What Is the Difference Between a Softshell and Hardshell Jacket?

difference between a softshell and hardshell

What Is the Difference Between a Softshell and Hardshell Jacket?

When buying a new jacket, there are a lot of things you need to consider to make sure you pick the most appropriate one for your needs, including colour, design, style and material. Today we are going to answer a very common question that will help you choose the right jacket: what is the difference between a softshell and hardshell jacket? Keep reading to find out what are their features, differences, and how to decide.

Softshell vs hardshell


As the name suggests, hardshell jackets are rigid and stiffer that softshell jackets. For these reasons, they are the best choice in harsh weather conditions as they provide excellent protection against heavy wind and rain. Usually, hardshell jackets are made of three layers: an interior liner, a waterproof membrane, and an exterior fabric which is often covered with a durable water-repellent (DWR) finish.


Again, the name helps us understand the key features of this type of garments. Compared to hardshell jackets, softshells are made of a softer fabric and are more flexible as they present an interior liner usually made of fleece, nylon, or polyester. The main difference is that softshell jackets do not provide a waterproof membrane, so they do not provide the same level of protection against harsh weather. However, they usually feature a DWR finish that protects the wearer against light rain or snow.

difference between a softshell and hardshell
ORN Skimmer Softshell
difference between a softshell and hardshell
DX4 Softshell Jacket

How to decide

Now that you know the difference between a softshell and hardshell jacket, go through the following considerations to decide which one is more appropriate for your needs.

  • Wearer protection: as we have seen, hardshells offer the best protection against both wind and precipitation so they are the ultimate choice when performing activities in very harsh weather conditions.
  • Breathability and comfort: Since softshells do not feature the waterproof membrane, they are better than hardshells when performing high-intensity activities as they offer great breathability and more flexibility that will keep the wearer comfortable.
  • Durability: both hardshells and softshells offer a great advantage when it comes to durability Hardshells are made of a rigid and robust fabric, while softshells are made of a stretchy fabric that resists wear and tear.
  • Comfort: Softshells are made of a flexible fabric that allow maximum freedom of movement.

Browse our full collection of high-quality Jackets and contact us to find the best hardshell and softshell jackets!

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