Many beginner snowboarders tend to invest all their attention (and money) on the latest boards and bindings, rarely considering their clothing. However, a piece of clothing such as the snowboard jacket is equally as important as the gear. After all, the wrong jacket can break your day. Imagine spending a sunny spring day in a jacket with high insulation. Or having to brave a blizzard in a light softshell.
Considering there’s a large variety of snowboard jackets to choose from, you really need to consider the conditions you’ll be likely to face. Although there are many variations on the market, the majority of jackets fall under hardshells, soft shells, and insulated jackets. Let’s see what each type offers.
Hardshells are worn by the majority of people, especially beginners. The reason they are so popular is that they have a very versatile design. Hardshells are made of a waterproof material and feature vents that enhance breathability so you don’t overheat. Although they aren’t insulated, they do offer plenty of room for layering if the day is particularly cold. If you’re looking to invest in a single jacket for every type of riding – hardshells can make a great choice.
If you’re planning to go snowboarding in late autumn or in spring, you’ll need a lighter jacket. Softshell snowboarding jackets are made of soft, stretchy materials that are nevertheless somewhat waterproof. However, compared to hardshells they are less resistant to water and wind. In design, these jackets resemble a hoodie, however, they do not get soaked when they touch snow due to being lined with a DWR coating on the surface that prevents moisture. What’s more, softshells are relatively inexpensive and can be a great choice if you’re looking for a spring jacket or a piece for snowboarding in a milder climate.
However, if you do plan to ride in very cold conditions, you need to protect yourself with a jacket that’s well-insulated. This type of jacket consists of an outer shell as well as a layer of insulation built in beneath. The insulating layer can be made of down or a synthetic alternative such as Primaloft or Thinsulate. Synthetic insulation is often less expensive than down and better in moisture-wicking which makes it ideal for humid and rainy conditions.
But besides ensuring you stay dry and comfortable on the slopes, the right jacket should also allow you to store all your belongings in an efficient way. Just think about it, you can’t exactly carry a bag up there, which means that your jacket needs to be equipped with enough pockets to keep your wallet, phone, ski pass, keys, sunglasses and other items you may need. Chest pockets, sleeve pockets, multiple inner pockets, pockets designed for media with a headphone port, in addition to hand pockets can really be helpful when it comes to organizing your belongings.