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
We awarded our Editors' Choice to the Arc'teryx Macai
jacket. The Macai delivers performance in all categories and crushes the field in warmth-to-weight and durability. The Macai is the lightest piece tested and is nearly the warmest. Down insulation is the distinguishing characteristic of the Macai. Protected from moisture, goose down is an unequaled insulator. The Macai's waterproof Gore-Tex shell and strategic synthetic fill in the underarms do just that. The one drawback we found was a propensity for staining. The front of one tested jacket easily picked up permanent marks in normal usage. Another test iteration, in another color, did not demonstrate this. Interestingly, like many of our Editors' Choice products in other categories, the Macai did not score at the top of any single metric. There are other products that excel in one category or another. However, solid performance across the board and insulation durability tip the balance solidly in its favor.
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 3-in-1 style jackets. Each jacket in that style is priced near the low end of our selection and provides unmatched versatility. This style, regardless of the brand and model, offers a burly shell and separate, stand-alone insulating liner. As a consumer, you can use the whole thing together for maximum protection, use just the shell for warmer conditions, or use the liner on its own around town or during spring skiing. While the Patagonia 3-in-1 Snowshot is more polished and offers better weather-proofing than the award winner, the Columbia Whirlibird Interchange 3-in-1
is much warmer and costs half the Patagonia piece.
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 wowed our testers with its style and loose comfort. In these categories, the Leader is unequaled. However, elsewhere in the test, and not unlike our Editors' Choice, the Leader delivered consistent results. The true value of the Spyder comes in its design. This is a fully insulated, synthetic shell jacket. Synthetic jackets from other companies 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. For users prone to wetness in their ski jacket, the Leader is our Top Pick. If you sweat a lot, or ski day after day in wet climates like coastal Washington and BC or the Northeastern USA, but need a top-end jacket, check out the 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. 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 ski resort use, we acknowledge that some 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 waist, wrists, and head/face seals. In our years of testing, no product has sealed out the weather like the Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Shell
jacket. It is the only shell jacket tested that incorporates interior wrist gaiters, it has a huge, adjustable hood, and it has the best waist seal of any coat 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. 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.