The 6 Best Hardshell Jackets of 2021

The hardshell jackets are designed for tough outdoor adventures and have high waterproofing and wind proofing capability. The jackets are extremely durable and breathable and its outer layer offers the complete protection for backcountry trips, resort skiing, alpine climbing, mountaineering, and all season trekking.

We have tried to break down the best hard shell jackets of the year for all those people who want to move fast and light and to withstand the worst weather conditions. Most of the high-quality hardshell jackets cost hundredths of dollars and thus it is important to do considerable research before investing in one.

Read through our guide to learn about the different specifications to look for in the jacket. The hard shell feels tougher at its exteriors and stretchy soft shell at its interiors.

The jacket should be generally waterproof and windproof so as to keep the wearer safe from capricious weather. Most of the climbers benefit from breathable jackets on their rigorous ascents. Read through for the best hard shell jackets for adventure freaks.


The 6 Best Hardshell Jackets – [2021]

  1. Outdoor Research Men’s Helium II Jacket
  2. Arc’teryx Men’s Rush Jacket
  3. The North Face Men’s Venture 2 Jacket
  4. Burton Men’s Covert Jacket
  5. Columbia Men’s Watertight II Jacket
  6. Marmot Men’s Minimalist Jacket

Best Hardshell Jackets

Best Hardshell Jackets Reviews

#1. Outdoor Research Men’s Helium II Jacket

Features At a Glance:

  • Water resistant jacket
  • Zipper closure
  • Completely seam tapped
  • Zippered chest pocket
  • Stuff pocket with webbing loop
  • Adjusting hood
  • Reflective trim on the hood

It is one of the lightest and the most packable research jacket for men with excellent ability, good storm worthiness and also features a sweet hood. The outdoor research Helium II is essentially a cross between the super light rain jacket and a wind shirt. The product offers the extended water resistance of a rain jacket and the weight of the wind jacket.

This model is very compact and features a special built-in stuff pocket. It lacks the durability and all the ventilation options to make it more versatile for hikers, trail runners, climbers, and other outdoor enthusiasts.

It is lighter than most other jacket variants and is ideal for light and fast action. The Jacket is easy to carry around with its layers of protection for unsettled weather. They offer the best performance for blowing rainstorms and features the best breathability ventilating sweat and excess moisture. Its reflective patches make this an ideal jacket for cool weather for longer trail runs as well. Its water resistance feature is exceptional and keeps the user dry in most instances.

#2. Arc’teryx Men’s Rush Jacket

Features At a Glance:

  • Made in the USA
  • Hard-shell design for protection
  • Ergonomic 3- dimensional construction
  • Material: 100% nylon with EPTFE insulation
  • Droptail hem with adjusting drawstring
  • Waterproof and windproof design
  • Taped Seams
  • Water repellent finish
  • Long sleeves with hook and loop tab
  • Laminated zip pocket with inner mesh pocket.

The Arcteryx Men’s rush Jackets offers the thrill of untouched power to its users. The jacket is composed of a burly hard shell design for protection and serves as lasting wear during backcountry trips and snowboard touring. The jacket is not reversible and holds a multitude of internal features for its users.

Its ergonomic three-dimensional regular fit construction enhances mobility through its anatomical mapping design. There is ample room for the additional base layer in the garment. Its dense plain weave reduces its yarn exposure and is this ideal for extreme abrasion resistance. Its breathing three-layer membrane bonds to the shell and the internal liners.

The jacket features a waterproof and windproof design with completely taped seams. The jacket features a durable water repellent finish and is abrasion resistant as well. It features a lightweight microgrid backpack and its helmet compatible hood features a single point drawcord.

The laminated brim of the jacket prevents the accumulation of moisture. It features a watertight and resistant zipper at the chest and also at the pit zips. The jacket features long sleeves with articulating panel construction.

#3. The North Face Men’s Venture 2 Jacket

Features At a Glance:

  • Material: Nylon and Polyester with polyurethane twill
  • Made in the USA, imported material
  • Comes to use as a ski jacket
  • Zippered jacket pocket
  • Double zippers
  • Pockets that act as jacket storage as well
  • Standard fit
  • Extra-long sleeves.

The North Face Men’s Venture Jacket is known for helping explores reach the most unfathomable heights of the great mountains. The jacket is committed to serving all the people who wish to explore the natural lands around them. It is possible to use the jacket as a ski jacket as well and helps the users in keeping them dry and not warm.

There is a zippered jacket pocket with double zippers pulls, one at the inside and one at the outside. This can be used as a pocket to store the jacket in by turning it inside out and stuffing the remaining material into this inverted pocket.

The fit of the jacket is standard and not tapered and thus allows the user to layer it in the event of rain or cold weather. Its sleeves are longer than that of usual jackets and its Velcro clinches at its wrists. The jacket is of nylon and polyester construction and the polyurethane twill and other material of the jacket are imported from the USA.

#4. Burton Men’s Covert Jacket

Features At a Glance:

  • Material: Polyester and polyurethane
  • Layer denim polyester twill fabric
  • 2 layer polyester plain weave fabric
  • Water repellent waist gaiter
  • Media and goggle pocket
  • Ergonomic fit
  • Ventilating pit zips.

The Burton Men’s covert Jacket is of breathable fabric with plush tech taffeta lining and adds strategic warmth and breathability for the user to enhance the comfort. Its complete list of features includes ventilating pit zips, abundant pockets for storing everything. And a removing waist gaiter to block the snow and cold. It has a water repellent waist gaiter that seals out the snow and cold. The gaiter is also removable for customizing the performance.

The jacket has a media and goggle pocket that stash goggles and all the necessities required for on-hill performance. It is also capable of storing media devices of different shapes and sizes. The jacket features an ergonomic fit and its longer back portion articulates with the body to create an interface that stays locked all through the day. The jacket has venting pit zips for enhanced breathability and for improved comfort.

#5. Columbia Men’s Watertight II Jacket

Features At a Glance:

  • Material: 100% nylon and 100% polyester
  • Imported material
  • Zipper closure jacket
  • Machine wash
  • Advanced waterproof nylon shell
  • Rain jacket for abrasion resistance
  • Two zippered side pockets
  • Elastic cuffs and hem
  • Lightweight with waterproof nylon shell

The Columbia men’s watertight jacket is the best companion for all outdoor activities. It is ideal for rainy day adventures as well because of its waterproof, lightweight and breathable design. The details of the jacket appeal to any rainy day as it is of 100% nylon material. It is guaranteed to be of waterproof and is ideal for heavy rain days. Its seam-sealed construction keeps the user dry while sealing the cold air out. The jacket has zippered pockets are each side as to secure small items.

The Columbia men’s jacket has a customizable fit with its adjusting cuffs and a drawcord hem. Its silhouette makes storing staples easy and efficient. This rain jacket is available in different colours and sizes to accommodate the different fits and styles. It packs into a tiny hand pocket making carrying and transport easy and efficient.

The elastic detailing and a zippered closure provide for a comfortable and snug fit that allows in easy movement. Its Omni-shield technology resists the growth of microorganisms by absorbing all moisture. It also avoids stains and keeps the jacket clean.

#6. Marmot Men’s Minimalist Jacket

Features At a Glance:

  • Material: 100% polyester
  • Imported material and fabric
  • Zipper closure
  • Machine wash jacket
  • GORE-TEX with Paclite Technology
  • PitZips
  • 100% seam taped
  • Adjusting hood
  • Chest pockets with water-resistant zippers

The Marmot men’s minimalist jacket helps in protecting the wearer from the worst weather is all the backpacking trips. The jacket is extremely breathable, waterproof, windproof and has minimal weight and pack volume. It’s completely taped seams helps in keeping the moisture out of the user.

Its storm hood features an adjusting drawstring and features a chin guard as well. The jacket’s hook and loops closing storm flaps over complete full zip front closure. Its angel wing movement allows a complete range of motion of its arms.

The pit zips underarms of the jacket offer rapid heat dumb after it is opened. Its chest pockets feature a water-resistant zipper. The jacket also features a zip hand pockets and adjusting hook and loop tabs at its cuffs. The jacket also features a draw cord hem for a dialed-in fit.

TheGore-Tex Pac- Lite is of 100% polyester. It is ideal for machine wash and tumbles dry. It works really well against the wind and there are zippers on the sides of the jacket on both the armpits. The hood of the jacket has good coverage with enough room for over the ear headphones too.

Buyer’s Guide of Hardshell Jackets


Construction of Hardshell Jackets

The hardshell jackets generally consist of three layers. The external fabric layer is of polyester or nylon and helps protects the jacket and the user from the outside. The internal material protects the membranes and decreases friction. This layer allows the base layers and the undergarments to move freely beneath the jacket.

The third layer is the waterproof breathable membrane. The three-layer hardshell jackets are heavy, durable and are the most expensive. They are also very comfortable with the waterproof facility. When we consider the construction, the major specialty about these jackets is their breathable and waterproof membrane.

  • Outer layer
  • Waterproof and breathable membrane
  • Inner layer
  • Durable water-resistant coating

Outer Layer:

The outer layer is also known as the face fabric and is what we see at the outside of the jacket. It is generally of polyester fibers and nylon woven together to offer a durable and protective layer. The thickness of the fibers and the tightness of their weave is denoted as a denier and higher the denier number, the fabric is heavy and thick.

All the face fabrics are coated with durable water resistance which is a chemical application that repels water on contact. The coating causes the water to bead up and fall out of the face fabric.


Waterproof and Breathable Membrane:

This layer is sandwiched in the middle of the outer layer and the inner membranes and gives the jacket its waterproof attributes. The membrane is woven so tightly that it prevents water droplets to penetrate it. It is also breathable and there are minute holes in its weaves to allow sweat and water vapor to pass through the outside.


Inner Layer:

This is the innermost layer of the three-layer jacket and is a fabric that is designed to add durability to its membranes. It also protects the user from abrasion and body oils. The membrane reduces friction and allows the inner garments to move easily against one another. In some cases, it also helps to wick moisture away from the body towards the membrane.


Durable water-resistant coating:

All of the hardshell jackets feature a durable water-resistant coating that applies to the face fabric. This chemical coating repels water when it hits the outside layer of the jackets and results in a beading effect. The water has no chance of soaking in and generally beads up and falls up. DWR layer is important as it enhances the breathability of the membrane.

Without this layer, the jacket will wet out and will lose its properties as a hard-shell membrane. It is important to preserve the DWR coating and the integrity of the face fabric is important to keep the user warm and dry. Unfortunately, DWR coatings fail to owe to body oils, dirt, abrasion and with prolonged use. It is important to clean the hard shell jacket and restore its DWR coatings regularly for it to function appropriately.


What to look for in the hard shell Jacket?

There are certain special features that make the hardshell jacket even more special. It is important to look for these features before planning to buy one.

  • Underarm Zips
  • Pockets position
  • Reinforced elbows and shoulders
  • Helmet compatible hoods
  • Drawstrings
  • Zips with waterproofing
  • Breathability


Underarm Zips:

Underarm zips allow the air to pass through both ways and are thus essential for high-intensity activities. Even with jackets of breathable fabric, the jacket allows only a certain amount of water vapor to pass through. The rate of breathability also depends on humidity and temperature. The underarm zips help in ventilating this part of the body directly where it sweats the most.


Pockets Position:

Most of the happening hard shell jackets have pockets that position higher up on the jacket than normal hand pockets. This helps the pockets to be truly functional and the waist belts do not cover them. More than convenience, this feature is absolutely necessary. Apart from belts covering up the pockets, it helps in enhancing the climbing harnesses as well.


Reinforced elbows and Shoulders:

This membrane is the heart of every hardshell and it protects and extends the life span of the jacket. Reinforced sections help with this and are suited for areas that are exposed to the most wear and tear along with additional protection for the jacket.


Helmet Compatible Hoods:

Irrespective of what the outdoor activities are, such as caving, climbing, biking and mountaineering wearing a helmet is mandatory. The head needs protection from falling rocks, from the rain and snow and from water in general. But the hood should fit either over or under the helmet. In the case of adjusting hoods, it will be easy to adapt to both the shape and movement of the head’s shape, rendering a clear view even in rain.



The drawstrings on jackets help to find the perfect and customized fit. They also prevent unwanted cold air from seeping in through the neck, waist, and wrists. It protects around the head and it is possible to always adjust the hood. The drawstring has long straps to operate with the gloves.


Zips with Waterproofing:

Zips with waterproofing are available with two options. Technical zips feature waterproof and traditional cover flap to prevent water from getting in. Waterproof zips help in keeping the jacket completely waterproof. Zips with waterproof coating are lightweight and offer additional protection in adverse weather.



Waterproof jackets repel water droplets and are an effective barrier against the rain. But it should allow the water vapor and sweat to pass through. The permeability of the jacket plays a major role in defining its breathability along with the body and outside temperature. Along with the good jacket, it is important to find the right layers to wear under the hardshell.

A base layer with moisture wicking properties is capable of transporting sweat away from the body to the next layer. The lack of such waterproofing treatment results in fabric inhibiting its permeability.


Final Words:

Rain and snow should not dampen the adventures. These waterproof, hooded, lightweight and classic hardshell jackets are a reliable bet for any outdoor enthusiasts. All those planning on hiking, climbing, backpacking and camping trips in wet and stormy weather forecast should definitely pack along a hard shell jacket. We hope our top 6 collections of best hardshell jackets and our guide will help you in finding the best attire for all your outdoor activities.

Leave a Reply