After careful product research, we chose a selection of this season's top women's hardshell jackets. Over several months, we put them to the test in the rugged Pacific Northwest coastal mountain ranges and the frigid ranges of Montana. We tested these jackets based on seven metrics: Weather Protection, Mobility, Breathability, Weight, Features, Versatility, and Durability. Hiking, ice climbing, running, ski mountaineering, and jaunts around town were just a few of the activities that we wore these jackets through. On any active day out, we would load up our packs with all seven jackets or hand them out to our friends to see how each performed comparatively.
So how did we test all of these metrics? Well, to start we weighed, stuffed, and stashed to see how much room they took up, and how many ounces they added to our adventures. We went running on cold fall and winter mornings and wore them on long strenuous hikes and approaches to ice climbs—to test the breathability of the different membranes.
In the Pacific Northwest, we have the blessing of a constant firehose of moisture in the winter, which proved adequate for our waterproof tests. We brought the jackets to the tops of mountains and on ice climbing trips to see how mobile they were and whether or not the wind cut through them.
We put the jackets over and under layers, and compared each cut and length to determine which jacket was the most comfortable. To look at fancy features, we counted pockets, adjusted the hood shape around our faces and helmets, and tallied the number of drawcord adjustments on the hood, hem, and waist. We also noted anything extra that we liked.
After months of testing in the most rugged environments we could find, we feel pretty confident that you'll find a jacket to suit your needs in this review—and if not, we hope you leave with a few good thoughts as you continue your search.