Soft Shell

9:10 p.m. on April 26, 2011 (EDT)
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Well I don't know where to start.  I am looking for a soft shell jacket to add to my arsenal of slightly foul weather gear.  I have a FootJoy soft shell that I wear every so often on the golf course, and that really sparked my interest in getting one for backpacking.  Have you any suggestions?  I have a waterproof hard shell from Beans, and I think a soft shell would really compliment my current system.  Thanks in advance!

Mayhem

3:10 a.m. on April 28, 2011 (EDT)
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I use an REI one jacket.  Spray the day before with a light misting of water repellant spray and it works amazing as a stand alone jacket.  Never a rain jacket but it does work well as a light spray and good wind jacket.

8:17 p.m. on May 1, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks Callahan.  What kind of fit do you prefer?  I was thinking a tighter fit over a base layer and sweater, or will that restrict movement?  Of the ones I have tried on, they seem a little stretchy. 

8:02 a.m. on May 2, 2011 (EDT)
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i received a north face soft shell as a gift - the 'apex bionic.'  first soft shell i have owned/worn.  it will keep drizzle and mist out, and it is very good wind protection.  in a steady rain, it eventually gets wet because it isn't truly waterproof, the seams aren't sealed, and the zipper isn't protected by any kind of flap.  once it's wet, it takes quite a while to dry it out.  it is also relatively heavy and non-compressible for a layer to take backpacking.  pretty generous cut - plenty of room for a baselayer and fleece or sweater underneath.  no hood.  no armpit zippers. my general sense is that there are probably soft shells out there that are designed with more technical usage in mind; this one looks like it was designed as much for the college campus as the trail.  

i tend to use it for day-hiking and cycling in cool/cold weather, and for x-country skiing in colder weather.  also a great top layer with a lot of utility in cool/cold weather for walking the dog, soccer games, cool weather yard work, shoveling snow, sledding....

8:18 p.m. on May 4, 2011 (EDT)
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Right, and thanks for the info leadbelly.  I was aware of the water resistance issue, as I have a fully waterproof shell that can shed the rain.  The problem where I perform (SC) is that a torrential rain is almost immediate.  So I need something that will allow me to grab my hardshell and put it on.  Yeah I haven't really weighed the material, but I do think it might be too heavy for a backpacking trip.  

10:15 p.m. on May 4, 2011 (EDT)
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I looked up the Cloudveil Serendipity softshell it weighs 1lb 22oz. Says very breathable and stretchs liberally..Like leadbelly explained this is more for a cyclist I believe but could work perfectly for what you are looking for..My issue with it would be the price tag..But Cloudveil Prospect had high  marks when that came out in 2005-2006

7:50 p.m. on May 9, 2011 (EDT)
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I'll check it out dd.  Thanks a bunch for the effort.  Maybe I don't need one for hiking and backpacking, but come ski season I'll be all over it.

2:08 p.m. on June 23, 2011 (EDT)
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Softshells have become an enormous category in and of themselves and the fabrics that go into them are many and varied.

If you think about what you want your softshell to do it is effectively two things over and above a regular shell jacket:

1. Provide reasonable water repellency for light/short duration rain.

2. Provide a higher level of insulation to a shell jacket, effectively doing the work of two layers in one layer.

The best softshell designs cross a wide temperature band, from the low 60's Fahrenheit to the high 20's  with only a minimal layering underneath- perhaps only one technical layer.

I've worn a ton of softshells- I review equipment for a living as a writer.

The most advanced fabrics are no good if they aren't combined with well conceived designs. The garment has to be designed around the capabilities of the given fabric.

Some of the most sophisticated soft shell fabrics come from Schoeller (among others). Schoeller is a Swiss company with a long history of technical fabrics for outdoor and mountaineering applications.

One manufacturer based in the U.S. that has made use of the latest Schoeller soft shell fabrics is Triple Aught Design, a softgoods designer and manufacturer headquartered in San Francisco, California.

Triple Aught Design makes a Schoeller fabric soft shell using c_change membrane fabric. The idea behind c_change is to make the temperature range wider by making the fabric "adaptable". Basically, the properties of the fabric change with heat- the "pores" or permeability of the fabric expands when warm- to ventilate better, and contract when cold, to provide better trapped dead air space insulation.

Triple Aught Design uses Schoeller c_change fabric on their latest generation Stealth Hoodie LT, a design that Triple Aught Design has had for many years as an early and evolutionary soft shell jacket.

Triple Aught Design has a website at www.tripleaughtdesign.com where you can check out the Stealth Hoodie LT.

Other advanced softshells come from Arcteryx, Mountain Hardwear, etc.- all the usual outdoor specialty guys.

2:29 p.m. on June 23, 2011 (EDT)
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mahoosicmayhem said:

Thanks Callahan.  What kind of fit do you prefer?  I was thinking a tighter fit over a base layer and sweater, or will that restrict movement?  Of the ones I have tried on, they seem a little stretchy. 

 Not too tight as this is not, Ha, Spandex.  I like the jacket to fit like any other jacket is supposed to.  The cuffs have velcro adjusters and the hem has a draw cord shock cord within it.  The REI ONE Jacket is, yes, a little stretchy and I like this feature.  I do not recommend getting it too small as restricting movement is not a good choice. Neither get it too big, you don't want to let all the hot air out with the jacket flapping in the breeze and if the arms are too long you might need to start eating bananas in a hurry (don't think this will work though).

7:05 p.m. on June 23, 2011 (EDT)
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I loved my Mountain Hardwear Alchemy. Gettin ready to get a new one.

10:44 p.m. on June 23, 2011 (EDT)
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I'll "2nd" Demerly's  suggestion of Schoeller.   I have a shell and several pairs of hiking pants fabricated of Schoeller "Dry-Skin".   Stretchy and durable.  Kinda pricey ($$), but very well made ... and, ultimately, well worth the expense.

The L.L. Bean "Super 200 Cresta" shell is a great buy ( $59 !! ).   Made with Polartec Wind-Pro fleece, with wind and water-resistant Nylon shoulder and sleeve reinforcement panels.   Kind of a "no-brainer" purchase.

BTW --  We have GREAT Soft-Shell Crabs here, near the Chesapeake !

_______________________

    Yogi Robt

11:10 p.m. on June 23, 2011 (EDT)
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Robert Rowe said:

I'll "2nd" Demerly's  suggestion of Schoeller.   I have a shell and several pairs of hiking pants fabricated of Schoeller "Dry-Skin".   Stretchy and durable.  Kinda pricey ($$), but very well made ... and, ultimately, well worth the expense.

The L.L. Bean "Super 200 Cresta" shell is a great buy ( $59 !! ).   Made with Polartec Wind-Pro fleece, with wind and water-resistant Nylon shoulder and sleeve reinforcement panels.   Kind of a "no-brainer" purchase.

BTW --  We have GREAT Soft-Shell Crabs here, near the Chesapeake !

_______________________

    Yogi Robt

 I love "Pope's Creek."

5:59 a.m. on June 24, 2011 (EDT)
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Yeah ... great crabs there.

The absolute BEST, are reputed to be from the Wye River and the Miles River on Maryland's "Eastern Shore", where I live.

Up until recently (pre- the BIG D), I lived on a tributary of the Miles River.   I pulled crabs up (in a "crab pot") every day.

____________________________________-

   Yogi Robt

9:47 a.m. on July 3, 2011 (EDT)
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I own a black MH Telesto (got for $50.00 on Altrec on sale) and a EB/First Acsent blue Sandstone jackets (again got it on sale). These aren't "shells" per say, but performance jackets. But I suppose if you buy a size larger you can use them that way.

Both are really light, packable and have a slim fit and incoprate nylon/spandex material. Their both water resistant and can withstand a hard drizzle and both give great wind protection. Neither are very instulated, the MH has a soft fleece collar but that's it. They both have 2 side pockets and a napolean pocket (no inside pockets on neither). I tend to lean towards the Telesto for hiking more because it's bit more broken in. But basically their pretty much the same so grab whichever is cheapest.

Besides hiking I wear these like you on the course, at a ballgame, going to work. I keep the sandstone in my work bag just in case a storm comes up. Also check out the the First Ascent Mistral jacket as well, EB has been discounting this one lately.

 

For heavier/colder weather I have a First Ascent BC100 rain shell and First Ascent Mountain Guide shell.

 

 

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