Outdoors Winter Sports The 12 Best Softshell Jackets of 2023, Tested by TripSavvy By Amy Marturana Winderl Amy Marturana Winderl Amy is a writer and editor who specializes in health, fitness, and lifestyle. She's hiked in 32 U.S. National Parks (and counting!) and prefers active vacations that get her moving and sweating in beautiful natural landscapes. She's currently working on exploring more of New York State and plans to eventually tackle all of the Adirondacks High Peaks. Her favorite area of the U.S. to visit is western Wyoming. TripSavvy's editorial guidelines Published on 07/27/22 Share Pin Email We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission. TripSavvy / Nathan Allen. TripSavvy's Picks The Mammut Sapuen Hooded Jacket has all the features you’d expect from a softshell, making it an excellent pick for any outdoor adventure. The fit is also flattering enough to wear in everyday life. It has all the adjustable features you’d need to customize the fit: velcro arm cuffs, bungee drawcords in the hood, and the hem. For a good value jacket that provides ultimate breathability and mobility, we recommend the Rab Borealis Jacket. The one sure way to guarantee comfort on any outdoor adventure? Layering. If you’ve got your layers down, you’ll never be too hot or too cold or caught in the elements unprepared. A good softshell jacket deserves a spot in your outdoor gear arsenal. It’s a stretchy and generally soft jacket that can be worn on its own in moderate temps or used as a mid-layer, worn under a puffy on colder days, or underneath a shell for extra water and wind protection. The best softshells can play multiple roles, offering water- and wind-resistant features while being comfortable, breathable, and warm enough for breezy weather. They’re helpful any time of year, but they’re a staple for finicky spring weather when you want some coverage and protection from the elements without overheating. Here are the best softshell jackets for 2022. The Rundown Best Overall: Mammut Sapuen Hooded Jacket at Amazon Jump to Review Best Overall, Runner-Up: Marmot ROM Hoody at Marmot.com Jump to Review Best Value: Rab Borealis Jacket at Amazon Jump to Review Best Hunting and Fishing: Sitka Jetstream Jacket at Amazon Jump to Review Best for Cold Weather: Ibex Wool Aire Hoodie at Ibex.com Jump to Review Best Ultralight: Rab Windveil Pull On at Rab.equipment Jump to Review Best Insulated: Outdoor Vitals Ventus Active Hoodie at Outdoorvitals.com Jump to Review Best for Running: Oros Explorer Hoodie at Orosapparel.com Jump to Review Best Hiking: Montane Krypton Hoodie at Montane.com Jump to Review Best Hooded: Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hooded Jacket at Moosejaw.com Jump to Review Table of contents Expand Our Picks Product Selection How We Tested What to Look For FAQ Why Trust TripSavvy Best Overall Mammut Sapuen Hooded Jacket Moosejaw View On Amazon View On Moosejaw.com What We Like DWR finish Zipper pockets Four-way stretch Breathable What We Don't Like Nothing This water-repellent softshell is excellent for pretty much any outdoor activity. We're so impressed with the fit and how comfortable the four-way stretch material is—it’s one of the most comfortable athletic jackets we’ve ever worn. The back comes down past the hips, so you don’t have to worry about it riding up. The inside of the jacket has a polyester and wool blend, so it feels soft against your skin and adds to the breathability. Zipper pockets, a nicely sized hood with drawcords, and velcro adjustments on the sleeves round out all the nice-to-have features of this highly versatile jacket. We’ve worn it hiking, walking around the neighborhood, and running errands on rainy days, and it has yet to disappoint. Find the men’s version here. Sizes: XS-XXL | Material: Polyester & Wool backing; Polyamide & Spandex outer | Fit: Regular | Weight: 15.3 ounces Best Overall, Runner-Up Marmot ROM Hoody Marmot View On Marmot.com What We Like Classic softshell with excellent stretch Gore-Tex Infinium is high-quality, blocks wind, sheds rain, and maintains breathability Lots of pockets and storage capability What We Don't Like Runs a tad big Marmot's classic softshell—the ROM Hoody—is the epitome of what a softshell jacket should be. Gore-Tex Infinium blocks strong gusts and resists rain and other precipitation while maintaining decent breathability. The polyester-elastane blend creates optimum stretch and moves with your body. And the attached hood is helmet-compatible for climbing, cycling, or spring ski conditions. We thought the regular fit of this jacket ran a bit large—our male tester is 5'10" and 135 pounds and swam a bit in the men's small, but the positive spin is that you can layer plenty underneath if needed. We just don't recommend sizing up any. Sizes: S-XXL | Material: Gore-Tex Infinium; recycled nylon, elastane | Fit: Regular | Weight: 16 ounces TripSavvy / Nathan Allen. Best Value Rab Borealis Jacket Amazon View On Amazon View On Moosejaw.com What We Like Excellent breathability and mobility Double-zippered chest pockets Super-comfortable What We Don't Like Not best at moisture-resistance If you're looking to prioritize breathability, stretch, and mobility over weather protection, we can't think of a better option than Rab's Borealis Jacket. Despite a DWR coating, this jacket isn't the best at rain or other weather protection, but what it lacks in that category it more than makes up for in breathability and mobility, thanks to its two-way stretch construction. We tested this jacket on hikes, runs, bike rides, and backyard cookouts near the coast in Southern California, and it was perfect for those arid and temperate conditions. It's quickly become our go-to grab jacket as we head out the door for an evening mountain bike sesh or trip to the brewery. We love the drawcord to help with fitting, the hood, and the ability to stash into the left chest pocket for quick and easy storage. Sizes: S-XXL | Material: Nylon, elastane | Fit: Slim | Weight: 10.5 ounces TripSavvy / Nathan Allen. Best Hunting and Fishing Sitka Jetstream Jacket Amazon View On Amazon View On Blackovis.com View On Scheels.com What We Like Gore-Tex Infinium is becoming one of our favorite outerwear fabrics Some fleece on the inside for boosted warmth Lots of hunting- and fishing-focused colorways What We Don't Like Nothing yet Sitka's Jetstream Jacket is one of the brand's most popular outwear pieces. And we now totally get it. Gore-Tex Infinium provides the ultimate wind-stopping ability, is decently water-resistant, and still has good breathability. A durable water repellent finish only boosts its ability to shed rain and other moisture. A polyester micro-grid fleece on the inside amps warmth, and taped and skived seams increase the Jetstream's weatherproofing. We put this jacket as the best for hunting and fishing because of the nine hunting- and fishing-focused colorways and how warm it is for those activities where you might be standing or sitting still more than other outdoor activities. We also view this as an excellent option for anyone who's looking for a softshell with a bit more warmth. Size up as the smallest size in men's (medium) fits more like a small. Sizes: M-XXXL | Material: Gore-Tex Infinium; recycled polyester, elastane | Fit: Standard | Weight: 1 pound, 10 ounces TripSavvy / Nathan Allen. Best for Cold Weather Ibex Wool Aire Hoodie Ibex View On Ibex.com What We Like Lightweight insulation Zipper pockets Internal zipper pocket Breathable Odor-resistant What We Don't Like No adjustability We’re including a few insulated jackets on this list, because they still meet the criteria for a softshell: comfortable for all-day movement, breathable, and water- and wind-resistant. The extra addition of lightweight insulation makes the Ibex Wool Aire an excellent choice for colder weather. It performs well on cold-weather hikes—we layered a merino wool base layer underneath, keeping us cozy without overheating. You can wear it on its own or easily layer a bigger puffy or shell on top, since it has a slimmer athletic fit and isn’t bulky. The specs say it’s water-resistant, but we found it highly water-repellent—droplets roll right off the surface, which isn’t something we can't say for most insulated jackets. Find the women’s version here. Sizes: XS-XL | Material: Nylon shell; Merino Wool & Polyester Insulation | Fit: Athletic | Weight: 9.9 ounces TripSavvy / Nathan Allen. Best Ultralight Rab Windveil Pull On Rab Equipment View On Rab.equipment View On Sunandski.com What We Like Highly packable and breathable Excellent for mountain running, mountain biking, cycling, and road running What We Don't Like We like a hood We're firm believers that anyone doing outside activities and adventures should have an ultra-lightweight and highly packable shell in their outerwear quiver. Enter Rab's Windveil Pull On. It weighs a feathery 4.1 ounces and features 20D proprietary nylon, a mesh backing that runs underneath the arms for optimum stretch, sweat release, and odor control, along with a DWR finish. We love thoughtful features like body-mapped fabric positioning focused on when you're wearing a hydration vest, a drawcord, and a back pocket to pack it all into. Rab calls this a "mountain running piece," and we agree that it's excellent at high-output pursuits in the alpine. But we see this as a multi-application piece that will work for mountain biking, cycling, commuting, or tossing in your beach bag. Our 5'10", 135-pound male tester fit well in a medium. Sizes: S-XXL | Material: Polyamide, polyester | Fit: Regular | Weight: 4.1 ounces TripSavvy / Nathan Allen. Best Insulated Outdoor Vitals Ventus Active Hoodie Outdoor Vitals View On Outdoorvitals.com What We Like Incredibly lightweight insulated hoodie with so many applications Packs down into an inner pocket for easier storage and packing So warm and comfortable Nothing yet Outdoor Vitals is quickly becoming one of our favorite outdoor gear brands. We've tested an ultralight backpacking backpack, a more traditional travel backpack, a down jacket, and this ultra-lightweight insulated hoodie from the Utah-based brand this year and have loved each item. Started as a Kickstarter campaign, the Ventus is a game-changer. There's so much to love about this hoodie. First, it weighs a ridiculous seven ounces. Some proprietary insulation featuring coiled fibers boosts warmth and temperature regulation while maintaining lightness. Body-mapped breathability also amps body temperature regulation. And it dries quickly—something we realized after getting too rowdy on a paddleboard and taking a tumble into the Pacific. If you're looking for one insulated piece to add to your outerwear quiver, we can't think of a better option. Sizes: S-XXXL | Material: Ripstop nylon | Fit: Athletic | Weight: 7 ounces TripSavvy / Nathan Allen. Best for Running Oros Explorer Hoodie Oros View On Orosapparel.com What We Like So much tech that improves body temperature regulation Athletic fit, optimum for running What We Don't Like A bit too warm—would be best for cooler running and commuting Oros is a high-tech activewear company, so it comes as no surprise that this pull-over hoodie is teched-out to the max. We'll try to keep it simple. The Explorer Hoodie features a four-way stretch, which we love for running and other activities where range of motion and movement are crucial. It's got strategically placed wind protection, and body-mapped proprietary zero-bulk insulation helps warm where your body needs it and releases moisture in critical spots. We found this hoodie a tad warm for our Southern California testing but enjoyed it during early-morning runs at 8,000 feet in the Rockies. Sizes: S-XXL | Material: Polyester, Recycled Polyester, Elastane Overlay, and Elastane | Fit: Fitted | Weight: Not listed TripSavvy / Nathan Allen. Best Hiking Montane Krypton Hoodie Montane View On Montane.com What We Like DWR finish Breathable Soft lining Zipper pockets What We Don't Like No adjustable sleeves Hood is a little small Our favorite thing about this softshell is definitely the fuzzy lining on the inside. It’s so soft and comfortable yet doesn’t make you overheat. This jacket is an excellent choice, thanks to its stretchy material and water-repellent finish. Both side pockets have zippers, and a chest pocket is a nice size for credit cards and keys. We wore this on many walks around our local park in late winter and early spring weather and appreciated how comfortable it was and how easy it was to carry all our essentials. The more athletic fit makes it suitable for activities where you don’t want a ton of extra fabric hanging off your body and potentially getting in the way. The adjustable hem further customizes the fit, which is great if you’re looking to keep drafts out. Find the men’s version here. Sizes: XS-XL | Material: GRANITE High-Loft and GRANITE Loft | Fit: Active | Weight: 15.9 ounces Best Hooded Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hooded Jacket Outdoor Research View On Moosejaw.com View On Outdoorresearch.com What We Like Zipper pockets Adjustable hood Breathable Thumb loops What to Consider Sleeves are not adjustable Not fully waterproof Stretchy and durable with an abrasion-resistant outer, this softshell holds its own in rugged settings—making it great for anyone who needs a little protection from the elements on a hike or climbing trip. It’s water- and wind-resistant, offering protection from light rain. Three zipper pockets secure your belongings, and the left-hand pocket even doubles as a stuff sack so you can pack it away when you’re not using it. Two features add a special touch for hikers and climbers: a carabiner loop and key clip. UPF 50+ offers sun protection, which is clutch for long days outside. Overall, it’s a solid jacket that has impressed us on hikes and runs with its comfortable fit, stretch, and breathability. Find the men’s version here. Sizes: XS-XL | Material: Nylon & Spandex | Fit: Regular | Weight: 13.2 ounces The 9 Best Lightweight Jackets of 2023 Best for Climbing Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoody 4.8 Courtesy of Amazon View On Backcountry.com View On Blackdiamondequipment.com View On REI What We Like Lightweight Breathable Large and adjustable hood What We Don't Like No side pockets If we had to choose one word to describe this jacket, it would be "minimalist." An ultra-light softshell, the Alpine Start Hoody is an excellent windbreaker and is very easy to pack with you on a hiking or climbing trip. The hood fits over a helmet and has a few adjustment points to get a secure fit. A zipper pocket on the chest also has a carabiner clip loop and a drawstring in the hem for more customization. We’ve found the fit to be appropriately roomy, and the fabric has the right amount of stretch to let you move comfortably. Find the men’s version here. Sizes: XS-XL | Material: Nylon & Elastane | Fit: N/A | Weight: 6.7 ounces Best Spurge Arc'teryx Gamma LT Hoody Arc'teryx View On REI What We Like Stretchy material Breathable Abrasion-resistant Adjustable hood What We Don't Like Nothing Breathable, comfortable, and abrasion-resistant, this softshell works well in pretty much any outdoor scenario. We found it comfortable on hikes and walks around town, and it does an excellent job of repelling water and wind without suffocating. It’s actually highly water-repellent and kept us totally dry on an unexpectedly rainy day. It’s surprisingly breathable and feels light, even though the fabric is substantial and thicker than some jackets on this list. The slimmer fit makes it easy to layer under a heavier outer if needed, but we found it perfect with just a baselayer underneath in early-spring weather. Zipper pockets on the outside and one on the inside give you ample space to stash all your stuff. Find the men’s version here. Sizes: XXS-XXL | Material: Nylon, Polyester & Elastane | Fit: Fitted | Weight: 14.8 ounces Product Selection Products were selected based on internet research and our experience with softshell jackets and outdoor gear brands producing softshell jackets. For internet research, we looked at what other prominent media outlets have featured and top-rated softshell jackets from customer reviews on sites like REI, Backcountry, and Amazon. We also wanted to include various types of jackets for multiple applications and price points. The definition of a softshell jacket is somewhat broad, so we tried to have examples with and without insulation, some better at weather protection and others better at breathability and mobility. How We Tested Jackets were tested in New England, the Midwest, Colorado, and Southern California. We've owned some jackets for years, and others we've been testing for months. We took the jackets running, hiking, backpacking, ski touring, paddleboarding, mountain biking, and cycling. We also wore them in airports, at outdoor weddings, to the beach, fly fishing, on dog walks, to the local brewery, and during backyard pool sessions. We judged softshell jackets on breathability, mobility, stretch, wind and moisture protection, packability, style, and function. What to Look for in a Softshell Jacket Breathability One of the best features of a softshell is that it’s more breathable than a hardshell. What, exactly, does "breathable" mean? It means that the material allows moisture (AKA sweat) to escape instead of trapping it. Cotton and merino wool are naturally breathable fabrics, and synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon, and rayon are made to be breathable, which is why you’ll find them in a lot of athletic wear. Stretch One thing that makes softshells unique is that they are made with stretchy fabric that moves with you. The material shouldn’t restrict the movement of your shoulders or elbows. It should have enough stretch that you can move comfortably and freely during whatever outdoor activity you’re wearing it for. Water- and Wind-Resistance If you plan to wear your softshell as an outer layer, you’ll want some level of water and wind resistance. If you don’t, then it’s not as important, but most softshells have these features to some extent. If you want a softshell you can wear as an outer on wet days, look for “DWR finish” in the product description. This indicates that the material has a waterproof finish and will keep you dry. Comfort and Fit Comfort is king. Like any other type of outdoor gear, a softshell should be comfortable and fit you well so that it adds to your adventure and doesn’t distract you from it. Always try before you buy, if you can. If you can’t, familiarize yourself with the store’s return policy so you'll know that you can swap for a different model or size if the comfort and fit aren’t suitable for you. Frequently Asked Questions How are softshell and hardshell jackets different? The main difference between the two is that a hardshell is usually stiffer, and a softshell is more flexible. Hardshells are often used as a final waterproof and wind-resistant outer layer. Softshells can also be waterproof and windproof but are often just water-resistant or wind-resistant.Softshells are often a bit thicker and can be worn as a mid-layer, with a hardshell or puffy on top, or as your only jacket. Softshells are usually a bit more breathable, since they are made with softer, stretchier material, and more versatile, since they typically have a little more substance than just a final shell. Are softshell jackets windproof and waterproof? Softshell jackets can be windproof and waterproof, but many are only water-resistant, so they are fine if you get caught in some drizzles, but they won’t keep you dry in heavy rain. If waterproofing is essential to you, look for “DWR finish” in the product description. This stands for “durable water repellent finish” and means you’ll get that protection from the elements you’re looking for. What outdoor activities are softshell jackets best for? Softshells are incredibly versatile. They are great for hiking, biking, walking, climbing, skiing, or snowboarding on a mild day. They are also great for layering. Throw a hardshell over one if you need extra water resistance, or an insulated puffy if you need an additional layer of insulation. Why Trust TripSavvy Amy Marturana Winderl has been formally testing and reviewing outdoor gear for nearly a decade. She once spent a year traveling the U.S. in a camper and visiting National Parks from Ohio to Washington State and everywhere in between. She’s hiked in every climate, from the humid mountains of the Adirondacks to the desert floor of Bryce Canyon, and she has many preferences regarding clothing and gear. Amy has been contributing to TripSavvy since 2021. Nathan Allen is TripSavvy's outdoor gear editor and also helps with testing. Based in Ventura County near California's southern coast, softshell jackets are one of his most frequently used outerwear pieces. He usually runs very warmly, so Nathan prefers breathability and mobility over weather-proofing. His current go-to softshell is the Rab Borealis. Tested and Reviewed: The 10 Best Hardshell Jackets Was this page helpful? Thanks for letting us know! Share Pin Email Tell us why! Submit Continue to 5 of 12 below. 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