If you plan to head out into the mountains in tougher conditions, be it for hiking or for more adventurous mountaineering activity, a good hardshell jacket is something that will provide you with the appropriate level of protection for your outer layer.
For large parts of most typical hiking, you can get by on a good rain jacket with appropriate layering.
However, if you plan to head in harsher environments, or like to climb and scramble at tougher times of year, you will need considerably more protection than a rain jacket can provide.
Here we list out the best men’s hard shell jackets that are available on the market in 2020. We try to get to the point as quickly as we can listing out the key features so can zero in on the capabilities quickly.
If you just don’t have time to look through the whole article, let us save you time by telling you now that our favorite hardshell jacket for men is the Arc’teryx Beta AR.
If you’re totally new to hardshell jackets and are not sure where to start to learn about whats involved with them, check out our hardshell jacket buying guide. It walks you through all of the key factors to consider.
1. Arc’teryx Beta AR
- Great all-rounder designed to withstand a wide variety of conditions
- Extremely durable – will last for years
- Waterproof and breathable
- Excellent fit, anatomically shaped
Arc’teryx Beta AR Jacket Features Summary:
- Fabric: Body: 40-denier (N40p-X) 3L GORE-TEX Pro; reinforcements: 80-denier (N80p-X) 3L GORE-TEX Pro
- Weight: 455 g / 1 lb
- Waterproof 3-layer GORE-TEX Pro waterproof breathable laminate
- DropHood™ is helmet compatible with Cohaesive™ cordlock front hood adjusters and a separate collar for draft protection
- Pockets: #5 WaterTight™ VISLON® center front zipper; RS™ zipper sliders on hand pockets; internal zip-closure security pocket
- Pit zips for additional ventilation
- Adjustable hem drawcord seals out cold
Best Uses: Hiking in tough conditions, mountaineering, skiing, winter outdoor sports
Leading Canadian outdoor brand Arc’teryx is known for its high-quality outdoor wear, with the Beta AR, or All Round, men’s hardshell representing an excellent choice for those looking for a good looking, durable and well-designed jacket, suitable for a wide variety of weather conditions.
The Beta AR is made from a nylon fabric with a polyester tricot interior face. Treated with N40r-X and N80r-X Gore-Tex Pro 3L this jacket is highly water and windproof, while only weighing one pound.
This ensures that the Beta AR is easy to pack, carry and layer. Its anatomical shaping and micro seam allowance make for an excellent, hip-length fit.
In terms of waterproofing and breathability, this jacket is one of the best you can purchase, with a Gore-Tex Pro three-layer laminate that ensures you stay dry from the outside while preventing perspiration build up.
The adjustable, helmet-compatible hood, with internal collar offers further protection against the elements and features a microsuede chin guard for extra comfort.
Use of its adjustments has been designed with gloved fingers in mind. For full waterproof protection, the Beta AR features WaterTight™ external zippers, and RainShield™ pocket zipper sliders, on its two front hand pockets.
Other features include an internal chest pocket, articulated elbows, pit zips for ventilation, cuff adjusters and an adjustable hem drawcord. The Beta AR has everything you need to keep you warm and dry in a variety of conditions and is lightweight and packable.
This is one of the most durable, breathable and waterproof hardshell jackets available and it will last for many years, making it excellent value for money in spite of its rather high price.
2. Arc’teryx Alpha SV
- Designed for severe weather
- Keeps you dry in extreme alpine conditions
- Durable, waterproof Gore-Tex three-layer construction
- Features designed for use with gloves or mittens
- Cost – quality comes at a price
Arc’teryx Alpha SV Jacket Features Summary:
- Fabric: Nylon with waterproof 3-layer N100p-X GORE-TEX Pro waterproof breathable laminate
- Weight: 490 g / 1 lb 1.3 oz
- Highly durable hardshell designed for waterproof, windproof protection
- Optimized construction, WaterTight™ zippers with RS™ sliders, and minimized seams shed grams
- Fully featured with a helmet compatible StormHood
- Pockets: Two crossover hand pockets with WaterTight zips; internal chest zip pocket; two internal laminated pockets; left bicep pocket with WaterTight zip; internal dump pocket
- Pit zips for additional ventilation
- Laminated drop-back hem with adjustable drawcord keeps in warmth
- Laminated die-cut Velcro® cuff adjusters with elastic keep out the element
Best Uses: Hiking, climbing, mountaineering, skiing, winter outdoor sports
The Alpha SV hardshell jacket, by Canadian brand Arc’teryx is made from durable materials for enhanced weather protection in extreme conditions, SV standing for severe.
It is one of the most highly recommended hardshell jackets for climbing in harsh alpine conditions, although it is suitable for a variety of other activities, including hiking in extreme weather.
Made with Gore-Tex N80p-X face fabric, the Alpha SV is extremely durable, keeping you dry in the harshest conditions, while offering an excellent fit thanks to its anatomical shaping.
Weighing 1.15 pounds, the Alpha SV combines waterproofing and breathability with its Gore-Tex Pro three-layer construction and Arc’teryx Nu water repellent treatment.
Narrow seam tape, a laminated hood brim and WaterTight™ external zippers keep you dry even in wet and windy conditions.
With its generous cut to allow extra layering, this hardshell also features a StormHood™ which is helmet-compatible and easy to adjust, a laminated chin guard, pit-zips, an internal, zippered chest pocket, left bicep pocket, two high crossover hand pockets, hemlock removable inserts for use with a harness, adjustable cuffs and a hem drawcord.
Each feature has been carefully designed to provide efficient, maximum use in severe weather, making the Alpha SV an alpine icon. Durable and resistant, this hardshell is made to last with enhanced abrasion resistance.
Note that this jacket is intended for severe conditions and if you are looking for a hardshell for more moderate conditions, you may be better looking at a lighter, more flexible all-rounder with greater breathability, although you will probably not find a better jacket for harsh, extreme alpine conditions.
3. Outdoor Research Axiom
- Lightweight, doesn’t take up much space in your pack
- Pockets accessible without removing backpack
- Competitive price
- No pit zips
Outdoor Research Axiom Jacket Features Summary:
- Fabric: GORE-TEX Active 3L100% nylon 30D mechanical stretch ripstop face with 100% polyester backer
- Weight: 4.2oz / 402g Avg. Weight for size L
- Helmet Compatible Wire-Brimmed Halo-Hood
- Pockets: Zip Chest PocketZip Hand PocketsInternal Media Pocket
- Waterproof and breathable
- Internal Front Stormflap
- Pocket Placement Above Harness or Pack Belt
- HookLoop Cuff Closures
- Elastic Drawcord Hem
Best Uses: Hiking, climbing, mountaineering
This versatile, lightweight, waterproof hard shell by Outdoor Research is ideal for keeping warm and dry while exploring the backcountry.
The award-winning, lightweight Axiom jacket is a popular, lower priced alternative to some of the more expensive models on the market.
Made from 30 denier stretch nylon, this hardshell weighs just 14.2 ounces, making it easy to wear and equally handy for sticking in your backpack. Its fit is further enhanced by the fabric’s movement-mirroring stretch and underarm panels that move with you for overhead stretching.
Complete with a three-layer Gore-Tex Active membrane that is both waterproof and breathable, you’ll be hard pushed to find a lighter, more easily packable, versatile hardshell at a lower price.
The Axiom comes with a hood that is helmet compatible and wire brimmed for extra protection from the elements. All seams are fully taped, while the front zippers are water-resistant.
The main front, two-way zipper has a storm guard and the chest and hand pockets sit above your backpack straps for easy access without having to take off your pack.
This hardshell also features an internal media pocket for your devices, complete with a handy key clip, adjustable cuffs and an elasticated drawcord hem to keep the elements out.
Quick drying, waterproof, breathable and lightweight, this excellent sports hardshell is a great buy at an extremely competitive price. An excellent space saving hip-length shell to have with you out on the trail.
4. REI Co-op Drypoint GTX Jacket
- Three-layer Gore-Tex Active laminate – fully waterproof
- Lightweight – packable and easy to layer
- Hood with built-in visor
- Bluesign accredited fabric
- Only has a one-way zipper
- Could do with an extra pocket for when using pockets as core vents
REI Co-op Drypoint GTX Jacket Features Summary:
- Fabric: 20-denier ripstop nylon (bluesign® approved)
- GORE-TEX 3 layer Active waterproof breathable laminate
- Weight: 10.5 ounces / 298 g
- 3-point adjustable hood with built-in visor preserves your field of view and blocks wind and rain
- Mesh-lined hand pockets double as core vents to dump excess body heat
- Set high to clear your pack’s hipbelt, the zippered hand pockets are coated for water resistance
- Minimalist hook-and-loop cuff tabs adjust to keep out wind and rain
- Adjustable hem drawcord keeps in warmth
Best Uses: Hiking, day-to-day use
The Drypoint GTX hardshell jacket by REI combines waterproof properties with breathability for an excellent all-rounder, versatile sports jacket that will keep wet weather out.
Suitable to wear with or without layers, this is a popular choice for backpacking thanks to its light weight and packability.
This hip-length jacket has been designed for hiking. It is made from 20 denier nylon and features a three-layer Gore-Tex Active laminate, that is both waterproof and breathable.
All seams are fully taped for extra protection, while breathability is further enhanced by the dual use pockets that are made from mesh and double as core vents to help keep you dry during intense activity.
Weighing in at only 10.5 ounces, this hardshell is lightweight, making it easy to wear or pack. The zippered hand pockets are placed above your pack’s hipbelt for ease of use and they are also coated for water resistance.
This hip-length hardshell jacket also features Velcro adjustable cuffs, a drawstring hem to keep warmth in and the elements out and a three-point adjustable hood.
The hood has a wind-blocking visor which offers extra facial protection in bad weather and protects your field of vision, helping you to stay on track.
Supple and lightweight, while waterproof and breathable, the Drypoint GTX is also Bluesign accredited, meaning the fabric used has been manufactured in a way that protects the environment and the dignity of those working to create it.
Competitively priced at the middle of the market range, this jacket is a great choice and a versatile all-rounder that will see you through warmer as well as very cold periods.
5. Arc’Teryx Alpha FL Jacket
- Comes with stuff sack to clip onto pack
- Durable outer fabric for years of use
- Waterproof and breathable
- No vents, although breathability is increased by stacking the internal and external pockets
- No side hand pockets
Arc’teryx Alpha FL Jacket Features Summary:
- Fabric: durable N40p-X face fabric
- GORE-TEX Pro performance three layer construction
- Weight: 315 g / 11.1 oz
- Helmet compatible StormHood
- Custom Cohaesive™ hem adjustments serve as HemLocks™ to prevent slippage under a harness
- Constructed to optimize breathability by stacking the exterior and interior pockets
- Exceptional freedom of movement and room for light layers
- Articulated elbows
Best Uses: Hiking, Alpine climbing
This minimalist hardshell from Arc’Teryx is designed along the FL range specifics namely being Fast and Light.
Designed for rock climbing and protection from the elements in tough alpine environments, this jacket is also an excellent choice for hiking thanks to its low weight, durability and packability.
The Alpha FL is made from a durable outer N40p-X fabric that keeps the elements out while remaining breathable, for a lightweight jacket that is suited to fast moving, intense activity.
Weighing just 11.1 ounces, this hardshell won’t weigh you down, and it also comes complete with a stuff sack and webbing loop, to save extra space in your pack.
With its light weight and e3D patterning comes exceptional ease of movement and a comfortable fit, with or without light layers. Its trim fit and micro seam allowance cut back on bulk and increase both wearability and breathability.
The hood is laminated and helmet compatible with external drawcords to adjust fit. To ensure you stay warm and dry this hardshell features a WaterTight™ Vislon front zipper, laminated Velcro cuff adjusters and an adjustable hem drawcord.
There is also an internal pocket for your valuables, while the hem adjusters help maintain jacket stability under a harness.
This hardshell has been extremely well-designed and uses premium materials to ensure ease of movement even in harsh conditions.
Although it is priced at the upper end of the market, this jacket is made to last and is a truly excellent addition to any hiking expedition, especially recommended for those who prefer fast paced activity in cooler climes.
6. Outdoor Research Realm
- Extremely breathable for intense activity without perspiration build up
- Lightweight and packable – internal pocket doubles as stuff sack
- Waterproof and windproof
- Comfortable stretch material mirrors your movements
- No hand pockets
Outdoor Research Realm Jacket Features Summary:
- Fabric: AscentShell™ 3L100% nylon 20D mechanical stretch ripstop face with 100% polyester 12D backer
- Weight: 10.9oz / 308g Avg. Weight for size L
- Fully Adjustable, Helmet Compatible Wire-Brimmed Halo-Hood
- Waterproof, Breathable, Air Permeable, Fully Seam-Taped, Laminated Construction
- Lightweight, Movement-Mirroring Stretch
- Single-Separating Front Zipper, Hook/Loop Cuff Closures, Elastic Cuffs
- Elastic Drawcord Hem
Best Uses: Hiking, camping, skiing, snow boarding, casual use
Popular outdoor brand Outdoor Research have created the men’s Realm hardshell jacket to withstand cold and wet conditions while remaining lightweight, waterproof and incredibly breathable.
Made from 20 denier mechanical stretch ripstop nylon with a polyester backing, the Realm is lightweight, streamline and extremely durable.
At just 10.9 ounces, it takes up minimum space in your backpack, packing into its internal pocket which doubles as a stuff sack. It is supple and comfortable to wear, thanks to its movement-mirroring stretch properties.
Snug-fitting, the Realm is easy to wear with light layers for an effective warm and dry winter hiking experience.
Thanks to its polyester inner face it is also comfortable to wear at other times of the year with less layers to protect against the wet whilst preventing a build-up of perspiration.
Although it should be noted that here are no vents for heat dumping during intense activity.
The Realm hardshell is waterproof and windproof, and it also features YKK AquaGuard zippers to keep you dry, alongside an internal front storm flap for added protection from the elements.
The hood is helmet compatible and wire-brimmed for improved vision in harsh conditions. Other features include a carabiner loop, Velcro cuff closures, elasticated cuffs and a drawstring hem, providing increased protection while helping to keep you warm.
There is an internal pocket and two zip chest pockets, although there are no hand pockets.
Outdoor Research’s Realm jacket is a great choice for keeping active throughout the winter and other wet and windy periods with its lightweight and extremely breathable characteristics.
It is a popular choice that is easily packable and comes from a brand that makes high-quality outdoor goods that last.
7. Wantdo Mountain Rain Jacket
- Low price makes this jacket widely accessible
- Comes with lining
- Warm and windproof
- Good for casual wear
- Stitching and zipper durability are questionable
- Not waterproof, offers some minimal water resistance
Wantdo Mountain Rain Jacket Features Summary:
- Fabric: Polyester; Shell: Professional coated fabric; Lining: Super soft and warm fuzzy lining
- Weight: 10.9oz / 308g Avg. Weight for size L
- 2400 polyester fibre which guarantees the best heat retention. Relaxed-fit style with quick-dry material
- Water-repellent rain jacket can work under over 10000mm pressure head
- Adjustable cuffs, stretchable glove with thumb hole help seal in warmth
- Inside windproof snap powder skirt, internal drawcord hem, detachable and adjustable storm hood help to keep wind out
- Wear resisting soft shell is highly wind resistant
- Pockets: 2 zippered hand pockets, 1 zippered chest pocket (passport or cards stowed), 1 internal pocket, 1 internal secure media pocket
- An earphone line fastening and supporting fixture available inside the jacket
Best Uses: Hiking, skiing, snow boarding, outdoor winter sports
This men’s outdoor waterproof jacket by Wantdo is a budget priced outdoor sports jacket that will keep you warm whilst remaining dry and protected from the wind.
Its low price has made it an extremely popular choice and it is ideal for the occasional hiker or newbie who doesn’t yet want to commit to purchasing a more expensive jacket.
This jacket is treated with a water repellent, although it is not fully water proofed. It is made from durable materials, although the quality of the stitching and zippers could be improved upon.
With a warm polyester lining, this jacket has an excellent heat retention, however, it is mainly intended for low intensity, casual wear not active sportswear as it does not offer much in the way of breathability.
However, for the price, this is only to be expected and it is worth its money for what it is. In terms of looks, this jacket rates highly and is ideal for wearing about town and for light country walks and hiking.
It has several decent features, such as adjustable cuffs, with thumb holes, an adjustable storm hood for protection from the elements and an internal drawcord hem.
It also features two hand pockets to help keep your hands warm while strolling, one zippered chest pocket, an internal pocket and an internal media pocket with a earphone wire support feature.
There are no ventilation features, with the emphasis being more upon keeping the warmth in.
This jacket is good value for its price and an affordable option for beginners or those who only make the occasional hike in reasonable weather.
It is not recommended for wear during intense downpours, nor for heading out into the backcountry. It is however an excellent choice for a winter stroll in pleasant but cold conditions.
8. Black Diamond Sharp End
- Durable and tough
- Waterproof and breathable
- Lightweight and packable
- All the features you need: pit-zips, pockets and easily adjustable hood
- Price, one of the more expensive of its kind
Black Diamond Sharp End Jacket Features Summary:
- Fabric: GORE-TEX® Pro 3L, 70d nylon plain-weave face with a nylon micro-grid backer and DWR finish (140 gsm, 100% nylon) – Bluesign
- Weight: 455 g (1 lb)
- Climbing-helmet-compatible hood
- Two harness-compatible expanding chest pockets with YKK Vislon AquaGuard zippers; one chest pocket; Internal stretch media pocket with cord port
- Brushed microsuede collar lining
- Under arm gussets for a wider range of motion
- Two-way armpit zip vents
- Custom-molded cuff tabs
Best Uses: Hiking, Alpine climbing skiing, snow boarding, outdoor winter sports
The Sharp End by Black Diamond is top-end in terms of both price and performance. It is lightweight, packable, breathable and waterproof making it ideal for hiking and winter sports in general, especially due to its tough, durable outer fabric.
The Sharp End is a classic hardshell that provides unbeatable protection. Made from a tough 70 denier nylon, the Sharp End is well known for its durability, yet it only weighs one pound, making it extremely light for this thickness of material and easily packable.
Treated with Gore-Tex Pro 3L, this jacket is thoroughly waterproof and will keep you dry no matter what conditions you’re exposed to, with an excellent breathability for periods of intense exertion.
It has a regular fit with full underarm gussets, allowing a greater range of movement and flexibility. Pit zips allow you to effectively cool down and reduce perspiration build up during intense activity.
The hood is compatible with a climbing helmet and can be adjusted single handedly on-the-go, thanks to Black Diamond’s integrated Cohaesive™ cord management system, providing rapid protection from sudden downpours.
The collar is lined with microsuede for added comfort, while the cuff tabs are custom molded.
The pockets have been designed and placed with harnesses and backpacks in mind for easy accessibility. Externally, there are two hand zipper pockets with a zipper chest pocket, with an internal stretch media pocket featuring a cord port.
The primary material is Bluesign approved, meaning there is a maximum of respect for the environment and the workers throughout its production.
All in all, the Sharp End men’s hardshell is a superior product that is tough, durable and lives up to its promises. It’s hard to beat, although quality comes at a rather expensive price.
If it is, however, within your price range it should definitely be a main contender for purchase.
9. Montane Alpine Pro
- Waterproof and highly breathable
- Lifetime warranty
- Durable outer fabric
- Internal storm flap supporting water resistant main zipper
- Price – at the higher end of the price scale
Montane Alpine Pro Jacket Features Summary:
- Fabric: lightweight 40 Denier GORE-TEX® Pro 12 – 13 stitch count on all seams
- Weight: 455 g (1 lb)
- Fully adjustable climbing helmet compatible hood designed to fit comfortably with winter headwear and a helmet
- Two map sized A-line hand-warmer pockets positioned clear of a backpack or climbing harness belt; Left hand side chest pocket; Internal right hand side stretch mesh pocket; YKK matte AquaGuard® zips
- Roll over beardguard lined with brushed fine microfleece
- Articulated elbow panels
- Underarm and side chest ‘pit zips’ with YKK matte AquaGuard® zips
- Adjustable hem with cinchable drawcord
Best Uses: Hiking, all mountaineering use, Alpine climbing, casual use
British brand Montane has created its Alpine Pro jacket with mountain exploration in mind, making it an ideal choice for hiking.
Highly dependable, waterproof and breathable, the Alpine Pro is a great choice for exploring the backcountry in hash weather conditions.
The Alpine Pro is made from 40 denier Gore-Tex Pro, making it tough and durable, as well as waterproof and breathable. The two-way front zipper is a YKK AquaGuard Vislon that is highly water resistant, combined with an internal storm flap to prevent water entry.
With extra stitching reinforcing all of its seams, it is a robust, reliable jacket that stands up to any harsh environment, yet only weighs 16 ounces. Certainly light enough to stow away in your pack without issue.
The fully-adjustable hood has been designed to accommodate a climbing helmet.
It has quick and easy adjustments around the facial opening and side hood compression adjusters for a close fit, as well as a stiffened peak and a wired edge for greater stability. When not needed, the hood can be rolled down and tucked away.
This hardshell has been designed to fit slightly oversized to allow for layering. For ease of movement and enhanced fit it has articulated elbow panels and tailoring around the arm to enable high reaching movements without raising the lower hem.
Other features include a drawstring hem, under arm and side chest pit-zips for quick cooling during high intensity exercise, tailor shaped Velcro cuffs to fit easily over gloves, a microfleece beard guard for lower facial protection alongside a tall collar and ergonomic zipper pullers for use with gloves.
The Montane Alpine Pro features two hand warmer pockets that are large enough for storing maps and a left side chest pocket.
They are also designed to sit above a backpack harness for easy access without having to remove your pack, and close with YKK matte AquaGuard zippers. Internally, there is a stretch mesh pocket that can be used for goggles or a water bottle.
This hardshell provides excellent protection from the elements with all important breathability, making it a great choice for hiking and climbing.
A great, versatile all-rounder, this jacket can be used at a range of temperatures thanks to its breathable nature, while its strong durable 40 denier fabric ensures a long lifespan. Comes complete with a lifetime warranty.
10. The North Face Summit L5 Shell
- Extremely breathable and waterproof
- Backpack compatible pockets
- Tough, durable outer material
- Manufacturer lifetime warranty
The North Face Summit L5 Jacket Features Summary:
- Fabric: DryVent 3L Nylon fabric with localized FuseForm construction for durability
- Waterproof, breathable outer layer for extreme conditions
- Fully adjustable, helmet-compatible hood with hidden cord locks
- Pack/harness friendly pockets; Internal secure zip stash pockets
- Roll over beardguard lined with brushed fine microfleece
- Pit-zip venting
- Hidden hem-cinch adjustment
Best Uses: Hiking, mountaineering, climbing, casual use
The North Face are renowned for their high-quality mountaineering wear and the Summit L5 shell is no exception. Designed for extreme conditions, this shell will keep you dry and comfortable whether you’re out in the wilderness or near to home on a local trail.
The Summit Series is famous for providing some of the world’s best alpine apparel, complete with a lifetime warranty. Made from 70 denier nylon, the Summit L5 is strong and durable, with a weight of 19.75 ounces.
This durability combined with its three-layer Gore-Tex waterproof membrane, transforms the Summit L5 into a waterproof and windproof shield, which also allows excellent breathability, so you stay dry, even when undertaking intense activity.
Pit vents allow faster cooling during extra strenuous periods, so you can quickly and effectively dump heat, without having to risk exposure.
The Summit L5 is engineered for an excellent fit, with articulated patterning for extra mobility. Constructed with minimal seaming, for a more comfortable, breathable and resistant outer, the Summit L5 shell is one of the most advanced shells designed in recent years.
Other main features include a fully-adjustable hood that is also helmet compatible, with concealed cord locks, backpack compatible pockets for easy access, one internal zippered pocket and two internal mesh pockets, Velcro adjustable cuffs and a concealed hem drawstring.
In short, The Summit L5 is an excellent shell for hiking purposes and made from some of the most waterproof, breathable and durable materials available.
It is heavier than several others of similar specifications, however this can come down to a matter of personal preference and helps to attain greater wind resistance and general durability thanks to a higher denier fabric.
The North Face is an expensive brand but taking into account the product’s longevity, this can in fact work out as a saving over time compared to purchasing several less expensive articles of a lower quality.
We hope you found this look through the best men’s hardshell jackets of 2020 informative and useful. Please share it across your networks if you did.
While not a necessity for every hiker, for the more adventurous mountain enthusiasts who enjoy the challenge of taking on the hills in tougher conditions, a hardshell jacket can be an excellent piece of kit to add to your gear.
Definitely much more expensive than standard rain shells, but the demands these jackets have to cope with justifies the cost, as it of course takes much more to construct.