When the blistering cold weather rains its fury on you, the only thing you’d wish for is better preparation. One of the best ways to continue uninterrupted skiing during inclement weather is by using a highly protective hardshell ski jacket. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of the best hardshell ski jackets so you can find the perfect one for you.
Hardshell ski jackets are like the tanks of winter wear. They protect you from anything ranging from water, wind, moisture, or impact to some extent. These jackets are highly durable, and with proper care, they can last for a very long time.
The outer layer of these jackets can protect you while backcountry and resort skiing, alpine climbing, mountaineering, and four-season trekking.
With a plethora of options available at your disposal, picking the right one can be tough.
To save you from spending on the wrong product and getting conned by pesky salesmen, we have combined some of the best hardshell ski jackets that you can buy online.
Best Hardshell Ski Jacket
Arc’teryx Beta AR
Arc’teryx has been one of the leading manufacturers of ski garments for a long time. The company’s lineup of hardshell ski jackets easily outperforms any of its competitors. Its Beta AR ski jacket is rated the best which is why it is on top of our list.
Beta AR was launched in the year 2000, and it has been the company’s flagship product ever since. It is constructed with the famous Gore-Tex Pro that adds extreme durability to the product.
It has a design that is unlike any other jacket you can find in the market. The jacket is divided into different zones based on the severity of exposure to the weather.
Majorly, the Beta AR lightweight and breathable owing to its 40-denier Gore-Tex Pro fabric construction. Whereas, the jacket has an 80-denier Gore-Tex Pro in the wear-prone areas that include the hood, shoulders, elbows, and forearms.
The jacket has a high-quality DWR coating with fully taped seams that successfully repel the water and snow from its surface. Its WaterTight external zippers also prevent moisture from entering the jacket.
Apart from this, it comes with a fully adjustable hoody and a separate collar that creates a seal around the neck that keeps you cozy and warm.
The jacket has large pockets that can store the essentials and even keep the hands warm. There is a small pocket for small GPS devices or mobile phones.
Arc’teryx Alpha AR
This product redefines toughness and can face any adversities that you may come across while skiing. You can go against the coldest winds, thundering rain, and heavy snowfall without disturbing your comfort.
The Arc’teryx Alpha AR has been constructed using the latest Gore-Tex Pro which is very different from the ones used in other jackets. This jacket comes with a 100-denier Gore-Tex fabric that can withstand a bomb explosion and frigid weather.
It also has the advanced DWR coating on the outer shell and zipper to keep the water and moisture from entering the hoodie. The taped seams also contribute to moisture-wicking and waterproofing.
The main attraction on the upper part of the jacket is the hood. Acr’teryx has set the bar high for the competitors by adding its signature Stormhood. It is the most modifiable jacket hood and helmet-compatible.
Even though it is made from the most durable Gore-Tex Pro, it does put a huge question mark on breathability. The closed construction of the jacket can turn you sweaty if you are anywhere around normal temperatures, but the company has a solution i.e. pit zips.
There are plenty of storage options in the jacket that come in handy while skiing. The angled pockets on the front are a good place to keep emergency essentials like harness, GPS, and cell phones. It also has pockets on the inside that can store ski goggles or lenses.
Outdoor Research Interstellar
When it comes to Outdoor Research, its extensive line of superior-quality products can exceed your expectations to quite an extent. However, there is one product in particular that can prove itself as a tough competitor -the Outdoor Research Interstellar.
The Interstellar is often said to be the reincarnation of the Realm Jacket. On the other hand, the Interstellar is an improved, minimalist, breathable, and comes with a lot of performance-enhancing features. It is a perfect pick for unpredictable weather.
Outdoor Research has composed the jacket with its proprietary three-layer AscentShell instead of the popular choice Gore-Tex. This shell is flexible and has a softer feel to it. Apart from this, it is also weatherproof and can keep you from getting cold.
It has a super-effective water-resistance that can be very helpful while sloping down the mountains. The jacket has an amazing moisture control feature that keeps the moisture from accumulating on the inside.
To keep the water entering the jacket, it has the YKK water-resistant zippers. These zippers keep the water and other elements out efficiently while the large pull tabs can be grabbed with gloved hands easily to open the pocket.
For additional weatherproofing, the jacket comes with a drawcord hem and cuffs that work towards keeping the air from getting inside. Its highly breathable ability can be attributed to its unique construction that controls the inflow and outflow of air in the jacket.
The Interstellar has additional features like an adjustable hood, deep and warm pockets, lightweight, and more that make it an ideal alternative.
Norrøna Trollveggen Gore-Tex Pro
This Norway-based manufacturer means serious business when it comes to hardshell jackets. The company has a vast array of high-quality products that can handle tough situations with ease. One such offering from the company is the Trollveggen Gore-Tex Pro.
The name itself suggests the construction material of the jacket, which is the Gore-Tex Pro. As mentioned in the above jackets, this is one of the widely used materials by the companies and adds durability to the jackets.
Trollveggen features a 70-denier Gore-Tex material that is highly durable and works as an exceptional barrier against the different weather elements. It has the best waterproofing system that keeps the water out even in the harshest weather conditions.
With taped seams and YKK zippers, it efficiently keeps wind and moisture out. The chest pockets can keep the electronics and other essential items safe and dry at all times.
Moreover, the asymmetric cuffs have Velcro attachments for adjustment.
The jacket has a helmet-compatible hoodie with a tall collar that covers your head and neck while providing excellent protection.
It warms up the body very quickly which can be a problem if the temperature is a bit higher. To prevent sweat accumulation, the company has incorporated 20-inch pit zips that dump the heat quickly.
Trollveggen comes with a unique secondary zipper that allows the heat to vent out through the shell through a mesh vent. The jacket offers unrivaled durability that can withstand harsh abrasions and pokes.
It has numerous pockets that provide plenty of storage. There are four large exterior pockets i.e. two chest pockets and two hand warmers.
Black Diamond Sharp End
If you are looking for a jacket that gives you the perfect protection without restricting your movements, you can try the Black Diamond Sharp End. It is one of the few jackets that give you the required speed and dexterity that is crucial for skiing.
The jacket is made from a lightweight fabric that gives the wearer several benefits that can make skiing more enjoyable. It has the Gore-Tex Pro on its outer shell that prevents water and moisture from entering inside the jacket.
To facilitate ease of movement, the company has added underarm gussets. It also makes the jacket suitable for a wide range of other activities like mountaineering, hiking, and more. The gussets are made from superior quality materials and can withstand rapid movements.
The hood is one of the best features of this jacket as it alone comes with numerous features such as Cohesive cord-lock technology that provides an excellent fit and unparalleled comfort. It also has a hemstitch that allows quick, one-handed adjustments.
To store the essentials, it comes with harness-friendly zippered pockets that are harness-compatible too. The pockets are quite deep and can store several things that range from cell phones, ski goggles, GPS, and more.
The company has added a brushed microsuede collar lining that provides commendable comfort to the neck and prevents air from entering the jacket. For additional breathability, the company has added the two-way armpit zip vents.
It has molded cuff tabs that let you fasten the cuffs for protection against moisture and winds. You can also tighten the cuffs enough to wrap your gloves around them.
Outdoor Research Archangel
A jacket designed by experts barely leaves any chance for a loophole and the same approach has been applied for Outdoor Research Archangel. The company has collaborated with seasoned skiers and alpine climbers to add the essential features that make it a top pick.
The jacket is composed using three-layer Gore-Tex Pro with a fine blend of Nylon and Polyurethane. This unique composition adds extensive durability with weather-resistance.
Moreover, it comes with Hybrid Mapped Construction that makes the jacket resistant to abrasions and damages.
It has a helmet-compatible hood that can protect you from the winds that blow on your head and neck. The hood can be secured with a Hoodlock while the wired brim keeps the shape maintained.
There are armpit gussets that give you the freedom of movement and enable you to perform rapid movements with ease. With proper size selection, the jacket will allow you to wear multiple layers of clothing to protect yourself from the weather.
To prevent moisture buildup and sweat accumulation the jacket features pit zips that eliminate heat on opening. The YKK AquaGuard Vislon Zippers work effectively with the waterproof material of the jacket to keep any liquid or moisture from entering.
The jacket has two spacious pockets on the outer shell that can keep your belongings safe while skiing. They are also great at keeping the hands warm for a long time. Their placement above the belt and harness prevents any kind of obstruction.
Rab Muztag GTX
Next on our list of the best hardshell ski jackets is the Rab Muztag. Lightweight hard shells with the ability to endure harsh weather conditions can be hard to find. If you are looking for one, we recommend you to go with the Rab Muztag GTX. This hardshell jacket is among the few winter wears in the market that provides full protection to the wearer.
The jacket has been created by combining the 40D Gore-Tex with 30D Gore-Tex that gives it abilities like toughness and breathability. Due to these perks, the Rab Muztag GTX is widely preferred by skiers.
It comes with active panels in high heat areas that reduce the chances of heat buildup and sweating. Moreover, it has an active fit design, with zoned fabric and precise stitch works best for skiers who are into rapid movements.
Most skiers often worry about heat buildup and sweat accumulation when wearing hardshell jackets. However, the 2-way pit zips of Rab Muztag GTX allow easy venting ensuring maximum heat elimination while their smooth design keeps them from being noticed.
Owing to the intelligent design and enhanced features the hood is one of the distinctive features of this jacket. It has a unique three-way adjustable system that works exceptionally well in all kinds of weather. The hood is helmet-compatible and covers most of the face.
The Muztag GTX features a 2-way YKK Vislon AquaGuard front zipper that blocks the water and prevents it from entering the jacket. It also has built-in knuckle protection that keeps the water from getting inside the gloves.
Black Diamond Highline Stretch:
After garnering success with StormLine and FineLine jackets, Black Diamond has decided to take its game jacket game to a higher level. The company has launched its Highline stretch range for hardcore skiers with lots of features that make it a perfect alternative.
It has been designed with the company’s signature three-layer BD membrane, which has a little stretch owing to its Nylon blend. The material also keeps the jacket light while offering commendable protection.
The jacket shares some common attributes with other models such as the helmet-compatible hood. It stretches over the different helmets with ease and keeps your head protected from snow and cold weather.
It is also quite breathable and has pit zips that work flawlessly to eliminate the heat and moisture from the jacket. The zippers are made from smooth material and can be barely felt when not in use.
There are large pockets in the jackets that serve the dual purpose of keeping the hands warm and storing things. These pockets along with the center zip are made from YKK AquaGuard zippers that do an exceptional job of keeping the water outside.
If you are a huge fan of adventure, the ease of movement of this jacket won’t disappoint you. Its durable build gives you the convenience of moving in any direction with ease.
Without a proper waterproofing solution, a hardshell jacket is of no use to a skier. A company like Black Diamond has taken care of this problem by adding the advanced GTT DWR finish to the surface. The GTT finish is a revolutionary solution that is PFC-free and more durable than other DWR solutions.
Mountain Equipment Lhotse
This U.K. based company is not quite popular in the U.S. but is the most sought after option by seasoned skiers. The Lhotse jacket can withstand all kinds of adversities ranging from weather-related to durability. It is suitable for different activities like mountaineering, trekking, and skiing.
The jacket is created using a blend of 40-denier and 80-denier Gore-Tex Pro that provides strength and durability in the right spots. Due to this blend, the jacket keeps you warm and dry at all times.
It comes with an innovatively designed hood that is helmet-compatible and comes with a cohesive cord lock-adjustable system that gives it an exceptional fit.
The jacket is widely famous for its long fit that lets you wear a harness without affecting your mobility. It also gives you ample space to add extra layers of clothes with ease.
Mountain Equipment has made extra efforts to make this mountain wear highly comfortable. The company has made the face panel seamless which prevents scars and scratches.
The cuffs are also adjustable and the velcro enables the wearers to tighten the cuffs according to their preference.
It comes with a dual tether hem drawcord that lets you tighten the waistline of the jacket and keep the moisture and water from entering the jacket. There are pit zips in the jacket to vent out the heat build-up.
The zippers of this jacket are made using YKK molded AquaGuard material that stops the moisture and water from getting inside the jacket. These zippers come with durable pull tabs that can be used to pull the chain in different directions.
This brand was among the top hardshell manufacturers once but became dormant for some time. The company launched its Exposure/2 collection recently, and the products in this series became instantly famous owing to the features included in their construction.
Exposure 2 comes with the most famous and widely used material for hardshell construction the Gore-Tex Pro. It is incredibly lightweight and made from its 30-denier face fabric that can protect against the cold weather with ease.
To get rid of the heat and moisture in the jacket there are pit zips that come with easy to pull tabs. The pit zips are designed with a soft material and do not cause any inconvenience to the wearer. For water-resistance, the company has added DWR coating on the surface.
The jacket has a helmet-friendly hood that can be adjusted according to the head of the buyer. It also comes with a tall collar that covers the face and protects you from the cold winds. Exposure is considered to be the most minimalist and interesting alpine wear.
Even though the jacket is made from the Gore-Tex Pro, its main USP is ventilation. The thin fabric wicks heat and moisture out with ease, and the fabric around the face protects the wearer from strong winds to a considerable extent.
It has large pockets on the sides that provide space for storage and can be used to keep the hands warm. The jacket has a pocket at the center but is smaller in comparison to the ones on the side.
Things to look for in the best hardshell ski jackets
A hardshell jacket comes with numerous features. Some of them might be useful while others might never see the light of day.
Moreover, companies demand a high price for jackets with additional features. To save yourself from wasting your precious money, here are the essential things you need to look for in a hardshell jacket.
Breathability and Waterproofing:
Water-resistance is an essential quality of ski jackets. However, when you try to look up for a jacket’s water-resisting ability, you might see numbers which might be dreadfully confusing. Most commonly, the water-proof rating ranges from 5000g/m2 to 20,000g/m2.
The basic law applies here too. Higher the number the more waterproof the jacket.
Jackets with ratings around 5,000g/m2 h work best for light rain and snow. Whereas, 10,000-15,000g/m2 can keep you dry on the mountains. The ones above this rating will keep you dry in all conditions.
Breathability, on the other hand, comes with a price. Jackets with higher breathability have a high price.
Similar to waterproofing, the breathability of a jacket is measured in mm too. You need to keep in mind that the more you sweat, the more breathable your jacket has to be.
The hood of a jacket is the most overlooked feature. People hardly pay any attention to it at the time of purchase that later results in problems and disappointments.
As the design of the hood varies from brand to brand, you need the one that can be worn over a helmet.
Don’t get stuck in the dilemma of staying safe or keeping your head warm. Choose the option that can offer both. Most importantly, check the size of the hood before purchase.
Vent, seams, and pockets:
This criterion is mostly based on personal preferences. Some people look for jackets that come with dozens of pockets in different shapes.
Others choose to keep it minimal and stay happy with 1 or 2.
Vents give you the advantage of getting rid of the heat and moisture. In some cases, they also add to the appearance of the jacket.
You also need to pay attention to the seams of a jacket and check if they are sealed and waterproofed. Usually, companies prefer taping the seams with waterproof material. The number of seams taped by a brand can also vary at times.
Skiers have different fit expectations from a jacket which is mostly based on style. Some prefer large-sized, baggy jackets, while some choose to opt for a trimmed and fitted one. The only thing that matters is the number of layering a jacket can accommodate.
To get fit that can help you while skiing, you need to consider the type of weather conditions you are going to wear it in and how many layers of clothing it can accommodate.
Conclusion Best Hardshell Ski Jackets Reviewed
Hardshell ski jackets are built to withstand the toughest and extreme weather conditions, which is why they have a different design and construction as compared to a normal ski jacket.
When buying a hardshell jacket make sure you check for the essential and convenience features it offers to make the best use of it.
We hope you enjoyed our article on the best hardshell ski jackets. If you have any questions regarding these coats or about the article in general please reach out in the comments below.