Staying warm when you’re hiking is about smart layering. From your base layer to your outer layer, your clothing should work together. Every layer you wear has a purpose, and the best softshell jacket is a key component in keeping you warm.

Softshell jackets are the most breathable outer layer option. These kinds of jackets are ideal for aerobic activity in cold weather. They will also prevent you from overheating as you hike.

One of our big goals here at The Adventure Junkies is to help you when it comes time to gear up for the outdoors. In this article, we’ll walk you through how to choose a softshell jacket and show you our selection of the best models of the year.

For more of our top hiking gear recommendations, check out these popular articles: 

TentsHammocks | Bivy Sacks | Tarps

Sleeping Bags |  Sleeping Pads | Stoves

Backpacks | GPS | Headlamps | PolesWatches

Boots | Shoes | Sandals | Pants | Shorts

Base Layers | Fleeces | Down Jackets | Rain Jackets

cloud-download

CLICK HERE to Download our FREE Quick Starter Guide to Hiking

 

 

 

QUICK ANSWER – THE BEST SOFTSHELL JACKETS

  1. Research Ferrosi Hoodie
  2. Arc’teryx Gamma MX
  3. Arc’teryx Gamma LT
  4. Mountain Hardwear Fairing
  5. The North Face Apex Bionic 2
  6. Patagonia Adze Hybrid
  7. The North Face Tenacious Hybrid
  8. Mammut Lemah Hoodie
  9. Columbia Ascender
  10. Marmot Gravity

 

 

 

SOFTSHELL JACKETS REVIEWS

OUTDOOR RESEARCH FERROSI HOODIE

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Hiking

WOMEN’S VERSION: Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hoodie

WINDPROOF: No

TYPE: Stretch Woven

WEIGHT: 13.9 ounces

PROS: Wind-resistant, water-resistant, breathable, lightweight, adjustable hood, hand and chest pockets, pocket doubles as stuff sack, drawcord hem

CONS: Not windproof, no hood, thin material

 

 

 

ARC’TERYX GAMMA MX

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Multisport

WOMEN’S VERSION: Arc’teryx Gamma MX

TYPE: Stretch Woven

WINDPROOF: No

WEIGHT: 20 ounces

PROS: Wind-resistant, water-resistant, breathable, hand pocket with mesh pocket bags, watertight zippers, drawcord hem

CONS: Expensive, no hood, not windproof, not very warm

 

 

 

ARC’TERYX GAMMA LT

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Multisport

WOMEN’S VERSION: Arc’teryx Gamma LT

WINDPROOF: No

TYPE: Stretch Woven

WEIGHT: 15.7 ounces

PROS: Water-resistant, wind-resistant, lightweight, drawcord hem, hand pockets

CONS: Expensive, not windproof, no hood

 

 

 

MOUNTAIN HARDWEAR MEN’S FAIRING

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Hiking

WOMEN’S VERSION: Mountain Hardwear Fairing

WINDPROOF: Yes

TYPE: Stretch Woven

WEIGHT: 20.8 ounces

PROS: Water-resistant, hand and chest pockets, mock style collar, interior lining

CONS: No hood, not breathable, sleeves run long

 

 

 

THE NORTH FACE APEX BIONIC 2

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Multisport

WOMEN’S VERSION: The North Face Apex Bionic 2

WINDPROOF: Yes

TYPE: Stretch Woven

WEIGHT: 24 ounces

PROS: Water-resistant, breathable, fleece backer, chest and hand pocket zips, drawcord hem

CONS: No hood, material is stiff, restricts movement

 

 

 

PATAGONIA ADZE HYBRID

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Multisport

WOMEN’S VERSION: Patagonia Adze Hybrid

WINDPROOF: Yes

TYPE: Membrane/Stretch Woven Hybrid

WEIGHT: 20 ounces

PROS: Water-resistant, breathable, fleece backer, fleece-lined, soft-lined hand and chest pockets, drawcord hem

CONS: Zipper tends to get stuck, no hood, no cuff cinches, thin material

 

 

 

THE NORTH FACE TENACIOUS HYBRID HOODIE

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Multisport

WOMEN’S VERSION: The North Face Tenacious Hybrid Hoodie 

WINDPROOF: Yes

TYPE: Stretch Woven

WEIGHT: 22.4 ounces

PROS: Water-resistant, breathable, fleece lined, adjustable hood, adjustable hem, hand and chest pockets

CONS: Thin material

 

 

 

MAMMUT LEMAH HOODIE

Mammut Lemah Hoodie-Mens

Check out the latest price on:
REI

BEST FOR: Multisport

WOMEN’S VERSION: Mammut Lemah Hoodie

WINDPROOF: Yes

TYPE: Stretch Woven

WEIGHT: 11 ounces

PROS: Inexpensive, lightweight, breathable, secure pockets, hood with rollback option

CONS: Not durable

 

 

 

COLUMBIA ASCENDER

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Hiking

WOMEN’S VERSION: Columbia Kruser Ridge

WINDPROOF: No

TYPE: Stretch Woven

WEIGHT: 22.4 ounces

PROS: Inexpensive, wind-resistant, water-resistant, breathable, hand and chest pockets, adjustable cuffs

CONS: Not windproof, no hood, runs large

 

 

 

MARMOT GRAVITY

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Multisport

WOMEN’S VERSION: Marmot Gravity

WINDPROOF: Yes

TYPE: Stretch Woven

WEIGHT: 22.4 ounces

PROS: Inexpensive, water-resistant, fleece lining, adjustable cuffs, hand, sleeve, and internal pockets, thumbholes, drawcord hem

CONS: No hood, runs small

 

 

 

COMPARISON TABLE – THE BEST SOFTSHELL JACKETS

PICTURE
SOFTSHELL JACKET
BEST FOR
WINDPROOF
TYPE
WEIGHT
PRICE
RATING
PICTURE
SOFTSHELL JACKET
BEST FOR
WINDPROOF
TYPE
WEIGHT
PRICE
RATING
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hoodie
All-Around
No
Stretch Woven
13.9 ounces
$
4.6
Arc'teryx Gamma MX
All-Around
No
Stretch Woven
20.0 ounces
$$$
4
Arc'teryx Gamma LT
All-Around
No
Stretch Woven
15.7 ounces
$$
4
Mountain Hardwear Fairing
Windproof
Yes
Stretch Woven
20.8 ounces
$
4.5
The North Face Apex Bionic 2
Windproof
Yes
Stretch Woven
24.0 ounces
$
4.5
Patagonia Adze Hybrid
Windproof
Yes
Membrane/Stretch Woven Hybrid
20.0 ounces
$$
4.4
The North Face Tenacious Hybrid
Hooded
Yes
Stretch Woven
22.4 ounces
$
4
Mammut Lemah Hoodie-Mens
Mammut Lemah Hoodie
Hooded
Yes
Stretch Woven
11.0 ounces
$
4.4
Columbia Ascender
Budget
No
Stretch Woven
22.4 ounces
$
4.6
Marmot Gravity
Budget
Yes
Stretch Woven
22.4 ounces
$
4.4

 

 

 

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST SOFTSHELL JACKET

LAYERING

Your softshell jacket is intended to be worn over other layers. When you’re at the store, try the jacket on over a base and mid-layer. Check that your movement isn’t restricted. The ideal softshell jacket should be roomy enough to accommodate extra layers comfortably.

Softshells are designed to breathe while you’re on the move. Unfortunately, this can leave you cold when you stop to rest. In winter weather, you’ll need to pair your jacket with an insulated layer when you take a break. Try out this combination in advance to confirm that you’ll be warm enough during your rest stops.

Looking for more tips on how to layer? Our guide on how to layer clothes for the outdoors can help you dress right for your cold-weather hikes.

 

WEATHER RESISTANCE

Unlike rain jackets, most softshell jackets are water and wind-resistant. Not being fully weatherproof is the trade-off for superior breathability. Some newer models of softshell jackets have greater defenses against wind and rain. If you need more protection from the weather, then look for a jacket with these features.

 

STRETCH WOVEN OR MEMBRANE

There are two types of softshell jackets: Stretch woven or membrane. What’s the difference?

Stretch woven jackets tend to be the most breathable and lightweight softshell jackets. However, they are less weather resistant. They usually come coated with a durable water repellent (DWR) treatment. Over time, DWR treatment will wear off and need to be reapplied.

Membrane lined jackets have a membrane laminated inside the two layers of fabric. This membrane offers water and wind resistance but also reduces breathability. This type of softshell jacket tends to be less effective at wicking away water.

 

INSULATION

Some of the softshell jackets recommended in this guide have a fleece lining. This insulated lining makes these jackets warmer. If you hike in cold weather, this might be a good choice for you. If you plan to hike in warmer temperatures, you may want to opt for a non-insulated softshell jacket. Remember, you can always pair your jacket with a few removable base and mid layers.

Top 10 Best Softshell Jackets – Hiking Clothes for Summer, Winter, Fall and Spring – Hiking Outfits for Women, Men and Kids – Backpacking Gear For Beginners
947 Shares
Pin945
Share2
Tweet
Flip

LOOKING FOR AN EPIC GIFT FOR HIKERS?