harder to justify the added expense.
See the Men's Patagonia Powder Bowl See the Women's Patagonia Powder Bowl
For Those Focused on the Uphill
Best for: Backcountry and resort
Waterproofing: 3L H2No
What we like: Great mobility and comfort for ski touring.
What we don’t: Stretchy construction compromises a little in wet-weather protection.
Transitioning from the resort to backcountry, Patagonia’s SnowDrifter was made with the uphill in mind. This all-new shell replaces last season’s Descensionist and places a premium on comfort, mobility, and weight. Most notably, the jacket features a stretchy face fabric that is less rigid and restrictive than the hardshell options above while skinning or reaching for a hold on a bootpack. Further, the added “give” in the design, combined with a soft moisture-wicking liner and fairly thin, non-insulated construction, translates to excellent breathability. If you want a ski-specific Patagonia shell for high-output ski touring, the SnowDrifter is the one to get.
That said, the SnowDrifter is surprisingly well-balanced considering its backcountry intent. The jacket is waterproof thanks to an in-house 3-layer laminate and full seam taping, and you get niceties like a powder skirt and pit zips at a reasonable weight. It’s true that with the stretchy fabric, you sacrifice a little in high winds and wet snow compared to a Gore-Tex model, but the SnowDrifter still is a versatile all-rounder. And when you factor in the jump in price to the PowSlayer below, its $399 MSRP is a solid value too.
See the Men's Patagonia SnowDrifter See the Women's Patagonia SnowDrifter
The Uncompromising Backcountry Piece
Best for: Backcountry
Waterproofing: 3L Gore-Tex Pro
What we like: Bomber protection at a minimal weight.
What we don’t: Very pricey and not as durable as other options on this list.
Sitting atop Patagonia’s backcountry ski shell lineup is the PowSlayer. This long-time favorite has built a reputation over the years for its sturdy protection in the absolute worst of conditions. The jacket excels for skiing remote, big-mountain lines with a top-end Gore-Tex Pro construction (their most durable and weatherproof design), a long cut for extra coverage in deep snow, and a helmet-compatible hood that secures easily with glove-friendly Cohesive cord locks. Despite its bomber feel, the PowSlayer is nicely tuned for extended backcountry travel with a 1-pound-3.3-ounce weight (it’s Patagonia’s lightest ski shell), good breathability for a waterproof build, and plenty of storage.
If it’s not clear from the $699 price tag, the PowSlayer is a serious ski jacket that may be overkill for most resort and backcountry skiers. The trimmed-down 40D shell is burly for its weight and compresses nicely for storing in a pack, but opting for the much thicker 150D Powder Bowl above will get you superior tear resistance in the trees and on the lift. In addition, the somewhat stiff and crinkly fabrics lack the mobility and overall comfort of the stretchy SnowDrifter above or Untracked below for skinning. That said, these relatively minor nitpicks are quickly cast aside if you find yourself in rough weather and in need of maximum protection.
See the Men's Patagonia PowSlayer See the Women's Patagonia PowSlayer
A Snowshot/Powder Bowl Hybrid With Everyday Appeal
Best for: Resort
Waterproofing: 2L Gore-Tex
What we like: Patagonia’s cheapest Gore-Tex ski jacket.
What we don’t: Generic fit and fairly simple feature set.
Released last year, Patagonia’s non-insulated Departer splits the difference between the Snowshot and Powder Bowl designs above. Like the Snowshot, the jacket is intended for resort use and includes entry-level features like flaps covering the exterior zippers (rather than exposed water-resistant zippers), and the outer shell is a moderately thin 75D recycled polyester. On the other hand, you get the Powder Bowl’s upgraded Gore-Tex construction for a step up in wind and wet-weather protection. For only $50 more than the non-insulated Snowshot (the women’s Snowbelle unfortunately isn’t offered in a non-insulated version), it’s another solid option for resort skiers.
We like the concept of the Departer, and its clean styling does make it a viable jacket for pulling double duty around town, but we don’t think it’s Patagonia’s strongest resort design. For one, the fit is large and pretty generic, and the arms in particular seem to run overly long (this was mostly noticeable for the men's version). Moreover, it’s a little light on storage. The handwarmer pockets are too roomy for securing smaller items, and we’d prefer they add an exterior zippered pocket for a ski pass. Last but not least, it’s non-insulated and isn’t offered in an insulated version. Overall, we think it’s probably best to spend up with the Powder Bowl or down with the Snowshot, but a case can be made for the Departer as a nice compromise between the two.
See the Men's Patagonia Departer See the Women's Patagonia Departer
An Alpine Hardshell with Ski-Friendly Touches
Best for: Backcountry
Waterproofing: 3L Gore-Tex
What we like: A true alpine hardshell.
What we don’t: Missing some ski-specific features like a powder skirt.
Although not a dedicated ski design, Patagonia’s Triolet is a versatile hardshell that includes enough snowsport-friendly features to perform well in the backcountry. Its standard 3-layer Gore-Tex build is a step down from the PowSlayer above in protection, but a substantial face fabric and liner means it’s no slouch and can hold its own in wet and rowdy conditions (not to mention save you $300 in the process). And we like the trim fit, which isn’t as baggy as the PowSlayer when only wearing a merino long-sleeve or light midlayer for uphill travel. Tack on a loop at the back for attaching to compatible Patagonia snow pants, pit zips for dumping heat, and a laminated visor to help keep snow away from your goggles and face, and you have a well-rounded winter piece.
What do you give up in choosing a hardshell like the Triolet over a ski-specific jacket? Most notably, you sacrifice a powder skirt, which is a nice feature for sealing out the cold and wet if you take a big crash or are skiing in deep snow. In addition, it lacks an interior zippered pocket—something all other Patagonia ski jackets include—and the Triolet has a shorter cut that compromises a little in the way of coverage. All told, the Triolet isn’t a top choice for resort days or committed skiers, but its do-everything nature makes it viable for crossing over between ski touring, alpine climbing, and even daily wear.
See the Men's Patagonia Triolet See the Women's Patagonia Triolet
Patagonia’s Warmest Ski Jacket
Best for: Resort
Waterproofing: 2L Gore-Tex with Stretch
Insulated: Yes (135g & 90g)
What we like: Super warm and cozy design.
What we don’t: Expensive and limited versatility.
For those that put comfort and warmth above all else—and are willing to pay a pretty penny for it—there’s the Primo Puff. Packing super-lofty PlumaFill synthetic insulation inside a stretchy Gore-Tex shell, this is Patagonia’s warmest, coziest, and most protective resort design. As expected, you get the full suite of features including tons of storage (six pockets in total), a large and adjustable hood, and a powder skirt that’s removable if you want to wear the jacket around town. The interior is plush and extremely soft, and the flexible construction allows the Primo Puff to move nicely with you. All told, living inside this jacket is a very nice way to spend a day at the resort.
Taking into account the especially warm build and high $799 price tag, the Primo Puff has a fairly limited target market. Resorts skiers that are sick of freezing on the chairlift—and aren’t prone to overheating on the descent—are strong candidates, as are those with deep pockets. But keep in mind that for spring skiing and warm bluebird days in general, you may still want to have a less-insulated option in your quiver. That limited versatility hurts its appeal to us, but for the right person, it’s a superb resort jacket.
See the Men's Patagonia Primo Puff See the Women's Patagonia Primo Puff
For Big-Mountain Skiing and Deep Powder
Best for: Resort
Waterproofing: 3L Gore-Tex with Stretch
Insulated: No (light flannel backer)
What we like: Super protective and great mobility.
What we don’t: As with the Primo Puff, limited versatility and a high price.
The final Patagonia ski shell in their lineup is perhaps their most innovative: the Untracked. Updated for 2019-2020, this big-mountain fortress is now built with Gore-Tex’s latest stretch construction, which mixes their well-respected waterproof membrane with eight-percent spandex for an impressive boost in mobility. Along the interior, you get a brushed flannel backer around the upper body and torso for a touch of insulation and improved next-to-skin feel. The result is the comfort of the SnowDrifter above but with a notable increase in protection in strong wind and heavy snowfall.
Like the PowSlayer, the Untracked is at the premium end of Patagonia’s off-piste collection and comes with a price tag to match. At $649, it’s only topped by the aforementioned $699 PowSlayer, and the Untracked arguably is a less versatile piece. The flannel backer, substantial 70D face fabric, and feature-rich build add a fair amount of warmth and weight, which makes it hard to justify bringing along on the skin track. That said, if you have lift or cat access to serious freeride or backcountry terrain, the aptly named Untracked will be fully in its element.
See the Men's Patagonia Untracked See the Women's Patagonia Untracked
|Patagonia Jacket||Price||Best For||Waterproofing||Insulated||Weight*||Denier|
|Insulated Snowshot||$329||Resort||2L H2No||Yes (80g & 40g)||2 lb. 0.5 oz.||75D|
|Powder Bowl||$399||Resort||2L Gore-Tex||No||2 lb. 1.2 oz.||150D|
|Insulated Powder Bowl||$479||Resort||2L Gore-Tex||Yes (100g & 60g)||2 lb. 6.2 oz.||150D|
|SnowDrifter||$399||Both||3L H2No||No||1 lb. 4.7 oz.||75D|
|PowSlayer||$699||Backcountry||3L Gore-Tex Pro||No||1 lb. 3.3 oz.||40D|
|Departer||$349||Resort||2L Gore-Tex||No||1 lb. 6.8 oz.||75D|
|Triolet||$399||Backcountry||3L Gore-Tex||No||1 lb. 3.4 oz.||75D|
|Primo Puff||$799||Resort||2L Gore-Tex w/Stretch||Yes (135g & 90g)||2 lb. 6.8 oz.||75D|
|Untracked||$649||Resort||3L Gore-Tex w/Stretch||No (flannel backer)||1 lb. 10.2 oz.||70D|
*Editor's Note: All weights listed are for the men's version of the jacket.
- Warmth and Insulation
- Competing Brands and Jackets
- Patagonia's Move Toward Sustainability
- Are These Snowboarding Jackets Too?
- What About Ski Pants?
Three of Patagonia’s ski jackets (the Snowshot/Snowbelle, Powder Bowl, and PrimoPuff) come in insulated versions. In general, the extra warmth is appealing for resort use and especially for those who ski in cold places or run cold. In terms of specifics, the men’s Snowshot ($329) and women’s Snowbelle ($299) are their least insulated designs with 80g synthetic fill in the body and 40g in the arms. Upgrading to the Insulated Powder Bowl ($479) gets you a modest bump in warmth (100g and 60g polyester) along with a thicker and more weatherproof shell. At the top end is the Primo Puff, which is built for frigid temps with a healthy mix of their down-like PlumaFill synthetic (135g and 90g).
On the flip side, a non-insulated jacket provides greater versatility and can work well both at the resort or in the backcountry. The thinner construction doesn’t retain any significant warmth, which allows you to tune your baselayers and midlayers based on the conditions. For mild spring days or the uphill, you can go light and avoid overheating, or you always can layer up as needed in the cold. In the non-insulated category, Patagonia offers a range of designs from the resort-focused Departer and Powder Bowl to premium backcountry pieces like the PowSlayer and SnowDrifter. In the end, both insulated and non-insulated ski jackets have their place.
Like the warmth and insulation section above, a decision on whether or not to prioritize breathability correlates with your skiing or riding style. For days at the resort, and especially if you stay in-bounds, the breathability of your ski jacket is almost a non-factor (at most, you’ll want to open up its pit zips). But for sidecountry hikes and full-on uphill touring, staying cool should be at the front of your mind. That’s where jackets like the SnowDrifter or PowSlayer excel: their upgraded 3-layer constructions do an admirable job fending off moisture, but can also keep you surprisingly comfortable on the skin track. It’s worth noting that all of Patagonia’s ski jackets are fully waterproof and seam-taped, so they can’t compete with a non-waterproof softshell in mild conditions. But on cold backcountry days when you need both solid protection and good ventilation, the SnowDrifter, PowSlayer, and Triolet are great options.
In terms of features, Patagonia ski shells really stand out in the market. Every jacket above is nicely tailored to a specific use and has the storage, protection, and adjustability to match. One shared component across the line is a loop at the back for attaching to a compatible Patagonia pant (and all of their current snow pants have this feature). By connecting the two, you can keep the jacket in place, which keeps it from riding up and ensures full coverage. In addition, all but the Triolet have a powder skirt—another nice feature for keeping you dry and warm. Storage designs vary based on intended use, but we like that they include a drop-in pocket along the interior across the collection for storing items like goggles or gloves. A final shared feature is their high-quality hoods, which are helmet-compatible, easy to adjust, and stay securely in place even in inclement weather.
From getting on and off a lift, to skiing through the trees, to being stuffed into a boot bag or pack full of sharp equipment, ski jackets see a lot of rough use. As such, they’re a pretty durable bunch overall with high-denier constructions (denier or “D” is the measurement of the weight of a thread and correlates with fabric thickness). Resort skiers are best off erring on the side of a tough build, and the Snowshot/Snowbelle and Departer jackets certainly do the trick. That said, their 75D outer fabric is a bit more vulnerable to tears than the burly 150D Powder Bowl, which makes that design the better pairing for skiers that spend their time slicing turns between trees. For touring, it’s worth sacrificing a little in durability for a smaller packed size and less weight. These designs range from the reasonably tough SnowDrifter (75D) to the high-performance PowSlayer (40D) that’s thin enough to require a bit of extra care.
Weight isn’t a top consideration for many skiers, but we think it should be at least on the radar. Even on resort days, a heavy and bulky jacket can have a negative impact on comfort and performance (it’s why we don’t like the 3-in-1 Snowshot and Snowbelle, which tip the scales at over 2.5 pounds each). As we touched on above, backcountry skiers want to keep weight down while balancing weather protection and durability. The PowSlayer is Patagonia’s lightest at 1 pound 3.3 ounces and easy to throw in a pack, followed by the Triolet (1 pound 3.4 ounces), and SnowDrifter (1 pound 4.7 ounces). With resort use, you can add weight for extra durability, but it’s nice to have something that isn’t hefty and cumbersome. And in our experience, even the 1-pound-15.1-ounce Insulated Snowbelle is completely fine.
With dedicated resort and backcountry designs—as well as a few crossover pieces—Patagonia has one of the most complete and venerable ski and snowboard jacket collections available. But there are plenty of rival brands to choose from. At the high-end of the touring and downhill market is Arc’teryx, which has wonderfully tailored jackets that are long-lasting and extremely well-made. You undoubtedly pay a lot for them—their “cheapest” ski jacket is the $625 Sabre AR—but they’re often worth it for committed skiers. Brands that play well in the mid-range include Outdoor Research (their Skyward II goes head-to-head with the SnowDrifter), Helly Hansen, Flylow Gear, and Marmot. The North Face also is a big-time seller, although we’ve found their strongest offerings fall on the budget side of the equation. From top to bottom, few can come close to matching Patagonia’s diverse and well-rounded lineup.
Patagonia has a rich history of sustainable initiatives, and one of their latest efforts focused on their waterproof shells. Over the past few years, they’ve updated or introduced new models that utilize recycled face fabrics, linings, and insulation. And that’s culminated this season, where their entire collection of waterproof jackets (including non-ski-specific models) utilize recycled materials. Further, all are Fair Trade Certified, meaning that Patagonia put extra money into their production to ensure a safe working environment and fair compensation (for more, you can read about their involvement here). What this means is that Patagonia’s jackets cost more on average than most of the market, but they typically are more sustainable and there is greater transparency in how they are made and the potential environmental impact.
Patagonia’s entire jacket lineup covered above has “ski/snowboarding” in the product titles, which is accurate. It’s true that there are snowboarding-specific brands that make jackets, but more than anything, the styling tends to be a bit more snowboarding-centric and the fit sometimes trends toward being “freeride” (a bit baggier). But Patagonia is one of the best jacket makers in the business and all of the models above are used frequently by both skiers and snowboarders and excel for both disciplines.
Ski jackets are a fun topic to research—and often end up as beloved companions on the slopes—but don’t overlook the pants half of the equation. They’re just as relied-upon in keeping you dry and comfortable—and arguably even more so if you spend a lot of time on a lift or sitting in snow. The good news is that ski pant collections often line up closely with ski jackets. Take the Snowshot/Snowbelle: the pant versions of the same name are Patagonia’s entry-level offerings for resort use, are lightly insulated, and have a similar face fabric and waterproof membrane. At the time of publishing, there are pant or bib versions offered for nearly the entire list above, excluding the Departer. It’s certainly not necessary to match your jacket and pant models, but doing so will get you a consistent fit, look, and performance.
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