Skiing, a sport that marries thrill with precision, demands the right gear to conquer the slopes comfortably. Whether you're a seasoned backcountry explorer or a weekend warrior hitting the resort, having top-notch ski apparel is non-negotiable. In this comprehensive guide, we'll dive into the best ski apparel brands for 2024 that we see every day in our Atelier - catering to a range of preferences from high-end technical gear to budget-friendly options.
1. Arc’teryx: Pushing the Limits of Performance
- Location: North Vancouver, Canada
- Popular products: Sabre, Macai, Rush, Alpha SV
- What sets them apart: Arc’teryx, originating as a climbing company in the late 1980s, has become a gold standard in backcountry apparel. Their high-end and technical shells, such as the Alpha SV, are designed for severe weather conditions and multi-day ski tours. While their products boast top-notch quality, performance, and styling, they come with a premium price tag.
2. Patagonia: Where Quality Meets Sustainability
- Location: Ventura, California
- Popular products: Powder Town, Storm Shift, SnowDrifter, PowSlayer
- What we like: Patagonia, founded in 1973, not only offers high-quality outerwear but also prioritizes sustainability and social responsibility. Their ski lineup covers a wide range of options for both resort and backcountry riders. The Powder Town, Storm Shift, and PowSlayer are notable choices, although the brand often comes with a premium price.
3. Helly Hansen: From the Sea to the Slopes
- Location: Oslo, Norway
- Popular products: Alpha, Legendary, Odin Mountain
- What we like: Established in the late 1800s to provide waterproof clothing for sea workers, Helly Hansen has seamlessly transitioned into the ski industry. The Alpha jacket, a favorite for its warmth, freedom of movement, and clean styling, exemplifies their commitment to on-piste performance. While they lack extensive freeride or touring offerings, Helly Hansen's resort designs excel in comfort and overall performance.
4. Outdoor Research: Value-Driven Performance
- Location: Seattle, Washington
- Popular products: SkyTour, Hemispheres II, Carbide
- What we like: Outdoor Research might not be as widely recognized, but their ski-specific apparel consistently offers some of the best value for your money. Their AscentShell membrane provides stretchy, breathable, and highly protective designs, rivaling more expensive options. While lacking the meticulous finish of premium brands, Outdoor Research is an excellent middle ground for those seeking performance without breaking the bank.
5. Columbia: Affordable Resort Gear
- Location: Portland, Oregon
- Popular products: Bugaboo, Whirlibird, Lhotse, Last Tracks
- What we like: With a reputation dating back to the late 1930s, Columbia is known for offering affordably priced resort gear. The Bugaboo line, including the Bugaboo II Interchange Jacket, provides a budget-friendly option for beginners and recreational skiers. While not as technically advanced as premium brands, Columbia delivers a combination of price and performance that appeals to a wide range of skiers.
6. Flylow Gear: Where Style Meets Functionality
- Location: Denver, Colorado
- Popular products: Baker, Lab Coat, Malone
- What we like: Flylow Gear, born from the needs of two Colorado natives, offers trendy colorways, quality builds, and a laid-back approach. The Baker Bib and Lab Coat jacket stand out with their excellent performance in deep conditions. While some may find the fit a bit long and baggy, Flylow Gear's commitment to urban styling and high-end technology appeals to performance-focused riders seeking a touch of flair.
7. Black Diamond: Climbing Roots, Ski Innovation
- Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
- Popular products: Recon Stretch, Dawn Patrol
- What we like: As a climbing company making strides in the ski apparel scene, Black Diamond impresses with designs like the Recon Stretch Shell. The brand may have a limited selection, but their commitment to quality and innovation shines through. Time will tell if Black Diamond can become a major player in the ski outerwear market, but their climbing expertise bodes well for the future.
8. The North Face: Versatile Winter Ready Gear
- Location: Alameda, California
- Popular products: ThermoBall Eco Snow Triclimate, Freedom
- What we like: Originating as a mountaineering retail shop in the mid-1960s, The North Face has evolved into a go-to brand for winter-ready gear. Their ThermoBall Eco Snow Triclimate and Freedom Pant offer a wide collection of options for resort skiers. While the designs may feel less premium than some competitors, The North Face provides a variety of winter gear and has recently made strides in the premium and backcountry markets.
9. Norrøna: Norwegian Precision for Big-Mountain Adventures
- Location: Oslo, Norway
- Popular products: Lofoten, Trollveggen, Tamok
- What we like: A rising star in the U.S., Norrøna competes with the best in terms of quality and attention to detail. Their Lofoten jacket, a flagship offering, stands tall against popular designs like Arc’teryx’s Sabre Jacket. While the price and performance might be overkill for casual resort-goers, Norrøna is a go-to for those seeking premium performance in harsh alpine conditions.
10. Moncler: Durability with a Touch of Freeride Flair
- Location: Founded in Monestier-de-Clermont, France but now located in Milan, Italy
- Popular products: Maya, Grenoble, Liane
- What we like: Moncler, based in Milan, is synonymous with luxury down jackets. This brand has consistently excelled in the fashion industry, garnering widespread acclaim not only for its explosive success in Japan a few years back but also for its reputed influence in popularizing the pairing of a down jacket with a suit. Their designs boast fine-down content and fill power - Moncler down contains at least 90% fine-down and boasts a fill power equal to or greater than 710, resulting in a warm, soft, light and uniquely comfortable garment. The Grenoble Jacket is a high-performance ski jacket that features breathable, waterproof, and windproof materials - it is popular among skiers and outdoor enthusiasts for its technical features and stylish design.
It's not secret that Ski gear - or any outdoor, high performance fabric - requires an expert hand to clean. It's really best not to attempt to clean - or dry! - your expensive, favourite outdoors pieces at home: high-performance fabrics require a gentle touch, gentle yet effective machine settings and professional drying. We're here if you need us - before or after your ski holidays!