Shell jackets feature a soft inside and a waterproof outer layer or “shell”. For sports, work, and other outdoor activities a shell jacket is very handy.
Many people enjoy using a shell jacket as their everyday cold weather jacket because it keeps you warm and protects you from the elements in the chance of rain or wind.
In this handy shell jacket buying guide, we can help you find the best shell jacket for yourself or for a gift.
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Reviews of the 5 Best Shell Jackets
Our buying guides include unbiased reviews of only the top-rated products currently on the market. Here is a list of reviews of the five best shell jackets currently on the market, including our budget pick, runner-up, and best overall pick.
1. Little Donkey Andy Men’s Softshell Jacket with Removable Hood
- WARM & WINDPROOF – Mid-layer of the fabric is made of windproof TPU material to seal out the wind....
- WATER RESISTANT & BREATHABLE – Fabric is treated to repel water while maintain breathability....
Little Donkey Andy is one of the best brands for men’s and women’s outdoors wear. This softshell jacket is our number one pick for the best softshell jacket that is currently available in the market. You can order this jacket in eight different colors which range from blues and greens to neutrals such as grey, black, and brown. Among the features that set this shell jacket apart are the zippered pockets and an easily adjustable removable hood.
The fabric is made of a blend of 95% polyester and 5% and is fortified for protection against the elements. The “shell” of the jacket is wind and water resistant so that you can remain warm and comfortable in all conditions whether rain or shine. The inner layer of the fabric is windproof TPU and the layer that sits closest to the skin is a soft Micro Polar Fleece that is gentle on the skin.
- Comes in a variety of colors
- Outdoors specific brand
- Three layers of waterproof, windproof, and soft fleece fabric
- The fabric is breathable so that sweat and moisture are not trapped
- There is a removable hood
- The jacket features large pockets
- This warm winter shell jacket is too warm to wear in hot temperatures
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2. ANTARCTICA Men’s Outdoor Waterproof Soft Shell Hooded Military Tactical Jacket
If you want one of the most high-quality military tactical jackets on the market, we recommend these ANTARCTICA Men’s outdoor soft shell hooded jackets because they are one of the most warm and durable models of shell jackets you can buy in the market. It comes in green, black, beige, and camo. The soft shell fabric on the outer layer protects the wearer from the elements while the fleece lining wicks away moisture. The inner lining is also very comfortable against the skin in addition to being extremely breathable.
There are two shoulder pockets, a forearm pocket, and two back zippered pockets on this jacket, so there is plenty of room to store almost everything you need. The zippers are great because they ensure that the valuables inside are completely protected from the rain. The jacket’s best feature is how functional it is: it is waterproof, windproof, and is made to last the test of time without fading, wrinkling, or shrinking.
- Lots of pockets with high-quality zippers
- Soft shell outer layer with soft fleece lining
- Inner lining is breathable to prevent sweat and moisture
- Waterproof outlining is lightweight and very durable.
- The jacket is easy to move around in
- It is easy to take care of because it is anti-wrinkle and will not fade or shrink in the wash
- Multifunctional and perfect for the outdoors
- For the sizing you will need to check the size chart as some buyers have reported the jackets “running small”
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3. Tommy Hilfiger Men’s Waterproof Breathable Hooded Jacket
- ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY: The 100% nylon shell creates gives the jacket water resistant ability; It is...
- STYLISH FEATURES: The jacket features the signature Tommy Hilfiger embroidered flag logo on the...
If you would like a spring/fall jacket with a breathable waterproof outer shell that steers away from the basic blacks, greys, and beiges of most jackets, we think you may love this waterproof hooded jacket by Tommy Hilfiger. This designer shell jacket comes in red, blue, green, and yellow in addition to a slew of neutrals. The material of the jacket’s shell is 100% nylon which is very effective at keeping the wearer warm and dry.
The inside of the nylon shell is a soft mesh lining on the inside which helps to keep the jacket nice and dry even on rainy days. Tommy Hilfiger is a classic luxury brand and the signature brand flag sits on the left of the chest. To open and close the jacket a high-quality zipper which is less likely to snag than the cheap zippers on knock off shell jackets. This shell jacket by Tommy Hilfiger is one of the most stylish and comfortable luxury shell jackets that we have found in the market.
- Comes in a lot of colors including bright primaries
- Machine washable
- High-quality zippers
- Waterproof nylon outer shell
- Waterproof and windproof
- Two side pockets and a drawstring hood
- No additional interior pocket on this jacket unlike some of the other Tommy Hilfiger brand rain and shell jackets
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4. Amazon Essentials Men’s Water-Resistant Softshell Jacket
- This lightweight jacket keeps phones more safely out of the rain with water-resistant outer shell
- Features a full-zip front with stand-up collar, adjustable cuffs and zip pockets at side seam and...
For a simple, classic softshell jacket that is easy on your wallet, the Amazon Essentials Men’s Softshell Jacket is a supreme choice. The jacket is made out of polyester and spandex and can even help to keep your phone and other valuables dry during a rainstorm with the high-quality zipper closure.
There are a few adjustable parts of this jacket which is great for if you go up or down a size. While this basic softshell jacket by Amazon Essentials has a few less pockets for storage than the tactical shell jackets, it makes up for what it lacks in pocket space with the comfortable fit and materials of the jacket. At a moderate to low price, the Amazon Essentials Softshell Jacket in black, grey, or navy options is a really good softshell for everyday use.
- Black, grey, or blue fabric
- Soft inner layer with durable polyester blend outer layer
- High-quality zippers on jacket and pockets
- Perfect for everyday use
- Waterproof and windproof
- This jacket is perfect for spring and fall with its lightweight construction, but during the summer the wearer would be too cold
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5. Global Blank Men’s Lightweight Windbreaker Winter Jacket Water Resistant Shell
- FEATURES - Water Resistance: 600 mm, matte finish eyelets and zippers, #4 zipper with zipper pull &...
- STYLISH - This urban style light wind proof jacket is the perfect lifestyle garment for men or teen...
Global Bank is an apparel brand with the catch phrase, “Don’t let labels define you.” For our top budget pick for the best affordable shell jacket we picked this lightweight windbreaker with weather resistant shell from Global Bank. One of the best things about this shell jacket is that it comes in blue, green, orange, and a combination of neutrals and blush tones which could suit almost anyone in the family. The interior of the 100% polyester jacket is lined with a coating to promote water-resistance.
Other great features of this affordable shell jacket are high quality zippers, mesh liner, and “scuba neck”. The neckline will protect the wearers neck from the effects of cold and moisture as well. The modern/urban style of these jackets have earned them among the places of the most best-selling shell jackets out there. It is long-sleeved and has a hood so you can enjoy a walk outside in any weather.
- Made of high-quality materials
- Well sewn seams
- Affordable and long-lasting
- Versatile uses
- Deep pockets
- Simplistic overall design with not many pockets
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Now that we have provided you with a list of the best selling shell jackets for adults on the market, let us go into deeper detail about each of the features to consider when buying a shell jacket of your own or as a gift. Reading over this list of features and comparing and contrasting each of the top products in this way can help you figure out which one you need faster.
What Are the Benefits of a Shell Jacket?
Both soft and hard shell jackets feature a waterproof or water resistant outer shell which keeps the jacket dry while the soft inner lining keeps the wearer warm. There are a lot of reasons why people choose to go with shell jackets for their winter, spring, fall, or even yearly coat.
- They are lightweight.
One of the features that many enjoy about soft and hard shell jackets is how lightweight they are. You can easily move around while wearing a shell jacket unlike some other winter coats which restrict your movement somewhat. They also will not get heavy or hot as fast as some other jackets.
- They are waterproof or water resistant
One of the main uses for shell jackets are for hikes and working, which is why the outer layer of the jacket must be waterproof if it wants to meet industry standards for shell jackets and rain jackets. To keep you extra warm and dry the manufacturer may include some insulation.
- Breathable and Easy to Clean
While hard shell jackets may be more dense and heavy, soft shell jackets are super easy to clean. One trick is that you can simply throw the dirty shell jacket in the washing machine in most cases to immediately improve the home’s smell.
Features to Consider When Buying a Shell Jacket
When shopping for your first shell jacket or for a jacket for a friend/family member you should consider all of these following features. The price of the jacket may depend on a combination of the features, so we will begin there.
Shell jackets are typically a little more expensive than other types of raincoats or windbreakers due to the high-quality, weather-proof materials that are required in the construction of the outerlining. You can expect to pay up to $100 for a high-quality shell jacket. The least expensive shell jackets on the market can be found for under $50.
You do not have to break the bank to invest in a high-quality and comfortable shell jacket, but we recommend that you avoid cheap, knock-off brands if you want your jacket to last. A cheaply made knock-off shell jacket could easily fall apart or rip during outdoors activities. The price of the shell jacket can vary depending on the brand, color, and style of the shell jacket.
For a lot of shoppers the brand of the company selling the product is the first thing that they consider. Shopping with a luxury clothes brand may be a good way to get straight to the best products on the market by only paying attention to the manufacturers that currently dominate the market, and skipping over the rest. We don’t recommend that you pick your jacket solely based on the brand, but instead consider picking the brand and product based on some of the many features.
The color of the shell jacket is important! If you are simple and classic the black model may be the best for you. Black is a high-quality choice for a spring/fall zip-up jacket such as this one, although heat has been known to increase around the toes of people who go rollerblading for too long. In addition to neutral colors shell jackets can be found in a variety of bright hues such as red, yellow, and green. There are also striped jackets that we have seen that combine multiple bright colors.
The style of the shell jacket may be closely associated with the brand. There are few things about the style of the jacket that you should pay attention to while shopping for a shell jacket for yourself or a loved one.
Some shell jackets are military style and are bulky, featuring tons of pockets for carrying all your belongings. Another style of shell jacket that is commonly found is the simple and classic lightweight black zipper down jacket. Whether or not you are going for a country look or an urban look, the style of the shell jacket that you wear can make a difference.
The neckline on shell jackets preferably will come up on the neck some to protect the delicate skin of the neck from the elements as well. This feature can be a godsend on days when the cold winter air is determined to cut straight into the jacket to chill your bones.
While most will prefer a higher neck to keep warm, some may find the extra fabric around the neck annoying. A lot of shell jackets come with hoods, permanent and removable, which tighten with a pull string to further protect your neck from the cold this winter.
The materials used in the construction of the shell jacket will determine how successful the jacket is at protecting the wearer from the elements. Here is a short and quick list of the things to consider about the materials used in the sewing and manufacturing of a shell jacket:
- Is the outer layer of the jacket or the “shell” waterproof?
For outdoor use a shell jacket will come in handy during a rainstorm because they almost always have a waterproof shell on the outside. The shell protects the soft inner layers of the fabric from getting wet and soaking through your clothes to chill your bones.
- Is there some kind of windproofing?
Another thing that you can expect to see adverttised when shopping for shell jackets is windproofing. The windproofing layer may be integrated into the middle layer of fabric, or it can come built right in with the main waterproof outer shell. For cooler climates a jacket like this is great for keeping warm when the weather turns. You can rely on the most high-quality jackets on the market to include a degree of windproofing in the construction of the jacket.
- Are the materials long-lasting?
The durability of the shell jacket should not come into question when you purchase one of the recommended models from our handy buying guide. We only include the very best-selling products that are currently on the market, so we are confident that the jackets we reviewed are very long-lasting. If you want to get the maximum lifespan out of your shell jacket, make sure that you follow the cleaning instructions carefully.
One feature to consider that is not to be forgotten is how much maintenance the jacket will require to keep it looking good and protecting you properly from the wind and rain. While some shell jackets are machine washable, some others may provide greater challenges when it comes to the cleaning such as spot cleaning, hand washing, and drying.
Shell jackets are not very hard to clean in most cases and can be effectively spot cleaned in between machine washes. The outer shell of most shell jackets is enforced with a weather resistant layer which also will help to prevent the build up of dirt and other germs. Wiping down the waterproof outer layer in between machine washes can keep it looking new and clean for longer.
Finding the jacket that fits your body correctly is the best way to make sure that you are always comfortable while wearing your shell jacket. When shopping for a shell jacket online we recommend that you always look at the size chart first to see if they even have your size before you begin to look deeper into the jacket’s other features.
The size of the jacket could potentially run a little large on you while still looking great and being comfortable. You should avoid ordering a smaller size that could cut off your circulation. If you are unsure of whether or not you are ordering the right size of shell jacket, one thing that is really important for you to consider when placing an order is whether or not a return policy is in place in case the jacket does not fit.
Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about shell jackets.
What is the difference between a soft and a hard shell jacket?
If the shell of the jacket is stiff and hard it is a hard shell jacket, a feature that causes wrinkling more easily. For rain, snow, and heavy-duty outdoors this is a really high-quality model of jacket for the price. While many prefer hard shell jackets for their insulation in the summer, soft-shell jackets are popular for spring and the fall. Softshell are more lightweight, breathtable, and you can move around in them a lot easier.
Are Shell Jackets Machine Washable?
One of the questions people often ask when shopping for a jacket is whether or not it is machine washable. If this is not true of that particular jacket, then you will save time on cleaning versus hand washing your garment or going to the dry cleaners. There are several high-quality jackets included in this guide that can be machine washed.
Shell jackets are a great choice for camping, hiking, or walking. Many prefer a lightweight shell jacket over other kinds because they will keep you warm and dry without weighing you down in the way a large winter coat can. While some of the manufacturer’s products range greatly in price range, Little Donkey Andy Men’s Softshell Jacket with Removable Hood is both affordable and made for the outdoors. It is our number one pick for the best overall shell jacket that is currently on the market.
If you want to get the most expensive shell jacket out of the least amount of money then we recommend the Global Bank or the Amazon Essentials shell jacket. These jackets feature a clean and attractive style that works well for most people in the family. Wearing a high-quality shell jacket with a waterproof outer layer will keep you protected from the elements no matter what, and Amazon Essentials has a notoriously great customer help team available to chat with you about any questions you may have.