The 5 Best Softshell Jackets of 2021


Best Softshell Jackets for Men & Women

Hiking is windy weather and at a very low temperature is not fun unless one wears appropriate clothing that keeps the person snug and warm. When we say appropriate clothing, we talk about a quality base layer, insulation layer, and an outer layer. A softshell layer comprises of these layers and is pretty useful as an outer layer as it offers protection and insulation against the light rain and wind.

We have chosen the best softshell jackets and have reviewed them here to influence your purchase decision better. The jackets that are included in our list offers excellent breathability and weather protection and are also lightweight. We have also included the buying guide to choose the most appropriate softshell jacket. These jackets can also be worn as a base layer in case additional insulation is not desired.


Best Softshell Jackets

Quick Answer: The 5 Best Softshell Jackets – [2021]

  1. Marmot Men’s Gravity Jacket
  2. Columbia Men’s Ascender Softshell Jacket
  3. The North Face Men’s Apex Bionic 2 Jacket
  4. Condor Men’s Summit Zero Lightweight Soft Shell Jacket
  5. Arc’teryx Gamma LT Hoody Men’s

Best Softshell Jackets Reviews


#1. Marmot Men’s Gravity Jacket


Features At a Glance:
  • Material: Nylon
  • Zipper closure
  • Front zip with chin guard
  • Long sleeves jacket
  • Adjusting cuffs
  • Ample pockets
  • Windproof and water-resistant capability

The Marmot Men’s gravity jacket features a perfect blending style with practicality features. The jacket has the best windproofing and is of a sturdy gravity material that is tough against the harsh winter conditions. It is comfortable to wear and comes as a comfort every day wear as well. This is perhaps the reason why the Marmot is the most popular softshell jacket among men.

It is of nylon material and feature zipper closure at the front along with the chin guard. The jacket has long sleeves with adjusting cuffs. There are two front slit pockets, one zip pocket at the sleeve and one inside zip pockets to store all of the essentials handy. It is true that the jacket defies expectations with its windproof, water-resistant and breathable properties in a sleek shell design.

Best Women’s Softshell Jackets :  Marmot Women’s Gravity Jacket, Black, Small

#2. Columbia Men’s Ascender Softshell Jacket


Features At a Glance:
  • Material: 100% polyester
  • Imported material
  • Zipper closure
  • Machine wash
  • Comfort stretch with zippered pockets
  • Water and wind resistance
  • Drawcord adjustments at the hem
  • Resistant to abrasion

The Columbia Men’s Ascender softshell jacket helps the wearer to look and feel good irrespective of the nature of the weather. Its latest clothing gear helps in keeping the wearer protected and comfortable in any season irrespective of the activities they indulge in. the soft shell of the jacket is of 100% polyester material. Its fabrics are of imported quality and feature a zipper closure with machine wash functionality.

The softshell jacket features a comfortable stretch with zips at its hand pockets. The softshell jacket is resistant to water and wind and features adjusting cuffs. It features a binding softshell with drawcord adjusting the hem. The softshell has an abrasion-resistant chin guard and zippered pockets at the chest.

Best Women’s Softshell Jacket : Columbia Women’s Prime Peak Softshell Jacket

#3. The North Face Men’s Apex Bionic 2 Jacket


Features At a Glance:
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 16 x 3 inches
  • Material: 100% polyester
  • Zipper closure
  • Machine wash
  • Hook and loop closures
  • Do not use bleach or use softener
  • Tumble dry at low heat
  • Standard fit
  • Velcro adjusting cuffs

These jackets are ideal for the coldest, unforgiving side of the mountain. They help explorers reach the most unfathomable heights of the Himalayas. The North face offers warranty for the products against defective materials and workmanship for the lifetime of the product.

The jackets are of 100% polyester material and have a zipper closure. It is ideal to machine wash separately on the delicate cycle in warm water. It is not appropriate to use softeners and bleach on the softshell. Do not iron or dry clean the shell and it is of standard fit.

The TNF Apex climate block fabric of the softshell features wind permeability at 0 CFM rating with 100% windproof fabric. The jacket features left Napoleon chest pockets with Velcro adjusting cuffs. It is good to check the North Ace website for the present color combinations so as to get the current versions of it. There is no hood zips in the collar and it has to be brought separately.

Best Women’s Softshell Jacket : The North Face Women’s Apex Elevation 2.0 Jacket

#4. Condor Men’s Summit Zero Lightweight Soft Shell Jacket


Features At a Glance:
  • Material: Elastic high density fabric
  • Outer layer: 100% polyester
  • Four-way elastic high density fabric
  • The mid-layer is of breathable film membrane
  • The inner layer is of laminated spandex
  • Soft shell jacket: 3 pounds

The condor summit softshell jacket features a three-layer integrated shell fabric technology along with prompt reinforcements on the forearms. This is a breathable shell that wicks moisture appropriately from the body.

It also prevents water penetration and maintains the body heat. It features an underarm vent zipper so as to control temperature and multiple pockets to help with storage and utility.

This softshell jacket is extremely durable, waterproof, lightweight and breathable and consists of billions of microscopic pores that are smaller than a raindrop. Its triple-layer combinations help to wick moisture and to stop water from passing through. It also helps a long way to circulate the body heat. The jacket is of 100% polyester material with high density four-way elastic fabric.

Best Women’s Jacket : Wantdo Women’s Mountain Waterproof Fleece Ski Jacket

#5. Arc’teryx Gamma LT Hoody Men’s


Features At a Glance:
  • Moisture resistant fabric
  • Wind resistance
  • Breathable and highly durable material
  • Tall collar with laminating chin guard
  • Mechanical stretch fabric for mobility
  • Adjusting draw cord hem construction
  • Hood compatible with helmet
  • Two hand pockets with zippers

The Arcteryx Men’s softshell jacket is of different combination materials such as Nylon, polyester, elastane, and microfiber. The jacket features proven performance and exceptional versatility with its advanced materials and discipline design.

This essential softshell jacket is ideal for backcountry and active alpine endeavors. It has exceptional weather resistance and its middle and outer layers feature a stretch for good mobility. The shell material is extremely breathable and is resistant to abrasion.

The softshell features high performance and minimalist design that is extremely durable. Its softshell is permeable to air with its four-way stretch weaved textiles along with exceptional abrasion resistance.

The jacket has a tall collar with a laminated chin guard, it has a stretchy and laminated cuff and features a regular design and fit for freedom of movement. The hood of the jacket is compatible with a helmet.

Best Women’s Softshell Jacket : Arc’teryx Tenquille Hoody Women’s

Points to Consider Before Choosing a Softshell Jacket

Best Softshell Jackets

To ensure that one gets started in the right direction, we have listed the most important points to consider before choosing to buy the ideal jackets.

The first question that anybody who answers is why should they need a softshell in the first place? Softshell jackets look nice and sleek and are always fun to wear. They are good to use while wandering around the town during fall. They are an excellent choice if jackets during dry weather, but they lack waterproofing. These are ideal as a mid-layer for cool and breezy weather, when the chances for rain is light.

Softshell jackets are ideal for breezy or windy weather, for cool weather, and during high exertion activities. Softshell jackets excel against hard shell jackets when involving in heavy exertion sports. The fabric breaths better and allows the better exchange of moisture and sweat.  The softshell jackets excel in high exertion poor weather situations/ the following are some of the important properties of softshell jackets.

  • Waterproofing
  • DWR steadfastness
  • Fitting
  • Softshell jacket material
  • Breathability of the softshell jacket
  • Insulation


A majority of the softshell jackets lack waterproofing capacities, but not all of them are created equal. There are jackets that offer zero rain protection and some that offer complete water resistance. Highly water resistant softshell jackets enhance their versatility and usefulness in different weather conditions.

Jackets that have no or little water resistance can border on simple mid-layers. The best way to pair them is to use a softshell over a mid-layer and a base layer. They are good for skiing in dry conditions and it is a good idea to have a backup hard-shell in place so as to cut out all the wind and to stay toasty warm.

DWR steadfastness:

Majority of the softshell jackets gain their water resistance capability from the chemical treatment that is applied on to the fibers of the jacket during the manufacturing process. These chemicals also known as durable water resistance or DWR are critical to keeping the softshell happy and functioning during the entire outdoor time. But constant machine washing, sun exposure and general wear and tear of the jacket can result in the deterioration of the DWR.  As this coating deteriorates, the jacket becomes less water-resistant.

But it is possible to restore the DWR by buying a kit online and painting it over the jacket. Though this is not as good as factory coating, they are much better than nothing. This can be done roughly once a year as its cost is also affordable.


The softshell jackets are generally of stretchy fabric so as to suit the purpose of high exertion activities. Thus it is possible to wear a more fitted jacket and more freely instead of using the larger and a baggy hard-shell. For the majority of the outdoor activities a layer under the softshell is needed, and since these layers’ demand space, it is important to size up the softshell to a little extend.

Softshell Jacket Material:

Polyester is the most common material for a softshell jacket. It is a manmade fiber that has excellent moisture-wicking properties. In the softshell jacket, this fabric usually faces outwards and gets woven tightly. When these jackets combine with a good DWR treatment, they become soft and flexible and resistant to outer materials.

Fleece are also often added inside the softshell jackets. This material is of polyester material as well. Fleece is excellent to soften up the neckline and the collars of the softshell jackets and they also tend to reduce chaffing.

Nylon is not a material of choice with softshell jackets and is of use very rarely. Nylon does possess superior water and wind resistance properties but finds extensive use only with hardshell jackets.


Breathability of The Softshell Jacket:

Breathability is one of the major benefits of softshell jackets. They allow a lot of air and moisture movement between the skin and the atmosphere when compared with the hard-shells. They hold a major benefit of breathability factor, and these jackets allow a bit of air movement and moisture exchange than hard shells and are thus able to breathe better.

Gore-tex is one of the most preferred brands of waterproofing and breathable material for hard-shell jackets. For tremendous activities such as mountaineering, climbing or running it is desired to have a jacket that is extremely breathable. But it cold and worst weather conditions, most of the people opt for hardshell jackets to protect from the worst torrents.


The extent of insulation that is required for softshell jackets depends exactly on how one is planning to use their softshell. Insulation is not always part of a softshell, and comes with the least and minimal fleece lining.

For those wishing to use their jacket as not just as a rain and wind blocker, but to add some warmth to the kit, then they have to choose a jacket with some lining. They have to be careful not to overheat as well. Some of the softshell jacket come with wind and rain protection with minimal insulation as well.


What features should you look for in your softshell jacket?

Apart from the standard aspects of the softshell jacket being able to offer the resistant against wind and water and to offer warmth, there are also other additional features that set a good jacket apart from a great one. Some of the most important additional factors in a softshell jacket are as follows.

  • Handwarmer Pockets
  • Chest Pockets and Other Pockets
  • Hoods
  • Adjustments
  • Zipper pulls

Handwarmer pockets:

This is an important addition with softshell jackets, as most of the times the users get their hand cold and reach out for additional warmth. Handwarmer pockets are a cozy place to keep the hands and it is important to zipper them when not in use.

Chest Pockets and Other Pockets:

Chest pockets are of use when the user wants to gain instant access to any essential and valuable items, so that there is no need to take out the backpack for every few minutes. Pockets on the sleeve can come handy to store essential equipment for instant access. The inner mesh pockets can help to save items such as gloves when they are not of use.



Hood is very much useful when it starts to rain suddenly. It is good to go for a jacket with a detachable hood so that it comes handy when required.



Some adjustments on the jacket such as the ability to close the sleeves to keep cold out and to keep the person warm at the same time are a must with soft shells. This closing sleeve mechanism can be of two types, it can either have a drawcord to tighten them or feature a hook and loop system, where the user will be able to strap them shut.


Zipper pulls:

Having zipper pulls helps the user to easily open all the zips at all the times, irrespective of using a glove or not. Without zipper pulls, things get hard in the cold.


Best softshell jackets FAQs

What is the difference between a rain jacket and a softshell jacket?

The softshell jackets differ from rain jackets in their insulation property. They have fleece on their inside and are of comfortable and stretchy materials. They are also pretty breathable. But they do not offer good protection against the rain as hardshell and rain jackets. They are also heavy and they dry slowly. But softshell jackets are ideal for day hikes and in quickly changing weather. They are very comfortable to wear, are highly breathable and are wind and rain resistant.


Do softshell jackets have an inner membrane?

They do feature a wind blowing membrane along with the DWR fabric treatment. Wind blocking membranes are not similar to waterproof membranes and they have bigger micro pores. They offer good protection against rain without decreasing the breathability functionality.


Are they good for winter hiking?

Softshell jackets do offer some amount of insulation in dry and breezy weather. But they are not ideal for cold winters. They are good to use in spring and fall. In winter months, the user probably requires a warmer garment such as the down jacket or winter jackets with abundant synthetic insulation.


Do the softshell jackets have waterproofing?

No, the softshell jacket has water resistance and do not have waterproofing. They are able to withstand mild rains effectively but cannot withstand heavy downpour and can get the user wet instantly.


Final Thoughts

The softshell jackets can be perfect in the ideal conditions. They protect from the wind and rain while the user is on the hiking or fishing trip. They for sure render an additional layer of warmth and are ideal for a number of different activities. We hope our buying review will help you with the best softshell jackets for all your outdoor activities.


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