The absolute best women’s softshell jacket has yet to be invented, as it needs to meet the requirements of as many ladies as possible. Compiling a list of some of the most popular cardigans out there that can be described as “softshell jackets” is an easy enough task. At the same time, those searching for such clothing items will also know if their expectations are matched by any of the pieces presented.
There are many different types of women out there, and an increasing number of them has started to enjoy performing various outdoor activities and sports. These women won’t stop doing what they like just because it’s gotten a little bit cold.
To be able to properly participate in those activities, most ladies will search for the right attire that will keep them warm and allow them to move as they wish. A softshell jacket is one of the pieces of clothing they should consider getting.
So, what exactly is a softshell jacket?
Everyone knows what a jacket is – usually a fitted garment falling anywhere from the waist to the hips. For the clothing item to be considered a “shell,” it needs to offer some protection against the wind and rain.
A jacket can be called a shell if it has proven mechanical strength. To better understand the “softshell” concept, have a short look into various other types of clothes shells.
Raincoats made of plastic
We all know this type of shell: rather large on the lower part, with a hood, usually transparent, falling somewhere around the knees. The coat is entirely made of plastic, fully protecting against the worst type of rain. Its disadvantage is keeping sweat in, while also allowing the formation of condensed water. The lower part is intentionally larger to let some air flow in and out.
Hardshell or waterproof jackets
These jackets are made of other materials than plastic, and they allow minimal air flow from the inside of the jacket to the outside, while preventing both wind and rain from penetrating. When it rains, the water sheds off immediately.
You can wear this item over a variety of other clothes, especially over fleece jackets to keep you warm. These jackets are usually really thin: the outer layer is doubled with another type of fabric on the inside. You should also know that hardshell jackets are not made for winter.
Softshell or water resistant jackets
These clothing items are meant to keep warm and to partially repel water. This means that you won’t get completely wet if it drizzles, or if you walk through the rain to your car. However if you do spent too much time in the rain, you do risk getting soaked.
This type of clothing can be worn over a fleece jacket or under a plastic raincoat, depending on the type of activities you need to perform. Sometimes these pieces are sprayed with a water-repellant solution for increased protection.
There is one thing to keep in mind. Waterproof, water resistant and water repellant are three different properties an item can have. When it comes to clothes, waterproof and water repellant items share similar traits. For instance, to dry them all you have to do is shake them a few times. This is not really the case with the water resistant clothes, unless they have received a special treatment.
Why are some of the items so expensive?
Oftentimes when we go shopping for clothes, we see really high prices, especially when it comes to some sports items. There are quite a few reasons why some of them are expensive, and we’ll take a look at some of these.
- Brand – Everyone knows that in many cases the brand costs more than the item itself. The same tshirt can cost between a few buck up to a few hundred bucks, depending on where you get it from.
- Quality – We are usually made to believe that quality comes at a cost, and in most cases this is true. Cheap softshell jackets might have a really bad smell and can break or tear faster compared to higher quality items.
- Fabric – As technology advances, so do the fabrics used in our clothing. For example even if something feels like cotton, it doesn’t mean it really is cotton. When it comes to sports apparel, many manufacturers developed all sorts of materials to make the clothes more functional and comfortable at the same time.
- The “fabric technology” can refer to how was the fabric created or to how it was treated.
- Stretchy fabric is highly used in sports clothes as the wearer needs to be covered at all times no matter how they move.
- The fabric can be reinforced so as not to break or tear, should accidents happen.
- Treating the fabric as to repel water can help the wearer to feel dry at all time no matter their effort.
If you don’t practice any sports at a professional level, or if you don’t plan on entering competitions, you can easily find cheaper options. In this case, you will have to sacrifice some of the mentioned product features.
The Best Softshell Jackets for Women
Now let’s have a look at a selection of eight softshell jackets for women. These jackets were selected based on buyers’ reviews, as well as the quality offered by their manufacturers.
Columbia Women’s Kruser Ridge(TM) Softshell Jacket
Size: XS, S, M, L, XL
Features: Lightweight, 100% Nylon, Zipper closure
Best for: Boating, biking, horseback riding
If you’re searching for a jacket that is windproof, on the cheaper side, and doesn’t force you to rob a bank, you might not have to search anymore. Columbia Women’s Kruser Ridge Jacket runs true to its size, though bustier ladies should consider a size larger as the product has a fitted construction.
The sleeves are also longer, for better coverage when performing a variety of actions without the fear your arms will remain exposed. The inner side of the jacket is really soft and comfortable and the outer side is wind and water repellant. If you want a jacket with lining, this is not it.
You have two side pockets you can make use of while not having to worry about losing your stuff: they’re safe thanks to the zippers. Cleaning this cardigan is super easy as all you have to do is throw it in the laundry machine using a more delicate cycle as not to ruin it.
Arc’teryx Gamma MX Hoodie – Women’s
Dimensions: 17 x 12 x 3 inches
Size: XS, S, M, L, XL
Features: 4 pockets, hood, breathable
Best for: Mountain hiking, camping
Probably the first thing you’ll notice with the Arc’teryx Gamma MX Hoodie is it’s price tag which is rather high. To make up for it, Arc’teryx constructed it with not 2 or 3 pockets, but 4 of them and all are really well placed. Two of them are regular side pockets to warm your hands, a third is located on the sleeve and the fourth is placed on the chest. All of them are secured with zippers, so whatever you decide to carry they will surely be safe.
Furthermore, the piece lands closer to your hips to offer more protection against the cold even if you carry something that usually makes the clothes pile up. The hoodie adds even more protection against the weather, especially when windy or raining.
Speaking of rain, the outer fabric is specially designed to resist it, so that you remain warm, comfortable and dry. It is recommended to get a size or two bigger depending on how many layers you want underneath it. Your movements won’t be constricted either, thanks to the special construction of the jacket.
The North Face Apex Bionic 2 Jacket
Features: Water repellant, lightweight, windproof
Best for: Spring skiing, boating,
Some people go skiing or boating in spring as well, and usually the weather is still rather cold and windy. The North Face Apex Bionic 2 Jacket is a really good choice for this type of weather as it keeps the wind and light rain away from your skin. Instead, you’ll be warm at all times and able to enjoy whatever activity you’re set on.
The jacket runs a bit small especially at the shoulders, so you might want to buy a size up if you want a perfect fit or think about layering other clothes under it. The sleeves are a little longer to better protect your wrists against the elements.
If you want a jacket with pockets, this one has three of them and all of them close with a zipper to secure your stuff. While two of them also warm your hands, the third one is placed on the chest. The collar of this cardigan is quite tall as there is no hood attached.
Patagonia Adze Hybrid Jacket – Women’s
Dimensions: 14 x 12 x 3 inches
Size: XS, M, L
Features: Windproof, breathable, Polartec Windbloc, Active fit
Best for: Skiing, hiking, camping
If you were searching for a jacket with interior pockets then you just found one! Patagonia Adze Hybrid Jacket has 2 side pockets that close with zippers and also an extra pocket on the inside, placed at the chest area.
Sometimes when skiing or hiking you might carry a backpack with a harness that can make it difficult for you to reach your pockets. This is not an issue when wearing this jacket as the pockets are placed in such a way for you to easily reach them.
Furthermore, the jacket itself is longer to cover your bottom and stay under the harness and not pile up to leave your back exposed to the elements. The sleeves are a bit longer than you need to better protect you from the cold. They’re also long enough to stay on top of your ski gloves. This jacket is treated to repel water and moisture should it start raining.
Maloja OregonM Jacket
Dimensions: 18 x 14 x 2 inches
Size: S, M, L, XL
Features: Breathable, windproof, lightweight, Stormshell
Best for: Backcountry touring, winter running, biking, various other sports
Maloja OregonM Jacket stands out with its small polka dots chest print, making it look young, cute and feminine while not going overboard. Should you be caught offguard by a light rain or if you are concerned about the wind, you will be happy to learn this jacket will protect you from both until you can find some shelter.
The hood will also come in handy when trying to protect yourself from the elements, especially against the wind. If you’re one of those who like listening to music or podcast shows, then carrying your handheld device with you everywhere is easy thanks to the front pocket that closes with a zipper.
When running, many of us feel uncomfortable when the sleeves go up and down our hands, but you can forget all about this problem when wearing the Maloja OregonM jacket. The cuffs have elastic banding to help with keeping them in place and to ward off cold air. The item reaches your hips and is also good for layering.
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hooded Jacket
Dimensions: 9 x 7 x 2 inches
Size: XS, S, M, L, XL
Features: Quick drying, breathable,
Best for: Biking, running, climbing, hiking
When searching for a new jacket, most of us worry about its ability to keep warm or protect against the elements. Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hooded Jacket appears to be a really good choice for those who want to keep warm and dry on colder days. Depending on how cold it is, you might want to layer up as the jacket has no lining.
While its thinness is obvious, you’ll like how it covers most of your bottom and the freedom of movement when you’re out and about. Accidents can happen at time, and if you’re to fall off your bike you can be sure the jacket will remain intact and even protect your skin from scratches.
Given how thin this cardigan is, you can only imagine it dries super fast. Speaking of the cleaning process, should you carefully follow the instructions, you’ll have a long lasting jacket that doesn’t lose shape or color. Its three pockets offer plenty of space for keys, some change and your smartphone without needing to carry a bag.
Helly Hansen Paramount Insulated Jacket
Size: S, M, L, XL
Features: Windproof, breathable, PrimaLoft Black 60gr insulation, Deflector laminate softshell fabric
Best for: Various outdoor activities, casual
Nobody likes to be cold and women like to cover as much as possible during the winter. The Helly Hansen Paramount Jacket seems ideal for those spending a lot of time outdoors performing a variety of activities. This jacket is longer both in the front and the back, covering the wearer’s bottom.
The hood of the jacket adds more protection against the wind or even light rain, if needed. The jacket closes with a zipper that goes all the way up to the hood, creating a high and upright collar. The outside part of the jacket is specially treated to repel water. Overheating is out of the question, as the insulating interior will maintain a constant warm temperature.
Many of us move around easier if we don’t have to carry stuff with our hands therefore, this winter parka was designed not with 2 but 3 pockets that also close with zippers. Two of the pockets ore on the side, at waist level, and the third is on the chest.
Mammut Luahna Hooded Jacket
Size: XS, S, M, L, XL
Features: Breathable, zippered hand pockets, lightweight
Best for: Cross country skiing, snowshoeing, various other sports
Spending a lot of time in the snow can be scary without the proper clothing. If you like sports like snowshoeing or cross country skiing you will want to dress appropriately for the weather and activity. Mammut offers its lightweight Luahna Jacket for women designed with a hood specifically for these types of sports.
The jacket falls down to the hips and has a polar fleece interior, therefore you can be sure you won’t suffer from cold. At the same time, overheating won’t pose a problem either, because this material is known as a good insulator. You should also known that wind or a light rain will pose no problems while wearing this jacket, as the outer material is highly water-repellent.
If you have a large chest area or if you plan on wearing more layers under it, you might want to get a size bigger. The pockets are secured with zippers, therefore you can safely carry your phone or other small things without worrying about losing them.
Some Last Thoughts
A softshell jacket is a perfect outer layer during spring and autumn that goes just fine over a short sleeved shirt or a thin shirt with long sleeves. Sometimes, wearing one on colder summer nights is a really good idea. These garments are not recommended for heavy winters, unless paired with several layers underneath and a winter coat on top.
If you have an opinion regarding our selection of jackets, feel free to let us know with a comment!