Winter is cold, but you don’t have to be. Settling on a jacket that is warm, matches your personal style and is practical for what you’ve got planned for the snowy season can be overwhelming for some. Do you need a jacket that’s seam-sealed and waterproof, or will water resistance meet your needs? What’s the difference between a jacket that’s insulated, as opposed to one that’s an insulator? Fear not. We’ll take you through the options and suggest some of our favourites for the season:
Insulated jackets are great for those living in a bitter cold, humid climate. These jackets contain varying amounts of insulation covered by an integrated shell. This creates an always warm environment where you might only need a baselayer and/or light mid-layer underneath. The shell is usually treated with a DWR (water resistant) coating. Insulated jackets are great for resort skiing where long line ups and long chairlift rides can really cool you down. They can double as a warm casual jacket for daily winter wear, but are usually bulky and restrict movement. Don’t forget, beware of warmer days when spring is around the corner, you might want to have a lighter jacket on hand.
Hardshells are a great addition to your winter wardrobe. They offer amazing protection from the elements and can be used in all seasons. The key is to use a combination of wicking and insulating layers; baselayers, mid-layers and lightweight insulators, depending on how warm you need to be. Shell costs can push your budget but are worth it depending on whether they offer waterproof protection, high breathability, are windproof and made with a quick drying material. Perfect for the winter time adventurer headed out into the backcountry, winter hiking, snowshoeing or not sure what mother nature will throw at you. You’ll be prepared for it all.
The lightweight insulator jackets are a great layering piece for underneath shells without being too bulky like fleece. They help trap warm air thanks to their down or synthetic insulation and wick away any moisture, which helps regulate body temperature. The difference in the many out there is their construction and breathability, which determines how warm they are. It’s important to consider the activities you do and how your body reacts to them. If your body temperature is usually warm or you are doing more aerobic activity you’ll need lighter and more breathable, if you don’t warm up as easily while outside consider a warmer insulated jacket.
Still around are those bigger “puffy” jackets that are extremely warm insulator jackets. They are designed differently to allow for more fill, giving them that “puffy” look and warmth without a shell. These jackets are usually used as casual jackets in very cold climates. Their outer material is thin and not burly, with little or no waterproofing and they would be too warm and bulky under a shell, so they’re not ideal for skiing in. If you live in a very dry, very cold climate and tend to stay away from the trees, these jackets will work on the slopes, but pay attention to your local forecast and have a different jacket for wet or warmer days.
For skiing conditions look for jackets that include a powder skirt, hood, pockets, vents, covered or waterproof zippers, fully taped seams, adjustable cuffs and wrist gaiters. These are very helpful additions depending on the weather/location(s) you ski in. Your outerwear is meant to keep you dry and warm so make sure you’re buying quality not quantity. Puffy insulator jackets are a great apres ski or around town outerwear when you need warmth fast. If your main focus is very controlled warmth and more movement, properly layering underneath a hard shell jacket with baselayers and a lightweight insulator jacket is the way to go. If you are concerned about getting cold easily in long line ups or slow chair rides, you might want a burly jacket to get you through the season check out the insulated jackets