Spyder Ski Jackets


Men's softshell jackets have become one of the most popular outerwear options for men engaged in various outdoor activities. Offering an ideal balance between weather protection, breathability and mobility, softshell jackets allow men to comfortably take on everything from weekend hiking trips to demanding mountaineering expeditions. This comprehensive guide to mens softshell jackets will explore everything you need to know when choosing the right model, from different types and key features to top outdoor apparel brands and proper care.


What is a Softshell Jacket?

A softshell jacket is constructed using tightly woven yet stretchy fabric, often with a light fleece backing on the inside. This creates a light, flexible and deceptively tough jacket that blocks wind and resists light rain and snow while remaining highly breathable. Softshell jackets are windproof thanks to their densely woven outer face fabric. They also provide light insulation thanks to the fleece liner, allowing them to retain warmth effectively. However, most are not fully waterproof, making them more suitable for dry cold conditions or activities where you only expect light precipitation. As a versatile mid-layer or outer garment, softshell jackets have become a wardrobe staple for mountaineers, hikers, climbers and skiers. They can be worn on their own in cool dry weather or function as part of a layering system when the mercury plummets. Being highly breathable while cutting out the wind, they also make excellent outer layers for high-tempo mountain ascents or trail running where maximising ventilation is key. Let's explore why Softshell jackets for men have become such a popular item of technical outdoor apparel.


Types of Men's Softshell Jackets

Not all mens softshell jackets are created equal. They come in various designs built for different purposes. The intended activity should always inform your choice of a softshell jacket. Here are some of the most common types available:


Hiking & Mountain Softshells

Designed to meet the demands of peak ascents and multi-day treks in challenging conditions, hiking and mountain softshell jackets are the quintessential all-rounder. Face fabrics strike an ideal balance between 4-way mechanical stretch, weather resistance and breathability. Dense polyester elastane shells display excellent wind and precipitation resistance enhanced by durable water-repellent (DWR) treatments. Mesh backers or microfleece liners improve next-to-skin comfort and insulation. Reinforced shoulders and articulated elbows stand up to everyday abrasion and pack weight while allowing dynamic movement. Harness and backpack-compatible construction often include zippered chest pockets and hoods which integrate with climbing helmets. Cuffs, hems and hoods generally include cinch cords or adjustable Velcro tabs which enable you to customise seal out mutable alpine weather and seal heat in as mercury plummets. Side panels often include mesh-lined vents running from hem to underarm allowing you to regulate temperature and airflow if engaged in vigorous uphill ascent. Everything is needed for safely pushing into extreme environments yet comfortable enough to wear daily.


Running Softshells

Engineered expressly with trail runners and fast-paced athletes, running softshell jackets all share a ruthless focus on minimalist weight and maximising airflow. Tightly knit yet featherlight polyamide or polyester face fabrics cut windchill to the bone whilst seamlessly allowing the build-up of heat and sweat to dissipate. Oversized off-set zippers vent excess heat quickly when on full stride. Design silhouettes purposefully mirror a runner’s form to avoid flapping, optimising pace and economy of movement. Snug-fitting cuffs and low profile collar openings prevent air permeating clothing layers while elasticated inserts on the sides and behind knees afford additional flex to stride. If environmental conditions lean towards wet, nano-level hydrophobic coatings cause moisture to bead and run off while carefully balancing retention of breathability and ventilation. Whether moving at pace over mixed terrain or grinding out intervals on country lanes, every component aims towards sustaining high-tempo athletic output without overheating or compromising wind and precipitation resistance.


Winter/Ski Softshells

Tailored specifically to contend with the particular demands of snowsports, quality winter and ski-focused men’s softshell jackets artfully balance insulation against ventilation requirements. More robust outer face fabrics display enhanced tear strength and abrasion resistance to withstand repeated contact with frozen precipitous terrain. Often featuring a dense windproof shell backed by thicker fleece fabric or heavier insulation, these jackets trap warm air effectively to sustain core body temperature amid frozen environments. Many models feature integrated powder skirts which fasten to matching ski pants or salopettes, helping seal out spindrifts and prevent unwanted snow ingress whilst locking warm air around the torso. Technical features like RECCO reflectors enhance safety in avalanche terrain while strategically placed zippered ventilation ports enable rapid cooling. Cuffs and hems benefit from internal elasticated which seals firmly over gloves and boots without restricting circulation or movement. Everything is required for enduring biting winds and frozen moisture during sustained outdoor winter activity.


Casual Softshells

Blurring boundaries between outdoor functionality and everyday styling, casual softshell jackets place greater emphasis on wearability and crossover urban appeal than outright weather protection. Contemporary matte fabric finishes in muted or bold tones replace the clinical look of technical face textiles. Articulated shaping through the torso and arms lend a flattering silhouette enhanced by colour blocking and tonal detailing on seams or zippers. Any compromises on technical specifications aim squarely at maintaining freedom of movement and comfort when worn layered daily. Lightweight insulation and wind-resistant shelling retain just enough performance to repel passing showers or prevent biting winds from piercing your city's exploring layers. Some urban softshell models feature perimeter air vents and pockets positioned cleanly to avoid spoiling lines. Offering versatility from dog walking duties to dashing between downtown meetings, urban men’s softshell jackets deliver just enough technical outdoor DNA immersed in a casually stylish package.


Key Features of Softshell Jackets For Men

When evaluating the array of mens softshell jackets available today, keep an eye out for the following key features:

  • Face Fabric → The outer face fabric needs to repel wind and light moisture while retaining stretch for mobility. Look for densely woven but supple fabrics, often with a durable water-repellent (DWR) finish. Common face fabrics include polyester elastanes, microporous polyesters (MPT) and Schoeller fabrics.
  • Lining → Thin fleece backers feature on most softshells to retain body heat. Sometimes mesh linings or microdot Backer textiles are used to maximise breathability while providing light insulation and next-to-skin comfort.
  • Adjustable Hoods & Hems → To keep out cold winds, adjustable helmet-compatible hoods and adjustable hems are useful upgrades. These allow you to customise the fit and seal the jacket around your head or at the waist. Useful in poor weather while climbing, hiking or skiing.
  • Water Resistant Zippers → Quality water-resistant zippers prevent cold air and moisture ingress at the front while retaining smooth operation. Look for quality brands like YKK or Riri for durability. Internal wind guards provide extra protection.
  • Elasticated Cuffs → Snug fitting but stretchy cuffs prevent air exchange at the sleeves while allowing you to push them up your forearm when ventilation is required.
  • Pockets → Carefully placed pockets capable of securely stashing vital hiking or skiing accessories are important. These allow easy access to the go-to items like phones, snacks, passes and gloves while keeping them protected.
  • Articulated Construction → look for softshell jackets incorporating either darts, gussets or shaped panelling that mirrors body contours. These articulated designs allow greater freedom of movement through the shoulders and elbows.
  • Pit Zips → Strategically placed underarm zip vents provide quick cooling and temperature regulation by enabling air flow directly to the core body. Especially useful on vigorous uphill hikes or high-output winter sports.
  • RECCO Reflectors → Tiny RECCO reflector patches sewn into some softshell jackets enhance avalanche safety by allowing speedy location if buried. Although not a transceiver replacement, these passive reflectors integrate with RECCO detector gear used by many ski rescue services.

Benefits of Men's Softshell Jackets

Several key benefits make mens softshell jackets such a versatile choice for outdoor activity:


Weather Resistance

A quality softshell jacket's first line of defence against inclement weather comes from tightly woven outer face fabrics. Interlaced filament yarns create a dense barrier impenetrable to blustery wind chill while retaining mechanical stretch for unrestricted movement. Durable water repellent (DWR) treatments cause moisture to bead and run off the surface while speciality hydrophobic coatings engineered at the nanoscale physically prevent individual droplets from penetrating the fabric matrix. While not fully waterproof by design, this combination enables softshell jackets to easily shed light rain, frozen precipitation and spindrift. Reinforced shoulders and hoods provide extra protection from the worst effects of abrasive environments. Everything is required to enjoy the outdoors unhindered by passing showers or gusty winds.



Effective temperature and moisture control stems from the emphasis softshell jackets place on ventilation and breathability. While windproof outer face fabrics block cold ingress, inner mesh linings or microfleece backers allow built-up warmth and sweat to readily escape instead of clinging uncomfortably. Underarm ventilation ports provide additional cooling and moisture reduction when the heart rate escalates during vigorous activity. Freedom of movement comes from utilising four-way stretch woven fabrics which flex naturally with the body, aided by athletic tailoring through the shoulders and arms. Unimpeded airflow combines with heat retention around the core making softshell jackets perfect for high-energy cold weather pursuits where wetness and condensation are the real enemy.


Lightweight and Packable

Thanks to eschewing bulky insulation and utilising technically advanced woven fabrics, quality softshell jackets provide ample warmth and weather protection at a fraction of the weight and pack size of traditional outer layers. Athletic and slender design silhouettes avoid unnecessary material keeping garment weights under 750 grams. When milder weather or internal heat dictates removal, the jackets can be readily stuffed into their integral pocket or stowed in the top of a backpack taking up minimal room. This enables easy packing and carrying making them versatile travel or everyday companions.


Flexibility and Mobility

By effectively balancing weather barrier attributes against optimal stretch and pliability, softshell jackets provide unrestricted freedom of movement critical for active cold weather pursuits. Utilising 4-way stretch outer face fabrics based on supple combinations of nylon, polyester and elastane ensures natural flex that mirrors body contours. Articulated panel, dart and gusset construction through the shoulders, back and sleeves adds to the natural range of motion while preventing billowing and snagging. An athletic softshell jacket effectively becomes a second skin, allowing you to scale rock faces, trek mountain trails or carve up the slopes unimpeded.


Easy Layering

The thin yet protective profile of quality softshell jackets makes them a versatile component within effective layering strategies for active cold-weather adventures. Light and form-fitting, they slide comfortably under more weatherproof hardshell jackets when severe conditions dictate without compromising freedom of movement or adding bulk. Soft fleece backers trap heat emitted from baselayers and insulate layers while allowing excess moisture to pass through the breathable shell. This helps regulate body climate at varying activity levels. In warmer environments or during high exertion, softshell jackets can be deployed as external layers over moisture-wicking tops to provide wind and light precipitation barriers alone. The ultimate versatile all-season companion.


Best Outdoor Apparel Brands for Men's Softshell Jackets

With the proliferation of technical outdoor apparel brands nowadays, it helps to stick to reputable manufacturers when selecting softshell jackets. Veterans of the outdoor industry utilise cutting-edge fabrics and construction techniques honed over years catering to demanding athletes and explorers. Here are some top performers when sourcing your next softshell:



Founded by Vancouver climbers in 1991, Arc'teryx has spent three decades at the apex of performance outdoor gear. Obsessive attention to real-world testing and continuous material innovation fuels cutting-edge apparel balancing rugged alpine protection with unmatched freedom of movement. Their Fortius 1.0 air-permeable shell fabric showcases this philosophy perfectly. Wind impenetrable yet ultra breathable thanks to a precise 20-micron pore structure mirroring a spider silk gland, it embodies their mantra ‘light is right’. Married to warm P130 fleece backers, this proprietary fabric allows acclaimed Arc'teryx softshells like the Gamma SL to perfectly balance insulation, weather resistance and ventilation. Athletic patterning and moisture-wicking linings make them perfect for vigorous winter pursuits. Uncompromising Alpine pedigree also ensures robust fabric reinforcements, helmet-compatible hood construction and ice axe loop integration effective across NE mountain environments. Weights and pack sizes are ruthlessly trimmed to avoid burdening the ambitious. For those seeking ultimate softshell performance, Arc’teryx continues to define the apex.



For over forty years Patagonia has balanced cutting-edge clothing innovation with an unwavering environmental conscience. Materials development here focuses intensely on recycled and sustainably sourced fabrics which are Bluesign accredited to minimise consumption and waste. Their proprietary H2NO Performance Standard face fabrics showcase this. Made from post-consumer waste polyester and plastics recovered from marine environments, they remain 100% wind and waterproof whilst retaining breathability. Married with quick-drying Polartec Power Grid fleece, Patagonia softshells like the Ascensionist handle every alpine eventuality whilst keeping nearly 10 bottles from choking the oceans. Multiple harness and backpack-compatible pockets and helmet-optimised hood construction seal the deal for climbers and multi-pitch adventurers who value ethics-matching performance. Thanks to Patagonia’s pioneering work at the fabric level, choose high-end weather protection and sustainability in one garment.


The North Face

Since equipping early high altitude expeditions in 1960s California, The North Face have amassed over half a century of innovation sculpting technically advanced apparel to unleash human capability. Continual development of exclusive fabrics balancing extreme performance with responsible production makes them a go-to for softshell excellence. Take proprietary WindWall stretch fabrics showcased across garments like the best-selling Apex Flex GTX jacket. Constructed using a 100% recycled nylon ripstop bonded to a soft yet wind-impenetrable inner core, it resists abrasion across a rugged backcountry while allowing excess heat and vapour to dissipate. Backed by pliable Eco Golden fleece weighing just 48.5gm/m2 for warmth without burden, the overall package provides a featherlight barrier against biting winds and winter climes. Athletic articulated patterning allows unlimited dynamic motion during intense activity. The North Face continues to push the boundaries of ethical production and innovation. So athletes can push beyond their perceived limits in sustained comfort.



As a French company founded by passionate skiers and trail runners, Salomon pour over four decades of adventure insights into creating innovative performance-driven softshells. Utilising proprietary technologies like AdvancedSkin dry membranes and innovative fabric bonding techniques, they optimise freedom of motion on high-tempo activities where seconds count. The award-winning Bonatti WP jacket exemplifies this design ethos. Wind and weather-resistant outer face fabrics employ advanced skin shield technology to provide activities where seconds count. featherlight yet impenetrable barrier against elements while allowing internal condensation and heat to escape. Inside, quick-drying warmer fleece fabric traps precious warmth while wicking moisture from high sweat zones. Athleticspecific patterning allows sleeves and back panels to perfectly mirror dynamic movements through challenging terrain. Over 20 years of refining trail running apparel ensures a streamlined silhouette to avoid flapping and kinetic energy loss while active. For runners and outdoor athletes who positively race across mixed conditions, Salomon softshell innovation helps achieve record pace and safety


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