Over the years, mens snowboard jackets have not only changed in technology but fashion as well. As someone who’s worked at a snowboard shop for many years, I’ll cover everything you need to know. We’ll discuss the different types of fit, materials and how they affect waterproofing, breathability, insulation as well as additional features. After reading this article you’ll be confident and prepared to buy the best mens snowboarding jacket for yourself.
The Ultimate Mens Snowboard Jackets Guide
The Different Types of Mens Snowboard Jackets
There are several different types of jackets available for purchase, all of which offer a different set of pros and cons.
There are shell jackets, insulated jackets, technical shell jackets, softshell jackets and 3-in-1 jackets.
But to make things simple, we’re going to focus on 2 main types of jackets: shell jackets and insulated jackets.
You can think of it like a spectrum where shells and insulated jackets are on the ends of the spectrum and everything else falls somewhere in between.
These are the most common type of jacket. If you go out snowboarding you’ll notice most people are wearing shell jackets.
Shell jackets are windproof and waterproof, yet highly breathable. However, they don’t include internal insulation. Because they are not insulated they’re lighter and allow for added mobility.
The reason why most people wear shell jackets is because they are great for layering. Typically, if you have a shell jacket you’ll wear a base layer and mid layer underneath.
The ability to layer with a shell jacket makes them very versatile. If you’re going to have one jacket for different types of riding and weather conditions, then a shell jacket is a great choice.
These jackets are going to be optimal for those who snowboard in regions prone to being very cold.
An insulated jacket includes an outer layer that is waterproof and windproof, along with an insulated layer that is built directly into the jacket. The insulating inner layer is usually made of fleece, down, or a synthetic fill such as Primaloft or Thinsulate.
Insulated jackets with down are going to use either goose or duck feathers. Jackets insulated with down are generally more expensive than those with synthetic insulation. This is because down is considered a better insulator than synthetics. However, if down gets damp it takes longer to dry.
The insulation is commonly measured in grams. The higher the weight in grams, the warmer the jacket will be. Insulation can range from 30 grams to as high as 800 grams, which is most commonly found with down feathers.
One way that many brands fine-tune the warmth of mens snowboard jackets is to use different amounts of insulation in different parts of the jacket. For example, heavier insulation can be used in the body while lighter-weight insulation is used in the sleeves and hood. This improves mobility without affecting the overall warmth of the jacket.
Finding the Right Fit
Mens snowboard jackets come in the typical sizing that you would expect (small, medium, large, extra large). However, snowboarding outwear can come in different fits. Most brands provide three general fits: slim, regular and relaxed.
- Outerwear provides a good range of motion.
- Jackets fit much closer to the body and are tailored with a more fitted profile. Often the jackets have a waist-length cut.
- Slim fit jackets may reduce the amount of layering you can wear. So that’s something to keep in mind.
- Outerwear will have good room for layering.
- Jackets will have a standard length. When you raise your arms the jacket won’t pull up past your waist line. When you bend your elbows the sleeves won’t extend past your wrists.
- Outerwear will have extra room, allowing for plenty of layering and full range of motion.
- Jackets will have more room throughout the body and sleeves making it longer.
The primary function of mens snowboard jackets is to keep you dry. Because of this, waterproofing is the first feature you should be shopping for. If your jacket gets even a little bit damp from either rain or snow, you’ll be uncomfortable and you’ll get cold.
So, how can you tell how waterproof a jacket will be before you buy it?
If you’re purchasing in store at a snowboard shop, most snowboard outerwear will have tags on the outside, or labels on the inside of the garment. These tags and labels will list the specs and features of the garment. If you’re purchasing online, you’ll want to look for a list of specs or features on the product page.
There are three things you need to look for: how the seams are sealed, what’s the waterproof rating and does the jacket have Gore-tex?
I’ll discuss each in more detail below.
How the Seams are Sealed
Brands manufacture outerwear with seams that are considered fully seamed (sometimes called fully taped) or critically taped seams.
Fully taped seams means that all the seams in the garment are sealed. This will prevent any moisture or water from entering the outwear through the seams.
Critically taped seams means that only the major seams, usually around the chest, back and underarms are sealed. This means that there are still some minor seams, usually around the wrist of the sleeves and the hood where moisture can seep in.
Mens snowboard jackets with fully taped seams will generally be more expensive than critically taped seams.
I recommend going with the “fully” option instead of the “critical” option wherever possible.
There is a rating system used to determine how waterproof your mens snowboard jackets will be. This rating is a measurement of how many millimetres of water per square inch can be repelled.
Ratings usually come in a range from 5,000mm to 20,000mm. The higher the rating the more expensive the jacket, usually.
You also need to keep in mind how heavy rainfall or snowfall can be. Even though you won’t experience 5,000mm of rain in a day, a 5,000mm waterproof jacket can still let in water after a few hours outside. The amount of force rain drops or snow hit your jacket will affect how wet you’ll get. For example, heavier rain or snow might penetrate a 5,000mm jacket but not a 20,000mm jacket.
I personally prefer at least 10,000mm in waterproofing (with fully taped seams). This will keep you protected from getting wet while snowboarding, unless you’re out snowboarding on a rainy day. But then again, most people don’t spend hours and hours outside snowboarding in the rain. You can get outerwear with 15,000mm+ waterproofing, to keep you dry in more conditions, if you want the peace of mind.
I would only snowboard with 5,000mm waterproofing in spring-like conditions.
Gore-Tex is a membrane that is laminated to the face fabric (the outside layer) of mens snowboard jackets. It’s one of the most waterproof and breathable fabric membranes available. It’s an incredible innovation in outerwear clothing.
It’s also one of the most expensive options for waterproofing and breathability.
Although many different types of jackets are waterproof, a jacket with GORE-TEX is capable of maintaining an extremely high level of waterproofness while also staying very breathable because it has billions of microscopic pores that let water vapour out but prevent liquid water from entering.
This is a great video that explains how the technology works.
Any mens snowboard jackets with Gore-Tex will always be fully seam sealed. It’s actually a requirement for any brand that uses Gore-Tex technology.
Snowboarding is an adrenaline fuelled sport, which means you are going to sweat.
Since you’ll be sweating, it’s important that mens snowboard jackets can “breath”. This means that the jacket’s fabric has the ability to release sweat and air vapour.
If vapours from sweat get trapped inside your jacket you won’t be dry and that sweat can cool which will cause you to get cold.
You’re actually more likely to get cold from sweating inside your jacket than compared to the cold air outside your jacket.
Your jacket’s breathability will be measured in grams and can range from 3,000g to 20,000g. Generally, the higher the rating the more expensive the jacket will be.
If you often use chairlifts while snowboarding, you can get a jacket with 8,000g–10,000g of breathability.
If you’re going to be hiking up sections of the mountain, or walking up and down the bunny hill often like Snowboard Instructors do, then getting a jacket with 10,000g+ is a good option.
Extra Features of Mens Snowboard Jackets
I’m going to cover some other features you’ll find in mens snowboard jackets. These features are fairly common so you shouldn’t have problems finding jackets that include them. I think each of these features are important and I would recommend them to anyone shopping around for snowboard jackets.
A powder skirt is an elastic band within the jacket that button clips together. It attaches around the waist and it’s designed to prevent snow from coming up into your jacket. It’s handy when you’re riding in deeper snow conditions. Also, it keeps snow from getting up into your jacket if you ever fall or take a tumble.
Vents are zippers in the under arm that can be opened and closed. When opened, they have a mesh lining that will release body heat from the jacket. It’s a great way to regulate your temperature while snowboarding.
If you’re feeling to hot, you can open your vents for a few runs. Once you feel like you’re starting to cool down again you can close them.
This is a less common feature but I really like them.
Wrist gaiters are built-in liners that go over your hand with a hole for your thumb. They are made of a thin stretchy material called lycra, which is basically a type of spandex.
They’re sewn inside the cuff of the jacket’s sleeves. They help keep out snow from getting up your sleeves.
Airblaster is a brand that makes their jackets with wrist gaiters.
Obviously, pockets are super common. Just about every jacket has them. But they are super important.
You need somewhere to stash your wallet, phone, keys, music player, trail map etc.
There’s two types of pockets that I look for in mens snowboard jackets.
Electronics pocket: This is a pocket specifically designed for your phone or music player. It’s usually an inside breast pocket. The pocket can most often be closed with a zipper, velcro or a button. An electronics pocket will also have a small slit that you can feed the wire of your earphones through.
Goggle Pocket: This pocket lets you store your goggles when you’re not wearing them, like when you’re in a chalet. Goggle lens are prone to scratching so a goggle pocket is specially designed with soft cloth microfibre to keep your goggles safe while also wiping them down if they get smudged of foggy.
Where to Buy Mens Snowboard Jackets
Hands down the best way to buy a men’s snowboard jacket is to go into your local snowboard shop. It will allow you to try on different sets of jackets to find one with a fit and length that suits your needs.
Obviously, you can purchase snowboard jackets online and this is fine alternative. But I personally prefer the in-store experience of finding the right jacket for myself.
One of my favourite snowboard shops in the Greater Toronto Area is Corbett’s in Oakville. The selection of outwear there is plentiful.
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