The Best Softshell Jacket for Men Review

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The Editors' Choice winning Ferrosi (Left) and the Top Pick for Ice Climbing Venta MX (Right). Two very different softshell jackets that both worked well on this dry, cold, and windy day.
Credit: Jeremy Bauman
What's the best softshell jacket? To find out, we took more than a dozen top models and used them for skiing, ice climbing, alpine climbing, mountaineering, rock climbing, showshoeing, running, and hiking. We tested each jacket side-by-side, on the trails and while roped up climbing mountains, and scored them on weather protection, breathability, mobility, features, weight, and style. We learned a lot about each jacket and gave awards to several of the best. This review describes which jackets we loved, which worked well for specific applications, and which are best left on the hanger at the store.

Ladies, head over to the Best Softshell Jacket for Women Review

Read the full review below >

Review by: and Max Neale

Top Ranked Softshell Jackets - Men's Displaying 1 - 5 of 13 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product Name
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hoody
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hoody
Read the Review
Patagonia InTraverse Hybrid
Patagonia InTraverse Hybrid
Read the Review
Arc'teryx Venta MX Hoody
Arc'teryx Venta MX Hoody
Read the Review
Rab Zephyr
Rab Zephyr
Read the Review
Marmot Leadville
Marmot Leadville
Read the Review
Editors' Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award  Top Pick Award     
Street Price Varies $90 - $129
Compare at 8 sellers
Varies $103 - $119
Compare at 4 sellers
$450
Compare at 3 sellers
Varies $100 - $110
Compare at 4 sellers
$160
Compare at 6 sellers
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Editors' Rating
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User Rating Be the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate it
Pros Superb breathability, lightweight, stretchy, good featuresExcellent stretch and mobility, highly breathable.Windproof and highly water resistant, long length stays under harness, ergonomic and comfortable fitLightweight, highly breathable, very comfortable, hoodModerately lightweight, great combination of materials, unrestrictive fit, great cuffs.
Cons Pockets are covered by harnesses and hip belts, not very water resistantDoesn't have a hood, no Chest pocket, not very weather resistant.Poor breathability, front interior hood pull cords are hard to adjust, more chin coverage would be warmer, very expensiveHeavier and not as weather resistant as a wind jacket, hood is not adjustableBest for high output activities in cold windy weather.
Best Uses Alpine climbing, backcountry skiing, rock climbing, anything that involves sweating in chilly environmentsCross country skiing, cold weather running, spring-skiing, hiking.Alpine skiing, ice and alpine climbingHigh output activities in cold weather, e.g. winter hiking, cross-country skiingNordic skiing, winter hiking, snowshoeing, winter running.
Date Reviewed Dec 20, 2014Dec 20, 2014Dec 20, 2014Mar 10, 2014Feb 28, 2014
Weighted Scores Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hoody Patagonia InTraverse Hybrid Arc'teryx Venta MX Hoody Rab Zephyr Marmot Leadville
Weather Protection - 30%
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4
Breathability - 30%
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9
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7
Mobility - 20%
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Weight - 10%
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Features - 5%
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Style - 5%
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Product Specs Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hoody Patagonia InTraverse Hybrid Arc'teryx Venta MX Hoody Rab Zephyr Marmot Leadville
Type Wind resistant Wind resistant Windproof + Fleece Insulated Wind resistant Wind resistant + windproof panels
Weight (oz) 13.3 13.7 20 10.5 17
Material Body and hood: 86% nylon, 14% spandex. Shoulders and lower sleeves: 91% nylonCordura, 9% spandex Body: 7.3-oz/yd. 92% polyester, 8% stretch-woven spandex. Panels: 4.7-oz/yd. 7% spandex. Body: N72s Windstopper 3L (lo-loft)
Shoulders and hood: N70s-X Windstopper 3L (mid loft)
Matrix SWS Gore Windstopper + side vents
Number of Pockets 2 handwarmer, 1 chest 2 handwarmer 2 high handwarmer, 1 interior zip 2 handwarmer 2 handwarmer, 1 chest, 1 interior zip
Hood Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Adjustable Cuffs No No Yes No Yes
Thumb Loops No No No Yes No
Pit Zips No No Yes No No

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review


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  • All Reviewed Products
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Patagonia InTraverse Hybrid
$119
100
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70
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Arc'teryx Venta MX Hoody
$450
100
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68
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Outdoor Research Salvo
$260
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Patagonia Adze
$139
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60
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Arc'teryx Venta SV
$399
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64
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Marmot Leadville
$160
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66
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Arc'teryx Gamma MX
$350
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62
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Mountain Hardwear Dragon
$260
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Mountain Hardwear Kepler
$340
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Rab Zephyr
$110
100
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66
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Patagonia Simple Guide Hoody
$149
100
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63
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North Face Apex Bionic
$149
100
0
43
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Patagonia Mixed Guide Hoody - Men's
$349
100
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59
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Marmot Approach
$120
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Marmot Super Hero
$280
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Mammut Herron
$250
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Marmot Gravity
$150
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50
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Columbia Ascender Jacket
$115
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Outdoor Research Alibi
$260
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Patagonia Guide
$150
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Patagonia Guide Hoody
$180
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Selecting the Right Product
Softshell jackets aim to provide the perfect combination of weather protection and breathability for aerobic activities in cold weather. They are much more breathable and more comfortable than hardshell jackets and more weather resistant than wind jackets. Softshell jackets are best for high output aerobic activities where your body is working hard and generating a lot of heat and moisture. They are a specialized and luxurious type of apparel in the sense that no one needs a softshell. If you're building your outerwear gear arsenal, a this should not be your first purchase. Instead, be sure to invest first in a true waterproof layer like a rain jacket or hardshell jacket. Although softshell jackets are more comfortable and breathable than either of these waterproof layers, they are really only suitable for a small set of activities, or for around-town use. See our Buying Advice Article for a more detailed discussion of this layer and its applications.

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Left to right: Simple Guide, InTraverse, Ferrosi. Testing durability on corse, Joshua Tree granite.
Credit: Jeremy Bauman

Types of Softshell Jackets
This review tests every available type of softshell jacket. Below we describe the pros and cons - and best applications - for each type. Note that these categories are not mutually exclusive; some jackets tested are both wind resistant and fleece insulated, or windproof and fleece insulated. We list each jacket's type in the specification table found above and in each individual product review.

Wind Resistant
These are typically lightweight models that prioritize breathability over weather protection. They rely on the nylon face fabric to protect from elements. In general, the tighter the weave the more they stand up to the wind. Some are nearly windproof while others block only the smallest gusts. They are ideal for day hikes, running, and cross-country skiing. Examples include the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hoody and the Patagonia InTraverse Hybrid.

Windproof
We distinguish windproof models as those that include a windproof laminate bonded to the inside of the face fabric. These are typically built with three layers: an exterior face fabric, a windproof membrane, and an interior liner fabric. The laminate membrane makes these the most weather resistant type we tested (thanks to their wind proofing, they are also highly water resistant). However, this also makes them less breathable than their wind resistant counterparts. Windproof models are best suited to ice and alpine climbing and can also be used for downhill skiing. Examples include the Arc'teryx Venta MX Hoody and Patagonia Adze.

Uninsulated
These are perhaps the most versatile type of softshell jacket. Based on the occasion, the user can either layer the shell over a lot of insulation or just a t-shirt for warm days. Because of their versatility, they work well in a wide range of activities. Some have windproof materials that excel in cold, windy environments while others are very light and are great for running on brisk days. Uninsulated softshells have the capacity to feel more breathable because there is one less layer blocking sweat from exiting the jacket. Because they are typically lighter, they are easier to throw in your pack on long trips. The uninsulated models we tested weigh between 10 and 20 ounces. Examples include the Patagonia Simple Guide Hoody and Outdoor Research Ferrosi.

Fleece Insulated
Fleece insulated jackets are less versatile and typically offer a poor value. Most are designed for casual use, but some offer excellent technical performance in very cold environments. The fleece lining in these jackets makes them cozy for around town but too hot for many winter activities, and often it makes them more difficult to layer with. This type of jacket is best for activities such as cold (below 20 degrees Fahrenheit) days of ice climbing. Examples include the Arc'teryx Venta MX and Marmot Gravity.

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The inner workings of the Venta MX is lightly insulated in some areas and has a brushed backer for the arms, hood, and lower part of the chest area. Here you can see the white Windstopper membrane through the brushed backer.
Credit: Jeremy Bauman

Water Resistant Hybrid
In the above categories we do not distinguish when a jacket uses a combination of materials. However, manufacturers are increasingly building jackets with a combination of waterproof materials and softshell materials. This type of design, which we call water resistant hybrid, deserves special attention. We have found that waterproof hybrid softshell jackets are ideal for warmer weather ice climbing and done-in-a-day alpine ascents, when dripping water commonly lands on your hood and shoulders. This is very specialized type of jacket. We recommend this style of jacket for conditions were you expect a little bit of water to fall on you, but not enough to warrant a full hardshell. For instance, climbing a long alpine route in the spring when the snow is melting all around you. For situations like this, these jackets shine because you would likely overheat in a hardshell, but would quickly wet-out a softshell jacket. That said, we think that fully waterproof jackets or more breathable softshells will work better the rest of the year. As such, we think that water resistant hybrids are a poor value for the average consumer. A great example of this type of jacket is the Patagonia Mixed Guide Hoody - Men's.

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Windproof softshells like the Arcteryx Venta MX (yellow) are the only type of softshell that work well in exposed, above treeline environments. In this photo two of three people are using hardshell jackets, which are wind and waterproof.
Credit: Zeb Engberg

Criteria For Evaluation
Weather Protection
We based our weather protection score on the wind resistance and water resistance of each jacket. We combined the wind resistance feedback from each tester after each outing with our water resistance tests. Because softshells are too heavy and bulky to function well as insulating layers compared with fleeces and insulated jackets, warmth was not a factor in the weather protection score. However, when we feel it necessary, we make mention of a product's warmth in the individual reviews.

Softshell jackets are not waterproof and shouldn't be used in conditions that demand that attribute. The combination of thick face fabrics and the inherent limitations of DWR coatings (chemical coatings that allow water to bead up and roll of the surface of a fabric) make softshell jackets a very poor choice in environments where wetness is falling on you. Rain turns these jackets from being comfy and cozy into heavy, waterlogged messes that are neither warm nor comfortable. That said, windproof softshells will repel more moisture than wind resistant models, but will be far less durable. The Venta MX repels moisture very well but dries slowly once it wets-out. The Ferrosi may let you get soaked initially, but it will allow you to dry out much quicker than the Venta MX. Windy, dry, below freezing temperatures, and high output activities are the optimal conditions for this layer as liquid water is encountered relatively infrequently. Windproof models also retain more heat which can be nice in very cold environments. Additionally, they work well as a casual layer around town.

Over the years, we've tested weather resistance in a myriad of conditions, from mountaineering in Alaska to ice and alpine climbing in Maine and New Hampshire. In our most recent update, we ice climbed and skied throughout Colorado's front range and combined our field testing with a series of controlled tests, including our now-infamous waterfall test. When we found a large melted hole at the base of an ice climb, one of our testers seized the opportunity and jumped into the frigid torrent with each shell. In between each test, he waited long enough for his base layer to dry before testing the next piece. Those that had hoods were superior to those without hoods and allowed our tester to be further emerged in the torrent than those without hoods. Because mountain weather is fickle, we think that hoods are a mandatory feature for activities above treeline.



The most weather resistant softshell jackets have a windproof membrane (see description above and in the specifications table). These include the Arc'teryx Venta MX and Arc'teryx Venta SV which both received a score of 10 in our ratings because they were the most weather resistant products we tested. But at best, they only kept our testers dry for about thirty minutes of rain. The Rab Zephyr is the least weather resistant jacket tested it's best for winter running and cross-country skiing. Finally, water resistant hybrid models vary greatly depending on where the waterproof section is located. Some with waterproof hoods, shoulders, and arms will work well when light rain is falling straight down, but poorly in windy, sideways rain. The wind resistance of these pieces depends on the other type of fabric the manufacture uses. Some are very wind and water resistant in the body, others not so much.

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The jacket withstood the frigid torrent keeping our tester perfectly dry. (The water splotches were remnants of a previous test)
Credit: Rachael Alber

Breathability
Breathability is one of the most important parts of a softshell jacket and it's the main reason to choose this type of layer over a waterproof jacket. If you have ever worn a cheap, plastic poncho from the dollar store you understand why breathability is important. The term breathability describes the ability of a material to transport moisture. Even if you stay dry from the rain, during high activity our bodies can perspire two liters per hour! If you sweat that much while wearing a cheap, plastic rain layer, you'd feel soaked and gross. If you sweat that much in a lightweight fleece or base layer, you'll feel much drier and much happier. Being dry is one of the biggest keys to staying comfortable and warm in cold climates because water transmits heat much faster than air. This fact is of critical importance in cold climates. You might be surprised that most cases of hypothermia occur in temperatures above freezing. When temperatures are lower, water freezes and it becomes harder for us to get wet and subsequently chilled. One great way to get chilled in the snow, however, is to get soaked in sweat by wearing too many clothes or clothes that aren't breathable enough. Once your cardio output declines, you will chill rapidly.

Increasing your output, i.e. the level of aerobic activity, increases the importance of breathability. For example, cross-country skiing and winter hiking typically require a highly breathable jacket but multi-pitch ice climbing (a stop-and-go activity) do not. Breathability is largely determined by the presence or absence of a windproof membrane, which decreases breathability compared to jackets that don't have membranes. Additionally the thickness and weave of the fabric influences breathability; thin loose knit fabrics are the most breathable and thicker fleece insulated jackets are less breathable.

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On strenuous approaches, it's easy to overheat in the Venta MX. As seen, venting through the main zipper helps quite a bit.
Credit: Jeremy Bauman

After every outing, we gathered breathability feedback from each tester. These scores are subjective and reflect our testers' personal opinions about the level of breathability of each jacket. Breathability is the calling card of a softshell jacket. Consequently, two of our award winners received a breathability score of 9. The Rab Zephyr received a score of 10 and is the most breathable jacket that we tested, however it also earned a weather resistance rating of 1. We found the Editors' Choice Outdoor Research Ferrosi to be quite breathable because of the light uninsulated fabrics that it uses, while still providing a decent amount of weather protection from wind and falling snow. These uninsulated non-windproof jackets were the only ones that we could wear when working hard uphill without unzipping or taking off. The Arc'teryx Venta MX, a membrane equipped shell, is the least breathable jacket tested and received a breathability score of 3 but a weather resistance score of 10.

The right shell for you largely depends on the amount of sweat you generate while in the mountains. Our bodies very greatly and subsequently some of us need more breathable jackets than others. If you sweat a lot, you'll probably love the excellent breathability of a jacket like the Ferrosi or Patagonia InTraverse. If you don't sweat as much, consider a more weather resistant shell like the Venta MX.

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The Editors' Choice winning Ferrosi lacked the weather resistance to keep our tester dry, but the superb breathability let him dry out quickly.
Credit: Rachael Alber

Mobility
If you enjoy the restrictive feeling of wearing formal clothing, disregard our comments on mobility. If you're like the rest of, however, mobility is a key factor to consider when buying clothing. Most outdoor apparel is moderately mobile and will work well if you're just walking around. However, many outdoor sports involve things like stretching your arms above your head to reach a climbing hold, twisting your hips into a joyous powder turn, or looking up with a hood on to see a magnificent mountain peak. Because we are looking for the highest performing gear for outdoor activities, we rank mobility as a high priority for our needs.

To account for this, our mobility metric assesses each product's overall comfort during aerobic activities. We took into consideration whether it rode up when lifting our arms, if the shoulders were designed for full rotation, and whether we could layer effectively underneath it without feeling restricted. During our testing, we not only studied the design of each product's arms and shoulders, but also how they actually performed during all our day-to-day outdoor activities.

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Jeff Smith gets some air in the Arcteryx Venta SV, a windproof softshell best for downhill skiing and snowboarding.
Credit: Andrew Jackson

Some jackets were mobile enough in the body for activities like skiing, but when we took them ice climbing, the jackets either pulled out of our harnesses when reaching up, or our cuff fell below our gloves exposing our wrists to the cold and snow. Longer wrists and underarm gussets are both designed to help counter this problem. The Arc'teryx Alpha FL hardshell employs a piece of foam in the hem that makes it too thick to ever creep out of a harness. The cut of this jacket also allows it to be extremely mobile even though it doesn't stretch. If a jacket fits you perfectly, the wrist cuffs should not fall when you reach up and the hem should stay below your waste.

Fleece insulation causes even the most well-cut jackets to feel less mobile. The fuzzy backing of the jacket doesn't slide very well on the base layers we typically wear under softshell jackets. This can be countered in part by wearing a smooth layer under the soft-shell like a wind jacket, but doing so would greatly decrease your breathability so you might as well wear a high-quality hardshell.

Another factor that has a large influence on mobility is stretch. Windproof laminated fabrics often stretch less than those without. A stretch body reduces the influence of a poor fit and makes the jacket feel like it's moving with you. Stretch allows a jacked to fit quite snug without impairing mobility. A great example is the Outdoor Research Ferrosi which fit nearly as snug as the Marmot Gravity, but was far more mobile in large part because of the great stretch. Another benefit to stretch materials is that they are less noisy than windproof fabrics.

Overall, the most mobile pieces tested here are the Patagonia InTraverse and the Rab Zephyr. The standout in this category was the Arc'teryx Venta MX, which, despite being windproof, had a fantastically ergonomic fit that stunned our testers - we gave it a score of nine. The Columbia Ascender scored lowest in this category.

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This jacket provides unhindered mobility.
Credit: TJ Brumme

Weight
Weight can be a very important attribute during activities like alpine climbing, cross country skiing, and running because having a heavier jacket reduces your ability to perform said activities. Additionally, lighter jackets are more compact than heavier jackets. Weight is perhaps the single best proxy for softshell performance; heavier jackets will (on average) be less breathable, less mobile, and more weather resistant. We scored each jacket based on its measured weight. Our scores range from one to ten and reflect the 14.5 oz. range between the lightest jacket tested (the 10.5 oz. Rab Zephyr) and the heaviest jacket tested (the 25 oz. North Face Apex Bionic). Thus, a one-point difference between two jackets' scores reflects the observed 1.45 oz. difference in their measured weight

You might notice that we don't place as much of an emphasis on the weight of these products as we do on nearly every other type of outdoor gear. The reason for this is that these products are designed to be breathable enough that they can be worn all day without having to throw them into your pack. Weight carried on your body isn't as noticeable as weight in a backpack. For this reason, we do not think that weight is the biggest factor when choosing a softshell jacket.

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Packed sizes of various softshells. Included are some non-softshells. The Houdini is a wind jacket, the Helium 2 is a rain shell, and the Nano Puff is an insulated jacket.
Credit: Jeremy Bauman

Features
Here we assessed the quality and quantity of each jacket's features as they contribute to its specific end use. We looked at the design of handwarmer pockets, chest pockets, zippers, zipper pulls, pit zips, interior pockets, hoods, and adjustment cords. Well-designed features are critical for overall comfort, ease of use, and storage. Whether you're hoping to stash an entire day's worth of energy bars into your chest pocket or just tote around your wallet and keys, great features can make your life easier. In order to rate each product in this metric, we included the feedback from the dozen or so people that contributed to testing.

Hoods are one of our favorite things especially on softshells. If you're strolling about in the hills and it starts to snow, you are going to need something on your head to keep you from getting soaked. If you don't have a hood on your softshell, you're going to need some other layer to cover your head be it an insulated jacket, rain jacket, or helmet. The Arc'teryx Venta MX earned the highest scores in this category because nearly every component is designed with the utmost attention to detail and balances function with ergonomics and style. Generally speaking, the hood is the most difficult to design feature of any hooded model and Arc'teryx just about nailed it on the Venta MX. With its multiple draw cord adjustments and ergonomic fit, this hood makes all the difference in keeping your face warm when the wind is whipping hard.

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The hood on the Ferrosi stretches to accommodate large helmets.
Credit: Jeremy Bauman

Hoodless softshells are less versatile, but still work well in many instances. If you are carrying a rain jacket (which always have hoods) to put on over your softshell, you might find that you can be perfectly comfortable without a hood. The Patagonia InTraverse is a fantastic hoodless option. For cross-country skiing, we rarely put on our hood and instead prefer a balaclava. Finally, if you're cruising around town, we think that hoodless models are generally more stylish.

Pocket design is also important. For climbing, cross-over chest pockets are best (see the Arc'teryx Venta MX) and hand warmer pockets are best for around town and general use (see the Outdoor Research Ferrosi). Fleece linings can be great if you're putting your hands in your pockets, but can add unnecessary weight and warmth. All of the pockets in this review have zippered closures; without this, snow and water can enter the pocket and make you wet. If you plan on using your jacket with big gloves on, you'll want to look for big zipper pulls that can be easily manipulated.

Style
We feel that it's important that you look good in a jacket you spend a lot of money on, especially one that works so well around town. Therefore we scored each jacket based on our testers' perception of its aesthetic appeal. We recognize that our assessment is highly subjective and, consequently, we make it a mere five percent of each jacket's total score.

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Enjoying a brisk winter day in the stylish and versatile Ferrosi jacket in Indian Creek, UT.
Credit: Gentrye Houghton

Generally, we feel that simple exteriors look better than complex multi-color patterns. For around town, our testers prefer basic, handsome jackets like the Marmot Leadville and Patagonia Adze to jackets like the Rab Zephyr or Patagonia Mixed Guide Hoody, which have offset colored zippers and duo-chrome fabric designs. It's also important here to consider the fit of your jacket. Depending on your frame, boxier cuts like those found on the Patagonia InTraverse may suit you better than the athletic tailoring on the Arc'teryx pieces, or vice versa. Remember, however, that style and mobility can be competing priorities, while a looser fit may afford you space for layers and greater range of motion, it may not look as classy for around-town wear. Our scores in this category range from 9 to 4 and multiple jackets received our top score. If good looks and around town use are your top priority we recommend considering the Patagonia Adze or another classic non-hooded model.

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Sizing comparison: Orange-Venta MX, Green-Simple Guide, Yellow-InTraverse, Red-Ferrosi, Grey-Gravity, Blue-Ascender
Credit: Jeremy Bauman

Accessories
Softshells, especially uninsulated models, are great to pair with other layers, such as a fleece, to increase the warmth. We recommend our Editors' Choice winner, the Patagonia R1 Hoody and our top pick winner, Arc'teryx Fortrez. For a more in-depth look at fleece jackets check out The Best Fleece Jacket Review.

Editors' Choice Award: Outdoor Research Ferrosi
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Active ventures in windy cool environments are perfect for our Editors' Choice winner.
Credit: Jeremy Bauman

The highly specialized nature of softshell jackets makes us feel that there's no single "best" all-purpose jacket. However, the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hoody wins our Editors' Choice Award because it performs very well for a variety of activities and is the highest scoring jacket we tested. In fact, several of our testers looked into buying this jacket for themselves after trying it out. It is not as weather resistant as some, but it provides a great mix of ultra-breathability with enough weather protection to defend against snow. The Ferrosi is a rock star for climbing, backcountry skiing, hiking, running, biking, and for blocking the wind on the walk to the coffee shop. This jacket is a fantastic value.

Best Buy Award: Patagonia InTraverse Hybrid
InTraverse used in windy conditions for side-country skiing.
InTraverse used in windy conditions for side-country skiing.
Credit: Andy Goellner

The Patagonia InTraverse Hybrid is a lightweight uninsulated jacket well-suited to cross-country skiing, hiking, and bike commuting. Its greatest asset is its superb mobility, fit, and breathability. It wins our Best Buy award because it is a high performing jacket at a bargain price. It has a very stretchy body that allows you to move any way you like. We love its minimal design and think that it is more versatile than most of the other jackets that we tested. If you don't need a hood and are looking for a versatile softshell, the InTraverse Hybrid is tough to beat.

Top Pick Award for Ice Climbing: Arc'teryx Venta MX
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Zeb Engberg snaps a selfie in the Arcteryx Venta MX jacket. Huntington Ravine, Mt. Washington, New Hampshire.
Credit: Zeb Engberg

The Arc'teryx Venta MX Hoody takes ice climbing to the next level with its exceptionally comfortable and well-featured design. A Gore Windstopper membrane and two different face fabrics make this jacket completely windproof, highly water resistant, and very durable. The MX is cut longer than most of its competitors, which keeps it tucked underneath a harness better than any other model we tested for this review. Two large crossover chest pockets are backpack and harness compatible and the large hood is the most comfortable helmet compatible hood of all products tested. If you have the cash to push the performance envelope, the Venta MX is the best ice climbing softshell we've tested.

Best for Specific Applications
Cross-country skiing: Outdoor Research Ferrosi
Around town: Patagonia Adze
Winter day hikes: Patagonia Simple Guide Hoody
Rock climbing: Outdoor Research Ferrosi
Summer alpine climbing: Outdoor Research Ferrosi
Ice climbing: Arc'teryx Venta MX
Resort skiing: Arc'teryx Venta MX
Backcountry skiing: Patagonia Mixed Guide Hoody
Around town: Patagonia Adze
Backpacking: We'd recommend a rain jacket instead.
Most versatile: Outdoor Research Ferrosi

Jeremy Bauman and Max Neale
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