If you spend a lot of time on the slopes, you know there's a definite line between comfort and fashion. You might desire to look like the perfect snow bunny -- but not at the expense of freezing your important body parts. If you're checking out snowboard coats and not sure whether the coat will be warm enough, look for a few clues that the style you're considering is ready for the wind, snow and ice you'll likely encounter.
Check the label to find out its temperature rating. Some brands provide a guide that tells you what weather conditions a jacket can endure; some will be rated for below-freezing temperatures, others will be recommended for temperatures greater than 32 degrees, for example. Also read the label to find out what type of material the outer layer is made from. You want something that is waterproof -- you'll be much warmer if you're not wet.
Look at the inside layers. Snowboard jackets typically come either as a "shell," with which you'll combine with a layer of fleece, for example, as well as an inner wicking layer. Others have those two layers as well as a warm fleece or wool layer built in. If it doesn't have a warming third layer, it doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't buy the jacket -- it just means you'll have to add a fleece or a hoodie under the jacket. Multiple thin layers are warmer than one thick layer, reminds the outdoor gear outfitter REI.
Check the seams. Good jackets have a tape along the seams on the inside of the jacket, acting as a method of waterproofing and windproofing. Also check on the jacket's "breathability rating." A quality jacket should be breathable so that your sweat doesn't get trapped inside the jacket, making you feel colder.
Look for additional features that help keep out the wind and snow. A "powder skirt" is common in quality snowboard jackets. This is an inner layer near the bottom of the jacket that can be tightened near the waist to keep out snow. Other features such as hand covers, cinching cords near the waist and wrists and a hood or mask that zips into the collar are all features that will help keep you warmer.
Ask to take it outside. The surest way to find out if the jacket is going to work for you is to test-drive it yourself. If it's winter, step outside into the wind. If that's not possible, ask about the store's return policy, and buy from the retailer that will allow you to return the item if you're not satisfied.
- If you choose a jacket that serves as the outer shell layer and doesn't have a warming layer, pick a size that is large enough to allow you to add layers underneath it.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.