Apparel Expert Advice

What Should I Look for in a Winter Jacket?

What Should I Look for in a Winter Jacket?

Oct 8, 2019

Whether it’s a North Face fleece or a Nike Therma Training Jacket, here’s a breakdown of options for your next winter jacket, and the different styles for men and women you can find at Hibbett|City Gear.

Nike Men's Khaki/Red Plaid Bomber Jacket

What’s the Difference Between Fleece, Softshell and Hardshell Jackets?

Hardshell jackets are 100% waterproof. To earn the classification of hardshell, the fabric must be able to withstand 10,000 millimeters of water pressure. To give you an idea of what that means, imagine having a container that’s about 33 feet tall and 1 foot wide. Cover the bottom with fabric, then fill the container with water. A hardshell fabric won’t let a single drop through.

The biggest drawback to hardshell jackets is their lack of breathability. Most waterproof-breathable shells actually do little in terms of allowing air to flow in and out. That’s where the softshell comes in.

Softshell jackets are only water-resistant, but the fabric allows air to flow freely. Whether you’re on a hike or warming up for the big game, softshells keep light wind and precipitation at bay without letting your inner layers become soaked with sweat.

Fleece jackets consist of soft, insulating fabrics made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET). This allows the jacket to repel water while keeping many of its insulating properties, even in rain or snow. Fleece jackets are also lightweight, highly breathable and machine-washable. They dry relatively quickly on their own, and they don’t itch.

Simply put, fleece jackets make the most sense for drier weather, softshell jackets are ideal for vigorous activity on wet days, and hardshell jackets are optimal for harsh winter climates with lots of precipitation.

adidas Women's Originals Satin Bomber

Parts of a Winter Jacket


Did you know that the type of cuff your jacket sports will determine which gloves you can wear?

  • A jacket with tighter cuffs means the gloves will have to go over them.
  • Looser cuffs mean the gloves will fit underneath them.
  • Because gravity pushes water down, it’s best to have tighter cuffs for sports activities that require throwing or lifting the arms over the head. Tighter cuffs keep water from going inside the jacket sleeve.
  • Casual situations where your arm is pointed down call for looser cuffs that push water out and over the gloves.
  • Stretchy cuff material is best for over-the-cuff gloves, while button cuffs are ideal for under-the-cuff gloves. Velcro works great for both.


Don’t let the chance of a busted zipper ruin your winter day. Always make sure the winter jacket has a strong, solidly built zipper that moves smoothly. Pullovers negate the problem but can be harder to take off (especially with layers).


  • Pockets may seem trivial, but don’t take them for granted.
  • How much stuff – and what – do you need to carry?
  • Will the pockets keep your hands warm?
  • Is there a specialized cell-phone area with an opening for headphone cords?
  • Can they keep your valuables dry?


A hood should provide all-weather protection and keep in the warmth. Determining the hood type you need depends on the activities you envision yourself participating in while wearing the jacket.

  • Hardshell coats often come with bigger hoods that can accommodate large hats and helmets.
  • Don’t forget to look for a hood that will keep rain off your face.
  • Choose something sturdy enough that won’t blow backward from a strong gust of wind.

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