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Good softshell choice?
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Joseph Teodosio
(sparky227) - F
Good softshell choice? on 12/19/2011 16:15:20 MST Print View

I have been looking for a good softshell/windbreaker for my March start NOBO thru of the AT, and was originally going to get the Arcteryx Celeris but when I came across the Post Canyon Softshell Jacket today on sale on GoLites website I couldn't pass the deal up. Will this suffice?

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Good softshell choice on 12/19/2011 17:30:25 MST Print View

Oh, who needs a dead bird on their jacket in the wilderness? I hope they work, I had to order one for my son at $39.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Good softshell choice? on 12/19/2011 17:34:53 MST Print View

Softshells are for city use. You'll be better off with a windshirt and L/S baselayer (SS if warm enough). That generally works for most people down to rather cold temps (ie depending on physiology somewhere in the 0-32F daytime weather). If you're getting cold you basically aren't moving fast enough ;)

Gary L. Thompson
(covah) - MLife
softshells not just for city use on 12/19/2011 19:34:28 MST Print View

I disagree that "softshells are for city use". I prefer the soft shell to the windshirt b/c the softshell breathes better. I also carry a light windshirt that I throw on over my softshell when it's really windy and I need addtl wind protection. The windshirt is also nice to put on in camp or at rest stops. I know some people swear by windshirts but, I don't think they are as versatile as a softshell.

Good luck,


Serge Giachetti
(sgiachetti) - M

Locale: Boulder, CO
softshell vs. windshirt on 12/20/2011 00:25:20 MST Print View

I think a lightweight softshell like the golite, a rab boreas, or marmot dri-clime (windshirt/pile) are actually pretty versatile for backpacking. If I were thru hiking this year, I'd bring a lightweight merino hoody as my only base and then use a driclime or rab boreas as a windshirt/second base. They breath/wick better than normal windshirts, and they can also be used as a baselayer or sleep shirt. They weigh just over what many LS shirts and lightweight fleece garments weigh, so it would be lighter than carrying that combo in most situations. Not as versatile, but maybe more effective/lighter.

Gabe Joyes
(gabe_joyes) - F

Locale: Lander, WY
softshells are very useful for winter travel on 12/20/2011 08:28:49 MST Print View

Softshells are veyr useful for winter travel. I mostly backcountry ski in the winter and a lightweight softshell is the primary layer I wear (Arcteryx Acto MX Hoody or TNF Something Hybrid with Windstopper). I wear a Patagonia Houdini often in the summer, and it simply isn't warm enough in the winter except for on very sunny days. Also, my houdini is sized to fit over a tshirt or a long sleeve t at best, I cannot comfortably fit fleece underneath it. I agree not all softshells are created equal, and some are pretty much meant for just walking around town. But, if you are skinning around at 10,000 feet in the winter, you will usually want more than a windbreaker.

Paul Hope
(PaulHope) - F
Re: softshells are very useful for winter travel on 12/20/2011 09:54:03 MST Print View

I agree Gabe, for anyone who is serious about winter (dry not wet) alpine endeavors then a softshell jacket is a must. I have used Patagonia's hooded Guide Jacket now for a few seasons and there is no way that I could imagine replacing it with my basic 3-season windshirt unless I was expecting a warm winter day.

Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
Good softshell choice? on 12/20/2011 12:11:25 MST Print View

Arcteryx Acto MX Hoody-

My experience with a fancy softshell: I got it and thought it might be the cure for cancer. Windproof? Pretty much. Perfect for holding all my crap while traveling? Yup. Nice actually functional handwarmer pockets not too high up? Check.

The problem? This thing SUCKS in rain. Awful. When I say that I mean that I've put it in the dryer to revive the water repellancy. I've coated it with the manufacturer recommended DWR treatment. I've done it all to try to get it to repel water. It's great for a short sprinkle (though it gets and stays a bit damp), but anything even moderately substantial (San Francisco medium rain) will soak through. I had it in a fire-hose style Chicago drenching and I was just as soaked as the next guy. The bottom line is that softshells aren't waterproof (duh), and their limited application is what the dudes above are saying. Don't think this will double as a rain-jacket.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
softshells on 12/20/2011 12:16:35 MST Print View

i use both softshells and windshirts ...

my rule is that if its highly abrasive, ill use a softshell, if not then a winshirt

things to note about softshells

- some WEAVE non membrane softshells can breath better than some windshirts, it all depends on the fabrics ... also weave softshells are often not fully "windproof", they tend to let a small amount of wind in which helps with breathability, but may well a bit "chilly" to some

- softshells are heavier ... period

- softshells are more durable ... period

- a softshell WILL absorb more sweat and moisture, and can become soaked ,,, ive had that happen ... windshirt can absorb moisture as well, but depending on conditions, you may just be able to take it off and shake it off quickly, it also dries quicker due to the thinner fabric

- softshells are "warmer" which can be a bad thing IMO .... if i want a bit "warmer" ill just wear my R1 copy under my windshirt or other such ... a shell should just be a shell IMO, no need for it to be "warm" ... thats what other things are for

- windshirts with pile interiors (buffalo, driclime, vapourise) are actually considered the first softshells ... the concept i believe came from studying arctic people where their version of a softshell was animal fur with fur on the inside .... these work quite well in lower temps but lose flexibility at higher temps due to their "all in one" nature

personally if i didnt need the durability of a softshell much of the time id use a highly breathable windshirt every time ....

for good reading go here ...

Gabe Joyes
(gabe_joyes) - F

Locale: Lander, WY
moving in cold dryish conditions on 12/20/2011 14:16:29 MST Print View

I would completely agree softshells are not for rain, that is what hard shells(rain jackets) are for. It does not rain in Wyoming in the winter, so it works well for the dry blowing snow we get here. In a wet climate I would wear a hardshell, or at least a softshell with a waterproof membrane (like some of the ones OR make).

For what its worth, I would also agree that some soft shells breath better than wind jackets.

Gabe Joyes
(gabe_joyes) - F

Locale: Lander, WY
Acto MX on 12/20/2011 14:27:40 MST Print View

AlsoFYI: In know way would I call the Acto MX a "fancy" softshell. Its really very simple and on the minimalist end of things. Just because it is from an expensive company does not make it fancy. I was drawn to it because after a considerable amount of research, I can declare it as the longest softshell jacket on the market (that I could find). It also doesn't have a membrane, and is made from a thin, high quality gridded fabric.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Softshells on 12/20/2011 14:50:45 MST Print View

Oh the thread creep.

The OP was asking about softshells for a NOBO AT trip starting in march (which is generally warm in the South by then).

So no Rockies, or cold dry winters. I was responding in context of the OP's question.

I still stand by my statement. Only time I wear my softshells regularly are in the city. I love them but unless I'm expecting an abrasive environment like climbing or bushwacking in desert scrub they stay in the confines of civilization (where oddly enough I find door frames and walls have far more bits of metal warranting the durability). They're simply too heavy for their warmth, yet too warm for active movement in anything but the chilliest temps in winter.

Caveat, this is for jackets. I love softshell pants for far more endeavors. But I can't withstand wet legs better than wet torso.

Eric Marcano

Locale: Southcentral Texas
Softshell on 12/21/2011 05:04:06 MST Print View

For highly active pursuits in the cold, go with R1 or FA Hangfire. Add a windshirt if the wind cuts through and gets annoying and/or a hardshell (eVent or comparable) if abrasion resistance is needed. If either of these wet out, a simple shake will suffice. If a softshell wets out (from exterior moisture or sweat), you're hosed.

If you're concerned about abrasion and it's from snow/ice, then plan on a progressively wetter, heavier and less breathable softshell over time as moisture seeps in. Thus, IMO and experience, no advantages over a traditional hardshell.

For cold, wet pursuits I sometimes go with a Paramo Velez Adventure Light smock. It's similar in weight to a typical softshell, offers great breathability, superb ventilation and very high water repellency (technically it's waterproof and up to now I have found no reason to argue with that). Just another option.

Paul Hope
(PaulHope) - F
Re: Softshell on 12/21/2011 08:52:09 MST Print View

"If you're concerned about abrasion and it's from snow/ice, then plan on a progressively wetter, heavier and less breathable softshell over time as moisture seeps in. Thus, IMO and experience, no advantages over a traditional hardshell."

Eric, it depends entirely on the climate:

-Cold and *wet* i.e. rain then a hardhell is the only way to go.

-Cold and dry i.e. snow then a softshell is far superior.

If any item of clothing other than your base-layer is wetting out due to sweat then you are using inappropriate layering techniques for the conditions, which is the winter can be fatal if you are unable to get dry.

For the record softshells are NOT waterproof (except for a few models), they are just water resistant designed to repel and shake off snow and all for superior breathability over a hardshell in such conditions. If you want something waterproof, go with a hardshell period.

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: Good softshell choice? on 12/21/2011 10:31:46 MST Print View

Joseph, for the reasons Paul mentions above, a softshell isn't a good choice for your trip. You'll encounter cold-wet conditions rather than cold-dry conditions at that latitude and time of year. Use rain gear, and maybe a windshirt. If your rain jacket is breathable enough, you might be able to use it as a windshirt. eVent and DriDucks are the most breathable.

Joseph Teodosio
(sparky227) - F
Softshell on 12/21/2011 12:05:57 MST Print View

I wasn't planning on using the softshell when its raining, for that I have raingear, I will be wearing it on the nicer days with merino wool baselayers and possibly a windshirt and for colder days I also have a patagonia down sweater.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Re: Softshell on 12/21/2011 18:30:17 MST Print View

paul ...

youll carry a hardshell regardless ...

its a question between a windshirt and a softshell ... and ill take the windshirt every time unless i need the durability, which i often do ... which is why i use both

joe ...

for normal pursuits a windshirt is lighter than a softshell and has a better temp range (works in both cold and warmer weather) .. in addition you can easily put it over yr other layers easily which not all softshells can do ....

softshells IMO are basically marketing tricks for the most part ... read the link i posted and youll see why

Edited by bearbreeder on 12/21/2011 18:33:30 MST.

wayne clark
softshell on 12/21/2011 18:33:09 MST Print View

softshells arent light, seems extra weight to be carrying to take a softshell and hardshell, you can use the hardshell as a windbreaker as well and ditch the softshell and just go with a fleece which will be warmer when combined with a hardshell than a shoftshell since sofshell fleece is pretty thin. or you can just wear the fleece if it's too hot with the shell, more flexibility for layering, softshells are more likely to be clammy than a fleece.

i only use softshells for day walking.

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: Good softshell choice? on 12/21/2011 18:58:53 MST Print View

For the eastern US (where I hike), I just don't think soft-shells are the answer. I wear an appropriately thick wool base layer and them pack a second, lighter weight wool layer, a wind shirt and a poncho. If it's cold, I also bring rain pants.

I will wear a soft-shell for a day of snowshoeing or skiing when I have a limited time of exposure and can predict the weather reliably. But that's the only time.

I can imagine that in the dry western winters they may do well.

Paul Hope
(PaulHope) - F
Re: Re: Re: Softshell on 12/21/2011 21:24:36 MST Print View


Again it depends on the location and climate. Here in Colorado I never pack a hardshell during the winter as my softshell is far superior for these types of conditions.

I just have a basic Marmot Ion windshirt and I wouldn't pack that in my winter alpine trips just because it doesn't breath at all while moving. However it is I wouldn't leave home without it the rest of year-- same goes for my hardshell.