What’s in a Name?
For years, jackets have been grouped into hardshell and softshell categories. But that division blurs more and more: The latest "hardshells" feature soft, stretchy, breathable material, and many "softshells" now have the weather protection of hardshells. (Exhibits A and B: the BrooksRange and The North Face shells on this page.) Our testers have found it better to simply distinguish between waterproof and not waterproof. In this section, we're reviewing only waterproof shells, since they provide the protection you need for the foulest winter weather.