TOP 18 Best Softshell Pants for Men & Women Reviewed 2019

Are you an outdoor person?

If you’re reading this then I’m going to assume that you are.

But even if you’re not, or you’re contemplating becoming one, every man woman and child should own a pair of softshell pants.

Of all the outdoor apparel one can possess, softshell trousers are the most versatile.

Whether you’re pottering around at home, fixing the car and doing the gardening, or watching sporting events, hiking trails or going camping, softshell pants are the go-to clothing of choice.

They will become your new best friend; a tried, trusted and much-loved garment that will provide lightweight, practical and comfortable protection – no matter what you’re getting up to.

If you don’t already have a pair or you’re in the market for something new, then you’ve come to the right place.

Below you’ll find a roundup of the best softshell pants of 2019. A buyer’s guide and FAQ section will follow, packed with helpful information.

These things are essential – so treat yourself.

TOP 18 Best Softshell Pants of 2019

White Sierra Women’s Full Moon Softshell Pants

Review: Made from 94% polyester and 6% elastane, the budget end of our softshell pant review is a smart, no-nonsense affair with a metal snap opening and fly front closure.

It features articulated knees for movement and comfort, with a four-way stretch fabric that is quick-drying while offering good water repellency and breathability in the microfilm laminated material.

To the rear, there’s a zippered hip pocket, and two hand pockets to the front. The garment is machine washable and has a Microtek fleece lining for added warmth.

Not a bad option to kick us off from Californian company White Sierra.

Pros

  • Good price.
  • Simple but effective design.
  • Lightweight.
  • Unrestrictive.
  • Fleece lining.

Cons

  • Only one zippered pocket.
  • Poor choice of colors.

Takeaway

A great pair of pants for kicking about in, they’ll do the job for most casual outdoor adventures. More pockets would have been nice, though.

Camii Mia Women’s Hiking Fleece Pants

Review: These popular softshell hiking pants are offered in a slim-fit design, so make sure you go up a size if you’re looking to layer or you want a little bit more room.

They’re made from a combination of 97% nylon and 3% spandex, with a fleece lining that is both warm and comfortable. Storage options include two hand pockets with zippers, two rear hip pockets, and two knee pockets, so there’s plenty of places to stash your stuff.

The pants are windproof and water-repellent, with a button waist and zippered fly. They might not be the best softshell pants for mountaineering, but for the price, they’re not a bad choice for lazy Sunday afternoon strolls.

Pros

  • Great price.
  • Good storage options.
  • Fleece lining.
  • Slim, flattering fit.
  • Choice of three colors.

Cons

  • Not waterproof (although marketed as).

Takeaway

Water-resistant – NOT waterproof. If people could learn the difference noses wouldn’t get so out of joint and negative reviews would decline. A decent softshell pant – but it’s not the most weatherproof available.

Camel Crown Men’s Softshell Fleece Pants

Review: These Camel Crown softshell pants have an inner layer made of warm polar fleece that will feel soft and comfortable on the skin and effectively lock the heat.

The fleece lining is warm and scratch proof, suitable for any outdoor activity. They apparently have something called lotus leaf bionic technology, which offers excellent wicking capabilities while allowing water to slide off the outer shell.

Featuring an ergonomic design that allows total freedom of movement, the pants also have an elasticated waist with belt loops, zippered pockets, and an anti-static, anti-rip coating.

A versatile style and design, you could come straight off the hills and into the bar wearing these softshells. But with the money you save here – the first round is on you.

Pros

  • Great price.
  • Versatile design.
  • Fleece-lined.
  • Comfort fit.

Cons

  • Not for use in heavy rain.

Takeaway

Simple, smart, and efficient, these Camel Crown softshell pants are versatile enough for a variety of uses – just so long as you’re not out in a downpour.

Columbia Women’s Anytime Outdoor Boot Cut Pants

Review: Time and time again Columbia’s apparel will receive thousands of five-star reviews, as they’re widely regarded as the best budget outdoor clothing company around.

These multi-use boot-cut pants for women are certainly no exception, a very popular choice for anyone venturing into the great outdoors.

Made from 96% nylon and 3% elastane, these pants are tough and durable, while resistant to water, stains and harmful UV rays using the company’s Omni-shield technology.

Designed for comfort, they have a draw-string waist, two hand pockets, and one hip pocket, and feature a body-slimming, super-comfortable fit. The use of a plus-size model in Columbia’s advertisement is worth an additional gold star.

Pros

  • Extremely comfortable – no matter your size.
  • Name to trust.
  • Choice of smart colors.
  • Versatile for any activity.
  • Great price.

Cons

  • The draw-string waist won’t be to everyone’s taste.
  • More pocket options would have been handy.

Takeaway

Altogether an outstanding offering from Columbia across the board. Well made, comfortable and flattering for all, they could well be the best softshell pants for women on the market.

Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Cargo Pants

Review: Columbia follows up with these men’s cargo pants which are one of the top sellers on the interwebs – and you can clearly see why.

They’re designed in the classic cargo style, super-lightweight with Omni-Shade UPF 50 fabric for maximum protection against the sun, and Omni-Wick technology that pulls moisture away to keep you cool and dry.

There’s plenty of storage options, bells, and whistles, including one zip-closure security pocket, two side pockets with hook and loop closures, and mesh pocket bags for ultimate convenience and efficiency.

Versatile and rugged, these cargo pants are a great choice for hiking, fishing, camping, kayaking, walking the pooch in the park – you name it. Another affordable option from the popular outdoor specialists.

Pros

  • Cargo pant design.
  • Loads of storage options.
  • Very comfortable.
  • Hard wearing.
  • Choice of colors.
  • Lightweight.

Cons

  • I can’t fault them – I might pick up a pair myself.

Takeaway

Designed with the outdoor person in mind, these pants are practical, versatile and built to last. Hundreds of reviews can’t be wrong – can they?

Jack Wolfskin Men’s Zenon Softshell Hiking Pants

Review: Speaking from experience, if there’s one thing the German outdoor clothing company does well, it’s softshell hiking pants.

This particular example is a sporty design and offers Stormlock technology, with a windproof and waterproof two-way stretch that will keep the elements at bay, your skin breathing and you on the move.

The legs have a microfleece reverse, with zippered ankles for extra comfort and protection at the boot. It features a zippered fly with button fastening, with two front pockets and belt loops.

For a lightweight softshell, it’s surprisingly warm, and you won’t find Jack Wolfskin too far away from other excellent winter hiking pants – so follow that link if you’d like even more options for colder weather.

Pros

  • Outstanding quality.
  • Warm and comfortable.
  • Name to trust.
  • Zippered ankles.

Cons

  • Only available in black.
  • A hip pocket would have been useful – at least.

Takeaway

Jack Wolfskin really does make top-quality apparel for almost any outdoor activity or adventure, and these softshells are right up there with the very best. More color options would have been nice though, Jack.

The North Face Women’s Aphrodite 2.0 Pants

Review: The North Face brings us these affordable, stretchy softshells that are triple-needle stitched for extra durability.

They feature a draw-string waist and ankle cuffs for added comfort and protection, with two, front hand pockets and a zippered pocket for securing small valuables when you’re out and about.

The pants have incorporated a rugged FlashDry technology that excels at wicking away moisture from the skin while keeping you warm and dry at the same time. Made from nylon and elastane, there’s a 2×2 wide rib-knit waistband and a straight, standard fit for maximum maneuverability.

They’re not only versatile and practical, but you’ll also feel and look great in this figure-conscious design. It’s named after the Greek Goddess of love, after all.

Pros

  • Tough and durable.
  • Triple stitched.
  • Choice of colors.
  • Lightweight.

Cons

  • Again, the drawstring waist might not be for everyone.

Takeaway

They’ve put some serious thought into these softshell hiking pants – well designed, comfortable and unrestrictive.

They’re excellent for most outdoor activities, but if you’re looking for something to use at higher altitudes, take a look at these awesome mountaineering pants, instead.

Jack Wolfskin Women’s Drake Flex Hiking Pants

Review: Another entry for Jack Wolfskin, this time for the women. Designed for everyday wear – with a particular emphasis on travel – they’re wind and water-resistant, breathable and rugged.

They feature a soft and comfortable blend of polyester and organic cotton, with a simple yet functional design that just might make them the only pants you need to pack for your adventure.

Highly flexible, the breathable Flexshield inserts ensure you have maximum maneuverability at the waist and across the thighs.

As a go-to, day-to-day workhorse of a pant, you’re unlikely to find anything as comfortable as this option. There’s a good bet it’s down to that organic cotton.

Pros

  • Versatile, everyday use.
  • Super comfortable.
  • Tough and durable – especially round the ankles.
  • Zippered hand pockets.

Cons

  • They might run a little small – double check your sizing.

Takeaway

They’ve done it again with a practical, super-comfortable softshell that is at home hiking the trails as it is wandering the old town. As your chosen pants over a weekend away, you’ll only ever need these.

Outdoor Research Women’s Ferrosi Pants

Review: Made from 86% nylon and 14% spandex, these Outdoor Research softshell pants provide a movement mirroring stretch that won’t slow you down.

They’re water and wind-resistant, highly breathable with a quick-drying technology that’s ideal if you’re unlucky enough to be in a downpour. They also offer a UPF 50+ rating to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.

Featuring front slash pockets, zippered thigh pocket, zippered back pockets, a brushed tricot-lined waistband, and a dual-snap zippered fly, there’s plenty going for the Ferrosi to keep you comfortable with great functionality.

Articulated knees, drawcord cuff closures, belt loops, and a harness compatible waist complete these highly versatile outdoor pants.

Pros

  • Loads of practical features.
  • Highly flexible.
  • Choice of colors.
  • Lightweight.
  • Quick-drying.

Cons

  • They run long – so not ideal if you’re a little on the short side.

Takeaway

A solid option for a variety of outdoor activities, Outdoor Research is a name to trust – and this is another quality product from their drawing boards.

Try pairing them with one of these stylish packable down jackets to really turn heads on the trails – or down the local supermarket.

The North Face Men’s Paramount Trail Pants

Review: With a relaxed fit that drapes off the body for unrivaled movement and comfort, these lightweight trail pants can convert into a 10-inch short – which is handy if you really need some extra breathability.

They’re coated with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish, wind and water-resistant, with an elasticated waistband with a buckle closure to the front. Featuring a wealth of pockets and storage, including welted hand pockets, a classic coin pocket, zip closure pocket to the rear, and a hook-and-loop closure cargo pocket on right leg.

There’s also a secure zip cargo pocket on the left leg, and cuffs feature a zipper to allow them to be rolled up easily. The Paramount is made from 100% nylon and has the bonus of being machine washable and tumble dry.

Pros

  • Versatile, convertible pants.
  • Plenty of good pocket options.
  • Cargo design.
  • Tough and durable.
  • Buckle adjusted waist.

Cons

  • Convertable pants are always a fiddle – but it’s a minor downside.

Takeaway

There’s plenty to like about these North Face convertible pants, with the practical pocket options are real plus point. Definitely up there with the best softshell pants for hiking.

Helly Hansen Women’s Hild Nylon Quick-dry Pants

Review: Designed to be used during all kinds of outdoor activities, these quick-dry pants from Norgewigan brand Helly Hansen offer an excellent range of movement while being UPF factor 50+ protected.

The stitch-knit waistband is particularly comfortable and inviting, while button tabs allow the hems to be rolled up for extra ventilation. The crotch is gusseted for extra freedom, and the pants feature two front patch-style pockets on the sides.

Known for their water-resistant tech, Helly Hansen has produced another solid hiking pant here that will be able to stand up to the elements – but you’ll need to layer up if you’re out and about in lower temperatures.

Pros

  • Super-comfortable waistband.
  • Roll-up hem.
  • Versatile use.

Cons

  • Pockets are too shallow – and more could have been included.

Takeaway

More quality apparel from Norway, Helly Hansen gear is as practical as it is attractive. They’re not the best winter softshell pants, but if you know how to layer well then they should do you all year round.

Have a look at these best winter hiking jackets while you’re at it – so you stay nice and toasty on the trails this season.

Outdoor Research Men’s Cirque Pants

Review: Outdoor Research has come up with another quality offering here with their popular Cirque pant – designed for all kinds of outdoor fun. Made with a blend of 50% nylon, 43% polyester, and 7% spandex, it offers excellent weather resistance, breathability, and freedom of movement.

The articulated knees and gusseted crotch certainly help with that, while the low profile waist easily fits under a climbing harness, a backpack or PFD if you’re out kayaking. For storage, you’ve not been sold short here, with a thigh pocket, two hand pockets and a hip pocket – all zippered for extra protection of your gear.

The pant accepts accessory suspenders if you’re skiing or snowboarding, and it’s just an all-round excellent mountaineering softshell that’s great in all conditions.

Pros

  • Practical design.
  • Excellent freedom of movement.
  • Name to trust.
  • Plenty of pockets.
  • Suspender compatible.

Cons

  • The sizing can be frustrating – double check before purchase.

Takeaway

A top-quality softshell for colder weather, try them with one of these amazing jackets for extreme temperatures. Still, Outdoor Research has scored a home run with this garment, that’s for sure – possibly the best softshell pants in the review.

Marmot Men’s Verde Pants

Review: Founded in Colorado, Marmot’s story is a funny and fascinating one, and they’ve been making quality garments such as these Verde pants since 1974. These multi-use pants have been clearly designed with maximum comfort in mind, incorporating and abrasion-resistant nylon that wicks away moisture to keep you dry.

The UPF 50+ fabric provides protection from the sun during outdoor activity, while the easy, relaxed fit ensures you’re not restricted in your movements. It features a belt-loop waistband, zip fly with button closure, dual-hand pockets and reinforced back pockets, with a zipped pocket at the side.

Comfortable, stretchable, hardwearing and with an attractive cut, you could do a lot worse than these excellent softshells from Marmot.

Pros

  • Attractive, practical design.
  • Plenty of pockets.
  • Comfort fit.
  • Name to trust.

Cons

  • Dull colors – but I’m clutching at straws.

Takeaway

A beautifully designed and versatile pant here, the fit and cut are particularly noteworthy – they look very comfortable indeed. Don’t take my word for it though – grab yourself a pair and let me know.

Mountain Equipment Men’s Ibex Mountain Pants

Review: Mountain Equipment is aiming to tick all the boxes with their Ibex model softshell pants, with double-weave stretch fabric and super-smooth outer for abrasion resistance.

The lining is soft and comfortable so you’re skin is taken care of, and the Microfleece lined waistband only adds to that pleasurable wearing experience. There’s an integrated belt with double press-stud waist closure, and a drawcord channel at the hem.

It boasts some excellent pocket options, including two zipped hand pockets and one rear, zipped pocket; as well as two zipped thigh pockets with integrated mesh lining.

As an added touch, ankle zips with an internal gusset panel ensure that all types of mountain boots are accommodated.

Pros

  • Tough and durable.
  • Integrated belt.
  • Lightweight and portable.
  • Zippered ankles.

Cons

  • None to speak of – apart from only two color options.

Takeaway

A strong showing here from Mountain Equipment, with a stylish and practical outdoor pant that is versatile enough for your preferred pursuit of choice. The integrated belt is a nice addition.

Mountain Hardwear Men’s Yumalino Pants

Review: Here we have a solid looking softshell from Mountain Hardware – an offshoot of Columbia, so you know you’re getting the real deal.

They feature a wide, low-profile waistband for additional comfort wearing a backpack or climbing harness, with a full-length inseam gusset for improved mobility. The DWR finish repels water and keeps things breathable, while the warm, soft fleece lining will keep you snug even without layering.

Featuring two hand pockets, a zippered pocket to the rear and a zippered thigh pocket, it’s another versatile pant that wouldn’t look out of place in multiple environments, so you don’t just have to use them for outdoor adventures in wild conditions.

Pros

  • Versatile design.
  • Comfort fit and articulated paneling.
  • Low profile waist.
  • Good storage options.

Cons

  • Very limited colors.

Takeaway

A well-manufactured softshell that is super comfortable while offering excellent protection. I’d be happy to wear these just kicking about the house.

Sitka Grinder Pants

Review: Named after a town in Alaska, Sitka is a hunting gear brand under the umbrella of GORE-TEX. While these pants don’t quite benefit from that system, nonetheless they are a superbly designed garment with excellent weatherproofing features and supreme comfort.

The fit is in the athletic mold, with tapered legs and a low-profile waist that won’t bunch or chafe under waders. The pocket system is on another level, with diagonal thigh pockets you can access while seated (a huge bonus) two hand pockets with a clever reinforced lip for hanging equipment or tools, and two zippered hip pockets to the rear.

They’re as rugged as they come, designed to be worn as an inner layer, but they’re just as good as a standalone pair of silky-smooth softshells.

Pros

  • Outstanding build quality.
  • Excellent storage options.
  • Super soft, comfortable material.
  • Designed with the outdoor person in mind.
  • Camouflage options are available.

Cons

  • I can’t fault these pants, save I wish they were available in other colors.

Takeaway

One for the hunters and fisherpeople out there, these pants are built to last and provide top-drawer comfort and protection – especially when used as part of a layering system.

Mammut Women’s Tatramar SO Pants

Review: It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of this Swiss company – speaking from experience – and these women’s Tatramar pants just ooze quality – simply by looking at them.

Made from polyamide, they have a water-resistant outer material, in a three-layered construction designed for optimal weather protection and breathability. Two side zips offer extra venting capabilities, and the legs have integrated gaiters.

For storage, you have two zippered front pockets and one zippered pocket to the rear. They’re super-lightweight considering the amount of protection on offer, and they have a really cozy fleece lining to keep you nice and warm when you’re in the mountains.

Don’t forget a pair of good winter hiking boots to match the quality of this Mammut garment.

Pros

  • Quality construction throughout.
  • Market-leading name in mountain gear.
  • Well designed features.
  • Stylish look and feel.

Cons

  • Expensive.

Takeaway

A great looking softshell from Mammut with solid build quality and excellent, all-round comfort and protection then again I never expected anything less. Give these a go and you won’t be disappointed.

 Arc’teryx Gamma LT Pants

Review: It comes as little surprise that Arc’teryx is at the top of the food chain – yet again – when it comes to outdoor gear and apparel.

This is the woman’s version of the popular Gamma softshell pant – but a male version is readily available as well.

The Canadian mountain wear specialists knock it out the park with this design, with a versatile, lightweight and hardwearing product that provides light weather protection, air permeable comfort, and excellent mobility.

They offer excellent breathability while being highly abrasion-resistant, with a clean, attractive, minimalist aesthetic that’s no-nonsense. The Gamma is packed with loads of outdoor-friendly features, all wrapped up in Arc’teryx’ signature quality. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Pros

  • Market-leading company.
  • Top-quality construction.
  • Effective, minimalist design.
  • Excellent mobility.

Cons

  • Expensive price point.

Takeaway

I’m running out of superlatives to describe the products this company produces, and this is right up there with the very best. Get yourself a pair and discover what all the fuss is about.

How to Choose the Best Softshell Pants – A Buyer’s Guide

Below you’ll find some helpful advice to point you in the right direction before making a purchase of the right kind of softshell pants for you.

Waterproofing and Weather Protection

First of all, it will save a lot of time and effort if we clear up some weather protection terminology.

Softshell pants aren’t waterproof.

They’re water-resistant.

This will make a big difference if you’re trying to use them in very wet conditions – for that you’ll need a GORE-TEX hardshell garment at the bare minimum.

Softshell pants are warm, flexible, and breathable – more suited to dry, cold days with the chance of the odd shower.

They’re also windproof, so the gusts won’t blow right through you when you’re halfway up a mountain.

But they are NOT waterproof. Repeat – NOT waterproof.

Maybe that will stop all the negative reviews.

Sizing

I cannot stress this enough (and it doesn’t just apply to softshell pants – but it’s often a garment where people order the wrong size) you NEED to check your measurements before ordering.

Most manufacturers will include a handy guide to their sizing – because they’re not all the same.

What fits perfectly from one company might run small or large in another.

Don’t make your purchase until you’re sure the garment is going to fit you and your body type. It will save everyone a lot of time and hassle in the long run.

man wearing red hoodie and hiking pants standing near body of water

Weight and Insulation

Softshells are designed to be on the lighter side of outdoor wear, which means they’re more comfortable, less restrictive and easy to pack and transport when required.

Some softshells are thicker than others – particularly if they have a fleece lining for added warmth. They will obviously be slightly heavier.

Insulation is included in certain softshell designs. For others, you’ll need to add inner layers if you’re out in the cold.

Heavier pants are not recommended if you’re going to be on the go, such as hiking or climbing, so lightweight softshell pants are ideal for these kinds of activities.

Waist Design

You might have noticed that the waist design in softshell pants can vary from product to product.

Some have a standard button clasp with belt loops should you need to hitch them up a bit.

Others have draw-string waists that you can sinch in and tie to your own comfort.

There are options that come with a belt already incorporated – which is handy for not having to bring along anything extra.

And then there are low-rise waist softshells that are specifically designed with a lower waistband in order to be compatible with backpacks, climbing harnesses, and personal flotation devices.

Whatever design you choose is entirely up to your personal preference, but should also be geared towards your chosen activity.

Personally, I prefer a belted, low-rise softshell, as it just feels more secure while offering versatile options of compatibility.

traveler standing on the cliff over a lake

Pockets

I don’t know about you, but for a general-purpose, multi-use, versatile pant, I want something that’s going to be as practical as it is comfortable.

That means – pockets!

Well designed pockets and storage options can make or break a good pair of softshell pants.

Of course, it’s up to you what you need and what you’re looking for, but I would go for a garment that has at least five-pocket options.

Two hand pockets (deep enough for change or small items not to slide out when sitting down) one rear hip pocket (at the very least) and one thigh pocket.

Look for water-resistant/quality zippers if you really want to keep your stuff protected.

My go-to softshells are a pair of Jack Wolfskin hiking pants that have six pockets – and I get use from them all when I’m in the great outdoors.

Hunters and fisherpeople will get a lot out of using softshells with plenty of storage.

And having secure pockets while traveling is great for keeping valuables like passports and travel documents close to hand.

Extra Features

Bonus features on softshell pants can include boot loops or hooks to attach to your climbing or hiking footwear.

It might offer zippered legs at the side to make it easier to put the garment on and take it off.

Zippered venting systems might also be included at the waist or the thigh for improved circulation if you’re getting too hot.

And velcro or draw-string leg cuffs with snow deflectors can improve comfort and keep the elements out.

This list isn’t exhaustive – there are plenty of other bells and whistles on softshells that will make your outdoor or indoor life that much easier.

couple hiking in winter

FAQs

What is a Softshell Pant?

Made from tightly woven fabric, softshell pants offer good wind protection, with adequate water-resistance, while being highly breathable.

They’re also noted for not restricting movements as much as hardshells or heavier-duty garments.

They can be defined by their literal softshell – a soft outer layer with a brushed liner or inner fleece for extra comfort and warmth.

What are Softshell Pants Used For?

There’s no one specific activity that softshells are used for – and that’s the beauty of them.

You can climb a mountain wearing a softshell pant (with adequate lining or layers), you can watch your favorite sports team wearing them, you can lounge around the house, walk the dog, do the gardening, even go on a night out – providing there isn’t a strict dress code.

They’re highly versatile products and everyone should own a pair as their go-to workhorse pant.

But if pushed, I would say they are best used in the great outdoors as an excellent hiking and camping option, adaptable for all seasons.

Are Softshell Pants Warm?

Yes – providing they have an inner liner.

If you’re looking for a softshell that is warm, opt for a design that incorporates a fleece lining or other form of insulation.

These softshells are ideal for hiking and climbing in colder temperatures.

But, failing that – you could always use a thinner, more lightweight model providing you layer up well underneath.

Check out the video below for a guide to layering like a pro.

Are Softshell Pants Good for Skiing?

I would say they’re just okay for skiing. You can use them for winter sports (with the correct layering or fleece lining of course) but they’re just not going to cut it if you get too damp.

If you have a tendency to fall on the slopes, or you simply get covered in snow for whatever reason, it’s not going to take long for a softshell to soak through.

This is particularly true if you’re doused in heavy, wet snow.

For that reason, I’d stick to proper ski pants when you’re out on the piste – just to be on the safe side.

Summary

Softshell pants should be a staple in anyone’s closet – particularly if you’re an outdoor enthusiast.

I hope this little guide and review has assisted you in choosing the best softshell pants for you and your needs.

Let me know in the comments below if you have any further questions – or just to say hello!

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