Best Softshell Cycling Jackets for Men [Top 9 for Winter]

    When the sun’s out, and the wind is at your back there’s no greater freedom than riding your bike. But like most things in life, there’s always some give and take and it’s no different when it comes to cycling. The fun and enjoyment of riding a bike can quickly evaporate with a dowsing of rain or a howling wind. And so, in winter, or inclement weather, a cycling jacket is one of the most vital additions to every cyclist’s wardrobe.

    Generally speaking, cycling jackets are split into two categories – hardshell and softshell. This terminology was popularised in the outdoor world but easily crosses over into cycling when the demands or attributes of the garment are broadly similar.

    With the particular demands of cycling (think riding position, physical exertion and extra wind chill) softshell jackets are a popular option. Here, we explain what a softshell cycling jacket is, its pros and cons, what marks them out against hardshell jackets, and finally the best softshell cycling jackets available today.

    What is a “Softshell” Jacket?

    Worn over a T-shirt or shirt, softshells are a halfway house between a cycling jersey and a hardshell jacket. A good softshell jacket should have excellent breathability. Great for unpredictable weather, a softshell cycling jacket offers lightweight protection without inhibiting body movement. Most will feature a water-resistant coating.

    The best cycling softshell jackets have other thoughtful touches like reflective highlights for riding at night, extra insulation to ward off wind chill and a couple of pockets for storing essentials.

    Hardshell vs Softshell Jacket

    Start rooting around the internet for a good cycling jacket and it’ll quickly become a toss-up between a hardshell and a softshell. Although fabric development continues to blur the line between the two jacket types, there are a number of attributes that mark each out against the other.

    First, hardshell jackets are more water resistant than softshell jackets. Typically hardshell cycling jackets feature Gore-Tex, a trademarked fabric type which resists prolonged rain. Softshell cycling jackets usually only have a water-resistant coating; something that will cope with a quick shower but nothing more.

    Second, softshell jackets have a particular emphasis on breathability. Most are made from polyester or nylon and feel more textured than a hardshell jacket. This material lets air in and out, keeping the wearer comfortable even when they press hard on the pedals.

    Third, softshell cycling jackets trump hardshells when it comes to freedom of movement. Hardshells feel bulky and stiff when compared to softshell cycling jackets which use fabric that stretches horizontally and vertically. Sometimes you’ll see this referred to as a four-way stretch. This extra mobility is paramount for bike riding where you’ll be hopping on and off, reaching for the handlebars or adjusting your helmet.

    Ultimately, when choosing between a hardshell or softshell jacket, you should choose what’s best for the conditions.

    Softshell Cycling Jacket [PROS + CONS]

    A softshell jacket might seem like an extravagance but their versatility really marks them out as a go-to cycling garment, especially for commuters and urban cyclists. Features like water resistance and breathability mean they easily trump a run-of-the-mill jumper or fleece.

    These jackets usually have a soft, textured interior to maintain warmth which also feels comfortable against the skin. But what about riding in the teeming winter rain? We hear you! Some softshell jackets are thin and form-fitting so that another more water-resistant jacket can be worn over the top.

    All that being said, softshell jackets can be heavy, especially when compared to their featherweight counterparts – the hardshell jacket. In our experience, some softshell jackets are bulky and don’t pack down well. Both of these attributes might be a consideration if you need to pack the jacket in a cycling rucksack.

    Versatile. Ideal for everyday use Can be heavy
    Breathable Some are less packable than a hardshell
    Comfortable to wear
    Can be worn underneath another jacket

    Best Softshell Cycling Jackets for Men [Top 9]

    Most of the best urban cycling clothing brands have a softshell cycling jacket in their range. We’ve included our favourites here, alongside some brands that might be more familiar to those who enjoy hiking, skiing or sailing.

    1. Rapha Packable Down Jacket [REVIEW]
    2. Chrome Two-Way Insulated Shacket [REVIEW]
    3. Velocio Recon Snap Jacket [REVIEW]
    4. Helly Hansen Paramount Softshell Jacket [REVIEW]
    5. Ministry of Supply Composite Merino EcoFleece Jacket [REVIEW]
    6. Chrome Merino Wool Cobra 3.0 [REVIEW]
    7. Ornot Magic Shell Jacket [REVIEW]
    8. Albion Zoa Insulated Jacket [REVIEW]
    9. Mission Workshop Acre Series Jacket [REVIEW]

    1. Rapha Packable Down Jacket


    ✅ Packed with ethically sourced down

    ✅ Two-way zip

    ✅ Detachable hood

    Material(s): Main: 100% polyester. Insulation: 90% goose down, 10% feather. Lining: 100% polyester.
    Price (approximate):

    • 🇬🇧 £240
    • 🇺🇸 $325
    • 🇪🇺 €285

    Whether a down jacket constitutes a cycling softshell is up for debate, but Rapha’s Packable Down Jacket, is definitely worthy of a place on our list – it’s not a hardshell jacket that’s for sure!

    If you’ve owned a down jacket you can attest to their comfort and warmth. Purchase this jacket and you’ll happily rely on it when cycling in cold weather. The jacket has a relaxed fit designed with comfort on the bike in mind and unlike some other items on our list, the jacket packs down into a stuff sack. A DWR coating will keep the wearer dry in the event of a brief shower.

    There are two further features that caught our attention. First, a two-way zip might not sound like the most complex or noteworthy of features but it’s something every cyclist will relish using if they start getting too hot under the collar. Unzip the bottom to enable a cooling waft of air. Further to this, if you ride in a traditional cycling jersey with rear pockets, this feature allows easy access to items stored back there.

    The second notable feature is the hood. Now obviously it’s not going to go over a helmet, but it will provide extra warmth should the situation demand it. It’s also detachable.

    2. Chrome Two-Way Insulated Shacket


    ✅ Reversible

    ✅ Natty design

    ✅ 100% recycled polyester

    Material(s): 100% recycled polyester
    Price (approximate):

    • 🇬🇧 £140
    • 🇺🇸 $140
    • 🇪🇺 €158

    We’re on familiar ground here with a jacket – sorry, Shacket – from city cycling experts Chrome Industries.

    This jacket’s party piece, and one that you won’t find on any other jackets in our list, is its reversibility. On one side, a more stoic black and on the other a pleasing olive green. Irrespective of which way the shacket is worn it will provide warmth, protection against wind and an element of water resistance – all within a lightweight package.

    We particularly like the design of this one – the traditional collars, the semi-quilted fabric pattern and the chest pockets give the garment a natty feel.

    Like some other urban cycling brands, Chrome Industries has introduced recycled materials into its lineup of cycling apparel. The Two-Way Insulated Shacket is made from 100% recycled material.

    3. Velocio Recon Snap Jacket


    ✅ Top of the style stakes

    ✅ Extra insulation

    ✅ DWR coating on the outside and the inside

    Material(s): 50% Polyester. 50% Polyamide
    Price (approximate):

    • 🇬🇧 £230
    • 🇺🇸 $289
    • 🇪🇺 €230

    Although style is subjective, there’s no doubt in our mind that Velocio’s Recon Snap jacket is the best-looking item on our list. The high collar, the slim fit, the button closure and even the elbow patches – own one on you’ll scream suave and sophisticated.

    This isn’t to say that the Recon Snap isn’t up to the task of performing either, indeed the jacket is packed (literally) with some of the most technologically advanced material around. The outside is made from Pertex Quantum fabric, a superlight material with plenty of stretch. Stuffed inside the jacket is insulation from well-known provider Polartec.

    With a standard DWR coating present and correct the Recon Snap will ward off the odd shower. But top marks to Velocio for adding it to the inner of the jacket too. That way if it does get soaked in an unexpected downpour on the way to work, it should dry out in time for the return leg.

    Name a more chic cycling jacket – we’ll wait!

    4. Helly Hansen Paramount Softshell Jacket


    ✅ Tailored, athletic cut

    ✅ Adjustable cuffs

    ✅ Fleecey inner

    Material(s): Shell: 90% Recycled polyester, 10% Elastane
    Price (approximate):

    • 🇬🇧 £120
    • 🇺🇸 $130
    • 🇪🇺 €130

    To something non-cycling specific now and Helly Hansen’s Paramount Softshell Jacket. Available in black or navy this is a great example of today’s modern softshell jacket, warm, breathable and light to wear or carry. Don’t be put off that it’s not made by a cycling manufacturer.

    Like most cyclists, Trekkers and mountaineers like their softshell jackets in a tailored fit, and Helly Hansen has made close attention to the cut of this jacket.

    The Paramount’s sleeves are plenty long enough for riding a bike and the adjustable cuffs can be cinched in place to ensure they won’t ride up when reaching for the handlebars.

    Every good softshell cycling jacket should feel comfortable against the skin. The Paramount meets this criterion with its fleeced inner.

    5. Ministry of Supply Composite Merino EcoFleece Jacket


    ✅ Relaxed fit

    ✅ Clever use of biodegradable wool

    ✅ Large, oversize collar

    Material(s): 54% Merino Wool, 33% Polyester, 13% Nylon
    Price (approximate):

    • 🇬🇧 £280
    • 🇺🇸 $298
    • 🇪🇺 €280

    For city cyclists searching for a jacket that won’t look out of place at the water cooler or in the lunch queue, go for Ministry of Supply’s Composite Merino EcoFleece. The fit of this jacket is relaxed; very relaxed when compared to the other jackets in this list.

    Ministry of Supply makes great play of their jacket’s use of wool. This wholly natural material is growing in popularity again after decades in the apparel wildness. Wool is a great insulator, so this jacket will keep the rider toasty during a leisurely pedal around town. But that’s not the extent of wool’s abilities. Should any of the wool fibres from the jacket make their way into rivers, lakes or oceans they’ll degrade in a matter of months. Microplastics in polyester jackets will take centuries to degrade.

    One final feature of this jacket is the large, oversize collar. Worn flat it’s a style feature, but popped up and supported by a tug of the zip, the collar provides some simple protection from inclement weather.

    6. Chrome Merino Wool Cobra 3.0


    ✅ Cycling-specific hoodie

    ✅ Made from merino wool, recycled polyester and spandex

    ✅ Thumb holes in sleeves

    Material(s): 53% Merino Wool, 44% Polyester, 3% Spandex
    Price (approximate):

    • 🇬🇧 £189
    • 🇺🇸 $185
    • 🇪🇺 €210

    Chrome Industries get their second entry on our list, with the Merino Wool Cobra 3.0 Hoodie. As the name suggests this is the third iteration of the garment. It has a cycling-specific fit with a drop tail for extra coverage when riding, an athletic (slim) fit to prevent it from flapping in the wind and a nice high collar to keep the wearer warm and comfortable, whatever the weather.

    Cycling hoodies are definitely not ten-a-penny, especially ones made from merino wool. Like the option from Ministry of Supply, this cycling jacket is made from a blend of merino wool and polyester, but unlike the EcoFleece the Merino Cobra also has Spandex in the material. This triumvirate of materials delivers warmth, breathability and stretch respectively.

    A feature not seen on any other jackets in our list, Chrome’s Merino Wool Cobra 3.0 has thumb loops (or holes) in the sleeves. A simple but clever solution to prevent sleeves riding up or a pesky gap appearing between gloves and jacket.

    7. Ornot Magic Shell Jacket


    ✅ Made in the USA

    ✅ Now with taped seams

    ✅ Handy rear pocket

    Material(s): Oeko-tex custom fabric
    Price (approximate):

    • 🇬🇧 £238
    • 🇺🇸 $268
    • 🇪🇺 €270

    Like most of Ornot’s clothing range, their Magic Shell jacket is made in the USA. The brand has a clear focus on sustainability and is a proud member of the 1st for the planet organisation as well as being climate neutral certified.

    Recently, Ornot decided to manufacture the jacket with taped seams (rather than stitched with thread), a feature more commonly found on hardshell cycling jackets. This ups the Magic Shell’s ability to shrug off the water, making it a truly versatile jacket.

    Like all good cycling softshell jackets, this number is stretchy and won’t flap around in the wind – it also packs down to the size of a water bottle. To the rear, a pocket is a handy place to stow a set of gloves, a bank card or a set of keys.

    8. Albion Zoa Insulated Jacket


    ✅ Technological

    ✅ Helmet-compatible hood

    ✅ Large pockets front and rear

    Material(s): Main 100% recycled nylon, Insulation 100% recycled polyester
    Price (approximate):

    • 🇬🇧 £185
    • 🇺🇸 $195
    • 🇪🇺 €195

    The Zoa does the business on the bike, but if looks off the bike are important to you too, the Zoa won’t let you down there either. Like the Velocio Snap Recon and Ornot Magic Shell in our list, the Zoa uses Pertex Quantum material on the outer. This lightweight material is light to make the jacket comfortable to wear when riding, but perhaps more crucially, it is designed to help other insulation products perform. In the case of the Zoa, that’s Primaloft Insulation which delivers warmth and breathability, even on the coldest of days.

    One particular feature that stands out with the Zoa is the fully helmet-compatible hood. Eyelets in the hood allow helmet straps to slide through, ensuring a helmet can be worn safely and securely with the hood.

    There are four pockets on this jacket. The standard two hand warmer pockets are accompanied by two larger pockets at the front and rear. It’s easy to thrust items of any kind into the front pocket for a quick getaway and the rear has been designed in such a way that the jacket can be packed into it for storage and carrying.

    9. Mission Workshop Acre Series Jacket


    ✅ Simple, restrained looks

    ✅ PFC free DWR Coating

    ✅ Packs down into pocket

    Material(s): Pertex® Quantum BLUESIGN certified fabric. PrimaLoft® 40g Gold Active+ insulation.
    Price (approximate):

    • 🇬🇧 £270
    • 🇺🇸 $300
    • 🇪🇺 €310

    Last up on our list of the best cycling softshell jackets is the Acre Series from Mission Workshop. Another Pertex and Primaloft combo, the Acre Series looks great for cycling or any outdoor activities for that matter. We like the olive green version, but the charcoal black is equally good.

    As with most of the jackets on our list, this one has a DWR coating applied to give the jacket some water resistance. The specific DWR coating on this jacket is PFC-free. PFC stands for ‘perfluorinated compound’ and some of these man-made chemicals are known to have negative impacts on health and the environment.

    One last feature of note is the Acre Series’ ability to pack down neatly and compactly into its own pocket. For cyclists who are out all day or those who have a full backpack or pannier, this is a welcome feature.

    Lawrence Bywater
    Latest posts by Lawrence Bywater (see all)

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