Our Favorite Soft Shell Jackets Tested & Fully Reviewed

No one enjoys the crinkling, swishing sound and stifling insulation that comes with waterproof hard shell jackets. Particularly for running and other outdoor activity, we are seeking apparel that breathes easily, has a good stretch and moves silently with us along the path. If that sounds good to you, you may want to consider a soft shell jacket as more breathable protection from the wind and rain.

This guide has been designed to provide you with all the information you need to know to select the best softshell jacket that will keep you warm and protected from the elements when you hit the trails or the track!

Standout Picks

 Arc’teryx Gamma MX
The versatile Gamma MX Hoody has a performance fit and stylish look that makes it ideal for outdoor activity as well as city wear. Stretch panels and ergonomic seams allow for an unrestricted range of motion. Solid windproofing and water resistance provide excellent warmth in wind and light rain and the regular fit is designed to accommodate extra base layers for added warmth when needed. The cuffs are a bit tight and the price tag is high but this high-quality jacket is an attractive performance option.
 Patagonia Adze
The Patagonia Adze is a serious winter jacket with the streamlined appearance and flexibility of a softshell. The signature Polartec shell and insulating fleece lining keep reviewers warm in subfreezing temperatures. The micro-fleece lining creates a great next-to-skin feel that is comfortable to wear with short sleeves but can easily be layered with warmer layers when the temperature drops. Stretch material allows for unrestricted range of motion and breathability that is ideal for skiing and climbing.
 Outdoor Research Ferrosi
The Ferrosi Hoody has everything you need in a softshell jacket. Users are impressed with the durability of the abrasion resistant sleeves and solid wind protection that still remains flexible and breathable through activity. The athletic fit and stretch make this jacket a go-to for cyclists, hikers, and climbers. The best part is that the lightweight jacket packs down into its own pocket and is available at a bargain price. It falls just short of number one because it has less effective water resistance than some of the heavier weight softshell and the style does not double as well as a city jacket.
 Columbia Ascender
This casual softshell from Columbia is frequently compared to the North Face Apex. While the North Face provides slightly more warmth and more room for layering, many users prefer the Ascendant for its lower cost and more flattering fit. The soft polyester shell does its job when it comes to protecting from wind and rain. Like all softshells, it is not waterproof but it will dry quickly if you do get caught in a storm. Although it does not have the same mobility features as performance jackets, it does have a comfortable fit that allows for light activity.
 Arc’teryx Squamish
The Squamish hoody blurs the line between a softshell jacket and a windbreaker. At first look, it appears more like a hard shell but it is not waterproof and has the breathability and stretch definitive of a softshell jacket. It is a lightweight and packable layer that offers good wind and water resistance while remaining very breathable and flexible during activity. Users love having this layer on hand for tough hikes, bike rides, and climbing.
 Marmot Tempo
The Tempo Softshell Jacket is made from Marmot’s M3 softshell material which favors breathability and silky texture over waterproofing. It does offer adequate protection against wind and very light rain but really shines when it comes to comfort and mobility. The relaxed fit, angel wing movement, and good stretch keep this jacket moving with you through any activity.
Amazon Link
 Under Armour Storm Dobson
The Dobson jacket is part of Under Armour’s ColdGear line which works to keep athletes warm without adding bulk or sacrificing breathability. The cotton and polyester blend helps to establish a balance between weather resistance and light breathability. The slimmer fit of this hoody is not ideal for heavy layers but is a great option for those looking to cut back on bulk and use their own body heat to stay warm.
Amazon Link
 The North Face Apex Bionic
The Apex Bionic from The North Face is a great option for those seeking a casual soft shell jacket. It has a neat and versatile look that fits in well in the city and it blocks wind and rain very effectively. It does not have the same stretch materials and athletic fit of the high-end athletic jackets but it comes in at half the cost and works great for commuters and casual activity.
 Columbia Prime Peak
The Prime Peak Softshell is a popular option for those who prefer to layer as it fits easily over a base layer or two and does a great job of blocking wind and repelling rain. It has a more solid and less breathable construction than some of the lighter weight options but, unlike a hardshell, it remains soft and flexible. It is unlined and does not provide much insulating warmth on its own but for less than 100 dollars, it is a versatile layer for any outdoors wardrobe.
 Marmot Gravity
The Marmot Gravity Jacket is a solid casual softshell that offers very good protection from wind and rain. It is designed more for city wear but users find its breathable nature translates well to casual ventures into the outdoors. The fit is a bit looser so it is ideal for layering over heavier items to keep you warm when the temperatures drop. It is a good value but falls a bit lower on our list because the sleeves run long and the hand pockets lack zippers.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Water Resistance

Finding a waterproof jacket can be a godsend and make all the difference in the world when you are out running.

Here at RunnerClick, we know that you want to be comfortable while you are out enjoying a run and having reliable protection from water is a big part of that. That is why we focused on softshell jackets that have good water resistant properties so you can stay warm and dry while also being comfortable out on the trails or on the roadway!

Soft shell jackets are designed to be more breathable than a rain layer and have better weatherproofing than a fleece or down jacket. Therefore, they are not going to be the warmest layer you have and will not be completely waterproof. We looked for jackets that have reasonable warmth and wind and water resistance without sacrificing their breathability and stretch. We understand that this is important to you as a runner and we kept that in the forefront of our decision process.

Size

Soft shell jackets are made to fit over under layers of clothing so a good fit is essential so make sure you have the right size.

Getting the right size for your jacket is important because you do not want it to be so big that it is flappy and getting in the way as you run, but likewise, you do not want it so tight that it constricts your movement. We made sure to check that the jackets included on our list are fairly accurate when it comes to sizing and fitting specifications.

Most soft shell jackets can be worn as an outer layer or mid layer for outdoor activity. As such, they typically have a roomier fit that can accommodate multiple base layers for added warmth. Jackets intended for performance also have strategically placed seams around the arms to increase range of motion for a variety of activities. When choosing a jacket that is perfect for your activity level size and fit will always be high on the must-have list of features to look for.

Features

Sometimes it is the little features and touches that can make all the difference in the world for your choice of jacket.

There are many features you can look for and find when you are searching for softshell jackets, and each one can have an impact on your performance. We have jackets on our list here that bring many great features with then that can help you get more out of your runs and keep you comfortable and safe while you are out and about.

Zippered hand pockets are standard for most soft shell jackets but many also come with additional chest or sleeve pockets that can be accessed while wearing a harness or backpack. Additional features such as a helmet compatible hood, adjustable wrist cuffs, and a draw cord hem can be of added benefit during certain activities. Consider what you will need your soft shell jacket for to determine what elements are most important for you. We made sure to think about the various features our chosen products.

Style

Some people care a lot about the style of their clothes, even their jackets, so if this is important to you be sure to check out the product details.

You do not have to sacrifice style for the sake of comfort and durability. With the softshell jackets on our list you can get the comfort and protection you expect in a jacket and still get all the style and flare you want as well. We know it is important for many runners to keep their unique look and style so we included styling options here as well.

When shelling out over 100 dollars for an item, you want to make sure it makes you feel and look good. Soft shell jackets are often your outermost layer and many have a sleek style that makes them appropriate for city wear and commutes. Whether you are choosing your jacket primarily for casual wear or active wear, it never hurts to find something with a versatile appearance. You do not have to sacrifice comfort for style and these selected jackets demonstrate that you can have both!

Value

Budgets usually find a way of working into most of the decisions we make today so w took the price and value of these jackets into account.

The final fact we considered with our jacket buying guide selection is the overall value these jackets offer to runners. We included jackets of various price points for those who have a tight budget but we also made sure to include only high-quality jackets that are truly of a good value and that are worth the investment.

Everyone has a limit for what they are willing to pay for their jacket and we made sure we took this into account as we formed our product review list. We looked at the features, design, comfort, durability, and value to calculate the overall price range for these soft shell jackets. If a good price on a great jacket is what you are looking for these jackets will fit the bill and also fit your needs!

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Our Favorite Soft Shell Jackets

1. Arc’teryx Gamma MX

Where to buy
 Arc’teryx Gamma MX
Amazon Link

The versatile Gamma MX Hoody has a performance fit and stylish look that makes it ideal for outdoor activity as well as city wear. Stretch panels and ergonomic seams allow for an unrestricted range of motion. Solid windproofing and water resistance provide excellent warmth in wind and light rain and the regular fit is designed to accommodate extra base layers for added warmth when needed. The cuffs are a bit tight and the price tag is high but this high-quality jacket is an attractive performance option.

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Warmth & Weatherproofing

The Arc’teryx Gamma MX provides excellent warmth in windy conditions. It blocks wind very effectively and has a durable water-resistant coating to keep you dry in light rain and snow. Despite the wind resistance, this jacket remains lightweight and breathable making it ideal for a variety of activities.

Fit

This jacket has a regular fit that allows more room for layering items underneath. Users love the larger hood that can be worn comfortably over a beanie and the ample room in the chest that allows you to tuck in a scarf. There is just enough room for layering without leaving excess material to get in your way. Stretch fabric, underarm gussets and a dropped rear hem create a comfortable fit that does not restrict range of motion. The only downfall is the tighter cuffs on the sleeves which reviewers find a bit too constricting and difficult to pull on over gloves or a watch.

Features

The Gamma MX features four pockets with mesh lining and watertight zippers. Two side hand pockets are perfect for your cell phone or just warming your hands. The right chest and right arm pocket allow for easy access when wearing a backpack or a harness. A draw cord hem can be drawn in for more effective water sealing while skiing.

Style

The clean look of this jacket is right at home on the mountain or in the city. The neat seams and smooth fabric look expensive and show off the high-quality design. It is available in 7 attractive colors.

Value

This jacket retails around 300 dollars and like all Arc’teryx gear should be viewed as an investment. The high-quality design and performance features make this a great versatile layer for any outdoors enthusiast or weekend warrior.

2. Patagonia Adze

 Patagonia Adze
Amazon Link

The Patagonia Adze is a serious winter jacket with the streamlined appearance and flexibility of a softshell. The signature Polartec shell and insulating fleece lining keep reviewers warm in subfreezing temperatures. The micro-fleece lining creates a great next-to-skin feel that is comfortable to wear with short sleeves but can easily be layered with warmer layers when the temperature drops. Stretch material allows for unrestricted range of motion and breathability that is ideal for skiing and climbing.

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Warmth & Weatherproofing

The Patagonia Adze is one of the warmer options on this list. With Patagonia’s signature Polartec shell and durable water-resistant coating, this jacket protects well from the elements while the soft microgrid fleece lining provides excellent insulation and great next-to-skin feel. Users find this coat is adequate for wear in sub-freezing temperatures, down to the single digits when layered appropriately. Despite the heavy nature of this jacket, it remains breathable during vigorous activity.

Fit

The athletic fit of this jacket strikes the perfect balance for athletic performance. The fit is relaxed enough to accommodate a fleece base layer but remains streamlined enough to stay out of your way while climbing or skiing. Strategically placed seams on the arms allow for unlimited range of motion so you can reach that next hold while climbing.

Features

Hook and loop cuff closures and a draw cord hem add improved weather sealing for this jacket. The Adze features two zippered hand pockets as well as an interior chest pocket.

Style

With its low profile appearance and significant warmth, this jacket offers an attractive alternative to puffy down when running around in cold weather.

Value

Retailing at around 200 dollars, Patagonia provides a good value for a reliable and versatile winter jacket.

3. Outdoor Research Ferrosi

 Outdoor Research Ferrosi
Amazon Link

The Ferrosi Hoody has everything you need in a softshell jacket. Users are impressed with the durability of the abrasion resistant sleeves and solid wind protection that still remains flexible and breathable through activity. The athletic fit and stretch make this jacket a go-to for cyclists, hikers, and climbers. The best part is that the lightweight jacket packs down into its own pocket and is available at a bargain price. It falls just short of number one because it has less effective water resistance than some of the heavier weight softshell and the style does not double as well as a city jacket.

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Warmth & Weatherproofing

This jacket strikes the perfect balance between warmth and breathability. The abrasion resistant sleeves provide good weather protection while the softer body provides ample stretch and cool breathability. Users are very impressed with its ability to maintain warmth without ever causing you to overheat.

Fit

The athletic fit of this jacket is snug like a performance jacket but still leaves adequate room for layering.

Features

This lightweight jacket packs down into one of the two hand pockets. Reviewers using this jacket for climbing and backpacking do find the pockets are a bit low for easy access when wearing a harness or a backpack but the jacket does feature a chest pocket that is more accessible. The hood is comfortable and easy to adjust but is not ideal for wearing with a helmet.

Style

This jacket has a more athletic style and color options than some of the higher end performance options. It is not the most stylish for city wear but looks good during activity.

Value

The Ferrosi hoody is one of the best values around for a softshell jacket. For under 150 dollars you are getting a durable jacket that performs well.

4. Columbia Ascender

 Columbia Ascender
Amazon Link

This casual softshell from Columbia is frequently compared to the North Face Apex. While the North Face provides slightly more warmth and more room for layering, many users prefer the Ascendant for its lower cost and more flattering fit. The soft polyester shell does its job when it comes to protecting from wind and rain. Like all softshells, it is not waterproof but it will dry quickly if you do get caught in a storm. Although it does not have the same mobility features as performance jackets, it does have a comfortable fit that allows for light activity.

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Warmth & Weatherproofing

The light fleece lining provides some insulation while the soft polyester shell protects from rain and wind. Users report it repels light rain and snow very well and takes a while to soak through if you are a caught in a heavier downpour. Moisture-wicking polyester dries quickly and keeps you warm.

Fit

This jacket has a more athletic fit that provides more room in the shoulders but tapers in at the waist. It will be snug over heavy layers but has a more flattering fit when worn over a light base layer of T-shirt.

Features

Adjustable draw cord hem and sleeves are great when you do want to take this jacket out for some weekend activity. The jacket features 2 zippered hand pockets and a zippered chest pocket that are great for activity as well as running around town.

Style

Available in 28 color options you are bound to find a color that works well for you. The clean lines on this jacket are suitable for commuting to work and most users prefer the more flattering fitted appearance of this jacket to other larger casual soft shells.

Value

This jacket is flattering, versatile and has a price point well below 150 dollars, helping us to definitively set it above the North Face Apex and Marmot Gravity when it comes to casual wear.

5. Arc’teryx Squamish

Where to buy
 Arc’teryx Squamish
Amazon Link

The Squamish hoody blurs the line between a softshell jacket and a windbreaker. At first look, it appears more like a hard shell but it is not waterproof and has the breathability and stretch definitive of a softshell jacket. It is a lightweight and packable layer that offers good wind and water resistance while remaining very breathable and flexible during activity. Users love having this layer on hand for tough hikes, bike rides, and climbing.

Read more

Warmth & Weatherproofing

This lightweight wind layer focuses more on breathability than warmth. It is ideal for high-intensity outdoor activity as it offers some protection from the elements without trapping too much heat.

Fit

The regular fit of this jacket allows for layering while the gusseted arms and articulated elbows provide unrestricted range of motion. These design elements make it a great, lightweight option for any activity.

Features

This jacket features Arc’teryx’s StormHood which is helmet compatible, has a soft brim and adjustable drawcords to maximize visibility. Velcro cuffs and a drawcord drop hem keep this jacket close to your body and out of the way when it comes to activity. It does not have any hand pockets but it does come with a zippered chest pocket that it packs down into.

Style

The Squamish Hoody appears more like a rain jacket than a softshell but does not have the glossy finish or loud crinkling material. The bright color options are ideal for helping you be seen on the trail.

Value

At under 200 dollars, this jacket is rather expensive for the lightweight layer that it is. However, if you are counting weight and want a high performance, breathable wind layer, this packable jacket is a great option.

6. Marmot Tempo

Where to buy
Amazon Link
 Marmot Tempo
Amazon Link

The Tempo Softshell Jacket is made from Marmot’s M3 softshell material which favors breathability and silky texture over waterproofing. It does offer adequate protection against wind and very light rain but really shines when it comes to comfort and mobility. The relaxed fit, angel wing movement, and good stretch keep this jacket moving with you through any activity.

Read more

Warmth & Weatherproofing

The Marmot Tempo has a 100% Nylon Ripstop shell that offers soft and breathable protection from the wind with limited protection for light rain. Users find that it keeps them warm at the beginning of an activity and allows them to cool off as they get going.

Fit

The regular fit of this jacket has a bit more room in the shoulders and a straight hem. The hem is dropped in the back and can be cinched down with a drawcord. Angel-wing movement in the arms and elastic cuffs at the wrist keep this jacket moving with you through activity.

Features

Zippered handwarmer pockets and a zippered chest pocket are perfect for keeping items close while running or biking. The lightweight, wrinkle-resistant material helps this jacket pack down to a small size, making it ideal for day hikes and cycling.

Style

This lightweight jacket is available in black, gray, bright blue and bright red. The bright colors and a relaxed fit make it better suited for outdoor activity but the clean lines and smooth material will not look out of place in the city.

Value

At around 100 dollars, some users feel this jacket is a bit spendy for its lightweight. However, the breathable performance and comfortable material make it worth the price.

Amazon Link

7. Under Armour Storm Dobson

Where to buy
Amazon Link
 Under Armour Storm Dobson
Amazon Link

The Dobson jacket is part of Under Armour’s ColdGear line which works to keep athletes warm without adding bulk or sacrificing breathability. The cotton and polyester blend helps to establish a balance between weather resistance and light breathability. The slimmer fit of this hoody is not ideal for heavy layers but is a great option for those looking to cut back on bulk and use their own body heat to stay warm.

Read more

Warmth & Weatherproofing

This jacket features UA’s ColdGear Infrared lining that provides soft insulation to maintain body heat. Higher insulation in the core keeps you warm while allowing your arms to breathe and move more freely. The polyester in this fabric blend also helps block wind and repel moisture while cotton remains breathable.

Fit

This jacket has a loose fit like your average zip-up hoody. There is room in the sleeves for adding layers but not too much extra fabric to prevent you from moving around.

Features

2 zippered hand pockets and a zippered chest pocket are great for activity and commuting. The drawstring hood is more casual but can still be tightened for running.

Style

The casual fit, relaxed hood and contrasting zippers give this jacket the classic appearance of a hooded sweatshirt. However, the polyester blend material gives the Dobson Storm a cleaner and more expensive look than your typical cotton zip-up.

Value

This jacket retails for just under 150 dollars but many color options are available at a much lower cost. The price may seem steep for what appears to be a hooded sweatshirt but the effective insulation and improved wind protection make it worth it for many reviewers.

Amazon Link

8. The North Face Apex Bionic

 The North Face Apex Bionic
Amazon Link

The Apex Bionic from The North Face is a great option for those seeking a casual soft shell jacket. It has a neat and versatile look that fits in well in the city and it blocks wind and rain very effectively. It does not have the same stretch materials and athletic fit of the high-end athletic jackets but it comes in at half the cost and works great for commuters and casual activity.

Read more

Warmth & Weatherproofing

This polyester softshell jacket has a durable water repellent coating that works very well to block wind and rain. Some users find the solid shell blocks wind too well and wish it was just a bit more breathable for higher intensity activities.

Fit

The relaxed fit appears a bit boxy. There is plenty of room for layering a sweater or hoody underneath but the extra fabric and stiffer material do not provide the same stretch and range of motion as the more athletic performance jackets.

Features

Two zippered hand pockets and a zippered chest pocket provide ample storage for whatever you may need on your commute. A drawstring hem also allows for a snugger fit when needed.

Style

The North Face Apex is available in a wide range of bright and neutral colors. It has a clean and casual look that looks great for running around town or hitting the trail.

Value

This water-resistant shell retails for about half the price of the higher end performance jackets. The clean, versatile look and effective wind resistance make it a great option for the casual wearer.

9. Columbia Prime Peak

Where to buy
 Columbia Prime Peak
Amazon Link

The Prime Peak Softshell is a popular option for those who prefer to layer as it fits easily over a base layer or two and does a great job of blocking wind and repelling rain. It has a more solid and less breathable construction than some of the lighter weight options but, unlike a hardshell, it remains soft and flexible. It is unlined and does not provide much insulating warmth on its own but for less than 100 dollars, it is a versatile layer for any outdoors wardrobe.

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Warmth & Weatherproofing

Without the fleece lining common to many softshells, this is not the warmest standalone jacket. However, with a solid base layer, it provides excellent warmth and effectively keeps out wind and light rain. It is not the most breathable when the temperatures rise but cold weather hikers and cycling commuters appreciate the break from the wind.

Fit

Columbia calls this fit modern classic. This jacket has ample room for accommodating layers without becoming tight or restricting. The easy fit provides a good range of motion even when paired with heavier sweaters and vests.

Features

The Prime Peak jacket features 2 zippered hand pockets and a zippered chest pocket as well as a drawcord hem and adjustable cuffs.

Style

The color blocked designs gives this jacket a more sporty look.

Value

This jacket tends to run below 100 dollars and is a great piece to have on hand for a variety of outdoor activity and will not look out of place in the city.

10. Marmot Gravity

 Marmot Gravity
Amazon Link

The Marmot Gravity Jacket is a solid casual softshell that offers very good protection from wind and rain. It is designed more for city wear but users find its breathable nature translates well to casual ventures into the outdoors. The fit is a bit looser so it is ideal for layering over heavier items to keep you warm when the temperatures drop. It is a good value but falls a bit lower on our list because the sleeves run long and the hand pockets lack zippers.

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Warmth & Weatherproofing

Being a bit heavier, this jacket offers solid protection from wind and rain. It is not completely waterproof but it will take a while it in heavy rain to soak through. Fleece lining makes it comfortable for wear with short sleeves but there is plenty of room to accommodate heavier layers. Reviewers report that it remains breathable and is ideal for layering for added warmth.

Fit

This jacket has a regular fit that runs large and has more room in the shoulders and torso to make it easy for layering items under. Some users find the sleeves run a bit long but they do have velcro closures at the cuffs for a better fit. It is more of a casual jacket and although it does not have the performance features for mobility many reviewers love it for light hiking and trekking.

Features

This jacket features 2 slit hand pockets and a zippered sleeve pocket.

Style

The Marmot Gravity has clean lines and dark color options that make it perfect for wearing around town.

Value

At around 150 dollars, this jacket is a good value for a go-to fall and spring jacket that can be used outdoors as well.

Sources

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Inside RunnerClick Pro, runners of all strengths come together to meet and support one another, get answers to burning questions, learn from experts, participate in personal challenges, and more.