Soft Shells Buying Guide - SNEWS

Soft Shells Buying Guide

There is no such thing as a soft shell. Soft shell is not one thing. Soft shell is a range of performance criteria of windproofness, water resistance, breathability, stretch and insulation. Soft shell is a range of fabrics, from light, airy, stretchy, sweater-feeling knits to stiffer, laminated, dense, waterproof wovens. The key word in understanding soft shell garments is “range.” There are no rules, no boxes to fit into.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

An Adventure Network® + Total Fitness Network Buying Guide

There is no such thing as a soft shell. Soft shell is not one thing. Soft shell is a range of performance criteria of windproofness, water resistance, breathability, stretch and insulation. Soft shell is a range of fabrics, from light, airy, stretchy, sweater-feeling knits to stiffer, laminated, dense, waterproof wovens. The key word in understanding soft shell garments is “range.” There are no rules, no boxes to fit into. To buy the right soft shells for your needs, you gotta know the territory and place your waypoints. And there is a lot of territory to know.

In general, what has made the soft shell category so popluar is that a soft shell is designed to provide comfort across a wide range of temperature and weather conditions, as well as varying levels of physical exertion, and in so doing, it means you don't have to keep stopping and starting to add or peel off layers.

A Short History

The original concept of soft shell was developed first in Europe for trekking and ski touring. Soft shell began as a mid-weight woven garment that was highly breathable, slightly wind proof, slightly water resistant, slightly warm and that stretched with active movement. And perhaps most importantly, it was comfortable. Whether pant or jacket, its great attribute was you could put it on and leave it on throughout a day of active sport use, summer or winter. It wasn’t rainwear, it wasn’t fleece, it wasn’t outerwear, it wasn’t mid-layer, but it was all these things at the same time – sort of. Whatever the feature set, one thing remained constant: Soft shell was really comfortable and people liked it.

Once discovered, soft shell was naturally exploited, much the same as a starlet. Some companies claimed to own the name “soft shell”; others claimed to have invented it; most claimed to have the “best”, whatever that meant, because it meant so many different things.

To Find Your Way Around Soft Shell Choices, You Have To Establish Waypoints

As market opportunity increased, so did the array of choices of soft shell fabrics. Companies introduced their own brand of soft shell fabrics, increasing the growing number of fabric constructions, names, claims and descriptors. Again, no rules; there is no road map to help you navigate through this soft shell forest. You must make your own map and fix some waypoints for reference.

To read the complete buyer's guide on Adventure Network, click here.

(c) Adventure Network: All rights reserved -- used on SNEWS by permission of Adventure Network.

Related

Marmot_Softshell.jpg

How to Sell: Soft Shells

This Retail College "How to Sell" classroom article is written by the editors of SNEWS® There is no such thing as a soft shell. Soft shell is not one thing. Soft shell is a range of performance criteria of windproofness, water resistance, breathability, stretch and insulation. ...read more

Marmot_Outerwear.jpg

Waterproof/Breathable Shells Buying Guide

An Adventure Network® + Total Fitness Network Buying Guide The numbers don’t really matter Grams per meter squared over a 24-hour period may be a scientific way to describe breathability, but most folks eyes will glaze over if we try to explain the complex theory of ...read more

Soft Shell Discussion Kicks Off At Winter Market

Nextec Applications bravely kicked off Winter Market with a -- yikes! -- 7 a.m. seminar titled "Demystifying the Rapidly Emerging Soft Shell Category" that surprised even seminar moderator (aka referee) SNEWS®' own Michael Hodgson with its attendance numbers -- just over 200 by ...read more

Acoustic Soft Shell Ear Warmers by 180s

You heard right. 180s new Acoustic Soft Shell™ ear warmers feature a special shell fabric that lets sound pass through more easily, thus allowing cell phone calls to be heard more clearly. An additional layer of insulation traps heat, and a moisture wicking next-to-skin liner ...read more

Marmot_Softshell.jpg

SNEWS Retail College: Test your product IQ – first soft shell?

The SNEWS® Retail College is more than just a classroom. Inside our virtual college walls, there exists a library of information, unlike any other training resource, which is perfect for ensuring sales people are always on their specialty game. How good is your sales knowledge? ...read more

Tilley Soft Shell Winter Hat by Tilley

The Tilley Soft Shell Winter Hat (TW5SS) is made-up of a winning combination. The styling is based on our popular TW2 Winter Hat design, and the fabric is an innovative concept from Schoeller® technology. This fabric, 100% nylon face with a bonded polar fleece backing, uses the ...read more

FreeMotion_FunctTrain.jpg

Functional Trainers Buying Guide

An Adventure Network® + Total Fitness Network Buying Guide When home gyms in the late '90s broke away from the traditional arms and levers that were fixed in form and path, a whole new mode of strength-training was born. Although physical therapists had talked of "functional ...read more

TheNorthFace_Sleepingbag.jpg

Sleeping Bag Buying Guide

An Adventure Network® + Total Fitness Network Buying Guide If you’re desperately seeking the one ideal sleeping bag that will meet all of your outdoor needs, forget it! There isn’t such a beast. However, there is a bag out there that will keep you snug and happy through most of ...read more

Polarguard_Sleepbag.jpg

Buying Guide: The science of warmth

An Adventure Network® + Total Fitness Network Buying Guide No doubt, most of us are at least familiar with the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. After trial and error, she finds a porridge that is neither too hot nor too cold, but just right. Ditto for the comfy bed. Yet, ...read more