If you’re an avid hiker, runner, or biker, a men’s softshell jacket is part of your workout arsenal. Part activewear, part outerwear, the best softshell jackets keep you dry and warm regardless of the weather.
Softshell jackets aren’t just for mild weather; you can use the best softshell jackets for snowshoeing, skiing, and cold weather hiking. They’re lighter than a hardshell jacket or parka, and softshell jackets are much more flexible due to the materials used to make them. Their flexibility allows them to easily layer over a fleece or sweater or under a parka. You’ll be extra warm when it’s frigid out, and the stretchability of the softshell jacket keeps you mobile. Some men’s softshell jackets have a tail — they’re more extended in the back — so if you’re reaching up high to grab something or bending down to fix a pole, your lower back (and your upper butt) is still covered from winds or snow creeping in.
What Is a Softshell Jacket?
Softshell jackets were initially designed to bridge the gap between fleece outerwear and hardshell jackets. They’re usually water and wind-resistant, and as mentioned above, they can be layered over a fleece if so desired. Softshell jackets will keep you warm during aerobic activities, i.e., anything that will raise your heartbeat and make you sweat. It’s this reason that many softshell jackets keep you dry as they wick moisture away from your body.
If you’re a guy who hates heavy jackets when skiing or climbing, opting to layer a softshell jacket over thermals and a sweater will keep you toasty warm and not impede your mobility. Men’s softshell jackets have evolved, and you can now these lightweight jackets designed for travel, commuting, running errands, and even going out with friends. We searched long and hard, so you didn’t have to, and found the 14 best softshell jackets to toss on when the temps drop.
1. Eddie Bauer Atlas Stretch Hooded Jacket
To many people, Eddie Bauer equals fall. The company’s known for its almost indestructible (and did we say uber warm) outerwear. Its softshell jacket is styled along the lines of the classic field jacket, allowing it the chance to be worn in the city and the trails. It has a stowable hood; you simply roll it up and Velcro it into place. Add the eight pockets: four flap-over pockets on the outside of the jacket, one exterior zippered pocket, and one interior zippered pocket to hold essential belongings. There’s an internal drawcord waist to create the perfect fit, Velcro tabs on each cuff, and the shell is water-resistant. This softshell jacket uses Eddie Bauer’s active fit silhouette, designed to move with you and layered over a fleece jacket or under a heavier hardshell jacket.
2. Amazon Essentials Men’s Water-Resistant Softshell Jacket
Amazon Essentials is one of the e-commerce juggernaut’s own fashion brands. Its merch is well-made with all the details and fabrications that you’d expect from a much more expensive brand. This softshell jacket is offered in seven standout colors, with a size range from XS to XXL. Owners have raved about its warmth, water and wind resistance and how it stands up to anything. This softshell jacket has Velcro cuffs, zips up into a chin guard, a chest pocket that’ll hold your phone and two side zip pockets.
3. Polo Ralph Lauren Water-Repellant Soft Shell Jacket
BEST FOR THE OFFICE
This leather-trimmed men’s softshell jacket is one of the best for both work and outdoors. Made by Polo Ralph Lauren, it has that collegiate, preppy style that’s, yes, big for fall but also transcends fads. This jacket has the brand’s iconic polo pony embroidered on the left side. It’s also fleece-lined, water repellant, and looks good with jeans and hiking boots, as well as a button-up and chinos. It has two side pockets and a zip-up chest pocket. To keep your neck warm, zip it up as it ends in a mock neck. It also comes in black.
4. Levi’s Men’s Softshell Commuter Jacket
Trucker jacket lovers need to look no further than Levi’s (naturally) to find a softshell jacket that goes well with their everyday wear. Made from wind-resistant material that moves with you, this trucker-style softshell jacket’s microfleece-lined has a hidden zipper, snap front, zip-out hood, and four exterior and one interior pocket.
5. Alo Yoga Repeat Running Jacket
BEST FOR RUNNERS
If you hear “Alo Yoga,” you may think it only makes women’s yoga clothing, but did you know they have a range of men’s activewear? Everything from biking, running, gym, and, yes, yoga for guys. Its simple yet sophisticated clothing comes in a zillion colors so that you won’t blend in (if you don’t want to, that is). This lightweight softshell running jacket comes in four colors, is water-resistant, and has a vent in the back to keep you cool on long runs.
6. Bontrager Velocis Softshell Bike Jacket
BEST FOR BIKE RIDERS
Made for guys who train religiously on a bike, Bontrager’s softshell jacket in either dayglow yellow or a more sedate gray conforms to your body while riding without, ahem, riding up. Thoughtfully made, the front is wind and water-resistant, while the back has a thermal panel that will keep you warm while the temps hover in the 40s. Three open back pockets stretch, so wearing gloves and grabbing stuff from them is a breeze. There’s also a back zippered pocket to stow valuables, and the curved back is a tad longer than the front. This softshell jacket won’t cut down on your speed as it’s specifically designed to streamline and enhance, not detract from your time.
7. Lululemon Fleece Back Softshell Jacket
Lululemon’s revved up their men’s active gear, and as you can tell, we’re impressed. Its softshell jacket is designed to wear when it’s cold, but unlike hardshell jackets or parkas, it’s got stretch in its bones, so while it’s warm, it doesn’t restrict movement. That’s important if you’re an avid hiker or deal with commutes so packed that you feel agility is required to get on the bus or train. Lululemon’s softshell jacket is fleece-lined, water repellant and has thoughtful touches like an underarm gusset, thumb loops, a high neck that protects you from the wind, and a hood that won’t block peripheral vision. Other features include zippered pockets and a phone sleeve that’s tucked away out of sight. Wear it alone or layered with a jacket.
8. Vuori Outdoor Training Shell
BEST FOR EARLY MORNING WORKOUTS
Vouri makes hi-tech activewear that encompasses practical, norm-core, and tech wear, usually all in the same piece of clothing. The southern Calfornia-based brand developed a reputation for creating workout clothing that can go to more places than the gym. Their outdoor training shell is a softshell jacket for the guy whose workouts exist mostly outside. This jacket not only wicks away moisture from your skin but the fabric offers an odor control component. Vouri’s jacket also has a hood, drop tail made to keep your bum warm, and a Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) of 30. This men’s softshell jacket has more great attributes, including a reflective logo, exterior, and interior pockets, and of course, it’s water-resistant.
9. Marmot Gravity Jacket
Marmot’s softshell jacket is so strong and wind-resistant, that some reviewers claim they wear it riding their motorcycle. One reviewer went as far as to state that it’s “bomb-proof.” Super sturdy like all of Marmot’s outwear, this softshell jacket is wind and rain resistant and has lots of stretch. You can zip it up to your chin, and there are inner and outer pockets. Both sleeves end with Velcro cuffs, so the wind can’t whip up your arms.
10. Carhartt Rain Defender® Relaxed Fit Heavyweight Softshell Jacket
Carhartt’s 130-year old workwear ethos somehow morphed into streetwear stars in the 21st century. Now, the heritage brands pieces are worn by those who appreciate durable clothing that can stand up to anything. This softshell jacket protects you against light rain and doesn’t inhibit movement. The jacket zips up to protect your neck and chin, and it’s as wind-resistant as far pricier options. This men’s softshell jacket has two outer pockets, one inner pocket and, Velcro cuffs that adjust to keep snow, wind, and rain out.
11. Kühl Impakt Jacket
BEST FOR SERIOUS HIKERS
Kevin Boyle, the owner of Kühl (cool in German), lived in an ice cave after he lost his waiter’s gig in Utah. He seriously understands the outdoor life and designs clothing used by people who prefer the outdoors. Its softshell jacket, the Impackt, was thoughtfully designed and features five-panel articulated sleeves that allow for a full range of motion whether you’re downhill skiing, climbing up a mountain, or doing some serious winter hiking. Lined in fleece, the full-zip jacket for men is both wind and rain resistant, has two generous side pockets and a chest pocket, all zip up tightly. The back is a tad longer, it comes in four colors, and sizes range from XS to XXXL.
12. Arc’teryx Gamma MX Jacket
BEST FOR ADVENTURE JUNKIES
Arc’teryx is a company so cutting edge that some consider them the reason why the techwear trend occurred. It consistently marries advanced fabrications with innovative design. The Arc’teryx Gamma MX has midweight insulation and was created with the idea that it wouldn’t be bulky under a harness; in fact, the pockets were designed so they’d be easy to get to if you’re wearing one. The stretchy outer shell is wind- and water-resistant, can withstand bumping into rocks with nary a scratch, is made in a certified fair trade facility, and allows sweat to escape while keeping you warm. It comes in four colors and has a size range from S to double XXL.
13. Columbia Men’s Ascender Softshell Jacket
BEST FOR WALKS IN THE SNOW
Columbia’s been making sports outerwear for over 80 years, and the brand is a go-to for cold-weather gear. Its softshell jacket is light but warm, and the collar can zip up and become a chin guard. The stretchy outer shell is water- and wind-resistant and the drawcord hem helps keep cold winds from chilling you on bad weather days. The cuffs have Velcro tabs to prevent wind, rain, and snow from climbing up your arms, and there’s three zip-up pockets to hold everything you need on a long walk. This softshell jacket comes in seven different colors and ranges from S to 5XL.
14. Cotopaxi Viento Travel Jacket
BEST FOR TRAVEL
This handsomely designed softshell jacket has two front drop-in pockets that make this jacket great for travel. You can dump tickets, passports, wallets, what have you in there, leaving them accessible when needed and safe when not. This men’s softshell jacket is hip length, so it’ll keep your butt dry and warm when it’s windy or rainy thanks to its bungee drawcord hem that can be drawn tight. Cotopaxi is a certified B corporation that donates one percent of its yearly sales to programs that support community development.