Soft-Shells for Cold Weather Hiking?
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Daniel Russell
(Superfluous_Grizzly)

Locale: Creation
Soft-Shells for Cold Weather Hiking? on 02/04/2013 21:14:21 MST Print View

I recently came across a great deal on a soft shell and I'm not quite sure when to use it. I use it mainly for urban wear but I'm wondering if any of you experience summit trekkers could give some insight of their uses on the trails. Is it a necessary layer?
Cheers,
Dan

Don Selesky
(backslacker) - M
Re: Soft-Shells for Cold Weather Hiking? on 02/04/2013 21:21:27 MST Print View

I use one as my main shell for winter backpacking anytime I expect below freezing weather. It blocks most of the wind while still breathing well, and will shed any snow that falls. Better under these conditions than a normal hardshell.

Daniel Russell
(Superfluous_Grizzly)

Locale: Creation
Precipitation! on 02/04/2013 21:28:10 MST Print View

Thanks Don!
Here in KY, I hike in a natural rain forest (Red River Gorge) and the precipitation is of concern. Do you pair this with a shell in these circumstances? I have a light poncho that I generally take because I don't have money for a $200+ event layer. The humidity would destroy me in anything less breathable.

Edited by Superfluous_Grizzly on 02/04/2013 21:30:11 MST.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Precipitation! on 02/04/2013 22:18:09 MST Print View

Softshells shine in sub freezing temps where most of your precip is in solid form. In near freezing temps they can become a huge liability if they are your only shell often forcing you to keep moving to stay warm and to shave a day or more off your backpack trip (just trust me on this one ;) )

Because they're usually made of a denser fleece/shell fabric or have membranes they tend to absorb A LOT of water which isn't good in near freezing temps.

I love mine for around the city or day trips where at the end of the day I'll have a guaranteed warm night. They are quite versatile and I wear mine in anything from 70s to mid-40s while sedentary. Depending on your fabric though (as in my case) they're often heavier than the typical insulating and shell layer combos that work so well, so don't get taken overnight. Like you I don't see too much continuous sub-freezing weather so I haven't had the chance to really test them in sustained cold but many claim that is where they shine.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: Precipitation! on 02/04/2013 22:30:03 MST Print View

Softshells are for when temps are and will stay below freezing for the duration of your hike and any precip falls as snow. As such, they are best used to replace 2 or more layers (base, mid, and outer), saving weight and pack space. The thinner softshells, aka lined windshirts, like the Marmot Driclime Ether, Montbell Lightshell Parka, and RAB Vapour-Rise Lite Alpine jacket are good choices for late Fall, Winter, and early Spring hiking. Their wicking liner fabrics can be worn next-to-skin or over a thin base layer.

Daniel Russell
(Superfluous_Grizzly)

Locale: Creation
Great info. on 02/04/2013 22:46:42 MST Print View

I think you guys pretty much summed it up. Thanks. I'll keep this as an "urban piece" since I already have a decent layering system. Unless I get out in sub freezing, which isn't often.
Cheers!

Paul Mason
(dextersp1) - F
Re: Great info. on 02/05/2013 20:04:40 MST Print View

I use a soft shell for hiking 14ers in winter. It is all about the layering. Stop by 14ers.com and you will get the same response.

I use a Golite softshell, UnderArmor cold wheather, base layer, light weight fleece - it works.

just Justin Whitson
(ArcturusBear)
much less mula on 02/06/2013 13:20:06 MST Print View

"I have a light poncho that I generally take because I don't have money for a $200+ event layer"

I also don't have the money to buy the above--that's why i went with a Stoic Vaporshell rainjacket for like 65 dollars. I think hardshells in general are much more multi use and adaptable than heavier softshells. With that said, i really want to try Furtech or Paramo type jackets for Winter time conditions, as i've heard the breathablity can't be even touched by eVent, Neoshell, or the like.

Does anyone know if Furtech ships to the U.S.?