When it comes to versatility on colder days, it’s hard to beat a softshell jacket. It gives you decent rain and wind protection, keeps you warm, and allows you to enjoy your favorite outdoor activity. Like other women’s clothing garments, the best softshell jackets for women have a female-specific design. Ladies’ models are tailored to follow the lines of the body better, so they are more functional and comfortable to wear.
But how do you find the perfect softshell? It isn’t hard if you know a thing or two about jacket construction and design. This is why we’ve created a comprehensive buying guide that explains all of the jacket features. But before we jump into it, check out the awesome women’s softshell jackets that we’ve picked out for you.
How To Choose A Softshell Jacket For Women – Buying Guide
Thanks to their perfect balance between fleece and hardshell jackets, softshells have plenty to offer. They are fantastic to put on when it’s chilly outside, whether you’re going camping, hiking, or doing some work around the yard. When picking a new jacket, you need to consider factors like warmth, breathability, and weather protection among others. Take a look.
Thanks to their wind-blocking abilities and the fleece lining, softshell jackets are able to keep you cozy and warm. This is also the main reason why they are so popular for activities like hiking, climbing, or camping. A ladies softshell jacket can be used on its own, or as a mid-layer underneath a hardshell or a winter jacket.
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As you can guess, not all jackets are equally efficient at retaining warmth. The soft and cozy fleece lining we mentioned has the job of keeping the warmth that your body creates. It’s the same polyester fleece found in women’s fleece jackets, so you know it’s the real deal. Unfortunately, not all models come with warm linings, so be sure to check this out.
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High breathability rating is one of the main things that separates softshells from hardshells. What this means is that a softshell jacket allows air to go through and moisture to escape. This feature is very important because it keeps you dry during intense activities. Unlike softshells, a hardshell isn’t very breathable so it’s easy to get sweaty.
Jacket breathability depends on its shell construction. For example, a stretch-woven softshell usually has excellent breathability ratings. A softshell with a membrane gives you better weather protection but isn’t as breathable. It’s important to note that higher breathability usually means lower weather protection.
Wind and Water Protection
Most softshell jackets you’ll come across are water-resistant, not waterproof. The best softshell jackets for women will easily keep you dry in light to moderate rain but will start leaking at some point. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, you can either get a stretch-woven or a membrane soft jacket. Models with a membrane are much better at keeping water out.
In addition, many jackets come with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating. This coating makes water form into beads that slide off the jacket, instead of soaking in. Besides water protection, you also need the jacket to protect you from the wind. All of the models we featured give you more than decent wind protection, so you have nothing to worry about. Of course, the weather protection you get from a softshell is lower when compared to a hardshell.
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While most womens soft shell jackets come without a hood, hooded models are not uncommon. A hood gives additional protection for your head, which is nice if you’re wearing the softshell as the outer layer and it starts to rain. This way it can double as a rain jacket if you don’t have one at hand.
We feel that a hood is a great thing, especially if it’s removable. A non-removable hood makes the jacket too bulky when layering and packing, so it seems more convenient to be able to remove it.
The additional features can make the jacket significantly better and more enjoyable to wear. For example, we really like it when the jacket has a degree of adjustability. If it has adjustable cuffs and hem, you can tighten them to prevent the heat from escaping.
When talking about storage, it’s a plus when the jacket comes with zippered hand pockets for stashing your items (phone, wallet, etc.). Furthermore, some of the best women’s softshell jackets even have secure inner pockets.
One of the things we expect from every softshell is good mobility. Because of this, most models have shells that contain elastane (spandex, lycra) so they stretch when you move. Also, some models come with underarm gussets that make arm movement even easier.
Quality And Durability
While quality always varies from one product to the next, softshell jackets are generally fairly durable. They are made to withstand heavier use when camping or hiking. Many people even claim they are significantly more durable than hardshell jackets.
The durability is determined by the materials used as well as the construction quality. Both polyester and nylon are good in this regard and do a good job. We particularly like to see RipStop materials in these jackets because they guarantee that they won’t rip open if you brush on a branch or a sharp object. Of course, it goes without saying that the zippers and other elements need to work well too.
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Q: What Are Softshell Jackets Good For?
Softshell jackets are good for many things. They shield you from rain and wind, so you’re decently protected. They are also good at keeping you warm in moderate temperatures. A softshell jacket is always breathable and comfortable to wear, making it a favorite clothing piece for many hikers. Finally, it allows you to move freely and stay active (and easily throw it in your hiking backpack when you don’t need it).
Q: Is Softshell Jacket Waterproof?
No, most of them are not. Because of their construction, softshell jackets are only water-resistant. This means that they can stop water to a degree, but will get wet after a while. While waterproof softshell jacket women exist (Magcomsen jacket we featured), you can’t expect a softshell to keep you dry in heavy rain.
Softshells are made for a different type of use, so we advise you to go with a hardshell or a raincoat if you’re expecting a lot of rain. If you want to learn more about this, make sure to read our article on differences between water-resistant and waterproof.
Q: Is A Softshell Jacket Good For Winter?
Q: Can You Wash Softshell Jackets?
Yes, of course. Many of the best softshell jackets for women are perfectly safe for machine washing. You should use a low cycle with cold water, and then leave to air dry. However, some jackets are best washed by hand (made from more sensitive materials). We always recommend that you check the manufacturer's instructions first if you want your jacket to last.
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A softshell is an all-around jacket that you can use year-round. When it’s chilly you can wear it on its own and when it’s freezing you can use it as a layer. It will always protect you and keep your body warm. Ladies, be sure to get one of the women-specific models. Their improved fit makes them much more functional for a female figure allowing you to enjoy them no matter the activity.
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