A shell jacket is an essential piece of clothing for anyone who enjoys outdoor activities in winter.

A shell jacket is a lightweight, waterproof, and breathable layer that protects you from wind, rain, and snow, while allowing your body to regulate its temperature.

One of the most popular and effective materials for shell jackets is gore tex, which is a synthetic fabric that has a special membrane that blocks water droplets but lets vapor escape.

In this blog post, we will show you how to stay warm and dry with a gore tex shell jacket in winter, and what to look for when buying one.

Hardshell vs Softshell Jackets

Hardshell jackets are the most protective type of shell jackets.

They are fully waterproof, windproof, and durable, making them ideal for harsh weather conditions and activities that expose you to abrasion, such as mountaineering, skiing, or ice climbing.

Hardshell jackets are also lightweight and packable, but they tend to be less breathable and comfortable than softshell jackets.

Softshell jackets are more flexible and breathable than hardshell jackets.

They are water-resistant, wind-resistant, and stretchy, making them ideal for high-output activities that require freedom of movement and moisture management, such as

  • hiking,
  • running, or
  • cycling.

Softshell jackets are also more comfortable and cozy than hardshell jackets, but they tend to be heavier and bulkier, and they can get soaked in heavy rain or snow.

How to Choose the Best Shell Jacket for Winter

The best shell jacket for winter depends on your personal preferences, budget, and the type of activity you plan to do.

Here are some factors to consider when choosing a shell jacket:


The level of waterproofing of a shell jacket is measured by its hydrostatic head rating, which indicates how much water pressure it can withstand before leaking. The higher the rating, the more waterproof the jacket is. A rating of 10,000 mm or higher is considered waterproof enough for most winter conditions.


The level of breathability of a shell jacket is measured by its moisture vapor transmission rate (MVTR), which indicates how much water vapor it can allow to escape from inside the jacket. The higher the rating, the more breathable the jacket is. A rating of 10,000 g/m2/24h or higher is considered breathable enough for most winter activities.

best gore tex shell jacket
Best gore tex shell jacket


The durability of a shell jacket depends on the thickness and quality of its fabric, which is measured by its denier rating. The higher the rating, the thicker and stronger the fabric is. A rating of 40 denier or higher is considered durable enough for most winter activities.


The weight of a shell jacket depends on the type and amount of fabric, coating or membrane, zippers, pockets, and other features it has. The lighter the jacket is, the easier it is to carry and pack, but it might compromise on protection or durability.


The features of a shell jacket include its hood, collar, cuffs, hem, zippers, pockets, vents, and other extras that can enhance its performance or convenience.

Some features to look for in a winter shell jacket are:

  • A helmet-compatible hood that can adjust to fit snugly around your head and face
  • A high collar that can protect your neck and chin from cold drafts
  • Velcro or elastic cuffs that can seal around your wrists to prevent heat loss
  • A drawcord hem that can tighten around your waist to prevent heat loss
  • Water-resistant or waterproof zippers that can prevent water from seeping through
  • Handwarmer pockets that can keep your hands warm or store small items
  • Chest pockets that can store larger items or provide ventilation
  • Pit zips or core vents that can provide ventilation when you get too hot
  • A snow skirt or powder skirt that can prevent snow from getting inside your jacket
  • A RECCO reflector that can help rescuers locate you in case of an avalanche

How to Layer a Shell Jacket in Winter?

A shell jacket is not enough to keep you warm in winter by itself. You need to layer it with other clothing that can provide insulation and moisture management.

The basic principle of layering is to wear three layers: a base layer, a mid layer, and an outer layer.

Base layer

The base layer is the layer that touches your skin.

It should be made of a moisture-wicking fabric that can keep you dry and comfortable, such as merino wool, polyester, or nylon.

The base layer should fit snugly but not too tightly, and it should cover your torso, legs, arms, and feet.

Mid layer

The mid layer is the layer that provides insulation and warmth.

It should be made of a warm and breathable fabric that can trap heat and allow excess moisture to escape, such as fleece, down, or synthetic insulation.

The mid layer should fit loosely but not too loosely, and it should cover your torso and arms.

Outer layer

The outer layer is the layer that provides protection from wind, rain, and snow.

It should be made of a waterproof or water-resistant and windproof fabric that can block external elements and allow internal moisture to escape, such as a hardshell or softshell jacket.

The outer layer should fit comfortably over the other layers, and it should cover your torso, arms, and head.


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