Your sense of adventure could be held back by clothing that just isn’t suited to what you want to do. The right jacket is like a good partner, sticking with you through whatever you are going through and watching out for you all the time.
Softshell jackets provide excellent versatility for outdoor activities thanks to their breathable, stretchable fabrics. Whether you are hiking, rock climbing, or doing any other kind of intense outdoor activity, softshell jackets give you protection and keep you feeling comfortable.
We have put together a list of the very best softshell jackets, and maybe you will find one here that seems like a good fit for you.
Top 10 Best Softshell Jackets
- Nautica Men’s Softshell Jacket
- ARIAT Men’s Vernon 2.0 Softshell Jacket
- Little Donkey Andy Men’s Lightweight Softshell Vest
- Inbike Winter Softshell Jacket
- Columbia Men’s Ascender Softshell Front-Zip Jacket
- Spyder Men’s Softshell Jacket
- Marmot Men’s Gravity Softshell Windbreaker Jacket
- Under Armour Men’s Barrage Soft Shell Jacket
- Port Authority Men’s Textured Hooded Soft Shell Jacket
- FXR Men’s Renegade Softshell Jacket
1. Nautica Men’s Softshell Jacket
Material: 92% Polyester, 8% Spandex
Water Resistant: Yes
Pros: Durable, Lightweight, Good value
Cons: Size may not match up sometimes
This zippered, stretchy softshell jacket features multiple pockets (including a chest zipper) and some great water resistance. It’s not waterproof, but it will provide you protection in light rain to keep you dry and comfy. The material also offers great wind resistance, and the jacket is machine washable.
This Nautica jacket has been designed with fleece bonding to keep it lightweight and airy. That minimizes sweating and discomfort with a breathable texture that you can feel comfortable wearing all day long. It’s also quite durable, with material that should hold up to the abuse of regular outdoor activities and provide you decent value for the price tag.
2. ARIAT Men’s Vernon 2.0 Softshell Jacket
Material: 94% Polyester, 6% Spandex
Water Resistant: Yes
Pros: Great at keeping you warm, High-quality look and design
Cons: Packing method may cause wrinkles
Despite the high-end look, this jacket retails for just over $100 and offers a breathable, flexible design that’s going to be comfortable to wear no matter what you’re doing outside. ARIAT made this jacket true to size, so you can confidently order the size you normally wear and expect the jacket to fit you.
It features a deep inner pocket with no zipper or closure. The outer pockets have no closures either. Even though it’s a lightweight jacket, it does an excellent job of keeping you warm in cold, windy weather. This softshell provides excellent wind protection and warmth without the bulkiness or heaviness of a thick, winter jacket.
It has been styled to look like a much more expensive jacket than it really is, and it’s great at cutting down on windshear and reducing chill factor. The one downside customers have noted is that it is sometimes packed up very tightly when shipped, rolled up to save on shipping costs, which can create wrinkles that may be difficult to get out.
3. Little Donkey Andy Men’s Lightweight Softshell Vest
Material: 95% Polyester, 5% Spandex
Water Resistant: Yes
Pros: Powerful protection against the elements, Very breathable
Cons: Runs a little small
This softshell jacket from Little Donkey Andy offers some of the best protection for outdoor activity. It’s really water resistant (more so than most softshell jackets) and very wind resistant as well. It keeps out cold winds well thanks to its drawcord hems, chin guard and elastic cuffs.
We like how flexible and breathable it is even with all the wind and water protection it gives you. The fabric features a four-way stretch design that lets you enjoy freedom of movement. You should have full mobility no matter what you are doing. It is also airy and lightweight, so you should not feel stuffy or overly warm in it.
This jacket has a few pockets- no interior ones but a couple of exterior, zippered pockets, including a chest pocket. If you are ordering this softshell online, be aware that some customers complained that it runs a bit small. It may be in your best interests to order the next size up from what you are used to wearing.
4. Inbike Winter Softshell Jacket
Water Resistant: No
Pros: Keeps you really warm, Detachable hood
Cons: Water goes right through it
While this winter jacket from Inbike is made from wool, it uses different types of fabrication to make each part of the jacket function at its best. The warm wool fabric keeps you feeling comfortable in cold weather, composite fabric protects you from chilly winds, and mesh fabric provides flexibility and maneuverability.
The wool may be a little warm but breathable. It’s not water resistant, however. If you’re used to nylon and polyester softshell jackets, you may find this one a little airier but a bit warmer as well.
To keep you protected against the wind, there’s an adjustable, elastic hem and windproof cuffs. You also get multiple concealed zippers that secure the pockets and provide a clean, streamlined look. Opening the zippers allows for better airflow if you’re feeling too hot.
This is one of the few jackets on this list with a hood, and that component is detachable to make the jacket more customizable and user friendly. There is fleece fabric in both the collar and the cap to keep your head and neck warm in cold weather.
5. Columbia Men’s Ascender Softshell Front-Zip Jacket
Water Resistant: Yes
Pros: Excellent durability and value, High quality craftsmanship, Secure pocket storage
Cons: Runs a little large
Stay warm and dry in just about any weather with the men’s Ascender jacket from Columbia. This softshell jacket does a decent job of keeping out water and wind, though it’s not completely waterproof. It’s made with 100% polyester that does a decent job of standing up against the wear and tear of outside activity. You get really good stitching with this jacket despite the lower end price, so we like the value it offers. This lightweight fabric ensures that it’s comfortable to wear and won’t weigh you down on long treks through the woods.
This jacket features two zippered hand pockets and a zippered pocket on the chest to give you plenty of secure storage. In order to keep out the wind, the jacket features bound cuffs and an adjustable drawcord hem.
It should be noted that some customers have complained about the sizing on this jacket. Several of them say that it runs a little large for them, resting lower on their body than they would like for a jacket of this type.
6. Spyder Men’s Softshell Jacket
Material: 93% Polyester, 7% Spandex
Water Resistant: Yes
Pros: Great fit and true to size, Very water resistant
Cons: Side pockets may be a bit shallow
This is one of the higher end jackets from the list, and it earns its price tag with great waterproofing and some decent moisture wicking (called moisture transfer by the manufacturers). This Spyder jacket is water resistant enough to wear on rainy days without water soaking through most of the time. It has a tough outer shell that’s resistant to water, but the entire jacket is very breathable at the same time.
The Spyder’s polyester softshell construction means that this jacket is really flexible, giving you a great range of movement. Previous Spyder jackets had problems running a little large, with extra long sleeves. That doesn’t seem to be an issue with this one, with most customers finding that the sleeves to be about the right size for them.
The jacket features 3 pockets, with a deep chest pocket and two shallow side pockets. All of these have a soft nylon interior.
7. Marmot Men’s Gravity Softshell Windbreaker Jacket
Material: 88% Nylon, 12% Elastane
Water Resistant: Yes
Pros: Adjustable velcro sleeves, Very breathable and lightweight
Cons: Multiple customer complaints about oversizing
This multipurpose jacket is a new version of the classic North Face softshell men’s jacket. The cut is a little different from the old look, but it’s a good fit that will not look boxy on most people. The fitted design is not necessarily going to be true to size, however. We’ve seen a number of complaints from customers that the jacket runs a bit big, and they often have to order a smaller size then they normally would to get a proper fit.
This tough jacket earns its price tag through sheer durability. It can handle some of the rougher outdoor activities like rock climbing, off-trail hiking, and more. You’re probably going to get a lot of value and longevity out of this jacket, so if you’re willing to pay a little bit more than average, you can get a jacket that lasts longer than average, and that seems like a good tradeoff to us.
The Marmot jacket features some great storage and customization options, including multiple zippered pockets and adjustable velcro sleeves, as well as a pull string hem. All of these features help to keep you warm and keep wind out. The jacket also has a zippered pocket on the shoulder, which may seem like an odd choice when most softshell jackets have that same pocket positioned on the chest instead.
Keep in mind that this jacket is water and wind resistant, so it’s not suitable for heavy rain. It can handle light rain and brief excursions in wet weather, but if you’re going to be walking through a downpour, you’ll need something more substantial.
8. Under Armour Men’s Barrage Soft Shell Jacket
Water Resistant: Yes
Pros: Fully waterproof, Keeps you really warm
Cons: Tends to run large
This jacket from Under Armour stands out because it’s waterproof and not just water resistant. It’s a great all-around jacket that manages to keep you fairly warm for temperatures of 60 degrees Fahrenheit and above. It features two outer pockets with concealed zippers for a very streamlined and appealing look.
The stiff fabric is not as flexible as some of the other softshell jackets on this list, but it’s mostly comfortable and offers a decent range of motion. The double-sided fabric does an excellent job of trapping warmth in and keeping your entire core warm. That allows this jacket to work harder at providing warmth than most similar softshell jackets. It features three layers of fabric for extra warmth, and yet it still manages to be fairly breathable.
Just be aware that this jacket, like many of the others on this list, may not be quite true to size. According to several customers, it runs a little under large size, and you may want to order a slightly smaller size than what you’re used to getting.
9. Port Authority Men’s Textured Hooded Soft Shell Jacket
Material: Polyester/Spandex outer layer and Polyester Fleece inner layer
Water Resistant: Yes
Pros: Incredibly warm, High-quality zippers
Cons: Maybe too thick for some people
If you’re wanting a softshell jacket that keeps you warm down to 40 degrees or so, then check out this option from Port Authority. It’s really soft and extra thick, especially when compared to other softshell jackets. In fact, it could be a little thick and overly warm if you’re used to wearing this type of jacket, but for those in colder climates, this is an excellent option for when you don’t want to wear a heavy winter coat.
We really love the hood on this jacket, which is extra deep for better wind protection and coverage. The entire design of the jacket is very high quality and along the lines of what you would expect from something that costs another $100 more. It offers powerful protection against water, and you can consider this jacket nearly waterproof and suitable for even heavy downpours.
There’s plenty of customization and storage options with this jacket, including several zippered pockets and zippered sleeves that let you open them up and shorten them as needed. Because overly long sleeves are a common problem with soft shell jackets, this is a great addition. It changes up the style and look a little bit, but it gives you more flexibility in your sleeve length. We think that tradeoff is worth it for the extra functionality.
10. FXR Men’s Renegade Softshell Jacket
Water Resistant: Yes
Pros: High visibility design, Lots of adjustable components
Cons: The neck area can feel a little bulky
We love this jacket’s sleek, professional look. The reverse coil front zippers, screen printed logos, and high visibility design create a functional, stylish jacket that outperforms a lot of the competition. Its features are quite distinct and may not be to everyone’s taste, but there’s a lot to love about this jacket. If you’re not sold on the color and style, there are a few different versions available, including a more muted color palette.
You get an adjustable hem with a shock cord and an adjustable hood as well that you can remove completely. The cuffs are adjustable as well and come with extensions for extra customization and wind protection. The chest and hand pockets are all zippered for extra security and have brushed fleece interiors.
This is a waterproof jacket that also manages to be quite breathable thanks to the fleece lining, Hydrx laminate coating and DWR (durable water repellant) finish.
Best Softshell Jacket Buyer’s Guide
How warm is a softshell jacket?
The average softshell jacket can provide warmth for temperatures as low as 60 degrees Fahrenheit, though some are rated to go as low as 30 or 35 degrees. These are not winter weather coats, in most cases. They can provide protection against wind during the spring and fall, but you will want to put on extra layers or a heavier coat during the winter. You will see a lot of people wearing softshell jackets on slopes or in winter weather, but that’s because they have multiple layers underneath their jacket to provide them with adequate warmth.
Where can a softshell jacket be used?
Soft shell jackets are excellent for strenuous outdoor activities like hiking, camping, running, rock climbing, and more. They are typically quite durable and can handle excursions through the brush, and these jackets do great job of keeping wind, rain, and pests off of your skin.
How do I choose a softshell jacket?
You probably want to go with one that is tight fitting rather than loose. It should fit closely around your body and should not be baggy. The sleeves should also be close fitting, with the cuffs tight enough to keep the wind off but not so tight that they feel restricted. The sleeves should not be hanging past your hands. You should get a good range of movement from your jacket even though it ought to be formfitting. Read our section on what to look for in a softshell jacket for a more thorough answer to this question.
How waterproof are softshell jackets?
Most softshell jackets are not completely waterproof but are water resistant instead. That means they can stand up to a light rain without soaking through. There are a number of softshell jackets available that are completely waterproof, but you want to make sure that you have a hood to go with it to make much use of the jacket as rain protection. Some softshell jackets have no water resistance whatsoever and will soak through even in light rain.
What to Look for in a Softshell jacket
You want a softshell jacket that will last you and that offers excellent value for what you’re paying for it. Even though we put together a list of some of the best softshell jackets available, there are some factors you should be looking out for if you want go beyond this list or to just make sure that you’re getting a quality jacket.
How do you tell if a softshell jacket is high quality without ever holding it in your hands? You can read customer reviews, check product ratings, and look at the material it’s made from. These indicators can tell you information about how long it may last and if it can handle the kind of wear and tear it needs to.
There are plenty of overpriced softshell jackets out there, and you want to be careful about paying too much for something that you could get cheaper with the same level of quality. Most softshell jackets are somewhere in the $50-$150 range.
Higher priced jackets may come with more features, have better stitching or have a longer lifespan. It may be worth it to pay more for your jacket so that you don’t have to replace it too quickly. Keep in mind, however, that sometimes you are just paying more for a name brand rather than ay extra features or higher quality.
Some softshell jackets just let the water go right through them. Others provide moderate protection, called water resistance. Look for how much water resistance or waterproofing the jacket is rated for in the product details. Some of them are completely waterproof and can be worn in any kind of downpour. Others are only suitable for mild rain.
This is one feature you should pay close attention to. Some pockets have no closure whatsoever, while others have zippers that are quick and easy to open.
Others may use button closures, which can be more cumbersome and won’t give you access to the pockets as quickly. Pocket closures keep your items secure, preventing them from falling out, which is especially helpful if you are going to be climbing or moving at a quick pace. Without proper closures on the pockets, you could lose the contents.
A softshell jacket that can keep you warm throughout most of the year is one you’ll get a lot more use from. You might be able to find a temperature rating that provides the details for the jacket you’re interested in. This can indicate how cold the weather could be around you while the jacket still provides warmth and protection.
You want a jacket that gives you room to maneuver and that uses stretchy material. Most softshell jackets are made from polyester, which will stretch pretty well. The fit of the jacket helps determine how much room you have inside of it as well. If you will be doing strenuous outdoor activities that require a lot of movement from you, you may want a jacket with some extra room in the shoulders and underarms.
Will you be wearing the softshell jacket in wet or cold weather? A hood can make a big difference in how much protection you have. If a hood comes with the jacket, you won’t have to buy a hat separately, and it will provide protection from rain for your neck as well. A hood will come in useful no matter what you’re planning to use your softshell jacket for.
Softshell jackets can be incredibly versatile, working well in both warm and cold weather. Their comfortable, flexible design makes them the kind of jacket you can easily wear all day long while staying active outdoors. You can reap the benefits for years if you make a smart decision with your softshell jacket purchase.
Hopefully, this list helps you find a jacket that’s a good fit for your needs and that makes your outdoor excursions even more enjoyable and memorable. There’s no need to be held back in your adventures by a poor-quality jacket or one that doesn’t have all the features you want.