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Fall and winter conditions can change in a snap, swinging from unseasonably warm to dumping snow, meaning that a proper layering system is essential to hike safely and comfortably. Start yours off right with these 11 perfect hiking jackets, ranging from storm-ready hardshells to softshells that move with you on the hardest ascents.
The Best Hardshell Jackets of Winter 2019
Keep rain and snow out with these trail-tested hardshells, ranging from gossamer to burly.
Montane Pac Plus
The Pac Plus kept us dry while we hiked through three straight days of rain, sleet, and snow in Idaho’s Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness and delivered good breathability on uphill grunts—all for half the cost of some competitors. Buy Montane Pac Plus Now / Read the Full Review
The North Face Summit L5 LT Jacket
In the race for better breathability, there’s a new frontrunner. The L5 LT’s three-layer FUTURELIGHT fabric has an air-permeable electrospun membrane made from superthin fibers—not a new technique, but testers reported exceptional airiness. Buy The North Face Summit L5 LT Jacket Now / Read the Full Review
GoLite Ready Set Go
Eddie Bauer BC Freshline 2.0/BC Fineline 2.0
Looking for tank-level protection? This is your shell. We hunkered down in the Freshline (the Fineline is the women’s version) during a rainstorm-turned-blizzard on Colorado’s Mt. Massive, and stayed dry throughout. Buy Eddie Bauer BC Freshline 2.0/BC Fineline 2.0 Now / Read the Full Review
Amundsen Sports Peak Anorak
It was the little things that made the biggest impressions with the Peak Anorak. “The kanragoo pouch was perfect for stashing items I needed quick access to, like skins or gloves,” as it steers clear of hipbelts and fits more than hand pockets, one tester says. Buy Amundsen Sports Peak Anorak Now / Read the Full Review
Adidas Outdoors Primeknit Climaproof Jacket
Stretch Armstrong himself would’ve picked this superflexy number: Its knit construction (rather than the more common woven design) lends it the best four-way stretch in the test. Buy Adidas Outdoors Primeknit Climaproof Jacket Now / Read the Full Review
Direct Alpine Revolt
Dynafit Speed 3L Reflective Jacket
If you backcountry ski with a minimalist kit, get this shell to match. Features are streamlined, but what’s here works, like a three-way adjustable hood that clung to our heads (with and without a helmet) and two hand pockets that are each big enough for gloves. Buy Dynafit Speed 3L Reflective Jacket Now / Read the Full Review
The Best Softshell Jackets of Winter 2019
These flexible, soft jackets are ready to fend off light precip while making sure sweat doesn’t steam you up.
Helly Hansen Odin Mountain Hybrid Softshell
Frigid temps, brutal winds, surprise snowstorms—when we ventured into iffy weather but still wanted the breathability of a softshell, this was the jacket we took. Buy Helly Hansen Odin Mountain Hybrid Softshell Now / Read the Full Review
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Grid Hooded
Like the best winter-worthy softies, the Ferrosi offers good breathability, move-with-you stretch, and significant protection from wind and snow—but this one delivers all that at a sweet price. Buy Outdoor Research Ferrosi Grid Hooded Now / Read the Full Review
Mountain Equipment Dispersion Jacket
For high-output missions where breathability was the priority—but where weather protection was never far from our minds—we grabbed this shell. Buy Mountain Equipment Dispersion Jacket Now / Read the Full Review