Best Softshell Jackets for Men of 2021

Are you looking for a softshell jacket for hiking? Don’t know where to start? Check out our reviews of the best softshell jackets for men this year.

When you’re out in the mountains, do you ever feel like your rain jacket just isn’t breathable enough?

When you’re charging up a hill in light rain, a proper rain jacket is sometimes just a little too much. That’s where a softshell jacket comes in.

Lightweight, breathable, and water-resistant, a softshell jacket combines the weatherproofing of a rain jacket with a more comfortable fleece-like jacket for better performance in the outdoors.

That being said, there’s a lot of technology that goes into making a good weather-resistant softshell jacket, so finding the one that’s right for your needs can be a bit of a challenge.

That’s where we come in.

To help you find the best water-resistant softshell jacket, we’ve got the ultimate buyer’s guide to get you started.

After we walk you through the basics of softshells, we’ll review some of the best softshell jackets for men, so you know what’s out there to choose from.

Here we go!

 

Arc'teryx Men's Gamma Lt Hoody

Arc’teryx Gamma LT Hoody

Price not available
5/5

 

Outdoor Research Men's Ferrosi Hooded Jacket, Coyote/Fatigue, Medium

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hooded Jacket

Price not available
4.5/5

 

Columbia Men's Ascender Hooded Softshell Jacket, Black, Large

Columbia Ascender Hooded Softshell Jacket

$58.90
4/5

 

The North Face Men's Apex Bionic 2 Jacket - TNF Black & TNF Black - M

North Face Apex Bionic 2

Price not available
4/5

 

Marmot Gravity Men's Softshell Windbreaker Jacket, Jet Black, Medium

Marmot Gravity Jacket

$110.65
3.8/5

The Best Softshell Jackets for Men of 2021 Reviewed

Arc’teryx Gamma LT Hoody

Arc'teryx Men's Gamma Lt Hoody

Arc’teryx Gamma LT Hoody

Price not available
Star Rating
5/5

Pros

Cons

If you need a men’s softshell jacket that works as hard as you do, look no further than the Arc’teryx Gamma LT Hoody.

Part of Arc’teryx’s light and fast series, the Gamma LT is made with air-permeable woven textiles with a four-way stretch weave and lots of abrasion resistance for those long days in the mountains.

Decidedly versatile, the Gamma LT is as comfortable on a climbing trip as it is during some apres-ski drinks, thanks to its lightweight and durable Wee Burly softshell fabric and DWR treatment.

The Gamma LT is made to move naturally with your body, providing minimal, if any resistance, as you speed through the mountains.

Oh, and the Gamma LT has a helmet compatible hood for mountaineering and climbing pursuits, so you never have to leave it behind.

Needless to say, if quality is your top priority in a softshell jacket, you can’t go wrong with the Arc’teryx Gamma LT.

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hooded Jacket

Outdoor Research Men's Ferrosi Hooded Jacket, Coyote/Fatigue, Medium

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hooded Jacket

Price not available
Star Rating
4.5/5

Pros

Cons

Perhaps one of the most popular softshell jackets ever, the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hooded Jacket is a great all-around option for anyone who just can’t sacrifice breathability. 

Built using Outdoor Research’s patented Ferrosi fabric, the Ferrosi Hooded Jacket has won award after award for its impeccably lightweight and out-of-this-world comfort.

The Ferrosi Hooded Jacket has a nice, modern slim fit for style and comfort, while Outdoor Research was smart enough to add in some reinforced durability in the fabric in high-wear areas. 

If all of that wasn’t good enough, the ultralight Ferrosi is highly breathable, while also being incredibly water and wind resistant for those unpredictable storms.

The Ferrosi fabric is also abrasion-resistant and quick-drying with UPF 50+ protection, so it can really accompany you anywhere you go. 

Oh, and a YKK DWR-Treated front zipper means you can wave goodbye to wet baselayers in rainy conditions. What more could you ask for?

Columbia Ascender Hooded Softshell Jacket

Columbia Men's Ascender Hooded Softshell Jacket, Black, Large

Columbia Ascender Hooded Softshell Jacket

$58.90
Star Rating
4/5

Pros

Cons

You don’t need to spend your life’s savings to get a great piece of outwear. 

Thankfully, the Columbia Ascender Hooded Softshell Jacket shows us just that. A wind and water-resistant softshell jacket with a stylish flair, the Columbia Ascender is made for any weather conditions, even in the off-season.

Thanks to its athletic cut, adjustable cuffs, and hems, the Columbia Ascender is superbly comfortable wherever life might take you. 

An assortment of quality zippered pockets rounds out the Ascender’s list of great features, though it is important to note that the jacket is on the heavier side for a performance-oriented softshell.

Thus, while we love the Ascender’s affordability and style, it’s not necessarily the best choice for high-octane alpine pursuits like ice climbing. 

While the Ascender’s burly fabric is much appreciated in foul weather, it’s just not breathable enough for charging up a hill in a light drizzle.

North Face Apex Bionic 2

The North Face Men's Apex Bionic 2 Jacket - TNF Black & TNF Black - M

North Face Apex Bionic 2

Price not available
Star Rating
4/5

Pros

Cons

Breathable, stretchy, and water-resistant, The North Face Apex Bionic 2 is a softshell jacket that’s ready to accompany you in the mountains. 

Made with a windproof softshell fabric that stretches in all the right places, the Apex Bionic 2 is a classy men’s softshell jacket with a relaxed fit.

The Apex Bionic 2 even features a zippered chest pocket and two hand pockets for storing all of your gear on the go. 

This comfy softshell even has a light fleece liner inside to help keep you warm when the temperatures dwindle.

This jacket is so fine-tuned for mountain use, it’s hard to find anything to pick out as a potential drawback. 

If we had to choose one thing we weren’t totally stoked on with the Apex Bionic 2, it would be the jacket’s lack of hood, which can be a bummer during a storm. 

Plus, the Apex Bionic is a tad on the heavy end for a softshell, but, if you can live without a hood and with a little extra weight in your pack, this jacket is a solid bet.

Marmot Gravity Jacket

Marmot Gravity Men's Softshell Windbreaker Jacket, Jet Black, Medium

Marmot Gravity Jacket

$110.65
Star Rating
3.8/5

Pros

Cons

A softshell jacket that’s as stylish and practical as you are, the Marmot Gravity Jacket is the ultimate in multi-season outerwear. 

Thanks to the burly Marmot M1 softshell fabric, the Gravity is a cozy softshell that’s tough enough to keep you warm in the harshest of four-season conditions while still being incredibly comfortable.

Windproof, water-resistant, and ready for anything, the Gravity is one of the most weather-resistant softshells in this review. 

However, it’s also one of the heaviest and bulkiest softshells around. This means that the Gravity doesn’t breathe as well as some of the ultralight softshell alternatives.

But, if you need a softshell jacket that will protect you from the elements at any cost, the Marmot Gravity just might be for you!

What to Look For When Buying a Softshell Jacket

Before we take you through our reviews of the best softshell jackets for men, we’ll introduce you to the basics of softshells.

This type of jacket is relatively new in the outdoor world, though in recent years, water-resistant softshell jackets have taken the industry by storm.

Here are some of the things you ought to know about softshells, one of the best mid layers or outer layers for aerobic activities in the outdoors:

What is softshell jacket?

Softshell jackets are garments designed for someone who needs a highly water-resistant and wind-resistant jacket that also breathes well.

If you’re new to the outdoors or aren’t much of a gear junkie, you may not have heard of this specialty jacket.

Softshell jackets are often made from a mix of nylon and elastane, which allows them to protect you from the elements without trapping in excess sweat and heat.

They are a great part of any layering system for active outdoor enthusiasts, as they can double as an outer layer in rainy conditions or as a mid-layer or baselayer in cold weather.

How is a softshell jacket different from a rain jacket?

What confuses people the most about softshell jackets is whether or not they’re the same as a rain jacket.

A good rain jacket, also known as a “hard shell” is made from a nylon ripstop fabric (or similar) and a thin waterproof breathable membrane, like Gore-tex or eVent.

Rain jackets are designed to be completely waterproof and windproof, though this does reduce their overall breathability.

Softshells, on the other hand, are only water-resistant and wind-resistant, so you can’t expect them to keep you bone dry in a torrential downpour as they lack a waterproof breathable membrane.

However, thanks to this lack of a waterproof layer, softshells are much more breathable than their hardshell counterparts, making them ideal for high-output aerobic activities in a light rain or in cold weather.

Additionally, a softshell jacket can be used as a base layer, mid-layer, or even an outer layer, depending on the weather.

In very cold weather, you can opt to use your softshell, especially if it’s a fleece-lined softshell jacket, as an insulating layer.

Or, if you have a softshell ski jacket or a highly water-resistant softshell jacket, you can use it as an outer layer in nearly any conditions.

Features to Look for in a Softshell Jacket

Before you buy a softshell jacket, however, there are a few things you ought to understand about this awesome outdoor layer.

Here are the top features to look out for in a quality men’s softshell jackets:

Breathability

The main benefit of a softshell jacket over a rain jacket is in a softshell’s breathability.

Since a softshell, unlike a rain jacket, doesn’t have a waterproof breathable membrane, it tends to be much more breathable than a jacket that does have one.

This may seem confusing, as a “waterproof breathable” membrane ought to be breathable, right?

While it’s true that waterproof breathable membranes are breathable, they’re still not going to allow for as much airflow and ventilation as a jacket that doesn’t have one.

That being said, not all softshell are created equal in the world of breathability.

For the most part, the light softshell jackets are going to be much more breathable than a fleece-lined softshell jacket or a softshell ski jacket. This is because ultralight softshell jackets have less material and usually no insulating material, which allows for maximum breathability.

Water Resistance

While a softshell jacket isn’t going to be waterproof like a rain jacket, any softshell worth the money is going to be at least a little water-resistant.

Water-resistant softshell jackets vary in how weatherproof they are, though the best men’s softshell jacket will be able to hold up in a steady rain for a couple of hours.

Much of a water-resistant softshell jacket’s weather-resistant properties comes from what’s known as a DWR treatment. DWR stands for durable water repellant, which is a kind of treatment that’s used on jackets to encourage water droplets to simply bead off of the fabric instead of soaking through.

Many of the best men’s softshell jackets will feature a DWR treatment that can be reapplied with a spray or in the wash whenever necessary.

Weight

While softshell jackets are often considered to be a sort of “miracle” layer, one place in which they tend to fall short is in terms of weight.

Although there are certainly some ultralight softshell jackets out there, many tend to be quite heavy, so that’s something to keep an eye out for when you’re shopping around.

If you really want a light softshell jacket, you’ll often have to compromise, either in terms of price, durability, or overall water-resistance.

Very few softshells manage to pull off being lightweight, affordable, durable, and water-resistant all at the same time, but we’ve seen it happen, so don’t be discouraged!

The Verdict: What is the Best Softshell Jacket for your Needs

Choosing the best men’s softshell jacket doesn’t have to be an impossible challenge.

Now that you know what to look for when shopping for a new softshell jacket, you’ll surely find the one that’s right for you.

That being said, if we had to choose just one of these five great jackets to win our award as the best softshell jacket for men, we’d have to go with the Arc’teryx Gamma LT Hoody for its fantastic blend of weather protection, breathability, stretchiness, durability, and light weight.

What’s not to love?

Jason Miller

Jason Miller

Hi there, my name is Jason and I am the creator and editor of this site. My activities include hiking, skiing, mountain biking, camping, and backpacking. I'm also a keen nature photographer. I like to get outdoors and then write about it. I created this site to help people find the right gear so they enjoy their outdoor pursuits that much more.