How to choose a softshell jacket

Your active lifestyle requires a jacket that is both insulating and protective. Softshell jackets are lightweight and breathable enough to allow freedom of movement without compromising your comfort in any environment.


What does softshell jacket mean?

A softshell jacket is a protective outdoor item often worn as an inner piece of an outerwear ensemble. Whereas hardshell (or waterproof) jackets are made from stiffer and waterproof materials, softshell jackets are made from softer, woven materials. 

A softshell jacket regulates airflow while preventing loss of warmth. They are designed to be highly breathable, flexible and water-resistant and the pliable fabric is lightweight, which makes it easy to take along on a variety of activities. 


What are softshell jackets made of?

The outer layer of a softshell jacket is made of a woven combination of nylon and polyester. These fibres create a lightweight fabric that provides water-resistance without compromising anatomical stretch or body movement. A fleece lining included underneath the shell, improves the breathability and warmth of the jacket.

The woven fabric of shell jackets maintains permeability regardless of the conditions in your environment. This helps to prevent overheating during physical activity while helping you maintain a comfortable body temperature. The inner fleece lining also helps to regulate warmth at it consists of channels between squares of the fabric. The microscopic channels of the inner fleece lining allow any built-up moisture to evaporate without losing heat built up in the jacket. It’s another ingenious way of keeping the weight of these jackets to a minimum.

Are softshell jackets windproof?

The smooth fabric used for softshell jackets is woven tightly enough to keep most of the air out without losing permeability. When you wear your softshell, you will find that the jacket shields you from most light breezes. However, they do not offer much protection against strong winds and gusts.

Most softshell jackets offer a good degree of wind protection in a variety of climates. The amount of wind protection offered by a softshell will depend on the materials used for the construction. However, the jackets that offer full protection will not be as breathable as other options.

When looking for a jacket that completely shields you from the wind, you should pay attention to the layers included in your jacket. Options that offer full protection will include an additional layer between the outer shell and the inner fleece layer. This extra layer offers complete protection from airflow.


What are softshell jackets used for?

Softshell jackets are typically made from a woven material in contrast to a stiffer material or hard shell. While not considered waterproof, their water-resistant characteristics make them ideal for activities in nature that require a wide range of movement. They are also warm enough to act as a sole covering. 

When you use softshell jackets as an extra warm layer, the consensus is to pair them with a hard shell jacket. Through this, they are then able to provide additional insulation as they keep your body heat inside. This combination is ideal for harsh weather activities where snow, gales or torrential rain are prevalent. 

As a stand-alone covering, these jackets are ideal for activities including hiking, cycling or kayaking. They do not restrict any movements while still providing sufficient protection from varying weather conditions that are likely to leave you wet or cold.

Can you wash softshell jackets?

The simple answer is yes. However, to maintain the lifespan of softshell jackets, you do have to pay close attention to the care instructions provided by the manufacturer. For the best results, you should wash your jacket at a low temperature on a gentle cycle.

Cleaning your jacket is simple as long as you follow a few basic steps. If you would like to maintain all of the properties of your softshell jacket, never use fabric softener as it compromises the characteristics of the fibres. Your standard washing machine is sufficient enough to get the job done, however, the jacket will not keep its shape when placed in a spin cycle or tumble dryer.


Are shell jackets good for winter?

Depending on the climate, a softshell jacket is an ideal covering for the colder months. The down fill helps you retain your body heat while keeping out cold breezes and rain. However, if you live in an area which is prone to freezing temperatures you will need extra insulation.

Your jacket will keep you warm in a wide variety of situations due to the insulating nature of the fabric. Softshells are lightweight which makes them ideal for the winter as you will stay warm without having to struggle with a heavy coat.