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How To Choose the Right Winter Jacket for Outdoor Sports

Written by: Angelika Boyd



Time to read 4 min

Winter brings frigid temperatures, fierce winds, and piles of snow and ice. If you’re going to spend time outside, you need to bundle up. There are plenty of accessories to keep in your wardrobe, but one of the most important pieces of clothing you need in the winter is a sturdy, dependable coat.

Of course, the jacket you wear on errands might not be the same one you grab when you hit the slopes. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you need a coat that will keep up with you all season long. How do you make sure you have a warm coat for every occasion this winter? Start your search with this guide on how to choose the right winter jacket for outdoor sports.

What Are You Looking For?

Winter jackets come in endless shapes, sizes, styles, and colors. Before you invest in a high-quality coat to take with you on all your outdoor excursions, you need to think about your precise needs.

What exactly are you looking for? Do you need technical materials that will protect you when you spend all day skiing? Are you looking for something more versatile that can fit your needs both when you're moving around and when you’re standing still? Will you use your jacket just for outdoor sports, or should it be stylish enough you can also wear it to the office or around town? Questions like these will help you narrow down your options so that you can focus on finding a jacket that fits your specific needs.

Key Features To Look For

Once you know the kind of jacket you need, it’s time to look at specific features available. Some qualities will matter more or less depending on why you need the jacket. For example, high-activity sports like running or skiing require coats that can wick moisture well and keep you dry as you work up a sweat. Calmer activities, on the other hand, call for a jacket with plenty of insulation to keep you warm even if you’re not moving around a lot.

Learn more about the different options for lining materials, insulation, and other traits to decide what qualities you need in your winter jacket.

Lining Material

The lining on the interior of your winter jacket helps create warmth, preserve body heat, and keep you comfortable in the cold. Because this is the layer that makes the most contact with your skin, you want something soft and comfortable.

At the same time, you want a lining material that wicks away moisture and doesn’t absorb perspiration. If the interior of your jacket gets damp with sweat, that moisture will cool down and cling to your skin, causing your body temperature to drop. This feeling isn’t just uncomfortable—it can be dangerous if you’re outside in the cold.

A warm, moisture-wicking material is necessary for the interior of your winter jacket. That’s why fleece is a popular option for lining material. If you’re looking for a lighter coat to wear alone or beneath heavier layers, fleece jackets are a great option to keep you warm and dry.


Insulation serves two crucial purposes: keeping cold out and keeping heat in. The weight and material of the insulation within your winter coat determines how well you can withstand freezing temperatures. Lighter insulation is great for sunny winter afternoons or sports that require a lot of physical activity. For extremely cold conditions, though, you want a coat with a lot of insulation to keep you warm.

Most winter coats use down or synthetic materials for insulation. Both options have their benefits and drawbacks. For example, down is a natural material that is incredibly lightweight, wonderfully warm, breathable, and durable. However, down becomes much less effective if you get it wet. While some down coats use water-resistant coatings, down insulation won’t hold up in wet conditions. If you’re going to be facing lots of snow or rain, you’ll want to opt for something else.

Synthetic materials, however, dry easily and retain their warmth even when wet. Synthetic fabrics are warm and easier to maintain. However, synthetic fabric is a lot bulkier than down, making it harder to pack away. Down is also the more durable of the two options.

Outer Shell

The outer shell of the jacket is the line of defense between you and the harsh wintry conditions you work and play in. A jacket’s outer shell must hold up against ice, snow, bitter winds, and anything else winter can throw at you.

When looking at your jacket’s outer shell, you want to keep your location in mind. Windy areas or places that get a lot of snow and rain call for a windproof, water-resistant coat. If you get a lot of sunshine in the winter, you’ll want a jacket with UV protection.

A coat’s seams help determine how well it protects against moisture. A coat that is fully seam sealed has watertight seals on every seam of the jacket. In a critical seams sealed jacket, only the most exposed parts of the jacket—such as the shoulders, front, and back—have seals over the seams.

Hoods, Pockets, and Other Features

Materials aren’t the only thing that make up a jacket. There are plenty of additional features you can keep an eye out for. Do you want a winter coat with a hood to keep you warm? Should that hood be detachable so that it doesn’t bother you when you don’t need it?

Pockets are another example of important features to look out for. Depending on what winter sports you’re into, you might be carrying a lot in your pockets. Even just a place to put your keys or phone while you’re out on the trail can be helpful. Look for pockets that are easy to get to and are protected by zippers and flaps for extra weather protection.

Other features to look for include versatility and adjustment options. Zippers, drawcords, and other details can help you fine-tune the fitting of your coat so that it still fits if you wear it with different layers.

High-Quality Coats for High-Quality Performance

Learning how to choose the right winter jacket for outdoor sports will help you invest in a piece that serves you year after year. No matter how you spend the winter, you deserve a jacket that will keep up with you through snowstorms, memorable vacations, and so much more. Visit Mountain High Outfitters today to find durable women’s fleece jackets and other high-quality winter wear.