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How to Choose a Softshell Jacket

Guide

Construction

The more active you are, the more breathable you want your jacket to be. A non-laminated softshell offers plenty of breathability, but it sacrifices some weather protection. On the other hand, a two or three-layer softshell jacket will sacrifice a bit of breathability for the sake of more weather protection.

Features

With the exception of a couple of pockets, most softshells are relatively bare-bones when it comes to features. Carefully consider what you plan to do in the mountains to determine the exact features you need. Underarm zips or a helmet-compatible hood may be necessary for one activity and unnecessary for another.

Fit

A loose fitting softshell is fine for skiing, but if you're climbing or backpacking, you'll want a jacket with a slim or athletic fit. A more contoured fit keeps the jacket close to your body, give you room to layer underneath, and it'll feel comfortable when you're wearing a backpack or climbing harness.