- Nov 20, 2017 at 9:22 pm #3503152
Victor LinBPL Member
In my mind there are actually three categories of water resistant/proof shells.
- soft, stretchy material like those treated with NanoSphere DWR. They’re very comfortable and packable.
- thin, flexible, very packable, but non-stretchable material like an ultralight eVent jacket. You can easily roll these into a ball or wad.
- thick, pretty stiff material that cannot be rolled into a wad easily. I suppose 3-layer GoreTex is this?
I’ve always thought of #3 as the only true hardshell because it can physically feel hard. The hoods for instance can stand up and hold its shape on its own. With #1 and #2 a hood would simply collapse on its own weight due to the softness of the fabric.
Nov 20, 2017 at 11:05 pm #3503167
- Is this right?
- Is a hardshell much more durable than a softshell based on my definition above? I’ve had zero luck with softshells like eVent fabric because the shoulders wear out due to pack straps.
- Does there exist a very durable ultralight hardshell?
Lester MooreBPL Member
@satoriLocale: Olympic Peninsula, WA
Unless there is a governing body that sets standards or specifications for what types of clothing may be labeled as a “soft shell” or a “hard shell”, you could treat such phrases as marketing descriptions only. What’s really important is what the materials used are and knowing what the properties of those materials are under different conditions.Nov 20, 2017 at 11:09 pm #3503168
Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
You are putting a very lightweight hardshell into the softshell category. If you are looking for the lightest most durable hardshell, you probably need to check out some of the more recent Goretex branded products from name brand manufacturers like Arcteryx and Rabb.
In the category you can give up some breathability, PacLite is reasonable but I would not bushwack in PacLite pants. Ryan Jordan more recently and Chris Townsend a bit further back have written some great articles on this site on waterproof (socalled) breathable fabrics.Nov 20, 2017 at 11:15 pm #3503173
Jeffs ElevenBPL Member
verber.comNov 21, 2017 at 1:28 am #3503191
Ken T.BPL Member
@hereNov 21, 2017 at 1:36 am #3503192
Luke FBPL Member
I think you are overthinking things, but there is not hard a fast rule on what gets called what.
Softshells have always had a bit of a argument around them about what they are, some people think they are a stretch woven or knit face laminated to a fleece backer, some would call nearly anything with stretch a softshell, while others would call non-stretch and fleece systems like Pertex & Pile Soft Shells. The biggest gray area in modern times seems to be the cut off between “stretchy windshirt” and “softshell,” I think fabric weight would be the simplest distinction, but the cut off number would be arbitrary and impossible to reach a consensus on.
Hard shell has been much less contentious, I haven’t heard any definition beyond “fully waterproof” which means taped/welded seams, and a HH of at least 1000MM (or something near it).
There are some softshells (stretch woven face, fleece backer) with waterproof membranes, but no seam seam taping, and even a few that are taped. I would think a taped, WPB “softshell” could be safely called a hardshell, but I think it would be a stretch (har) to call the untaped one such. This is the only real grey area between soft and hardshells that I can think of.Nov 23, 2017 at 11:39 am #3503637
Armand CBPL Member
The Patagonia Kniferidge is a softshell jacket that can easily fit in the role of hardshell or softshell.
But you then you also have the Patagonia Levitation which is more inline with your expected double weave stretch fabric with DWR.
While I own several softshells, I only own one hardshell. I personally find softshells more versatile and economical.Nov 23, 2017 at 2:53 pm #3503649
Woubeir (from Europe)BPL Member
To make it even more difficult, why make the distinction between a windshell and a soft shell ? While the first ones are light and the second ones most of the time stretchy, what is functionally the difference between them ? They offer enough protection against the elements while being a lot more breathable then hard shells/rain jackets.Nov 23, 2017 at 5:03 pm #3503680
Art …BPL Member
a true soft shell is NOT a rain jacket and does not pretend to call itself a rain jacket. a softshell is designed for active to very active use in generally ” sub freezing ” temperatures. it is water resistant but not water proof because you are typically in snow situations. it is some what wind resistant but not highly wind resistant because your high level of activity is creating quite a bit of perspiration which needs to evaporate. it is a bit elastic and stretchable to facilitate your high level of activity. cross country skiing is a prime example of an activity for soft shell use.
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