How to choose a soft shell jacket


A softshell is a versatile jacket that is suitable soft […]

A softshell is a versatile jacket that is suitable softshell fabric manufacturers for many outdoor activities, but what exactly is a softshell jacket?A soft shell jacket is a made from a woven material in contrast to the stiffer material of hard shell or waterproof jackets. Unlike conventional jackets a softshell jacket does not have a lining but instead is made by bonding two layers of fabric together.They are designed to bridge the gap between a fleece, which offers less water resistance and protection from the wind, and a waterproof jacket which is less stretchy.There are two types of softshell jacket; stretch-woven or membrane. A stretch-woven soft shell jacket has a water repellent coating whilst in a membrane softshell a waterproof membrane is bonded between the two layers of fabric.


Neither softshell jackets are 100% waterproof as they do not have taped seams to stop water entering in at the stitched areas.Stretch-woven softshell jackets are more breathable than membrane softshells and are popular for active pursuits such as running or cycling. Membrane softshells may be slightly heavier than stretch-woven options and are more suited to outdoor activities where you might need more protection from the elements.Softshell jackets are the ideal mid layer when conditions are particularly cold and you need something a bit more robust than a fleece. A softshell can also be worn over a base layer or t-shirt as an outer layer due to their showerproof and windproof capabilities.


Stretch-woven softshell jackets are only showerproof, not fully waterproof. They are the ideal outer layer for fair weather activities but are not suited if you expect heavy rain, where a hard membrane softshell or hard shell jacket would be more appropriate.However, stretch-woven softshells are a great mid layer for cold conditions, and can be worn under a waterproof jacket for added warmth as a windproof layer.A membrane softshell, with a built in waterproof layer, is suitable for less favourable conditions and can be worn in just about any weather.


The type of softshell you choose will depend on the activity you indeed to use it for. For activities such as climbing, fair weather hiking and cycling where you need a lightweight outer layer, a stretch-woven softshell jacket is ideal.Some softshell jackets are fleece lined for added warmth. These are ideal if you are not necessarily looking for a jacket to use during strenuous activities, but want something lightweight to wear on a day to day basis.If you’re looking for a softshell for more active purposes and you don’t need quite as much warmth, then an unlined softshell would be more suitable. Without the fleece lining you still have the option of layering up underneath if you so wish. For cycling or running a thinner, breathable softshell is ideal.

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