Looking for a ski jacket. Temperatures will be around -9 to -13 degrees Celsius (16 to 8 Fahrenheit). I like the idea of having to wear less but I don't want to sweat. The jacket must be usable in sunny and foggy weather. Should I go with an insulated or non-insulated shell?
- categoryMens Ski Jacketstagged by System, 11/18/12
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Insulated vs non-insulated shell?
Poll Results: Insulated vs non-insulated shell?
73% (19)Not Insulated
Hi and welcome.
Yours is a query difficult to give a definate reply to, cold for one person is comfortable to another. Personally I'm not a fan of too much bulk, so in your position I'd be considering whether I'd need more than 2 layers underneath the jacket? If I thought that baselayer plus a puffy would be enough I'd go with the uninsulated shell in preferance, my other half OTOH would need the insulated jacket and likely add a fleece too.
Getting a non insulated shell with water protection and lots of pockets and wearing layers underneath, is the most versatile way to go. By doing this you can regulate your insulation and have a jacket you can wear all year round. I just bought my daughter a non insulated shell for this very reason. I have an insulated one that I wear through the winter (tend to stand around a bit) but I also have an inexpensive non insulated shell that I wear for the other three seasons that easily accomodates wearing a liner underneath. Pit zips and helmet compatible are nice features too.
Something to be mindful of is the DWR rating and how many layers the shell is. 3 is top shelf but for most folks, 2 is plenty. When it comes to shells, I've found that you also have to be mindful of the activity the jacket was designed for. Mountaineering/hiking jackets tend to have longer sleeves. I, being normal sized (5'7"), don't care for sleeves that long.
There is a ton of info here at epic. If you run a search you will get back enough results to fill your Sunday.
Personally, I prefer a shell as well. However, there are many on this forum that would recommend a lightly insulated jacket.
In the conditions you describe (-9 to -13 c), assuming some wind as well, I usually wear silk t-neck + wool or fleece midlayer (about 100 weight, in fleece terms) + 200 weight fleece pullover + Uninsulated Goretex Pro shell jacket. For my legs I wear polartec powerstretch bottoms + Uninsulated Goretex Pro shell ski pants.
IMO the key to staying warm while skiing is the extremities: hands, feet, and head/face. If anything is going to drive you into the lodge due to cold it will be one of those three.
I have tight-fitting ski boots, so I can only wear silk socks or wool sock liners, anything thicker cuts off circulation and makes my feet colder, not warmer. I wear boot gloves over my ski boots on cold days. Google "boot glove" and you'll see what they are. Boot gloves are not particularly sturdy (they last approx. 1 season each), so I would get 2 pr.
For my hands, I like insulated gloves with breathable (gore tex) liners and lots of fabric, leather only on the palm/underside of fingers. Why? B/c the leather needs to be conditioned (using oil, bees wax, etc), which helps the gloves to be waterproof, and keeps the leather in good condition, but the wax reduces breathability. I ski hard, and my hands sweat, so having the breathable fabric surfaces on the gloves allows sweat to escape more easily. If you don't sweat much,100% leather, insulated gloves may be fine. Don't be afraid to drop $50-100 on gloves. Warm hands will keep you out skiing longer.
Head, wear a helmet, get a fleece beenie that will cover your ears and fit under your helmet, and get a polartec powerstretch balaclava. I like a balaclava that you can pull down under your chin when you don't need it to cover your nose/mouth. Use the beenie and the balaclava when needed.
If I was in the market to purchase a new shell jacket right now, I would definitely consider purchasing one made with Polartec Neoshell. However, I have not used a jacket made with neoshell personally, so I can't recommend it.
Good luck finding what you need.
A good shell provides the ultimate in flexibility. Some days I wear only a Patagonia R1 pullover under my Patagonia Powder Bowl shell, other days I wear a heaver fleece under the shell and on cold days I wear a merino wool T-neck base and down sweater under the shell. You can't get that flexibility with an insulated jacket. That said I recently bought a DNA GIga jacket to use as a backup. It is insulated, but lightly insulated so the most I might wear under it on a cold day is the R1 pullover and on warmer days probably just lightweight merino wool T-neck. I won't be using it for skiing on warm days.
If you can swing it, just get both.
For really cold days, I wear an insulated jacket.
If it's warmer or subject to change during the day, I wear a shell with whatever layering underneath as may be necessary...if necessary at all.
I own both (too many shells). The last time I wore the insulated jacket for skiing was over 5 years ago, on a day it wasn't supposed to break 0 deg Fahrenheit. I still felt overdressed.
It is great when I have to run out and pick up dinner and I'm too lazy to wear layers.
Something like Patagonia Powder Bowl like the one mtcyclist talked about is a good option, it's a 2 layer goretex performance shell, which means if has liner fabric, so it will be a little bit warmer than 3 layer fabrics. Also goretex tend to me warmer than say event and dry.q elite, but arguably doesn't breath as well as dry.q elite/event.
For those temps, either jacket will work. But, generally an insulated coat will get funky quicker and need to be washed more than a shell since there are fewer layers under the insulated coat, all things considered.
One of the nice aspects of an instulated is that when you open the vents, the cool air goes right into your core, so you cool down quicker than if you have layers of insulation under a shell.
P.S. anyone in the market for a Patagucci Primo Down jacket? ;-)
In that temp range (16 to 8 Fahrenheit) I prefer a lightly insulated shell + medium weight baselayer. My 2L Gore-Tex insulated jacket weighs less than my non-insulated 2L shell + midlayer + baselayer, and it therefore just feels better. Anything above 25F and I've historically opted for the shell + midlayer, but that may change this year as I lost about 20# since last winter and I get cold more easily now. Some companies now make super light 3L shells that are seriously light but they're much more expensive.
Last winter I was very fortunate and was able to buy basically whatever ski jacket I wanted. I live in northeastern US, and in my genius I bought the Patagonia Primo Down, thinking the pit zips would be enough to cool me down in 20 deg F weather. My friends and I ski pretty fast and by the end of the day, not enough sweat had escaped via the pit zips and the down was saturated. Made the last few runs pretty chilly. In short: I learned my lesson and went back to the layered approach. As others mentioned, it offers greater versatility in a variety of conditions. And if you get hot like I do from burning down the mountain, I might suggest fleece as a solid mid-layer.
P.S. anyone in the market for a Patagucci Primo Down jacket? ;-)
You were dressed too warm for the conditions. Those down puffies are made for very cold weather. Maybe all you needed was a T shirt underneath the puffy.
I like an insulated jacket for days under 15-20 F when I'm going to be on the lifts or with the family or hanging with friends a lot. If sidebounds, trees, hiking, or harder skiing, then shell plus layers. (Tend to ski cold when taking it easy, sweat like a pig when hiking or doing weird terrain hard.) If true backcountry, or more distant sidebounds, and any chance of cold, then insulated and vest in the pack, since you never know if you'll be staying out longer than you expected, and the extra insulation may keep you sapient. You can always peel off an insulated jacket. You can't put it on if you don't have it.
- Insulated vs non-insulated shell?
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