The models with the least breathability were some of the stiff fleece-lined models, namely the Patagonia Adze Hoody. All of the jackets stuff into their own pockets or stuff sacks and come with keeper or clip in loops for easy carrying. It manages to do this without compromising its ability to protect from inclement weather, which is the main reason it won our Editors' Choice award for the second year in a row. Fit discussed more below is critical, and windbreakers work better when they fit close to the body. With the right clothes, an
We worried that the fuzzy interior would impede breathability, but it didn't - the Ascendant breathed and moved amazingly well, from icy glaciers to super windy crags. It also repelled water impressively, though the lack of zippers on the pockets does mean that water and snow can collect in there. Our only issue with this model was its lack of durability when up against sharp or rough surfaces.
The outer material is thin and easily damaged, so while this is a fantastic layer for cold hikes and belaying, you probably won't want to wear it climbing. Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody - Women's. The Arc'teryx Gamma LT is a lightweight, flattering, all-around impressive softshell.
We found it to consistently be one of our top choices for aerobic hikes and rock climbing due to its lack of bulkiness, excellent breathability, and easy mobility. While the cuffs aren't adjustable, they are shaped well and stay put when pushed up to the forearms, and we were able to access the pockets with a harness on. The material is abrasion-resistant and had no problem withstanding scraping through canyons and off-width chimneys.
With very low temperatures or high winds, we felt the thinness of this jacket, so you may need to be prepared to layer strategically in more extreme weather, but in milder conditions, this is a fantastic softshell to invest in. Arc'teryx Gamma LT - Women's. You can tell that Black Diamond had climbing and skiing in mind when they designed the Dawn Patrol. Constructed with four-way stretch material and underarm gussets, this layer feels more like you're wearing a comfy sweatshirt than a jacket.
Its helmet-compatible hood is large and doesn't constrict head movements at all, and the harness-compatible pockets mean you can access a snack even when all racked up and ready to go.
We found the fit to be a bit baggy, but this also means that you can easily layer underneath it to help boost the warmth-factor if needed.
With great breathability and nice wide adjustable cuffs, this jacket is a solid purchase that we highly recommend for anyone who plans to spend a lot of active time in a harness or helmet. Black Diamond Dawn Patrol - Women's.
We enjoyed testing the Rab Upslope and wanted to recognize the fact that it had great pockets, both in number and placement. With two pockets on the chest, two for the hands, one on the sleeve, and one internal - all zippered - this is an amazing contender for those that love having a place to stash all kinds of treasures and treats.
The chest pockets are mesh-lined and large spanning from the rib cage to under the armpits , so they not only help aid in breathability quite a bit, but they can also be used for impromptu cross-chest hand warmers. Besides the plethora of pockets, we loved the wind resistance, large helmet-compatible hood, and generously wide adjustable cuffs on the Upslope.
It's an expensive softshell, and also quite heavy, but for the right winter adventurer, this is a sweet piece to own. Rab Upslope - Women's. The softshell is an interesting article of clothing because it strives to do so much in one layer: It aims to be a comfort piece and a protection piece at the same time. Unlike potentially life-saving layers such as protective, waterproof hardshells and insulation layers that are essential to your outdoor layering kit, a softshell is nice to have, but it won't keep you warm or dry enough if you get caught in an unexpected storm.
The primary objective of a softshell is to increase comfort through breathability and supple flexibility while offering some degree of weather protection. These layers are less stiff, noisy, and suffocating than hardshells, making them more pleasant to wear, but they just don't offer the same level of weather protection.
A softshell will never be as fully protective from the weather as a hardshell because hardshells are water proof and wind proof. While there are some windproof softshells available, the designation of "waterproof" is by and large reserved for hardshells. Most softshells are designated as water and wind resistant. Some of the hybrid designs that we tested have waterproof parts, but these jackets should not be worn as rain jackets in a bad storm.
Overall, softshells are ideal for mild weather where some moderate protection from wind and water is needed, but where full storm protection isn't required. When evaluating for weather protection, we took into consideration both wind resistance and water resistance. Only one of the models we tested this time around wa fully windproof, though many of them did impressively well with intense gusts and cold.
The windproof model we tested was our Best Buy winner, the comfortable and attractive Marmot Moblis. While this heavy fleece-lined jacket did not repel large amounts of water particularly well, we were happily warm and cozy while hiking through frigid alpine wind and blowing snow. The Patagonia Adze Hoody had a fleece lining which made it quite warm and wind resistant. Its DWR-finish also helped considerably with water resistance, though overall this jacket was stiff and fell short in a few areas.
Hybrid models can be tricky and tend to miss the mark somewhere in their design due to trying to cover too many bases.
However, hybrid designs that are stiffer and therefore usually less comfortable can be useful for more specific applications such as ice climbing or skiing where more weather protection is needed and beneficial. Even more specialized than the already specialized softshell, hybrid jackets are tools for a focused athlete rather than the general outdoorswoman who is in the market for a multi-use jacket.
Other notable mentions for wind resistance were the Rab Upslope and the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hoody , both of which provided a significant wind barrier, but weren't as warm or as water resistant as other models. The Ascendant also proved itself to be one of the more water resistant softshell jackets in our test group, though the lack of zippers on the hand pockets meant moisture could sneak in and hideout.
Breathability is the reason why people buy softshell jackets. If your primary need is weather protection, then you want a fully waterproof hardshell. However, when you plan to get your blood moving, a hardshell can feel suffocating and stuffy. Finding a piece that strikes the perfect balance between breathability and weather protection is key. It's not an easy task but we're here to help! We tested these softshells in a variety of conditions during some different activities.
The most telling is when we wore them for high exertion activities such as climbing, hiking, or skiing. These kinds of activities get the blood moving and the sweat flowing.
A few competitors scored well in this category simply because they were constructed with very thin material. While we recognize that thin material and breathability are not the same things, we couldn't ignore the fact that models with thin fabric are often just breathable by default.
The thing to remember is that, ultimately, you want a breathable jacket that can also resist weather and keep you warm when needed. The very simple and affordable Charles River Axis is highly breathable, but we would hesitate to wear it on a windy, cold, or wet day. The Arc'teryx Gamma LT Hoody was wonderfully breathable and struck a better balance between ventilation and weather protection; however, it will still leave you cold if you're not keeping your heart rate up when the temperature dips or weather takes a turn for the worse.
It manages to do this without compromising its ability to protect from inclement weather, which is the main reason it won our Editors' Choice award for the second year in a row. The unique OR Ascendant Hoody , our Top Pick for Warmth, also had impressive breathability - something we didn't expect from the onset because of its fuzzy plush interior. The Ascendant has some durability issues, but when looking at just breathability and weather protection, it's an incredibly impressive layer.
Other notable mentions in this category were the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol and the Rab Upslope which has an impressive amount of mesh-lined pockets. Many of the contenders that fared the best in this category have mesh-lined pockets which can be left unzipped and used as vents when more ventilation is needed.
The models with the least breathability were some of the stiff fleece-lined models, namely the Patagonia Adze Hoody. Our windproof model, the Marmot Moblis also struggled in this category. Mobility is important in a softshell jacket because these layers are designed to be worn during activities that involve raising the heart rate through a lot of movement. A restrictive jacket will not allow you to move freely enough to enjoy your sport. We looked for jackets that fit well, layered well, and had designs tailored towards motion.
We ended up with a diverse set of contenders whose performances spread all over the board. The Black Diamond Dawn Patrol rose to the top in this category. Designed for climbing and skiing, this shell is constructed with four-way stretch fabric and underarm gussets.
With a generous cut that does not ride up when the arms are lifted, this is a natural layer to put on and forget you're wearing - which is a good thing.
Our Editors' Choice, the Arc'teryx Gamma MX , with gusseted underarms and articulated elbows, performed almost as well in this category, but the hood is a bit smaller and the tight cuffs are not adjustable - little details that we noticed while wearing and moving.
It also has gusseted underarms and an athletic cut that was both flattering and easy to move in. Both models from Outdoor Research that we tested did great in this metric as well. The plush, cozy Ascendant never once felt constrictive or impeded our movement in any way. The Patagonia Adze Hoody weighed in at a whopping Also worth noting was the Both were outstanding jackets across the board. The shells in this review came with a fairly similar list of features aside from a few exceptions.
Each one had an adjustable hem. All except the Charles River Axis had zippered hand pockets. All models except the Charles River Axis had hoods. Of the jackets with hoods, all of them were helmet-compatible except for the Marmot Moblis. The Marmot Moblis was the only windproof model as opposed to just wind resistant. Some shells are designed with a specific purpose in mind. For instance, the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol is targeted towards ice and alpine climbers, and the Rab Upslope is optimized for ski mountaineering and alpine ascents.
Because of this, they both have features that climbers, skiers, and mountaineers look for, such as helmet-compatible hoods, wide adjustable cuffs that easily and comfortably fit over large gloves, and strategically placed pockets.
The cinch-cord hem is there to lock out the cold when you ascend higher and higher, and the covered, Women's Corefire Down Jacket. More Details Insulated, windproof, down ski jacket for all-day pursuits. More Details "If it's cold, and it's time to drop the clutch, this is the jacket.
Water-resistant, breathable, stretchy and ready to rock. For windy, cold weather activities, this coveted soft shell keeps you warm and windchill-free beneath its windproof exterior and comfortable fleece backer. More Details Not your average rain jacket, this jacket is exceptionally soft and comfortable. More Details Let the elements roll off your back with this windproof, water-repellent soft-shell hooded jacket that delivers insulated, breathable warmth during active winter endeavors.
Keep him moving regardless of the weather in this fully seam-sealed, hooded shell crafted from waterproof and windproof DryVent 2. More Details Designed for windy, cold weather activities, this coveted soft shell will keep you warm and windchill-free beneath its windproof exterior and comfortable fleece backer. More Details Kids will love hitting the downhill trails on cool days in this rugged, windproof jacket with a water-repellent finish to shed light rain, fleece-lined collar for extra warmth and secure-zip hand pockets to stash cash and lift tickets.
Men's Corefire Down Jacket. More Details Inspired by those whose day jobs require ski boots, this totally windproof, fill goose down jacket keeps you riding comfortably in wind, rain, snain, you name it. Roomy pockets throughout are great for housing an extra pair of gloves, goggles and snacks, and the powder skirt is removeable More Details Traverse the toughest terrain in no time with these award-winning ultralight, race-ready trail runners designed in collaboration with TNF ultrarunner Rob Krar.
This water-resistant and windproof hooded running shell packs down to the size of your fist. Our lightest layer yet, it will keep you protected when the weather goes south. Reflective trims add safety when you are pounding the road and visibility drops.
The Columbia Men’s Heat Mode II Softshell is a warm, windproof softshell jacket with a waterproof membrane, impeccable style and a comfy, fine-tuned fit. Free shipping for our Rewards Program members.5/5(55). Find great deals on eBay for windproof shell jacket. Shop with confidence. The Houdini is the most iconic wind jacket and still the best. It does what a windbreaker jacket should — protects you from wind and light rain in the most compact form possible. The entire jacket stuffs into its chest pocket, resulting in a tiny package that is significantly smaller than any other jacket that we tested.