Ski jackets best rated

As if the lines weren’t blurry enough, this year’s featherweight fabrics and highly breathable waterproof membranes have made hardshells and softshells even harder to distinguish–and exceedingly versatile in changing conditions. End result: win-win. For those nasty winter storms that won’t quit, insulated jackets remain your best bet and keep the layering equation simple.

DALE NORWAY Totten

The exterior fabric is 100 percent Norwegian wool–just like a classic ski sweater–but it’s bonded to a windproof-breathable membrane–just like a technical shell jacket. The removable hood takes you from chairlift to barstool in one zip. men’s, $499; dale.no

OBERMEYER Kenai

A lightweight version of Qbermeyer’s insulated Ketchikan jacket, the Kenai shell features waterproof-breathable Cocona fabric–made from coconut shells and lava sand–and strategically placed stretch paneling for mobility. men’s, $425; obermeyer.com

WESTCOMB Switch

At a mere 15 ounces–helmet compatible storm hood and all–the Switch is one of the lightest shells in the mix. Polartec NeoShell fabric is one weight-saving feature; 20-stitch per-inch seam construction is another. The pop of color on the roomy dual Napoleon pockets? That’s just for looks, men’s, $430; westcomb.com

MAMMUT Sunridge

Designed for bluebird powder days–hello, Gore-Tex softshell, detachable snow skirt, and Lycra wrist gaiters–the Sunridge jacket integrates with the Sunridge pant ($419) to keep blower snow from sneaking through the cracks, women’s, $599; mammut.ch

COLUMBIA Trifecta

Why Trifecta? Because it combines Columbia’s Omni-Heat thermal reflective lining, Omni-Wick Evap waterproof-breathable membrane, and the new-this-fall windproof Omni-Wind Block softshell fabric. Other features include an adjustable storm hood, a drop tail, and waterproof zippers. We tested the jacket on a blustery, stormy Whistler day and can confirm: It’s a triple treat, women’s, $220; columbia.com

EIDER Niseko

Tailored for maximum mobility and, heck, a flattering look, the Niseko offers technical details like Eider’s waterproof-breathable Defender four-way stretch fabric and body-mapped insulation–133 g PrimaLoft in the torso, 100 g in the back, and 60 g in the arms–to maintain your body’s temperature balance, men’s, $599; eider.com

SCOTT Drexler

On clear, dry days, wear this 540 fill synthetic-down jacket puffy-side-out. When it’s soggy and cold–or when you want a different color–reverse it to get the protection of the waterproof, fully taped Toray shell (shown), men’s, $275; scott-sports.com

STOIC Welder Hi Softshell

Stoic’s membrane-free Monolith softshell has a DWR treatment to help it shed moisture. That means it’s not technically waterproof. But it also means it’s lightweight and highly breathable–more than adequate, ideal even, on all but the wettest days. High-loft fleece insulation and a 3-D ergonomic cut equals warmth without the bulk, women’s, $299; stoicgear.com

OUTDOOR RESEARCH Igneo

Also available in a noninsulated shell, the Igneo has ultralight Pertex Shield waterproof-breathable fabric and Thermore synthetic insulation (60 g on the front and arms; 40 on the back and armpits). A helmet-compatible hood, pit zips, a powder skirt with pant integration, and a cuff-closure system that doubles as a thumb loop round out the features of this techie jacket, men’s, $295; outdoorresearch.com

KILLY Spartacus

Dermizax NZ–with a 20,000-mm waterproof rating and an industry-leading 50,000-g breathability rating–won an ISPO design award in 2011. Armed with body-mapped PrimaLoft insulation, two-way waterproof zippers, no-slip snow skirt, laser-cut vents, shoulder reinforcements, and Recco reflector, the Spartacus is battle ready, men’s, $999; killy.com

OBERMEYER Logan

Layered from shell to insulation to lining with Cocona, the Logan is waterproof, breathable, and warm. Plus, strategically placed stretch panels keep it from feeling too restrictive, but the coolest feature just might be the tie-dye-print waterproof zippers, women’s, $475; obermeyer.com

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