Best Ski Clothing Brands: Reviews, Buying Guide and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 2021

by Frank V. Persall

There is no limit to the number of great ski clothing brands as long as ski clothing is concerned. But then, what characteristics make up a good ski apparel brand? I will say the main feature is performance. Imagine a fun day at the mountain top instantly turning into a miserable day due to lack of high-performance ski clothing.

With performance as the main feature, I also value sustainability, innovation, and style. In this article, I will be exposing you to a couple of ski clothing brands from across the world. This list of brands is the best so far in 2021. They feature brands that have existed for so many years now and the ones that have just been around for a decade or less.

However, before reviewing these brands, let's take a look at what ski clothing means.


Ski Clothing

Ski Clothing
Ski Clothing

Also known as a ski suit. These are costumes designed to be worn when snowboarding or skiing. Although some of the clothing is made for snowboarders, most can be used by snowboarders or skiers without bothering the style.

A ski suit can come as a two-piece, featuring a ski jacket and matching ski pants. or one-piece clothing, just like the jumpsuit.

A ski suit is usually made from waterproof or water-resistant and wind fabric. They also come with a non-removable liner created with silk, nylon, taffeta, or cotton. The main function of a ski suit is to ensure that the skier is kept warm at all times.

They are usually unisex garments, often with a base layer. They also usually feature a shell suit structure, which allows the skier to add more warm underwear. The number of warm underwear to add depends on the weather.

They also feature pockets designed to be water-resistant, ensuring that all items kept inside of them remain dry.

One-Piece Ski Clothing

The one-piece ski clothing is also known as the "freedom suit." It is designed to cover the whole arms, torso, and legs. They feature one and, in rare cases, two zippers running down the suit's front with an additional flap with buttons or Velcro. Some also feature a waist belt. Also, few models come with an in-built suspender, which provides additional support.

A one-piece ski clothing usually features a shell layer, and the skier is expected to add warm underwear to enable them to adapt to the weather condition.

However, a new style of the one-piece softshell ski suit was introduced and became famous in the 2000s. This new style was considered a smarter option as it features more warmth, stretch, and comfort than the hardshell fabrics. They are provided with an outstanding level of wind resistance, water resistance, and breathability.

The first-ever one-piece ski clothing was made in the late 1940s by a fashion designer and Italian Olympic skier, Emilio Pucci.

Two-Piece Ski Clothing

This comprises of the ski jacket and the ski pant.

1. Ski Jacket

This covers the torso and arms, and in some models, it gets to the level of the buttocks, while others end up at the waist level. In some cases, the ski jacket can come as a separate package, while in other cases, it is part of two-piece ski apparel, together with a corresponding ski pant.

Since its introduction in the late 1950s to early 1980s, the ski jacket had a dominant style, which matched a safari jacket in terms of possessing a shirt-like collar and an identical belt. An identical jacket, especially those with a hood, can be regarded as a down jacket, parka, winter shell, or anorak.

2. Ski Pants

These are also known as salopettes. They are usually part of a two-piece ski clothing made with the color and fabric as the matching ski jacket. In most cases, the ski pant comes in the form of a bib-and-brace.

Top 4 Best Ski Clothing Brands Of 2021

Brand Review of The Best Ski Clothing Brands Of 2021

Below is a list and a well-detailed review of the best ski clothing brands in 2021. Alongside each brand is a corresponding list of pros and cons.

1. Arc'teryx - Link

This brand is located in North Vancouver in Canada. Their popular products include the Macai, Sabre AR, and Alpha SV.

The Arc'teryx brand was founded as a climbing company in the late 1980s. It is a British Columbia-based company regarded as one if not the most respected ski brands today. In so many ways, the Arc'teryx brand has been able to remain the gold standard among backcountry lovers, with a whole of high-quality and technical shells that have been able to outshine mountain environments as well as harsh conditions.

One of the brand's flagship and my long-term best ski jackets is the Alpha SV shell. The Alpha SV shell jacket is a bombproof jacket that features a premium design. However, the product is meant for some serious alpine adventures as well as multi-day trips or tours. Like most Arc'teryx brand products, the Alpha SV shell features a more refined fit and finish. They also utilize the Gore-Tex technology for their water-resistant clothing.

The shells from the Arc'teryx brand are undeniably attractive and of high quality featuring amazing components. However, there are equally one of the costliest products in the market today.

For instance, the above-mentioned Alpha SV is sold at a staggering price of $799. The Arc'teryx brand also features a more resort-friendly configuration, like the Macai and Sabre AR Jacket.

At last, most people who are just getting started on skiing will likely go for more budget-friendly products from brands like Columbia. However, you should know that products from Arc'teryx are and will always be the best, especially for avid backcountry lovers, committed resort-goers, and ski-mountaineers.

Pros

  • Their products are of top-notch quality.
  • Their products feature a high-end performance.
  • Amazing styling and fitting.

Cons

  • Products are extremely pricey. Also, the brand does not offer any budget-oriented option.

2. Patagonia - Link


This brand is located in Ventura, California. Their popular products include the Powder Bowl, Snowshot, and PowSlayer.

The Patagonia brand is also one of the well-loved and respected ski companies. The company was founded by a rock climber, who is now an environmentalist, Yvon Chouinard, in 1973. The brand is involved in producing high-quality outerwear and concentrates on social and environmental stewardship.

The Patagonia brand features numerous offerings, from an insulated resort option to purpose-built and premium hardshells in the ski clothing world for backcountry purposes.

Patagonia's leading resort product remains the Insulated Snowbelle (women) and Snowshot (men). This product is known to provide a combination of performance, comfort, and price. However, despite the reduction in price from the Arc'teryx brand, the Patagonia brand requires a premium payment.

Amazingly, the Patagonia brand has a mail-in option as well as a repair service making it very easy for users to prolong the lifespan of their gears and at the same time cut down on waste.

Pros

  • The brand features a whole lot of high-quality backcountry and resort options.
  • They have a strong focus on social responsibility and sustainability.

Cons

  • Most of their products (jackets) feature boxy fits.
  • Premium payment is often required to be made.

3. Columbia - Link

This brand is located in Portland in Oregon. Their popular products include Alpine Action, Bugaboo, and Whirlibird.

The Columbia brand was founded as a hat producer in the late 1930s. However, it soon evolved into a universal sportswear brand known for its amazing products.

From winter accessories to hiking pants and "athleisure," the Columbia brand has a great reputation for producing capable products usually sold at a lower price. Columbia focuses more on value, thus being seen in their ski clothing collection, highlighted by the Bugaboo collection. The Bugaboo II interchange jacket is an amazing 3in1 product that sells at an affordable price of $180 and provides enough weather protection and warmth to keep resort-goers satisfied. With the insulated pant, recreational skiers and beginners can get dressed up for less than $300.

However, you must note that the products offered by this brand cannot match those of Arc'teryx and Patagonia. Let's take the Bugaboo collection, for example. You get a basic lining and shell that doesn't offer enough breathability, is more prone to wetting and feels bulky than those of Arc'teryx, which are equipped with Gore-Tex.

However, since not everyone requires outstanding mobility and technical features, Columbia's products are still perfect. Also, it's very hard to see any brand beat this brand's combination of performance and price. Why do you think there are numerous Columbia hackers on the hills, especially in locations like the Northeast, where backcountry skiing is not popular and features shorter ski seasons.

Pros

  • An extensive lineup of well-designed resort gear
  • The brand features affordable pricing.

Cons

  • Products are not of high quality compared to the other brands mentioned above.

4. Black Diamond - Link

This brand is located in Salt Lake City in Utah. Their popular products include the Boundary Line, Mission, and Recon Stretch.

The Black Diamond brand is a newcomer as ski clothing is concerned. However, regardless of the number of years they have been involved in ski apparel, this brand has been noticed for its ever-growing lineup of competent technical shells.

Black Diamond's leading product remains the non-insulated Mission Ski Shell, which is equipped with a Gore-Tex hardshell; this matches up as a better alternative to Arc'teryx Sentinel/Sabre AR.

I have also been intrigued by their amazing but yet inexpensive Recon Stretch. This product merges BD's proprietary waterproofing system with four-way stretch, providing amazing comfort with mobility.

In all, the BD exceeds in touring and big-mounting worlds. I also found out that the jackets are good-looking with classy colors and clean styling choices.

Yes, the Black Diamond still has a long way to match the top brands in the total number of products and reputation. However, they had exhibited an innovative taste of late.

Like most other brands, the Black Diamond has produced their stretchy membrane, known as the dubbed BD.dry, which balances weather protection with comfort, breathability, and mobility.

Also, they are utilizing a more environmentally friendly DWR (durable water repellant) finish which does not depend on the number of PFCs on their shells.

With time I believe the Black Diamond brand will catch up to become a top-time player just like the Patagonia and Arc'teryx brands, as they already have the name recognition and the ability to produce high-quality products.

Pros

  • There are new in the ski clothing world but already making a name.

Cons

  • Uncertain long-term durability.
  • They still have a small number of offerings.

Buying Guide for Ski Clothing Brands:

What to Check Out for When Buying Ski Clothes from Any Ski Apparel Brand

Before purchasing any ski clothing, there are a couple of things you must look out for. These factors are listed and explained below.

1. Cost

If you are the kind of person who enjoys skiing a lot, or maybe you reside in an area with regular wet and cold weather, you will likely be putting on ski clothes more often. If the perfect ski clothing for you is expensive, the odds are that it will last for a long while. However, there are so many other brands that offer quality products for people on a tight budget.

2. Ski-Specific Brand

If you are looking for clothes that will be perfect for the slopes, you must consider checking ski clothing brands committed to manufacturing skiing and snowboarding clothes. Clothing from these brands is going to have adequate details, particularly manufactured for skiers. For example, fits that support body movement.

3. Key Features

Here are several important features to consider before purchasing ski clothing from any brand.

  • Fit

A loose one is best for the ski pants as it offers a high level of movement. If you love the retro racing attraction or magnificence of slim pants, then I will recommend you go for a 4-way stretch. This will enable you to move freely and offer a great fit.

For a more customized fit, ski pants are accessible in various leg lengths to match all skiers.

For the jackets, there are three main types, slim, regular, and loose.

Slim-fit ski jackets are the perfect option for technical skiers. This is because this jacket lowers drag and gives the skier more influence and control over the entire exercise. Also, if I must be honest, they look pretty good too.

In selecting a slim-fit jacket, make sure to go for a size up. This will make enough room for your layers under.

The regular-fit is more of the middle group between the slim-fit jacket's technical feel and the freedom of movement the loose-fit jacket offers.

A loose-fit jacket is perfect for snowboarders and freestyle as they provide skiers with outstanding mobility and coverage.

  • Vents

In most ski pants, vents are included in the inner thigh region for temperature regulation and air circulation. These vents vary in length and material depending on what the ski pant was designed for. Technical backcountry pants often feature full-length side zips, which helps to obtain maximum ventilation.

In ski jackets, the vents are often located around the chest and underarms of the jacket. They are also mesh-backed to ensure snow doesn't enter when they are open.

  • Snow gaiter

This is a waterproof seal that comes with most ski pants. They are designed to fit perfectly around the ski boots, thus, preventing water and snow from entering.

Gaiters in some models come with hooks, which attach to the ski boot's straps, providing additional protection. They can also be adjusted to guarantee a perfect fit.

  • Wrist gaiters

Wipeout is one of the fun parts of skiing; however, not until your jacket's sleeves are full of snow. This is where wrist gaiters cones in. Wrist gaiters can come in the form of a cuff that goes around your wrist with thumb holes or just a simple inner cuff.

Whichever one you choose solely depends on your preferences.

  • Pockets

Ski pants usually come in unique styles and several kinds of pockets. While most baggy salopettes feature a cargo pocket, slim-fit pants feature pockets big enough for a ski pass. Thus, it would be best to consider the things you will be taking to the mountain before purchasing any ski pants. Remember, it is far better to have all you need than cut your day short because of not having enough pockets to carry things.

  • Cuff Reinforcement

Ski pants, unlike snowboard pants, usually come with some reinforcements, which act to protect the pants from contact with the edges and crampons of the ski.

  • Hood

Most ski jackets feature hoods, which protect skiers against falling snow. But then, there is more to this. Do you need the hood to be helmet-compatible? Can it be adjusted to nicely and tightly fit your head? Would you rather prefer a removable hood? This and more questions are important before settling for a ski jacket.

  • Powder Skirt

Just like the wrist gaiters, most ski jackets feature powder skirts. However, these powder skirts vary as some are removable while others get attached to the ski pants. Both are great choices, the one to go for depends totally on your preferences.

4. Jacket Type

There are three types of ski jackets to choose from. We have the softshell, hardshell, and insulated. Keep reading to discover which is best for you.

  • Softshell

A softshell ski jacket is a versatile layer that can be worn as an outer layer or mid-layer. They are usually treated with a DWR (durable water repellent) costing. There are not waterproof; thus, if you are headed towards a backcountry or anticipating heavy snow, you should settle for a hardshell jacket.

  • Hardshell

This is both wind-resistant and waterproof. This is designed to withstand pretty much anything, thus, making it the ideal ski jacket for the backcountry.

Hardshell jackets are not insulated, although they form the outer part of your ski's layering system.

The hardshell ski jacket is not ideal for a causal skier as they feature low breathability compared to the softshell ski jackets.

  • Insulated

This type of ski jacket is perfect for colder environments, especially for skiers in countries like Norway and Canada.

These ski jackets feature a waterproofing outer shell and an insulation layer below them. This insulation layer is composed of either synthetic or down insulation. Down insulation is perfect for -20 and dry weather, as they are lightweight and warm.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What kind of clothing do you need for skiing?

It doesn't matter if you are a seasoned pro or just starting with skiing; you will need identical gear on the hills. This is where layering comes in. Stay off with base layers or long underwear to shore up the warmth. Next, add a wool top or light fleece-pile on a ski paint and jacket for waterproofing. Also, you will need ski mittens or gloves, socks, and a balaclava or neck gaiter. For safety, you should also add ski goggles and a helmet.

How do I clean my skiing clothes?

Base layers are washed according to the tags. However, the waterproof layers required additional attention and special care. Ski clothing is often made using technical fabrics; thus, they are likely to break down when exposed to ordinary add-ons or detergents such as fabric softeners. These chemicals also can remove the waterproof coating of the fabric. Thus, it is advised you go for cleaners specially made for this technical outerwear.

Before washing, it is important to close the Velcro closures and zippers and turn the clothing inside out. Also, ensure that you air dry all waterproof garments and adhere to the drying instructions found on the labels of the other gear.

During the offseason, what is the best way to store my skiing apparel?

With the help of the answer above or the instructions on your label, clean your apparel and gear at the end of the season.

I highly recommend the use of plague bins for storing your skiing clothes. It ensures that UV light, dust, and moisture do not damage your clothes during the offseason.

Also, make sure not to flatten or shovel your garments, especially the down-based layers. Your skiing clothes must be stored uncompressed.

Is there any difference between water-resistant and waterproof?

Water-resistant materials can protect the product from most and light rain; however, water will ultimately find a way to penetrate. On the other hand, waterproof materials feature a unique coating that helps protect them from snow and hard rain.

Can I ski wearing snowboard clothing?

Of course, yes. Snowboard clothing is generally less structured fit, thus, making them perfect for most winter activities. Most brands have a "crossover" apparel offer designed for both skiers and boarders.

How thick is a ski sock supposed to be?

A pair of moderately thin socks are perfect. Also, please note you are not allowed to put on two pairs of socks.

What fabric type is best for ski socks?

I highly recommend you go for fleecze, merino wool, or microfleece. Never go for a cotton sock. They will always preserve moisture.

Conclusion for Ski Clothing Buyers

Skiing can be a very fun exercise if you have the right clothing for it. I hope you have discovered the best ski clothing brand to purchase your best ski apparel in 2021. I also believe that you know what to look for in a ski brand and quality ski clothing with a well-detailed buying guide.

Feel free to drop your comments in the comment section. Don't forget to share with family and friends too.

About Frank V. Persall

Originally from the UK, Frank has a passion for skiing and anything snow related. He is currently on a never ending mission to visit the best ski resorts across the USA and the the World. Frank is happiest when he is on ski slopes with his wife and three children.

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