Snowboarding creates an unusual paradox. We seek it out with full abandon, hoping to get into the deep stuff. Colder temps mean better snow, and storm days provide some of the best riding as tracks fill in every lap. But if that same snow and cold air make it to our skin, we aren’t going to have much fun out there. So to properly enjoy the elements, good outerwear is imperative.
Yet simple protection isn’t enough — we’ve gotta look good out there, while still having fun. And with so many options on the market, choosing the right snowboard jacket can be overwhelming. Thankfully, though, you have this handy guide to help you out. We put some of the top snowboard jackets through their paces last winter while the North American West Coast endured the best and worst of climate change. We’ve had temperatures below zero, rainstorms to the peak, windy days, sunny days, and all-of-the-above days. Amongst Mother Nature’s fury, the following jackets kept us warm, dry, and stoked.
Read on for our top picks. If you want to see how these jackets stack up to one another, scroll down to our Comparison Table and Ratings Chart, below. If you want to know what went into the testing process, check out the How We Tested section.
The Best Snowboard Jackets of 2023
Best Overall Snowboard Jacket: Mountain Hardwear Boundary Ridge
Best Budget Snowboard Jacket: Whitespace Performance 3-in-1 Sherpa Jacket
Best Backcountry Snowboard Jacket: Burton AK Cyclic
Best Insulated Snowboard Jacket: Jones MTN Surf Jacket
Best Eco-Friendly Snowboard Jacket: Patagonia Snowdrifter
Best Overall Snowboard Jacket
Pros: Tough shell with deep pockets
Cons: Rigid fabric doesn’t have much give
Whoever designed Mountain Hardwear’s Boundary Ridge jacket knows what the people need. Nothing really stood out as a massive point of differentiation compared to the others, yet when adding everything together, it seemed that this jacket has exactly what’s needed to have a good day on the hill.
Mountain Hardwear included just enough pockets to let you stash what you need without making the jacket too bulky or cumbersome. As a result, you get a well-designed jacket that fits well, offers 3L GORE-TEX protection, and still has a great fit.
The two chest pockets go deep on either end, allowing you to have easy access to goggle wipes, spare gloves, and whatever else you might need in a pinch. Inside are two mesh pockets that can help you dry out goggles or keep skins warm if you’re on a touring mission. The rest of the jacket has all the great features one would expect with a top-of-the-line product, such as a powder skirt and pit vents, and the combo of them all had us confident that this jacket will last for many seasons of thrills and spills.
While this jacket didn’t score as high in our Ratings Chart as the Burton AK Cyclic, we had to give this jacket the edge due to the great price, which probably won’t last long. But for 3L GORE-TEX protection you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better deal, which is why we gave it the best all-around award.
Best Budget Snowboard Jacket
Pros: Unique slim style. Removable liner
Cons: Material is fairly rigid
Shaun White achieved legendary status well before puberty, and now as an adult has added designer and fashion mogul to his list of accomplishments in snowboarding. It was worth giving his gear a spin, as he is reported to be an integral part of the design process. The Sherpa jacket is his brainchild offering a two-piece shell and fleece liner setup that provides plenty of warmth as a combo, or each as individuals.
The design is meant to give off a slim look, meaning that if someone isn’t into the loose-fitting baggy setup that a lot of snowboarding gear trends toward, this may be more your scene. It’s a style all in its own, which can be a good thing for those lengthy aprés sessions.Check Price on Backcountry
Best Backcountry Snowboard Jacket
Pros: Amazing movement, well-engineered pockets
Cons: GORE-Tex is only 2L compared to 3L in others
Burton’s [AK] line is and has been the best line from arguably snowboarding’s most iconic brand. While we had no trouble layering up with this jacket mid-winter, the lightweight 2-layer GORE-TEX shell had enough breathability to make it ideal for hiking booters and exploring the backcountry.
The Cyclic jacket is chock-full of some standout features. It has a thermo-lined device pocket that helps keep your phone battery (or charging bank) better protected from the elements, allowing it to last longer.
There really wasn’t much we could find wrong with this jacket. With over 20 years of development in the Burton [AK] line, their product refinement has been a steady progression into something that will stand the test of time. If it doesn’t for some reason, you also have Burton’s limited lifetime warranty, so they will fix or replace anything that is out of whack. Burton has also transitioned their gear to getting the Bluesign seal of approval, helping all of us feel a bit better about where to direct our purchasing power.
That said, the only thing holding this jacket back from being our overall top pick was the warmth and price. As a shell, this jacket ran a bit cooler than Mountain Hardware’s Boundary Ridge, which led to that jacket earning our Best Overall recommendation.
Best Insulated Snowboard Jacket
Pros: Recycled materials, feels warm and toasty
Cons: Fabric didn’t have much give to it
Jeremy Jones has been leading the pack for big-mountain freeriding for well over two decades. When he set out with his own brand, it was a safe bet that it would be a force to be reckoned with. The boards have been leading the charts for years, and now that the company has an outerwear line, you can be sure it’ll uphold the same quality standards you’d expect from a brand that seeks to provide snowboarders with the best experience possible.
While it’s not GORE-TEX, the jacket offers 20K waterproof protection and, like Patagonia, a coating free of the dangerous PFC chemicals that many brands are starting to recognize as no bueno. But with the founder of Protect Our Winters at the helm of this ship, you know that sustainability is at the forefront of their decision-making.
The Primaloft insulation gives a nice buffer against the cold while still remaining lightweight. The outer shell uses partially recycled polyester, giving the jacket a nice stretchy feeling that is easy to maneuver.
This is the jacket to get if you’re not the type to wear tons of layers, preferring instead one jacket that will be a go-to to keep you warm out there.Check Price on REI
Most Eco-Friendly Snowboard Jacket
Pros: Light, stretchy fabric free of PFC chemicals
Cons: Exterior tends to get saturated in a downpour
It’s no secret that Patagonia often goes a step beyond in its commitments to more sustainable outerwear. Their latest release, the Snowdrifter jacket, sets the bar even higher. With a stretchy 3-layer recycled polyester material, the jacket is thin yet will protect you from the elements while giving enough play to fit well yet also accommodate the demands of riding hard and holding up. The water-repellant (DWR) coating is free of the nasty PFC’s that will outlive us all. If that is a concern, then the Snowdrifter may be the choice for you.
But we still need the jacket to perform well when snowboarding, and thankfully, it does. With all the necessary features such as an inside stash pocket, powder skirt and pit vents, the jacket sports what you need to have a fun day on the hill. The only issue we found was that in a downpour, the jacket does not bead water away and instead can saturate the top layer. That said, it doesn’t reach inside, however in high-humidity situations such as the PNW the material can stick to the skin and cause internal sweating. This isn’t so much of an issue if you have a layer underneath (which you most certainly will), but if using as a rain jacket, hopefully the environmentally-responsible approach will take a higher priority and not be as much of an issue.Check Price on Patagonia Check Price on REI
Best of the Rest
Interesting New Features
Pros: Stylish and well-designed with just enough flex in the fabric
Cons: Not GORE-TEX, no pit vents
Those of you who have been around a while will have fond memories of Forum and their classic shred films from the ’90s and early ’00s, such as The Resistance, True Life, and more. Their team was a powerhouse that included all disciplines of riding, helping to raise the bar for the sport in general. After closing shop in 2008, the brand is back, with some of its top riders at the helm.
The Tech Hoodie and 3L Jacket are nothing short of revolutionary, if we may be so bold. Legendary Forum rider Peter Line designed the kit, and it’s obvious that this guy shreds from what he came up with.
Starting with the outer jacket, the 3-layer material has the perfect amount of stretch that allows for a wide range of motion while fitting well enough not to catch the wind at high speed. The seams all seem to fit ergonomic lines on the body, so no matter what tricks you are throwing, it’ll be your own abilities holding you back and not what you’re wearing. Both the jacket and hoodie, as well as their great matching accessories from bandana to travel pillow, are treated with HeiQ’s HyproTecht, which blocks the growth of viruses, mold, and other unwelcome microorganisms that might be present in a ski-town share house or the back of a 2004 subaru.
Interestingly enough, one of our favorite features on the jacket and hoodie is the YKK Conceal zipper. This small change in design made zipping up with gloves or mittens so much easier. Another great feature is the self-packing pocket. The entire jacket stuffs into itself to allow you to stash it in your pack without consuming all the extra space.
The tech hoodie is great all on its own, too. It comes in bright yellow that stands out and can be used as an outer layer when the weather cooperates. The interior pockets were some of the deepest we’d tested, letting you stash whatever you need in there and still allowing freedom to move.
Pros: Easy to pack, yet still withstands the elements like a boss
Cons: Only one pocket in the belly, no lining
I had never worn a pullover jacket before, and it was admittedly something to get used to. However, when the storms were stormin’, it would take anything that came its way. The shell is durable yet light and easy to pack when you want to just stash it when the storm clears. It did its job of protecting us from even the worst rain and wet snow like a true champ. The 3L GORE-TEX truly does live up to the hype. Whether or not you think it’s worth paying a premium for is a decision for careful thought, indeed.
It has a single massive kangaroo pocket with plenty of room. Our tester could fit a spare pair of goggles, gloves, a sandwich, and his GoPro in there with room to spare. Some may not like that everything is in one pocket, others may appreciate the ease and convenience of having everything within easy reach.
The jacket has large vents on the side to let off steam and an interior powder skirt with a mesh top to help aerate as well. When the sun pops, it will pack nicely into your backpack without hogging the whole compartment — something that not every GORE-TEX shell can claim.
If you’re not into the anorak style, the Arc’teryx Sabre Jacket brings the same durable construction with a front zip.Check Price on Arcteryx Outlet
Pros: Environmentally friendly, soft lining
Cons: Lining isn’t warm – still need to layer up
While many snowboard jackets are simply a shell, the Patagonia Storm Shift went a step further and added some soft liners on the inside to make it comfortable even off the mountain, wherever you may be. This isn’t an insulated jacket but rather a shell with some added comfort. The side pockets are also lined, meaning you can warm up your hands even if your gloves are soaked, or you’re just milling about the city and forgot to bring ’em. The only downside of the thin lining is weight for those getting out there in the backcountry. The jacket remains quite breathable and has the ever-essential pit zips to dump heat as needed.
In true Patagonia fashion, they use recycled materials throughout the garment and are the only company to remark on using PFC-free chemicals for waterproofing. PFC-free means no fluorinated chemicals — something that ends up in our ecosystem and is even absorbed by humans and animals. Sounds like a huge win for our future and our health in general, which helps make buying this jacket a wise consumer choice. Furthermore, if something breaks on the jacket, Patagonia famously will fix it for you, ensuring this jacket will be hitting the slopes for many seasons to come.
If you’re a fan of Patagonia, but not the extra weight of a thin liner, check out Patagonia’s Stormstride Jacket.Check Price on REI Check Price on Patagonia
Snowboard Jacket Comparison Table
|Jacket||Overall Score||Price||Insulation (Y/N)||Waterproofing||Sustainability|
|Burton AK Cyclic||9.4||$425||No||2L GORE-TEX||Bluesign Approved|
|Mountain Hardwear Boundary Ridge||9.0||$330||No||3L GORE-TEX||Recycled Polyester|
|Patagonia Storm Shift||9.0||$499||Yes (Minimal)||2L PFC-Free GORE-TEX||Patagonia, duh|
|Forum 3L Jacket and Hoodie||8.75||$275 (Jacket) $138 (Hoodie)||Yes (soft shell hoodie insert)||3L Stretch DWR (20k)||No|
|Patagonia Snowdrifter||8.6||$449||No||PFC-Free DWR||Of course|
|Jones MTN Surf||8.6||$500||Yes||PFC-Free DWR||Yes|
|Arc’teryx Sabre Anorak||8.2||$700||No||3L GORE-TEX||Bluesign Approved|
|Whitespace Sherpa||6.8||$225||Yes, removable fleece||3L 15k recycled||Bluesign Approved|
How We Tested The Best Snowboard Jackets
We tested these jackets the best way we know how – by snowboarding hard for long days in all kinds of weather. Most of the testing happened in the Pacific Northwest, in the backcountry of the Cascade Mountains and the Coast Range. For resorts, Whistler and Mount Baker were the main testing grounds. With intense Pacific storms battering the coast all winter, we had plenty of opportunities to really see what they were made of.
This test initially began in early 2023 with 12 of the latest jackets on offer. Each jacket was put through the test, riding in conditions that left most people at home. But when the wind is howling and the snow is coming from every direction, that’s when we got to work.
Steve Andrews was the main tester for this review. As a lifelong snow sports enthusiast. Steve has been a professional filmer and backcountry guide over the years, knowing full well what it takes for a snowboard jacket to stand above the rest. Over the years, Steve has traveled to the Yukon to film for National Geographic, set up a banked slalom course at Baldface, and leveled up in the Canadian Ski Guide association. Steve recruited some other local shredders out of Whistler to help with the testing process to give a well-rounded set of opinions so that if one jacket didn’t fit well, someone else could perhaps give more objective feedback.
We brought additional gear, such as extra goggles, snacks, even a full-sized sandwich just to see how well they held up after some laps. As phones are a part of us all now, a place to keep a phone safe and dry is an unmistakable part of riding nowadays. Aside from outer protection, breathability was and is an important factor, and so we would check to see how sweaty we were after riding to make sure we weren’t cooking.
We also tested how well the pockets could open and close with gloves on, and how well it kept the snow out on the deepest of days. We tried to emulate each run to keep things objective, taking note on the nuances between each jacket to see which truly was, and is, the best snowboard jacket for any type of riding.
In addition to testing snowboard jackets, the crew did a full-scale review of the Best Snowboard Pants and Best Snowboard Goggles to help you round out your kit. We also took a look at the Best Snowboard Brands. And if you’re open to considering outerwear from brands not on the aforementioned list, it’s definitely worth checking out our Best Ski Jackets and Best Ski Bibs reviews. We have more coming out in the next few months, so stay tuned!
We went out and enjoyed the best dumps of the 22/23 season in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia and Washington’s North Cascades. It started out with some cold, dry snow that we don’t often see around here. Then around Christmas, things changed, and we had rain at the top of the mountain on several occasions. Then, the freezing levels dropped, but not the humidity, so the moist air was perfect for seeing what these jackets are made of. Along the way, we had some great pow days and some cold winds, providing further opportunities to test the jackets’ prowess as windbreakers and insulators. We truly saw (and felt) it all last winter.
|Burton AK Cyclic||9.4||9||10||9||9||10|
|Mountain Hardwear Boundary Ridge||9.0||10||8||10||9||8|
|Patagonia Storm Shift||9.0||9||8||10||8||10|
|Forum 3L Jacket and Hoodie||8.75||8||9||9||9||unknown|
|Jones MTN Surf||8.6||8||8||9||8||10|
|Arc’teryx Sabre Anorak||8.2||10||9||7||7||8|
Snowboard Jacket Buyer’s Guide
When testing these jackets, we used several criteria to evaluate the most important features and scored them out of 10. Each brand has trademarked features that will try to set them apart from the rest, but we made an effort to ignore the marketing-speak and just hit the points that matter. In our minds these were:
Waterproofing: Especially here on the “wet coast,” the constant deluge of rain and almost-snow this season made for some seriously soggy days. Most of us know that GORE-TEX is the clear champion when it comes to a waterproof layer. Four of these jackets have GORE-TEX, and three do not. For the ones that don’t, they all boast 20k waterproofing, meaning they can withstand 20,000mm of water pressure before the water soaks in. However, the more wear and tear the jacket gets, the more susceptible it is to become a bit more porous.
The Mountain Hardwear Boundary Ridge Jacket brings durability, intuitive pockets, solid ventilation and warmth for stormy days. Chances are you’ll be stoked on this jacket.
Breathability: A jacket is only as good as its ability to regulate heat. If it offered complete insulation, your exertions, either uphill or downhill, would make the inside cook to an unbearable level pretty fast. When it’s frigid out, that might be a good thing, and a good snowboard jacket should certainly be windproof, but solid breathability and good ventilation are a large part of what sets the best apart from the rest.
Comfort: Feeling good in the clothes you wear is a must. Without it, your mind will be distracted by annoying little things that shouldn’t be consuming brain space. Not to mention if movement is restricted, you can’t perform your best. So a good fit that feels nice makes a huge difference.
Pockets: Good pockets are essential. Without easy access to gear like goggle wipes, tools, your phone, and even a sandwich, you are more dependent on civilization to keep you alive. Sure, you can stash it all in a backpack, but the way that many jackets are designed now, you can stash a whole lot on your person without needing to dig into a pack.
Warranty/Repair: Wearing a jacket creates wear and, if you’re unlucky, a tear. The good news is that many brands now offer the ability to send your jacket in for repair, and if it’s defective, possible warranty replacement. Some are better than others, so I’ve put that into consideration to help you have a jacket that lasts well into the future.
Caring for Your Snowboard Jacket
These snowboard jackets are all an investment in your comfort and safety on the mountain. It’s true they cost a decent amount, but if cared for properly, they should last many seasons to come. Here are a few tried and true methods for making sure your jacket will remain as good as the day you bought it.
Storage: Storing your jacket with care will prolong its life. Unfortunately we know from experience that simply tossing it in the backseat will add further wear and tear and invite some microscopic friends. The more the fabric rubs against surfaces, the more the waterproof coating will go away, so be sure to hang it up, if possible, in a warm and dry place. Stashing it outside in the elements will result in extra wear.
Repairs: Most companies offer some sort of repair policy. The key is to take advantage of it, and to read the fine print on what’s included. Don’t let something small turn into something big from procrastination. These days some repair marks can be seen as a badge of honor; It means that you’re really using the gear to its fullest. Plus, it’s so much cheaper than buying something new, so there isn’t really a good reason to let things go unrepaired. Pay close attention to the seams at the zippers. Those are often the first places to go.
Washing: Be sure to check the tag for detailed instructions, but a good idea is to only wash cold and to use liquid (not powder) detergent. If you use the dryer, use a low temperature setting, and if you hang dry, you may need to use an iron afterward (but not too hot!) to reactivate the waterproof coating.
Waterproofing: The waterproof coating can rub off over time, so it’s a good idea to re-up with a waterproof treatment every so often. Be sure to test a small area before applying to make sure it gets the desired result. Don’t forget to read the instructions, as different products work better for various fabrics. Depending on where you ride and how often you ride will determine how often you want to add more waterproofing. Generally, every 12-15 or so days of riding should be good. That number will change based on how much the material is getting rubbed or exposed to rain or wet snow.
All the jackets listed here will be a good choice. The idea of which snowboard jacket is the best will come down to who is doing the choosing. You want the gear to last but also be functional and allow the material to work to your riding style. If it’s strictly for riding, you might want something different than someone who uses it in other situations all winter, from the mountains to the trails to the rainy city streets.
Whatever you choose, make sure to take good care of it and to shred hard. If you take care of your jacket, it’ll keep you warm and protected for many great seasons to come.
Editor’s Note: For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.