Patagonia Insulated Snowbelle Jacket
Waterproofing: 2-layer H2No Performance
Weight: 1 lb. 15.1 oz. (women's)
What we like: Everything we look for in a resort jacket at a reasonable price.
What we don't: Too warm and heavy for backcountry use.
See the Women's Patagonia Snowbelle See the Men's Patagonia Snowshot
Patagonia’s ski jacket lineup undoubtedly is impressive, from the fully featured PowSlayer hardshell to more basic resort options. We tested the women’s Insulated Snowbelle Jacket throughout this past winter, where it faced multiple sub-zero days at British Columbia’s Whistler Blackcomb resort. While the jacket’s weight and lack of breathability put it squarely in the resort category, it’s a very capable option for inbounds skiing. Below we break down the Patagonia Snowbelle’s weather protection, warmth, breathability, comfort, build quality and durability, fit and sizing, and more. To see how the Snowbelle stacks up, see our article on the best ski jackets.
Combining a 2-layer H2No Performance shell with a standard DWR (durable water repellent) finish, the Patagonia Insulated Snowbelle is highly effective in sealing out water. I put the jacket through some serious conditions, including a cold snap in Whistler (around -5 degrees Fahrenheit before wind chill) and quick rips up our local North Shore hill in typical freezing sleet and rain. During a particularly brutal day with persistent sleet, the Snowbelle deftly kept out all moisture while no leaks or dampness made their way through the outer shell. For added protection, the large hood fits over my Smith ski helmets, the hand pockets feature substantial rain “hoods,” the powder skirt easily attaches to my Patagonia Powder Bowl snow pants, and the high collar covers most of my face when I’m slouching on a chairlift. I do wish the brim of the hood extended a bit farther to prevent rain from dripping into my face—I luckily had a brimmed helmet—but this is a relatively small complaint.
Just as it performed well in rain and sleet, the Snowbelle withstands brutal winds extremely well. The peak of Whistler Blackcomb is notorious for its strong gusts, so much so that the chairlifts that service the resort’s alpine terrain often are closed. On a day when they were running, I hunkered into the jacket as we ascended and the exposure increased. Though my nose and cheeks grew cold quickly, no wind crept through the jacket. The microfleece-lined collar was particularly helpful, although I wish it were an inch or two higher and rigid enough to stay up when the hood is down (like Arc’teryx’s DropHood on the Beta AR Jacket and other premium hardshells).
As Patagonia’s entry-level insulated ski jacket, the Snowbelle provides a good dose of warmth in moderate winter conditions. Like many other insulated designs, the Snowbelle uses more insulation in the body (80g of synthetic Thermogreen) than it does in the sleeves (40g). And during our testing, it was subjected to everything from arctic temperatures during a “Polar Vortex” to pelting snow and even bluebird days. It’s important to provide context here as insulated ski jackets are meant to provide a nice boost in warmth compared to their uninsulated counterparts, but they do have their limitations on frigid days. Sure enough, when temperatures dipped into the teens Fahrenheit, I had to begin adding layers underneath.
After a couple days of trial and error, I was able to nail the layering. In sum, the Snowbelle performs well in near-freezing temperatures at the resort (paired with just a light baselayer) but requires added layers when the mercury drops below that. For example, on one 10-degree day, I layered the jacket with a Patagonia Capilene Air baselayer and Nano-Air Light Hybrid Hoody and quickly grew cold on the chairlift. After a break in the warming hut and some sunshine, we began skiing more technical terrain that required additional exertion and I thawed out quickly. A few days later, the weather warmed up enough for me to unzip the main zipper while skiing (although I didn’t have to use the pit zips). All things considered, I recommend sizing appropriately so that you can adequately layer underneath depending on the conditions.
The Patagonia Snowbelle is designed with resort skiing in mind, and therefore breathability isn’t nearly as big of a concern as a more backcountry-focused jacket. Having said that, Patagonia’s in-house H2No waterproof membrane isn’t very breathable, but the Snowbelle does come with pit zips to dump heat quickly. Admittedly, I didn’t have the chance to test these pit zips as much as I would have liked—most of our ski days were too frigid—but I expect they’re just as well-executed as the rest of the jacket. Based on its design, I wouldn’t bring the Snowbelle into the backcountry or on any adventure where extensive hiking is required, but the jacket’s pit zips should offer enough breathability for most resort days. If you plan to explore the sidecountry or simply run warm, an uninsulated hardshell jacket is a much safer bet, and you can always layer more underneath if you get cold.
If I had to choose what I love most about the Patagonia Insulated Snowbelle, it would be its next-to-skin comfort. First and foremost, the polyester taffeta lining is extremely smooth and supple and slides easily over any layer I chose. On warm days, I paired the jacket with only a merino t-shirt and remained completely comfortable. Further, the cozy fleece-lined collar and additional fleece panel along the back of the neck are nice touches for areas that experience a lot of rubbing. The same fleece also lines the hand pockets, which feels great on cold, dry hands. All in all, Patagonia build quality and materials win out here, and the Snowbelle is an extraordinarily cozy jacket.
The Patagonia Insulated Snowbelle has withstood everything I have thrown at it and is no worse for the wear. The jacket’s outer shell is a robust 75-denier polyester, and the rest of the design from the smooth zippers to the well-constructed hood haven’t given me any issues. However, it’s important to point out that resort jackets like the Snowbelle aren’t held up to the same standard as my backcountry gear. That said, other resort-focused jackets I’ve tested have easily stained from rusty chairlifts, but the Snowbelle still looks like new.
At 1 pound 15.1 ounces, the Snowbelle clearly is a resort-focused jacket. Here, weight matters much less than it does in the backcountry, where ounces add up quickly as you haul gear up thousands of vertical feet. Compared to other insulated resort shells, the Snowbell is fairly average. Similar designs like the Arc’teryx Andessa (1 pound 15.6 ounces) and Patagonia’s own Primo Down (1 pound 12.3 ounces) clock in at similar weights, while 3-in-1 jackets, like The North Face ThermoBall Snow Triclimate (2 pounds 5.9 ounces) come in heavier. If weight is a concern, uninsulated hardshells like Patagonia’s higher-end Descensionist (1 pound 3.1 ounces) or the Outdoor Research Hemispheres (1 pound 1.8 ounces) are better options. But all told, I was never overly concerned with the Snowbelle’s packability or weight at the resort, and even found that it stuffs nicely into its hood (a little larger than a football).
Overall, I was very happy with the Snowbelle’s protective and full-coverage hood. To adjust, you simply pull the two drawcords at the base of the neck and one at the back of the head—it’s easy to snug both over a ski helmet. The hood also has a low-profile, laminated visor that holds its shape well. But although it seems substantial at around 2.5 inches, but doesn’t extend beyond the brim of my Smith Valence or Vantage ski helmets. While I appreciate that this doesn’t obstruct visibility, I wish that the visor extended just a bit more to better protect against falling snow and rain.
With a total of five pockets, the Patagonia Snowbelle has plenty of places to stow the essentials. The two fleece-lined handwarmer pockets are generously sized, and their zippers are angled diagonally to prevent items from falling out, even when unzipped. These pockets also contain pull cords to adjust the hem. The remaining outer pocket, a left chest pocket, contains cable routing for plugging into a phone and listening to music. On the inside, the Snowbelle features one internal zippered stash pocket with mesh lining (I usually stow my wallet here) and a drop-in pocket for goggles and gloves. I’ve even easily carried snacks and an extra merino long-sleeve baselayer in this large latter pocket. I do wish the Snowbelle had an additional arm pocket for storing a ski pass, but I was able to find room elsewhere.
I usually wear an extra small in Patagonia gear, but I opted for a small in the Snowbelle so that I had some wiggle room for layering underneath. Overall, I found the “regular” fit was great: the jacket never felt too roomy or loose, no matter which midlayers or baselayers I chose. On particularly cold days, I paired the Snowbelle with either a down jacket (my Feathered Friends Eos) or synthetic layer (my Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody or Nano-Air Light Hybrid Jacket), and each time I was comfortable and able to move freely. With only a thin baselayer underneath, the Snowbelle did feel loose but it was never overly bulky. Additionally, the sleeves are an ideal length and articulated for mobility, the Velcro wrist cuffs can be cinched down snugly to fit underneath my gloves (or loosened over gloves), and the hem length is great for my height (5’8”)—it covers my butt while standing but not while sitting.
Other Versions of the Patagonia Snowbelle
The Snowbelle lineup from Patagonia runs the gamut from the insulated jacket reviewed here, to snow pants, to a 3-in-1 resort option. To round out your kit, the Insulated Snowbelle Pants and Snowbelle Stretch Pants (both $199) are great options for the resort, with the same 2-layer H2No Performance fabric as the jacket and ample mobility for skiing inbounds terrain. If you prefer a 3-in-1 design, the 3-in-1 Snowbelle Jacket ($399) is a nice alternative to the insulated model: it uses the same H2No Performance construction and includes similar design features but adds in a 2.2-ounce zip-out polyester jacket. We prefer layering to buying a 3-in-1, but it truly comes down to personal preference and what you already have in your closet.
Men’s-Specific Patagonia Snowshot
The Snowbelle tested here is a women’s jacket, and Patagonia makes a men’s-specific version called the Snowshot that also retails for $299. Compared to the Snowbelle, the Insulated Snowshot has the same amount of insulation (80g of Thermogreen), retains an identical feature set, and also uses a 75-denier, 2-layer H2No Performance build. However, the men’s Snowshot comes in slightly heavier at 2 pounds 0.5 ounces and is available in different colorways. The Snowshot lineup also is similar to the women’s, with both 3-in-1 and pant options available.
What We Like
- Great mix of weather protection, warmth, comfort and durability, all for a reasonable $299.
- With five nicely sized pockets, there is ample storage for all the resort essentials.
- Super versatile fit: the jacket was roomy enough for multiple layers underneath without restricting movement, but it never felt too bulky on its own.
- Patagonia again places a big emphasis on being environmentally conscious: the Snowbelle’s outer shell is made from 70-percent-recycled polyester, while the insulation is 90-percent recycled.
What We Don’t
- The Snowbelle is lacking in breathability and weighs almost 2 pounds. In other words, it’s a resort-focused jacket that isn’t made for serious backcountry exploration.
- I wish the jacket had an additional arm pocket for storing a ski pass.
- Hood visor doesn’t extend past my ski helmet.
|Patagonia Insulated Snowbelle||$299||Hardshell||Resort||2-layer H2No Performance||1 lb. 15.1 oz.|
|The North Face Descendit||$270||Hardshell||Resort||2-layer DryVent||1 lb. 11 oz.|
|Patagonia Insulated Powder Bowl||$479||Hardshell||Resort||2-layer Gore-Tex||2 lb. 0.5 oz.|
|Arc'teryx Andessa||$899||Hardshell||Resort||3-layer Gore-Tex||1 lb. 15.6 oz.|
|Patagonia Primo Down||$699||Hardshell||Resort||2-layer Gore-Tex||1 lb. 12.3 oz.|
From uninsulated hardshells to 3-in-1 options, there’s no shortage of resort-ready jackets. Another insulated shell in the same price range is The North Face’s Descendit. On paper, the Descendit is very similar to the Snowbelle: it comes in at a reasonable $270, features a 2-layer build (in this case, DryVent), and is similarly durable with a 75-denier polyester shell. However, the Descendit undercuts the Snowbelle in weight at 1 pound 11 ounces and runs a bit warmer with 100g of synthetic insulation compared to the Snowbelle’s 80g. The Descendit also includes an additional wrist pocket with a goggle wipe—a small but very handy feature for any resort-goer. It’s a close call, but we think the Descendit’s slightly lower weight and price tag give it the edge over the Snowbelle.
Within Patagonia’s lineup, the Insulated Powder Bowl Jacket features a more premium 2-layer Gore-Tex construction and a similar mix of 100g and 60g of synthetic Thermogreen insulation (the Snowbelle uses 80g in the body and 40g in the sleeves). Compared to H2No, Gore-Tex is more breathable and the ultimate in weather protection, although the Powder Bowl comes in slightly heavier than the Snowbelle at 2 pounds 0.5 ounces. Otherwise, the two jackets have similar features: pit zips for dumping heat, ample organization, helmet-compatible hoods, and protective powder skirts. The Powder Bowl is a step up in warmth and quality, but at $479, it’s a major step up in price too.
Last but not least, Arc’teryx’s Andessa (and men’s Macai) is the ultimate insulated resort hardshell. We’ll start with the obvious: at $899, the Andessa is not for infrequent resort skiers or those on a budget. What do you get for the price? The Andessa is warm with a mix of 750-fill goose down and synthetic Coreloft insulation in moisture-prone areas, extremely comfortable, and impressively weatherproof with a 3-layer Gore-Tex build. If you spend a lot of time on the slopes and want a jacket that will last for years to come, the Andessa is a good match. But for a whopping $600 cheaper, the Patagonia Snowbelle is plenty of jacket for most casual skiers.
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