best softshell jackets

10 Best Softshell Jackets

We have already talked about the basic gears such as socks, base layers, underwear and so on which are required whilst hiking in harsh weather in order to keep ourselves warm, dry and protected.

Today we will be discussing about softshell jackets.

Softshell jackets are generally used during spring and autumn. They do not provide much warmth but do a decent job of protecting our body against moderate wind, water and snow.

They are not as warm as down jackets; so it is better to use softshell jackets as mid layers if you are planning to use them in cold climatic conditions.

Compared to fleece jackets, softshell jackets perform much better in terms of protecting you against wind and rain.

If you are in search of a good softshell jacket then bear with me as we dive into the world of the ten best softshell jackets available in the market.

Best Softshell Jackets  in 2018 (Top 10)

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.

How to Choose a Softshell Jacket?

Selecting a softshell jacket is not much difficult once you have had the hang of the key factors that you need to look for. These key factors are all mentioned below for your ease.

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 softshell jacket which has 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.

The 10 Best Softshell Jackets

There are many brands which offer best quality softshell jackets. Without any further ado lets us now jump into my top ten favorite softshell jackets which I have tested and reviewed for all of you. Enjoy!

1. Arcteryx Gamma LT

The Arcteryx Gamma LT is made up of Wee Burly softshell fabric. This fabric consists of two interlocking stretch weaves.
The face is made up of nylon which protects the softshell jacket against abrasion. The liner is made of polyester which wicks the moisture away and keeps you dry at all times.

The fabric of this jacket has Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish in order to increase its water resistance. The stretchable fabric provides great mobility which in turn makes this softshell jacket great for hiking, trekking, climbing and other adventurous activities.

The Arcteryx Gamma LT is an extremely durable jacket which will protect you against harsh weather conditions. It is a soft and comfortable jacket. This jacket is exceptionally breathable and is quite light as well.

The Arcteryx Gamma LT has two zippered hand pockets and one internal zippered pocket. The hand zippers are placed a little higher than normal jackets.

The front zipper of this jacket is made with a No Slip Zip technology which prevents the zipper from sliding down or opening by itself. There is also a hem drawcord present in this softshell jacket.

Prior to purchasing the Arcteryx Gamma LT, I was a little concerned because of the high price. But now when I have used this jacket, I can say that it is a great value jacket which does its work very well.

In fact, the Arcteryx Gamma LT is one of my favorite softshell jackets at the moment. I have no regrets with this product but only good things to say about it.

Features I like:

  • Extremely durable
  • Moisture wicking properties
  • Stretchable
  • Soft
  • Extremely breathable
  • Very comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • Great functionality
  • Water resistant
  • Has No Slip Zip technology in the front zipper


2. Marmot Gravity

Similar to the Arcteryx Gamma LT, the Marmot Gravity is another softshell jacket which is made for withstanding harsh climatic conditions.

The Marmot Gravity is a robust jacket which will provide you with great weather protection. It is made from nylon and elastane.

The weight of this jacket is 24.19 ounces which is quite heavy. As a result, the Marmot Gravity is not as breathable as the other jackets in this list such as the Arcteryx Gamma LT. It takes a long period of time to dry as well.

Nonetheless, the insulation provided by this jacket is absolutely fantastic. It is very warm and is my go to jacket for hiking during falls.

The build quality of the Marmot Gravity is top notch. It has great looks as well.

The Marmot Gravity has two zippered hand pockets, one shoulder pocket and one inner pocket. It has long sleeves with elastic wrist cuffs, and comes with an adjustable hem and a chin guard.

Features I like:

  • Comfortable
  • Great for harsh weathers
  • Provides good warmth
  • Good looks
  • Great build quality


3. The North Face Apex Bionic

The North Face Apex Bionic softshell jacket is another heavy jacket on this list. It weighs approximately 29.52 ounces and is made up of 97% polyester and 4% spandex.

One of the best features of the North Face Apex Bionic is its wind blocking trait which is exceptional. It is also water resistant.

The fit of this jacket is spot on. This jacket is stretchy and allows you to wear base layers underneath with ease.

The North Face Apex Bionic is made up of breathable material. It provides with adequate amount of warmth.

The workmanship is great in this jacket. It is durable as well.

There are two zippered hand pockets and one chest pocket in the North Face Apex Bionic. This jacket does not have a hood.

Features I like:

  • Breathable
  • Blocks wind well
  • Water resistant
  • Good fit
  • Warm
  • Stretchy
  • Durable
  • Good built


4. Rothco Special Ops

If you are one of those people who need to carry a lot of things around and hence want a jacket with many storage vaults, then the Rothco Special Ops is the perfect softshell jacket for you.

The Rothco Special Ops has a total of eight pockets: two on the left arm, one on the right shoulder, one on each side of the front torso with two smaller pockets, one on each side on inner front lower torso and rear two way compartments.

The Rothco Special Ops is made up of 100% polyester. It is waterproof and has a 3 layer construction to block wind and water.

It is a thin and lightweight jacket with great fit. The jacket is of superior quality.

The Rothco Special Ops wicks moisture well and keeps you dry. It is a comfortable jacket.

The lining of the Rothco Special Ops is of fleece. This jacket has a concealed detachable hood. The downside of this jacket is that its hood gets really bulky when rolled up or stored in the pocket.

In an overall, The Rothco Special Ops is an excellent product for the price it comes in.

Features I like:

  • Plenty of pockets
  • Thin and lightweight
  • Waterproof
  • Moisture wicking
  • Concealed detachable hood
  • Comfortable
  • Good fit
  • Great quality product


5. Condor Summit Zero Lightweight Softshell Jacket

The Condor Summit Zero Lightweight Softshell Jacket is also made from 100% polyester, same as the Rothco Special Ops softshell jacket. On a similar note, this jacket also has a handful of pockets.

There are two high rise slash chest pockets, two internal pockets, two shoulder pockets, one forearm pocket and a double zipper back pocket.

The Condor Summit Zero Lightweight Softshell Jacket comes with a stow-away hood. It also has a chin guard.

The fabric of the Condor Summit Zero Lightweight Softshell Jacket is stretchable.

The Condor Summit Zero Lightweight Softshell Jacket is water resistant and unless you are planning to get wet in a heavy downpour, this jacket will do a decent job at keeping you dry.

I like to layer the Condor Summit Zero Lightweight Softshell Jacket whenever I wear it and till date, I have never felt cold or chilly while wearing this jacket.

Features I like:

  • Plenty of pockets
  • Stretchable
  • Water resistant
  • Warm


6. Outdoor Research Ferrosi

The Outdoor Research Ferrosi is made from a combination of nylon and spandex. It is one of the most lightweight softshell jackets in this list, weighing only 11.32 ounces.

The Outdoor Research Ferrosi is a thin jacket. As a result, it will not provide you with much warmth. I prefer using this as a mid-layer rather than wearing it as an outer layer.

Having said that, the Outdoor Research Ferrosi does a great work at blocking wind. Also, it is a superbly durable product. The stitching of this jacket has been done generously as well.

The Outdoor Research Ferrosi is very breathable as well as comfortable. It dries super-fast too. The stretchable fabric allows you to move around with ease according to your wish.

The Outdoor Research Ferrosi is equipped with two zippered hand pockets and one zippered chest pocket. The zipper are of good quality.

It also has an adjustable hood and a drawcord hem. The Outdoor Research Ferrosi comes with a chin guard and abrasion resistant shoulders.

Features I like:

  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Fast drying
  • Stretchable
  • Generous stitching


7. Helly Hansen Paramount

The Helly Hansen Paramount is the perfect softshell jacket for spring and summer. It is made up of 100% polyester and is lightweight.

The Helly Hansen Paramount is a water resistant and windproof softshell jacket. It is comfortable and breathable.

This jacket has adjustable cuffs. There are two hand pockets and one chest pocket, all of which are zippered.

The Helly Hansen Paramount softshell jacket has generous stitching and is a good quality product.

Features I like:

  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Good quality
  • Generous stitching


8. Pantagonia Adze Hybrid

The Pantagonia Adze Hybrid softshell jacket has been made from Polartec Wind block fabric.

It has an abrasion resilient outer layer whereas the inner layer is micro-porous laminate and provides good insulation.`

The outer layer protects the body from wind and water while the inner layer helps to wick the moisture away.

Similar to the Arcteryx Gamma LT softshell jacket, The Pantagonia Adze Hybrid is also equipped with Durable Water Repellent (DWR) technology.

The Pantagonia Adze Hybrid is a durable softshell jacket. It is highly breathable and stretchable.

There are two zippered hand pockets and one inner pocket present in his jacket. Similar to the Arcteryx Gamma LT, the hand pockets are a little high to ease the access to the pockets while climbing or trekking.

The Pantagonia Adze Hybrid has an adjustable hem as well. The quality of this jacket is excellent.

There are two major disadvantages I found with the Pantagonia Adze Hybrid. Firstly, this jacket is very heavy and I am not a fan of heavy softshell jackets as they are worn during moderate climates and I prefer my softshell jackets to substitute as a mid-layer whenever required.

Secondly, because the Pantagonia Adze Hybrid is heavy and weighs 25.29 ounces, I expected it to be warm. However, this jacket does not provide as much heat as I had anticipated.

Features I like:

  • Durable
  • Abrasion resistant
  • Moisture wicking
  • Highly breathable
  • Water resistant
  • Stretchable


9. Columbia Ascender Softshell Jacket

The Columbia Ascender Softshell Jacket is made from 100% polyester. It is water and wind resistant.

The Columbia Ascender Softshell Jacket comes with many great features. It has two zippered hand pockets and one zippered chest pocket. It is equipped with changeable cuffs and a drawcord adjustable hem.

There is also an abrasion resistant chin guard present in the Columbia Ascender Softshell Jacket. This jacket can be machine washed as well.

The Columbia Ascender Softshell Jacket is warm and comfortable. It is super soft to touch and comes in variety of colors. This jacket is very stretchy and flexible.
Another great advantage of the Columbia Ascender Softshell Jacket is its price which is quite decent compared to some of the other softshell jackets of this list with similar features.

Features I like:

  • Decent price range
  • Water and wind resistant
  • Warm
  • Comfortable
  • Super soft to touch
  • Flexible
  • Machine washable


10. Mountain Hardwear Super Chockstone

The Mountain Hardwear Super Chockstone is a superlight softshell jacket. It weighs only 13.08 ounces and is made using nylon and elastane.

The Mountain Hardwear Super Chockstone also has a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish which has made this jacket water resistant, though not water proof.

The Mountain Hardwear Super Chockstone is thin and alike the Outdoor Research Ferrosi, it is better to use this as mid-layer rather than an outer layer.

This softshell jacket dries quickly. It is breathable and soft to touch. The fabric is stretchy and allows you the freedom to move as per your wish.

The Mountain Hardwear Super Chockstone has two zippered hand pockets and one zippered chest pocket. It has a low profile hood and an adjustable hem.

Features I like:

  • Lightweight
  • Dries fast
  • Breathable
  • Stretchable
  • Soft
  • Discreet hood


Comparison Table

Feature/Product Material Number of Pockets Hood
Arcteryx Gamma LT Wee Burly Softshell 3 No
Marmot Gravity 88% nylon and 12% elastane 4 No
The North Face Apex Bionic 96% polyester and 4% spandex 3 No
Rothco Special Ops 100% polyester 8 Yes
Condor Summit Zero Lightweight Softshell Jacket 100% polyester 8 Yes
Outdoor Research Ferrosi 86% nylon and 14% spandex 3 Yes
Helly Hansen Paramount 100% polyester 3 No
Pantagonia Adze Hybrid Polartec Wind-bloc fabric 3 No
Columbia Ascender Softshell Jacket 100% polyester 3 No
Mountain Hardwear Super Chockstone Nylon and elastane 3 Yes

The Verdict

My favorite softshell jacket from the above list is the Arcteryx Gamma LT.

The sole reason for the Arcteryx Gamma LT topping today’s list for me is due to its great attributes.

This jacket is durable and can withstand harsh conditions. It wicks moisture well and keeps me dry and warm.

The Arcteryx Gamma LT is super comfortable as well. The zipper of this jacket does not slid off.

Moreover, this jacket is lightweight, stretchable, soft and breathable.

You have to try this jacket once and you will know why I love this jacket so much.
I can just go on and on about the wonders that the Arcteryx Gamma LT softshell jacket is.

But do not worry, I won’t.

Because it is your turn to go ahead and tell me which softshell jacket did you like the best?

Till then, see you guys!


About Author

Neil Ferriss

Hey! I am Neil. Since I quit my job in 2015, I’ve traveled to several countries and have completed some thrilling items from my adventure bucket list. This blog is about sharing entertaining travel stories, useful travel tips and thrilling adventures with you from my non-stop adventure around the world.

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