Columbia Ascender Softshell Jacket Review


The Columbia Ascender Softshell Jacket is excellent for light weather protection and warmth. It’s also durable and water-resistant.

One of the best things about a softshell is that it’s stretchy, which means it’ll flex with you, helping you stay comfortable no matter how long you wear it. They’re also more breathable than hard shells, ideal for high-exertion activities like climbing or skiing.

Weather Resistant

Rugged, warm, durable and decidedly presentable, this wind- and the water-resistant softshell jacket is a versatile, all-season piece built to keep you protected in milder weather and layer under shells and jackets for bonus warmth in more severe conditions.

Breathable softshells outperform waterproof hard shells in high-exertion activities like climbing or backcountry skiing. That balance hinges on air permeability, which moves more air in and out of the fabric.

The best performance softshells have a few features: a helmet-compatible hood, pockets set high to accommodate a harness or hip belt and tailored fits designed for specific outdoor tasks. They’re often lighter than traditional softshells, which may make them easier to layer under a shell or jacket for added warmth in colder weather.


Softshell jackets are a popular option for everyday wear, combining weather protection with warmth and style. They offer a more affordable and durable alternative to synthetic insulated jackets.

The best casual softshells are designed for low-output activities like commuting or running errands and come with fleece-lined interiors that add insulation to help keep you warm and cozy. They’re also often lighter than hard shells and waterproof, allowing them to withstand a bit of wind and light precipitation.

On the other hand, performance softshells are more geared toward mountaineering and ski touring. They’re more breathable and mobile, featuring outdoor-specific features like helmet-compatible hoods, pockets that accommodate a harness or hip belt, and tailored fits to reduce bulk.


If you’re looking for a jacket that can be worn in both the outdoors and everyday life, the Columbia Ascender Softshell Jacket is perfect. It’s a Nexgen Contour Softshell, which means it’s made with extra stretch for mobility and comfort but offers excellent weather protection.

The jacket is also made with a fleece lining, adding warmth. This material is also breathable and suitable for running and biking.

For casual softshells, we prefer them with an athletic cut to fully take advantage of the extra stretch. They’re not a good choice for climbing, though, as they’ll often be too bulky for use with a harness or hip belt.

Modern Classic Fit

If you’re looking for a jacket that perfectly balances performance and style, this wind-and-water-resistant softshell from Columbia is just the ticket. Its modern classic fit will keep you comfortable while moving around, and the zippered side pockets help you stash small items securely.

It’s also important to consider the jacket’s breathability, as this will help keep you from getting too hot during your activity. This is especially useful when wearing a softshell for sports like hiking or cross-country skiing.

This jacket has a bonded softshell material that is wind and water-resistant, keeping you safe from rain or snow showers. It also features abrasion-resistant chin guard material to keep you protected as well. It also has adjustable sleeve cuffs and hems.

Adjustable Hood

This Columbia jacket is designed for modern comfort with its soft chin guard and adjustable hood. It also offers a drawcord elastic hem and cuffs, allowing you to adjust it to your desired fit.

Its Nexgen Contour Soft-shell polyester fabric stifles wind-chill and is waterproof and breathable, keeping the weather and rain out. It’s also easy to pack and carries a lightweight feel, ensuring it is comfortable for all your adventures.

It’s not as warm as some other softshell jackets we tested, but it is still more than enough for most outdoor activities. It’s an excellent option for fall excursions or winter running or climbing.