If you run a quick search for the term “Snowboard jacket” and look at the Google Shopping results, you’ll find jackets ranging from $80 to $400, and if you dig deeper into those results and look through premium retailers, that price edges closer to $3,000.
You’ll find a multitude of brands, colors, materials, and styles.
It’s a vast and confusing market and it begs the question, what should you be looking for when buying a snowboard jacket?
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What to Look for When Buying Snowboard Jackets
There are several things to consider when browsing snowboard jackets, including:
The Waterproof Rating
A snowboard jacket needs to be waterproof and most of them are…to an extent.
As with electronics and shoes, the waterproof rating can be vastly different from one product to the next.
Some snowboard jackets come with a waterproof rating that’s measured from 5,000mm to 20,000mm.
The rating is supposed to dictate the depth of water that the jacket can handle when exposed for 24 hours.
But just like smartphone waterproof ratings, they’re not perfect.
They are tested in lab conditions and don’t account for variables such as the force of rain and snow.
The waterproof rating is a good place to start, but there are other elements to consider as well.
The first of these is Gore-Tex, a type of waterproof material used in some snowboard jackets.
It is both waterproof and breathable and while it’s far from a budget option, it is an effective one.
The quality of the seams can also indicate its level of water resistance.
If the jacket includes “fully taped seams”, it means that the seams are completely sealed and should protect against water.
If it states, “critically taped”, then only the biggest seams have been sealed and the jacket is not completely waterproof.
An insulated jacket will protect against the cold.
It’s essential if you’re riding in cold winds, especially if you’re the sort of person who feels a chill in the spring and summer.
Down insulation is one of the most common, but it’s an animal product (plucked from ducks and geese) and is far from cruelty-free.
If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, or just don’t like using animal products, you’ll want to give this one a miss.
Down snowboard jackets can also be very expensive and some of the most premium brands use down as an insulation material.
What’s more, down doesn’t work when it’s wet and must be used in a waterproof jacket for it to be effective.
Synthetic insulation materials are also available.
Often made from polyester fibers, this material performs better when wet but is not as easily compressed as down.
Synthetic insulation is often measured in grams and the weight listed refers to the weight of a 1×1 meter patch.
The heavier it is, the warmer the jacket will be.
The weights typically range from 40g to 120g.
Although the two features above are the most important, there are several other features to consider when buying a snowboard jacket:
- Breathability Rating: The breathability rating will tell you how easily air passes through the fabric, with Gore-Tex being at the premium end.
- Venting: The jacket may include vents underneath the arms to make these key areas cooler and prevent overheating.
- Hood: Some jackets include a hood that you can pull over your head during those cold days. It will typically be big enough to cover your helmet.
- Pockets: You’re going to need a few pockets to store your valuables, and these should be sealed and sturdy.
How Much Should I Spend on a Snowboard Jacket?
How much you spend is entirely up to you.
Typically, the price of a decent jacket begins at around $50 to $80 and you can expect to pay closer to $300 if you want a really good one.
Beyond this, you may get a higher-quality jacket, but you could also be paying for the brand name.
A snowboard jacket is practical, but it’s still a fashion item, and there are brands out there charging $3,000 for jackets that lesser-known brands are selling for $500.
Just remember that you need a jacket and pants, as well as boots, bindings, a helmet, and other safety gear.
In other words, don’t blow all of your budget on the jacket and save some cash for everything else.
Should Snowboard Jackets be Oversized?
Your jacket shouldn’t be so loose that it hangs from your body and lets water and air inside, but it shouldn’t be so tight that you can’t move.
Like all pieces of clothing, a snug fit is best.
If you’re spending a lot of money on a jacket, go to an outdoor clothing store and try it on.
See how it looks and feels before committing to the purchase.
Alternatively, double-check the returns policy and make sure you won’t be asked to pay extortionate re-stocking fees or shipping fees if you need to return the jacket.
What Snowboard Jacket Should I Get?
There are so many great options out there, but we recommend sticking with snowboarding/skiing brands, as well as those experienced in cold weather clothing.
Burton Snowboards is a great example.
It’s a hugely popular and reputable snowboard brand that makes great snowboards and clothing, and it currently stocks premium GORE-TEX jackets for around $250.
Ultimately, the choice is yours.
If you find a jacket that looks good, feels good, and will provide you with adequate protection while snowboarding, buy it!