Yes (not me) and of course. Mainstream companies very rarely make things which aren't some good! The much more common problem is that they've designed something for a different set of criteria than you're after.
But being constructive, what do you want it for? There's a silly range of soft shells which have all sorts of differing performance, fit etc.
Fair enough The shield is basically overspecified for that sort of thing - too waterproof and so not really breathable enough.
The others would all be fine, just make sure enough space under them to get the net insulation right for winter. Or sundry things from other manufacturers.
Actually may as well clarify those three, albiet they don't give details so there some guesswork here!
Here's the (rather positive!) OM review of the orbital. Practically windproof and showers etc fine.
I'm guessing here but the Javelin seems to be aimed at being a bit less windproof. Double edged that as more breathable but also more prone to having winds cut through it. If main use is winter then perhaps orbital. Also a little lighter/ cheaper.
Neither adds any insulation. The Astron is probably even less windproof again but does add a bit of warmth.
Other ones - tons. A slightly distressing number of links in this old thread. Decide by fit, then maybe degree of windproofing. Warmth OK if winter only, although there's no reason to limit these things to winter. They'll do UK spring/autumn (or even summer) fine.
As Martin says there's thousands to choose from.
So the "right" answer is to choose the one that best suits your intended use.
However to get off the fence my personal view is that the soft shell jackets that are very weather resistant and have built in insulation have a rather limited use.
I think you should think of soft shell, like hard shell as part of a layering system.
So look for one that is breathable but keeps off most wind and drizzle. Then you can layer the appropriate insulation under it depending on the temperature. As you say you'll need your hard shell in any case.
There are more or less two types that I think best do the job, either very lightweight windshirts like the Montane Litespeed. Or stretch woven soft shells with no built in insulation like the ME Orbital and Javelin. Lots of companies make these types (RAB, Montane, ME etc).
For winter you might also consider Paramo which is someting else again. Waterproof with softshell breathability, but somewhat warm and heavy.
Ben Turner wrote (see)
My Cioch Glamaig is entirely weight-comparable to a lot of stretch-weave type softshells, and has proven to be a good deal more versatile. A fair bit cheaper than most fancy top end softshells too, even in a made-to-measure cut!
As for buying and using stretch-weave type softshells for the UK... it probably isn't worth it, for the most part. They're brilliant in cold, dry conditions, but they're decidedly subpar when it comes to rain. They're quite heavy, and significantly less practical than conventional layering or paramo or pile/pertex. Windstopper is even worse, because it has most of the disadvantages of a hardshell combined with the disadvantages of stretch weave softshells... great for alpine skiing, not sure I'd want it elsewhere though.
If you were dead set on it, consider lightweight options like a Haglofs Lizard, Montane Dyno or Rab Alpine. Bit more than a windshell, but not particularly heavy, bulky or expensive.
Well with a Velez you definetly don't want anything with non trivial insulation built in - performance wise you won't top the Velez, except by less warmth for warmer weather.
Definetly consider windshirts - Paramo do some nice, if heavy, ones which might fit you well if the Velez does. Or light non insulated soft shells.
Shamus wrote (see)
I'm thinking soft shell so I can adjust my layers if it does get warmer
Nuffin wrong with the old base layer, microfleece, wind/rainshell arrangement for that
I use base layer, microfleece, wind shell, hard shell in warmer months.
But my wind shell is a stretch woven softshell (Patagonia Ready Mix, which looks similar to the ME Javelin). It IS poor in rain but is not meant to protect from rain. It is just a slightly heavier (not heavy) but better featured windshirt - light, non insulated, very breathable.
Given both the existence of Paramo for the rougher/colder months and no wind shirt, thats certainly the sort of set up that might make most sense - its genuinely useful all year round.
As such might want to avoid stuff like the Sabertooth/Viper etc - they add a little warmth. Fine for gnarly spring/autumn but not nicer bits/summer. A little heavier than strictly ideal to carry too.
So a few hooded wind shirts as ideas: ParamoSmock, ParamoJacket, LiteSpeed, AlpineJacket, HoodedShield. There are naturally multiple alternatives.
The trident (or orbital) would do it fine too, what you're paying for there is maybe a little bit of extra comfort/weather resistance but mostly things like the stretch and the helmet hood. Although the Alpine jacket does do that too.
Martin Carpenter wrote (see)
Given both the existence of Paramo for the rougher/colder months and no wind shirt, thats certainly the sort of set up that might make most sense - its genuinely useful all year round.As such might want to avoid stuff like the Sabertooth/Viper etc - they add a little warmth. Fine for gnarly spring/autumn but not nicer bits/summer. A little heavier than strictly ideal to carry too.So a few hooded wind shirts as ideas: ParamoSmock, ParamoJacket, LiteSpeed, AlpineJacket, HoodedShield. There are naturally multiple alternatives.The trident (or orbital) would do it fine too, what you're paying for there is maybe a little bit of extra comfort/weather resistance but mostly things like the stretch and the helmet hood. Although the Alpine jacket does do that too.
Martin's right. There's so much out there. Although, I recently purchased a pull-over made from polartec power shield pro. I've worn it in a five hour sustained rain (moderate to occasionally almost heavy) and stayed impressively dry in temps as warm as 18c and as low as -3c. Winds of 42kph didn't penetrate. Of course I layered differently for each scenario but so far have been very impressed i.e. no condensation build up and its breathability is very very good; but not quite as good as pertex pieces I have. I guess the trade off is its overall weather resistance properties.
I've got Paramo and love it but I think the power shield pro functions better for me in warmer temps than Paramo. With the exception of a single "shell", I've pretty much ditched other GoreTex like stuff in favor of p&p, primaloft, paramo, and now the power shield pro. As a matter of fact, the only soft-shell I now have is the ppro and if you consider vapour rise a softshell, I've got that too. They all perform well for what they're designed for.
I'm hesitant to advocate any particular company using power shield pro but the Patagonia Knifeblade Pull-Over I bought is made exceptionally well and in my humble opinion so far has done everything it said it would. I wouldn't be afraid to say it's damn near a waterproof but a whole lot more comfortable than any "membraned" stuff I've had.
But again, as Martin suggests, most softshells are too warm for summer and the Knifeblade would be too I think. That's when a pertex windshirt or some other light windproof might fit the bill.
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