Softshell remains rather little known to the general public, yet it tends to replace the membranes in recent years in many cases. Here is some info on softshells and things to know to choose in an informed way.
So a softshell jacket-what is it exactly?
Softshell (soft protection) opposes by nature (hard protection) hardshell, softshell is, it is true, softer to the touch and especially more flexible and extensible than waterproof jackets (called hardshell).
The difference between a shell and a waterproof jacket is the softshell is extensible and that it has no waterproof membrane. Of course to make things complicated brands include jackets with semi-impermeables as the windstopper membrane until the membrane is not 100% waterproof called softshell.
You must ask yourself the question, but if it is not waterproof it is what? Well actually in the mountains it is very rare to rain and often looks rather to protect themselves from the wind and snow water. It is on this basis that are born softshells. It is a fabric with tight fiber that has undergone a chemical treatment that makes it water repellent. Softshell resists the short rains but wind and snow while being a lot more breathable than a membranees fabric. In fact, in the mountains, in 95% of cases a softshell is more suited as a membrane.
In any event the softshell fabric doesn’t have the same importance as the membrane in a hardshell. The membrane is predominant in the hardshell. In the shell, it is important of course, but chemical treatment and Cup have almost the same importance. All we ask of the fabric is to be breathable and resistant (which is not bad) and to be the support of treatment water repellent (or durable water repellent DWR).
In General a softshell is more resistant over time than a hardshell.
For employee fabric, and as mentioned above, you will almost find any technical information.
You may find the CFM (cubic feet per minute), which gives the ability to the fabric to block the wind. More the CFM is low more fabric is windproof. In fact this information is almost never given.
To choose your softshell fabric so going to trust your instincts combined with this information:
- Some softshell useSchoellerfabric, this fabric is particularly resistant in time but makes the expensive jacket.
- More fabric is thick more it will be hot.For difficult conditions a thick fabric is reassuring and cuts the wind better, but it is less versatile for milder conditions.
- To know the ability of fabric to cut the wind the best technique is to stick your mouth to the fabric and blow through.You will feel immediately at how the fabric cuts wind.
- More a fabric is windproof less it’s breathable and more you will feel the “pressure cooker” effectChoose instead a fabric more breathable.
The windstopper is office of exception in softshells is a membrane between two layers of tissue. Then you you say “what?” A membrane in a softshell? “and Yes, it’s a membrane but not a waterproof membrane.
The windstopper is difficult to define. It’s actually exactly the same as Gore tex (it is also a membrane produced by gore tex) but with larger micropores. These micropores let air better than a waterproof membrane and cut perfectly wind but at the same time let also a little water.
In fact a windstopper softshell is perfectly windproof but also less breathable than a classic softshell and protects a little of the water. It is located between the raincoat-breathable jacket and the softshell. If you are looking for a really breathable softshell better avoid it. However, if you are looking for a softshell “armor” that protects you from the elements, this membrane is made for you.
The water repellency
It was she who protects you from the rain. So let’s be immediately clear, small rain. If you take a downpour you’ll be soaked but increasingly as the fibers of the fabric are tight your softshell will do for ages to dry. In contrast to the short rains it will do the job.
The difference between water repellent treatments will essentially be their holding in time. You can take any softshell in store and put it under the tap, the water slide on a lotus flower. All water repellent treatments fade over time but some more quickly than others.
There again you don’t really find information concrètent on the water repellency. Just that if you buy a good brand softshell treatment water repellent to likely to be better quality than a first prize (it seems logic so far).
Tightening at the waist is made either with an adjustable elastic band with an elastic band not adjustable. The adjustable elastic band is more versatile and you will avoid the wind in the back in all cases but it can also be annoying with a backpack belt or a harness. If the jacket down low enough, no problem, the plastic clamping system will be below the belt.
If you find a jacket with no adjustable hips that suits you and not let the air it is a plus, no adjustable elastics are lighter and more comfortable to wear.
The tightening of wrist
Less paramount, as long as there is no space before the air goes, be it velcro or elastic it served its purpose and that’s fine.
No secret, you have to put on the jacket and see if it fits you. Three “tricks” to try to validate the Cup:
Get down in front, if the lower back is no longer covered by the jacket then it may be very unpleasant if it is cold. Good technical jackets have a lengthened back to always protect the lower back.
Close the jacket until needed. Your neck and your Chin should be adjusted with the jacket. Too wide air escapes and the heat too. Too narrow you won’t be comfortable.
Raise your arms, if the jacket bothers you a lot it can be annoying to some movements.
The big question of the hood! Why put a hood on a non waterproof garment?
And good for the wind. Because if the wind is really strong in the mountains, you will be glad to be able to protect the ears but especially the neck. It is for this reason that hoods of softshells are very simple and light.
Softshells jackets can have lots of pockets. If you are looking for a jacket for hiking many pockets can be practical but for mountaineering, a jacket with more than 3 pockets is useless.
The placement of the pockets makes a big difference and is specific to the type of jacket
1: The classic low pocket. It is most natural to use but it is troublesome with a harness or belt to a backpack
2: The Pocket is high. This Pocket is a classic Pocket rally to be compatible with a harness. It is much less pleasant and is only used on the jackets of alpinismes.
3: chest pocket. Very common it is easy to use and enjoyable. It is present on all types of jackets.
4: arm pocket. It is very rare on softshells.
5: the inside pocket. This Pocket is light but useable only jacket open. It is found on all types of jacket.
Examples of jackets based on your use
To choose a softshell jacket is especially the weight and the ability to cut the wind will be favoured.
For hiking to skiing or snowshoeing and winter hiking:
- Mountain equipment trident, warm jacket, 3 pockets, breathable.
For summer hiking, climbing and trail:
- Salomon light darbon, 350 grams, 3 pockets, ultra-breathable.
For mountaineering in cold conditions:
- Millet trilogy, 500 grams, 3 pockets, windstopper.
For a raid of several days:
- Trick question, you can take a softshell but it will especially awaterproof jacket in case of rain.
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