The Best Jackets
With a rack of down jackets to choose from, this was the one we reached for the most. It all came down to the weight. This is a super warm jacket, but it doesn't have a weight penalty, and with the water-resistant down and great fit, it comes at a very fair value for its price.
Best in Class
Dynafit ELEVATION GORE-TEX® JACKET MENHiking & Camping, Jackets, Rain Jackets & Storm Shell Rain Jackets
The lightest shell in this test, the Dynafit Elevation GTX Jacket eliminated waist, hood, and wrist adjustment to cut weight but kept all the protection we’d expect from a three-layer shell. With a soft liner, quiet fabric, and excellent breathability it’s a great choice for high speed, low-weight adventures.
Best For: Travel Partner
Columbia OutDry EX Gold Reversible JacketHiking & Camping, Jackets, Rain Jackets & Storm Shell Rain Jackets
The Columbia OutDry EX Gold Reversible is the most versatile jacket in the test and the best value. The Reversible is two jackets in one: a bomber shell on one side and a waterproof soft shell that will blend in urban locales on the other. Techy or not, few jackets perform as well and have your back in so many different situations.
Best For: Hot Weather Hiking
Mishmi Takin Virunga Jacket (Men’s)Hiking & Camping, Jackets, Rain Jackets & Storm Shell Rain Jackets
As a jacket designed with temperature regulation in mind, the Mishmi Takin Virunga dumps heat and sweat vapor more effectively than just about any other shell we’ve tested. Designed for steamy environments, where it often rains the hardest, it’s no slouch at deflecting water. However, it is heavier than most in this test set and the fit wasn’t great on everyone.
Best In Class
Patagonia KnifeRidge JacketHiking & Camping, Jackets, Protective Softshells & Softshell Jackets
The Patagonia KnifeRidge Jacket’s stretchy Polartec Power Shield Pro provides high water resistance while maintaining some breathability, creating the potential to eliminate the need for a hard shell in moderate conditions. These attributes, combined with high wind resistance, durability and just the right number of usable features creates a soft-shell jacket that covers an impressively wide range of needs for the outdoor adventurer who can afford the price. We just wish the hand pockets were set a little higher.
Best For: Athletic Endeavors
Arc’teryx Gamma LT HoodyHiking & Camping, Jackets, Protective Softshells & Softshell Jackets
The Arc’teryx Gamma LT is a soft shell that is trim fitting around the torso but broad across the shoulders, serving the athletic fit. Although close fitting, the double weave fabric offers abundant mechanical stretch, following movement without restriction, which is aided by gusseted underarms and ample torso length. The Gamma LT offers little warmth on its own but functions well as a durable shell over an appropriate base or insulating layer.
Best For: Harsh Conditions
Marmot Men’s Zion JacketHiking & Camping, Jackets, Protective Softshells & Softshell Jackets
The Marmot Zion Jacket utilizes Polartec’s NeoShell, and is seam taped, providing the waterproof and windproof protection of a hard shell with the soft hand, elasticity and quietness of a soft shell. Depending on the point of view, this jacket is a highly breathable “hard shell,” or an extremely weatherproof softshell, best suited for the cold, windy and wet mountain environments.