Best Softshell Jackets – 2018 Models Rated, Reviewed & Compared

If you have an active outdoor lifestyle, then you probably lament the fact that finding the right clothing can be so challenging. On the one side, you can buy weatherproof jackets that repel wind and rain, but they also make you get soaking wet on the inside from sweat.

On the other side, warm and breathable jackets are great for being active, but if the weather gets sour, then you will still get soaking wet from the rain, and the wind will make you feel like you’re freezing from the inside out.

Fortunately, there are softshell jackets to bridge the gap. These products are designed for active outdoorsmen who want to be able to hike and climb without getting soaked, either from sweat or the rain. Overall, softshell jackets are a perfect middle ground. They allow you to be active while also offering some weather protection.

10 Best Softshell Jackets - Comparisons

So, with that in mind, let’s look at the best softshell jackets in 2018.

Best Softshell Jacket - Reviews 

1. SILVINI Softshell Jacket Anteo MJ421

Because softshell jackets are kind of an in-between type of gear, it’s essential to pay attention to the various elements and features that they offer. These coats can go in either direction, providing more breath ability or more protection from the elements.

In this case, we have a highly versatile softshell jacket from Silvini. This model straddles the line perfectly, making it ideal for many different weather conditions and outdoor activities.

First, this jacket has a triple-layered membrane. When picking out a jacket model, it’s helpful to understand that membranes are not as efficient at wicking away moisture as other fabrics. However, it does offer windproof protection, as well as decent water resistance.

Second, the front has a dual-zipper design. This allows you to expose your torso without opening the jacket fully, meaning that you can get a lot more breathability as a result. Also, there are zippered openings in the underarm region, which can help provide better airflow overall.

Another really cool feature of this jacket is the bamboo lining on the inside. Bamboo is naturally antibacterial, which means that you don’t have to wash it as often as you might think. Since the material is somewhat self-cleaning, things like body odor or mildew aren’t as big of a problem.

Finally, we like that this jacket comes with two waterproof pockets. There is one on the left breast, and another on the right shoulder. These pockets allow you to hold your phone or music player without worrying about wind or rain ruining your devices.

In addition to these pockets, the Silvini Softshell Jacket also has three other standard pockets. There are two in the front and one in the back so that you have ample storage. Best of all, they are all zippered, and the handles are large enough that you can manage with or without gloves. 

What we liked

  • Double zipper design for flexibility
  • Two waterproof pockets for storing valuables
  • Three additional pockets included
  • Sleek black and red design
  • Triple layer membrane is warm and breathable
  • High neck and elastic sleeves for extra wind protection
  • Bamboo liner makes it antibacterial
  • Large zippers work with gloved hands
  • Multiple sizes available
  • Underarm ventilation cools you down
  • Windproof materials
  • Reflective designs for night riding or running

What we didn't like

  • Membrane is not as breathable as other fabrics
  • Sizing can be tricky for some users, due to the elastic sleeves

2. Columbia Men's Ascender Softshell Front-Zip Jacket

When it comes to outdoor gear, Columbia is one of the better brand options out there. The company is well-known for making high-quality materials that can not only stand up to the elements but can last for years as well.

As far as softshell jackets go, the Ascender is on the lighter side of the spectrum. It’s not built for heavy duty weather resistance, instead being the perfect accessory for mild climates where cold is more prevalent than wind or rain. That being said, the material of the Ascender does block some of the weather, so it’s better than a fleece or a sweatshirt.

Cleaning the Ascender is a breeze, thanks to the fact that it’s machine washable. Since you can get quite hot and steamy inside, it’s nice to know that you don’t have to send it to a dry cleaner to get rid of any lingering smells.

Another thing that we like about this softshell jacket is the abundance of color options. Columbia has always enabled customers to pick the design that works best for them, and this is no exception. Also, you can find your size easily, and it won’t run too big or too large, especially compared to other brands.

As with most softshell jackets, you get a few different pockets. There are two on the front and one on the chest. Also, the zippers have rubber handles so that you can not only close them to keep your contents protected, but you can operate them with gloves as well. 

What we liked

  • Dozens of color options available
  • Polyester Nexgen contouring material
  • Machine washable for easy cleaning
  • Water-resistant coating
  • Standing collar for wind protection
  • Chin guard prevents rubbing
  • Drawcord adjustable hem
  • Cuffs can be tightened as well
  • Two side and one breast pocket

What we didn't like

  • Not as weather resistant as some models
  • Not waterproof

3. Condor Men's Summit Soft Shell Tactical Jacket

As the name suggests, this next softshell jacket is built for more tactical purposes. That doesn’t mean that you have to be running special ops in the jungle to use it, but it does mean that it’s built sturdier than most other models out there.

The secret of this jacket is the three layers it has. On the inside, you get a thin, fine fleece that helps circulate body heat and feels comfortable. In the middle, there is a membrane that makes this jacket both waterproof and wind resistant. Finally, the outside has a thick polyester softshell that keeps it from breaking down. Overall, this is an excellent choice for people who love to be active in cold weather.

Part of what makes this a “tactical” jacket is the fact that it has an abundance of pockets. In some cases, their placement can seem a little off, especially in the front (they are situated more toward the middle of your torso). However, you get two in the front, two on the shoulders, one on the forearm, one in the back, and two on the inside. No matter what you’re carrying, you can fit it into this jacket.

Another thing that we like about this model is the collar. First, it stays up all the time to protect your neck and body from the wind (no scarf needed). Second, it contains a stow-away hood so that when it does start to pour, you’re fully protected. Also, the same fleece lining is still there, so your neck is soft and comfortable the whole time. 

What we liked

  • Multiple sizes and styles available
  • Standing collar for wind protection
  • Stow-away hood included
  • Abundance of external pockets
  • Two internal pockets for additional storage
  • Underarm vent zipper for breathability
  • Double layer forearm for weather resistance
  • Adjustable cuffs
  • Drawstring waistband
  • Fine fleece interior for warmth
  • Membrane for wind and water resistance

What we didn't like

  • Sizing can be challenging for some users
  • Pocket placement is a bit awkward

4. Rothco Special Ops Soft Shell Jacket

Next, we have another tactical softshell jacket. This one is made by the company Rothco, which used to supply military gear, so you know it’s legit. As with the other tactical model, the secret of this jacket is the triple-layer design. It’s built to insulate your body heat, as well as wick away moisture and repel wind and water altogether.

As with other tactical jackets, you get an abundance of pockets. However, for some reason companies think that that distinction means that the front pockets can’t be placed in the same spot as usual. Instead of having them at the bottom for easy access, they are over the chest, meaning that you have to reach in with the opposite hand. The pocket placement is terrible per se, but it can take some getting used to.

One element of softshell jackets that we haven’t covered yet is the fact that you can tighten both the waist and the cuffs. This is helpful when trying to insulate yourself as much as possible. Limiting the airflow can make your body heat more effective, which is crucial is freezing temperatures.

However, when you need more air, you can loosen the waist with the drawstring or open the cuffs with the Velcro closures. Also, there are two zippered vents under the arms so that air can flow through more efficiently. 

What we liked

  • Multiple sizes and colors available
  • Triple-layer construction for insulation and protection
  • Waterproof materials
  • Concealed hood in the collar
  • Fleece lining for comfort and warmth
  • Underarm zippers for ventilation
  • Drawstring waist and adjustable cuffs
  • Two breast pockets, shoulder pockets, and forearm pocket
  • Patch panels on each arm

What we didn't like

  • Front pocket placement is awkward
  • Hood can be a pain to store in the collar

5. Columbia Men's Ascender Hooded Softshell Jacket

If you liked the Ascender by Columbia, but you wanted something with a bit more protection from the elements, then this is the upgraded version. It still has all of the same fantastic properties as the original Ascender, but it’s been strengthened and, of course, it comes with a hood.

Unlike other softshell jackets, the hood on this model is not collapsible. However, given how much of a pain it can be to do that with jackets that have the option, you’re ultimately saving yourself a lot of time and grief overall.

As with the original Ascender, this unit has a Nexgen shell. This material conforms to your body and moves with you, making it much more comfortable when you’re walking, hiking, or doing any other kind of activity. Also, Nexgen is still built for mild climates, so don’t expect to be completely protected against heavy winds or rains.

Other features that come with the Columbia Ascender Hooded Jacket include three zippered pockets, multiple color options, and a cinching waist for better insulation. Also, the cuffs are adjustable as well. 

What we liked

  • Soft fleece lining
  • Nexgen contour shell for comfort
  • Machine washable for easy cleaning
  • Hood for extra rain protection
  • Three pockets for storage
  • Water and wind resistant
  • Multiple sizes and colors available
  • Standing collar for wind protection
  • Chin guard prevents rubbing 
  • Drawcord hem, adjustable cuffs

What we didn't like

  • Sleeves may not match the jacket’s size
  • Not made for severe weather conditions

6. KAISIKE Women's&Men's Windproof Softshell Fleece Ski Jacket

Technically speaking, this is a two-in-one softshell jacket. Other models that we’ve seen come with a thin fleece liner on the inside to help make the coat more comfortable and to provide insulation. However, this one has a complete fleece jacket inside that you can remove if necessary.

Overall, this combo model is built more for warmth and protection from the elements. When you have them combined (along with the removable storm hood), they offer excellent water and wind resistance, and the fleece is thick and warm without any risk of getting wet.

However, if you are more active, we suggest removing the inside jacket so that you can breathe. The outer material is thick enough to repel wind and rain, but thin enough that you won’t bake on the inside. Also, it’s where all of the pockets are, so keep that in mind as well.

We like this jacket because it’s extra versatile. Also, it’s unisex so that everyone can enjoy it. The Ski Jacket comes in a variety of sizes and colors that can fit your style and personality, and it won’t let you down.

What we liked

  • Dual layer jacket
  • Interior fleece, exterior raincoat
  • Full zip front with zipper cover for wind protection
  • Breathable materials for better comfort
  • Fleece is removable if necessary
  • Multiple sizes and styles available
  • Unisex jacket 
  • Standing collar for wind protection
  • Water resistant coating
  • Two front pockets and one breast pocket
  • Removable storm hood

What we didn't like

  • Dual jacket can get hot and steamy inside
  • Fleece does not have pockets if you want to wear individually

7. TRU-SPEC Men's 24-7 Tactical Softshell Jacket

For the most part, when a jacket is deemed “tactical,” that means that it has more pockets and a rugged exterior. However, this tactical softshell jacket from Tru-Spec is built with military and law enforcement in mind, making it much more accurate to the term.

So how does this model differ from other tactical jackets? There are a few reasons.

First, it is lighter and thinner so that you can wear it over ballistic vests or with concealed firearms. It won’t be as restrictive as other jackets in its class.
Second, it has extra large front pockets so that you can keep all kinds of stuff in there, including a weapon if necessary. It also has two rear pockets for things like handcuffs or other defense items.

Finally, it has side zippers so that you can access your vest underneath. If you need to reach for your gun or some other item, you don’t have to open the jacket to do so.

Otherwise, this is a decent softshell jacket that protects against light rain and most wind. It’s not as warm as other models, but since it’s built to work with ballistic vests, this makes sense as it could get too hot underneath. 

What we liked

  • Durable nylon and spandex material
  • Extra large front pockets for storage
  • Arm pockets for tactical use
  • Wind and water resistant
  • Lightweight fabric is more comfortable
  • Can work with ballistic vests or concealed firearms
  • Two rear zippered pockets
  • Side seam zippers allow you to access your belt or undergarment

What we didn't like

  • Not ideal for non-tactical purposes
  • Not as warm as other models

8. Condor Men's Summit Zero Lightweight Soft Shell Jacket

We’ve already seen the Condor Men’s Summit, but this is an upgraded version for those who don’t want to roast inside their jackets. This is the ultra-lightweight model, which means that it’s perfect for most temperate climates while still providing all of the tactical benefits you would expect.

As with the other Summit model, this jacket has three layers of protection. On the inside is a thin fleece liner to provide comfort and insulation without overheating your body. In the middle is a membrane that protects against wind and rain. Outside is the polyester shell, which is rugged and water repellant.

Pockets adorn this jacket in a variety of places, both inside and out. There are also two squares on the arms so that you can put patches on it if necessary, which makes it ideal for ex-military or police.

Overall, this is an excellent jacket, although the pocket placement is still a bit off, so you may take a while to get used to it. 

What we liked

  • Extra lightweight model
  • Heavy-duty polyester exterior
  • Triple-layer design for warmth and protection
  • Integrated hood 
  • Multiple styles and sizes available
  • Tactical pockets 
  • Two patch squares on the arms
  • Underarm vents for airflow

What we didn't like

  • Pocket placement is kind of awkward
  • Not as durable as other models

9. The North Face Apex Bionic Soft Shell Jacket - Men's

Just like Columbia, The North Face is another outdoor clothing company that is well-known for making high-quality materials. Also like Columbia, this softshell jacket is built for casual wearers who want more comfort and breathability than weather resistance.

This jacket is designed to be more of a windbreaker than a raincoat. The outside of the jacket helps keep high winds from blowing inside, but it’s only mildly water resistant. If you get caught in a downpour, you will get soaked.

That being said, it still insulates your body heat relatively well. If you are in more extreme environments, you can use it as an inner jacket and wear something more robust over it. The Apex will keep you warm while the raincoat will repel everything else. This system also works because the coat is a bit shorter than most, meaning that it will stay concealed when wearing something over it. 

What we liked

  • Dozens of styles available
  • Windproof materials
  • Stretch fabric is light and comfortable
  • Three front pockets for additional storage
  • Hem cinch cord for warmth
  • Standing collar protects against the wind

What we didn't like

  • Not waterproof
  • Sizing is a bit tricky due to the short waist

10. Ariat Men's Vernon Softshell Jacket

Our final softshell jacket is another casual model for everyday use. The Vernon Jacket from Ariat is a lightweight and comfortable offering that will keep you safe from light wind and rain while also keeping you warm and insulated.

What we like most about this jacket is the fact that you can wash it in the machine. Being able to clean it regularly without damaging the materials is such an excellent feature that it makes it more valuable than those who are dry clean only. Convenience is a powerful tool, and this jacket has it in spades.

Otherwise, this is a standard lightweight softshell model. It has three front pockets that have been welded for extra durability and longevity. It has a standing collar to help protect your neck from the wind. You can also adjust the waist and the cuffs to either allow for more airflow or less, depending on your needs.

Finally, this jacket has a stain-resistant finish, making it ideal for those who like to get a little dirty.

What we liked

  • Polyester shell for water resistance
  • Machine washable for easy cleaning
  • Three front pockets for convenience
  • Standing collar for wind protection
  • Multiple sizes and colors available
  • Microfleece interior for comfort and warmth
  • Stain-resistant finish

What we didn't like

  • In rare cases, the zippers may rip off easily
  • Not waterproof

Final Verdict 

Since the best softshell jackets exist on kind of a spectrum, it’s hard to find one that stands out above the rest. So, let’s go over our top picks for different situations.

For Active Users: breathability and comfort are most important, and the Silvini Anteo provides the best options for those who like to move around a lot outdoors. We love the bamboo antibacterial lining, as well as the high-tech material of the jacket itself. 

For Casual Wearers: as long as you aren’t hit by a major thunderstorm, the Columbia Ascender or the North Face Apex Bionic are excellent softshell jackets. They are perfect for mild weather with a warm fleece lining and water-resistant materials. 

For Extreme Weather: overall, softshell jackets are not necessarily built to take on all conditions, but the one that comes closest is the Condor Summit Jacket. As a result of the thicker construction, it’s not as breathable as the other models, but it’s waterproof and keeps you warm in freezing temps. You may not even need a heavier jacket over it, depending on the situation.

David Valle
 

I started this blog to provide advanced material, guiding you towards a better and more comfortable fishing experience. I deliver more than fishing gear guides, and motivate people to hit the water!

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