Not so long ago, keeping warm in cold conditions meant wearing many layers of sweaters. But snow jacket technology has come so far that even lightweight modern fabrics can keep you warm and dry when it matters.
It can be difficult trying to discover what separates a good snow jacket from one you should stay away from.
There are three main factors that separate a high-quality jacket from a poor one. They are waterproofing, breathability and windproofing.
If you are going to be encountering extreme weather, you need more waterproofing than normal. Getting soaked in the icy cold rain is something most of us want to avoid.
Breathable technology prevents users overheating and feeling uncomfortable. The fabrics in the jacket trap body heat to keep the warmth in but the moisture out.
Manufacturers often link waterproofness along with breathability ratings. This helps people to figure out how comfortable they are going to feel in heavy weather while wearing that clothing.
Breathability ratings examine how much water vapor can pass through the fabric in a day.
Windproof clothing is made from weaving fibers closely together. This tight mesh blocks the wind from reaching the wearer. A strong wind chill can make the temperature feel far colder even on a moderate day.
Modern fabrics are the key to the construction of snow jackets today. Many different materials exist to improve waterproofing, breathability and windproofing. We’ll look at some of the most popular ones.
First on the list is polyester. It is strong and doesn’t stretch or shrink much. It dries fast and is resistant to mildew. But it requires some kind of water repellant coating to be effective.
Next up is nylon. Nylon is another strong material and is resistant to stretching and shrinkage. It is also easy to wash. But, like polyester, it requires another coating.
Outerwear is sometimes created using fine microfibers of polyester and nylon. These make the materials even more lightweight, breathable and resistant to the wind. Microfibers are usually reserved for the most expensive jackets on the market.
Then there is Gore-Tex. This is an advanced technological material that is used in everything these days from medical equipment to clothes. It is highly porous but the pores are small enough to keep water out while still allowing water vapor to escape.
Membranes of Gore-Tex create a durable protective shield when added to polyester and nylon base materials. Gore-Tex represents some of the most advanced snow jacket technology that exists today.
No look at snow jacket technology would be complete without also examining some unique and creative features of modern jackets.
For example, some winter jackets now exist with waterproof slots for keeping your cell phone and wallet dry. There are others with built-in bottle holder pockets to keep you hydrated on long treks.
But some of the most interesting technologies revolve around electric jackets. You can now buy snow jackets that operate from lightweight rechargeable batteries. These can power hand warmers and even keep your phone charged while you are on the move.
Snow jacket technology is moving at such a speed that these features are only the beginning.