Last Updated: July 8, 2020

Best Softshell Jacket [Updated 2020]

Having the right gear whilst you’re adventuring around the outdoors is key to keeping you warm, dry, and ensuring you enjoy the magical times the wild has on offer. One of the most important things to have is the right clothing and the layering options you choose will help you stay comfortable and keep your pack weight down. 

A softshell jacket is a lightweight layer everyone should have in their arsenal. A good softshell jacket will protect you from wind and rain while being breathable to keep you from overheating on those long hikes. They’re stretchy too and won’t restrict your movement in any way, so you can keep going comfortably. 


At A Glance: Our Top 5 Softshell Jackets


There are hundreds upon hundreds of softshell jackets on the market, each made with different features and from a variety of fabrics. It’s hard to know which ones will work well from you while you’re reading through the product descriptions and that’s where we come in.  We have taken some of the best soft shell jackets and put them into this handy review so you can be confident in choosing the right one for you. 

Top Product Overview

Mountain Hardwear Men's KOR Preshell Hoody - Void - Medium
Best On A Budget
  • Quality
  • Durable
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Arc'teryx Gamma LT Jacket Men's (Black, Small)
Best Of The Best
  • Jacket stays in place
  • Waterproof front zipper
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RAB Kinetic Plus Jacket - Men's Army M
Best For Rain
  • Waterproof
  • Sealed seams
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Black Diamond Men's Alpine Start Ash M
  • Roomy chest pocket
  • Unrestricted arm movement
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The North Face Men's Apex Risor Softshell Jacket (Large)
  • Awesome for windy conditions
  • Fleece layer to keep you warm
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Marmot ROM Jacket - Black - Medium
  • Made to move with you
  • Adjustable
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Outdoor Research Mens' Ferrosi Hooded Jacket, Pewter/Storm, M
  • Reinforced shoulders and sleeves
  • The jacket stays in place
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Marmot Men's Tempo Softshell Jacket, Blue Sapphire, Small
  • Ideal for cool dry climates
  • Breathable
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Under Armour Mens Barrage Soft Shell Jacket 008Steel/Steel M
  • Warm
  • Windproof
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Columbia Men's Ascender Softshell Jacket, Water & Wind Resistant, Black, Large
  • Water-resistant
  • Wind-resistant
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Best Softshell Jacket


Best On A Budget

Mountain Hardwear KOR

Mountain Hardwear Men's KOR Preshell Hoody - Void - Medium

The Mountain Hardwear KOR softshell jacket is super light and folds neatly away into its own pocket, making for easy and practical storage in your backpack. It stuffs down pretty small, so you can keep it in an outer pocket and access it quickly when you really need it.

It’s made from Pertex Quantum Air Ripstop fabric which is durable and very breathable so that you don’t overheat on those steep ascents. The material is also great at keeping the wind out and is coated with a water repellent treatment that ensures you don’t get too wet in a downpour. 

The hem, hood, and cuffs are elasticated to make sure the jacket stays in place and doesn’t ride up or move around in strong winds. There’s also a chin guard and wind flaps to protect your face when those bitterly cold winds come through.

It’s designed as a mid-layer, so you can wear it over your base and pre-mid layer or under your final outer layer. It has two harness-compatible zippered hand pockets to keep your hands warm too.

This is a great softshell jacket at a good price.

Pros

  • Quality
  • Durable
  • Chin Guard and Windflap Protect Your Face
  • Good zippers
  • Very breathable
  • Wind & Water-resistant
  • Folds into the front pocket
  • Good price

Cons

  • None

Product Information

  • 4.3 oz
  • Hooded
  • No thumbholes
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Best Of The Best

Arc'teryx Gamma LT

Arc'teryx Gamma LT Jacket Men's (Black, Small)

Arc’teryx are one of the top manufacturers when it comes to outdoor clothing and their Gamma LT softshell jacket got its inspiration from the need for a rock climbing jacket and was then refined to make it ideal for any outdoor use.

The Gamma LT is one of the best quality softshell jackets around and it should be at over $200. It truly is an investment but well worth it if you spend a lot of time being active at high altitudes or in chilly windy wet conditions.

Made from Wee Burly Double Weave fabric, the jacket protects you from the wind while being breathable enough to stop you sweating. This is key to staying warm, as sweating creates moisture in your base layers which can make you very cold.

The Wee Burly Double Weave fabric stretches in 4 directions, is water-repellent and it’s tough. The stretch and durability make the jacket very abrasion resistant so it won’t rip while you’re doing any adventure activity.

The jacket comes with elastic cuffs and a drawstring base to keep it in place. And for all you climbers out there, the hood is also large enough to go over a helmet. The front zipper is also made to keep water out and stop your inner layers from getting damp.

Note: If you are looking for a nice Arcteryx down jacket to go with it, try the Cerium or Thorium.

This is a fantastic softshell jacket, especially if you’re planning on some adventure sports but it’s very expensive. Remember, there is also the Gamma LT Hoody if you want that little extra head warmth on a cold day too.

Pros

  • Jacket stays in place
  • Waterproof front zipper
  • Helmet-compatible hood
  • Warm
  • Breathable
  • Very durable

Cons

  • Expensive

Product Information

  • 1 lb
  • Hooded
  • No thumbholes
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Best For Rain

RAB Kinetic Plus

RAB Kinetic Plus Jacket - Men's Army M

If your time in the outdoors is quite often spent in a very rainy area or you simply hate getting wet, then the RAB Kinetic Plus is a great soft jacket for you. Most softshells aren’t waterproof in order to keep them breathable but the Kinetic Plus is a little different.

Rab has created its own Proflex fabric that is not only stretchy and breathable but waterproof too. They have added a hydrophobic membrane between two layers of polyester and dropped in a moisture-wicking lining on the inside to ensure you stay dry.

The zippers all have water guards and the seams are sealed to stop moisture getting in. And the hood is stiff to protect your face in heavy rain. You couldn’t be more protected from getting wet.

The side pockets are deep for keeping you hands warm and storing anything you want to have quick access to like your phone or camera.

This is an awesome softshell that’s perfect for keeping you warm and dry in heavy rainfall while still having all the breathable, windproof qualities of a normal soft shell.

Pros

  • Waterproof
  • Sealed seams
  • Large pockets
  • Quiet
  • Nice fit
  • Light

Cons

  • Expensive

Product Information

  • 9.5 oz
  • Hooded
  • No thumbholes
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Black Diamond Alpine Start

Black Diamond Men's Alpine Start Ash M

The Black Diamond Alpine Start was originally designed for climbers. It is a handy softshell that packs into its own pocket that you can then clip on to your harness. It has found a greater purpose than just being a standby climbing jacket and is perfect for shielding you against gusty winds and light rainfall with its built-in weather resistance.

It packs down very small, making it an ideal match for your backpack’s outer pocket which you can access quickly if a sudden gust or shower catch you by surprise. It’s made from a Schoeller fabric that is durable and stretchy.

The fabric has been treated with Nanosphere technology to repel dirt and water. It’s by no means waterproof but will keep you protected from light showers. The jacket is quite long to protect you from the wind and the sleeves are made to be a bit loose to give you full arm movement.

There’s only one pocket on this softshell jacket. It’s quite roomy for any valuables you might want to keep close by, but it would be nice to have some hand pockets too.

The Alpine Start is a great lightweight softshell jacket for long hikes, but it is just that. Also handy if you’re a climber.

Pros

  • Roomy chest pocket
  • Unrestricted arm movement
  • Packs into the pocket
  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Hood is helmet compatible

Cons

  • Not many pockets
  • Expensive

Product Information

  • 6.7 oz
  • Hooded
  • No thumbholes
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Best For Wind

The North Face Apex Risor

The North Face Men's Apex Risor Softshell Jacket (Large)

If you’re looking for a jacket that comes into its own in windy, cold conditions, then The North Face Apex Risor is right up your street. It’s made to be warm and windproof to keep you comfortable no matter the weather.

The jacket is made from WindWall fabric which, as it sounds, is 100% windproof. It has a fleece lining to keep you warm when the winds blow like ice. The outside is has a durable water-repellent finish that makes the jacket virtually waterproof. If you like being on the top of moutains, this jacket will have you back, literally. 

It has a loose but not sloppy fit to give you a full range of movement even with a backpack on. The cuffs are semi-elasticated to keep the sleeves from riding up and the zipper is durable and almost completely weatherproof.

There are 3 zipper pockets, two by your hands, and one on the chest for easy storage and quick access to anything you want to carry on your person.

This is an extremely durable and warm softshell that’s ideal for spending time on cold windy mountains. Of course, it’s no Gore-tex jacket, but it does have some water resistance.

Pros

  • Awesome for windy conditions
  • Fleece layer to keep you warm
  • Almost waterproof
  • 3 pockets
  • Durable
  • Light

Cons

  • None

Product Information

  • 6.7 oz
  • Hooded
  • No thumbholes
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Marmot ROM

Marmot ROM Jacket - Black - Medium

The Marmot ROM (Range Of Motion) is designed to move with you. Whether you’re climbing a wall or navigating a gorge the jacket is completely unrestrictive to give you a full range of movement and get you through any kind of terrain comfortably.

This softshell has a zonal design so as not to inhibit movement. The arms are made with Angel-Wing Movement, the sides are breathable and stretchy for air and flexibility, while the cuffs, hem, and hood are all adjustable to keep the warmth in.

The ROM is made from a combination of Marmot M2 softshell and Gore Windstopper fabrics that make the jacket breathable, windproof, highly water-resistant, and comfortable.

There are three pockets, two on the sides and one on the chest. Perfect for storing any valuables and keeping your hands warm at the same time. It is a bit heavier than other jackets in the review but a few extra ounces aren’t much to worry about.

A great jacket overall, perfect for any adventure.

Pros

  • Made to move with you
  • Adjustable
  • Lots of pockets
  • Durable
  • Flexible
  • Breathable

Cons

  • A bit heavy

Product Information

  • 1 lb 2.6 oz
  • Hooded
  • No thumbholes
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Best Allrounder

Outdoor Research Ferrosi

Outdoor Research Mens' Ferrosi Hooded Jacket, Pewter/Storm, M

If you’re looking for a good value allrounder softshell that can handle most of what the outdoors can throw at it, then the Outdoor Research Ferrosi should be top of your list. Outdoor Research really did think of everything a softshell needs when they made the Ferrosi.

This softshell jacket is made with a hybrid-mapped construction. What is that you might ask. This means that they have strategically placed the right fabrics, insulation, and technology around the jacket to give your body the greatest benefit. Smart hey.

This Outdoor Research jacket features reinforced shoulders and sleeves to reduce abrasion. The hood is adjustable, the hem has an elastic drawcord to fit, there are elastic cuffs to stop the sleeves riding up, and the YKK zipper is treated to be water repellent.

This jacket is made of a huge combination of materials to ensure its quick-drying, breathable, light, water-resistant, wind-resistant, UPF 50+, gives freedom of movement, and more. 

There are three pockets; two on the sides for your hands and one on the sleeve which doubles up as a stuff sack, ideal for easy storage and quick access. There is a key clip and a carabiner loop too.

The Ferrosi is an awesome jacket that comes at a great price and is fit for any occasion.

Pros

  • Reinforced shoulders and sleeves
  • The jacket stays in place
  • Packs down into a pocket
  • Durable
  • Quality
  • Great pockets
  • Quick-drying
  • Light
  • Good price

Cons

  • Not so warm

Product Information

  • 11.7 oz
  • Hooded
  • With thumbholes
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Marmot Tempo

Marmot Men's Tempo Softshell Jacket, Blue Sapphire, Small

The Marmot Tempo is another great allround soft shell for any outdoor activity. Its been designed so that you don’t over heat while running around the outdoors.

The M3 soft shell fabric keeps you warm and dry, protecting you from wind and the odd shower. It’s not made to deal with anthing but a light shower and if you’re looking for something that’s good in heavy rain, this is not it.

Where the Tempo does excell is during high tempo activites, like running and climbing. It’s exceptionally brethable to ensure you don’t sweat while you’re being active. It features Marmots Angle Wing Design, ensuring you arms aren’t restricted from moving freely while you’re clambering around.

The cuffs are elsticated and the hem is adjustable to ensure the jacket doesn’t ride up. This keeps you protected and stops you from having to adjust and faff around this your jacket while you’re busy having fun.

There are three prockets, one on the chest for your valuables and two on the sides for keeping your hands warm.

Pros

  • Ideal for cool dry climates
  • Breathable
  • Water-repellent
  • Handwarmer pockets
  • Adjusts to fit
  • Ease of movement
  • Fast drying

Cons

  • Not for rainy areas

Product Information

  • 14 oz
  • No hood
  • No Thumbholes
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Under Armour Barrage

Under Armour Mens Barrage Soft Shell Jacket 008Steel/Steel M

The Under Armour Barrage is a pretty solid allrounder too as far as soft shell jackets go. It’s made to be light and warm for those long days in the outdoors.

Made from 100% polyester, it features a bonded three-layer design including a warm brushed inner layer.  The inner layer is effective at wicking moisture from your skin and circulating your body heat, to keep you warm but not too warm.

The fabric is treated with UA Storm technology to repel water while still being breathable. And the outer layer is made with windproof construction to keep protected from those icy gusts we all know and kind of love.

The jacket comes with hand pockets and in a range of colors. It’s pretty good value too.

Pros

  • Warm
  • Windproof
  • Durable
  • Breathable
  • Water-repellent
  • Wicks moisture
  • Circulates body heat

Cons

  • Narrow fit

Product Information

  • 17 oz
  • No hood
  • No thumbholes
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Columbia Ascender

Columbia Men's Ascender Softshell Jacket, Water & Wind Resistant, Black, Large

The Columbia Ascender is perfect for those that don’t venture into the extreme that often, but who want a quality soft shell.

It’s made from quality polyester that is good at keep you warm and dry. It’s wind-resistant and water-resistant to a point but it’s not made for heavy downpours and strong icy winds. You’ll need another layer on top of the Ascender in those conditions.

It has a narrow fit to it and comes with bounded cuffs, an adjustable drawcord hem, and a quality zipper to give you a good fit. There are two zippered handwarmer pockets too so you can keep your digits toasty on the trail.

Overall a great value soft shell for everyday use.

Pros

  • Water-resistant
  • Wind-resistant
  • Good value
  • Adjustable
  • Light

Cons

  • Hard to size

Product Information

  • 15 oz
  • No hood
  • No thumbholes
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What To Think About When Buying A Softshell Jacket

There’s a range of softshells in this review and some are better for different conditions than others. Here are some factors to consider when looking for the one for you.

Warmth

The whole idea of a softshell is to keep you warm while not making you overheat, especially while being active. This means they need excellent breathability, and you should check this is the case.

Some come with a fleece lining that makes them ideal for cold weather and some with a moisture wick lining to keep you cool in warmer places.

Water-resistance

Every softshell is designed to be water-resistant but most are not waterproof. This is always something to bear in mind and the additional layer of a hard shell is needed for heavy rain conditions. That being said, there is one softshell jacket in the review that has been designed for heavy rain environments, the Kinetic Plus.

Movement

While wearing your softshell, you’ll most likely be being quite active whilst wearing a backpack. There is nothing more annoying than feeling restricted by your jacket and a good softshell will give you excellent freedom of movement. Almost all of the jackets in the review give you great freedom of movement.

Windproof

A good softshell jackets will keep most of the wind out in order to keep you warm. There is a balance though, between being breathable and windproof. Softshells aimed at keeping you cool during heavy activity won’t be great in heavy winds and vice versa.

Our Favourites

The best budget softshell jacket is the Mountain Hardwear KOR. The KOR is very well made and comes in at a great price. It has all the assets you’d expect of a good softshell plus it’s light and packs down neatly for storage.

Mountain Hardwear Men's KOR Preshell Hoody - Void - Medium
  • LIGHTWEIGHT DESIGN: An ultralight hooded jacket made with Pertex Quantum Air Ripstop fabric to produce the optimal balance between wind resistance and breathability.
  • WATER RESISTANT: Durable for blocking light rain and moderate winds. Fixed hood for added protection in hard-to-guess weather.

The best soft shell jacket in the review is the Gamma LT. If you’re looking for a softshell that’ll last a lifetime, this is the one for you. It’s been made to the highest specifications and should never fail you in a time of need.

Arc'teryx Gamma LT Jacket Men's (Black, Small)
  • GAMMA LT JACKET - Inspired by climbing, then refined to expand its versatility, the Gamma LT Jacket works on rock, trail, and easily transitions to daily use.
  • ARC'TERYX ESSENTIALS - Versatile high performance designs for diverse activities and conditions.

The best wet weather softshell is the RAB Kinetic Plus. The Kinetic Plus has all the benefits of a softshell while also being fully waterproof. Everything from the fabric, the zippers to the welded seals does it’s utmost to keep you dry.

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RAB Kinetic Plus Jacket - Men's Army M
  • Breathable membrane and taped seams
  • 1-way YKK AquaGuard Vislon front zip

The best softshell jacket for windy conditions is The North Face Apex Risor. The Apex Risor is made to be windproof and warmer than most softshell jackets. It’ll keep you toasty on the top of a mountain in an icy breeze, while still doing everything a softshell is meant to.

The North Face Men's Apex Risor Softshell Jacket (Large)
  • Extreme durability with windproof WindWall fabric and a virtually waterproof finish
  • Standard fit is eased, but not sloppy, and perfect for any activity

The best allrounder softshell jacket is the Outdoor Research Ferrosi. The Ferrosi is very well made, exceptionally durable, practical, and does everything you want from a softshell extremely well. It’s also excellent value.

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Outdoor Research Mens' Ferrosi Hooded Jacket, Pewter/Storm, M
  • WATER AND WIND-RESISTANT: This abrasion-resistant softshell jacket will not only keep you warm and dry, but it also offers UPF 50+ protection as well. The quick-drying, breathable, lightweight design is perfect on the trail approach.
  • ADDITIONAL FEATURES: Outfitted with a fully adjustable hood, elastic drawcord hem, and elastic cuffs, you can adjust the jacket to fit you just right. It also has YKK DWR-treated zippers, zip chest and hand pockets, key clip, and carabiner loop.