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Best Overall: Columbia Sportswear "Their apparel and footwear will keep you warm, dry, cool, and protected."
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Outdoor Research "Legendary for developing waterproof-breathable attire."
Best Design: The North Face "A stalwart on ski slopes and in the backcountry."
Most Versatile: Spyder "The longstanding official apparel partner of the U.S. Ski Team."
Best Performing: Arc’teryx "Known for its obsession with design, performance, and precision."
Best Eco-Friendly: Patagonia "Established as one of the most authentic and influential outdoor brands."
Best for Extreme Weather: Helly Hansen "Infuses innovative, waterproof fabric in all its designs."
Best for Accessories: Smartwool "Specializes in its collection of Merino wool ski clothing and accessories."
Most Innovative: Obermeyer "Shaped the ski industry and improved the winter adventures of countless skiers."
Best for Powder: Eider "Known for its impeccable fit, high-performance fabric."
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Columbia Sportswear
Born in Portland, Ore., Columbia Sportswear Company has been making outdoor gear for more than 70 years. Today, the brand is known worldwide for designing and manufacturing no-nonsense apparel and footwear that keep you warm, dry, cool, and protected no matter what. The brand’s ski collection is at home on resort slopes or in the backcountry, but it won’t break the bank, making Columbia a fave among skiers who want to get the best bang for their buck.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Outdoor Research
Founded in 1981 by a scientist and adventurer named Ron Gregg, Outdoor Research has grown from an experimental apparel company into a trusted brand on mountaineering expeditions, alpine and ice climbs, and backcountry ski trips. Their outerwear is legendary for its dedication to developing waterproof-breathable attire, and their insulating mid- and base-layers will keep you warm on any mountain.
Check out our guide to the best women's ski pants you can buy today.
Best Design: The North Face
A brand named for the coldest, most unforgiving aspect of the mountain, The North Face has been designing top-notch mountaineering gear for more than 50 years. The transition from mountaineering to skiing was natural, and The North Face is now a stalwart on ski slopes and in the backcountry. Their waterproof-breathable jackets and pants are worn by top pro rippers like Angel Collinson and Tom Wallisch, and when you pick up a North Face garment you can count on the company's commitment to pushing the limits of innovation and design.
Most Versatile: Spyder
All you need to know about this Colorado-based brand is that it’s the longstanding official apparel partner of the U.S. Ski Team. But that doesn’t mean Spyder is just for ski racers. In fact, the company bills itself as “The largest ski specialty brand,” and their lineup of outerwear ranges from Olympic-level spandex speed suits to backcountry shells to sleek, après ski frocks. When you pick up a Spyder garment, you know you’re benefiting from decades of experience on the slopes.
Need some more help finding what you're looking for? Read through our best men's ski jackets article.
Best Performing: Arc’teryx
Founded in 1989 in the wilds of the Canadian Coastal Range, Arc’teryx is a brand known for its obsession with design, performance, and precision. One reason professional mountaineers, alpinists, and skiers trust the brand is their unique in-house manufacturing and design process that allows them to bring together professional athletes, engineers, materials experts, pattern makers, and product developers so their lineup of outerwear and apparel can constantly evolve and improve.
Best Eco-Friendly: Patagonia
This company started small, designing and manufacturing tools for climbers, though alpinism remains in their DNA. And with skiing and snowboarding moving to the backcountry, Patagonia has been able to move into the sport, engineering and manufacturing apparel tested by top athletes in the most extreme conditions on the planet. Snowboarder Jeremy Jones, ski mountaineer Caroline Gleich, and big mountain ripper Pep Fujas all rely on Patagonia outerwear in their backcountry adventures. Best of all, the company’s unwavering dedication to corporate social and environmental responsibility establishes it as one of the most authentic and influential outdoor brands on the planet.
Best for Extreme Weather: Helly Hansen
While many of the top ski clothing brands offer apparel and footwear suited for cold climates, Norwegian-based Helly Hansen takes things further with its heavy winter gear. Launched in 1877 by sea captain Helly Juell Hansen, the brand originally made waterproofing clothing for sailors battling harsh, Nordic seas. Since then, Helly Hansen has expanded its portfolio to include heavy jackets, fleeces, Merino-wool base layers, knit beanies, neck warmers, and other high-tech, warm offerings. Still, the brand infuses its innovative, waterproof fabric in all its designs.
Best for Accessories: Smartwool
As its name suggests, Smartwool specializes in its collection of Merino wool ski clothing and accessories. The brand is also popular for its base layers, mid-layers, and ski socks that help regulate temperature when skiing, whether you're in the backcountry or trailing down a mountain. Most notably, their signature, durable PhD Ski Socks are designed to keep your feet dry and comfortable in the snow. Smartwool's underwear, layers, and other accessories also help you keep warm from head to toe.
Interested in reading more reviews? Take a look at our selection of the best ski socks.
Most Innovative: Obermeyer
Klaus Obermeyer started his eponymous ski apparel in Aspen back in 1947 when he was a ski instructor at the legendary Colorado resort. For 70-plus years, the product innovations that have come from Klaus and the Obermeyer product team have shaped the ski industry and improved the winter adventures of countless skiers, and the company is heralded for its dedication to technical performance, functional design, and elegant style.
Best for Powder: Eider
Born in the French Alps, Eider is one of those brands that’s lesser-known in North America than it is in European resorts in France, Switzerland, and Austria. That’s not to say you won’t see Eider gear at America’s top resorts — since 2010, Eider has been the official outerwear partner of Ski Utah, the nonprofit organization promoting the state’s 14 ski resorts. Eider jackets are perfect for Utah’s world-famous powder, as they’re known for impeccable fit, high-performance fabric and functional features that put the brand a step above its competitors.
Best for Athletes: Mountain Hardware
This brand was founded in 1993 with the philosophy that everyone who enjoys the outdoors is an outdoor athlete worthy of the best apparel and equipment. You’ll still find Mountain Hardwear gear on expeditions to 26,000-foot peaks, and ski mountaineers swear by the brand’s cutting edge outerwear, tents, and sleeping bags. But you don’t have to be an extreme athlete to benefit from Mountain Hardwear’s pedigree; their outerwear is as at home on the manicured ski slopes as it is on the summit of towering peaks.
Products We Tested
How We Tested
We bought five pieces of ski clothing from top-rated brands and our reviewers tested them for 81 hours. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using these ski clothes, from their fit to their price. We’ve outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.
What to Look for in a Ski Clothing Brand
Fit When it comes to ski clothing, plenty favor a closer-to-the-body fit — there’s less material for things to snag on, and it’s more comfortable skiing in the wind if your clothes fit a little tighter. However, that isn’t everyone’s preference — just make sure to pick clothing that fits in a way that works for you, because ultimately, comfort is the greatest priority.
Cost If you go skiing frequently — or if you live somewhere with cold, wet weather — you’re going to be wearing these ski clothes pretty often. If your perfect item of clothing is a little expensive, chances are you’re going to be using it often enough to justify the splurge (and if not, there are plenty of quality budget brands out there).
Ski-specific brand If you’re shopping for clothing to wear primarily on the slopes — versus more general outerwear that will work fine on the slopes — then go for a brand that’s dedicated to designing clothing for skiing and/or snowboarding. Clothes from brands like these are likely to have details that are specifically designed for skiers, like fits that work with the body as it moves.
Test Results: Columbia Sportswear Bugaboo Pants
What We Like
What We Don't Like
No leg vents
Boxy fit won’t appeal to everyone
These ski pants were beloved by our testers for their great value: “Their affordable price tag appeals to both the regular skier and those who can only hit the slopes a few times a year,” explained one reviewer. The highlights, according to our testers, were the fact they had “plenty of insulation” and that their “outer waterproof fabric sheds snow and rain and keeps you dry on the inside.” In terms of negatives, one reviewer pointed out that they didn’t have leg vents “so you have to be careful that you don’t overheat.” Also, according to one tester, their “boxy, universal fit” won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.
Test Results: Outdoor Research Trailbreaker Pants
What We Like
Stretchy fabric moves with you
Perfect-sized thigh pockets
What We Don't Like
Dedicated avalanche pocket is small
One of our testers thought that these pants were ideal for warmer conditions: “They’re worth buying if you want uninsulated, well-ventilated pants for spring skiing or the high exertion of uphill skiing,” she said. The pants’ long leg vents in particular, according to one reviewer, allowed for extra temperature regulation. Another highlight for one tester was that their “thigh pockets are the right size and location for storing energy bars and other quick-grab items.” On the other hand, the pants’ lack of insulation made them suited for cold climates: “No insulation means you have to wear a base layer or only ski when conditions are warmer,” one reviewer said. Also, even though the pants have a dedicated avalanche pocket, one tester thought it was a little too small.
Test Results: The North Face Arrowood Triclimate Jacket
What We Like
Complete ski layering system
What We Don't Like
Details like zippers and stitches could be more durable
“For the casual skier, this is a great deal for an attractive and effective ski jacket,” declared one of our testers. One reviewer also liked that it was a “3-in-1 complete ski layering system” and that it “looked good on-piste or on the street.” The jacket’s durability, on the other hand, was the main downside, according to one tester: “Details such as zippers and stitching seem suspect and might not hold up to long-term wear,” he said. “Also, its waterproofing is lower-end and likely wouldn't last beyond a couple seasons of heavy use.”
Test Results: Spyder Fanatic Jacket
What We Like
What We Don't Like
Zippers hard to open and close
Fabric feels flimsy
Colors seem out of date
This jacket’s design was a hit with one of our testers: “The hood fits your head without a helmet better than many other large-hood jackets,” he said. “Also, the inner sleeve with the thumb hole keeps the glove cuff from sliding off.” Our reviewers also loved that it was comfortable and soft. In terms of negatives, one of our testers thought that the jacket’s zippers were “extremely hard to open and close” and that its fabric “felt flimsy.” Lastly, one reviewer felt that its “loud, two-tone color choices feel a few years out of date.”
Test Results: Arc’teryx Sabre Jacket
What We Like
Waterproof and windproof
What We Don't Like
Not as much insulation
“This jacket’s cut is generous without being slouchy to allow for movement and additional layers,” explained one of our testers. “It also keeps snow out of sleeves and waistlines.” Our reviewers also thought it was breathable and liked that it was windproof and waterproof. The downsides? One tester wished it had more insulation and also mentioned its high price tag: “The cost is hard to justify,” said one reviewer, “but if you have the money and demand the best, it’s worth buying.”