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Soft Shell Jackets

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Top Picks

How we choose: The best soft shell jackets highlighted here were selected based on 491 reviews of 234 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

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Mountain Equipment Echo Hooded Jacket

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

The Mountain Equipment Echo is an unlined soft shell jacket designed for active pursuits with specific designs for the climber, including articulated arms, a drop hem, helmet-compatible hood, and dual toggle hem. I have found this jacket highly useful for ranges far out of its intended uses—as a protective layer against the sun, a mid-layer in cold winter temps and, of course, as an outer layer in cool temps, especially against wind and abrasion.

Reasons to Buy

  • Weight (11.5 oz)
  • Weather resistance
  • Fit
  • Breathability
  • Durability
  • Under the helmet hood/can fit over as well
  • Stretch fabric

Reasons to Avoid

  • No two-way zip
  • No hood adjustments (designed as such to keep the weight down, but could be a problem for some)

I have been testing the Mountain Equipment Echo Hooded Jacket for almost six months now and it has been used from a frigid Canadian January winter to intense Jamaican sun-soaked beaches. It's been used for backpacking, ice climbing, rock climbing, and travelling for a total of who knows how many total days, I wear it so incredibly frequently. I would venture a guess of a least 50 days of activity as well as a bunch of casual uses. It's probably been through the wash six or seven times. FIT  The fit of the Echo is spot on, slim fitting without being restrictive.

Read more: Mountain Equipment Echo Hooded Jacket review (1)

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hoodie

user rating: 5 of 5 (2 reviews)

A very useful "on the move" piece that layers well, cuts some wind while still being breathable, doesn't restrict movement and has a very durable, stretchy face.

Reasons to Buy

  • Great fit
  • Multiple uses
  • Doesn't restrict movement
  • Durable
  • Some weather resistance
  • Excellent thumbholes
  • Looks good

Reasons to Avoid

  • Poor drawcord hem
  • Gets a little stinky

I've had the OR Ferrosi Hoody for about four years and it's typically in my pack from Spring to late Fall. It's sort of a hard one to put in to a specific box as far as performance. I think it's jacket that you need to play with a bit, with different layering and conditions, until you find the lane where it works best. There's no additional insulation to this jacket and at first it might seem like it has very limited uses. But you'll soon find that it's the right one to work in your system under a variety of conditions.

Read more: Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hoodie reviews (2)

Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (12 reviews)

As the equipment coordinator for a Search and Rescue team I was faced with buying up to 50 "fleece" jackets for my team members. Based on my experiences with Arc'Teryx (see my review of the Alpha SV Jacket), I decided on the Gamma MX. I chose the hooded version for added warmth when a toque just won't do.I have not regretted this purchase, and I continually get feedback from the team members on how much they like this article of clothing. Believe me, when I buy something they don't like they are the first to complain.

Read more: Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody reviews (12)

Marmot ROM Hoody

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (8 reviews)

I love this jacket. I've been living in it for a few months now. It absolutely blocks the wind, but breathes really well. Fit is outstanding! Best uses would be anything active, really.

Reasons to Buy

  • Great fit
  • Excellent breathability
  • Stretchiness feels natural, not cheap
  • Excellent protection from wind
  • Great warmth when it's just cold enough to need a jacket

Reasons to Avoid

  • Very limited water resistance (like a few minutes)
  • Tad heavy/bulky, but it's worth it

Let me start by saying that I've never really liked softshells. They seemed to not really do enough for me, and I'd just end getting rid of them in favor of something else due to their cost. I had also never owned one with a hood. Well, I don't know what got into me, but I tried this one on in REI, and just didn't really want to take it off! Here I am on a backpacking trip a couple weeks ago in the Big Frog Wilderness wearing the ROM Jacket. Fit, Comfort, Layering, and Adjustability I tried it on with just a tee: fit well.

Read more: Marmot ROM Hoody reviews (8)

Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Jacket

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3 reviews)

The Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Jacket is a versatile, light-to-midweight softshell that's best for fast-paced activity in cold weather. The Dawn Patrol shows its stuff moving fast above zero and below 40 degrees. Like any softshell, it's not well-suited for pouring rain or frigid cold (there is no hood and very little insulation), but for nearly every aerobic activity I tried in cold weather (running, walking, hiking, snowshoeing, biking, and cross-country skiing), it proved to be a great companion. I would recommend this without hesitation as a general-use garment for aerobic activity of all sorts in cold weather.

Reasons to Buy

  • Super water resistant
  • Restrained, nifty features
  • Slim, athletic fit
  • Great style
  • Great breathability

Reasons to Avoid

  • Cuffs soak through easily
  • Minor cuff durability issue.

Technical Specifications: Weight: 524g/18.8oz MSRP=$249Manufacturer Claim: "This slim soft-shell sacrifices nothing, striking an ideal balance between protection and thermal performance."Fabric:  Schoeller Stretchwoven nylon (260 g/m2, 91% nylon, 9% elastane) with brushed back and NanoSphere Technology Fit This jacket is cut for “athletic” folks. I'm 5”8”, 145 lbs, and the waist on a men's medium felt a bit tight to me. For cross-country skiing, biking and running, the lack of “extra” material and the inherently stretchy nature of the garment meant that it moved with me well.

Read more: Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Jacket reviews (3)

Arc'teryx Gamma MX Jacket

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (8 reviews)

As much as I wanted to get the Sky Blue Ray color of this jacket, I couldn't bring myself to wear it everyday. Instead, I chose a more muted option; the Nightshade, and I've gotta say that it works rather well. The hint of blue on the access pockets really sets it off. The fabric is Fortius 2.0, sorry Polartec, seems you've been replaced, but it's OK. Fortius does the job without compromise. I have a Gamma AR as well and you can tell the difference between the two. In comparison, you can't go wrong with any of the Gamma models, but while the SV (discontinued) and AR models would be built solely for warmth and durability, the MX would be built for comparable warmth and flexibility.

Read more: Arc'teryx Gamma MX Jacket reviews (8)

The North Face Apex Bionic Jacket

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (18 reviews)

this is my first soft shell top or bottom, a gift.  as a hard shell lover, i was prepared to be disappointed in how this would perform.  instead, i really like it.  the jacket is new, so it's too early to comment on long term durability.  the workmanship looks good - no loose stitches or frayed edges anywhere.  initially, the zipper was fussy about 1/8 of the way up, right at the bottom of the hand pockets.  that went away after wearing it about a week.  it has two large zippered pockets that open along each side seam, for your hands, and one good-sized zippered pocket at the left chest.  the cuffs aren't elastic but close with a velcro tab.  the hem has a shock cord that tightens by pulling the cord from inside each of the side pockets.

Read more: The North Face Apex Bionic Jacket reviews (18)

Arc'teryx Gamma Jacket

user rating: 5 of 5 (2 reviews)

An ultra-breathable softshell, which provides excellent weather protection.

Reasons to Buy

  • Highly breathable
  • Excellent wind and water resistance
  • Great fit

I have had this softshell jacket for several years now, and it is one of the most often used pieces of outdoor clothing in my closet. I wear it cycling to and from work in iffy weather. Snowshoeing on a chilly day. Hiking when it's windy. I find myself reaching for it for most anything outside of full on rain. The jacket fits great without binding or tightness anywhere. A nice and soft fleecy lining on the collar makes it comfortable when you want to batten down the hatches and zip up to the top.

Read more: Arc'teryx Gamma Jacket reviews (2)

Marmot Gravity Jacket

user rating: 5 of 5 (6 reviews)

Best jacket EVER. I've owned mine for 3-4 years now and have used both in the U.S. and abroad. Lightweight, easy to pack and wear, this jacket is perfect. Stops wind and water and with the pit zips, the jacket breathes when you need it to.

Reasons to Buy

  • Waterproof
  • Wind proof
  • Light and easy to park

Reasons to Avoid

  • None

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Jacket

user rating: 5 of 5 (2 reviews)

The perfect addition to any outdoor excursion!

Reasons to Buy

  • Fit
  • Breathability
  • Material flexes with you as you move

Reasons to Avoid

  • Tends to pill around pack straps, etc.

I wear the OR Ferrosi soft shell in every season! It's the perfect outer layer in the summer when I need something breathable, soft on my skin when worn over a t-shirt, and warm enough to allow me to rest and soak in the view atop a chilly summit. In cooler temperatures, it's a welcome addition to any layering system. I often wear it beneath the OR Aria Vest and on especially cold days, pile on a hard shell over both. I love the Ferrosi material— it's flexible, allowing you to move without restriction, yet doesn't lose its shape.

Read more: Outdoor Research Ferrosi Jacket reviews (2)

More Reviews of Soft Shell Jackets

Trailspace reviewers have shared 491 reviews of 234 different soft shell jackets.

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Other Types of Jackets

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