Best Hardshell Jackets of 2020-2021

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Crafted from durable materials, hardshell jackets are your best defense against harsh mountain or winter weather. Utilizing the most advanced and rugged waterproof breathable fabrics by design, hardshells are a must for mountaineers, climbers, skiers, snowboarders, and everyone else who’d travel in alpine environments.

This post is about the best hardshell jackets of 2020-2021. We reviewed hardshell jackets for all budgets, styles of travel, and specific uses, and highlighted our top 17 choices. We also assembled a quick list of our favorite outer shells and a comparison table with the essentials of each of the contenders on our list. Additionally, we discussed everything you need to know about how to choose the right hardshell for your needs including materials, weight and packability, features and functionality, prices, durability, proper care, etc.

For more of our top gear recommendations, check out the Best Rain Pants for Hiking. If you need more information about the different types of waterproof breathable fabrics and their properties, you may wish to have a look at our article on the best waterproof fabrics. And for the main types of waterproof clothing for everyday use and hiking, see our guide to waterproof breathable clothing.

Mountaineers wearing hardshells in the mountain
Hardshell jackets are typical for mountaineering

Photo by Charlie Hammond

Quick answer: BEST HARDSHELL JACKETS FOR 2020-2021

1. Helly Hansen Odin Mountain 3L Shell                              View on Amazon              View on Backcountry

2. Outdoor Research Interstellar AscentShell                   View on Amazon              View on REI

3. Arc’teryx Alpha SV Jacket                                                         View on Amazon              View on Backcountry

4. Columbia Alpine Action Jacket                                              View on Amazon               View on Moosejaw

5. Mammut Nordwand Advanced                                              View on Amazon              View on Backcountry

6. REI Co-op Drypoint GTX Jacket                                            View on REI

7. Arc’teryx Cassiar Jacket                                                             View on Amazon               View on REI

8. Helly Hansen Odin 9 Worlds 2.0                                           View on Amazon               View on REI

9. Fjallraven Keb Eco-Shell Jacket                                             View on Amazon                View on Moosejaw

10. Norrona Trollveggen GORE-TEX PRO                            View on Moosejaw

11. Patagonia Pluma Jacket                                                           View on Patagonia         View on REI

12. Mountain Hardwear High Exposure                                View on Amazon                View on Moosejaw

13. Patagonia Galvanized Jacket                                                View on Patagonia         View on Backcountry

14. The North Face Summit L5 LT Futurelight                    View on REI                                View on Backcountry

15. Black Diamond Sharp End                                                       View on Amazon                View on Backcountry

16. Rab Kinetic Alpine Jacket                                                      View on Amazon                 View on Moosejaw

17. Marmot Alpinist Jacket                                                            View on Moosejaw          View on Backcountry

 

Best all-around

#1 Helly Hansen Odin Mountain 3L Shell Jacket

Helly Hansen Odin Mountain 3L

Weight: 509 g (1 lb 2 oz)

Price (MSRP): $600

Waterproof technology: 3L HELLY TECH Professional (20 000mm WP & 20 000g/m2 per day moisture vapor permeability)

Material: 100% Polyamide face and back with a woven backing

Pit zips: Yes

Notable features:

  • Backpack and harness compatible 3L shell jacket and pockets
  • Fully seam-sealed; C6 DWR (durable water repellent) and microporous membrane
  • Helmet-compatible hood with laminated brim with flat contrast piping and double cord brim shape for full angle view

Pros:

  • Great functionality thanks to backcountry specific features such as: removable, low-profile powder skirt with smart aluminum latches, helmet-compatible hood with vertical and horizontal hood adjustments, molded cuff tabs with Odin sign off, RECCO reflector, bi-directional front zipper, mechanical ventilation zippers, inside mesh dump pocket + ski pass/card pocket, 11-degree angle Odin chest pocket, inside zipper pocket
  • Top-notch wind and water-resistance for all-day weather protection during high-intensity sports and activities (the super waterproof HELLY TECH Professional fabric has 20 000gm waterproofness and 20 000g/m2 per day moisture vapor permeability)
  • Made for unrestricted lightweight mobility; the great fit and freedom of movement make it suitable for all sorts of high-exertion outdoor activities like trekking, mountaineering, and backcountry ski
  • Excellent quality of the construction (it’s made with first-class material), it’s also extremely durable and is ready to meet the challenges of harsh weather

Cons:

  • Not quite warm and not insulated for the cold (yet it’s very efficient when layered with other garments)
  • Not the most beautiful colors and what’s more, there are just three options

Best for: High-intensity activities in the mountain

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | REI | Backcountry

Find the latest price:

Amazon | Backcountry

 

Best lightweight

#2 Outdoor Research Interstellar AscentShell Jacket

Outdoor Research Interstellar Ascentshell Jacket

Weight: 335 g (11.8 oz)

Price (MSRP): $299 (can be found for as little as half of that on a sale)

Waterproof technology: Ascentshell 3L

Material: 100% Nylon 20D mechanical stretch ripstop face; 100% polyester 12D backer

Pit zips: No

Notable features:

  • Stuffs into its own left-hand pocket
  • Fully adjustable helmet-compatible hood with HoodLock functionality is wire-brimmed
  • Elastic cuffs with hook-and-loop cuff closures

Pros:

  • Lightweight and super packable: it can easily be stowed in its own left-hand pocket
  • Excellent value: good quality and comfortable material that cuts the wind and keeps out rain (mostly light to medium rain as the electrospun membrane sacrifices some waterproofness for better breathability)
  • Technical design with useful features: Dynamic Reach underarm panels, YKK AquaGuard zippers, carabiner loop, key clip, elastic drawcord hem and elastic cuffs with hook-and-loop closures, mesh pockets that dry fast
  • Great go-to jacket for anything, this fully seam-taped construction works well in variable weather; stays functional during vigorous outdoor activities like climbing, backcountry ski touring, mountain biking or backpacking

Cons:

  • Slim fit so you might feel it a bit tight after proper layering underneath in the winter
  • Very thin and not quite durable fabric; the sleeves and neck areas of the shell don’t have the best wear and tear resistance

Best for: Lightweight mobility

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | Moosejaw | Backcountry

Find the latest price:

Amazon | REI | Backcountry

 

Best for extreme conditions

#3 Arc’teryx Alpha SV Jacket

Arcteryx Alpha SV Jacket

Weight: 510 g (1 lb 2 oz)

Price (MSRP): $799 (can be found for 500-600 on a sale)

Waterproof technology: 3L GORE-TEX PRO

Material: N100d Most Rugged 3L GORE-TEX PRO

Pit zips: Yes

Notable features:

  • Super durable N100d Most Rugged 3L GORE-TEX PRO is highly abrasion-resistant; GORE seam tape with 8mm width
  • Anatomical shaping, articulated patterning, and no-lift gusseted underarms for unrestricted mobility and comfort
  • Helmet compatible StormHood with laminated brim and ball cap adjustment

Pros:

  • Superior weather protection, designed for severe (SV) alpine conditions: 3L GORE-TEX PRO, GORE seam tape wherever needed, WaterTight zippers with zipper pulls and RS Zipper Sliders, DWR finish
  • Lightweight yet durable: able to protect the wearer in alpine environments and harshest conditions: keeps the rain, ice, snow, and wind out
  • Very well built and fully functional: helmet-compatible Stormhood with laminated brim, Cohaesive cord locks laminated into the drawcord channel, extra tall collar with chin guard, several pockets including internal
  • The anatomical shaping and articulated construction allow for unparalleled freedom of movement (no mobility issues anywhere) so that you could easily move your head, arms, use tools, etc.

Cons:

  • Expensive – the astronomical price tag is close to a thousand dollars (yet it is made for snow activities in the winter and such jackets usually cost a top dollar)
  • The jacket is a bit noisy
  • The proper care sounds daunting but doing everything as it should be done can turn it into a lifetime jacket

Best for: Climbing and alpine adventures

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | REI | Backcountry

Find the latest price:

Amazon | Moosejaw | Backcountry

 

Best budget buy

#4 Columbia Alpine Action Jacket

Columbia Alpine Action Jacket

Weight: 680 g (1 lb 8 oz)

Price (MSRP): $170 (it’s often around $100)

Waterproof technology: 3L Omni-Tech waterproof/breathable fully seam-sealed

Material: 100% Polyester

Pit zips: No

Notable features:

  • Thermal reflective lining: Omni-Heat Reflective Microtex Light
  • Removable, adjustable storm hood
  • Fully seam-taped Omni-Tech 3L

Pros:

  • Warmer than most designs for use at elevation because of the combination of Omni-Heat lining and the synthetic insulation (100 g polyester microtemp XF II); if it’s really cold, there’s enough room for other layers
  • Affordable price and decent quality; great for budget-conscious customers
  • Versatile: works well for outdoor activities as well as for everyday winter life/town
  • The overall style and material look and feel good; good craftmanship

Cons:

  • Runs large: too big and bulky
  • No zipper vents or side zippers for extra breathability/for warm days
  • The zipper snags on the adjacent cloth

Best for: Average winter conditions

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | Moosejaw | Backcountry

Find the latest price:

Amazon | Moosejaw

 

Best for mountaineering

#5 Mammut Nordwand Advanced HS Hooded Jacket

Mammut Nordwand Advanced HS Hooded Jacket

Weight: 445 g (15.7 oz)

Price (MSRP): $750

Waterproof technology: 3L GORE-TEX PRO (28 000mm WP & RET<6 m² Pa/W moisture vapor permeability)

Material: 100% Polyamide 30D

Pit zips: Yes

Notable features:

  • Helmet-compatible hood, two climbing harness- and backpack-compatible front pockets with cross-over access and water-repellent zippers
  • MAMMUT High Reach Technology for unrestricted freedom of movement when climbing
  • One-hand adjustable drawstring cord with Cohaesive stoppers ensures for adjustment of the hems and hood; can also be operated when wearing gloves

Pros:

  • Built to provide superior weather protection in foul weather, the Mammut Nordwand Advanced is a good choice for all-things mountain
  • Useful features for mountaineering such as the adjustable, helmet-compatible hood with reinforced peak; one-hand adjustable drawstring cords, the climbing harness- and backpack-compatible front pockets, and the glove-compatible adjustable sleeve cuffs
  • Offers excellent mobility due to the MAMMUT High Reach Technology (no areas of discomfort)
  • Can be worn with an assortment of under layers without feeling too tight or restricting mobility

Cons:

  • A bit noisy, crinkly feel typical for products with GORE-TEX PRO
  • Expensive

Best for: Mountaineering

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | CampSaver

Find the latest price:

Amazon | CampSaver | Backcountry

Best for hiking & backpacking

#6 REI Co-op Drypoint GTX Jacket

REI Co-op Drypoint GTX Jacket

Weight: 298 g (10.5 oz)

Price (MSRP): $249

Waterproof technology: GORE-TEX Active waterproof breathable laminate

Material: Nylon ripstop 20 (bluesign approved)

Pit zips: No

Notable features:

  • With the most breathable waterproof fabric by GORE-TEX (GORE-TEX Active 3-layer fabric), fully taped seams, and coated zippered hand pockets for added waterproof protection
  • Mesh-lined hand pockets double as core vents to release excess body heat in the environment
  • 3-point adjustable hood with built-in visor

Pros:

  • Ultralight compact outer shell perfect for high-intensity backpacking
  • Extremely breathable GORE-TEX Active 3-layer fabric keeps the wearer dry even during the hardest hikes
  • Comfortable, streamlined design elements and bluesign approved fabric
  • Has good bang-for-the-buck value

Cons:

  • The zippers are of poor quality
  • The fit runs a bit on the big side
  • No elastic on the cuffs

Best for: Lightweight trekking

Women’s Version: Not Available

Find the latest price:

REI

Best for snowsports

#7 Arc’teryx Cassiar Jacket

Arcteryx Cassiar Jacket

Weight: 820 g (1 lb 12.9 oz)

Price (MSRP): $799 (can be found for 550-700 on a sale)

Waterproof technology: 3L GORE-TEX PRO

Material: N70s-4 3L GORE-TEX fabric with lo-loft soft shell construction

Pit zips: No (side zippers instead)

Notable features:

  • Articulated patterning for unrestricted mobility
  • DropHood is removable, adjustable, and helmet-compatible hood
  • Taped seams for added weatherproofness

Pros:

  • 4-way stretch fabric and articulated patterning provide comfort, fit, and unrestricted mobility so important for high-exertion snowsports
  • Impeccable fit and finish: feels great and is very comfortable
  • Engineered to provide superior weather protection for dynamic activities: 3L GORE-TEX PRO is the most advanced GORE-TEX membrane for extreme weather; Arc’teryx Nu water repellent treatment
  • Great snowsport features including detachable powder skirt with gripper elastic and snap closure and hidden RECCO reflector

Cons:

  • Has athletic fit – not for pear-shaped customers
  • The hood is not that easy to adjust (it’s hard to release the adjustments of the hood)
  • One of the heaviest designs among the best hardshells

Best for: Snowsports

Women’s Version: Not Available

Find the latest price:

Amazon | REI

Best of the rest

#8 Helly Hansen Odin 9 Worlds 2.0 Jacket

Helly Hansen Odin 9 Worlds 2.0

Weight: 554 g (1 lb 3.5 oz)

Price (MSRP): $400

Waterproof technology: 3L HELLY TECH Professional (20 000mm WP & 15 000g/m2 per day moisture vapor permeability)

Material: 100% Polyamide

Pit zips: Yes

Notable features:

  • Fully seam-sealed; DWR C6 + hydrophilic lamination
  • Hardshell fit provides maximum protection from the elements over long journeys, whilst allowing different layering options underneath
  • Helmet and backpack compatible design

Pros:

  • Helly Hansen Odin 9 Worlds 2.0 is an updated version of a classic design – the 9 Worlds Shell with new pockets and zippered vents: thoughtfully made with great modern design
  • Among the most versatile jackets of the HH Odin collection, it delivers on all fronts: protects from the elements and provides great ventilation in a variety of mountain environments during hiking, trekking, biking, camping
  • Heavy-duty durable construction of incredible quality; great fit and flexible fabric allow for easy/unrestricted movement of the upper torso
  • Beautiful colors: there are several options and all come in beautiful shades

Cons:

  • Some might find the sleeves to be slightly longer than expected, however, this allows for making extra movements without risking getting wet/cold
  • The color might start to fade after intensive use

Best for: Versatility

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | REI | Moosejaw

Find the latest price:

Amazon | REI | CampSaver

#9 Fjallraven Keb Eco-Shell Jacket

Fjallraven Keb Eco-shell Jacket

Weight: 520 g (1 lb 2.3 oz)

Price (MSRP): $500

Waterproof technology: Eco-Shell 3L (30 000mm WP & 26,000g/m2 per day moisture vapor permeability)

Material: 100% Polyester

Pit zips: No (two-way side zippers instead)

Notable features:

  • Eco-Shell 3-layer Stretch made from recyclable polyester is treated with PFC-free DWR
  • Helmet-compatible hood with drawcord adjustment
  • Two-way water-resistant Aquaguard front zipper with an inside protective flap

Pros:

  • This environmentally responsible shell jacket is made from recycled polyester treated with fluorocarbon-free impregnation (DWR)
  • Minimalistic design, great cut for a perfect fit and mobility
  • The function of the membrane won’t deteriorate because of clogging with sweat and dirt (unlike most porous membranes)
  • Excellent ventilation over longer and more intense backpacking, biking, etc. tours thanks to the nonporous Eco-Shell 3-layer construction and the side ventilation zips

Cons:

  • Not as water-repellent as other designs: the main reasons for this are the not-so-effective PFC-free impregnation and the face fabric
  • Durability issues
  • Side vents don’t usually provide as much airflow as pit vents

Best for: Active outdoors use

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | Moosejaw | CampSaver

Find the latest price:

Amazon | Moosejaw | CampSaver

 

#10 Norrona Trollveggen GORE-TEX PRO Jacket

Norrona-Trollveggen GORE-TEX PRO Jacket

Weight: 650 g (1 lb 6.9 oz)

Price (MSRP): $599

Waterproof technology: 3L GORE-TEX PRO

Material: 70D Recycled nylon GORE-TEX PRO fabric

Pit zips: Yes

Notable features:

  • 50%+ recycled fibers; bluesign certified fabric
  • Taped seams with thin GORE-TEX 13 mm tape; YKK water-resistant zippers
  • One-hand hem, one-hand waist, and one-hand hood adjustment; storm hood fitted for a climbing helmet

Pros:

  • A versatile jacket for winter sports and pursuits, and especially for trekking, mountaineering, and ice climbing
  • Great set of pockets: large zippered chest pockets with another zippered pocket inside, nice handwarmer pockets, internal chest pocket
  • High-quality materials and solid construction with well-designed features and smart details: YKK water-resistant zippers, adaptable hood, two-way front zipper, X-open underarm zip ventilation
  • Engineered with performance in mind: great length, unrestricted mobility, excellent weather protection (snow blizzards, heavy rains, and high/strong winds)

Cons:

  • The neck opening is fairly small and restrictive so you won’t have a lot of room for your neck to move around when the hardshell is zipped
  • Runs a bit large especially the torso

Best for: Mountaineering

Women’s Version: Available -> Moosejaw

Find the latest price:

Moosejaw

 

#11 Patagonia Pluma Jacket

Patagonia Pluma Jacket

Weight: 414 g (14.6 oz)

Price (MSRP): $549

Waterproof technology: 3L GORE-TEX PRO

Material: 40D Recycled nylon plain-weave; Lining: 15D GORE Microgrid woven

Pit zips: Yes

Notable features:

  • 3L 100% recycled GORE-TEX Pro fabric features GORE Microgrid Backer Technology; seams reinforced with narrow seam tape; DWR finish
  • Cohaesive embedded cord-lock system for intuitive one-handed operation of the drawcord hem
  • Fair Trade Certified sewn with bluesign approved fabric (100% recycled nylon)

Pros:

  • Technical piece for rugged pursuits in alpine conditions: the 3L GORE-TEX PRO fabric is both rugged and stretch at the same time for freedom of movement
  • Good, thoughtful design and quality materials + sustainable bluesign approved fabric
  • Lightweight fabric and construction yet breathable, fairly packable, and very effective against the elements: cuts the wind and protects against rain, sleet, hail, and snow
  • Fits excellently, leaves plenty of space for layers underneath

Cons:

  • The feel of the hardshell is pretty rigid
  • The zippers are a bit harder to use (for instance, it takes a lot of effort to get the main zipper completely closed)

Best for: Alpine use

Women’s Version: Available -> Patagonia | Backcountry

Find the latest price:

Patagonia | REI

 

#12 Mountain Hardwear High Exposure GORE-TEX C-KNIT Jacket

Mountain Hardwear High Exposure Gore-Tex C-Knit Jacket

Weight: 458 g (16.2 oz)

Price (MSRP): $550

Waterproof technology: 3L GORE-TEX Active

Material: Mini ripstop nylon

Pit zips: No

Notable features:

  • Softer, lighter weight, and more breathable 3L GORE-TEX Active fabric with C-KNIT Backer Technology
  • Helmet-compatible hood with three-way drawcord adjustment via embedded cord locks offers an excellent fit
  • Embedded RECCO avalanche rescue reflector

Pros:

  • Lightweight, compact, and extremely breathable construction (despite the lack of pit zips) crafted from thin, soft, and smooth fabric
  • Thoughtful designed hardshell – no unnecessary features: various features that work well for snowsports and in inclement weather (tapered cuffs, helmet-compatible hood, exterior and interior stash pockets placed
  • Fits well without the body being too tight or too loose; plenty of room for wearing layers underneath
  • Comfortable because of the stretchy fabric that moves with the user’s body: skiers, hikers, trekkers, and freeriders will definitely appreciate this

Cons:

  • The lack of underarm zippered vents can be a problem during high exertion, especially on warm days
  • The internal pocket isn’t large enough to fit a modern smartphone inside comfortably
  • No interface loops to keep the powder skirt in place

Best for: Snowsports

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | REI | Moosejaw

Find the latest price:

Amazon | REI | Moosejaw

 

#13 Patagonia Galvanized Jacket

Patagonia Galvanized Jacket

Weight: 527 g (1 lb 2.6 oz)

Price (MSRP): $349

Waterproof technology: 3L H2No Performance Standard

Material: 50D 88% recycled polyester and 12% spandex stretch woven with a jersey-knit backer

Pit zips: Yes

Notable features:

  • Stretchy waterproof/breathable fabric for full mobility and exceptional waterproof protection
  • Helmet compatible Optimal Visibility Hood adjusts with a single-pull Cohaesive embedded cord-lock system
  • Concealed RECCO reflector for emergency situations in the mountain (helps speed up the search for a buried avalanche victim)

Pros:

  • The Patagonia Galvanized 3L construction is crafted from an extremely durable, fully windproof, waterproof and breathable fabric
  • Awesome stretchy fabric and nice articulation for mobility no matter if climbing in the mountain or commuting in town
  • Suitable for easy layering
  • Streamlined design with basic features focused on performance instead of being crammed full of hi-tech features

Cons:

  • When wet it becomes heavy; it is slower to dry than other similar models
  • Not enough pockets for storing items and no internal storage pockets

Best for: Alpine and ice climbing

Women’s Version: Available -> Patagonia | Backcountry

Find the latest price:

PatagoniaBackcountry

 

#14 The North Face Summit L5 LT Futurelight Jacket

The North Face Summit L5 LT Futurelight Jacket

Weight: 340 g (12 oz)

Price (MSRP): $450

Waterproof technology: 3L FUTURELIGHT

Material: 20D X 30D FUTURELIGHT, 100% Polyester

Pit zips: No

Notable features:

  • FUTURELIGHT 3L fabric is 100% windproof and provides ultimate breathability and protection
  • 3D ergonomic patterning for better mobility and comfort
  • Bigger cord locks at hood and hem are easier to use when you’re wearing gloves

Pros:

  • Lightweight, ultra-thin, compact (comes with a lightweight stuff sack), and very breathable outer shell for high-output winter pursuits, variable weather, and changing environments
  • Provides the protection needed to keep out the elements in harsh environments
  • Freedom of movement and great comfort in spite of the weather (and unlike most waterproof breathable fabrics, this one is relatively quiet)
  • The manufacturer stands behind this hardshell: The North Face offers a Lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • Not very durable/abrasion-resistant as a tree branch could rip it
  • The helmet-compatible hood is huge

Best for: Harsh mountain conditions

Women’s Version: Available -> Moosejaw

Find the latest price:

REI | Backcountry

 

#15 Black Diamond Sharp End Jacket

Black Diamond Sharp End Jacket

Weight: 455 g (16.1 oz)

Price (MSRP): $549

Waterproof technology: 3L GORE-TEX PRO (25 000mm WP & 25,000g/m2 per day moisture vapor permeability)

Material: 70D Nylon

Pit zips: Yes

Notable features:

  • Integrated Cohaesive cord management system for one-handed adjustments of the hood and hem
  • Climbing-helmet-compatible hood
  • Two-way armpit zip vents and custom-molded cuff tabs provide ventilation and air circulation to regulate body temperature when needed

Pros:

  • Trimmed down (simple) and packable hardshell jacket with plenty of features ideal for backcountry adventures (even in the harshest environments)
  • Superior range of motion thanks to the full underarm gusset
  • Good pocket variety and configuration: two zippered handwarmer pockets, zippered chest pocket, and internal stretch media pocket with cord port
  • The GORE-TEX PRO provides excellent defense against the elements

Cons:

  • The hood is a kind of small
  • The tight-fitting collar with brushed microsuede lining isn’t very comfortable

Best for: Alpine conditions

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | Moosejaw

Find the latest price:

Amazon | Moosejaw | Backcountry

 

#16 Rab Kinetic Alpine Jacket

Rab kinetic alpine jacket

Weight: 390 g (13.8 oz)

Price (MSRP): $280

Waterproof technology: Proflex

Material: Nylon

Pit zips: No

Notable features:

  • With Proflex – stretchy, waterproof and breathable fabric with a tough nylon face and high gauge knit wicking lining
  • Quality YKK AquaGuard zippers: YKK AquaGuard Vislon front zipper with internal storm flap and YKK AquaGuard zip A-line pockets
  • Helmet-compatible hood with laminated and stiffened peak and an adjustable drawcord

Pros:

  • Highly functional, honed for alpine use, it comes with a great set of useful features: helmet-compatible hood, YKK AquaGuard zips, fully taped seams, wicking lining, adjustable cuffs and hem, harness-compatible hand pockets
  • Stretchy and lightweight fabric that feels good against the skin; the fabric is soft to the touch and feels more like a softshell than a hardshell fabric; it also allows for a great range of motion
  • Reinforced ceramic print overlays in high wear areas (on hood, shoulders, and sleeves) for added wear-resistance and increased durability
  • Excellent packability – the jacket packs small and comes with a small stuff sack with a loop for easy storage in a backpack or attached to harness

Cons:

  • The waterproofness of the fabric is decent and far from the waterproofness of the fabric of a more traditional hardshell – the rating of the Rab Kinetic Alpine is a mere 10 000mm (it wets out in prolonged rainy conditions/torrential rain)
  • The Proflex fabric is thin and relatively fragile

Best for: Versatility

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | Moosejaw | CampSaver

Find the latest price:

Amazon | Moosejaw | CampSaver

 

#17 Marmot Alpinist Jacket

Marmot Alpinist Jacket

Weight: 586.8 g (1 lb 4.7 oz)

Price (MSRP): $645

Waterproof technology: 3L GORE-TEX PRO

Material: 100% Nylon

Pit zips: Yes

Notable features:

  • Best GORE-TEX PRO fabric and 100% seam taped for complete leakproof protection
  • A fixed helmet-compatible hood, bonded drawcord hem, and sleeve cuffs are all adjustable to tighten the jacket down if needed
  • Articulated elbows for increased mobility

Pros:

  • Fully wind and waterproof (3L GORE-TEX PRO + 100% seam taped + water-resistant zips), built to endure the harshest conditions
  • Engineered with the high mountains in mind – comes with a dazzling array of technical features
  • High-quality materials and a state-of-the-art three-layer construction
  • Convenient pocket configuration for easy access to pockets if wearing a pack or harness; good-s-zed pockets: two large chest pockets with water-resistant zips to keep essential items dry; two pack pockets

Cons:

  • The sleeves are very long (it works well when wearing gloves but when without gloves you’ll have to roll up the sleeves)
  • The front zipper is a bit hard to use especially if wearing gloves: you won’t be able to zip up quickly if needed

Best for: Mountaineering

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | REI

Find the latest price:

CampSaver | Moosejaw | Backcountry

 

Table 1: Best hardshell jackets – comparison table

PRODUCTDESCRIPTIONPROSCONS
Helly Hansen Odin Mountain 3L
Helly Hansen Odin Mountain 3L Shell

#1 Best hardshell jacket



Weight -> 509 g (1 lb 2 oz)
Price -> $600
Waterproof technology -> 3L HELLY TECH Professional
Pit zips -> Yes


-> Great functionality thanks to backcountry specific features
-> Top-notch wind and water-resistance for all-day weather protection
-> Made for unrestricted lightweight mobility - suitable for all sorts of high-exertion outdoor activities
-> Excellent quality of the construction


-> Not quite warm and not insulated for the cold
-> Not the most beautiful colors and there are just three options

Outdoor Research Interstellar Ascentshell Jacket
Outdoor Research Interstellar AscentShell

#2 Best lightweight



Weight -> 335 g (11.8 oz)
Price -> $299
Waterproof technology -> Ascentshell 3L
Pit zips -> No


-> Lightweight and super packable
-> Excellent value: good quality and comfortable material that cuts the wind and keeps out light/medium rain
-> Technical design with useful features
-> Great go-to jacket for anything


-> You might feel it a bit tight after proper layering
-> Very thin fabric; not very durable

Arcteryx Alpha SV Jacket
Arc'teryx Alpha SV

#3 Best for extreme conditions



Weight -> 510 g (1 lb 2 oz)
Price -> $799
Waterproof technology -> 3L GORE-TEX PRO
Pit zips -> Yes


-> Designed to provide weather protection for severe (SV) alpine conditions
-> Lightweight yet durable: able to protect the wearer in alpine environments and harshest conditions
-> Very well built and fully functional
-> The anatomical shaping and articulated construction allow for unparalleled freedom of movement


-> Expensive - the astronomical price tag is close to a thousand dollars
-> The jacket is a bit noisy
-> The proper care sounds daunting but doing everything as it should be done can turn it into a lifetime jacket

Columbia Alpine Action Jacket
Columbia Alpine Action

#4 Best budget buy



Weight -> 680 g (1 lb 8 oz)
Price -> $170
Waterproof technology -> 3L Omni-Tech waterproof/breathable
Pit zips -> No


-> Warmer than most designs for use at elevation
-> Affordable price and decent quality
-> Versatile: works well for outdoor activities as well as for everyday winter life/town
-> Good craftmanship


-> Runs large: too big and bulky
-> No zipper vents or side zippers
-> The zipper snags on the adjacent cloth

Mammut Nordwand Advanced HS Hooded Jacket
Mammut Nordwand Advanced

#5 Best for mountaineering



Weight -> 445 g (15.7 oz)
Price -> $750
Waterproof technology -> 3L GORE-TEX PRO
Pit zips -> Yes


-> Built to provide superior weather protection in foul weather
-> Useful features for mountaineering
-> Offers excellent mobility
-> Can be worn with an assortment of under layers


-> A bit noisy, crinkly feel typical for products with GORE-TEX PRO
-> Expensive

REI Co-op Drypoint GTX Jacket
REI Co-op Drypoint GTX Jacket

#6 Best for hiking & backpacking



Weight -> 298 g (10.5 oz)
Price -> $249
Waterproof technology -> GORE-TEX Active
Pit zips -> No


-> Ultralight compact design perfect for high-intensity backpacking
-> Extremely breathable GORE-TEX Active 3-layer fabric keeps the wearer dry
-> Comfortable, streamlined design
-> Good bang-for-the-buck value


-> The zippers are of poor quality
-> The fit runs a bit on the big side
-> No elastic on the cuffs

Arcteryx Cassiar Jacket
Arc'teryx Cassiar Jacket

#7 Best for snowsports


Weight -> 820 g (1 lb 12.9 oz)
Price -> $799
Waterproof technology -> 3L GORE-TEX PRO
Pit zips -> No


-> 4-way stretch fabric and articulated patterning provide comfort, fit, and unrestricted mobility
-> Impeccable fit and finish
-> Engineered to provide superior weather protection for dynamic activities
-> Great snowsport features


-> Not for everybody as it has athletic fit
-> The hood is not that easy to adjust
-> One of the heaviest designs among the best hardshells

Helly Hansen Odin 9 Worlds 2.0
Helly Hansen Odin 9 Worlds 2.0

#8



Weight -> 554 g (1 lb 3.5 oz)
Price -> $400
Waterproof technology -> 3L HELLY TECH Professional
Pit zips -> Yes


->Thoughtfully made with great modern design
-> Delivers on all fronts
-> Great fit and flexible fabric allow for unrestricted movement of the upper torso
-> Beautiful shades


-> The sleeves are slightly longer than expected
-> The color might start to fade after intensive use

Fjallraven Keb Eco-shell Jacket
Fjallraven Keb Eco-Shell

#9



Weight -> 520 g (1 lb 2.3 oz)
Price -> $500
Waterproof technology -> Eco-Shell 3L
Pit zips -> No


-> Environmentally responsible design
-> Minimalistic design, great cut for a perfect fit and mobility
-> The function of the membrane won’t deteriorate because of clogging with sweat and dirt
-> Excellent ventilation over longer and more intense tours


-> Not as water-repellent as other designs
-> Durability issues
-> Side vents don't usually provide as much airflow as pit vents

Norrona-Trollveggen GORE-TEX PRO Jacket
Norrona Trollveggen GORE-TEX PRO

#10



Weight -> 650 g (1 lb 6.9 oz)
Price -> $599
Waterproof technology -> 3L GORE-TEX PRO
Pit zips -> Yes


-> A versatile jacket for winter sports and pursuits
-> Great set of pockets
-> High-quality materials and solid construction with well-designed features and smart details
-> Engineered with performance in mind


-> The neck opening is fairly small and restrictive
-> Runs a bit large especially the torso

Patagonia Pluma Jacket
Patagonia Pluma Jacket

#11



Weight -> 414 g (14.6 oz)
Price -> $549
Waterproof technology -> 3L GORE-TEX PRO
Pit zips -> Yes


-> Technical piece for rugged pursuits in alpine conditions
-> Good, thoughtful design and quality, sustainable materials
-> Very effective against the elements
-> Fits excellently, leaves plenty of space for layers underneath


-> The feel of the hardshell is pretty rigid
-> The zippers are a bit harder to use

Mountain Hardwear High Exposure Gore-Tex C-Knit Jacket
Mountain Hardwear High Exposure GORE-TEX C-KNIT

#12



Weight -> 458 g (16.2 oz)
Price -> $550
Waterproof technology -> 3L GORE-TEX Active
Pit zips -> No


->Lightweight, compact, and extremely breathable construction
-> Thoughtful designed hardshell - no unnecessary features
-> Fits well without the body being too tight or too loose
-> Comfortable because of the stretchy fabric that moves with the user's body


-> The lack of underarm zippered vents can be a problem during high exertion, especially on warm days
-> The internal pocket isn't large enough to fit a modern smartphone inside comfortably
-> No interface loops to keep the powder skirt in place

Patagonia Galvanized Jacket
Patagonia Galvanized Jacket

#13



Weight -> 527 g (18.6 oz)
Price -> $349
Waterproof technology -> 3L H2No Performance Standard
Pit zips -> Yes


-> Crafted from an extremely durable, fully windproof, waterproof and breathable fabric
-> Awesome stretchy fabric and nice articulation for mobility
-> Suitable for easy layering
-> Streamlined design with basic features focused on performance


-> When wet it becomes heavy; it is slower to dry than other similar models
-> Not enough pockets for storing items and no internal storage pockets

The North Face Summit L5 LT Futurelight Jacket
TNF Summit L5 LT FULTURELIGHT

#14



Weight -> 340 g (12 oz)
Price -> $450
Waterproof technology -> 3L FUTURELIGHT
Pit zips -> No


-> Lightweight, ultra-thin, compact, and very breathable shell for high-output pursuits
-> Provides the protection needed to keep out the elements in harsh environments
-> Freedom of movement and great comfort in spite of the weather
-> Lifetime warranty


-> Not very durable/abrasion-resistant
-> The helmet compatible hood is huge

Black Diamond Sharp End Jacket
Black Diamond Sharp End

#15



Weight -> 455 g (16.1 oz)
Price -> $549
Waterproof technology -> 3L GORE-TEX PRO
Pit zips -> Yes


-> Simple and packable hardshell jacket
-> Superior range of motion
-> Good pocket variety and configuration
-> The GORE-TEX PRO provides excellent defense against the elements


-> The hood is a kind of small
-> The tight-fitting collar isn't very comfortable

Rab kinetic alpine jacket
RAB Kinetic Alpine Jacket

#16



Weight -> 390 g (13.8 oz)
Price -> $280
Waterproof technology -> Proflex
Pit zips -> No


-> Highly functional, honed for alpine use
-> Stretchy and lightweight fabric that feels good against the skin
-> Reinforcements in high wear areas
-> Excellent packability


-> The waterproofness of the fabric is decent and far from the waterproofness of the fabric of a more traditional hardshell
-> The Proflex fabric is thin and relatively fragile

Marmot Alpinist Jacket
Marmot Alpinist Jacket

#17



Weight -> 586.8 g (1 lb 4.7oz)
Price -> $645
Waterproof technology -> 3L GORE-TEX PRO
Pit zips -> Yes


-> Fully wind and waterproof
-> Engineered with the high mountains in mind
-> High-quality materials and a state-of-the-art three-layer construction
-> Convenient pocket configuration for easy access to pockets if wearing a pack or harness


-> The sleeves are very long
-> The front zipper is a bit hard to use especially if wearing gloves

 

Hardshell jackets buying advice or what to consider

Materials

Similarly to rain pants, hardshells are made with woven, knitted or nonwoven sturdy and abrasion-resistant face fabric and waterproof breathable fabric. Typically, the face fabric is made either from nylon or polyester as both of these man-made fibers possess important characteristics such as durability and abrasion resistance. Note that lightweight designs are thinner and more fragile than more solid constructions. Having said that, there are exceptions like the Arc’teryx Alpha SV. Weighing just 510 g (1 lb 2 oz), it’s crafted from super durable and highly abrasion-resistant materials that hold up well even in the harshest conditions.

Unlike water-resistant and water-repellent designs, most hardshells are 3-layer laminates consisting of three different bonded layers: soft lining, a waterproof breathable material (usually membrane glued between the face fabric and the soft lining), and face fabric. Each of these three layers has its own function. The role of the waterproof breathable material is to transport water vapor transmission from the body to the environment. The role of the breathable lining is to protect the waterproof membrane from abrasion and pore-clogging contaminants from the body like oils and sweat. The water-repellent face fabric is treated with DWR whose role is to complement the waterproof fabric. The face fabric is also expected to protect the membrane from abrasion and everything that could damage it from the outside.

Weather protection

The main requirement for hardshell jackets is to protect the wearer from the elements. The extra wind and water protection is a must for sports and pursuits in the high mountain because it’s supposed to help keep the user dry from the outside and from the inside. While a waterproof rating of 10 000-15 000mm (the Proflex fabric of the Rab Kinetic Alpine Jacket has a waterproof rating of 10 000mm) is enough to keep the wearer protected sufficiently most of the time, it’s not enough to provide the needed protection in really harsh conditions, i.e. high winds and driving rain/snow. In such conditions, you’d need something with 20 000mm+ water column such as the Mammut Nordwand Advanced HS Hooded utilizing hard-wearing 3-layer GORE-TEX PRO fabric with a waterproof rating of 28 000mm. Arc’teryx Alpha SV crafted from N100d Most Rugged 3L GORE-TEX PRO fabric is another excellent choice that works great even in the most extreme conditions.

For those who prefer lightweight minimalist constructions, we recommend the North Face Summit L5 LT Futurelight – ultra-thin and compact outer shell jacket built to offer 100% waterproof protection. The problem with such lightweight designs is that they are rarely able to resist punctures from rocks or tree branches. That’s why we prefer more solid hardshells like the top-rated Helly Hansen Odin Mountain 3L and the Norrona Trollveggen GORE-TEX PRO. They are made with performance in mind combining full weather protection with extreme durability and well-designed features.

Weight and packability

Typically, hardshells are light but not as light as rain ponchos. We’ve reviewed hardshell jackets weighing from 298 g (10.5 oz) for the lightest shell REI Co-op Drypoint GTX to 820 g (1 lb 12.9 oz) for the heaviest Arc’teryx Cassiar. The wide range of weights can be explained with the differences in the materials used, the expected use, and the available features of the selected hardshell jackets. The average weight is 500 g or 1 lb 1.7 oz. Graph 1 and Graph 2 show the weight of each of the 17 models.

The majority of the outer shells reviewed including three of the top 5 designs weigh between 400 g and 600 g. It seems that most renowned manufacturers can make a lightweight garment that’s well-balanced and have all the necessary features to meet the challenges of harsh mountain weather. Take the Arc’teryx Alpha SV and Helly Hansen Odin Mountain 3L Shell, for example. Both are high-performance jackets that weigh a bit more than 500 g or 1 lb 2 oz. Each of them has a set of excellent features oriented towards making it the best hardshell possible for its expected use. And while they utilize different waterproof breathable technologies (GORE-TEX PRO for the Alpha SV and HELLY TECH Professional for the Odin Mountain 3L), both are intended for very challenging alpine conditions.

The best lightweight design – the Interstellar AscentShell by Outdoor Research – is also one of the most packable hardshell jackets. It stuffs into its own left-hand pocket. It’s well-designed and has some good technical features that make it work well for vigorous activities. However, it’s not durable enough for more rugged activities and environments. On the other side, the heavier Arc’teryx Cassiar is intended exactly for users who’d need complete weather protection, enough warmth and comfort, and rapid ventilation. Thus it’s appropriate for those who’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors skiing, snowboarding, walking or working.

Graph 1: Weight comparison between hardshell designs (in grams)

Hardshell jackets weight comparison

Graph 2: Weight comparison between hardshell designs (in ounces) 

Hardshell jackets weight in ounces - comparison

Breathability and ventilation

Outer shells should provide enough airflow in really bad weather to ensure a more comfortable experience during all sorts of sports and activities. Can they do it? Well, it depends. If asking the manufacturers, they surely do in all conditions. However, an objective analysis of their breathability shows that even the most breathable design won’t keep you completely dry when walking at a very high work rate in harsh conditions. Why? See Table 1 below. It compares different activities and the corresponding perspiration rates. Note that while perspiration depends on a range of factors (mainly weather conditions), it is strictly individual and varies a lot from person to person. Still, active walking with a heavy pack and mountain walking with a heavy pack require very high breathability ranging from 18 900 to 30 400 g/m2 per day.

Table 1: Perspiration rates and heat energy produced as a result of certain activities

Perspiration rates various activities

Source: Waterproof and Water Repellent Textiles*, p.32

Each one of the outer shell designs reviewed here has good breathability making it a viable option for those who’d need added ventilation. However, most breathable two are the Mammut Nordwand Advanced and Fjallraven Keb Eco-Shell. Also, it’s worth noting that while the fabric is the most important factor that affects the breathability and ventilation capabilities of a hardshell jacket, it’s not the only one. Different features like venting zippers (pit zips, side zippers, two-way front zippers) and mesh-lined pockets allow for increased airflow to help release the accumulated body heat in the environment.

Features

There are many technical features of hardshell jackets that can be of use if utilized properly:

  • Zippers – among the most important features of outer shells, they are usually waterproof or water-resistant. Have different yet important functions – pit zips, side zips (like those found on the Arc’teryx Cassiar and Fjallraven Keb), and two-way front zippers (Norrona Trollveggen, Fjallraven Keb Eco-Shell, Mammut Nordwand, Marmot Alpinist come with this feature) provide extra ventilation, while pocket zippers ensure secure access to essentials and valuables and protect pockets from leaks. Good-sized pull tabs are a great extra that makes zippers easy to open with gloves on.
  • Hoods – helmet-compatible hoods with still brims are typical for hardshells because they shed off rain and snow and allow the wearer to use the hood with or without a helmet on. Drawstrings and cord locks allow to tighten or loosen the hood when needed. Some of the best designs have 3-point adjustable hoods as well as drawstrings and cord locks that can operate with a one-handed pinch.
  • Collars – tight-fitting collars can be a nightmare. They aren’t very comfortable as they could restrict the movement of your head. Look for more comfortable and protective collars with microfleece lining that helps reduce/eliminate chafing.
  • Reinforced elbows – add wear and abrasion-resistance as well as durability, and make useful life longer.
  • Cuffs and hems – elastic cuffs and various sleeve cuff closures such as hook-and-loop straps are used to cinch them tight. Adjustable drawcords and cord locks help adjust the hem and guarantee individual fit.
  • Pockets – a variety of small and big pocket options in all shapes can be used for holding things. Handwarmer pockets, chest pockets, and inside pockets for storing small personal items, snacks, goggles, maps, documents, money, and everything else that one can think of are present in most models. In addition, some shells have special pockets for holding ski pass/card (HH Odin Mountain 3L).
  • Taped seams – quality hardshell jackets are designed to provide complete protection from the elements. This includes eliminating the chance of wetting by using waterproof breathable materials, DWR-treated face fabric, and taped seams. Some manufacturers use seam taping to eliminate the chance of failure of the seams leading to wetting from the outside. This makes such shells more reliable in heavy and/or driving rain.

Fit, mobility, and comfort

All three are among the key components of hardshell jacket performance. They are interdependent as quality fit affects both mobility and comfort and vice versa. Stretchy face fabrics allow for a full range of motion making mobility easier. Restrictive hardshell jackets are detrimental to the perceived comfort. On the other hand, a baggier fit isn’t a much better option. It can make some activities more difficult – something very true for climbing and skiing where fit is king.

Some outer shells fit most body types very well, whereas others require the user to have a more athletic fit (Arc’teryx Cassiar). Which one of these is better depends on the personal preferences of the user. Both too long (Marmot Alpinist) and too short sleeves are a definite turn-off. We also don’t like that much crinkly hardshells (typical for products with GORE-TEX PRO) and prefer quieter jackets that are softer and suppler to touch and allow the user to move easily in them (Rab Kinetic AlpineMountain Hardwear High Exposure GORE-TEX C-KNIT, and Patagonia Galvanized). Unfortunately, some of the most functional designs come with GORE-TEX PRO so if you need top performance, you might have to swallow the crinkly feel.

Durability

Unsurprisingly, many lighter hardshell jackets sacrifice durability for low weight. Shells such as the Outdoor Research Interstellar and TNF Summit L5 LT Futurelight are on top of the ‘most lightweight list’ because they utilize lightweight fabrics. While these two shells are functional and comfortable, they aren’t among the most hard-wearing ones. It’s because often the most lightweight fabrics are thin and not-very-durable.

On the other hand, heavy-duty durable constructions engineered for performance in mind (Helly Hansen Odin 9 Worlds 2.0, Marmot Alpinist) are solid and sturdy and can withstand harsh environments and conditions. In addition to the fabric thickness, fabric denier has a huge impact on a jacket’s durability. Thus it shouldn’t be a surprise that Black Diamond Sharp End and Norrona Trollveggen made from 70D ripstop nylon are much more reliable regarding their durability than low denier jackets crafted from 20-40D nylon (REI Drypoint, Patagonia Pluma, etc.)

Mountaineer with hardshell jacket walking through a snowstorm
Durability is an essential requirement for hardshell jackets as they are supposed to endure harsh alpine environments

Photo by Simon Steinberger

Price

The market is full of models whose price ranges a lot. One thing’s for sure, good hardshells cost top dollar. Take both Arc’treryx models reviewed here. Each of them costs $799, which means that buying such a garment requires proper consideration. Still, you can buy these and other highly functional yet expensive models like the Mammut Nordwand Advanced, whose MSRP is $750, for considerably less on a sale.

The price tags of the shells in our review vary from less than $200 to nearly $800 with an average price of $502 (at $500 Fjallraven Keb Eco-Shell costs a couple of bucks less than the average). It’s worth mentioning that more than half of all models cost $500 and above.

The cheapest hardshell in our review and the best budget option is the Columbia Alpine Action – 3-layer construction with Omni-Tech waterproof/breathable technology of decent quality. With this hardshell, you get a good combination of practical design, sturdy fabric, and useful features. And the best thing is that all this comes at an affordable price. Certainly, there are other models that also offer good, if not better, value at a reasonable price (OR Interstellar AscentShell). There are also more expensive designs with premium materials and great hi-tech features built for advanced functionality (Black Diamond Sharp End).

Graph 3: Hardshell jackets price comparison (US dollars)

Hardshell price - comparison

Washing

Waterproof breathable clothes are notorious for being easy to get clogged up with sweat or dirt. Detergent residues are also among those things capable of limiting the levels of breathability of a hardshell. That’s not, alas, the only problem with maintaining GORE-TEX and other similar waterproof breathable membranes clean. Generally, they are thin and very fragile meaning that washing and cleaning them properly is essential to remove any soiling without inflicting any damage on the waterproof breathable material. Regular care is also very important because it enhances performance and extends the useful life of the membrane. Focus on everything that is important for keeping a waterproof breathable garment as it is – both waterproof and breathable. Always follow the manufacturer’s care instructions for safe cleaning and drying.

The most important things to remember:

  • Wash the hardshell properly – machine washing at 40°C (105°F) with a small amount of liquid detergent (no bleach or softener or stain remover) using a gentle cycle is ideal for cleaning. Things to avoid: rigorous spinning and washing together with heavily soiled clothing.
  • Line dry the garment. Tumble dry is also a viable option. However, drying at high temperature isn’t. Avoid commercial dry cleaning as well.
  • Reheat (tumble dry for 20 minutes or iron) the garment to activate the DWR finish. Note that ironing should not be done directly over the material. To avoid any damage, use a towel or cloth between the garment and the iron instead.
  • Reapply DWR when needed (usually every few months) to restore water repellency. How often to reapply water repellent depends on garment use. Apparently, those who use their hardshells more often and for longer would need to do it more often. The best way to say if a waterproof breathable garment needs DWR treatment is to sprinkle some water over the garment. If it beads up, the water repellency is OK. If the water soaks in, you’ll have to apply a new DWR treatment.

Storage

Proper storage of waterproofs is no less important for increasing the useful life of your hardshell jacket than proper washing and care. It’s one of the most important factors that could help your garment keep its special properties and characteristics. Clean and dry the hardshell before storing it. The duration of the storage could be:

  • Short-term storage – keep the garment in a stuff sack, fold it or hang it freely on a coat hanger.
  • Long-term storage – don’t keep the jacket in a stuff sack. Fold it neatly or let it hang freely on a coat hanger in a cool and dry storage area instead. The aim is to avoid wrinkles and damage of the cloth.

Conclusion

Most outdoor enthusiasts rarely if ever need to wear a hardshell jacket and that’s OK. It’s a specific design expected to provide the ultimate protection against harsh mountain weather, i.e. snow, ice, sleet, and heavy showers of rain and hail.

In our minds, the Helly Hansen Odin Mountain 3L Shell is the best all-around hardshell jacket. It provides a great combination of top-notch wind and water-resistance resistance, durability, and lightweight comfort in addition to the incredible features this hardshell has. All these make it a highly functional garment for sports and pursuits in alpine environments. We were favorably impressed by the number of designs that work well in high mountain weather conditions. Nevertheless, those that impressed us the most include two models from Arc’teryx – Alpha SV and Cassiar – where technical features visibly dominate. Unsurprisingly, designs from REI Co-op and Columbia come with an excellent price:quality ratio as Columbia Alpine Action is our top recommendation for a budget-friendly option. Outdoor Research Interstellar AscentShell is a great compact and lightweight hardshell jacket. Mammut Nordwand Advanced HS, Helly Hansen Odin 9 Worlds 2.0, and Norrona Trollveggen GORE-TEX PRO are also among the best hardshells available on the market.

In this guide, we discussed some of the best designs available on the market of hardshell jackets and everything that could be of use to help you choose the right one for your needs.

Have advice, suggestions, comments or questions? Then why don’t drop us a line in the comments section below? We’d love to hear from you.

 

* In J. Williams (Ed.), Waterproof and Water Repellent Textiles and Clothing, 2018, Elsevier Ltd.

 

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