Updated April 2017
To make this review as accurate as possible, we've updated it as of April 2017, including any product updates. We've also re-reviewed the market to make sure that our award winners are still the cream of the crop, and to make your research easier, we've added comparison charts and graphs.
Best Overall Men's Ski Jacket
Very warm and well made
Down insulation with waterproof shell
Body-mapped synthetic insulation in key areas
Poor function of velcro on sleeves
After a review of the current market, the Arc'teryx Macai
jacket still earns our top spot as the Editors' Choice winner. The Macai is high performing in all categories, putting a large margin on the competition in warmth-to-weight and durability. The lightest piece tested and nearly the warmest, it mainly features down insulation (while many other contenders have synthetic). The Macai's waterproof Gore-Tex shell and synthetically filled underarms protect and insulate even in very wet conditions. In testing, we found that the Macai does have a greater propensity to stain, with one model picking up permanent marks in normal usage. (Another version in another color did not have this problem.) Like many of our Editors' Choice products in other categories, the Macai did not score at the top of any single metric. Instead, rather than offering high marks in a niche area, the Macai is a solid performer across the board, and its insulation durability tips the balance solidly in its favor.
Read full review: Arc'teryx Macai
Best Bang for the Buck
Columbia Whirlibird Interchange 3-in-1
Limited wind and water protection
Right off the bat, it was clear that our Best Buy Award would go to one of the tested 3-in-1 style jackets. Each jacket tested in that style is priced near the low end of our selection and provides unmatched versatility. This style of jacket, regardless of the brand and model, offers a burly shell and separate, stand-alone insulating liner. This allows you to use the whole package together for maximum protection, use just the shell for warmer conditions, or use the liner on its own around town or during spring skiing weather. While the Patagonia 3-in-1 Snowshot is more polished and offers slightly better weatherproofing than the award winner, the Columbia Whirlibird Interchange 3-in-1
is much warmer and costs half of what the Patagonia model does. Additionally, the jacket is available in Bog and Tall options, so you can fully tailor the fit.
Read full review: Columbia Whirlibird Interchange 3-in-1
Top Pick for Synthetic Insulation
Fast-drying synthetic insulation
Synthetic insulation not terribly durable
Our Top Pick in this test is an unlikely standout. The Spyder Leader
only really wowed our testers with its style and loose comfort. In these categories, the Leader is unequaled. Elsewhere in the test and not unlike our Editors' Choice, the Leader delivered consistent results. The true value of the Spyder comes in its purpose-built design. This is a fully insulated, high-end, synthetic shell jacket. From other companies, the synthetic jackets in their lineups play "second fiddle" to a top-of-the-line down insulated model. For the synthetic jacket, other companies "dumb down" all the attributes of the jacket. With the Leader, Spyder keeps everything top-of-the-line but insulates with synthetic insulation. In this way, for those users particularly prone to wetness in their ski jacket, the Leader is our Top Pick. If you sweat a lot, or ski hard, day after day, in super wet climates like coastal Washington and BC or the Northeastern USA, but need a top end jacket, check out the Spyder Leader.
Read full review: Spyder Leader
Top Pick Shell-Only Jacket
Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Shell
Drum tight weather protection
We have reviewed ski jackets for many years now. For most of that time, we confined our initial selection to insulated jackets
. While we still hold that an insulated jacket is the most appropriate for most ski resort use, we also acknowledge that there exist those skiers and riders that wish to build themselves a layering system from individual, purpose-built components. For those users, your upper body protection starts with a shell jacket. The shell keeps off snow, rain, and wind. It needs to be loose-fitting, but with effective seals at waist, wrists, and head/face. In our years of testing, no product has so effectively sealed out the weather as the Norrona Lofoten Gore Tex Pro Shell
jacket. It is the only shell jacket we tested that incorporates interior wrist gaiters, it has a huge, adjustable hood, and it has the absolute best waist seal of any coat we have tested. When paired with the matching Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Pants
, which we also tested, the Lofoten's powder skirt can be cinched, snapped, or zipped to close out the weather. In the zipped-together configuration the Lofoten pair essentially becomes a one-piece suit, with absolutely no gaps for snow or wind to get in.
Read full review: Norrona Lofoten Gore Tex Pro Shell