Best Hardshell Jackets for Hiking 2018: A Buyer’s Guide

If you regularly hike or climb in winter or enjoy skiing, then you know that staying dry and warm can be a challenge. To ensure that you keep the rain and snow out, while keeping the warmth in, a hardshell jacket may be just what the ticket.

This can be a pricey addition to your gear so it’s worth taking some time to make sure you get one suited to both your needs and your budget.

We reviewed some of the best hardshell jackets on the market and also put together some key info you need to know before making your choice.

Jacket

Comments

Best combination of features vs price

Top rated but pretty pricey

Great for budget-buy

Full-featured lightweight jacket

Excellent ski jacket, very warm

Good features for the price

Not as full-featured and a bit pricey

*Below, you'll find our detailed reviews and a buyer's guide, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.

What is a Hardshell Jacket?

Best hardshell jackets for climbing

It’s important to understand that a hardshell jacket and a rain jacket, or rain shell, are not the same thing.

While rain jackets are just as waterproof as hardshell jackets, they aren’t breathable.

Hard shell jackets are completely waterproof while also exhibiting good breathability, making them excellent for use on the slopes.

The cleverly designed outer and inner layers that make this possible are also what makes hard shell jackets cost so much more than regular rain jackets.​

These jackets are normally used when you need absolute protection from the wind and rain but without overheating or getting sweaty once you get active.

Because they’re designed for wet weather they also typically have hoods incorporated into the design to keep your head dry.

What is the difference between hardshell and softshell?​​​​

A hardshell jacket is waterproof while a softshell jacket is water resistant.

Even in heavy rain a hardshell jacket will keep you dry while a softshell jacket will eventually get saturated and allow moisture through to the inside.

A hardshell jacket will keep all the water out - but it doesn’t breathe quite as well so you could get pretty sweaty when the sun comes out or if you’re engaging in higher intensity activities. 

Softshell jackets use a tightly woven fabric which is normally treated with a DWR coating that will have light rain bead off.

While these kinds of fabrics aren’t totally waterproof, they do breathe a lot better. This makes them a good compromise if you’re looking to stay dry on the outside as well as on the inside.

If you’re just looking to stay dry during a brief rain shower then your softshell will do the trick if it’s got a decent DWR coating.

If you’re looking for complete water protection that will also keep you warm and keep the wind out then you’re going to need a hardshell jacket.

Deciding on whether to pack your softshell or hardshell really depends on the other layers you’ll be wearing and the conditions you’re expecting.

If you’re heading out in wintery, wet or snowy conditions then a hardshell jacket is going to be a better option.

Hardshell Jacket Layers

Ski jackets typically use a 3-layer technology that provides better weather resistance, breathability and durability.

Each manufacturer will have their own special combination of weave and membrane materials that they normally give a name like Gore-Tex, EVent, DryQ, etc…

For the most part it comes down to the following 3 layers:

​Outer Layer

Hard shell jackets have a specially designed DWR (Durable Water Resistant) coated outer layer to provide a waterproof shell.​

Middle Layer​

The middle layer is a specially designed membrane that gives the jacket its waterproof breathable capability and is designed to quickly move moist air from your body to the surface of the jacket.

Inner Layer​

The inner layer protects the membrane while providing a comfortable, low friction layer that goes against your skin or thermals.

If you need a warm, breathable and waterproof jacket that will survive days of skiing, or rough winter hiking, then you’re going to need a good 3-layer hard shell jacket.

Some cheap hard shell jackets use a 2.5-layer technology. These are lighter and still exhibit good waterproof breathability while sacrificing some durability.​

Waterproof Breathable Technologies

Manufacturers are constantly trying to find that sweet spot that offers maximum waterproof performance while allowing for excellent breathability.

For now there’s no perfect solution and it’s always going to lead to some compromise. By using multiple layers with different properties some of the best brands are able to keep you dry on the outside and inside.

The trick is to use a good waterproof layer on the outside while using inner layers of hydrophilic fibers to wick moisture away from your body towards the outer shell. Here are some of the best waterproof breathable fabrics in use today:

Gore-Tex  

This is probably the most popular technology and is used by most of the big names. 

The face fabric is typically nylon or polyester with an ePTFE layer below that. It’s at this layer where the magic happens. It’s essentially a one-way membrane that keeps water out while billions of little pores, filled with hydrophilic polyurethane, wick moisture up from the inner layers.

These little pores tended to get clogged up with oils and other contaminants from your body so the 3-layer Gore-Tex uses a protective polyurethane layer under the membrane.

This reduces the breathability somewhat but improves durability over the standard 2-layer Gore-Tex. 

Finally the inner fabric layer is usually made from Nylon for comfort and warmth. 

Gore-Tex Active

This 3-layer technology uses a thinner inner membrane with the backer textile liner integrated directly onto the membrane. This results in a lighter, thinner and more breathable fabric but with slightly reduced waterproof performance.

These fabrics are more suited to light and fast activities. This fabric was designed to pretty much replace the Gore-Tex Paclite fabric and offers the same lightweight performance and packability with much improved durability.

Gore-Tex Pro

Similar construction to the regular Gore-Tex but designed to be used in high abrasion and extreme environments.

The shell fabric will incorporate a minimum of 40-denier or higher fabric to ensure maximum durability for winter mountaineering or backcountry snowsports.

eVent

This technology is used by brands like Mountain Hardware, REI and Westcomb. Like Gore-Tex, it also uses a membrane that incorporates microscopic pores to wick moisture to the surface.

The difference is that eVent doesn’t use a protective polyurethane (PU) layer to keep oil and grease from the membrane.

eVent call this Dry Venting or Direct Venting technology because it doesn’t require the outer layer to be wet to draw the moisture to the surface like PU membranes do.

This makes it more breathable and quicker to dry than Gore-Tex. The lack of the protective PU layer means that it isn’t as durable and will need to be washed more often to maintain its performance.

NanoPro

This is Marmot’s proprietary waterproof 2.5 layer breathable technology. It also uses a nylon face fabric with a membrane with micropores layer below that but it doesn’t technically have an inner layer.

On the skin side of the membrane it’s coated with what Marmot call a “Dry Touch” finish. This coating protects the tiny pores from oil contamination without the need for a PU layer.

This means that you get a waterproof fabric that exhibits good breathability and durability at a reduced cost.  

How long does Gore-Tex fabric last?

The actual membrane inside the Gore-Tex fabric is pretty fragile which is why it’s normally sandwiched between the outer and inner layers.

It’s the denier of the outer shell fabric that determines how much abrasion it will take before you start getting rips and tears. If you look after the outer shell and reapply the DWR coating every now and again then it will stay waterproof for years.

Even if the fabric doesn’t look worn, the effectiveness of the membrane to allow for good breathability can be adversely affected by contaminants.

Oil from your body can clog the micropores and reduce the breathability if it doesn’t get cleaned. If you wash Gore-Tex regularly and don’t subject it to a lot of abrasion you should easily get 3 to 5 years use from it.

How to Choose a Hardshell Jacket

​Mobility

ski jackets have three layers

If you’re going to be climbing or skiing, then mobility and the weight of the jacket is very important.

The recent trend is towards producing lighter hard shell jackets by using lighter face fabrics and membranes.

In an effort to lighten jackets even further some manufacturers have also sacrificed extra pockets or zippers.

The cut of the jacket will also affect mobility. For maximum mobility make sure you choose a jacket that is cut short enough so that your waist is unencumbered.

Durability

If you enjoy climbing then you know the value of being able to reduce the weight of what you’re carrying. Reduced weight jackets come at the expense of durability though.

If you want something that will last a lot longer then you’ll need to sacrifice lightweight for durability. That being said, some of the jackets we reviewed exhibit great durability while being a lot lighter than some of the jackets from a few years back.

Breathability

Hardshell ski jackets are often described as being waterproof-breathable. The key difference between these and softshell jackets is that they really are waterproof, and not just water resistant.

To achieve this the outer layer is a far tighter weave so they’ll never be quite as breathable as a soft shell will. The really good jackets will have a decent DWR coating applied to the outer layer.

This coating makes the water bead off the surface of the jacket leaving the surface dry and makes it easier for the fabric to breathe.

If you just want something to put on during a downpour then a rain jacket will be a better bet. If you need something you can wear throughout a day of climbing or skiing then you’re going to need something that breathes and you’ll have to go the hardshell route.

Weather Resistance

hardshell vs softshell

The nature of the surface layer of a hard shell jacket makes it completely waterproof and windproof.

Eventually the DWR application on the surface will wear off due to abrasion and washing.

Once the DWR coating wears off the jacket will still be both water and windproof but it won’t be breathable anymore.

This is because the water now coats the surface rather than beading off. The surface now “wets out” and blocks the movement of moist air to the surface.

This DWR coating can be reapplied though and there are some good spray options that make this fairly easy to reapply. (1) Products such as Revivex, which is a water-based DWR treatment, work well.

Some jackets focus more on being waterproof while others focus on being more breathable. If you’re going to be skiing or fast climbing then go for a lighter, more breathable jacket. If you’re going to be up against ice or expect a lot of rain then go for a heavier, more waterproof jacket.

Warmth

Your overall warmth is going to very much depend on the layering you wear under your jacket. That being said, different hardshells are going to offer different degrees of warmth.

Heavier, more durable, fleece lined jackets are going keep you a lot warmer than the lighter, more breathable jackets.

In cold temperatures a highly breathable jacket will provide an easier path for your body heat to escape. In really cold conditions that’s not ideal. 

However, for year round use you should rather go with a lighter jacket and layer up on those really cold days.

Price 

As with any quality outdoor apparel, the more you pay, the more you get. Have you got money to burn? Great! Grab one of the top end jackets we reviewed like the Arcteryx Alpha.

If you’re on a budget then rather sacrifice some of the extra features before compromising on weather performance and breathability.

If you’re looking to save some money and you’re not going to be engaging in high intensity activities then a jacket with the standard Gore-Tex fabric or something like the Columbia Alpine jacket is a good bet.

Fit

It may keep water out and breathe like a champ but if it doesn’t fit well then you’re not going to be a happy camper.

A comfortable fit is very much dependent on the kind of activity you’ll be engaging in.

Fast and light activities are going to require an “active” or “athletic” trim fit while heavy pack hiking through bush will require a longer hemmed, more comfort fit. 

Will you be raising your arms above your head? Are you going to need a high degree of mobility?

All of these need to be considered. Regardless of your activity, if you want the best fit, make sure that you avoid baggy chests, short sleeves and high hemlines.

Weight & Packability

If you’re going to be wearing your jacket all day then the weight and packability aren’t that big of an issue.

If you’re taking it along just in case the heavens open up then it would be great if you hardly noticed it in your pack. If you’re moving fast and light then you especially need to be sure that it’s going to pack down sufficiently to fit into your pack.

Just remember that in order to make a jacket lighter they’ve probably had to leave stuff out. This means less warmth, less features and less durability. 

Hardshell Jacket Comparisons - The Numbers

When comparing the technical specs of different hardshell jackets you’re going to come across a range of stats quoted by the manufacturers.

While it’s not important to understand the exact science behind each of these it does help when making quick comparisons. Here are the main ones to look out for:

Breathability Ratings

There are a few different ways that breathability [source] can be measured but the most commonly used methods are the Inverted Cup method and the Hohenstein method.

The inverted cup method tests how much moisture passes through a square meter of the fabric in 24 hours and is quoted in grams per square meter per 24 hours, or GM/M²/24HR.

You’ll also see this referred to as the Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate (MVTR). The higher the number, the better it will be at transporting water from the inner layer to the outer. 

The results of the Hohenstein method are quoted with the letters RET which refers to resistance to evaporative heat loss. 

Some fabrics require you to build up some heat on the inner layers before they start shifting moisture while other better fabrics will shift moisture with very little heat required.

The lower the RET figure the less hot you’ll need to get before the breathability of the fabric kicks in.

Waterproof Ratings

The waterproof rating gives you an idea of how good the fabric is at keeping the water from penetrating the jacket.

This ability is measured using something called a Hydrostatic Head, or HH tester. It’s basically a long cylinder that has the fabric at the bottom of the cylinder and water poured in through the top.

The amount of water pressure required before the fabric begins to leak is then determined. If you want to call something waterproof then at the very minimum it needs to withstand a “head”pressure of 1,000mm of water for 24 hours without leaking.

The higher the number quoted (in mm HH), the more waterproof the fabric is. Just remember, higher doesn’t automatically mean better.

With an increase in waterproof performance comes a decrease in breathability. A figure of around 10,000 mm HH will be fine in heavy rain or snow but will begin to soak through under pressure from pack straps.

The 3-layer Gore-Tex and eVent fabrics come in around 28,000 mm HH and will withstand driving rain and slushy snow while carrying a pack.

Features

The features you look for in a jacket are really dependent on your activity and personal preference. We like jackets with 2-way zippers because it enables you to unzip the lower part of the jacket to make belt adjustments or access pants pockets without unzipping the whole jacket.

If you anticipate rain or snow then a storm hood is a good option to go for. Make sure that the jacket you choose has enough pockets in the right places for the things you want to keep close at hand.​

Here are a few other things to look out for:

  • Hood - Is it adjustable or not? An adjustable hood will make for a more comfortable fit and flexibility to choose the amount of protection you want and the amount of visibility you’re willing to sacrifice.

  • Pocket locations - Having plenty of pocket storage doesn’t help if the pockets aren’t well located and easily accessed. Also, you’re going to need to be able to access them while wearing a pack or harness. Make sure there’s enough clearance to allow for this without having to undo any straps.

  • Seams - At every point where pieces of fabric meet you’re going to have a seam. These will either be sewn or welded (heat sealed). Sewing introduces holes in the fabric and these need to be taped to seal them. “Critically taped” means the most exposed seams are sealed while “fully taped” means all of them are sealed. Heat sealed, or welded seams are lighter, less bulky and introduce no holes. They are less durable than sewn seams though.

  • High collar - You want the collar to be high enough to keep the cold off your neck but not so high that it becomes uncomfortable or restrictive. Being able to cinch the collar is great for keeping the cold wind and rain out.

  • Wrist closures - Having adjustable cuffs are great for sealing out wind or water when your hands are raised above your head or loosening when you need your arms to breathe a little more. If your cuffs aren’t adjustable you may find that they’re either not tight enough to keep out the elements or otherwise uncomfortably tight and restrictive.

  • Fabric noise - You may not notice it in the city but in the quiet of the outdoors noisy, crinkly fabric will drive you mad. Some fabrics are noisy enough to wake you or your partner every time you toss or turn at night.

  • Inner lining feel - If you’re wearing inner layers that cover your torso and arms completely then this is less of an issue. Still, it’s best to make sure that the inner lining has a soft, non-itchy feel to it if you want to ensure maximum comfort.

  • Pit zips - Even the most breathable fabric is going to trap heat when you really up your tempo. Having pit zips and other vents make it easy to dump heat without having to take your jacket off. Just make sure these are properly sealed so that the waterproof performance isn’t compromised.

How to care for your hardshell jacket

Eventually you’re going to find that your hardshell jacket just doesn’t keep the rain out like it did when you bought it.

Where the water used to bead straight off now you’re getting patches that are starting to get soaked, also known as “wetting out”. Once this happens the breathability of the jacket is also compromised because the shell layer gets waterlogged.

 If you want to ensure that your jacket keeps performing the way you want it to then you need to take care of that DWR coating.

The DWR coating doesn’t last forever but there are ways to extend its life. One of the easiest ways is to keep it clean. 

Your DWR coating can easily be compromised by contaminants like dust, oil and even smoke. These hydrophilic particles stick to your DWR coating, get rubbed into the fabric and fight against the coatings attempts to get the water to bead off.

Your first goal in caring for your jacket is to keep it clean. That’s easier said than done in the outdoors but avoiding things like standing in your campfire smoke is a good start.

Eventually it’s going to need a wash though. 

How to clean your hardshell jacket

Washing your jacket is not going to destroy your DWR coating. In fact, machine washing your jacket is one of the best things you can do to help to keep the coating fighting fit.

You want to be sure to use a mild detergent that is bleach free and rinses out without leaving any residue. Avoid detergents that have a bunch of additives in them.

Now that you’ve given it a wash you need to dry it. Using a dryer at a medium heat for about half an hour doesn’t just dry the jacket, it also reactivates the DWR coating.

If you don’t have a dryer you can line dry it and then use an iron on a warm setting (no steam) to run over the jacket. This causes the DWR coating to evenly distribute and embed itself in the fibers again.

Tips to renew and revive your DWR coating

Eventually after 20 washes or so you’re going to need to re-apply the DWR coating. There are a number of good options to consider with NikWax being one of the more popular ones.

These are either sprayed on or added in with your detergent when washing. Your best bet is to use the spray coating.

You don’t want to wash your jacket with the additive and have it coat the inner lining because that’ll affect its breathability.

Simply wash your jacket and while it’s still wet spray the coating on carefully. Try to cover the jacket completely and evenly while blotting up any coating that doesn’t soak in.

If you don’t blot the excess up you’ll be left with white spots when it dries. Once you’re done, toss it in the dryer for half an hour to complete the process.

Can you repair a hardshell jacket?

You can but don’t be so quick to reach for your needle and thread if you’ve managed to rip your jacket. Sewing a patch onto the spot to be repaired will only introduce a bunch of tiny holes into your outer shell that water will eventually find.

 You get Gore-Tex repair kits but you need to choose the one that matches your particular membrane type. The kits are great for in-field repairs and contain 2 press-on adhesive patches.

When you get home you can iron the patch to improve the bonding and it should be good through a few washes. Ultimately if you want it done properly you’ll need to take it to a repair center.

Which hardshell jacket should I buy?

Besides the features mentioned above your decision really comes down to the kinds of conditions you’re expecting to experience and the activities you’ll be engaging in.

A hike in driving rain and slushy snow is going to call for a very different jacket than you’ll need on a winter ascent.

Casual winter hiking with a light pack doesn’t call for much more than the cheaper to mid-level hardshells.

If you’re just going to put it on when the rain sets in then you won’t need abrasion resistant outer fabrics or fancy gusseting. 

Are you going to be wearing it all day while carrying a heavy pack through bush?

Are you expecting plenty of wind and 100% chance of heavy rain? A high durability, longer cut jacket with adjustable storm hood is a good bet. 

For higher intensity activities like climbing or skiing you’ll want to look at the more technical shells with a higher focus on breathability with a lightweight design and specific features like helmet compatible hoods.

We had a close look at a number of hardshell jackets and narrowed it down to these top rated jackets.

If you want maximum mobility in a lightweight hard shell jacket then this one is hard to beat.

Climbers and skiers will love how well this jacket fits and the excellent weather resistance it provides. The 3-layer Gore-Tex Pro membrane offers excellent breathability and improved durability from the previous versions of this jacket.

We really liked the storm hood which fitted well without reducing visibility.

This is a very well constructed jacket and, despite the high quality, was cheaper than a lot of other similar jackets. It only has the one pocket on the chest so it may not be a good option if you’re planning on carrying a number of things outside of your pack.

You’ll have to wear some gloves because there aren’t even any hand pockets. Despite this, if we were looking for a hard shell jacket that was light, comfortable, and weatherproof then this would be on top of our list.

Fabric: 100% Nylon, GoreTex Pro

Weight: 11.5oz, 325g​

See the Women's Version.

What We Like

  • Helmet compatible storm hood 
  • 1 external chest pocket
  • Velcro adjustable cuffs
  • Articulated elbows and gusseted underarms for good mobility when skiing or climbing
  • Removable inserts prevents jacket riding up under harness

What We Don't Like

  • Only has one pocket
  • Fabric is a little noisy

This lightweight jacket is great for fast and light climbing or skiing.

The Gore-Tex Active fabric breathes better than most other hard shells but sacrifices some durability in the process.

The hand pockets are well placed and are high enough to be accessible while wearing a harness.

We were really impressed with how waterproof and windproof this jacket was.

The zippers on the pockets are only water resistant though so don’t keep anything too sensitive in them.

The athletic fit felt very comfortable and the fabric has good stretch. Even if it feels a little snug you’ll find that you still have complete range of motion.

If you want to retain that mobility while adding layers for warmth you should consider going a size up from your usual size.

The headphone port in the top pocket is a nice touch if you want to listen to some tunes without having to route your headphone cables up past your neck.

Fabric: 100% Nylon, GoreTex Active

Weight: 14.5oz, 411g​

What We Like

  • Headphone port in chest pocket so you don't have to have loose wires
  • 2-way front zipper for easy adjustments
  • Good stretch and underarm panels for extra mobility
  • Internal front storm flap prevents water getting in
  • 1 zippered chest pocket, 2 zippered hand pockets makes storing your small items easy
  • Seams are fully taped so no water can get through

What We Don't Like

  • Front zipper was a bit fiddly
  • Pocket zippers only water-resistant, so not very good for sensitive items in heavy rain
  • No women-specific version

If you’re a serious climber and need maximum waterproof performance and great breathability then this is a good option.

The 3-layer DryQ Elite technology keeps you bone dry and warm and is very durable.

A lot of waterproof-breathable fabrics need you to generate quite a bit of body heat before they start to breathe.

The DryQ Elite technology transfers moisture vapor at all body temperatures so the jacket breathes as soon as you put it on.

This makes it a good choice if you perspire easily.

This is not an extremely lightweight jacket but the articulated elbows and fit allow for a great range of motion.

The side pockets are nice and deep and are ventilated so they act as core vents when the zippers are open.

Fabric: 100% Nylon, DryQ Elite

Weight: 1lb 2oz, 516g

See the Women's Version.

What We Like 

  • Velcro adjustable cuffs to ensure a perfect fit
  • Helmet compatible, 3-way adjustable hood
  • Great breathability for high-energy skiing or climbing preventing perspiration build up
  • 1 outer chest pocket, 1 internal chest pocket, 2 hand pockets - all zippered for easy storage of small items
  • 2-way front zipper 
  • Articulated elbows for improved mobility
  • Price

What We Don't Like 

  • Felt a bit snug under the armpits
  • Hand pockets felt a little high

This lightweight jacket combines the protection you get from a hard shell with the comfort and versatility you get from a soft shell jacket.


The 3-layer Polartec Neoshell technology is very waterproof allows for 2-way air exchange for maximum breathability.

 

Being lightweight it isn’t going to be the warmest jacket.


It’s more like a breathable rain shell but the fit allows for comfortable layering if you want extra warmth.


The chin guard comes up high enough to keep water from getting in through the top and is nicely lined so it feels comfortable when zipped all the way up.


To keep it really lightweight they didn’t add too many pockets so you’ll be reaching into your pack more often than you might want to.


In spite of that, this is a great jacket for fast climbing or high activity winter hikes and skiing.


Fabric: 40% Nylon, 30% Polyester, 30% Polyurethane, Polartec Neoshell

Weight: 12 oz / 340g​

What We Like

  • Articulated elbows for great mobility, especially when skiing or climbing
  • Adjustable helmet-compatible hood
  • Lined chin-guard to keep your neck warm
  • Adjustable cuffs for maximum comfort and fit around your wrists
  • Very lightweight, great for high-energy activities
  • Internal media pocket, chest pocket

What We Don't Like

  • Could have done with more pockets
  • For slower-paced activity in very cold temperatures, this would be a little bit light
  • No women-specific version

If you insist on climbing in the absolute worst weather then this is the jacket for you.

Rain, sleet, blizzard and wind. This jacket will have you covered. It seals tight all over for maximum protection from wind and water.

The 3-layer Gore-Tex Pro material provides excellent durability and abrasion resistance while still breathing really well.

It has loads of watertight zippered pockets that are well placed for easy access, even when wearing a harness.

It doesn’t have an integrated insulation liner but the fit allows for comfortable layering.

This jacket costs a lot more than other hard shell jackets but it is absolutely bomb proof when it comes to foul weather protection.

Fabric: 100% Nylon, Gore-Tex Pro

Weight: 1 lb 1.3 oz / 490g​

See the Women's Version.

What We Like

  • Serious weather protection for the worst winter conditions
  • Helmet compatible hood
  • High collar with chin-guard to keep the warmth in and the weather out
  • 2 external chest pockets, 2 internal pockets, 1 bicep pocket, 1 internal dump pocket
  • Articulated patterning and gusseted underarms provide good mobility
  • Highly durable and abrasion resistant
  • Armpit zippers for venting
  • Adjustable cuffs

What We Don't Like

  • Expensive

This is a great budget option if you’re looking for a waterproof jacket for snow sports.

The synthetic insulation and Omni-Heat thermal-reflective lining make this jacket really warm without being bulky.

In fact, if the sun starts to come out you may find it a little too warm. It could have done with some armpit zips for ventilation.

The hood doesn’t have any Omni-Heat lining in it so you’ll need to wear a beanie underneath to keep your head warm.

In spite of the lower price tag it has a good quality look and feel about it with some solid construction and exhibits great water and wind resistance.

If it’s a little rainy and cold but you still want to hit the slopes then this jacket will do the trick nicely.

Fabric: 100% Polyester, Omni-Tech

Weight: 1lb / 454g​

See the Women's Version.

What We Like

  • Omni-Tech thermal reflective inner layer minimizing heat loss
  • Removable, adjustable hood
  • Zippered chest pocket, zippered hand pockets, internal security pocket, goggle pocket
  • Snap back powder skirt is great when skiing
  • Adjustable cuffs for comfortable fit
  • Very warm!
  • Cost - good for budget

What We Don't Like

  • No underarm vents
  • No Omni-heat lining in the hood, so you'll need a beanie to keep your head warm

If you want a jacket that is really light but provides great warmth while skiing or snowboarding then this is the one you want.

It has a beautifully tailored fit but still allows for comfortable layering underneath.

The DWR coated outer shell and fully sealed seams provide excellent waterproofing.

The Elastene in the fabric has allows for 4-way stretch and provides for really good mobility.

It has plenty of pockets for good storage and they’re well placed for easy access.

The thing that really sets this jacket apart is how well it breathes.

The insulation provides great warmth but the H2Flow mechanical venting system makes this jacket really comfortable once you start to work up a sweat.

Fabric: 85% Polyamide, 15% Elastene, Helly Tech Professional

What We Like

  • PrimaLoft insulation makes this jacket really warm
  • Good ventilation for when you work up a sweat or the sun comes out
  • 4 way stretch fabric for excellent mobility
  • Fully sealed seams ensuring it stays waterproof
  • Articulated arms and elbows for maximum mobility when skiing or climbing
  • Detachable, helmet-compatible hood
  • 2 hand pockets, 2 chest pockets, 1 internal goggle pocket, internal media pocket, ski pass pocket

What We Don't Like

  • Could do with underarm zippers for maximum ventilation
  • No women-specific version

We love getting out in the cold weather - winter hiking is great fun, but staying dry and warm is key to that enjoyment. 

The jackets above are all great options and ultimately your choice comes down to how extreme the weather is and the size of your budget.

We’d be happy to have any one of the jackets we reviewed hanging in our wardrobe.

If you’re looking for the best hardshell jacket for the money these are the ones you want to be choosing from.

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