Backcountry skiing is an amazing way to enjoy winter, and it is something every avid skier should try at some point in their life. While in-bounds skiing is also a lot of fun, being in the backcountry gives you a sense of how impressive and powerful the snow-brushed mountains can be.
However, backcountry skiing comes with its own set of challenges. Conditions in the backcountry can change quickly. If you are not ready, they can be quite dangerous. The backcountry ski jackets listed here will keep you prepared for anything that comes your way.
- The Arc’teryx Alpha SV is an excellent jacket for backcountry skiing. The unique light-but-sturdy design is revolutionary in the world of backcountry apparel. It feels great and can hold up to even the harshest conditions. In addition, the jacket is made of a 3-layer Gore-Tex Pro fabric that keeps moisture out while also letting steam and sweat evaporate as you move through the backcountry.
- Another solid option for your backcountry skiing adventures is the Outdoor Research Hemispheres Jacket. This jacket is constructed with a solid GORE-TEX based design that makes it waterproof and windproof. However, it is also lightweight and packable so you can handle any condition that comes your way. Not the warmest option, but a great choice if you ski long distances.
- The Helly Hansen Alpha Jacket is a clothing item I would recommend to any backcountry skier. It features a 2-layer design that still provides excellent warmth, water, and wind protection, and is one of the most comfortable backcountry jackets around. It comes with plenty of pockets for all of your gear and is available in multiple colors to match your personal style.
Who Should Get This
If you plan on doing any backcountry skiing, you’re going to need a backcountry jacket. While you could get away with a more resort-style jacket in a pinch, the design and features of all the jackets listed here are intended to match the rigors and challenges of backcountry skiing.
If you only plan on skiing in-bounds at a resort, you don’t necessarily need a backcountry jacket. You could still use one of these jackets at a resort, of course, but they tend to be a little more expensive than your standard ski jacket.
Best Backcountry Ski Jacket: What to Consider
Any jacket designed for backcountry skiing should be constructed of water-proof and wind-proof materials. Always ensure it is made of Gore-Tex, Nylon, or a similarly waterproof outer layer as well. Backcountry jackets need to hold up well under intense weather conditions and you need to be sure it will keep away the elements in a way that keeps you warm.
A backcountry ski jacket should be designed to handle the worst mother nature can throw at you. This means that all parts of the jacket, including zippers, hoods, and straps, need to be reliable and consistent so you can bundle up when needed. A hood that covers your entire head and can cinch down to help with visibility is very important in the backcountry. Look for ones integrated directly into the clothing design.
Many backcountry ski jackets have added features that help you prepare for any situation. Extra pockets will help you pack food, safety equipment, and extra accessories, while helmet compatibility keeps your head protected. Safety is critical in the backcountry, and you should always find ways to keep your body out of harm’s way. I like jackets that have glove straps. That keeps my gear from becoming lost during a bad spill.
Best Backcountry Ski Jacket: Our Picks
This jacket is a great option for any avid backcountry skier. The special design cuts down on weight or bulk without sacrificing any warmth or advanced performance. It has an extremely durable 3-layer Gore-Tex fabric that can handle all conditions and stand up to abuse from extreme adventures.
What we like:
- Very durable
- Excellent fit
What we don’t like:
- Not a lot of downside to this jacket other than the cost. It’s expensive.
The Outdoor Research Hemispheres jacket is another awesome option for backcountry skiing. The Gore-Tex design protects from wind and water. Alongside that, there is a unique stretch technology that makes the jacket extremely functional and comfortable no matter how you ski.
Plenty of extra features and a rugged design ensure this jacket will last for many, many backcountry ski trips.
What we like:
- Stretch Gore-Tex allows freedom of movement
- Helmet compatible
- Excellent for travel
What we don’t like:
- Not the warmest option
- Only available in a few colors
This jacket is a personal favorite of backcountry skiers everywhere. It offers excellent warmth while also being very comfortable and flexible. That makes it ideal for any backcountry obstacles that might come your way. The H20 Flow Mechanical Venting System allows any moisture your body creates while hiking or skiing to easily escape as well. That keeps you warm and dry, even if you work up a sweat.
What we like:
- Excellent design in both form and function
- Moisture-wicking technology really works
- Plenty of added features (pockets, zippers, straps)
- Engineered for the backcountry and it shows
- Comes in many different color options
What we don’t like:
- Not quite as durable as I’d like
- Somewhat short for a backcountry jacket
Useful Tips and Resources
Backcountry skiing can be a truly unforgettable experience but it also comes with plenty of danger and risk. You need to be sure you are prepared for all conditions and educate yourself about the risks and how to navigate them. Check out this link to learn more about backcountry skiing safety.
If you are going to spend any time in the backcountry, you also need to know about avalanche safety and conditions. Ski resorts do their own avalanche control to keep skiers safe. However, in the backcountry, that is left up to you. Here is a video with some good advice on avalanche safety.
If you are a fan of backcountry skiing, you need the right gear and equipment to get the most out of the experience. There are many important items to have when outside of a resort, and a good jacket is one of them. The jackets listed here will help you have a good time out there while keeping you warm and dry.
While you need the proper equipment in the backcountry, safety should always be your number one concern. One mistake and things can go very, very wrong. Educate yourself on how to stay safe if you plan on spending any time in the backcountry.
Have you ever been backcountry skiing? Where is your favorite location to backcountry ski? Let us know below!