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Hardshell v softshell?


Allee
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How many of you wear softshell jackets rather than a hardshell? I've been very tempted to buy one, but been a little put off by a girlfriend who bought a Salomon set last year. She loves the pants to death and says she'd never go back to hardshell pants, but doesn't find the jacket as warm as she'd like. I'm the original cold blooded female, and not so fashion conscious that I'm willing to die of hypothermia just to be seen in the latest...

Also, as I spend a lot of time sliding downhill behind my runaway board after yet another wipeout, I wonder about the longevity of soft shell fabrics as opposed to Gore-Tex.

However, some of the soft shells are VERY tasty - maybe I should buy and just use it apres? Or save it for springtime? Any comments? Preferences? Advice?

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For cold and dry conditions like you get in the Rockies, softshells are great.

The warmth factor can be beefed up by adding more layers, making sure that the hood design and cuff closures are well made, and being sure of the fit and cut of the jacket.

Traditional hardshells only hold the edge when you get wet and cold snow, like here on the Coast.

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I'm not so sure about only on the coast. I have an (admittedly cheap) softshell jacket that we got as a club jacket. It's ok in a little drizzle, but any more rain than that or for any length of time and it will get pretty wet. That's not such a concern where Allee rides, but I'd also hate to be stuck on Angel chair in a good wind and have that be my only wind protection. It's OK in a light breeze but it doesn't block wind like my trust MEC 3-ply.

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I bought my wife a soft shell ( I think it was the Solomon too ) last year for Christmas. She was/is thrilled. I scored several brownie points with that one. She runs on the cold side, typically wearing one to three more layers than I do. As a telemarker she has a habit of stuffing in with regularity.

She really loves hers. Hope that helps. :biggthump

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I have a couple of Burton AK softshells, both of which are fine. I think they may last a bit less long than the hard shell stuff - they get slightly "furry" after a while.

These are shell jackets though: I don't use them for insulation, so I can't comment on that, although it's no different from standard shell stuff.

It *is* Gore-Tex, also.

I don't notice a lot of difference, except the softshell stuff is quieter and I suppose more pleasant from a tactile perspective. Not that I spend a lot of time stroking myself or anything, honest.

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I have an REI jacket that combines hard shell and soft shell - it works well. the shoulders, hood, and upper parts of the sleaves are hard shell, while the body is soft shell. the soft shell is pretty water resistant, while the hard shell parts are fully waterproof. nice and lightweight. I'd recommend it. I'm usually not on my back too much, more so on my ass :biggthump , so i'm more worried about my pants being fully waterproof

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The article that Crucible links to mentions Buffalo gear from the UK, which seems to be the epitome of the soft shell idea. Has anyone tried their gear, for resort riding or other use?

Due to their 'next-to-skin' philosophy, I have no idea how heavy a garment would need to be for riding in the variable weather of Tahoe, but the prospect of one ultra-breathable but warm layer is very attractive.

I generally wear an ultralight merino wool base layer, an optional wool sweater and then hard shell - wool being the original high-tech fiber. I was hoping to buy a Cloudveil softshell for this season to replace the hardshell, but the Buffalo stuff has me thinking...

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As most have pointed out, a softshell works great as part of a larger system. For me a hardshell never made sense because they're not able to allow enough moisture out while being active. Pit zips can help breathability, but you'll still need an insulation layer before your base layer.

Most of last year riding in Colorado I was warm enough with a half-zip base layer, and a 200 weight polortec power stretch fleece style half-zip. Although most days I rode with an extra shell style jacket in my backpack for extra protection.

This year my possible layers include:

half zip base layer

half zip polortec power stretch

Softshell

Thermawrap Action jacket (my newest addition)

Lightweight rain shell style jacket

I'm excited to see how the Thermawrap jacket performs. They are really lightweight, and really warm.

Here's another resource, these guys take their gear to the extreme. More hiking, backpacking oriented, but lots of good info about how different materials perform.

twelsch

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I've got an original Buffalo windshirt from the late 80's- it's navy blue pile and khaki brown pertex- and it's still hasn't given up the ghost in spite of almost 20 years of abuse.

It's best suited for high aerobic activities like backcountry skiing or alpine climbing; when I stop, I just put up the hood and layer a Patagonia DAS parka over it to keep in the heat and let the wicking pile do its work.

I'd wear it more today, but it's starting to really look ragged in the collar and cuffs, and it doesn't fit well over my current climbing and snowboarding helmets. It doesn't have any pit zips, instead, a side zip goes all the way up the right torso seam, and the bottom hem is held together with velcro for venting. Different, but it works.

Today, I wear a TAD scout 100 weight fleece hoody, a Marmot dri-clime jacket softshell, and a Patagonia Mix master parka as a winter layering system.

Marmot and Patagonia also make windshells out of Pertex that I use a lot in the backcountry, they weigh nothing, and fit into my front pocket when not is use.

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I'm afraid I thought the "cut the crap" article was basically full of that. In one paragraph of the article the title poses the question "What is soft shell". Instead of an answer there are four paragraphs of MBA BS. Harumph. I had a look at the rest of the site and I'm still confused as to what the chap there is defining as soft shell.

I was kind of thinking that it's a "soft shell" if it says "soft shell" on the label. My soft shell's are just that: shells which are soft. I think that the "crap" chap is talking about something else.

I have a buffalo shirt somewhere; as a Brit climber myself I wasn't that impressed with it. I used it in various sports including boarding, but eventually relegated it to expedition caving. Well it did look like a sack. From memory the philosophy was: "one layer, ignore the sweat and stink". It's nowt like soft shell Gore Tex, fortunately.

I think we have soft shells simply because they figured out how to make Gore Tex which drapes better than the traditional stuff. So it's a fashion issue, plus maybe a little shift in the waterproof/ breathable balance, that's all. Certainly I don't notice any difference in using Burton's soft AK shells in the last couple of seasons compared with their hard stuff prior to that. Ladies haven't started coming up to me in the street to stroke my jackets or anything, but equally I've not started getting cold and wet. It's the same stuff, but a bit different.

I've used a Burton soft shell this summer in the UK (ok, it was a dry summer, but it did rain some), and it's plenty dry enough for the stuff we get here. Industry-wise, if it lasts a season that's all you need; I'm not sure how it the durability actually compares with hard shells. Maybe someone actually did some technical comparison somewhere.

I was going to say "I'll get me coat", but I'll crawl back into my shell instead.

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Well Burton AK Softshell, in later years the reasonably changed the name to Soft touch, is anything but softshell!

There's loads of stuff out there taht says softshell on the name but hasn't got anything to do with softshell concept.

@Twelsch - could you please report back on the Thermawrap!!!!!!!

I would like to know if I can use it as second layer without anything above for carving/touring etc on -5°C to 0° C. days, so days just a bit below freezing threshold.

That stuff from Montbell looks really really interesting and decently priced.

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I spent all year last year with a Spyder soft shell jacket and northface hard shell pants over varying long underwear (temp dependent) even on the COLDEST boiler plate nights I was quite comfortable. I certainly won't go back to a hardshell jacket

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Well Burton AK Softshell, in later years the reasonably changed the name to Soft touch, is anything but softshell!

Bollocks. I ordered another AK "Softshell" last week from the Burton Proform site. The north american consumer website I just checked uses the same word in the product names. Go further and you'll see the little Gore-Tex logo with "GORE TEX SOFT SHELLS" (their capitals).

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Well then they changed the name back. On the Proform Formular one year ago it was written Burton AK 3L Soft Touch. The year before when my sister took the Burton AK 3 Layer, it was written Soft Shell on the Proform. The stickers on her trouser said Soft Touch, and Gore Soft Shell. But really those pants got nothing at all to do with soft shell concept. They are damn heavy, the sticker said 30/30 for Water/Evaporation. Such a Membrane doesn't fit into Softshell concept, that's clearly a hardshell. A waterproof Softshell is marketing and no soft shell.

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water proof/breathable is an inverse proportion to itself, it's all compramise:confused:

No it's not. Goretex in paddling gear works so well, that I once put on a completely wet capilene (dropped in a puddle in my kayak) under my dry top and two hours later when I finished the run I took off the dry top and the capilene was totally dry.

Unless you mean something else. You can have completely waterproof and breathable.

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I love being out in softshell, it feels better.

but lets face it, softshells won't cut it in most conditions. I'm not going to lie: i fall. a lot. a softshell gets wet, and then im miserable. Softshells also dont keep me warm as well as a hardshell.

So in snowboarding heaven, i'll be wearing softshells all the time. I do occasionally on the warmer days and inbetween riding in hardshells, but most of my time is spent in a hardshell jacket.

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  • 7 months later...

Just bought my first ever soft shell. It was so gorgeus looking and good deal, that I couldn't pass. Nice gyters with tumb straps on the sleeves, waterlock zipper, says waterproof and breathable to 5000m... No hoodie or powder skirt, though.

We shell se in the winter. If it doesn't work out for the hill, ah well, I bought it more to full around the city, anyways.

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