The Best Ski Jackets for Women: Staff Picks

Hit the slopes in style with our favorite ski and snowboard jackets of the season.

Heather Balogh Rochfort|Updated December 18, 2023

11 reviews with an average rating of 3.6 out of 5 stars
A woman ski tours in the REI Co-op Powderbound jacket and pants.

Whether you're riding a chairlift or earning those turns, a quality jacket is essential to every ski kit. Busted zippers and leaky seams can ruin the most splendid of powder days, leaving you cold and soggy. After all, there is no bad weather—as long as you dress for it. And with that in mind, it's important to choose a jacket that's tailored to your needs. If you're a backcountry skier or boarder, you'll want a breathable, lightweight shell since you'll be moving a lot. If you prefer to hit a resort, you may opt for an insulated jacket to keep you toasty warm on those chilly chairlift rides.

A note: Both men's and women's ski jackets typically have the same performance technology and features. But some women-specific gear may be designed to be wider in the chest or longer in length, for example, to accommodate bodies with those proportions. No matter your gender identity, we think you should wear what fits you and your style. You may opt for a men's ski jacket if you want different colorway or, say, a roomier fit.

We're positive that we have a ski jacket on this list for you and your budget. To help in your decision, we asked our staffers and members for their recommendations for resorts, the backcountry and beyond. Find your next ski jacket among our seven favorites available at the co-op, below.

Staff Picks

For quick recommendations, check out the results of our round-robin here, or scroll down for in-depth reviews.

One jacket to rule them all. That's the idea behind the Arc'teryx Sentinel ski jacket, our favorite thanks to its all-around versatility, durability and timeless design. Instead of using proprietary fabrics, Arc'teryx opted to partner with GORE-TEX for its three-layer, tightly woven nylon shell. End result: decent breathability and stellar weather protection. "This is my go-to shell for backcountry days when it's blitzing, and I've never had it wet out," says a member of our testing crew who lives in Colorado and logs more than 50 days per season.

Arc'teryx recently redesigned the fit of their women's line, ditching the old form models that relied on antiquated body structures with narrow waists and wider hips. Now, the Sentinel's revised styling has less of an hourglass shape, although it's still trimmer than many freeride-style jackets. And it packs plenty of features to make resort and backcountry powderhounds happy: pit zips to dump heat in a hurry, a hood that fits over a helmet and accessible pockets (even when you're wearing a backpack). Important to note that it's not insulated, so you'll definitely need a midlayer to stay cozy. And buy once, cry once: The Sentinel is the most expensive jacket in our lineup, but the brand's noted durability means it'll last you through plenty of seasons—and many years to come. Buy here.

Skiing and snowboarding costs a lot, so why not save some dolla dolla bills on your jacket? The Powderbound is the most affordable jacket on this list, but that doesn't mean REI scrimped on the details. Co-op designers packed more than 80 grams of insulation in the trunk of the jacket and 60 grams in the arms and used bluesign®-approved nylon that's waterproof and windproof to keep you warm and dry. A powder skirt and drawcord hem ensure the snow stays out. Final math: You can save even more money on your other layers because you won't need many. "Used this for a week in Iceland in February and I'm blown away by how warm it kept me," reports one customer reviewer.

Ample pockets make it easy to stash and nosh on pocket burritos on the chairlift and our crew really loved the drop-in goggle pouch inside the right zippered pocket. Just like the First Chair, the Powderbound makes it easier for more bodies to shred the gnar; it's offered in sizes ranging from XS-3X. Tradeoff: The Powderbound doesn't have waterproof zippers, so super wet conditions could cause leakage. Still, for most ski conditions, this value-bound jacket is a no-brainer. Buy here.

Skiing at a resort can be brisk with whipping winds, icy-cold face shots and chilly chairlifts. That's why the Sarah jacket from Flylow took our top spot for resorts: Can't beat that insulation! With 80 grams of post-consumer recycled synthetic insulation spread throughout, this jacket will keep you warm enough to make it until the last chair. "I put it through the wringer ski bumming last winter in Canada," says one customer reviewer. "It kept me warm and dry the entire time."

Even though the Sarah is packed with insulation, it still has a bit of breathability, so you won't marinate in your own sweat. Plus, you can release heat in a hurry with two, 12-inch-long underarm zippers. Flylow also gets style points with the relaxed fit and four exterior pockets. Fit note: If you're in between sizes, consider going up as the Sarah can run slim through the hips. Buy here.

Lift tickets aren't cheap, so it's nice when we find a technical and affordable piece that will keep us toasty on resort days. The First Chair GTX ePe Jacket from REI Co-op hits the mark with a two-layer GORE-TEX fabric that repels the worst of Mother Nature. And it's easier to find one that fits as the First Chair is offered in sizes from XS to 3X.

The features are boast worthy, too. Our favorite: a soft and fuzzy lining on the chin and inside the pockets for a cozy respite. Ski hoarders will love the pockets too, including the pass pocket, a drop-in goggle pocket and a media port. The First Chair has a loose fit to accommodate an insulating layer underneath, but don't size up too much—it's pretty relaxed on its own. For this season, REI also updated the First Chair with GORE-TEX's new Expanded Polyethylene (ePE), a waterproof-breathable membrane that doesn't use any PFAS. According to GORE-TEX, it also requires less energy to manufacture, consumes fewer resources and produces less carbon than traditional forms of GORE-TEX used in the past. Buy here.

It's everything you need in a backcountry ski jacket: lightweight, durable and completely weatherproof. Thanks to strategically placed stretchy fabric on the back, hood and wrists, the jacket moves well while you're skiing downhill or trudging uphill. And it's still a workhorse. Instead of the standard underarm zippers, two side zippers stretch all the way from the armpit to the hem of the jacket. This makes it super easy to vent heat in a hurry and get a little airflow. "I like to open them up halfway from the bottom since it gives me a nice breeze on the uphill," says one Wyoming-based customer-reviewer.

Features are slim on the Hemispheres II but there are still plenty of pockets with three external and two internal. Weather protection is solid—GORE-TEX is reliable—but the back stretchy panel does open you up to some moisture when you remove your ski backpack. Our take: Skip this one if you live in the Pacific Northwest where the snow is almost as wet as the rain. But for the rest of the country, it's a solid pick. Buy here.

If you want to do a lot with a single jacket, reach for the versatility found in the Thermoball Eco Snow Triclimate. With an insulated inner jacket that zips into the outer shell, this shapeshifter gives you three options: Wear the inner puffy alone, the outer shell alone or zip them together for a warm-and-weatherproof ski jacket that deflects the worst of Mother Nature. "I love this layering system," says one staffer. When the entire jacket is paired together, it's arguably too warm for some skiers—keep this in mind if you're a portable sauna.

The Thermoball isn't a one-trick pony, though. It still has plenty of other features that make skiers happy. Tons of pockets—many with zippers—give you ample room to stash snacks for the chairlift and under-arm zippers help with ventilation. Tradeoff: 3-in-1 jackets aren't known for their breathability, so you'll probably still sweat. Buy here.

See you later, fossil fuels. the team of designers with Picture Organic Clothing wanted to nix their reliance on polyester derived from petroleum. Instead, the Seen jacket uses a bio-based fiber sourced from sugarcane waste. End result: a hybrid shell fabric that's 58% derived from sugarcane fiber and 42% traditional recycled polyester.

The Seen performs, too. The jacket is packed with 60 grams of insulation in the body and sleeves and another 40 grams in the hood, giving you an all-around feeling of warmth. Picture Organic uses a PFC-free waterproofing treatment, so there are no 'forever chemicals' (known as PFAS) to worry about. And it still holds up in the nastiest of weather, as one Alaskan co-op member discovered during a brutal ski day at Alyeska Resort when the snow just wouldn't stop coming. Fit note: The Seen has a trim fit that may feel snug for some skiers. Definitely look at the sizing chart to match your measurements; if you're in between sizes, go up. Buy here.

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Buying Advice for Women's Ski Jackets

Before buying a new ski jacket, consider how you plan to use it and what type of features you'll routinely use.

Warmth vs. Breathability

In general, the first thing worth prioritizing when purchasing a ski jacket is warmth. In your mind, picture a spectrum with a needle in the middle, warmth on one side, and breathability on the other. As the needle moves closer to one side, it is farther from the opposite end. That's how it works with ski jackets, too. The warmer or more insulating a garment is, the less breathable it tends to be. If you plan to wear your ski jacket at the resort where you do a lot of sitting on cold chairlifts, chilling in unfortunately long lift lines, and breaking mid-mountain to wait for friends, warmth is super important. Even when you raise your heart rate skiing or navigating challenging terrain, you often come back down quickly.

For resort skiing, we recommend insulated jackets like the Picture Organic Seen jacket, Flylow Sarah Insulated Jacket, REI Co-op Powderbound, or The North Face Thermoball Eco Snow Triclimate jacket. For more information, check out How to Choose Insulated Outerwear.

If you plan to wear your ski jacket during higher-output activities, a non-insulated option is a better bet to prevent overheating. When you work hard—say, slogging uphill on a backcountry ski tour—you warm up fast. It's ideal to let that heat to escape so that you don't cook like a chicken, and it's easier for that to happen in a garment that isn't stuffed with polyester. This is why we recommend simple non-insulated shells for more aerobic winter activities. When outerwear that's not insulated—like the Arc'teryx Sentinel Jacket, the Outdoor Research Hemispheres II jacket or the REI Co-op First Chair GTX ePE—you rely on your layers of clothing to keep you warm, fine-tuning it as your internal furnace oscillates. (Read more about the art of layering and learn how your layers work together.

Other factors to consider: where you do most of your adventuring (do you have mild California or harsh New England winters?) and, of course, your body. Some people heat up fast and others run cold 24/7. Ultimately, you know best whether you need ultra-warm outerwear or more versatile, breathable outerwear.

Features

It's also a good idea to take a look at features—which you need and which are unnecessary.

Regardless of whether you ski at a resort or in the backcountry, you'll want features such as a helmet-compatible hood or adjustable wrist cuffs to cinch down or beneath your ski gloves.

But there are other features that aren't necessary but will make your life a lot easier. The number and placement of pockets is a big one. Backcountry skiers all carry avalanche transceivers, and many want to stash those inside a large jacket pocket. Some skiers—especially those who prefer pants to bibs— love powder skirts to keep the fluffy stuff out during epic dumps.

Unnecessary features are also a matter of personal preference. If you ride in the resort, you're probably less concerned about how easily removable your bibs are since you'll be doing that inside a warm lodge. Ridiculously high-performance waterproofing may be overkill, too, if you're a skier who just pops into the ski hill once or twice during spring break. Remember: Extra features cost extra dollars.

Methodology

We asked REI Co-op member-testers, staffers and others to share their favorite ski jackets. They shared their top choices for best overall, best for resort skiing, best for backcountry jaunts and more. The jackets included in this list are available at REI.