If you’re trying to make a practical decision about which type of jacket to spend your hard-earned money on, it’s pretty difficult to look past the virtues of softshell. Put simply, the humble softshell jacket is the all-rounder of the outdoor jacket family. Typically, they are highly breathable and due to their stretchy fabric, extremely comfortable. They also offer various levels of water and wind resistance and insulation, depending on their construction. Softshell is widely considered the ‘jack-of-all-trades’ option; but increasingly, it is a master of quite a few too.
What is softshell?
Softshell is a mid or outer layer fabric that combines comfort and flexibility, with wind and rain protection, and minimal noise (think of that swishing sound most rain jackets make...). The fabric is extremely breathable – which is great for helping you manage sweat during demanding activities. Most softshell jackets have a fitted look, which means they can be layered to suit extreme weather conditions without being too bulky. As a versatile option, Softshell fills the gap between a fleece and a hard-shell jacket – with the added bonus that it doesn’t attract animal hair.
When to choose softshell?
If you’re looking for a jacket to compliment an active lifestyle, softshell is a great option. The relative light weight and mobility of the fabrication means you can move freely and confidently. These jackets also cut a slim silhouette, so there’s no compromise in function or form. They typically offer short-term protection against rain and wind, but if you’re caught in a serious downpour, you’ll need to layer up with a hard-shell for that ultimate wet weather solution. The softshell jacket is arguably the most adaptable member of the jacket family, equally adept as a stylish outer layer around the City - or as a mid-layer for hiking in cold and wet conditions.
What are the differences between the various softshell jackets?
There is no one-size fits all approach to softshell. When considering which jacket is best for you, you can’t simply consider the fabric in isolation. Construction is crucial. To give you some context, the XT Terrno is specifically designed for demanding physical activity. It is made of Pertex Equilibrium, a lightweight and highly breathable fabric – with an ultra-strong construction for maximum durability. Alternatively, the Malazan combines the flexibility of softshell with a high-loft fleece lining for greater insulation. There are obviously general features across the range – but when it comes to softshell, it is vital to consider the way you plan to use it.