What are Powder Skirts and why are they Important?

In this article, I am going to show you what a powder skirt is, how to use it, and what the different types of powder skirts are. I got a lot of emails from people asking different questions about powder skirts and honestly, I cannot answer these questions to everybody individually without a lot of information. So, I decided to write this article answering these questions. I have tried to answer the questions with the help of examples. I have also included some gear that I personally recommend for skiing and snowboarding. So keep reading if you want to learn everything about powder skirts.

What is a Powder Skirt?

A skier wearing a snow jacket showing the powder skirt.
A powder skirt is that extra band you see in this jacket.

A powder skirt (aka snow skirt) is the extra piece of fabric in your ski jacket. It hangs from the inner liner of the jacket about six inches up from the hem and is sewn into a seam of the jacket with an elastic gripper cord. It takes about 20% of the size of the jacket. Most power skits feature extensions on both sides with snap closures. When you close your powder skirt, it creates a seal that blocks wind and snow from entering the jacket. So that means you are not going to have snow in your jacket or pants no matter how harsh the weather is or how hard you crash.

What do Powder Skirts do?

A powder skirt prevents snow from entering the hem of the jacket when you fall over. It acts as an internal gaiter. Snow skirts can be integrated or detachable. They are also good at keeping you warm when it’s really cold outside by trapping warm air around your waist area. They also help keep the wind off the body as well.

Do you need one?

Having or not having a powder skirt in your ski or snowboard jacket is not critical. If you’ve got a jacket that fits you fairly snugly, then it will keep you warm and will do a good job of keeping the snow out. So you don’t need a powder skirt in your jacket unless you are a snow hound. They certainly aren’t essential. But it’s always a good idea to have one for maximum snow protection. It will keep you warm and dry all day long. Once you have skied or snowboarded with a snow skirt, you will never go back and you will appreciate that extra protection against the elements.

Compatibility with Snow Pants

Your jacket’s powder skirt has to be compatible with your snow pants for maximum snow and wind protection. It’s usually done with the help of a loop attached to the skirt. It runs through the belt loops of your pants. There’s often a snap closure at the end of the skirt that prevents the skirt from sliding around.

Most ski clothing brands offer a set of jacket and a pant that goes together for a perfect fit. These jackets and pants will be in the same line of products and will have a similar naming convention. A good example of a ski or snowboard jacket with a powder skirt that is compatible with the same brand of pants is the Patagonia Insulated Snowshot jacket. This jacket offers a low-profile powder skirt with a webbing loop at the center back that connects to Patagonia Snowshot pants. You can also connect it to any other Patagonia snow pants.

Integrated vs. Detachable

Integrated vs. Detachable
An example of a removable snow skirt.

Powder skirts are either integrated or removable. The integrated or non-removable skirt is the most common type. This type of skirt is sewn into the jacket and it provides maximum snow and wind protection. However, they are integrated and can’t be removed, which means it will add unnecessary bulk on warmer days.

Detachable skirts, on the other hand, are attached to the jacket either by a snap or zipper closure. This makes your ski or snowboard jacket a more versatile option if you are thinking about wearing it around town. Jackets with detachable skirts are great for the resort, freestyle, and freeride skiing where you might not need a skirt at all. The downside to having a removable skirt is that the closures become undone while riding allowing the snow to enter your jacket. Also, removal skirts do not create a perfect seal because they are not sewn into the jacket.

Recommended Ski Jackets with Powder Skirts

  • Arc’teryx Sabre AR is a high-end ski jacket that is an all-time favorite for those who ski both the resort and backcountry. It is available in both men’s and women’s versions. The women’s version is called Sentinel. This is a shell jacket so it does not offer built-in insulation. The shell is made of a 3-layer waterproof Gore-Tex that will keep you nice and dry throughout your ride. Keep in mind that the Sabre AR jacket features an integrated powder skirt.
  • Helly Hansen Alpha 3.0 is a great option if you are looking for an insulated jacket for resort skiing. This jacket offers 80 and 60g of PrimaLoft Black insulation which keeps you warm on colder days. The shell of the jacket is made of 2-layer Helly Tech, which is a waterproof shell that keeps snow and water out. This jacket also offers a built-in snap-out snow skirt for better snow and wind protection.
  • REI Co-op Powderbound is a good option for budget-conscious snow adventurers. It’s a great jacket for resort skiers looking for a warm and well-built insulated jacket. The shell of the jacket is waterproof with 80g of synthetic insulation. The jacket offers useful features like pit zips and a powder skirt that can be snapped away when not needed. This jacket is a combination of style, minimal design, and good performance.

How to use it?

A jacket with a powder skirt in the snow.
A jacket with a powder skirt in the snow.

Using or wearing a powder skirt is very simple. You just need to follow the simple steps mentioned below or follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

  1. Wear your base layer, mid-layer, and snow pants first.
  2. Second, put on your snow jacket but don’t zip it yet.
  3. Next, grab the power skirts from both ends and buckle the closure.
  4. If your jacket is compatible with your pants, you can attach it using the given attachment system.
  5. You can now cinch tight your skirt and make sure it’s snug around your waist area.
  6. Finally, you can zip your ski or snowboard jacket.
  7. You can make fine-tuning to get a dialed-in fit.

You’ve now properly worn your skirt and you are good to go.

Alternatives to Powder Skirts

There’s only one alternative available to powder skirts and that is a ski bib. Ski bibs are a type of pants that extend up to your waist making it difficult for snow to get into your bibs. They offer better protection against snow, wind, and wet. Most bibs feature built-in insulation that keeps the upper part of your body warmer. The downside of these bibs is that the shoulder straps can make you uncomfortable and it takes some time to get used to them. But you will appreciate the performance of the bibs if you are a deep powder explorer or prone to good falls.

A good example of snow bibs is the Patagonia PowSlayer Bibs. They have a fan-favorite design and offer good style, practical features, and weather-worthy performance. It is a good option for backcountry skiers and riders because it’s got a top-of-the-line Gore-Tex Pro shell that can withstand the most brutal weather out there. You can expect to stay dry even in the pouring rain or waist-deep snow. These bibs also have handy features like mesh-free side zips, fortified cuffs, a stretchy back panel, etc. The only downside to these bibs is the cost. They come with a hefty price tag making it a suitable option for only experienced riders.


A powder skirt is just an extra band inside your ski or snowboard jacket. It attaches to your snow pants to prevent snow from entering your jacket. It also keeps your waist area warm by blocking cold wind. It’s certainly possible to ski or ski or snowboard without a powder skirt because it’s not that critical. But it’s always a good idea to have one for maximum snow and wind protection. A snow skirt can either be removable or non-removable depending on the type and brand of your jacket. Talking about the alternatives, there’s only one option available and that is a pair of snow bibs.