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New ski jacket

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I’m in the market for a new ski jacket. The last two years I have been wearing a Gore-Tex shell jacket with a fleece, synthetic T shirt and merino base layer. It’s worked well but I have been a bit cold at times.

Most ski jackets seem to be insulated. I’ve not used an I insulated jacket before. For skiing in mainland Europe what would people recommend please and why?

Waterproof / windproof shell with layers or insulated with less layers? If insulated what level of insulation?

Thank you.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
To some degree, it depends on what time of year you go skiing - and whether you go in both Winter Months and Spring Months.

I like quality insulation from the likes of Primaloft, Thinsulate or Down.

Look at good quality gear that is discounted, from the likes of Sport Pursuit, Snowtrax (used to be Sports-Outlet) and TK Max

I like waterproof/windproof/breathable - and have usually gone with Goretex - but unless you ski in the rain, Goretex is not essential.

I like fully seam sealed (as opposed to critical seam sealed)

I would go with lighter insulation, as you can put more layers underneath, if necessary - but have never found heavier insulation a problem, but I go at colder times of the year.
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I’ve been a shell plus layers person for a long time. Underneath I wear a good thin down jacket plus, two thin/medium layers of merino depending on the conditions. I reckon if you go for a quality thin down jacket under your shell, rather than a fleece, you’re unlikely to experience chilly days. I have had my down jacket for at least 6 seasons and so it has out-lived at least 3 shells. Plus it can double up as another jacket to wear in the evening . Sportpursuit is a good option for both layers -just taken delivery of a new Arcteryx shell jacket for this winter Very Happy . It’s not a cheap option, but I’m [ahem!] determined not to look “mumsy” on the mountain. Also great not to have an insulated jacket on a warm day.
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Wind and rain seem to be getting more common in the alps in winter so gotetex with a good hood and layers seems sensible.
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Quote:


I’ve been a shell plus layers person for a long time. Underneath I wear a good thin down jacket plus, two thin/medium layers of merino depending on the conditions. I reckon if you go for a quality thin down jacket under your shell, rather than a fleece, you’re unlikely to experience chilly days



I'd just add that this works for people who don't sweat much. If you work up a sweat when exercising then down is terrible as a midlayer because
a) fabric to retain down has to be very tight weave and this means very wind resistant so it restricts venting and tends to mean damp air gets trapped in the down or inside the midlayer
b) down itself (even hydrophobic) doesn't perform as well as synthetic when damp (which it will be after you've been sweating)

If you are like me and tend to get sweaty then I'd strongly recommend a synthetic midlayer. Or a synthetically insulated outer jacket.
(I do have a down jacket and a down vest but I use these as top layers for keeping warm when I'm not moving much in cold/dry conditions - brilliant for that)

I have the luxury of several jackets.
I tend to use a primaloft insulated goretex jacket early season and later in the season switch to a goretex shell over either just merino base or topped up with a stretch fleece hoody if its chilly. I sometimes use a true (non membrane) soft shell for touring.

If I had to go for one option then I'd go shell/fleece hoody or shell/synthetic "puffa". It is the most flexible option.
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@IainMcT, shell + layers means greater flexibility - and... it's a general purpose jacket. Whereas "ski" jackets tend to look like ski jackets...
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@jedster, good points. I am totally impressed with the Arcteryx Atom which I think has Primaloft insulation - certainly synthetic, very wide range of comfortable temps.

On colder days I add a synthetic down vest or use a high pile fleece.
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Quote:

I am totally impressed with the Arcteryx Atom which I think has Primaloft insulation - certainly synthetic, very wide range of comfortable temps.


I think technically it's an arcteryx own branded insulation ("coreloft"?) but my hunch is that it might be very very similar to primaloft (out of the same factory?).
Yes- Atom is really good. I got something similar from "Fern" on sportspursuit for less money but IME you never regret buying arcteryx.
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Coreloft vs Primaloft
https://norwaygeographical.com/coreloft-vs-primaloft-insulation/
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thanks - so actually different products but quite similar in composition and performance
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I've done both the shell + layers and the "ski jacket" methods, and to be honest, the ski jacket method works best for me. I'm fortunate that I have a shell already in use as a hillwalker, but in my opinion the plusses for the shell approach are simply that you may already have a suitable shell/ or that you buy one which you can use as a day to day jacket for other wear. Nothing wrong with that.

The plusses for the "proper" ski jacket - it will do exactly what you need it to do, minimal fuss and faff, and ,believe it or not, you can actually buy usable ski jackets now which don't look like you've just stepped away from teaching a class of kids.

I also have a liking for a proper collar. The massive helmet compatible hoods on most shells look ridiculous unless they're fully zipped up, and be honest,how many of us wear the hood over our helmets under normal conditions. Most hoods on ski jackets can be removed altogether .

As for the negatives - shell - layers mean faff. Ok, you can adapt to the relevant conditions , but if you want to be warmer / cooler you have to do something with the layer . You NEED to carry a rucksack to put it in . I don't mind that when I'm hillwalking, I have a rucksack anyway, but I don't really want to have to carry one skiing in resort .

Shell + layers are really only for those who are slogging uphill and would boil to death in an insulated jacket .

Most jackets have pit zips to dump heat - open the zips in a ski jacket and the heat gets out immediately. Open the vents in a layered approach and the heat is still stuck under your 3 other layers.

Layers also mean - do you tuck them inside your salopettes ? That creates lots of extra heat and "may compromise fit ". What if you wear salopettes with braces ? Under or over the layers ? Layers over the straps for comfort = toilet break gymnastics.
Again, lots of faff at toilet breaks / cafe stops.

Of course the most important point for most skiers is " will this Arc'teryx shell make me look like a gnarly freerider just about to huck a 100ft cliff ?" as opposed to an elderly German.

It is of course CRITICAL that the jacket and trousers do not match. Years ago, you'd be virtually chased off the hill in Scotland if you turned up wearing a coordinated outfit. Madeye-Smiley
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Look at the temps you'll be skiing in.

Early Jan and minus 20 I was wearing traditional, insulated, waterproof, breathable jacket over thinish "puffa" type jacket with merino base and second layer - still cold but I ski on piste within my comfort zone.
Fast forward 2 months and all I needed was merino base, lightest of second layer which several times was stuffed into pockets at lunchtime and hardshell.

Which ever way you go - pitzips!! And buff-type neck wraps - they are amazing! Easy on/off and totally disproportionate amount of heat gain for their bulk.

My husband is happy with base layer and insulated jacket in minus 20 so....horses for courses, I guess.


Last edited by And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports. on Tue 8-10-19 19:56; edited 1 time in total
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Don't forget that it isn't just the runs - uplifting at below minus 20 deg C and you can never be too warm!
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Quote:

Most jackets have pit zips to dump heat - open the zips in a ski jacket and the heat gets out immediately. Open the vents in a layered approach and the heat is still stuck under your 3 other layers.


This is what I like - even just unzipping the front zip can dump damp air from your base layer.

Quote:

Of course the most important point for most skiers is " will this Arc'teryx shell make me look like a gnarly freerider just about to huck a 100ft cliff ?" as opposed to an elderly German.


you know Arcteryx make insulated ski jackets too and they look just as gnarly freeride as the shells so that isn't a problem although the price might be!
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Warm days - merino base + flannel shirt

Cold days - merino base + 2 flannel shirts + beanie

Easy
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Still can’t make my mind up. Really like the Mountain Equipment Changabang uninsulated jacket. Not had an issue with layers previously. Not had an issue using the toilet either. Long sleeved merino wool top and merino wool T shirt tucked into ski trousers. Braces over the top, fleece over the top of that then shell. if I needed a wee I undid my flies and fiddled around in the fly of my merino wool long johns and pants until I could pull it out.

We skied early Feb this year in Alpe D’Huez and late January 2018 in Selva Gardener. There were a few times when I was cold but equally quite a few times when I was hot. When I was hot I undid pit zips and front zip. When I was cold I was cold. Usually on lifts which is only temporary.

I did carry a rucksack with my wife’s spare fleece and water bottle so could have carried an extra layer, but for the amount of time I was cold it didn’t warrant taking off my shell, adding another fleece then putting the shell back on.

We are going to Cervinia early Feb next year which I think is quite a bit higher and therefore presumably colder. Difficult to know until I have spent a ski holiday in an insulated jacket so that I can compare it.

Might have to buy a cheap second hand insulated jacket then hang around the Snowzone in Milton Keynes and see how it feels.
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The above mentioned primaloft / coreloft midlayers are much better than fleece. Less bulky, and warmer. Love my Atom, also serves as a jacket on it's own back at home.
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IainMcT wrote:
if I needed a wee I undid my flies and fiddled around in the fly of my merino wool long johns and pants until I could pull it out.


That's not really the situation which is problematic.
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Iain, I have never been as hot skiing on the slopes as I've been in the snowdomes! If the temps compared I'd be indoor skiing in the buff (way to get the slope to yourself!!! ,)
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hang11 wrote:
Warm days - merino base + flannel shirt

Cold days - merino base + 2 flannel shirts + beanie

Easy


Haha. I think your definition of a cold day is different to mine. -25 degrees, 2 flannel shirts is not going to cut it. Not unless you have a serious amount of body hair similar to the yeti..?
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Quote:

Really like the Mountain Equipment Changabang uninsulated jacket


great jacket - won't go wrong with that
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@IainMcT, The top lifts in Cervinia/Zermatt could easily be below -25C without wind chill, so even if you wear an insulated jacket you are going to need to layer up underneath it.

Apart from my early years skiing in one piece etc, I’ve worn layers, ranging from a base layer and the shell in +5C and sunshine, to 4/5 layers below -20C

Only you know how hot or cold you normally are when skiing, but from your comments you appear about average and don’t run too hot or cold, and since you usually carry a backpack, carrying an extra layer shouldn’t be an issue.

Don’t go overboard on the insulation though. I have a massive Norrona 750 weight down jacket that I only need a t-shirt under at -10C, but would be way too hot for skiing or any other activity.

In terms of toilet breaks, Norrona Lofoten Pro ski pants have a bib/braces that can be un-zipped at the waist, so no need to remove any upper body clothing.
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@PowderAdict, wind chill is massively less material if you have wind-proof clothing and insulation on ... it exists, but is more applicable if you are sunbathing in Brittany. Facial cooling, if exposed, is a thing however.

But more importantly, how often really does it hit -25C at 3,480m ? Top Grands Montets at 3,330m Punta Indren at 3,275m and ambient temperature is not something I find myself worrying about that often, and -25C would be notably cold.

I think I've only skied in ambient temps like that once or twice (both in BC) and it was very memorable.
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@under a new name,

Quote:

-25C would be notably cold.


In Europe -10C is pretty damn cold. That said if I end up with a long schuss at -10 the windchill will be felt and toes and fingers can get pretty chilly (which is about core temp as well as gloves and boots).
Windproofing is important but you get more heat transfer form the surface of your clothes when wind is passing it quickly.
I remember one day when I needed to get from the top of Saulire to 1850 in a hurry. It was late afternoon, -10 in Jan and the sun was over the hill. When I got back to the chalet I climbed under a duvet with my ski boots on because I was bloody frozen.
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@jedster, yeah, I'd normally have the extra or warmer layers on if even -10 was forecast.

That's while I suggested w/c massively less material - plus if you're moving (and not on a shaded chairlift) ... in your case, I'd maybe (if opportunity was available) - all zips closed up and gloves cinched - you then have mostly only heat conduction to surface layer swiftly convected away. And you are generating your own wind chill so if you had a following wind, you might actually be warmer than a head wind.
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I switched from a base/fleece/shell combination 3 years ago to a ski-specific insulated jacket from Millet. (I was mostly tired of wrestling with so many layers, and tbh as I get older I get colder more easily. I'm glad I switched. If it's warm, ie 5 deg or more, I just wear a base layer and the jacket; if it's cold, down to -10/-15, I'm good with a midweight fleece under it. Plus it's more streamlined than a shell, it's reasonably waterproof, and has large ventilation zips to let off steam. The downside is that it looks kind of odd off the slopes, unlike a shell that you can wear hiking, doing errands etc.

A great emergency layer is a cheap Uniqlo down vest. barely adds any weight of volume, and you can stuff it into a pocket if it gets hot.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
I would buy a really good shell for warmer days and if bothered with the layering faff just get an affordable decathlon insulated ski jacket for colder days.
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Every year on this website someone seems to get soaked skiing in the Alps. Good waterproofs will make the difference between being damp and being too wet to ski. Putting a hood up also makes a big difference on a cold chairlift.
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