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The Best Hiking Softshell Jackets for Hiking of 2023

Best Hiking Softshell Jacket: Ultimate Guide

Investing in a quality hiking softshell jacket is essential for any hiker. But with so many different clothing materials, styles and features, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. In this blog, we'll break down everything you need to know when choosing the perfect hiking softshell jacket. From material and breathability to weather resistance and weight, we've got you covered. We'll also explore the different features and functionalities that make a great hiking softshell jacket. By the end of this hiker's guide, you'll be ready to pick the perfect hiking softshell jacket for your next outdoor adventure.

What Is a Softshell Jacket?

A hiking softshell jacket is a specialized type of jacket that is designed to provide protection and comfort for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. Softshell jackets are made from a blend of materials that include polyester, nylon, spandex, and other synthetic fibers. They are designed to be lightweight, durable, breathable, and flexible, providing a full range of motion for the wearer. These jackets are also typically water-resistant and windproof, which makes them ideal to wear in a range of different outdoor environments.

Hiking softshell jackets are generally worn as outer layers over other layers of clothing, and they offer excellent insulation and protection from the elements while still allowing for freedom of movement. They are perfect for hikers who want to stay comfortable and protected while exploring the great outdoors.

How Is It Different From a Hardshell Jacket?

A softshell and hardshell hiking jacket serve different purposes on the trail. Softshell jackets are made of breathable and stretchy materials, making them comfortable to wear during high-intensity activities. They are typically water-resistant and windproof, but not fully waterproof.

On the other hand, hardshell jackets are made of waterproof materials such as GORE-TEX and are designed to keep wearers fully dry in wet environments. They are often less breathable than softshell jackets but provide better protection against the elements. Unlike softshell jackets, they are not as flexible and can restrict movement during physical activities. Ultimately, the choice between a softshell or hardshell jacket depends on the conditions of the hike and the level of protection required by the wearer.

When to Wear a Softshell Jacket

A softshell jacket is a versatile piece of hiking gear that can be worn in a variety of situations. It is a good choice for hiking in moderate weather conditions where there is a chance of rain or a bit of wind, as it is water-resistant and windproof while also breathable, allowing sweat to evaporate and keep the wearer comfortable.

It can also be worn when hiking in colder weather to provide insulation and warmth, although it may not be suitable for extreme winter hiking. Additionally, a softshell jacket can be worn during other outdoor activities such as mountain biking or camping, or even as a casual everyday jacket. Ultimately, it is important to consider the weather and activity when deciding whether to wear a softshell hiking jacket.

Here are several situations where you may want to wear a softshell hiking jacket:

  • On a cool, but dry day: A softshell jacket can help you stay warm and comfortable on a cool, but dry day.
  • In light rain or snow: A softshell jacket can provide some protection against moisture, such light rain or snow.
  • For high-intensity activities: A softshell jacket is a good choice for activities that involve a lot of movement, such as hiking, mountain biking, climbing, and trail running.
  • When you want a lightweight and packable jacket: Softshell jackets are lightweight and packable, making them a good choice for backpacking and other activities where space is limited.

If you're looking for a versatile and comfortable jacket for hiking and other outdoor activities, a softshell jacket is a great option.

How to Layer a Softshell Jacket

Softshell hiking jackets can be layered with other clothing to provide many levels of warmth and protection from the elements. Layering underneath your hiking jacket is an essential consideration, especially in areas where the weather can change quickly and unpredictably. Here are some layering tips for your next hike:

  • Start with a base layer: A base layer is the first layer of clothing that you wear next to your skin. It should be made from a breathable fabric, such as Merino wool or synthetics. The base layer will help to wick away moisture so you stay dry.
  • Add a midlayer: A midlayer is the second layer of clothing that you wear. It can be made from a variety of materials, such as fleece jackets, lightweight down vests, or synthetic insulated jackets. The midlayer will help to trap heat and keep you warm.
  • Wear a softshell jacket as your outer layer: A softshell jacket is a breathable, water-resistant jacket that will protect you from the wind and light rain or snow. Its flexibility also allows you to move freely while you are hiking.
  • Adjust your layers as needed: The number of layers that you'll need to wear will depend on the weather conditions. In cold weather, all three layers will provide the most heat. You may want to wear just a base layer and a softshell jacket in warmer weather.

By layering your clothing, you can create a system that will keep you comfortable and warm in a variety of weather conditions.

Here are some additional tips for layering with a softshell hiking jacket:

  • Choose fabrics that wick away moisture: Moisture can quickly build up under your clothing, so it is important to choose fabrics that will wick away moisture and keep you dry.
  • Choose fabrics that are breathable: Breathable fabrics will allow your body to cool down when you are working hard.
  • Choose fabrics that are durable: Softshell jackets are often used in rugged environments, so it is essential to select fabrics that are durable and will withstand wear and tear.

Following these tips will help you choose the right fabrics and layers to create a system that will ensure your warmth and comfort during your next hike.

What to Consider When Choosing a Hiking Softshell Jacket

When it comes to outdoor activities like hiking or mountain biking, having the right gear can make all the difference. One essential piece of clothing you shouldn't overlook is a high-quality softshell jacket. In this section, we'll explore some of the most important aspects to consider when choosing the best hiking softshell jacket, as well as some key features to look for.

Material and breathability

The material of your softshell jacket directly affects its breathability, which is a crucial consideration because it influences your comfort during a hike. Softshell jackets are typically made of woven polyester or nylon and incorporate a laminate or membrane to provide water resistance, with a PFC-free Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish. Look for a jacket with a good balance between water resistance and breathability to keep you comfortable in various weather conditions. Remember that higher breathability might mean less weather resistance, so consider your specific needs and the conditions you'll encounter while hiking.

Weather resistance

An ideal hiking softshell jacket should be able to withstand a range of weather conditions, from strong winds to light rain. While many softshell jackets have a PFC-free DWR treatment on their outer surface, it's essential to remember that these jackets are not fully waterproof. That said, they can still provide adequate protection in light rain, snow and wind.

It's worth noting that the DWR finish may wear off over time, but they can be re-applied using commercially available products. A jacket's resistance to weather conditions might also be enhanced by features like sealed seams, storm flaps over zippers and adjustable hems and cuffs to help keep out wind and precipitation.

Weight and packability

When hiking, it's crucial to keep your load as light as possible. Look for a softshell jacket that is lightweight and compresses easily to save space in your backpack. Generally, lighter jackets offer less insulation, while more insulated options could be a bit heavier, so think about your specific temperature requirements and the conditions you'll face on your hikes.

Some jackets may include a built-in stuff sack or an ability to pack into their pocket, making them even more packable. Remember that the lighter and more compressible a jacket is, the less durable it may be, so be prepared to make trade-offs depending on your hiking preferences.

Features to Look for in a Hiking Softshell Jacket

Beyond the vital aspects outlined above, a range of features can enhance the versatility, comfort and overall performance of a hiking softshell jacket. Let's dive into some of the most desirable features to look for.

Adjustable and comfortable fit

An appropriate fit is crucial for ensuring comfort and freedom of movement while hiking. Look for a jacket with an adjustable hem and cuffs, as they can be tightened to trap heat or loosened to improve ventilation. Some jackets may also offer articulated or pre-curved sleeves for increased mobility.

When trying on a softshell jacket, be sure to wear the layers you're likely to have on during a hike to get the most accurate fit. Consider sizing up if you plan on wearing a bulky mid-layer underneath, and make sure the jacket doesn't restrict your movement, particularly around the shoulders and arms.

Hood and pocket options

A hood can provide essential protection from wind, rain and snow during a hike. Some hikers prefer jackets with adjustable and helmet-compatible hoods, while others might want a detachable hood for added versatility. Whatever your preference, ensure the hood fits well and can be adjusted to provide unobstructed vision and protection.

Pockets are an essential feature on any outdoor jacket, as they provide secure storage for essentials like your phone, keys and snacks. When choosing a softshell jacket, opt for one with zippered pockets to keep your belongings safe. Additional features like interior pockets or a dedicated pocket for headphones can also prove useful on the trail.

Additional functionalities like ventilation and insulation

Softshell jackets can offer a wide range of additional features to improve your hiking experience. For example, some jackets have underarm vents or breathable panels on the back and sides to provide better ventilation during intense activity. Others may include lightweight insulation, such as fleece or light synthetic fill, for added warmth in colder conditions.

It's crucial to assess the various features and functionalities of hiking softshell jackets and select the combination that best suits your needs and preferences. After all, a well-equipped softshell jacket can make your outdoor adventures much more enjoyable and comfortable.

Factors to Consider When Investing in a Softshell Jacket

Durability and Longevity

Durability is a key factor to consider when choosing a softshell jacket for hiking. You want a jacket that can withstand the wear and tear of outdoor activities while maintaining its performance and appearance over time. Look for materials like ripstop nylon or polyester, which offer enhanced durability and resistance to abrasions and tears.

Also, it's essential to check for reinforced areas, especially around the shoulders and elbows, as these are prone to abrasions when carrying a backpack or navigating rough terrain.

Ease of Maintenance and Care

Your softshell jacket will need regular cleaning and care to maintain its performance and longevity. Ensure you follow the manufacturer's care instructions to avoid damaging the fabric or compromising the jacket's performance.

Softshell jackets that feature a DWR finish that may require regular reapplication. Be prepared to invest in the necessary products and apply them as needed to keep your jacket in top shape.

Brand Reputation and Warranty

When investing in a hiking softshell jacket, it is important to consider the brand's reputation and the warranty provided. A reputable brand will offer higher-quality products, commitment to customer satisfaction and comprehensive warranties. Check for reviews from other customers to gauge the brand's reliability and overall performance.

In addition, ensure you understand the terms and conditions of the warranty offered. A longer warranty period often signals that the product is well-crafted and will stand up to the test of time.

Picking the Perfect Hiking Softshell Jacket

Selecting the ideal softshell jacket for your hiking adventures depends on a variety of factors including your budget, preferences and specific requirements. Weighing durability, ease of maintenance and responsibly-sourced options will help you find the perfect fit for your needs.

Always do your research, read customer reviews and explore different models to make a well-informed decision. By investing in a high-quality hiking softshell jacket, you'll be prepared for many adventures, no matter what weather conditions come your way.

Get Your Hiking Softshell Jacket From Stio

At Stio, we make outdoor apparel for people who love to explore. Our Sidecut Tech Hoodie is a great option for hikers who are looking for a versatile and comfortable jacket. The hoodie is made from a soft, stretchy fabric that is both breathable and water-resistant. It also has a relaxed fit that allows for freedom of movement.

The Sidecut Tech Hoodie has a number of features that make it ideal for hiking:

  • Water-resistant fabric: With a DWR finish, the fabric resists water effectively and reduces drying time.
  • Breathable fabric: The fabric is also breathable, so you won't overheat when you're working hard.
  • Stretchy fabric: The fabric is flexible and stretchy so you can move freely while you're hiking.
  • Relaxed fit: The hoodie has a relaxed fit that is comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
  • Hood: This jacket has an adjustable hood that will keep your head dry in the rain or snow.
  • Handwarmer pockets: The hoodie has two zippered handwarmer pockets that are perfect for keeping your hands warm.
  • Ventilation: The hoodie comes with underarm vents that will help you stay cool when you're working hard.

The Sidecut Tech Hoodie is a great choice for hikers who are looking for a versatile, comfortable and stylish jacket. It is available in a variety of colors and sizes, so you can find the perfect one for you.

Shop Stio men's and women's jackets today.

About Stio

Stio is focused on producing high-quality and functional clothing for outdoor adventures. Our apparel is designed to meet the demands of any weather condition or terrain, ensuring that hikers can focus on the journey ahead without being distracted by uncomfortable or inadequate clothing.

Outdoor enthusiasts can trust that our products are reliable and designed and built to last. Additionally, we are committed to sustainability, using responsibly sourced materials and processes to create our products and minimize our impact on the planet. Our dedication to producing top-notch outdoor apparel and commitment to sustainability makes us an excellent choice for hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts alike.

FAQs About Hiking Softshell Jackets

When it comes to choosing the right clothing for your outdoor adventures, selecting a proper hiking softshell jacket is essential to ensure optimal comfort and versatility. Here are some frequently asked questions and their answers to help you make an informed decision about purchasing a hiking softshell jacket for your next adventure.

What is a softshell jacket, and how does it differ from a hardshell?

A softshell jacket is a type of outerwear designed for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping and climbing. It combines a breathable, water-resistant and windproof fabric with a comfortable and flexible fit. Unlike hardshells, which are built for harsh and extreme weather conditions, softshell jackets are more versatile and provide better freedom of movement - making them suitable for various outdoor activities in milder weather conditions.

What materials are used in the making of softshell jackets?

Softshell jackets are typically made from a blend of polyester and elastane, which combines the durability and moisture-wicking properties of polyester with the freedom of movement provided by the stretch of elastane. Some jackets may also incorporate other materials like nylon or fleece for added insulation and durability.

When is the best time to wear a hiking softshell jacket?

Hiking softshell jackets are ideal for wearing in mild to cool weather conditions, especially for high-intensity, high sweat activities, such as hiking or climbing. Softshells are perfect for days when there's a light drizzle, moderate wind, or when layering is necessary for warmth and comfort.

What are the benefits of wearing a softshell jacket for hiking?

Some advantages of wearing a hiking softshell jacket include:

  • Breathability: Softshell jackets are typically more breathable than hardshell jackets, allowing excess heat and moisture to escape, helping you maintain a comfortable temperature while engaging in physical activities.
  • Comfort and flexibility: The stretchy fabric used in the making of softshell jackets ensures a comfortable fit and allows for greater freedom of movement. This is especially beneficial during activities like hiking and climbing, where unrestricted movement is crucial.
  • Versatility: Softshell jackets can be worn as standalone outerwear or as part of a layered clothing system, providing a range of options to suit different weather conditions and activities.
  • Passable resistance to water: Though not as waterproof as hardshell jackets, softshells provide enough water resistance for light rain and snow.
  • Wind resistance: Softshell jackets create a barrier that helps protect against the wind, keeping you warm during chilly hikes.

What features should I look for in a hiking softshell jacket?

When selecting a hiking softshell jacket, consider the following features:

  • Material: Ensure that the jacket's fabric combines durability, breathability and stretchability to keep you comfortable and protected.
  • Fit: Look for a jacket with a tailored fit that allows free movement while preventing drafts and heat loss. Adjustable cuffs and hems are also helpful in achieving a custom fit.
  • Hood: Opt for a jacket with an adjustable, helmet-compatible hood for added functionality and weather protection.
  • Pockets: Seek out jackets with zipped pockets for secure storage of essential items like phones, keys and maps.
  • Weather resistance: Evaluate your needs and choose a jacket with the appropriate level of protection against wind and water.

How do I care for my hiking softshell jacket?

To improve the longevity of your softshell jacket and maintain its performance capabilities, follow these care tips:

  • Always read the manufacturer's care label and follow the recommended washing and drying instructions.
  • Wash your jacket with a gentle detergent that's specially designed for technical outdoor clothing.
  • Avoid using fabric softeners and bleach as they can damage the jacket's fabric and affect its water resistance.
  • When drying, use low heat or air-dry the jacket to protect its material structure.
  • If water no longer beads off the jacket's surface, consider reapplying a DWR coating to restore water resistance properties.

Are there any expert tips for wearing hiking softshell jackets?

Here are some expert tips to maximize the benefits of your hiking softshell jacket:

  • Invest in a quality softshell jacket from a reputable brand that fits your specific needs and preferences.
  • Layer it right; wear a base layer that wicks moisture and a mid-layer for extra insulation if needed, along with your softshell jacket.
  • Carry a lightweight waterproof shell in your backpack for unexpected rain showers or when the softshell's resistance to water is limited.
  • Test your jacket's fit and mobility with your backpack on, ensuring that it doesn't hinder movement or accessibility to pockets and zippers.
  • Use your softshell jacket as an opportunity to add some color to your outdoor wardrobe. Bright colors not only look great but also improve visibility in the wild.

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