If you’ve spent any time at all outside in the winter then you know how important it is to stay dry. Water transfers temperature much fast than air and if your clothes are wet and cold, guess what, so are you. This winter when you head out on the slopes be sure to grab a good jacket so you can rip all day long while staying dry. In order to help you with your search we’ve compiled our favorites of the best waterproof down jackets. Check ’em!
|Jump To||Men’s Jackets||Women’s Jackets|
What You Need to Know
When it comes to the best waterproof down jackets fill power is everything. A wide range of fill ratings are available and the higher the number the warmer you’re going to be.
What is Fill Power
In technical terms fill power is the measurement of space one ounce of down will fill in cubic inches when allowed to reach its maximum loft.
As an example, one ounce of 600 fill power goose down will loft to 600 cubic inches. The higher the fill power the larger the down cluster. Larger down clusters will have a higher loft, wear softer, last longer and will inevitably be warmer.
For a visual, 1 pound of 600 fill down takes up more than 5.5 cubic feet of space. Slightly more than a chest freezer can hold.
Fill power facts
- Higher fill power = Larger the down clusters
- Larger the down cluster = Higher the quality
- Higher the quality = Longer loft retention
- Larger the down cluster comes from more mature animals
- Larger the down cluster = More trapped air
- Larger the down cluster = Higher loft
- Larger the down cluster = Better the insulating power
- Larger the down cluster the lighter the jacket will be
For the most part companies describe waterproof breathability of their fabrics using two numbers. The first is in millimeters (mm) and is a measure of how waterproof a fabric is.
Let’s look at 10k or 10,000 mm fabric as an example. If you take a square tube with inner dimensions being 1” x 1” and place it over a piece of 10,000 mm fabric, you would be able to fill it with water to a height of 10,000 mm (32.8 feet!) before water begins to come through.
Higher the number, the more waterproof the fabric.
The second number is a measure of how much breathability the fabric has. This factor is normally expressed in terms of how many grams of water vapor can pass through a square meter of the fabric from inside to outside in a 24 hour period. In the case of a 10k fabric, this would be 10,000 grams or 22 pounds or 2.75 gallons of water!
Larger the number, the more breathable the fabric.
|Waterproof Rating (mm)||Resistance Provided||Conditions|
|0-5,000 mm||Little or no resistance to moisture.||Light rain, dry snow, no pressure.|
|6,000-10,000 mm||Waterproof under light pressure.||Light rain, average snow, light pressure.|
|11,000-15,000 mm||Waterproof except under high pressure.||Moderate rain, average snow, light pressure.|
|16,000-20,000 mm||Waterproof under high pressure.||Heavy rain, wet snow, some pressure.|
|20,000 mm+||Waterproof under very high pressure.||Heavy rain, wet snow, high pressure.|
The simple fact is that all outerwear that’s designed for skiing and snowboarding has varying degrees of water resistance. Given enough time, water and pressure all materials used for winter action sports will take in some water. There is no standardization for what defines “waterproof” but most companies have a vested interest in providing their customers with an accurate idea of how well their garments will preform.
You can make a coat completely waterproof but if you attempted to ride in it you’d be soaked from your own sweat in no time. The whole game is to balance water resistance with breathability. You want to block moisture from coming in but you also want to let moisture escape.
What waterproofing rating do I need?
A minimum waterproof rating of 5,000 mm for ski and snowboard outerwear is generally recommended. If, for the most part, you’re riding in cold and clear conditions and take a lot of trips to the chalet then this level of protection could be fine. This level of protection would disappoint is most circumstances and I’m feel that I want my gear to provide as much protection as I can get, that way I’m not forced to quit.
If you’re riding a lot, say getting in 40+ days, then a rating between 10K and 20K will be better. This fabric will keep you warm and dry day after day and stand up to the wear and tear of heavy use in the snow. If you’re headed into the backcountry or huffing and puffing up the bootpack then the breathability become as equally important. Jackets with vents will also alleviate some of your body heat.
Keep in mind that while you can buy the burliest jacket out there a hard day’s riding in wet conditions will test every jacket. So know that you’re super dialed in the intricacies of down jacket tech let’s dive in and take a look at the goods, our choices for the best waterproof down jackets are below!
The Jody jacket from Flylow takes the first places spot in our search for the best waterproof down jacket for women. As users of Flylow gear we can attest to their superior construction and bomber overall quality. The Jody is well styled for spending long days on the hill and keeping you protected from the elements. One feature we really liked was the high zip collar for cold lift rides.
The Jody is packed full of features that helped to the first place spot. The cut is ideal for riding during cold days and can easily go from the mountain to town so you can keep toasty while bar hopping apres skiing.
The Jody features 600 fill down, fully taped seams, a helmet compatible hood and 10K waterproofing and 10K breathing ratings so taking on the white room is no problem. You sleeves stay in place with integrated thumb loops and the pass pocket on the arm is just one of the 5 pockets included with this awesome jacket.
|Fit||Regular to relaxed|
|Hood||Yes, fix and helmet compatible|
Best Waterproof Down Jackets – Women’s Runner Up
Outdoor Research Floodlight Jacket
Another brand that we’re familiar with is Outdoor Research, they produce high quality gear that’s aimed at outdoor enthusiasts and can withstand even the cold temps here during our Montana winters. The only reason this took second place is that this jacket fits rather close and for spending days shredding we liked a little more wiggle room.
The women’s Outdoor Research Floodlight jacket meets all of our criteria in spades, waterproof, high fill power, and style all rolled into 1 awesome jacket.
The women’s Floodlight is a 800+ fill power down, fully taped, cold busting machine and is utterly undaunted by wet weather. The Floodlight is completely windproof and seam-taped with bonded down channels
|Fit||Regular, leaning towards fitted|
|Hood||Yes, fix and helmet compatible|
The outside of the Floodlight jacket is protected by Pertex Shield+ 2L and is well equipped to tackle even super wet conditions. Pertex is a company unto themselves, like Gore-Tex, and produce innovative fabrics for outdoor material applications.
Pertex Shield Highlights
- Super durable waterproof protection
- Lightweight and compressible
- Breathable coating
- High performance water repellent finish equivalent to 20K
Yep, another Flylow has made the cut for our list of the best waterproof down jackets. With the weather we’ve got out here and steeze that gets thrown around, Flylow’s Colt is right at home here in SW Montana.
With 600 fill power and a 10K/10K waterproof breathability rating the Colt is a perfect choice for those who are spending long days on the hill. The hood is helmet compatible and the underarm vents ensure that you’re not going to overheat on those spring sun days.
Flylow has incorporated a removable powder skirt, and something we really like, wrist gaskets. Anyone who’s taken header on the snow knows that snow can find it’s way in anywhere it can and limiting those areas are huge for warmth and dryness retention.
|Fit||Regular verging on relaxed|
|Material||320 denier, 2-layer nylon fabric|
|Hood||Yes, fix and helmet compatible|
Best Waterproof Down Jackets – Men’s Runner Up
Marmot Men’s Guides Down Hoody Jacket
For the final recommendation in our quest for the best waterproof down jackets is the Marmot Men’s Guides Down Hoody. With 700 fill power and a down hood this jacket can take on even the gnarliest of days this winter.
Marmot has used Ripstop nylon with a DWR finish for outside so you’ll be able to take whatever Mother Nature throws at you. The down is treated using Down Defender, a technology that Marmot used to help ensure their down performs great for extended stays in extremes and keeps it’s loft if it gets wet.
Another great feature of this jacket is the Angel-Wing Movement. This gives you all the freedom of unrestricted arm movement while keeping your jacket securely around your waist, not letting in snow and cold. The elastic draw cord around the waist helps to seal out any errant breezes that might try to find their way into your coat. Overall we really like the Guides Hoody!
|Material||Polyester ripstop shell with DWR coating|
|Waterproof Rating||Water Resistant|
|Hood||Yes, down filled|
Well there you go! We hope that you can use our suggestions for the best waterproof down jackets to find the right one for your winter so you can stay warm and look cool. Finding the right gear can make all the difference when it comes to staying warm, even safe, this winter. Go forth and shred!
See you out there!