How to Buy a Snowboard Jacket

How to Buy a Snowboard Jacket
When purchasing snowboard apparel, consider the three-layer system: wear a base layer, an insulating layer and a water- and windproof outer layer. This system is particularly useful when it comes to jackets. It pays to purchase a jacket that fits into this system because you'll be able to tailor your clothing to the weather conditions outside. With the three layers in mind, you can begin to consider what type of jacket you want.


Difficulty: Moderate

Step 1
Consider where you ride. It may be difficult to purchase the perfect jacket for all possible conditions, but that's what the three-layer system is for. Determine what the average conditions are where you ride and how much protection from water, wind and cold you need. For high winds and wet snow, you'll want a jacket with a high waterproof rating, whereas for warm, spring conditions you could get away with a lighter jacket.
Step 2
Consider whether you want a shell or a jacket. A shell provides a strict outer layer, designed solely to protect from wind and water and allow moisture to escape. A jacket includes insulation to make it warmer. Shells offer a number of advantages including more versatility for varying weather, lighter weight and increased comfort and mobility. Remember, with the three-layer system you can always put on an extra fleece to provide the insulation that the shell lacks. A jacket is good if you'd prefer built-in insulation or if you plan to use the jacket for general use in addition to snowboarding, where you don't want to layer up.
Step 3
Determine what type of waterproofing that you need. This will be based on the conditions in terms of precipitation and the type of snow (wet and heavy or light and dry). Many jackets include waterproof ratings ranging from 5,000 to 30,000 mm---the higher the number the more waterproof the garment. Certain fabrics, like Gore-Tex are also highly waterproof, though they may not contain a rating. Note that waterproofing also indicates windproofing so if the snow conditions are drier but you get a lot of fierce wind, you may still want a higher waterproofed jacket to knock down the strong winds.
Step 4
Pay attention to breathability. Keeping you dry is a two-part task: keeping outside moisture out and allowing your perspiration to escape. Like waterproofing, breathability is often indicated as a rating in a similar range. However, it's indicated in grams, such as 10,000 g. Like with waterproofing, the higher the better (more breathable).
Step 5
Consider performance features. Certain design features of a snowboard jacket will allow it to perform better on the mountain. Sufficient zip-venting under the arms will allow you to cool down on warmer days. Gaiters on the waist and cuffs will help to keep snow or water from slipping in. Taped seams and waterproof zippers will provide increased waterproof integrity of the jacket. Also consider whether you want a hood, no hood or detachable hood.
Step 6
Consider additional features. Pure performance is your first goal, but you'll probably want your jacket for other more basic purposes. Make sure there's ample pocket space; zippered pockets are also a good idea to keep things like car keys and money secure throughout the day. Many jackets include an audio pocket designed to easily run wires to your MP3 player. A goggle pocket is another handy component.
Step 7
Try the jacket on. Make sure that it is roomy enough to layer underneath. If you plan to wear the cuffs over your gloves, be sure that they extend down over your hands so that they will provide ample coverage. Consider the length of the jacket and if you want it to sit a little lower to offer additional moisture protection when sitting on the snow. Other than those basic considerations, fit is largely up to you: make sure the snowboard jacket is comfortable and looks good. Try on a few jackets to compare.

Tips & Warnings

Many online retailers have a review section. Read through the reviews of some jackets to see how other riders liked them.


Article Written By Joe Fletcher

Joe Fletcher has been a writer since 2002, starting his career in politics and legislation. He has written travel and outdoor recreation articles for a variety of print and online publications, including "Rocky Mountain Magazine" and "Bomb Snow." He received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Rutgers College.

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