Best Overall Women's Softshell Jacket
Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody - Women's
The Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody - Women's wins the Editors' Choice award
because it epitomizes what a softshell jacket should be. It has an outstanding supple feel and unrivaled mobility; it is also highly breathable and is non-restrictive. It provides comfort on all the necessary levels and offers moderate weather protection at the same time. Though there are other jackets that we like better for specific sports such as ice climbing, this is the jacket that we think performs the best for the most activities. Take it hiking, climbing, or cross-country skiing and it will hold up well. It even looks nice if you want to throw it on to head out for a day of running errands around town. On the pricey end of the spectrum, the Arc'teryx Gamma MX is a high-end model of what we would call a luxury layer. If you want the most versatile, best-of-the-best, this is the one we recommend.
Best Value for Your Dollar for a Basic Shell
Columbia Kruser Ridge - Women's
At a price 5 times lower
than our Editors' Choice winner, the Columbia Kruser Ridge - Women's is hard to beat
when it comes to value. For a ridiculously low price, you get a soft, pliable, and comfortable shell that is still adequately protective. This shell is very basic and does not come with a hood, but is arguably our favorite stylish piece as well. It has a longer hem, asymmetrically cut sleeves, and a simple, classic look. It is versatile enough to wear hiking or around town on a daily basis, and is available in extended sizes so will comfortably fit more women. We think the quality-to-price ratio with the Kruser Ridge is outstanding.
Best Bang for the Buck for Weather Protection
Patagonia Adze Hoody - Women's
If you are on a budget but want the most protection possible, we recommend the Patagonia Adze Hoody - Women's
. This shell incorporates a polyurethane barrier membrane that blocks wind and is also highly water resistant. Additionally, it has useful features such as adjustable sleeve cuffs and an interior chest pocket. Though it is less supple and less breathable than non-windproof shells like the Gamma MX, it is more flexible and comfortable than its biggest competitor, The North Face Apex Bionic. For the price, this shell offers outstanding weather protection and durability.