Size & Buying Guides

Winter Outerwear Guide

Devin Montgomery

In our 2021 Winter Outerwear Guide, we'll look at what qualities you should look for when searching for your next ski jacket or pair of snow pants. Plus, we'll show you our top brands and most popular items for each category so you can find the best gear more easily. Read on to check it out!
Winter Outerwear Guide

Find your favorite new ski and snowboard gear right here

It's no secret that comfort is key when you're out on the mountain. A poor choice of layers can turn your day on the slopes into a sufferfest, and no one wants that. While your base layers are definitely important, you'll want to make sure your outerwear is on point so you stay dry and warm all day.

We're going to break down our favorite gear for 2021 so you can find the perfect jackets, pants, gloves, and more for your whole crew. We've got a few tips to keep in mind, and at the bottom of this guide we'll answer some of the most common questions when it comes to buying outerwear for sking and snowboarding.

woman skiing

What to look for

Here are a few tips for choosing great sking and snowboarding outerwear. These are just some basic guidelines, and we'll get to specifics down in the FAQ section. But to start out, you'll want to look for ski jackets and pants that:

  • are loose enough for layers without being too baggy
  • have enough insulation to stay warm
  • use waterproof fabric that offers good mobility and breathability
  • are long enough to cover your waist, boots, and glove cuffs
  • have helmet-compatible hoods
  • come with a snow skirt
  • have plenty of glove-friendly pockets

two skiers on ridge

Ski Jackets + Ski Pants

Here are our most popular ski jackets and ski pants.

Every item in this section provides a great balance of warmth and breathability that results in all day comfort.

With cool styles and thoughtful features, these jackets and pants are the perfect way to get more enjoyment out of your time on the mountain.

Women's Ski Jackets

womens-ski-jacket

Our pick: Karbon Reflect Womens Ski Jacket

Price: $329.99

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Men's Ski Jackets

mens-ski-jacket

Our pick: Karbon Molecule Mens Ski Jacket

Price: $329.99

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Girl's Ski Jackets

girls ski jacket

Our pick: Sunice Meadow Girls Ski Jacket

Price: $238.99

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Boy's Ski Jackets

boys ski jacket

Our pick: Spyder Leader Boys Ski Jacket

Price: $248.99

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Women's Ski Pants

womens ski pants

Our pick: Obermeyer Sugarbush Womens Ski Pant

Price: $199.99

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Men's Ski Pants

mens ski pants

Our pick: Karbon Silver II Mens Ski Pant

Price: $299.99

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Girl's Ski Pants

girls skii pants

Our pick: Spyder Olympia Girls Ski Pant

Price: $168.99

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Boy's Ski Pants

boys ski pants

Our pick: Spyder Propulsion Boys Ski Pant

Price: $168.99

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woman snowboarding

Snowboard Jackets + Snow Pants

Here are our top picks for snowboarders.

These jackets and pants tend to run a bit baggier than ski outerwear since snowboarders need to have more mobility.

The jackets also extend longer, especially in the back, for more comfort and coverage when sitting on the snow.

You’ll still find lots of the same excellent fabrics and features that you’d find on ski jackets.

Women's Snowboard Jackets

womens snowboard jackets

Our pick: Burton Jet Set Womens Snowboard Jacket

Price: $249.99

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Men's Snowboard Jackets

mens snowboard jackets

Our pick: Burton Gore-Tex Radial Mens Snowboard Jacket

Price: $359.99

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Girl's Snowboard Jackets

girls snowboard jackets

Our pick: Burton Elodie Girls Snowboard Jacket

Price: $159.99

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Women's Snowboard Pants

boys snowboard jackets

Our pick: Burton Covert Boys Snowboard Jacket

Price: $179.99

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Women's Snowboard Pants

womens snowboard pants

Our pick: Burton Avalon Womens Bib Snowboard Pant

Price: $279.99

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Men's Snowboard Pants

mens snowboard pants

Our pick: Burton Covert Mens Insulated Snowboard Pant

Price: $219.99

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Girl's Snowboard Pants

girls snowboard pants

Our pick: Burton Elite Girls Cargo Snowboard Pant

Price: $149.99

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Boy's Snowboard Pants

boys snowboard pants

Our pick: Burton Exile Boys Cargo Snowboard Pant

Price: $149.99

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cross country skiers

Cross Country Ski Jackets + Pants

Cross country skiing is a very active sport, and it’s easy to overheat if you’re layered up with the wrong stuff.

Since you’re constantly moving and there’s no freezing cold chair lifts to worry about, you’ll want to maximize breathability and mobility for your cross country ski jacket and pants.

Softshell material is usually the way to go here.

Womens Cross Country Ski Jackets + Pants

womens xc ski jacket

Our pick: Kari Traa Solveig Womens XC Ski Jacket

Price: $179.99

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womens xc ski jacket

Our pick: Kari Traa Siri Womens Half Zip XC Ski Jacket

Price: $104.99

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womens xc ski pants

Our pick: Daehlie Power Womens XC Ski Pants

Price: $159.99

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womens xc ski pants

Our pick: Swix Cross Womens XC Ski Pants

Price: $139.99

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Mens Cross Country Ski Jackets + Pants

mens xc ski jackets

Our pick: Daehlie Ridge Mens XC Ski Jacket

Price: $119.99

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mens xc ski jackets

Our pick: Daehlie Kikut Mens XC Ski Jacket

Price: $139.99

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mens xc ski pants

Our pick: Daehlie Ridge Full Zip Mens XC Ski Pants

Price: $119.99

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mens xc ski pants

Our pick: Swix Cross Mens XC Ski Pants

Price: $139.99

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girl snowboarding with mitts

Gloves + Accessories

Nothing will ruin a good day on the mountain like numb fingers. Properly sized gloves or mitts provide greater dexterity, warmth and comfort. For the best performance, a proper fitting glove should fit snugly and allow enough room at the end of outstretched fingers for you to pinch about a quarter of an inch of fabric. When you make a fist, the fit shouldn’t be so tight that is constricts your fingers from curving fully.

Here are our best-selling gloves and mittens, as well as a few other popular winter accessories to keep you warm this season.

Women's Gloves + Mitts

womens ski gloves and mitts

Our pick: Swany LaDown Womens Ski Mitt

Price: $139.99

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Men's Gloves + Mitts

mens ski gloves and mitts

Our pick: Hestra Army Leather Heli Ski Glove

Price: $194.99

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Youth Ski + Snowboard Gloves

youth ski gloves

Our pick: Swany X-Change Junior Glove

Price: $74.99

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Youth Ski + Snowboard Mitts

youth ski mitts

Our pick: Swany X-Change Junior Mitt

Price: $74.99

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Ski + Snowboard Accessories

baclavas for skiing

Our pick: BlackStrap The Hood Balaclava

Price: $42.99

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baclavas for skiing

Our pick: Bula Sharp Printed Adult Balaclava

Price: $28.99

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baclavas for skiing

Our pick: Turtle Fur Chelonia Fleece Adult Shellaclava

Price: $33.99

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face masks

Our pick: Swany ViralOff Womens Face Mask

Price: $11.99

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face masks

Our pick: Swany ViralOff Mens Face Mask

Price: $11.99

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fun ski goggle covers

Our pick: Gogglesoc Goggle Cover

Price: $14.95

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Winter Coats

A nice winter coat makes for the perfect ápres ski attire or every day cold weather outfit.

Whether you’re out for a stroll or taking the dog for a walk, these winter coats are a comfy and stylish way to keep warm.

Women's Winter Coats

womens winter coats

Our pick: Indygena Vanamo Womens Winter Coat

Price: $649.99

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Men's Winter Coats

mens winter coats

Our pick: Bogner Aaron2-D Mens Winter Coat

Price: $997.99

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Our top brands for ski jackets, snow pants, and other winter apparel

Outerwear Fit and Jacket Lengths

To feel great, it must fit well. Good fitting outerwear means outerwear that fits your body type, your use, and your style. All three of these should be taken into consideration when determining which fit is best for you.


With so many outerwear brands available, and each with its own set of fits, it can be difficult to know how a jacket or pant actually fits. What one brand calls "athletic" another brand may call "baggy". You may also know or have heard of certain brands having a reputation for a tighter or a looser fit. Keep in mind that all brands change and evolve, and although some brands do tend to fit a certain way, that same brand may make a range of fits from very slim to very loose. Don't worry; we have standardized fit across the board, making it easy for you to get the right fit.

Slim Fit


If you can't stand the thought of your pant legs touching the ground or your jacket bunching at the chest when you bend over, then you're going to need a slim fit. With a more technical fit, you can expect:

- Outerwear is much more streamlined, promoting a wide range of motion (perfect for touring or pole-whacking).

- Jackets fit much closer to the body (sometimes limiting your layers) and have a more tailored or fitted profile, often with a waist-length cut.

- Pants are slimmer through the thigh and knee and won't go much below the ankle when standing up straight. Recent styles have begun to trend towards a slimmer leg through the knee, then flaring towards the ankle to accommodate boots.

This tighter fit, sometimes referred to as "alpinist," has a more minimalist look and feel that's grown more and more popular in the techy or fashion forward circles of our sports. You'll also find many of today's softshells and technical layers tend to be an alpine fit. Slimmer profile shredders should definitely check out some slim fitting options.

Regular Fit

When you buy a regular fit, you're buying a product that's not too tight, not too baggy, but right in the middle. If you're a little unsure of what fits you best but have an average build, shop around for a regular fit. With a traditional fit, you can expect:

- Outerwear will have plenty of room for layering but won't look like a yeti when not wearing many layers underneath.

- Outerwear will have plenty of room for layering but won't look like a yeti when not wearing many layers underneath.

- Pants are slimmer through the thigh and knee and won't go much below the ankle when standing up straight. Recent styles have begun to trend towards a slimmer leg through the knee, then flaring towards the ankle to accommodate boots.

Pants will have a standard inseam with a cut that's straight through the leg.

Loose Fit

Outerwear with a baggier fit is designed to have more coverage all around, while maximizing room for layers underneath. With a baggier fit, you can expect:

- Outerwear will have extra room all over with enough coverage no matter how you twist or move.

- Jackets will have more room throughout the body and sleeves, and tend to be longer when compared to a regular or traditional fit - think sweatshirt vs. sweater.

Pants are going to be relaxed at the waist and much roomier throughout the thigh, knee, and cuff.

- This style has become popular among park skiers and snowboarders who want a baggy look more than they care about the actual fit. Brands are now designing lines just for them. Also, brands that were known as more traditional in the past, now make fits that appeal to a newer generation seeking a more progressive fit.

What are the types of baselayers?

Baselayers are loosely organized into light, mid and heavy weight categories based on the fabric's weight per square meter (or sometimes ounce per square yard). Every brand has different cut offs for what light, mid and heavy weight actually means, so take this classification with a grain of salt!

Lightweight | <200 grams/M²

This is a thin first layer that goes next to your skin with the ability to easily add layers over it. Lightweight base layers are a crucial step in layering as they must be comfortable on the skin and are designed to fit tighter for the best moisture management. Worn alone, they are best suited for mild to cool conditions with high levels of activity like running, climbing, cross-country skiing, touring etc.

Midweight | <270 grams/m²

A midweight layer can be worn as a warmer first layer or as a second layer over your next-to-skin layer, providing a combination of insulation and moisture wicking. Alone, it is best suited to cool or moderately cool to cold conditions with medium levels of activity where you will be moving some of the time but standing still at others. It can be combined with lightweight layers underneath or heavyweight layers over it to accomplish the desired warmth.

Heavyweight | 250 grams/m² +

This is designed for cold conditions combined with any level of activity and often referred to as "expedition or thermal weight." Almost always worn over a lighter weight layer, heavyweight layers are designed to add insulation and are worn looser with less focus on moisture management. These layers are thicker due to their higher loft for insulation.

Ski + Snowboard Outerwear FAQs

What’s the difference between ski jackets and snowboard jackets?

While much of the material is the same between ski and snowboard jackets and pants, the main difference is how they fit. Snowboarders need more mobility and so their outerwear is a bit looser. Snowboard jackets are usually also longer for sitting on the snow. You can absolutely use a snowboard jacket for skiing and vice versa, but the little details are designed to be optimized for each style.

Can you use a down jacket for skiing?

Down jackets can make great layers on extra cold days, but we don’t recommend using them as an outer layer. The down material in puffy jackets loses its insulation properties when wet, so if you want to ski in one, wear a waterproof shell over top.

Should ski jackets be tight or loose?

While you may see some comically large ski and snowboard jackets out on the mountain, our advice is to go with the size that allows you to layer up efficiently without being so baggy that it doesn’t trap in enough heat. Snowboarders will likely want a slightly looser jacket than skiers for better mobility.

How much insulation do I need

Depending on the type of skiing or riding you’re doing, you may want more or less insulation in order to stay in the sweet spot between staying warm and not sweating and overheating. It all depends on the typical weather conditions and how active you tend to be.

Can you wear a waterproof jacket while skiing?

A waterproof shell jacket will likely need to be paired with warm under layers in order to work for sking and snowboarding. For snow sport specific jackets, the more waterproof your jacket and pants are, the dryer and happier you’ll be. However, the higher up on the waterproof scale you go (measured in mm), the less breathable the fabric tends to be, so if conditions are good and you’re more active, you may not need the highest level out there.

Are ski jackets breathable?

Some jackets are more breathable than others. A breathable jacket fabric will allow enough heat to escape and prevent you from overheating while still keeping you warm. If you sweat easily, look for a jacket with a more breathable fabric as well as zippered vents on the sides and armpits.

Are ski jackets supposed to be long?

While the optimal length is objective, most riders and skiers can usually agree that it’s best for your jacket to come down past your waistline. A longer jacket will help keep the cold and snow out, and if you snowboard or just like a longer fit, they serve as an extra layer when sitting on the snow or on the lift.

Will my jacket’s hood fit over my helmet?

Having a normal sized hood is useless if you’re wearing a helmet, so look for a helmet-compatible hood that will fit snugly over your crash hat and keep the wind and snow off your neck.

What are snow skirts?

For extra warmth and powder defense, some jackets come with a snow skirt liner that cinches down over your pants and keeps the snow and wind out.

How long should ski jacket sleeves be?

Most jackets have sufficiently long sleeves and wide cuffs, since you’ll want to be sure you can pull those cuffs over your gloves to keep out the elements.