Best Softshell Jackets for Women: Reviews & Guide

Planning to travel in spring or fall? Gear up with one of the best softshell jackets for women!

When your travels whisk you off to mild & cool destinations, a good softshell jacket is a must-have. This versatile outerwear helps you stay comfortable through chilly windy days & nights.Softshell jackets are wind-resistant, water-resistant, stretchy, and comfortable. Most importantly, they’re warm when they need to be. No travel gear arsenal is complete without one!

Not sure where to start looking for the perfect softshell? Let these reviews for the top-rated women’s softshell jackets of 2021 light the way…

Best women’s softshell jackets of 2021: Top 7 reviews

Even if your travel career is limited, you’ve probably already realized that a regular rain shell doesn’t always cut it. Sooner or later, you’ll be flummoxed by a windy day or a chilly night. In colder weather, lighter outerwear isn’t enough.

Softshell jackets are the perfect solution.

These hybrid jackets offer the warmth of a fleece jacket with better wind protection. They also feature some water-resistance. (Even if it’s a little shy of the next-level waterproofing in top women’s rain jackets).

Softshells the perfect companion to shoulder season travel. They bring enough warmth to the table for cooler fall & spring days. They’re also adept at maintaining a modicum of breathability to keep you comfortable.

Not to mention: Softshell jackets are insanely comfortable.

The fabrics on softshells are soft to the touch and stretchy. They provide great mobility. It’s a major boon for active travellers plowing down hiking trails or bouncing around cities.

In a rush? Here are the top women’s softshells of 2021 compared…

Image Product More Info
The North Face Apex Bionic 2
  • Weight: 20.5 oz / 580 g
  • Fabric: 96% polyester, 4% elastane
  • Uses: General travel, everyday casual wear
Best Overall
Arc’teryx Gamma MX Hoody
  • Weight: 1 lb 1.5 oz / 495 g
  • Fabric: 49% polyester, 35% nylon, 16% spandex
  • Uses: Active travel, skiing, climbing
Best Active
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hoody
  • Weight: 11.5 oz / 326 g
  • Fabric: 86% nylon, 14% spandex (body and hood) / Cordura® 91% nylon / 9% spandex (shoulders and forearms)
  • Uses: Hiking, skiing, backpacking
Best Lightweight
Patagonia Adze Hoody Softshell Jacket Women's Patagonia Adze Hoody
  • Weight: 1 lb 1.2 oz / 488 g
  • Fabric:  93% polyester, 7% spandex (body) / 88% polyester, 12% spandex (sides & cuffs)
  • Uses: Travel, hiking, climbing
Best Hiking & Climbing
Columbia Kruser Ridge Jacket
  • Weight: 1 lb / 454 g
  • Fabric: 100% polyester
  • Uses: Travel, backpacking
Best Value
Rab Upslope Jacket
  • Weight: 23 oz / 660 g
  • Fabric: 100% stretch nylon
  • Uses: Active travel, skiing
Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Shell
  • Weight: 16.9 oz / 480 g
  • Fabric: 63% nylon, 26% polyester, 11% elastane
  • Uses: Active travel, skiing

The North Face Apex Bionic 2

Weight: 20.5 oz / 580 g

Fabric: 96% polyester, 4% elastane

Uses: Travel, everyday wear

Best Overall

A favourite for travel and everyday wear, The North Face Apex Bionic 2 delivers a classic softshell jacket design. It’s got everything you need to stay comfy when the temperature starts to dip.

At the core of the jacket is TNF’s own WindWall® technology. It features a fabric spun with polyester and elastane for a stretchy fit. It’s fantastic at warding off the windchill. The jacket is also treated with a durable water repellent finish. It’ll help see you through a light rain or snow without a hitch.

The Apex Bionic 2’s soft fleece backer also adds another layer of warmth while cozying up to the skin. Despite the added warmth, the jacket is quite breathable. It’ll allow you to kick up the adrenaline a notch without getting too clammy.

The updated version of the Apex Bionic 2 ditches the velcro cuffs of its predecessor. Instead, the jacket favours an internal stretch cuff. It’s just as effective at keeping the cold from rushing up your arm. They’ve also added a cinch cord in the hem of the jacket to further seal in the warmth.

While the The North Face Apex Bionic 2 will suit most females just fine, the sizing on this jacket can be a little snug on curvier frames. Consider ordering up a size, especially if you’re planning to layer it with a warm sweater.

Pros

  • Excellent wind-resistance
  • Comfortable & warm

Cons

  • Snug fit on some frames

Arc’teryx Gamma MX Hoody

Weight: 1 lb 1.5 oz / 495 g

Fabric: 49% polyester, 35% nylon, 16% spandex

Uses: Active travel, skiing, climbing

Best Active

In need of a high-performance jacket? Look no further than the Arc’teryx Gamma MX Hoody. Like all this Canadian company’s jackets, this softshell is designed with active travellers & athletes in mind. The result is a jacket that dominates in nature. Whether you’re on the mountainside or in an windy urban park, the Gamma MX delivers.

The Gamma MX Hoody Jacket builds around Arc’teryx’s own Fortius 2.0 fabric. Fortius is spun from a blend of polyester, nylon, and spandex. It creates a breathable and wind-resistant shell for your comfort.

Besides its excellent breathability & wind-resistance, the jacket is designed for extreme mobility. The stretchy fabric is only the half of it. Much of its prowess comes from the gusseted underarms. They allow for an extended free range of movement that other softshells only dream of.

Even with the needs of athletes pushing the pedal to the metal in mind, this jacket slots in as the company’s warmest softshell. A lightweight fleece backer throws in an extra layer of warmth and comfort. Other features like a fleece-lined collar, adjustable hem, and stretch cuffs push the jacket further. Combined, they’ll ensure that nasty weather won’t hamper your plans.

The downside of the Arc’teryx Gamma MX Hoody is that all this superb technology doesn’t come cheap. This jacket sits as the most expensive on our list. But if you need high performance for adrenaline-pumping activities, it can’t be beat!

Pros

  • Excellent mobility
  • Great comfort & breathability

Cons

  • Premium price point

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hoody

Weight: 11.5 oz / 326 g

Fabric: 86% nylon, 14% spandex (body and hood) / Cordura® 91% nylon / 9% spandex (shoulders and forearms)

Uses: Hiking, skiing, backpacking

Hiking in the wild only gets easier when you don the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hoody. Among these top women’s softshell jackets, the Ferrosi is a diamond. It not only offers some of the best overall performance, but some of the best abrasion resistance. It’s fitted with tough Cordura reinforcements on the shoulders and forearms. All the places you need the most protection.

The Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hoody features a stretchy blend of nylon and spandex. It’s perfect for staying active, especially when the conditions are anything but predictable. The jacket is also excellent at fending off windchill and light rain. All without leaving you feeling too sweaty underneath.

If there’s anything we could complain about—and with this jacket, it’s a real stretch (no pun intended!)—it’s that the sizing. It can be a little inconsistent for some wearers. For curvier women, the chest may be a little snug in the smaller sizes. Moving up to a larger size isn’t a great option either as it will leave the sleeves hanging.

Pros

  • Superb value
  • Great abrasion resistance
  • Comfortable fit & breathability

Cons

  • Odd sizing on some frames

Patagonia Adze Hoody

Patagonia Adze Hoody Softshell Women's

Weight: 1 lb 1.2 oz / 488 g

Fabric:  93% polyester, 7% spandex (body) / 88% polyester, 12% spandex (sides & cuffs)

Uses: Travel, hiking, climbing

Best Hiking & Climbing

Travellers who can’t seem to sit still will absolute love slipping on the Patagonia Adze Hoody.

This top softshell jacket was designed to tackle cool & windy spring and fall days. It features an innovative three-layer Polartec Windblock shell. It’s durable and weather-resistant—all without adding any bulk.

The inner lining of the Adze Hoody throws in a soft fleece backer. It’s soft on the skin and wicks away moisture when you ramp up your outdoor cardio activities.

For both warmth and comfort, this softshell jacket is among our favourites. Whether you’re wearing it as an outer shell or mid-layer under a hardshell jacket or rain shell, the Adze hits the nail on the head.

The Patagonia Adze Hoody offers perhaps the best combination of performance and value among these jackets. The drawback is that it’s also one of the most expensive choices in our list.

For something that’s a little easier on the pocket book that’s still a great performer, The North Face Apex Bionic 2 is a solid alternative.

Pros

  • Comfortable fit
  • Excellent warmth

Cons

  • Premium price point

Columbia Kruser Ridge Jacket

Weight: 1 lb / 454 g

Fabric: 100% polyester

Uses: Travel, backpacking

Best Budget & Value

Columbia’s well-known for its superb value products. It should be no surprise that the Columbia Kruser Ridge Jacket is among top budget-friendly softshells for women.

While it won’t hold a candle to top-notch Arc’teryx or Patagonia jackets, the Kruser Ridge wriggles down to a fraction of the price. It’s the perfect softshell to bolster your travel budget without sacrificing comfort.

The Columbia Kruser Ridge does exactly what you need a softshell jacket to do. No more, no less. It features a 100% polyester shell that’s (mostly) wind- and water-resistant.

Even without spandex or elastane thrown into the blend, the fabric remains stretchy. It allows for a excellent range of motion, even better than some jackets at twice the price.

Of course, at this low of a price range you’re bound to encounter a few flaws.

In terms of performance, the Columbia Kruser Ridge doesn’t offer the best all-weather protection in the bunch. Softshell jackets like the Patagonia Adze and TNF Apex Bionic offer better wind and water resistance than the Kruser Ridge.

For a lightweight softshell that doesn’t break the bank though, you’d hardly do better than stuffing one of these into your rucksack.

Pros

  • Excellent value
  • Comfortable fit with good mobility

Cons

  • Less weather resistance than other softshells
  • No hood

Rab Upslope Jacket

Weight: 23 oz / 660 g

Fabric: 100% stretch nylon

Uses: Active travel, skiing

Without a doubt, the Rab Upslope Jacket is one of the top softshells for active travellers. The mid-weight jacket bolsters the British company’s reputation among climbers and adventure junkies. It’s both warm and mobile, a rare combination in the outerwear world.

This top-end softshell is built around Rab’s own two-layer Matrix fabric. The unique fabric was designed to enable free movement in changing weather conditions.

The Rab Upslope pushes softshell jackets to their limit. It’s fitted with a high-gauge knit backer. It helps provide extra warmth on the pistes and mountainsides.

There’s a handful of other awesome features for active travellers, too. Among them are a helmet-compatible hood, velcro-adjustable cuffss, and an adjustable drawcord hem. Taken together, it’s not hard to prove how serious this jacket is about keeping out the elements.

If we have any gripe about the Upslope it’s that it might be a little too much jacket for the average traveller. At 660 grams, it’s heaviest out of all our picks. For active pursuits that need an extra bit of protection though, you’ll be thankful for bringing this top softshell along.

Pros

  • Superb weather protection
  • Comfortable & warm
  • Top-notch mobility

Cons

  • Premium price point
  • Bulkier than most softshells

Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Shell

Weight: 16.9 oz / 480 g

Fabric: 63% nylon, 26% polyester, 11% elastane

Uses: Active travel, skiing

Need your jacket to stand up to the elements during high-impact activities in cool windy weather? Donning the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Shell is never a bad idea.

This top-notch softshell jacket is fitted with a four-way stretch fabric. Whether you’re ripping down the slopes or marching through the city, this outerwear provides all the movement you need

Where the Dawn Patrol Shell shines among these jackets is in its weather protection. The durable water repellant on the face fabric is perfect for shedding off light rain and snow. The jacket offers a fantastic combination of wind protection and warmth, too. You’ll even notice great breathability when you start working up a sweat.

Despite its composure on the slopes, the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Shell is lightweight. In fact, it’s lightest jacket among the highest-performance softshells!

This, of course, tacks a few bucks onto the price. Truthfully, its premium price point is one of the only real downsides to picking one of these jackets up for yourself.

Pros

  • Great mobility & breathability for high-action activities
  • Excellent weather protection

Cons

  • Premium price point

Final recommendations

  • Looking for an all-around performer? The Patagonia Adze Hoody and The North Face Apex Bionic 2 are our two top overall picks for the best women’s softshell jackets.
  • Need a high-performance softshell for high-octane outdoor activities? You can’t go wrong with the Arc’teryx Gamma MX Hoody. It’s the best women’s softshell jacket for active travellers & adventurers.
  • Looking for a softshell that won’t break the bank? Despite its performance flaws, the Columbia Kruser Ridge provides excellent value. It’s easily the best option among other jackets in its price range.
Ryan O'Rourke

Ryan O'Rourke is a Canadian traveller, food & drink aficionado, and the founder & editor of Treksplorer. Join Ryan as he explores the world two to three weeks at a time from his home base of Canada with Treksplorer's independent and unsponsored mid-range luxury travel guides including itineraries, things to do, where to stay, when to visit, and hiking & walking trails.

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