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The demand for soft shell jackets has been increasingly growing in the past decade: it came to prominence in the early 2000’s when there was a niche in the market for a jacket that was highly breathable and somewhat wind and water proof to accommodate high-movement, aerobic activities. Mountaineering specialists use it as part of a layering system as well as a stand-alone jacket, dependable on weather conditions and purpose of use.
So, what is a soft shell jacket? It is a class of knit or woven materials, made from polyester and nylon, used to make technical outdoor clothing that essentially bridges the gap between hard shell jackets and fleece jackets. Soft shell is designed for active use in cold weather. An inner fleece laminate wicks moisture away from the body and traps heat, while the stretch shell protects you from the wind and rain.
Soft shell is an ideal lightweight jacket for the corporate wear market, automatically creates an effortlessly smart appearance, which can also be branded with your corporate logo very easily.
Hard shells are often fully wind and water proof, providing exemplary protection against harsh, rainy and windy weather conditions. They can be comprised of multiple layers, consisting of hard, protective outer layers with a soft waterproof membrane.
As opposed to the stiffer materials used in hard shell jackets, soft shell jackets are known to use soft, stretchy woven materials and can offer more breathability than hard shell jackets who include inner membranes. They are extremely flexible and their primary use is to provide protection as opposed to providing shelter. They can be more comfortable to wear based on their soft fabrics and are comprised of quieter materials: these qualities are what make them so ideal for activities that require a lot of movement.
When do you choose a soft shell over a hard shell? One of the most notable differences between hard and soft shells is the outer materials. Hard shells are ideal for when protection against harsher, rainier weather conditions is necessary. However, if a lot of movement is necessary, soft shell jackets may be the better option. Therefore, when deciding on which jacket to choose, the following needs to be considered: the expected precipitation, the activity involved (and therefore the amount of movement and exertion needed) and the need for breathability.
The following products are soft shell jackets worth checking out, alongside the many other soft shells in our extensive range!