Softshell - the all-rounder with superior wear comfort
Softshell materials have risen to fame in the outdoor and mountain sports arena over recent years. The reasons for that sudden fame are plain to see. Softshell is a true all-rounder, sometimes combining the middle and outer garment layer. No more taking off and putting on clothes depending on weather conditions - while at the same time freeing up valuable weight and space in your backpack.
Softshell, in contrast with hardshell or any old rain jacket, has the additional advantage of being stretchy. Softshell is therefore ideal for athletes and sports enthusiasts looking for that extra bit of freedom of movement. Softshell also remains unrivalled in terms of wear comfort and rustle behavior, combined with a super skin-friendly lining.
All of the big-name manufacturers, like Patagonia, Mammut, The North Face, and also smaller labels, like 66° offer a great variety of softshell jackets, softshell trousers, and more for virtually any requirement.
Other advantages of softshell garments
In addition to the many advantages mentioned above, like the broad spectrum of use and the excellent freedom of movement softshell guarantees, the material has still more to offer. There is the superior wear comfort based on a soft fleece, flannel, or velour lining, and the nearly rustle-free outer material.
Softshell garments are also very hard-wearing and offer protection against wind and weather. The extent of protection will always depend on the envisaged use. Models come as light-weight, only little wind-proof versions - and on the other end of the spectrum: as completely wind-tight and waterproof softshell garments.
For maximized breathability and flexibility: Softshell without membrane
Mountain sports are physically and mentally very demanding. That is exactly why we love it so much. The garments worn for mountain sports must be breathable and offer the right kind of body temperature to not lose mental focus. That can, however, mean a conflict if you also want something completely wind-tight and waterproof. That is why many softshells are wind-tight and waterproof only so that they can offer optimized body temperature regulation even in the most strenuous situations.
The specialist DWR coating and wind-resistant finish offer excellent protection against cooling down too quickly and minor rain showers.
For optimized weather protection: Softshell with membranes
Those, who don't want to fall back on hardshell even in extreme weather conditions, can use softshell garments with membranes. These are 100% wind-tight and waterproof. In addition to proprietary membranes produced by the manufacturers themselves, including Apex by The North Face, or the M-Series by Marmot, almost all manufacturers also offer membranes by Polartec or GORE TEX:
- GORE-TEX Soft Shell: The top name in weather protection offers a membrane made especially for softshell garments. GORE-TEX Soft Shell is a triple-layer design, and completely wind-tight and waterproof long-term. High breathability and very low rustling make this softshell material an absolute pleasure to wear.
- Polartec Power Shield Pro: An excellent warmth-weight ratio and superior breathability, as well as plenty of flexibility for freedom of movement are what Polartec Power Shield Pro garments are all about. The material is 99% wind-tight, and will keep you nice and dry even when you get caught in a downpour. These attributes make it the perfect marriage between breathability and weather protection.
- Polartec NeoShell: When it was initially introduced, Polartec NeoShell was a groundbreaking innovation in the market for softshell garments, as it was the first to bridge the gap between softshell and hardshell. NeoShell is extremely elastic and offers all the flexibility you could ever want. With a water column of 10,000 mm, the material is also completely wind-tight and waterproof. Breathability is another highlight of this Polartec product, making it a very attractive all-rounder.
Areas of use for softshell materials
Softshell is highly versatile in its use, depending on the structure of the fabric. There are softshell versions suited for easy hikes as a simple wind protection, others for trail running, and others still for strenuous ice climbing in extreme conditions. Softshell will in any case be the right choice for those looking for the best possible flexibility and maximized freedom of movement. The name softshell is often seen as synonymous for a softshell jacket for women or men. The name in actual fact refers to the material the garment is made of, which also includes softshell trousers, gloves, and much more.
Some manufacturers offer mixed-type garments to improve the compromise of freedom of movement and weather protection even more. These garments cleverly combine softshell and hardshell materials for optimized weather protection and flexibility.
The right care for increased life expectancy of your garment
Make sure to follow the care instructions provided in your jacket. You might also consider using detergents developed specifically for softshell materials. You should always repeat the surface dry treatment of your garment after every wash to maintain its waterproof properties.
Softshell products for any age and preference
Softshell garments are available for men and women, designed specifically for anatomical requirements and design preferences. The garments are made of state of the art fabrics and are available in many attractive colors.
Because of its many positive attributes, softshell is also great for young outdoor enthusiasts. Its excellent wear-resistance, combined with the wind-tight and waterproof effects mean that softshell is practically made for active kids. Many manufacturers, like The North Face, Vaude, Marmot, or Finkid offer a whole range of beautiful softshell clothing for kids.
Softshell is on its way to becoming the perfect companion for active people - no matter their age.