πŸ§₯ 5 Best Softshell Jackets of 20186 min read

Looking for the best softshell jacket? You’re in the right place.

As you know, softshell jackets provide a moderate amount of cover from the elements.

In harsher conditions, softshell jackets can act as a middle layer against the cold and rain.

Know how to layer? Check out this great tutorial by our friends at REI

Compared to fleece jackets, softshell jackets protect you much better against wind and rain.

I personally wear the North Face Apex Bionic.

Below, I break down 4 other awesome softshell jackets that I’ve tried.

Let’s go!

5 Best Softshell Jackets

Softshell Jacket Best Feature My Grade
The North Face Apex Bionic Durable, lightweight, and stylish. My number one pick A
Outdoor Research Men's Enchainment Jacket Durable construction A
Columbia Sportswear Men's Prime Peak Great value & classic looks B
Arc'teryx Gamma LT Jacket Slim, athletic fit B+
New Balance Men's Soft Shell Jacket Lightweight, great value A-

^^Below, I’ve written more detailed reviews, but you can click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.

Why Are Softshell Jackets Important?

The best feature of a softshell jacket is that it is highly breathable.

That is why most of the people like using softshell jackets in order to wick moisture away from their body while they are working out, hiking or doing some similar sporty activities.

Softshell jackets are more comfortable than hardshell jackets.

They provide better wind and rain protection than fleece jackets.

These can be worn during temperate climate when the casual mid layers will just not do the trick.

The softshell jackets provide more insulation compared to the normal mid layers.

You can wear these while relaxing at home as well.

As an adventure and sports lover, having a softshell jacket can become a great asset for you.

Looking for a light carrying pack? Check out my favorite backpacks.

How To Choose The Best Softshell Jackets

1. Stretch Woven Versus Membrane

Softshell jackets are made from woven materials and are made by bonding two layers of fabrics together; they do not have lining.

There are two types of softshell jackets, namely, stretch woven and membrane.

Stretch woven softshell jackets have water repellent coating.

They are more breathable and lightweight than membrane jackets.

Because of their high wicking properties, stretch woven jackets are fit to be worn while performing strenuous and sweating activities as these jackets will be able to keep you dry and comfortable.

However, such jackets are only water resistant and not waterproof.

Membrane jackets are more waterproof.

They provide great protection to the body as well.

However, these are not much breathable and are heavy.

You can choose the best softshell jackets, which have the features that you require.

2. Fabric

The softshell jackets must have breathable, quick drying and comfortable fabric.

They must provide you with adequate warmth.

In order to achieve the aforementioned qualities, softshell jackets are made using either of the following two technologies- coatings or laminates.

Coatings are layered on the inner side of the fabrics whereas laminates consists of a membrane.

Laminates perform better in terms of durability, breathability and water resistance but are costlier than coatings.

3. Weight

Softshell jackets can be heavier than down jackets or fleece jackets.

However, these must be lightweight; lightweight in the sense that you should not be fatigued by the weight of the jacket.

When the jacket is light, you will be able to be productive and perform better.

So choose a lightweight softshell jacket.

4. Hood And Pockets

All softshell jackets do not have hoods.

If you want to use the softshell jacket as a mid-layer, then a softshell jacket without a hood will do the work fine.

However, it is better to opt for a softshell jacket with hood in case you will be using it as an outer layer during summer, spring or autumn.

This is so that your head can also get protection against wind or water.

Also, softshell jackets tend to have lots of pockets in them.

So choose a softshell jacket which has plenty of inner and outer pockets to store your small items such as map, keys, money or anything.

These pockets will come handy a lot while hiking and travelling.

Which Softshell Jacket to Buy?

Softshell Jacket Best Feature My Grade
The North Face Apex Bionic Durable, lightweight, and stylish. My number one pick A
Outdoor Research Men's Enchainment Jacket Durable construction A
Columbia Sportswear Men's Prime Peak Great value & classic looks B
Arc'teryx Gamma LT Jacket Slim, athletic fit B+
New Balance Men's Soft Shell Jacket Lightweight, great value A-

^^Below, I’ve written more detailed reviews, but you can click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.

Ben’s Pick 🌟

The North Face Apex BionicA

The North Face Apex Bionic is a personal favorite and the jacket I wear nearly everyday.

πŸ‘ Best Feature Comfortable interior

πŸ‘Ž Worst Feature Material is stiff at first

See This Jacket on Amazon

Outdoor Research Men’s Enchainment JacketA-

Great protection against wind, rain, and whatever else mother nature throws your way.

πŸ‘ Best Feature Reinforced seam stitching for durability

πŸ‘Ž Worst Feature Sits right around waist level, so not perfect for steep incline hikes or skiing

See The Outdoor Research Men’s Enchainment Jacket on Amazon

Columbia Sportswear Men’s Prime PeakB+

A classic, durable, reliable jacket from Columbia.

πŸ‘ Best Feature Zippered pockets

πŸ‘Ž Worst Feature – Level of water resistance mentioned by some reviews, though I haven’t had a problem.

See The Columbia Sportswear Men’s Prime Peak on Amazon

Arc’teryx Gamma LT B+

Softer than most shells, this Arcteryx jacket has an athletic fit and tons movement freedom.

πŸ‘ Best Feature Fitted cuffs to keep out water and snow

πŸ‘Ž Worst Feature No thumb loop at cuffs

See The rc’teryx Gamma LT on Amazon

New Balance Men’s Soft Shell Jacket B

Economical, simple, refined lightweight jacket from New Balance.

πŸ‘ Best Feature Athletic Fit

πŸ‘Ž Worst Feature Short arms relative to jacket body length

See The New Balance Men’s Soft Shell Jacket on Amazon

Wrap Up on The 5 Best Softshell Jackets of 2018

Softshell jackets are a must in your closet if you hike in the fall or spring.

If you have a suggestion or idea for a jacket I should add to the article, send me an email.

I’m ben@hikersonrun.com.

Until next time!

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