Soft Shell is, as far as folk flogging it are concerned, anything they happen want to flog you. So if Mammut say it's soft shell then... <bof>
But those of us who think something like Powershield (Amateur) is as far down the limits of breathability as we want to go it's just pish from marketing departments. Not like the first time that's happened...
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Well, not that anyone will, but you could very easily define them objectively - just require something like: (a) a hard shell is waterproof (to some HH), (b) some minimum CFM requirement for the air flow of a soft shell. Something like 4/5 would make sense.
If it's waterproof it's a hard shell. If you try and flog it past that then either it's Paramo or similar, or it's just marketing trying to pretend it's more than it is ("Goretex Soft Shell" probably the worst offender to date).
There was a Columbia jacket featured on here last November that described itself as "softshell with fully seam sealed, waterproof/breathable Omni-Tech fabric", and a couple of days later I saw a well known blogger describe the OMM Kamleika as waterproof softshell. The reply when I picked him up on this use of the term softshell was:
".... the term “waterproof softshell” has been an issue in the trade. Some folk reckon it’s a death sentence for a waterproof to have the softshell word near it, but if it is waterproof and has a stretchy, soft handling fabric, then it is softshell. There’s been attempts to make hardshell and softshell apply to the nature of the fabric, and add either waterproof, weather resistant or windproof to that so that folk can see exactly what it is... "
Sounds like a recipe for confusion and disaster to me!
(not that the term 'softshell' in itself isn't )
Hard Shell = waterproof.
Anyothernameyouwanttodreamup Shell = not waterproof.
.... er, Mike, I think I've found the flaw in your logic!
According to the repository of all worldly knowledge, a softshell is what you wear when you've just outgrown your hardshell. The old hard shell gets thrown away, and you've got a little while before you get a new one that fits better.
As a result, you're more vulnerable to the elements and easier to eat.
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