The word “softshell” is part of anglicisms in recent years in fashion in the outdoor world and the vast majority of equipment now offers in many models.
What is he hiding behind exactly the word that literally translates to “soft shell” and how to choose the Softshell suitable for its outdoor sport?
Perfect protective jacket for many outdoor sports, the softshell is intended to protect you from cold and bad weather. Unlike hardshell, the softshell is a source of heat that is otherwise repellent but not waterproof. She replaces both your pole and your outer protective jacket offering optimal comfort with its elastic material.
However, the depth of the market is such Softshell supply and uses so many that it is sometimes complicated to navigate and select the Softshell well suited to practice: ski touring, climbing, hiking, mountain biking, Nordic walking, trekking…
Thus, before swapping your waterproof jacket and your old polar against this small jewel of technology, here are some keys to not go wrong in choosing your Softhsell.
I. What is Softshell?
– Definition of a softshell
The Softshell is a warm protective jacket features windproof and water repellent properties. Literally “soft shell” in French, is designed for you bring warmth and you protect small weather : wind, small showers or flurries. The Softshell is doing in substitution of the 2 e and 3 e layers of protection. His stretchs materials allow it to be ultra-comfortable and wearable for you to have an ease of movement.
– The incomparable comfort of a softshell
The Softshell is characterized by its comfort. She exits the famous 3-layer system-namely: technical underwear that wicks moisture, a second layer which protects from the cold (or polar jacket), a protective jacket that protects from the weather-for a much system more comfortable in two layers: only your technical underwear beneath your Softshell jacket.
Extensible through its stretch materials, the Softshell provides a particularly pleasant movement of autonomy for sporting activities in nature.
With an exterior windproof water repellent and an inner fleece lined , it will guarantee a pleasant temperature in cool or cold weather.
– A Softshell is water-repellent but not waterproof
It is important to note that Softshell are not waterproof jacket , far from it. If its water repellent characteristics allow it to withstand light showers, you will by fully protected if your exposure is long or if the rain is too strong.
Although the softshell is not designed to protect you from weather vagaries as Hardshell, it is nevertheless much more breathable. Thus, it is perfect for you summer or winter outings in cool or cold but dry and will bring warmth and protection against the wind while ensuring maximum comfort.
The Softshell breathes and keeps you warm.
II. The technical features of your adventure jacket
– The water repellency of your Softshell
The Softshell jacket is designed in a tissue with tight fibers and having received a chemical treatment to make it water repellent. This technology is called DWR (durable water repellent).
Thanks to this chemical treatment, your Softshell jacket supports nonviolent rain more than 30 minutes. Water does not penetrate and slides along the mesh.
Caution, however, in case of heavy rain, the Softshell does not protect you. In addition, once wet, the fabric will be long enough to dry because of its tight fibers.
If this tissue is designed not to let go water once soaked, it is also difficult to extract. Logic sum …
-The fabric of a Softshell jacket
The tissue thickness varies by model. Generally, the thicker it is, the more it will keep you warm and you cut the icy wind. It can be perfectly adapted including extreme temperatures. However, a thick jacket will be much less versatile for use in warmer conditions. The choice of the thickness will be important depending on the intended use.
Some Softshell benefit from Schoeller fabric particularly resistant over time, it is a guarantee of quality. The Schoeller® is highly breathable, stretchy and durable.
– The breathability
Softshell is by definition a very breathable , it is one of his main qualities.
It offers protection against the wind while ensuring a good breathability. Less your jacket is breathable, more will feel a sense of suffocation during exercise. That is why the Softshell is particularly popular with outdoor sports practitioners.
Some even have the Softshell Windstopper technology, an integrated membrane between the inner layer and the outer layer of tissue. As a Hardshell? No, not quite. If the Windstopper membrane is produced by Gore-Tex®, it does not provide waterproof property so far, the micropores are wider allowing better cicrulation air while perfectly cutting the wind. It is for this reason that this membrane resists only small showers.
One of the Windstopper Softshell will be perfectly equipped windproof but somewhat less breathable softshell a classic. However, windstopper protect you a little longer water.
A Windstopper® Softshell with a membrane can be a good compromise between a classic softshell and hardshell.
III. Why invest in a softshell?
– Key benefits
Comfort: His stretch fabrics provide unparalleled freedom of movement with all other mountain jackets. It is more scalable and more fitted jackets. With it you also gain mobility through the removal of an inner layer (layer 2) arctic or jacket.
Versatility: Its breathability and warmth provided by its internal lining, coupled with the mobility provided confer a great versatility. She is the perfect ally for your outdoor activities to the day: hiking, mountain biking, skiing, approach march, climbing, etc.
Lightweight and space saving: By replacing your 2 and 3 layer, it allows you to go lighter adventure.
“To travel happy, travel light” Saint Exupéry
It is a real gain weight and space compared to your waterproof fleece-jacket duo.
– When using your softshell?
Sofshell a jacket must be worn appropriately. Otherwise, it may have limited or no interest. So, is intended for what activities?
The Softshell jacket is perfect for all your sports outdoor, day hiking, skiing, mountain biking, Nordic walking. It is not recommended for all activities that require more involved greater protection such as mountaineering or ice climbing.
Very versatile, the use of Softshell actually depends more on climatic conditions as the activity performed (except for activities requiring increased protection). In dry weather, in any season, the Softshell is the nicest jacket to wear and allow you to withstand small showers.
Conversely, when you may experience bad weather, better worth having its Hardshell in his bag. During your treks or trips with a less clement weather, nothing prevents you from wearing the Softshell when time permits and don your Hardshell when you need to brave the elements.
IV. What jacket choose for your outdoor sports?
– Cutting your Softshell
Cutting Softshell jackets is adjusted. girls are comfortable and pleasant to wear.
The top of the jacket should fit snugly to your neck, most are equipped with a small protection to avoid pinching with the closure.
The lower back should be covered by the jacket when you lean forward in order to prevent air from entering. Good soft shell are, for this purpose, slightly longer at the rear than at the front.
-Tightening with the size
The clamping size is effected in two different ways, each with their advantages.
Adjustable elastic: it is more versatile because adjustable to your body and protects you well from the air that may penetrate underneath your jacket. However, it may be uncomfortable with a backpack belt or harness.
Non-Adjustable elastic: lighter and more pleasant, they are suitable for most body types and are often sufficiently tailored to suit you.
The softshell not a waterproof jacket, very few have hoods. However, some models offer of simple and light to offer additional protection (forget the vivid and painful red ears).
The number of pockets varies by model. Everything really depends on your use. For hiking, have many pockets on his jacket is more that can be the little things you need nearby. Conversely, more practice is engaged, less the pockets will be an asset, you are looking for performance with a purest can jacket.
Breathable, waterproof and windproof and allows freedom of movement, the Softshells are great for sports activities in nature but do not replace your Hardshell under a steady rain or snow.
However, they will keep you warm and dry during your active outputs in wet or windy weather.