How to Shop For Ski Clothing: Comparing Cost and Quality

The Highs and Lows of Ski Wear Shopping

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The cost of ski clothing can vary even more than that of skis or boots. If you're lucky, you can snag a ski jacket for nearly half its retail price during an end-of-season sale, or you can opt to shop for high-end ski wear at a luxury resort boutique. In most ski shops, and especially online, prices can be as low as $100 and as high as $1,000 or more. In such a diverse market, it's hard to know where to even begin shopping for ski clothing.

Ski Wear on a Dime

Of course, it's possible to score some serious deals on ski wear. Whether it's at a store like T.J. Maxx or Marshall's, a discount website like or Overstock, or a ski shop's closeout sale, with a little digging, you can find ski clothing for cheap.

When you're shopping on a budget, keep in mind that in many cases, high-quality ski wear will indeed cost more than mediocre brands. Although there are some exceptions, generally, price is correlated with quality. That's true for many reasons: fabrics that are truly weatherproof, waterproof and breathable are expensive; it's costly to design a jacket that is warm but still lightweight; and technical details like seam-sealing and ventilation add even more to the price.

But, doesn't mean you can't find high-quality ski wear at reasonable prices. There are many ways to find name-brand ski clothing at affordable prices: shop at outlet stores like Sierra Trading Post and, consider stopping by a ski swap at your local resort or in your community, and shop when it's not high season, such as during the summer or early fall. These are just some of the ways you can save on ski clothing.

Tips and Tricks for Finding High-Quality, Low-Cost Ski Clothing
Fortunately, even if you've missed out on the sales, it's not impossible to score a high-quality, low-cost jacket. There are some classic brands, including Columbia, LL Bean and Lands' End, that have gained the reputation of offering dependable ski wear at decent prices. Although these brands might not provide the most technical, high-performance features, they will do the job of keeping you warm and dry on the slopes.

Another option is to invest in a "3-in-1" jacket, which is now offered by many brands, including The North Face, Spyder, Patagonia and Columbia. A good 3-in-1 jacket will include a waterproof shell and an insulated mid-layer.

Although a 3-in-1 jacket might be a bigger upfront investment than you were anticipating, in the long run it will save you money, as it eliminates the need to buy a mid-layer fleece, sweater or vest. With a jacket like this, there are many ways to wear it: you can wear the shell by itself on warmer days; the mid-layer can be worn alone during spring skiing, layered under another jacket, or worn around town or for aprés-ski; or you can wear the mid-layer and shell together in tough conditions.

A third money-saving tip is to buy ski clothing from last year's line. Sometimes, the only thing that changes each year in a company's jackets and pants is the color scheme, and in many cases, you can save up to 50% on last season's ski wear. The best time to find these deals is during the late summer. Many ski shops, including online stores especially, offer Labor Day sales with steep discounts, and extra perks like additional price cuts or free shipping.

Investing in High-End Ski Wear
Whether or not you're looking to invest in your ski clothing, it's always fun to window shop. If you scope out a resort boutique when you're on vacation, look at an online luxury retailer like, or review some of the most popular luxury ski clothing brands, you'll get a sense of the high-end ski clothing on the market.

As you admire some of the industry's most expensive ski clothing, remember that some brands are known for their high-end, uber-technical details, while others are recognized for their style cred.

For example, Arc'teryx jackets, which usually cost around $500, offer some of the most advanced, cutting-edge features in ski. Other brands, like Canada Goose, which is worn by scientists in the Artic and mountaineers on Everest, are known for their superior warmth; still some brands, like Bogner, are known for their appeal to fashion.

So, if you decide to invest a hefty sum of money into your ski clothing, make sure you're paying for what matters to you, whether it's fashion or function. Even so, remember these jackets can cost upwards of $1,000 - so as much as you might have to think about whether to buy a high-fashion or high-performance ski jacket, keep in mind that you could also buy a pair of really nice skis or a heli-skiing trip with that amount of money!

Finding Balance: Price and Performance
That said, if you're like most skiers, you're probably looking for a quality ski jacket or pants at a reasonable price. Good news - they aren't impossible to find! You just have to figure out which brand is right for you, in terms of price, fit, features and function.

A good way to start is to review some of the best ski clothing brands, so you have some guidelines in mind when you start to shop.