Best Backcountry Ski Jacket

Cori Gramms
Written by
Last update:

If you’ve made the transition from the streets to the slopes, then you’re going to want to stay safe and visible to other skiers. A good backcountry ski jacket is your number one protection against falling, bullets, and even the weather.

However, the backcountry ski jacket category is huge. No matter what your skill level or budget looks like, there are tons of options to choose from. To make choosing the right one for you easier, we’ve put together this list of the best backcountry ski jackets for the upcoming season.

NameCategoryProduct
Arc'teryx Men's Alpha SV JacketBest OverallArc'teryx Men's Alpha SV Jacket
Helly-Hansen 65551 Men's Alpha 3.0 JacketBudget PickHelly-Hansen 65551 Men's Alpha 3.0 Jacket
Outdoor Research mens Men's Hemispheres JacketUpgrade PickOutdoor Research mens Men's Hemispheres Jacket

1. Arc'teryx Men's Alpha SV Jacket

Our rating: 9 / 10

Arc'teryx Men's Alpha SV Jacket

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Durable synthetic insulation
  • Water resistant
  • Breathable
  • Anti-odor treatment
  • Adjustable cuffs
  • Reversible for versatility
  • Comes with an integrated balaclava for extreme weather environments
  • Lightweight mesh lining for warmth
  • An adjustable drawcord hem
  • YKK Aquaguard zippers are quite durable.

Cons:

  • May be a bit too heavy and bulky for non-winter settings (weighs 2 lbs.)
  • The zippers can be loose and tend to snag
  • The hood could be a bit larger
  • The pockets are not completely waterproof
  • There is no powder skirt

2. Helly-Hansen 65551 Men's Alpha 3.0 Jacket

Our rating: 8 / 10

Helly-Hansen 65551 Men's Alpha 3.0 Jacket

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Lightweight but still warm
  • Wind and water resistant
  • Packs into a small pocket
  • Can be worn as a mid-layer or as a standalone jacket
  • Good design and nice fit
  • Made from high quality material
  • Definitely an upgrade from the previous version
  • It fits well with a size up

Cons:

  • An expensive jacket
  • A bit on the heavier side compared to others on the market
  • The cuffs on the wrists are short and can let in snow
  • Performs poorly with a backpack

This thin, lightweight jacket is a great option for skiing in the backcountry. It has a few notable features—and a few drawbacks as well.

The Helly-Hansen video for the Alpha 3.0 jacket is a little misleading. While they do advertise that this jacket will keep you warm from -10 F to 100 F, this doesn’t take into account the amount of movement you do while skiing. It keeps you warm during short periods of time when you’re active, but this fails over time when you are sitting in your bindings waiting for the chairlift, and it certainly fails in the summer time.

3. Outdoor Research mens Men's Hemispheres Jacket

Our rating: 5 / 10

Outdoor Research mens Men's Hemispheres Jacket

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Made for hiking, backpacking and mountaineering
  • Two-layer design
  • Two hand pockets

Cons:

  • Not warm enough for winter, or wet conditions
  • Not as cute as its competitor the Patagonia Nano Shell

The Men’s Hemispheres jacket from Outdoor Research is a low profile, lightweight, down jacket perfect for hunkering down in the back country.

It’s the ultimate 3-season down jacket. Weighing less than 7 ounces, this is the perfect jacket for backpackers or climbers who do not live in an area with below freezing weather and want a jacket that’s neither bulky nor heavy.

This jacket was tested in the Himalayas at 24,000 feet. It’s ultralight, breathable and features a 2-layer design with a down-filled jacket and a shell.

Conclusion

Ultimately, the decision on what constitutes the best backcountry skiing jacket is ultimately going to come down to personal preferences. The rEvolve GTX is the best choice for men because the jacket looks great, feels light and airy, and is very easy to move around in. For women, it is difficult to do a direct comparison between the best jackets because of a lack of specific women’s specific models.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Arc'teryx Men's Alpha SV JacketBest OverallArc'teryx Men's Alpha SV Jacket
Helly-Hansen 65551 Men's Alpha 3.0 JacketBudget PickHelly-Hansen 65551 Men's Alpha 3.0 Jacket
Outdoor Research mens Men's Hemispheres JacketUpgrade PickOutdoor Research mens Men's Hemispheres Jacket