A buying guide for ski jackets: Soft shell vs. Insulated


Are you looking to buy a new ski jacket this winter? When you head out to the mall, you’ll probably find that there are two basic types of ski jackets available. The first type is an insulated jacket, and then there’s the soft shell jacket. How do you know which one to buy? In reality, there’s no one right answer to that question. Each person has different tastes, but more importantly people react to cold weather differently. Some people find the cold more bothersome, whereas others run a little more hot-blooded, for example. Let’s look at each of these types of jackets to decide which option might be best for you.

Insulated jackets

Insulated jackets feature an outer waterproof layer that is also windproof, along with an inner insulated layer that is built into the interior of the jacket. This inner layer is often made of something soft and comfortable, such as fleece or down, making these jackets comfortable to wear. Insulated jackets often feature the ability to remove the insulated inner layer. In this case, the inner and outer parts of the jacket can be worn separately or together, for a 3-in-1 effect. That gives your jacket a lot of mileage because you can wear it in milder weather (such as fall) as well as in the depths of winter.

Generally, the insulation found in insulated jackets is usually measured in grams. The higher the number, the warmer the jacket will be. Down-filled jackets generally have an insulation rating of about 100, making them some of the warmest jackets out there. If you are a colder person by nature, an insulated jacket is your best option.

Soft shell jackets

Soft shell jackets are also usually windproof and waterproof, but they have no internal insulation. This makes them very breathable for the wearer. Why would anyone choose a jacket that is not insulated? There are actually several reasons. First, if you are a warmer person naturally, an insulated jacket will likely make you feel too warm and uncomfortable. Another reason to choose a soft shell jacket over an insulated jacket is that they offer more mobility than an insulated jacket does because they aren’t as bulky.

A soft shell jacket can be worn on its own when the weather is milder, or layered over other inner layers such as a sweater when the temperature is colder. Bear in mind that if you plan to spend large amounts of time outdoors, a soft shell jacket may not be the best option for you.

When you shop for a winter jacket, you’ll have to choose between these two basic categories first. From there, it’s about style, fit, functionality and preference. There are lots of options out there to suit everyone. Always opt for a good-quality piece so you can enjoy it season after season.

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