For high-intensity exercises, a softshell jacket is impossible to replace. Their breathable and elastic materials provide outstanding performance and a wonderfully comfortable fit that moves with you, and their sturdy shells can endure mild wind and precipitation as long as you don’t wear them in a rainstorm. It’s tough to find a more versatile shell for a wide range of outdoor activities. Fangyuan breaks down a list of the best budget softshell jacket for the 2021-2022 season below, ranging from everyday coats to performance items for backcountry skiing and ice climbing.
Table of Contents
1. Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hoody ($129)
The Outdoor Research Ferrosi is a long cry from the big, boxy shape that was once synonymous with softshell jackets. It’s an affordable, thin, and lightweight shell that won’t weigh you down and excels in just about any high-output outdoor activity: hiking, biking, climbing, skiing, you name it.
Furthermore, the Ferrosi is quite durable and abrasion-resistant will keep out most of the elements and has outstanding flexibility and breathability. Altogether, it’s a really versatile garment that can be worn over a T-shirt in the summertime and a puffer in the winter. The Ferrosi also packs down surprisingly tiny for a softshell, fitting into its own hand pocket (it’s also available in anorak form to further compress your equipment).
The Ferrosi jacket lacks a ski-helmet-compatible hood, which is a major omission. The hood fits over a sleek climbing helmet and tightens and cinches fairly simply, although we mostly wear our softshell with a bulkier ski helmet. Furthermore, the hand pockets are not high enough to be suitable with a harness, but this makes them more practical for everyday usage. Aside from these little quibbles, the Ferrosi is clearly a fantastic deal, and the most recent update provided even more durability and a trimmer fit.
2. The North Face Apex Bionic ($149)
Softshells are great for outdoor activities in the fall and winter because of their water resistance plus breathability, but they mostly keep up well over time. The North Face’s Apex Bionic is a wonderful casual alternative to many of the more technical jackets on our list, with a clean design that contains only three exterior pockets (2 hands warmer and 1 chest) and a collar instead of a hood.
Because the Apex Bionic comes in a range of colors, it will almost certainly complement one’s favorite jeans or flannel. It’s a good-looking softshell alternative for anything from walking the dog in chilly or rainy weather to mild adventure in the cold.
Remember that The North Face Apex Bionic was built to be comfortable first and performance second, and it’s not our first option for active use. Even with its standard fit, the jacket is a little boxier than most performance-oriented softshells, and also the thick fabric won’t compact away as quickly as the lighter alternatives on our list. However, the loose shape is ideal for layering, and the jacket provides enough wind and water protection.
3. Black Diamond Alpine Start ($165)
The Black Diamond Alpine Start is one of the lightest and most adaptable softshells on our list. Depending on the weather, it may be worn over anything from a t-shirt to something like a lightweight down jacket. The Alpine Start is made of thin stretch-woven nylon covered with BD’s patented NanoSphere water repellent to keep out wind and rain without affecting airflow. In actuality, it performs admirably: during an all-day rainstorm.
The Black Diamond Alpine Start jacket straddles the boundary between softshell and windbreaker, a style we anticipate to see more of as demand for lighter, more breathable, and adaptable layers grows. The Alpine Start’s lightweight fabric won’t provide much warmth, and the stretch weave at the wrists and hem will restrict how much you layer below. The Alpine Start is the best budget softshell jacket on the list for mountain climbing.
4. Black Diamond Dawn Patrol ($200)
Black Diamond has established itself as a prominent figure in performance wear in only a few short years. In addition, when it pertains to a compact, breathable, and insulating layer for high-output activities, the Dawn Patrol competes with class-leading softshells like the Gamma LT Hoody or Ferrosi Hoody. The Dawn Patrol, like similar coats, forgoes the added warmth of a fleece inside in favour of a garment that moves and breathes with you, which is a tremendous asset on the skin track. The Dawn Patrol is much more alpine terrain ready than the OR Ferrosi, having pockets that can be reached over a belt and a helmet-compatible cover.
The Dawn Patrol is a good substitute to the top-rated Gamma LT Hoody for $50 less. It has adjustable cuffs, that make it more pleasant when wearing ski gloves (however, such sleeves are less convenient when not wearing gloves). On the outside, there are two more internal drop pockets (ideal for stashing skins) and a zipped chest pocket. Nevertheless, we prefer the much more adjustable StormHood on the Gamma, and Black Diamond’s craftsmanship cannot yet compete with Arc’teryx’s quality construction.
5. Arc’teryx Gamma LT Hoody ($249)
The Arc’teryx Gamma LT is our favorite softshell because it has it all: good performance, high-quality materials, and a terrific fit. This isn’t a really warm softshell with a thick fleece inside, but the jacket’s adaptability comes from its lightweight structure. The Gamma LT’s tough outer fabric can endure a day of backcountry skiing, but it also breathes effectively and lets enough air in and out to keep you comfortable while on the go. It’s also a superb all-arounder, with clean aesthetics that are entirely presentable around town.
The Gamma LT fits athletically, as do almost all Arc’teryx products. You should be able to wear a lightweight mid-layer beneath (such as the Atom SL), but it will feel too snug over most synthetic or down puffy coats. However, freedom of motion is excellent, and the LT’s long sleeves with helmet-compatible hood are ideal for sports like climbing, motorcycling, and skiing.
Sweating is unavoidable while participating in outdoor aerobic sports such as hiking, trail jogging, climbing, or skiing. The softshell is designed to allow air to flow more easily through the cloth while still providing some water resistance, making it ideal for light rain.
They’re reasonably light, extremely breathable, and can provide you with short-term wind and rain protection. Softshells, which combine comfort and flexibility, are adaptable clothing that may bridge the gap between the pullover and hard-shell jacket.
Fangyuan is the ideal firm to work with when it comes to high-quality wholesale softshell jackets. They started in 2007 and have remained the global leader in the production of personalized softshell jackets.
They provide OEM services, which are useful for firms who want to make a few changes to what’s already in their product inventory.