I am a bit confused about this new softshell craze in outdoor clothing. As most of you are aware...most of you know more about this subject than I do...there are many softshell fabrics available now. The biggie Ive noticed is Gore's "Windstopper." Another is EPIC. There are a bunch more, many proprietary to the company.
All are very expensive and have no loft and no insulative value.
From my understanding, the objective of the softshell is to 1)block wind 2) provide some significant rain protection, but not enough to be considered real raingear. Softshells are more breathable than Gore Tex, eVENT and other truly waterproof breathable raingear, but not as breathable as wool or simple nylon shell coverings over a high loft winter parka.
My understanding is that softshells are something that are needed if you rely mainly on synthetic fleece for cold weather clothing, as wind cuts right thru synthetic fleece.
Am I correct about the above? Do I have the basics down correctly about the "softshell revolution?"
OK, here goes my opinion about softshells. I have gotten along just fine in the past on winter backpacking trips without ever having used a softshell. I dont use fleece clothing, I use mostly wool clothes, with a synthetic high loft parka. I have never felt a need for a softshell...to me the idea seems silly if you use wool and a good high loft parka for those slow down times in camp and at night.
For those really nasty times when its rainy, sleeting, snowy and windy I use Gore Tex. That stuff is truly waterproof and windproof, as all of you I am sure are well aware of.
OK here goes...dont get mad I am honestly curious.
Do you think softshells is just something invented by the outdoor clothing industry to make money off dumb, uneducated outdoor consumers? I mean, there have always been cheap nylon wind blocking garmets you can buy at the local Wal-Mart if you feel the need to use one.
Windstopper is ridiculously expensive. It seems like a gimmick to me. So is EPIC. I just cant see purchasing an expensive soft shell that isnt truly waterproof, that I can depend upon to cut the wind out and a little drizzle and moisture, but not a genuine rainstorm or sleet storm. That just seems...stupid.
All this being said, I just purchased Wild Thing's Inc. "Belay" Primaloft one parka and it is covered with an EPIC softshell. This will be my first experience with a softshell of any type. Although I am thinking why not just ditch the softshell and cover it with ripstop nylon like my old LL Bean All Conditions Primaloft parka and make it lighter. Primaloft is good stuff, why the need for a softshell? I did fine for nine years with a Primaloft parka that had nothing but a ripstop nylon shell on it.
Where did the KISS or "Keep It Simple Stupid" mentality go to in the outdoor equipment industry? Has the outdoor industry just gone beserk with flavors of the month type marketing? Inventing new crap gear that is expensive, but you could really do without if you know what you are doing, such as wear wool instead of synthetic fleece?
Needless to say, I am sure you can get the point I am skeptical about softshells. Like I said though, I rely on wool a lot.
Am I just too cynical or am I right or am I just ignorant regarding softshells?
Please do not reply if you have any financial interests in the manufacture or sale of softshell clothing technology. Im not interested in your opinion if you have a financial conflict of interest regarding softshell clothing.