A soft shell jacket is an extremely versatile piece of gear that it pays to own at least one of. Women’s and men’s soft shell jackets are so great because, while they’re not really the best at any one thing, they are quite good at a number of things. They insulate well, they also cut the wind well, and most will also keep you dry, up to a point. So while a soft shell jacket might be the wrong jacket in a rain storm or a wind storm, it’s a great jacket to grab in the morning when you don’t know what the day holds for you.
Men’s Soft Shell JacketWhat to look for when you're shopping for your next soft shell jacket.
- Water Resistant – Though many soft shell jackets are not water resistant, or at least not treated with any kind of water resistant product, it’s a great feature to have on a soft shell jacket. If you have a soft shell jacket that is at least water resistant you can leave your rain jacket at home, saving room and weight in your backpack.
- Hood – One of the greatest things about a soft shell jacket is that it is versatile, and when it comes to keeping you warm in a variety of weather conditions, there are few things more versatile than a hood. Your head is one of the areas where you lose the most body heat, and a hood gives you the ability to keep that body heat in when you’re cold, and let it out when you’re hot.
Best Men’s Soft Shell JacketA select few of the better men's soft shell jackets.
- Arc'teryx Gamma MX Jacket - The Gamma is one of several excellent soft shell jackets made by Arc'teryx. First, it has a durable water repellent (DWR) finish, to give it some water resistance, and a total of 5 zippered pockets, 2 for the hands, 2 on either breast and 1 on the arm. The full length zipper and high collar mean you can vary just how warm it is too, making it great for a wide variety of conditions. The price is high, but this is a high quality soft shell jacket. It weighs 18 ounces, or 510 grams.
- Marmot Leadville Softshell Jacket - Another soft shell jacket with a design similar to that of the Gamma MX above. Gore Windstopper fabric makes the jacket both wind and water resistant, and a high collar and full length zipper make it suitable for a wide variety of weather conditions. It comes with 3 zippered pockets, 2 for the hands and 1 on the breast. It's very similar to the Gamma MX above, but just about half the price, making it a great value choice.
- Rab Boreas Pull-On - Winner of the 2011 Backpacker Magazine Editor's Choice award, the Rab Boreas is a fantastic choice for a soft shell jacket. First, it's a pull on, with a half length zipper. It also has a hood, something that neither of the other jackets have, which can help add warmth when the temperature drops. What it doesn't have is any sort of waterproofing or water resistance, something the other two jackets above do have. But the award, along with the price, which is half that of the Leadville and a quarter of what the Gamma MX is, make it an attractive choice if you don't plan on getting wet. It weighs 11 ounces, or 300 grams.