To help you find the best softshell jacket for your needs, we’ve evaluated different jackets on the market and identified the very best options when it comes to warmth, weather protection, breathability, mobility, comfort and of course style. We’ve also explained all the key details to pay attention to so you can choose the best waterproof softshell jacket that will protect you from the elements without sacrificing breathability and comfort.
When it’s cold and you want to go to work, go for a run, or enjoy your favorite outdoor activity, a soft shell jacket is the ultimate active jacket to throw on. It will keep you comfortably warm and protect you from the wind and rain without weighing you down or restricting your movements. This makes it perfect for outdoor pursuits in cold weather. It is also stylish enough to complement casual and business casual looks. Below are reviews of our top ten picks.
How To Choose A Softshell Jacket – Buying Guide
Waterproofing is an important part of any outdoor clothing. While softshell jackets aren’t designed to give you the ultimate protection from the weather, it makes sense to buy one that can give you the maximum protection possible. There can be a significant difference in the level of waterproofing different softshell jackets offer so it’s an important quality to check. Some jackets will market themselves as water resistant while others will claim to be waterproof.
A water repellent or water resistant soft shell jacket will prove a good layer of protection if you get caught in a light rain shower by keeping your dry and warm. It won’t hold up well in hard rain or snow though. If you expect to be in more contact with water, then it’s probably a good idea to get yourself a top rated waterproof softshell jacket to get that extra bit of protection.
When doing any form of outdoor activity in cold weather, layering is essential. But the layers can affect your comfort and enjoyment of your outdoor pursuits. Depending on how active you’re going to be and how harsh the conditions you’ll be facing are, a softshell might be ideal as either your top layer or a mid layer.
If you’re going to be out hiking in mild conditions and only likely to encounter the occasional rain shower, a softshell is the ideal top layer. It will protect you from the element and the comfort and freedom of movement it gives will allow you to enjoy your activity even more. You can wear a light fleece pullover as an insulating mid layer. This type of layering system would also be ideal for most skiing conditions. It will help to keep your body warm while also allowing you full range of motion.
If you are going to be in difficult conditions such as heavy precipitation or freezing conditions, you will need extra protection. If you are backpacking or hiking and conditions get worse, whether that be the temperatures dipping to freezing levels or the rain coming down hard, then you will need to layer your softshell underneath a hard shell jacket.
Maintaining DWR Steadfastness
The materials softshell jackets are made of aren’t waterproof by nature. They need to be treated in order to give you the level of weather protection you’re looking for. This treatment or coating is referred to as Durable Water Repellent (DWR) treatment. This coating gives the outer layer of a softshell jacket water repellent properties and can make the difference between water penetrating through the jacket and you being soaked wet or water beading up and rolling of and you remaining dry.
This coating isn’t permanent though. It does start to fade away over time and therefore reducing the amount of weather protection the jacket offers. General wear, exposure to the sun and washing all contribute to the DWR treatment deteriorating. The good news is that you can buy DWR repair kits and restore your jacket a lot closer to its former glory. It’s best to be proactive and treat your jacket once a year to help preserve its water resistance.
Related Post: How To Waterproof A Jacket
Having a great fit is important when you’re going to be active outdoors. Softshell jackets can come with a relaxed fit, a slim fit or a modern classic fit. To get a properly fitting jacket, take your measurement, compare them to the manufacturer’s size chart and read softshell jacket reviews by users to find out whether a jacket fits true to size. One key consideration when it comes to softshell jackets and their fitting is what you are going to be wearing underneath it.
If you are a medium size, for example, and want to be able to wear a base layer and a fleece mid layer, choose a relaxed fit that will accommodate the layers. If you like a jacket with a slim cut, you can order a size up your true size so you will be able to layer underneath it. One good idea would be to take your measurements while wearing the layers you plan to wear underneath your softshell.
Related Review: Fleece Jackets For Women
One of the reasons for wearing a softshell jacket is to stay comfortably warm. Not all softshell jackets are built the same when it comes to insulation though. The warmest softshell jackets have a fleece liner while some lightweight options are un-lined. The level of insulation you’ll need will depend on the environment you’re going to be using the jacket in.
If you’ll hiking in mild climatic conditions and simply want protection from the rain and wind, opt for a light jacket with minimal insulation. You won’t overheat and the jacket won’t weigh you down. If you want to be able to wrap up warm or will be going skiing in the winter, then a good warm fleece liner is ideal.
If you want a versatile light jacket you can wear all-year round in all kinds of weather conditions, choose a light softshell without a thick lining. You will be able to wear the lightweight softshell jacket in mild conditions and then add an extra layer underneath your jacket when facing frigid conditions.
Related Review: Softshell Jackets For Women
In addition to being able to offer warmth, wind resistance and water resistance, there are a bunch of additional features that can set a good jacket apart from a great one. Here are some of the most important features a softshell jacket can have:
Pockets: hand warmer pockets give you a cozy place in which to warm your hands. Chest pockets give you a place to keep essentials such as your phone and keys within easy access. The pockets should be zippered for security and weather protection. If you believe you can’t have too many pockets, tactical softshell jackets offer lots of pockets including sleeve pockets and roomy back pockets.
Hoods – A hood comes in handy in chilly, rainy and windy weather. It protects your head and neck from the elements ensuring that you don’t lose precious body heat. The best waterproof softshell jackets with hoodies allow you to stuff the hood into the collar or detach it when you don’t need it.
Adjustments – The ability to tighten the fit at the cuffs, hood, and bottom hem using either drawcord, Velcro or a hook and loop system will give you a way to seal out cold drafts and seal in warmth when facing chilly, rainy or snowy conditions.
Zipper pulls – Fiddling with zippers when your hands are numb or protected with thick gloves can be very frustrating. Zipper pulls make it easy to work zippers even with freezing cold hands or when wearing gloves.
Style is always an important part of choosing a clothing item and this applies to choosing a softshell jacket as well. It’s going to be the outermost layer most of the times so you want it to look good. The beauty of a soft shell jacket is its multi-functional versatility. Their designs are practical enough for outdoor use when camping and hiking and also classy and stylish enough for everyday use when commuting, working or running errands.
Softshell jackets also come in a wide range of colors so you can pick the ones you like most, that will go with your other clothing pieces and that will fit the intended use. For example, if you want a softshell jacket for fishing, you may opt to go for camouflage hues.
What makes softshell jackets ideal for active use is that they’re lightweight and made of supple materials that give a nice stretch. They don’t weigh you down or restrict freedom of movement. If you are going to be climbing, skiing, fishing or playing golf while wearing the jacket, go for a stretchy jacket that will allow you to move your hands freely above your head and twist your body too. Be sure to check softshell jacket reviews by users to gauge whether the jacket will suit your intended use.
With softshell jackets, breathability is of crucial importance. This type of jacket is usually worn to provide comfortable warmth when active in cold weather. If you get too warm, a breathable jacket will allow the hot air to escape and cooler air to circulate. It will also wick sweat away from your body. If your jacket isn’t breathable, you will become hot and clammy and the sweat will sit next to your body and grow cold, making you cold as well.
Q: What Is A Softshell Jacket?
A soft shell jacket is a lightweight, weather resistant, supple and breathable shell designed to provide warmth and protection from wind and rain but without restricting mobility or making you overheat.
Q: When Do I Need A Softshell Jacket?
A softshell jacket comes in handy in any situation where you need to stay warm and dry but a hard shell jacket or a winter coat would be too much. It is an excellent spring and fall jacket for active use. Whether you want protection from windy and wet weather while on a hike or are planning to go out on a boat and need an additional layer of warmth, a soft shell jacket could be the perfect outerwear.
If you will be engaging in active outdoor adventures such as running, climbing or skiing in cold weather, you will need the comfort, weather protection and freedom of movement a softshell jacket offers. They are also quite stylish and suit casual and business casual wear in cold weather.
Q: What Is The Difference Between Softshell Jacket And Hardshell Jacket?
A hard shell jacket is a stiff waterproof shell whilst a soft shell jacket is breathable, flexible, and water resistant. A hardshell jacket can keep you dry in a heavy downpour while a soft shell is good for light rain. They differ in how they feel and the level of weather protection they offer.Related Review: Hardshell Jacket
Q: How Do I Clean My Softshell Jacket?
Q: Are Soft Shell Jackets Good for Winter?
When engaging in aerobic winter sports such as skiing, climbing, biking, snowshoeing and snowboarding, a softshell jacket is the ideal jacket. It offers good weather protection and a full range of motion. An insulated soft shell jacket with a thick fleece lining can keep you warm in mild winter conditions as long as you layer it over a base layer and warm mid layer.
Q: What Do You Wear Under A Softshell Jacket?
If you want to wear a softshell jacket in cold weather, you can wear a lightweight or mid weight fleece pullover underneath a softshell jacket. This kind of layering system will keep you warm and comfortable when active in cold conditions.
Q: Can You Ski In A Soft Shell Jacket?
Being warming, breathable and stretchy, a soft shell jacket makes a great ski jacket for skiing in the spring and in sunny weather. It will keep you warm, protect you from the cold, snowy weather and allow you to move your arms freely. When skiing in frigid conditions, you can also wear it as a mid layer underneath a hard shell for added warmth.
Q: How Should A Softshell Jacket Fit?
In order to keep you warm and protect you from the elements, a soft shell jacket should be form fitting. Since it stretches well, you will still enjoy a good range of motion and will be able to add some layers if the weather calls for it.
Q: Is A Softshell Jacket Waterproof?
Because a softshell is made of highly breathable materials, it is typically only water-resistant, not waterproof. It sheds light rain and snow well and also keeps you dry from the inside by wicking sweat to the outside allowing it to evaporate.
Globo Surf Overview
Lightweight and offering the perfect balance between warmth and weather protection and breathability and comfort on the other hand, softshell jackets are dynamic pieces of clothing that offer multifunctional versatility. Not only are they practical and rugged enough for aerobic activities and outdoor recreation but they are also stylish enough for everyday use.
All the options in our softshell jacket reviews offer a good level of warmth and water and wind protection. Hopefully this buying guide has answered your questions on what are the best softshell jackets on the market and the features to look for when choosing one.
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