by Jakob Jelling [July 18, 2006]
Winter jackets have changed a lot over the years as technology has improved. The best solution used to be those big, puffy, down filled jackets. While they where warm they really didn't stand up all that well to wear and tears, moisture or active movements. Once again technology has come to our aid with the invention of new materials.
The new materials available have resulted in jackets that are warmer even when wet, lighter, more compact, tear resistant and fashionable. The most important area of improvement is the functionality of these new products. The main areas of improvement are in waterproofing, wind proofing and breathe ability.
Waterproofing is perhaps the most obvious idea and potentially the most important as well and is linked to your jackets ability to breath. Your body heat will be drained off very quickly if your clothing is wet make you cold much faster. Waterproofing has moved way beyond a simple chemical coating. Now it is at the point where there is a standard for waterproofing that is measured by how many centimeters of water can rest on top of the material before leaking through. The best fabrics can support tens of meters of water before leaking!
Waterproofing is more than just the type of fabric used since the final product is only as strong as its weakest link. What good is a waterproof jacket of water can pour through the zipper? A good quality waterproof jacket will have many extra features built into it that may not be visible. For example a jacket should have all of its seams sealed with a waterproof tape, the zipper should be covered, the inner layer must not absorb water and the entire jacket should be made of waterproof materials not matter what the section is.
The next area to consider is wind proofing. Wind proofing is almost becoming a thing of that past. Of course the wind will greatly effect how fast you loose body heat but is a non-issue if your jacket is highly waterproof. A jacket that can with stand a column of water tens of meters high is wind proof. The only time wind proofing is an issue is if your jacket is either entirely fleece or not fully waterproof.
The final thing to consider, and arguably the most important, is the breathe ability of your jacket. As we work and ride we create heat that translates into sweat. Of course a build up of sweat is a bad thing since it will allow cold to be conducted through to us so it must be dealt with. In order to deal with moisture we must use layers of clothing. The purpose of the first layer is to pull the moisture away from our skin but it must go somewhere. A breathable cloth will allow the moisture that is pulled away from our skin to escape outside our jacket without letting water seep in.
One option that you may find when shopping for a snowboarding jacket is something called a shell. A shell is a relatively special purpose adaptation of the snowboarding jacket in that it is intended for those who live in mild climates or who are not bothered by cold very much. A shell is a stripped down version of a full jacket in that it still provides wind and water protection but does not provide much, if any, climate protection. A shell is intended to be worn in relatively warm climates where the rider may only need a little water proofing and will add their own insulating layers as needed.
After deciding the amount of protection that you require you must then think about options available and if you want them. Things commonly available include removable hoods, over sized pockets for snacks and drinks, lift pass pocket, cooling vents, waist pull cords and reflective materials. Then of course you need to consider the style of the jacket if you haven't already decided.
Putting all of these elements together will ensure that you have a good jacket for all of your snowboarding needs. While you may not need to know all of the details, being well informed will help you make a better decision that will enable you to enjoy snowboarding even more.
About the author
Jakob Jelling is the founder of http://www.snowboardinghelp.com. Please visit his website to discover the world of snowboarding!