Best Overall Women's Hardshell Jacket
Arc'teryx Theta AR - Women's
In a neck and neck race with the Norrona Trollveggen Dri3, the Arc'teryx Theta AR - Women's
took home the 2014-2015 Editors' Choice Award for its amazing weather protection, roomy fit, and its plethora of features. For a heavy duty hardshell jacket, it did a really great job at breathing and providing ventilation when it was much needed. Needless to say, the Theta is a versatile shell that can accompany you on journeys through the backcountry and through some of the worst weather that mother nature can throw your way. In our water tests, it maintained an ability to keep water from absorbing into the fabrics after almost 10 minutes of torrential downpour. It will keep you dry when its gross outside, and keep you comfortable when it's not. So, if you're looking for an all-purpose weather-proof hardshell jacket that will go with you pretty much anywhere - from the store to the high summits - take a look at the Arc'teryx Theta AR.
Best Bang for the Buck
Mountain Hardwear Torsun - Women's
Scoring high points, and being a secret favorite of the main tester, the Mountain Hardwear Torsun - Women's
did a stand-out job balancing breathability, weather protection, and comfort features at an affordable price of $350.00. The Torsun features Dry.Q.Elite fabric technology that performed extremely well in our breathability tests, making it the second most breathable jacket. This is a perfect piece for an early morning winter run, or on a cooler day while cross country skiing. It also has a wonderful long fit, with great colors. It's also the only one that features a multi-directional zipper, the largest and most comfy chin warmers, and pockets with a built-in ventilation system. It's a fantastic all-purpose jacket that you can take anywhere. So if you're looking for an all-purpose warrior with a low ticket price, you've found it right here.
Top Pick for Big Mountain Expeditions
Arc'teryx Alpha SV Jacket - Women's
so what exactly does a hardshell need in order to be big mountain expedition savvy? Well, let's take a look at the Arc'teryx Alpha SV Jacket - Women's
, which exemplifies just that. First, it needs to be totally wind and water proof - check. Second, it needs to have a bomber storm hood, attached to the jacket, with full coverage - check! Third, it needs to be ultra durable, something that won't rip or break a few days into the expedition - check. The Alpha SV is all this and more. It is perfect for ascent-oriented activities. It features a removed hemlock system that keeps the jacket from riding up when you put your arms up. It has an incredibly roomy fit, in the arms and body, so you can stack as many layers as you need to stay warm. Given its bomber construction, this shell will have you putting yourself all over the map as you trek long days in the mountains without a care of weather breaking through your mountain armor outerwear. This piece is expedition ready!
Top Pick for Lightweight Design
Outdoor Research Clairvoyant
The Outdoor Research Clairvoyant
got the most attention from our many female testers. First, for its soft and supple outer, which makes it one of the most mobile and breathable shells tested. Second, for its light weight of just 11.70 ounces - the lightest shell tested. Third, for its minimalist design. If you're looking for a jacket that will protect you when the weather turns bad, that can pack into its pocket, or that you can comfortably continue wearing while moving uphill, check out the Clairvoyant.
Best for Specific Applications
Best for Ice Climbing: Norrona Trollveggen Dri3
Best for Comfort: Patagonia Piolet