WHAT MAKES A SKI JACKET?
Compared to a normal winter jacket, ski jackets are characterised by innovative functional materials and a higher quality finish. Jackets for winter sports are waterproof, windproof and breathable. Low weight and high insulation keep you warm even on fast descents. Light, thin materials are less bulky and provide more freedom of movement. In addition, ski jackets have practical features that make sporting activities much easier. These high-quality jackets are just as comfortable for winter sports as they are for everyday wear. Nevertheless, there are differences in material, cut and useful features. Which material the ski jacket should have depends on your requirements.
WHAT PROPERTIES DO FUNCTIONAL MATERIALS HAVE?
When skiing, the phases of activity are different. When waiting at the ski lift or riding the chairlift, the ski jacket needs to be warm. Windproof materials are required, and if it snows, waterproofness is also important. When skiing, touring or freeriding, you are very active and sweat accordingly. Your ski jacket should therefore be highly breathable. Functional materials quickly wick away water vapour without allowing water to penetrate from the outside. This keeps the body climate in balance and prevents the body from cooling down. High-quality ski jackets therefore have equally high values for breathability and water column.
WATER COLUMN FOR SKI JACKETS: HOW MUCH IS NECESSARY?
Whether for women, men or children - ski jackets are all waterproof. Nevertheless, there are differences and you can recognise them by the water column. This indicates how much pressure is needed for three drops of water to penetrate the functional membrane. 10,000 millimetres or more are the guarantee that you can enjoy your snow fun dry. GORE-TEX, for example, has a water column of 28,000 mm. The vapour permeability should be just as high, i.e. the breathability expressed in grams per square metre - only then will a perfect body climate be created.
WHAT DISTINGUISHES GORE-TEX FROM OTHER MEMBRANES?
The wafer-thin GORE-TEX membrane made of polytetrafluoroethylene is of the highest quality because it has one of the highest water columns. You will therefore find the flexible membrane on the ski jackets of many premium brands. An alternative is the ultra-thin and very stretchy Dermizax® membrane from Japan. The polyurethane membrane shines especially when you sweat a lot. Sympatex focuses on sustainability and convinces environmentally conscious customers because the material made from polyether ester is recyclable. Many big brand manufacturers have developed their own membranes that are also waterproof and breathable. They differ in the amount of water column and water vapour permeability, in functions and in weight. DryVent® fabrics from The North Face and Schöffel's Venturi are made of polyurethane and are examples of this.
Or the new FUTURELIGHT membrane from The North Face, also waterproof, windproof, breathable, thin and very light, a functional textile produced using the nano-spinning process. The brand manufacturers produce the functional laminates in different versions so that the functions vary depending on the intended use. The outer fabric layer consists of robust, coated outer fabrics. Some functional membranes lie between the top layer and the lining layer, others are firmly welded to the outer fabric. A soft PrimaLoft® insulation is very often inserted as a thermal layer in many three-layer ski jackets. The functional materials are very fine and yet still very warming, which is why ski jackets are becoming thinner and lighter.
WELL-KNOWN FUNCTIONAL MATERIALS FOR SKI JACKETS
- GORE-TEX® - high-quality and proven
- Dermizax® - ultra-thin and stretchy
- Sympatex® - easy-care and recyclable
- PrimaLoft® insulation - extra soft and warming
- Venturi® - from Schöffel, waterproof and windproof, breathable
- DryVent® - from The North Face, microporous and hydrophobic
- FUTURELIGHT™ - by The North Face, very thin, waterproof and windproof, breathable
HARDSHELL JACKETS - FOR ALMOST EVERY WINTER SPORT
If you're off-piste or like to go touring, hardshell jackets are great for you. They consist of two layers of innovative laminates that are firmly welded together. Three-layer models also have a lining layer. Hardshell ski jackets score in many respects. They are water- and wind-repellent and extremely breathable. This is particularly beneficial when you want to work hard and your winter sports are very sweaty. These ski jackets are thin, take up little space in your luggage and keep up with your every movement. If the ski jacket is not warm enough, an insulating midlayer underneath provides additional warmth. In this way, the hardshell jacket can be worn flexibly even when quilted or down jackets are already too warm.
LINED SKI JACKETS WITH DOWN OR SYNTHETIC FIBRE FILLING
Down jackets are warmly filled and quilted. The light winter jackets convince with both real down and synthetic fibres as filling. Depending on the membrane used, the filling material and the degree of filling, the ski jackets are warm to extremely warm. Your own perception of the cold is the deciding factor when buying. You can wear a quilted jacket anywhere and at any time: on the slopes, in the forest and in the pedestrian zone. The windproof ski jackets and their insulation layer reliably protect you from wind and cold. The high-tech functional materials are waterproof and breathable in different ways, depending on the brand and the membrane used. Many winter sports enthusiasts particularly like the attractive quilting that makes up the special design of the quilted ski jacket.
HOW DOES A SKI JACKET HAVE TO FIT SO THAT IT FITS?
The answer is simple & comfortable. If you get cold quickly, a longer ski jacket will keep you warmer. A shorter cut ski jacket accentuates the figure more and allows better freedom of movement in the ski lift or when sitting. Two-way zippers help with longer jackets, as you can open them a little at the bottom when sitting, for example. The ski jacket fits best if it is the right size. If it's too loose, you can fit more jumpers underneath, but without them the ski jacket will puff up on the descent. If it is too tight, it restricts the necessary freedom of movement during sports. High-quality ski jackets have a very stretchy membrane that allows every movement with a good fit. Some models have elastic inserts in various places that provide even more freedom of movement. Elastic cuffs, adjustable hoods, collars and snow skirts also ensure the perfect fit.
FEATURES IN SKI JACKETS: THESE ARE THE DIFFERENCES
You don't always see at first glance what makes the difference between ski jackets. It's the useful little things that give you many advantages when skiing, snowboarding, touring or freeriding.
Protection from wet & cold: If you ski through powder snow, you will be grateful for taped or bonded seams, waterproof zips and a removable and adjustable snow guard inside the ski jacket. Some sports jackets can be attached directly to the ski pants, so that no cold or moisture can get to your body. Helmet-compatible hoods fit both the head and the helmet. The hood fits just as snugly on the head when touring as it does on the helmet when skiing downhill. Adjustable collars with wind protection keep out the cold. Elastic cuffs, some with gaiters and thumbholes, ensure a snug fit and freedom of movement at the same time.
Greater safety: Reflective elements on your ski jacket offer you greater visibility in the dark. This is just as practical for night-time descents as it is for après-ski or in traffic. Especially for freeriders off the slopes, RECCO reflectors can be lifesavers. If ski jackets are equipped with the RECCO avalanche search system, they reflect the signals sent out by the mountain rescue team back to the search device.
More comfort: A ski pass pocket on the arm is particularly practical. Your ski pass is right at hand and you don't need to open your ski jacket. Zipped inner pockets keep valuables such as passports or wallets safe. Special goggle compartments in many jacket models are equipped with a goggle cleaning cloth for a clear view when out and about. Ventilation slits that you can open quickly with velcro or zips ensure an optimal body climate.
WHAT DOES A SKI JACKET HAVE TO OFFER?
- When buying, think about what features your new ski jacket should have - you will rarely need all the features at once.
- Ventilation slits for climate regulation
- Elastic cuffs and waistband
- Extended sleeves with thumb hole
- Removable snow skirt
- Linkable to ski pants
- High collar, partially adjustable with one hand
- Hoods: Helmet-compatible or removable
- Taped or welded seams and zips
- Reflectors for better visibility
- Goggle pocket and cleaning cloth
- Inside pocket for smartphone
- Ski pass pocket and inside pockets
- RECCO reflectors for more safety in avalanches
PROPERLY DRESSED: WHAT CLOTHES DO YOU WEAR UNDERNEATH?
Depending on the weather, multi-layered clothing (onion principle) supports or reduces the warmth of the ski jacket. The baselayer is the ski underwear. It consists of soft, highly warming merino wool or synthetic functional materials in various thicknesses. Which functional underwear you choose depends on your personal warmth requirements. Ski jumpers, fleece jackets or long-sleeved shirts keep you warm - this is the warming layer (second layer or midlayer). Ski jackets without a hood can be complemented with a hoodie. Thin hardshell jackets without lining are complemented by an insulating hybrid waistcoat for icy conditions. Your ski jacket is then the outer layer, i.e. the layer that protects you from the weather.
HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR SKI JACKET PROPERLY
In general, the sewn-in care label (manufacturer's instructions) provides detailed information on how to care for your ski jacket. Almost all winter sports jackets can be easily washed at 30 or 40 degrees in the washing machine. It is better to wash ski jackets more often than to use a lot of detergent if they are very dirty. Liquid detergents are better than powder detergents for microporous membranes, as they do not close the water vapour permeable pores.
As a rule, functional textiles do not like dry cleaning, dryers or bleach. With certain impregnations, however, the dryer or alternatively a hair dryer reactivates the water- and dirt-repellent function. Impregnation sprays also renew the coating. You should refresh the impregnation at the latest when the water no longer beads off the ski jacket. If ironing is necessary, protect the high-quality material by placing a cloth on the ski jacket and ironing only at a low temperature.
CONCLUSION: HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT SKI JACKET FOR YOU
The criteria for a high-quality ski jacket are the same for women, men and children. They are highly waterproof and breathable. Premium ski jackets keep out the wind and cold and keep up with your every movement. Additional features such as helmet-compatible or detachable hoods and useful pockets quickly turn your ski jacket into your favourite jacket. Whether you're speeding down the slopes, off-piste as a freerider or snowboarder, or at one with the endless fascination of nature on your ski tours or cross-country skiing: You'll find the right ski jacket for your ski outfit at Keller Sports.