Outdoors Gear The 8 Best Hardshell Jackets By Stacey Nguyen Stacey Nguyen LinkedIn Twitter Stacey Nguyen is a personal finance and travel writer who has written for TripSavvy since June 2018. Her work has also appeared on POPSUGAR, HelloGiggles, and other national news outlets. TripSavvy's editorial guidelines Updated on 09/17/21 Share Pin Email Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links. Our Top Picks Best Overall: Arc'Teryx Alpha FL Jacket at Amazon "An excellent pick for anyone whose travel itineraries include rigorous outdoor activities like climbing." Best for Budget: Columbia Alpine Action Jacket at Amazon "It’s great for mountain trips during cold periods for skiing and snowboarding." Best for Men: Outdoor Research Optimizer Jacket at Amazon "The Optimizer shields against heavyweight weather with its lightweight form." Best for Women: Outdoor Research Women's Clairvoyant Jacket at Amazon "The face fabric on the Clairvoyant is quiet on top of being soft and comfortable." Best for Kids: Helly Hansen Junior Ascent Jacket at Amazon "Prevents your little ones from feeling hot and clammy from the inside of the jacket." Best for Packing: Outdoor Research Interstellar Jacket at Amazon "Instead of Gore-Tex, the jacket uses a comfortable, stretchy AscentShell membrane beneath a nylon ripstop face fabric." Best for Extreme Weather: The North Face Summit Series L5 Jacket at Amazon "The waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex allows you to stay warm and dry." Best Splurge: Arcteryx Alpha SV Jacket at Amazon "The “SV’ stands for severe weather, so the jacket is best for icy or wet alpine missions." Best Overall: Arc'Teryx Alpha FL Jacket Amazon Buy on Amazon The Alpha FL Jacket is an excellent pick for anyone whose travel itineraries include rigorous outdoor activities like climbing. The “FL” in the Alpha FL Jacket stands for fast and light. At 11.1 ounces, the jacket is indeed light, which makes it easy for users to move quickly under various weather conditions. It consists of waterproof, windproof and breathable Gore-Tex material that shields whatever elements may come at you during your outdoor adventures. The N40p-X face fabric prioritizes breathability by stacking the exterior and interior pockets. Designers articulated specific areas in the jacket to make it easy for climbing movements. The trim fit allows you to see your harness and also accommodates layering. The hoodie section is even tailored to fit a helmet underneath it. The men’s selection incorporates bold colors such as lichen, pilot, rigel, stingrey, flare and rohdei. Women will be able to choose between fiesta and somerset. Best for Budget: Columbia Alpine Action Jacket 4.5 Buy on Amazon Columbia Men's Alpine Action Insulated Jacket Review Since many hardshells can cost upwards of $500, the Columbia Alpine Action Omni-Heat Jacket’s low price tag is a reprieve for anyone on a tight budget. It’s great for mountain trips during cold periods for skiing and snowboarding. The Omnitech heat system in the jacket consists of metallic dot lining for heat retention as well as breathable fabric for ventilation during rigorous activities. There’s plenty of storage space for all of your traveling gear, including a chest pocket, ski pass pocket, interior security pocket and zippered hand pockets. Skiers will appreciate the jacket’s snap-back powder skirt and removable storm hood. The women’s collection includes aegean blue, bluebell/hot coral, dark raspberry, dusty purple and more. For men’s sizes, you can choose from delta, mountain red, nocturnal and super blue. The fit is trim, especially for women. Reviewers note that the jacket feels tight in the chest region, so ladies should consider sizing up. Tested by TripSavvy The jacket is relatively soft and not stiff. The reflective Omni-Heat interior has a smooth mesh that makes the coat comfy, even when wearing only a t-shirt underneath. Upon first trying the jacket on out of the packaging, the front felt like it awkwardly stuck out a bit, but the soft material seemed to settle down with use and eventually fit normally. I almost always wear a size Large in ski jackets on my 6-foot, 185-pound frame and the Alpine Action jacket was no exception. The fit is roomy, which is good in case I need to layer up underneath for the coldest days, and it also allows freedom of movement. Some ski brands (especially European-based ones) can skew more form-fitting in their outerwear, but I prefer a looser fit that permits athletic motion without needing fabric to stretch. I skied in this jacket primarily at Breckenridge in Colorado, which is known for its high winds above treeline, and I never felt the wind except in that it pushed against the jacket, which isn’t super stiff. In addition, having the integrated insulation layer meant there weren’t odd gaps in my layering. I did find the sleeve cuffs oddly tight and difficult to stretch over my larger ski gloves. If using gauntlet-style gloves that cuff over your cuffs, this wouldn’t be an issue, but even with relatively small gloves, I found the cuff action annoyingly tight. Despite some small gripes about heating up in the Columbia Men's Alpine Action Insulated Jacket, this could be a great budget option for someone who worries more about being cold than ever running hot while skiing. Especially if you can find it on sale, you could buy three of these jackets for the cost of even a mid-tier option from the elite ski outerwear companies. — Justin Park, Product Tester TripSavvy / Justin Park Best for Men: Outdoor Research Optimizer Jacket Buy on Amazon The Optimizer shields against heavyweight weather with its lightweight form. The Gore-Tex fabric protects you from getting wet in rain or snow while providing ventilation for rigorous activities like climbing. The laminated jacket is windproof and waterproof. You’ll be able to move with a full range of motion because of the full dynamic reach panels. When you move your body, your jacket doesn’t lift. The jacket comes with waterproof zippers and multiple pockets for storage. It sports a chest, internal and hand zip pocket. The front zipper is two-sided. In case you need to reach for your harness or something underneath it, you’ll be able to do so without much fuss. The hardshell also has a cinch cord to adjust the jacket to your desired fit. The color selection includes rustic picks like baltic, burnt orange, charcoal, fatigue and peacock. The 9 Best Men's Rain Jackets of 2021 Best for Women: Outdoor Research Women's Clairvoyant Jacket Buy on Amazon The lightweight Outdoor Research Clairvoyant Jacket was designed by and built for women. Unlike many hardshells that make crinkling sounds, the face fabric on the Clairvoyant is quiet on top of being soft and comfortable. Waterproof and windproof, the Gore-Tex membrane suits rigorous activities. No matter what the season, you can enjoy high alpine adventures and backcountry tours. The jacket has many zippered pockets, including hand ones that are higher for compatibility with a hip belt or harness. It sports a halo hood that is big enough to fit a helmet for backpacking while allowing you to maintain your peripheral vision. The collection includes soft, muted colors such as charcoal, cornflower, orchid, sangria and wisteria. Best for Kids: Helly Hansen Junior Ascent Jacket Buy on Amazon For any trail trips, Helly Hansen’s windproof and waterproof Junior Ascent Jacket will keep your kids dry if precipitation is in the forecast. It’s made with 100 percent polyamide and has a quick-dry lining. Since kids move around a lot, the latter feature prevents your little ones from feeling hot and clammy from the inside of the jacket. For keeping dry during stormy weather, it includes a detachable hood that packs into the collar. It also flaunts a printed reflective HH logo that keeps kids visible at night, whether your family is camping or going for a brisk walk in the city. The reflective quality allows you to keep track of your little ones even when it gets dark. The hardshell also has hand pockets so that kids can store various travel gear and snacks while exploring the great outdoors. Kids love colors, so the bold hues in this line are perfect. The unisex color selection includes aqua blue, forest green, olympian blue and very berry. Best for Packing: Outdoor Research Interstellar Jacket Buy on Amazon At 11.6 ounces, Outdoor Research Interstellar Jacket is a hair heavier than some others on this list, but it comes at a fraction of the price. If weight is your primary concern, it offers the best price for the lightweight packability of a softshell jacket. Instead of Gore-Tex, the jacket uses a comfortable, stretchy AscentShell membrane beneath a nylon ripstop face fabric. Like many hardshells, it’s also waterproof, windproof and breathable. Because the jacket is ultralight, reviewers do point out that the material feels thinner and less durable than Gore-Tex. Besides its light material, the Interstellar also features other functional designs that make it excellent for travel sports. The dynamic reach underarm panels enable full mobility, the helmet-compatible hood is adjustable and the above-the-harness pocket placement allows for storage while climbing. The color choices in the women’s selection include black/charcoal, garnet, oasis, samba/pewter, and washed peacock. In its men’s sizes, you can select from black/charcoal, ember/diablo, glacier/baltic, to name a few. Best for Extreme Weather: The North Face Summit Series L5 Jacket Buy on Amazon The North Face designed this jacket for alpine climbing in the most intense conditions, and the steep price reflects the quality. The waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex allows you to stay warm and dry. The outer material consists of heavy-duty 90D Cordura, which is a very durable face fabric for extreme weather protection. The jacket also sports a localized FuseForm construction, providing durability with minimal seaming for a full range of motion. The watertight pockets are also pack and harness compatible. There are caveats. The jacket is heavier and thicker than most of the ones listed here. It best suits cold alpine missions as opposed to high exertion activities in warm weather. Best Splurge: Arcteryx Alpha SV Jacket Buy on Amazon Its Mt.-Everest-high price may not be for amateur outdoor enthusiasts, but seasoned and ambitious climbers may want to look into Arc'teryx Alpha SV Jacket. The “SV’ stands for severe weather, so the jacket is best for icy or wet alpine missions. It has what you would expect in a reliable hardshell — waterproofness, windproofness, breathability and abrasion-resistance. Its materials are three-layer Gore-Tex and tough N80p-X face fabric treated with Arc'teryx Nu water-repellent treatment. The fit is articulated for full mobility, with a micro-seam allowance to reduce weight and bulk. The jacket carries five pockets, many of which have water-resistant zippers: one internal chest pocket, two high crossover hand pockets, one left bicep pocket and one internal dump pocket. It also sports dual-zippered armpit vents, which is great if you sweat a lot. The Stormhood is helmet-compatible with custom Cohaesive hood adjustment cords, which allow you to adjust it with gloves or mittens on. For men, the color selection includes black, cardinal, inkwell, pilot, macaw and more. Women can choose from cardinal, mirage, somerset blue and violet wine. Was this page helpful? Thanks for letting us know! Share Pin Email Tell us why! Submit Continue to 5 of 8 below.