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How We Tested Softshell Jacket for Women

By McKenzie Long ⋅ Senior Review Editor
Wednesday
Ice climbing in Ouray  Colorado in the Mixed Guide Hoody. Here you can see the back of the jacket has more breathable material (yellow) while the front and hood have more waterproof material (blue).
Ice climbing in Ouray, Colorado in the Mixed Guide Hoody. Here you can see the back of the jacket has more breathable material (yellow) while the front and hood have more waterproof material (blue).

We used and tested these women's softshells over the course of several winters. Our lead tester practically lives in a softshell during the winter months, so she has had ample opportunity to abuse these models as much as possible and to test updated versions of jackets as they are released. During our most recent bout of testing, each jacket was worn by a group of testers while hiking and cross-country skiing for a week-long winter trip in Tahoe, California. Then each jacket was packed up and brought on a two week ice climbing trip to Ouray, Colorado to test them in an icy alpine environment.

We brought each shell out in wet snow storms and sweated in them under the Sierra sunshine. These pieces scaled cold and dripping ice routes, went on numerous cross-country ski excursions, and ran countless around town errands. Their durability and abrasion resistance was tested by slinging sharp ice tools over the shoulders and scraping up rock routes. They have been stuffed into packs, worn under harnesses, and been jammed into the back of a camper on long road trips. All the hoods were adjusted and tried over helmets.

Ultimately, the selection of winners was made with the feedback from multiple women, after a lot of research, and after a lot of wear.

The Apex ClimateBlock fabric of The North Face Apex Bionic Jacket showing its toughness against weather in our water resistance test.
The Apex ClimateBlock fabric of The North Face Apex Bionic Jacket showing its toughness against weather in our water resistance test.


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