Best Softshell Jackets (2018 edition)

Truth be told, there is nothing that beats a Softshell jacket when it comes to those physically demanding activities. These types of jacket are impressively breathable and their stretch fabrics offer one of the best performance. They really come with a very comfortable fit that flawlessly moves with you.

What is a Softshell jacket?

For those who are not familiar with these types of jackets, a Softshell jacket is basically a versatile jacket that can suit a number of outdoor activities. It is made from a woven material. Pretty much different from conventional jacket we see every day, a Softshell jacket does not come with any lining, but instead comes made by bonding 2 layers of fabric together. Looking at these types of jackets, we could say they have been created to  fill the gap between a fleece, which in any case offers less water resistance and protection from the wind, and a waterproof jacket which is less stretchy.

So why are Softshell jackets very popular? Well, there are a number of reasons why many outdoor enthusiasts are embracing these types of jackets.  First, Softshell jackets offer a sort of ideal mid layer; it is super ideal when you feel a little bit cold and you need something that is more robust than a fleece. This type of jacket can also be worn over a base layer or just as an outer layer due to its shower proof and windproof capabilities.

QUICK ANSWER – THE BEST SOFTSHELL JACKETS

  1. Outdoor 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. Columbia Ascender
  9. Marmot Gravity

What To Consider When Buying A Softshell Jacket

We now know you know what a Softshell jacket is and why you need it. Now, let’s help you find the best. The industry has in the last few months exploded. We have seen tons and tons of Softshell jackets being created and made available.

The market is now super crowded with these jackets and if you don’t know what you need and what to look out for, there is no way in the world you are going to nail the very best. In that regard, we are here to help you. Here are some of the things you need to consider when shopping for the best Softshell jackets.

Type of Softshell Jacket

There are two types of Softshell jackets; membrane and stretch woven. To give you a clear picture what each one means to you and what properties they come with, here is a quick look into these two types of Softshell jackets.

  • Stretch Woven

These types of jackets often come complete with a woven nylon face fabric that is said to block wind and elements. In short, this jacket will function much like a wind jacket. However, unlike most jackets, it stretches weight a bit more and comes with enhanced breathability and durability.

So you know, since stretch woven jacket are air permeable, obviously, you should expect dry air to force its way through the shell. This can make it to pick moisture usually generated by sweat.

In any case stretch woven Softshell jacket tend to come with increased breathability far much better than membrane Softshell. That alone makes them the best choice for active pursuits such as cycling or running.

Pros

  • Increased breathability
  • Lightweight
  • High water wicking capabilities
  • Ideal mid layers

Cons

  • Water resistant, but not fully waterproof
  • May not be windproof

 

  • Membrane Lined

Pretty a good number of Softshell jackets we currently have on the market come with a membrane laminated to the inside of the nylon face, so as to provide better wind resistance. It also provides water protection after the DWR fails. Most jackets that come with this style do a great job when it comes to blocking the elements, but you are going to sacrifice a few things; you will get reduced breathability.

However, just like stretch woven Softshell jackets, membrane lined jackets also do come with a number of issues. First, they are slightly heavier than stretch and that can be a problem if you are looking for a lightweight Softshell jacket. Although these jacket are the best for a number of outdoor activities, but you will need more protection from elements.

Pros

  • More waterproof
  • Offer better protection against the elements

Cons

  • Quite heavy
  • Not as breathable as a stretch woven jacket
  • Not as waterproof as a hard shell jackets

Weather Conditions

Just like when you are shopping for any piece of clothing for outdoor activity, the weather of the area you plan on going is everything. In fact, it is one factor that will dictate what you are going to take home in the long run.  In any case, if you are going to a place that is likely to experience heavy downpour, you may want to stay away from stretch woven Softshell jackets. They are only shower proof, and not fully waterproof. A hard membrane Softshell jacket will be more appropriate.

That said, it is also very important to note that stretch woven Softshell jacket could be the best mid layer for cold conditions. You can actually wear it under a waterproof jacket for that added warmth as a windproof layer.  Amazing! inst?

Breathability

Other than stretching, one of the biggest reasons why most people go for Softshell jacket is simply for better breathability.  So if you are looking for a Softshell, you may want to consider the level of breathability that particular choice comes with.  If you know you will be doing a lot of climbing or background skiing, a stretch woven Softshell jacket will make a lot of sense.  It comes with better breathability.

Activities

Pretty much like any other outdoor gear, the type of Softshell you are going to go with will largely depend on the activity you intend to use it for. For example, if you are going to get yourself in activities like climbing, hiking and cycling, obviously, you would need a lightweight outer layer. For that, a stretch woven Softshell jacket will make a lot of sense. In other cases, a number of Softshell jackets are fleece lined for increased warmth.  These are the best if you are not looking for something you can use during those physically demanding activities, but you still need something that is lightweight to wear on any day to day basis.

If you need something for more active pursuits, and you don’t need so much warmth, then going for an unlined Softshell would be the best thing to do. After all, without the fleece lining, still you have the option of layering up underneath it as you so wish. It does not stop there; for cycling and running, always go with a breathable Softshell.  So as you can see, there is no going around it. The kind of activity you are going to be involved in will determine what you are going to pack at the end of the day.

Style And Fit

Most Softshell jackets are basically short in length. They should be worn quite tight fitting. However, they are stretchy and that means you still get great range of movement, but that tight fit helps keep heat in the inside. At the end really, the shorter fit and style makes these types of jackets the best choice as a casual every day jacket.

Key Features

As when you are s buying a jacket for outdoor activities, you may also want to consider the kind of features your Softshell jacket comes with before making a choice. Here are some of the basic features you must always look out for.

  1. Hood

A good number of Softshell jackets do not come with a hood. In any case, if you are looking for Softshell to act as a mid layer underneath waterproof, a Softshell without a hood may be better as a hood could really get in the way. Nevertheless, if you plan on wearing your Softshell jacket as an outer layer, especially during those heavy downpours, a hood may be a very useful feature to have.

  1. Pockets

Pockets are fast becoming very popular features in our jackets.  There are some of the best and safe places to store our valuables. For that, you may want to make sure your Softshell jacket comes with pretty good number. However, what you intend to do may dictate what to go for. For example, if you are cycling, going for a jacket with pocket on the back will make a lot of sense. Those side pockets may get in the way.

Top Rated Softshell Jackets Everyone Is Talking About

OUTDOOR RESEARCH FERROSI HOODIE

See this product on: Amazon.com

Pros

  • Wind-resistant
  • Water resistant
  • Breathable
  • Lightweight
  • Adjustable hood
  • Hand and chest pockets
  • Pockets doubles as stuff sack
  • Draw cord hem

Cons

  • Not windproof
  • Thin material

Bottom Line: The OUTDOOR RESEARCH FERROSI HOODIE is an amazing choice if you are looking for the best. It is super thin, light and pleasantly breathable. It also comes with a great price.

Truth be told, with the way things are in the industry, nailing the best Softshell jacket that comes with great price is practically difficult. However, the introduction of the OUTDOOR RESEARCH FERROSI HOODIE has changed all that. It is one of the best Softshell jackets that is quite affordable. With it, you get a lightweight and comfortable shell. There is no question, you will like it.

COLUMBIA ASCENDER

See this product on: Amazon.com

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Wind resistant
  • Water resistant
  • Breathable
  • Hand and chest pockets
  • Adjustable cuffs

Cons

  • Not windproof
  • No hood
  • Runs larger

Bottom Line: The COLUMBIA ASCENDER is not a high performance fit, but a generic fit. It is the best choice if you are looking for something you can wear daily.

If you are out there looking for a Softshell for daily wear that is budget friendly, the Columbia Ascender is what you should be going for real soon. Currently priced at around $115, this is one of the most affordable Softshell jackets you could lay your hands on today. Interestingly, despite its friendly price, that has not in any way affected the number of features it comes with. It is durable and quite comfortable. The construction is also sturdy and by choosing this great Softshell jacket, there is no way anything is going wrong. It is worth checking out.

THE NORTH FACE APEX BIONIC 2

See this product on: Amazon.com

Pros

  • Breathable
  • Water resistant
  • Fleece backer
  • Chest and hand pockets zips
  • Draw cord hem

Cons

  • No hood
  • Restricts movement
  • Material is stiff

Bottom Line:  If every day wear is what you are looking for, the NORTH FACE APEX BIONIC 2 is a great choice. It is well designed and its box fit makes it even more exciting. It also comes in tons and tons of different colors.

The North Face Apex Bionic 2 is another high ranking Softshell jackets on the market at the moment. From the way it has been designed to the amount of features it comes with, we could say it is truly what people want. This jacket comes with a whole new style. The box style is a bit new and they have been a lot of concerns from different quarters. It makes the jacket less mobile than any other jacket. Nevertheless, the North Face Apex Bionic 2 is a great choice for hiking, or if you are looking for something to wear around town when you are not hiking.