Last Updated: June 30, 2020

10 Best Hardshell Jackets in 2020

Everyone who enjoys spending time in the outdoors should own a hardshell jacket. Whether you love hiking, fishing, hunting, rock climbing, or skiing, a good hardshell jacket will give you peace of mind and save you from a very wet and cold ride home. 

Our Top Picks

When the weather turns quickly and catches you out, it’s the piece of gear that’ll keep you warm and dry no matter what the elements throw at you. They’re made to be durable, waterproof, breathable, and windproof. There are literally hundreds of hardshell jackets to choose from and finding a good one can be quite a challenge. In this review, we take you through some of the best hardshell jackets on the market today. From lightweight models to jackets that keep you warm in the iciest conditions, you’ll find what you’re looking for right here. 

Top Product Overview

Westcomb Men's Apoc Jacket (Medium, Black)
  • Breathable
  • Stretchy
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Mammut Nordwand Advanced HS Hooded Jacket - Men's Black, L
  • Very waterproof
  • Breathable
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Black Diamond Sharp End Shell Jacket - APBAX0815XLG1
  • Looks good
  • Durable
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Arc'teryx Zeta AR Jacket Men's (Black II, Large)
  • Tough
  • Great for heavy weather
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Mountain Equipment Mens LHOTSE Jacket Ombre Blue/Cosmos (Medium Gore-TEX)
  • Great allrounder
  • Unrestricted movement
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RAB Muztag GTX Jacket - Men's, Celestial/Blueprint, Large, QWQ-38-CE-L
Best On A Budget
  • Weatherproof
  • Great breathability
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Mountain Hardwear Men's Exposure/2 Gore-TEX 3L Active Jacket, Darklands - M
Best For Being Active
  • Light
  • Breathable
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Arc'teryx Alpha SV Jacket Proteus MD
  • Bombproof
  • Extremely weatherproof
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Outdoor Research Men's Interstellar Jacket, Glacier/Baltic, Medium
  • Great in weather
  • Good price
SEE ON AMAZON →
Arc'teryx Beta AR Jacket Men's | Versatile Waterproof Gore-TEX All Round Shell Jacket | Tui, Medium
Best Allrounder
  • Breathable
  • Comfortable
SEE ON AMAZON →

Best Hard Shell Jackets


Westcomb Apoc

Westcomb Men's Apoc Jacket (Medium, Black)

If you find yourself being active in adverse weather but your current hardshell makes you overheat, let us introduce you to the Westcomb Apoc hardshell jacket.

It is one of the top hardshells for breathability due to the use of Polartec’s NeoShell waterproof breathable laminate. It’s more air-permeable than your run of the mill Gore-tex and keeps you from sweating while taking on physicals tasks in rough weather. The fabric is also quiet, durable, and comfortable.

The jacket comes with a hood for added protection and warmth. It’s waterproof, windproof, the zippers are of great quality and also feature an aqua guard to make sure no water seeps in.

The jacket comes with ventilation zippers to ensure you really don’t overheat plus a few good storage options. There are two large zipper pockets on the side and one internal media pocket to keep your valuables safe and dry.

The only drawback is that it doesn’t have the best fit, quite often a little bulky and oversized.

Pros

  • Breathable
  • Stretchy
  • Durable
  • Keeps you cool while being active
  • Aqua guard zippers

Cons

  • Bulky fit
  • Expensive

Product Information

  • 17 oz
  • Hooded
  • No thumbholes
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Mammut Nordwand Advanced

Mammut Nordwand Advanced HS Hooded Jacket - Men's Black, L

If you live amongst the snowy mountains or spend your winters skiing, then you know how important a good hard shell is. The Mammut Nordwand Advanced hard shell jacket is made for super cold climates.

It has been designed to be exceptionally waterproof with a rating of 28,000mm. This is very impressive and no matter how much snow, hail, or rain falls on you, you’re going to stay dry.

It’s made of a triple layer of Gore-Tex Pro with a face fabric of 100% nylon. This keeps you dry, warm and it’s still breathable so you won’t overheat while skiing your way down the slopes. All this layering makes it sound heavy but it weighs just under 1lb and is easy to pack and store.

Mammut also ensured that the jacket doesn’t restrict movement. There have added enough fabric in the right areas to stop parts bulking up or pinching, especially around the armpits and the shoulders.

The collar is high and combined with the hood gives you great protection. The back also extends quite far to give your legs some extra warmth. There are two deep chest pockets for valuables or anything you might want to access quickly.

This is an incredible jacket that really comes into its own in the harshest of conditions. It is an investment, and one worth making if you spend a lot of time around ice and snow.

Pros

  • Very waterproof
  • Breathable
  • Durable
  • Windproof
  • Made for cold winter
  • Light
  • Unrestrictive

Cons

  • Very expensive

Product Information

  • 15.5 oz.
  • Hooded
  • No thumbholes
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Black Diamond Sharp End

Black Diamond Sharp End Shell Jacket - APBAX0815XLG1

The Black Diamond Sharp End is one of the more affordable hard shell jackets in the review and does a great job of competing with the more expensive ones out there.

It’s built to live a life in the mountains and protect you from all those frosty elements. The jacket is made from a triple layer of GORE-TEX Pro to give you great breathability while being active but also keeping you warm while resting.

The outer layer is made from 40D nylon, a mini-ripstop backer for durability, and is covered with an excellent water-resistant coating. This jacket will keep you warm, dry, and stop you overheating while riding down the mountain. What more can you ask for? 

It comes with large practical pockets for your valuables, climbing harnesses, clips, and hooks. The hood is also large enough to cover a ski helmet. It’s pretty light as hard shells go and folds down to a pretty reasonable pack size.

This is a great value hard shell that will keep you going in serious weather.

Pros

  • Looks good
  • Durable
  • Waterproof
  • Windproof
  • Helmet-compatible hood
  • Well made
  • Light
  • Good pockets

Cons

  • Could be more adjustable

Product Information

  • 16 oz
  • Hooded
  • No thumbholes
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Arc'teryx Zeta AR

Arc'teryx Zeta AR Jacket Men's (Black II, Large)

The Arc’teryx Zeta AR is made to be explored in. It’s ready for anything you might want to throw at it, from summiting and technical climbs to walking through snowy mountain passes.

The jacket is made from a 70D shell and Gore-Tex. The 70D shell makes it very tough and durable, ensuring it lasts a long time while the combination of the two gives you great weather protection and breathability. Strong winds, rain, snow, ice, this jacket has got your back.

It’s surprisingly light at 15oz considering how well built it is. It folds up small and you’ll barely notice it when you throw it in your backpack. There’s also a lot of handy features that come with it.

The back is long to give you some extra protection from the cold, there are pit zips for ventilation, two large hand pockets, and a soft C-Knit backer. There is one drawback, the hood is a bit small and won’t fit over a helmet, but if you don’t use a helmet that often, it’s a winner.

Overall, it’s awesome jacket for every occasion but a little expensive.

Pros

  • Tough
  • Great for heavy weather
  • Lightweight
  • Ready for anything
  • Breathable
  • Waterproof
  • Windproof
  • High D coating

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Small hood

Product Information

  • 15 oz
  • Hooded
  • No thumbholes
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Mountain Equipment Lhotse

Mountain Equipment Mens LHOTSE Jacket Ombre Blue/Cosmos (Medium Gore-TEX)

The Mountain Equipment Lhotse is a great choice if you’re looking for a solid allround hard shell. It’s ideal for winter activities such as mountain trekking, skiing, and pretty much anything that involves some heavy or cold weather.

It’s built form triple layer GORE-TEX Pro 40D fabric which has been reinforced with 3-Layer GORE-TEX Pro 80D fabric in specific areas that tend to wear more. This makes this jacket very durable and it’ll last season after season. 

The build doesn’t just make it durable, it’s also weatherproof. It’ll handle heavy winds, snowfall, torrential rain, and anything else the elements feel like throwing at it. It fits great and is cut long to give you more protection and make it harness compatible.

The hood is extra large so that it can fit over a ski helmet. It comes with three pockets on the front plus ventilation zips under the arms to keep you cool when you need it.

The only downside is that it’s a little heavier than others but only by a few ounces. It’ll roll up pretty small and fit neatly in your backpack.

It’s a great hard shell jacket that’ll keep you warm and dry no matter the weather but it’s a little expensive.

Pros

  • Great allrounder
  • Unrestricted movement
  • Extra length
  • High quality
  • Durable
  • Helmet compatible hood
  • Great fit

Cons

  • A little heavy

Product Information

  • 18.2 oz.
  • Hooded
  • No thumbholes
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Best On A Budget

RAB Muztag GTX

RAB Muztag GTX Jacket - Men's, Celestial/Blueprint, Large, QWQ-38-CE-L

The RAB Muztag GTX is a great allround hard shell especially if breathability is a key ingredient you’re looking for. RAB has used some great ideas to enhance breathability and this is how they did it.

The jacket is made from 40D GORE-TEX Pro waterproof technology to ensure it’s durable and weatherproof. You can throw any kind of weather at this jacket and you’ll still be smug, dry, and warm while wrapped up inside it. 

Instead of using the 40D GORE-TEX everywhere, RAB added 30D GORE-TEX active panels in areas like under the arms to give the jacket better breathability and so you don’t overheat while on your outdoor adventures. 

The hood is helmet-compatible and can be adjusted in three ways. It has a wired laminated peak and wind collar to protect your face and a roll down hood tab. There’s also a fleece lining on the chin guard and on the back of the neck to keep your face warm while trekking through harsh conditions.

The jacket has a good fit, it quite long for extra protection and comes with two deep front pockets for valuables and gear you need quick access to. It’s a great jacket, just a bit heavier than others in the same price bracket.

Pros

  • Weatherproof
  • Great breathability
  • Durable
  • Fleece-lined in areas
  • Adjustable helmet hood

Cons

  • A bit heavy

Product Information

  • 16.6 oz.
  • Hooded
  • No thumbholes
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Best For Being Active

Mountain Hardwear Exposure/2

Mountain Hardwear Men's Exposure/2 Gore-TEX 3L Active Jacket, Darklands - M

If you love being active in the cold and want a jacket that is lightweight and breathable but still gives you the weather protection you need, the Mountain Hardwear Exposure/2 is a good fit.

The jacket weighs just 13.5oz making it one of the lightest in the review. It’s very packable and portable. The reason for the little weight is the fabric used to make it. Rather than being made from a high D Gore-Tex, Mountain Hardwear went with Gore-Tex Active 30D for the entire jacket.

The lower D count does make it a little less durable but the use of Gore-Tex active is what makes this jacket so breathable and ideal for high tempo activities amongst the elements. The sacrifice for the breathability that you won’t get as much protection in extreme weather conditions.

The jacket fits nicely without restricting movement. So when you’re reaching for that hold or buzzing around a bend, the jacket won’t get in the way. There are plenty of storage options with two deep hand pockets and one chest pocket plus a helmet-compatible hood.

This jacket is a little less expensive than most and is a great choice for active outdoorsmen, but as we’ve said, it won’t give you as much extreme weather protection as some others.

Pros

  • Light
  • Breathable
  • Weatherproof
  • Good price
  • Tall collar
  • Hood fits a helmet

Cons

  • Not as durable as some
  • Not as good in extreme weather

Product Information

  • 13.5 oz.
  • Hooded
  • No thumbholes
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Toughest

Arc'teryx Alpha SV

Arc'teryx Alpha SV Jacket Proteus MD

If you are looking for the toughest hard shell in the game, then look no further. The Arc’teryx Alpha SV (severe weather) hard shell is made to be the hardest one around.

It’s made from 100D Gore-Tex pro which is pretty much bombproof as fabrics go. Not only is it durable as hell but if you’re planning on spending some time in an ice blizzard, this is the jacket you’d want to do it in. It’ll handle the most extreme weather better than any other jacket in the review.

The 100D fabric does make it a little heavier than others but for what you’re getting, it’s to be expected. The jacket comes with zips under the arms for breathability, interior and exterior pockets plus excellent zippers. There aren’t any handwarmer pockets though, so be sure to bring some winter gloves.

The hood is also helmet-compatible and with its extreme durability, you’ll never be disappointed when skiing around the backcountry or climbing up an icy gorge. There is one drawback, the jacket does cost $799, which for most is a little too extreme. But if you want the burliest jacket around, this is it.

Pros

  • Bombproof
  • Extremely weatherproof
  • Very high quality
  • Durable
  • Breathable

Cons

  • Very expensive

Product Information

  • 17.3 oz.
  • Hooded
  • No thumbholes
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Outdoor Research Interstellar

Outdoor Research Men's Interstellar Jacket, Glacier/Baltic, Medium

The Outdoor Research Interstellar is an excellent option if you want a hard shell that’s super light while still being excellent in extreme weather. It has a lot of the assets of a softshell with the weather protection of a hard shell.

It’s been made using three layers of AscentShell with a 20D mechanical stretch ripstop face and a 100% polyester 12D backer. This combination gives you great comfort, mobility, and incredible weather protection. It’ll handle torrential rain, snow, high winds, and more. 

It comes with a helmet-compatible hood that’s wire-brimmed to give you some extra protection. The zippers are YKK AquaGuard to keep water out and make sure they always work when you need then. In addition to this, there’s a front storm flap, chest pocket, hand pockets, a carabiner loop, and a key clip. 

At 11.8oz, the jacket is super light and stuffs into the left-hand pocket for easy packing and portability. The only downside is the material is a bit thin and more delicate than the other in the review.

Overall, a great lightweight option at a great price too.

Pros

  • Great in weather
  • Good price
  • Comfortable
  • Very light
  • Breathable
  • Good fit

Cons

  • A bit thin

Product Information

  • 11.8 oz.
  • Hooded
  • No thumbholes
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Best Allrounder

Arc'teryx Beta AR

Arc'teryx Beta AR Jacket Men's | Versatile Waterproof Gore-TEX All Round Shell Jacket | Tui, Medium

If you are looking for a hard shell jacket that does everything then look no further than the Arc’teryx Beta AR. It’s tough enough to handle the most extreme weather while being mobile and breathable enough to enjoy using while hiking, camping, climbing, and more.

The reason this is so great at everything is the thoughtful shell design. A soft 40D Gore-tex has been used around the body to ensure comfort. A tough 80D Gore-Tex has been used on parts that take the most wear and tear to ensure durability and handle heavy weather.

The jacket comes with a tall collar for increased protection and a great hood that locks into position. It has a great fit and is perfect for allowing movement and layering. There are two deep chest pockets plus zips under the arms for breathability.

The jacket is a little expensive but it’s worth every penny. If you’re looking for ultimate quality and versatiltiy, this is the jacket.

Pros

  • Breathable
  • Comfortable
  • Good mobility
  • Great in weather
  • Ok price
  • Versatile

Cons

  • A little expensive

Product Information

  • 16 oz
  • Hooded
  • No thumbholes
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What To Look For In A Hard Shell Jacket

Hard shell jackets are your go-to layer when the elements throw everything they’ve got at you. They’re durable, great in weather, breathable and are made for 4 season use, but they don’t come cheap. they are made to last and owning one is a must if you spend time in the outdoors.

Waterproofing

The type of fabric used in a hard shell jacket makes a difference when it comes to handling weather and waterproofing. You’ll notice that most of the jackets in the review use Gore-Tex in some shape or form. Gore-Tex Pro is the best of what gore-tex has to offer with superior durability, breathability, and weatherproofing, but it does make things a bit more expensive. Gore-tex Active is made to be breathable but is not as hardy as the Pro, and is ideal for being active in the outdoors.

There are a few jackets in the review that use Neoshell and AscentShell. These are still great fabrics that will give you good protection and comfort while keeping the price down and are close to being as good as Gore-Tex.

Durability

The best way to tell how durable a jacket is is by looking at the denier (D) count of the fabric it’s made of. The higher the D number, the thicker the fabric, the more durable it’s going to be. Higher D counts usually make a jacket heavier and less breathable but better against heavy weather. Low D counts are great for breathability and light packing but won’t be as durable.

Weight

The hard shell jackets in the review do vary in weight but not too much that’ll they’ll weigh you down, we’re only talking a few ounces here. Plus, we are always willing to carry a few extra pounds for some extra weather protection. That being said, if you’re into light gear then the 11.8 oz Outdoor Research Interstellar is our lightest jacket in the review that still gives great weather protection.

Fit

A good fit is key for your hard shell’s mobility and for the ability to add layers underneath it. A baggy jacket will tend to restrict movement and they make noise in the wind. You want a trim fit that has enough space for layers underneath.

Our Favourites

Here are our top choices from the review.

The best allrounder hard shell is the Arc’teryx Beta AR. This jacket does everything well. From extreme weather protection to breathability and comfort during active pursuits, it has you covered.

Arc'teryx Beta AR Jacket Men's | Versatile Waterproof Gore-TEX All Round Shell Jacket | Tui, Medium
  • BETA AR JACKET - A mainstay in the Arc'teryx lineup since 2000, the Beta AR is the do everything, most versatile waterproof/breathable jacket for activities in mountain environments.
  • BETA - Versatile: high performance for diverse activities and conditions.

The best hard shell for being active in is the Mountain Hardwear Exposure/2. This jacket has been designed with breathability as the key component. If you love to run up snowy trails, ski hard, and generally move a lot in the outdoors, this is the jacket that’ll stop you overheating.

Sale
Mountain Hardwear Men's Exposure/2 Gore-TEX 3L Active Jacket, Darklands - M
  • GORE-TEX Active waterproof breathable shell fabric is bluesign-approved
  • Adjustable helmet-compatible hood and hem with single‑pull Cohaesive cord-lock technology

The best of the best is the Arc’teryx Alpha SV. This jacket has been made with the highest quality fabric and to the highest specifications. It’s the best in terms of durability and weather protection. If you want the toughest jacket out there, this is it.

If you’re on a budget the RAB Muztag GTX is a great choice. This is one of the least expensive jackets in the review but it still holds its own in terms of quality and weather protection.

Sale
RAB Muztag GTX Jacket - Men's, Celestial/Blueprint, Large, QWQ-38-CE-L
  • GORE-TEX Pro Waterproof Technology (40D) with GORE-TEX Active panels (30D)
  • Rab 3-way adjustable helmet compatible hood, with wired and laminated peak, roll down hood tab and wind collar