Both or one?
I've been pondering for a while about purchasing a soft shell as I'm a bit of a sweaty lad and find my hard shell ends up soaked if I don't work with it during a walk. Reading all the reviews, it sounds like I might be better off going for a more breathable soft shell but I'm not sure how much total protection it will provide.
So with that in mind, my question is for people with soft shell's; "do you take a hard shell out for full waterproof protection or do you find that the soft shell is good enough as your outer layer?"
I like to be covered for all eventualities and wondered if I could rely on the soft shell during a heavy down pour or would you still suggest I still carry a lightweight hard shell?
Sorry to continue the trend but I agree... I use paramo between october and may which is in effect as breathable as a softshell (non-membraned) but also waterproof. My 'softshell' (a rab VR) hardly gets a look in, as the paramo is just as warm and breathable, but more water resistant.
In summer I wear a windproof (paramo fuera smock) most of the time and only carry a waterproof if its wet from the off.
Hmm, I guess it all depends what you think a soft-shell is...
I agree with everything that's been said about Paramo, I too use it from about October to May.
I've never gone for the 'soft-shell' hype, certainly not the membrane soft-shells. I have a pair of lowe Alpine soft-shell trousers which are stretchy and great for winter mountain-biking, but I've never walked in them.
And I have a Rab Vapour Rise top which is great but I don't think of it as soft-shell, to me it's a lined-windproof (I had a similar thing from Patagonia years before the words 'soft' and 'shell' were put together) and I treat it as a mid layer but yes, it's windproof, defects a light shower and saves me reaching for the waterproof on many occasions. But I'd never go out without a light waterproof and rely solely on the Vapour Rise top.
"In summer I wear a windproof (paramo fuera smock) most of the time and only carry a waterproof if its wet from the off."
Ben, do you find the fuera to be waterproof enough for summer use? I've not used it in a downpour yet and would hate to be out in the boonies only for it to let in water. I still carry a hardshell wetproof but would love to ditch it for summer use.
To me, the notion of softshell makes more sense for the legs than the body. Putting on and removing waterproof trousers, especially in heavy boots (or crampons) is a big fat hassle. My legs rarely get that cold unless I am sitting doing nothing, and they don't care too much about getting damp either provided they'll dry fast when the rain stops. So I have a pair of Schoeller 3xDry trousers but have yet to put them through their paces. My wife runs a lot colder than me, and she uses trousers in a very similar fabric to good effect.
If you are going to call an insulated pertex (a là Buffalo) a softshell, then these are useful. I have the Rab Berber Tech Smock from the late 90's and it gets a lot of use in cold weather. The Rab VR is a lighter version of the same concept for more year-round conditions and looks pretty darn good to me too.
And Paramo or Furtech offer the most waterproof version of this concept. I wouldn't bother with the Windstopper or other membrane fleeces as they are just heavy and not very effective.
I've used the fuera for full days in drizzle and clag and not got wet, but I don't know how it would fare in a full day of rain. I've used it in heavy rain for about an hour, and it was fine, but I'm not sure how it would handle 2 - 3 hours of heavy deluge. It dries out incredibly quickly though!
I seem to be posting a lot of links to past threads today...
See I'm so confused for my (fairly lengthy) views on the types of soft shells available, and their uses. There's a list of links to other threads on the second page... It's 2.5 years old now, but I'd only tweak the comments slightly today.
I have umpteen of the blighters, of all varieties, as I like to try things out. My favourite for walking is the shelled micropile, of which the Rab VR is currently tops. For climbing, I prefer a stretch nylon shell, such as Schoeller Dynamic or Dryskin, preferably with an Extreme face fabric. For skiing, I use a shelled micropile, or PowerShield, such as the Patagonia MixMaster.
But, for all the soft shells I have, I still find myself taking a 100 weight fleece and Nikwaxed Pertex shell and a lightweight waterproof in preference to the softshells when I'm walking.
I think soft shell for trousers makes a lot of sense, too; Schoeller Dryskin Extreme seems ideal, as it's comfortable, stretchy and reasonably water resistant, so you can make a pair of trousers that are close cut to stop them flapping about, whilst still allowing unrestricted movement.
If Paramo made one single item that fitted me properly, with sleeves that come down to my wrists and a body that didn't hang like a sack on me, I'd probably use one of them for winter.
Montane Extreme smock in winter and have never needed a 'proper' waterproof although I still carry a lightweight one. Montane erm.... pants, what is it called??? Duality smock for the rest of the year but a Lowe Alpine Atom waterproof handy for stops and when it really buckets down.
I think soft shell jackets look cool... don't see them fitting my needs unless I am lucky enough to move to the alps!
personally i think that soft-shell (and bear in mind that i'm talking about 'old skool' soft-shell, rather than membrane soft-shell) is fantastic for UK weather.
i wear either a Montane Extreme or Buffalo teclite (depending on the temperature) and find that it copes far better than a hardshell - in terms of comfort - with the normal scottish winter mix of cold wind, heavy drizzle, sleet and snow. it doesn't cope well with just persistant rain (persistant sleet and snow is no problem), but then when you have persistant rain you usually have slightly higher temperatures, so wearing a pile lined smock isn't a brilliant idea anyway.
if perstant rain is forecast, or its just not going to be particularly cold, i wear a Paramo Viento, usually just over a merino baselayer.
my experiences with membranes - both hard and soft-shell - has been pretty unpleasent, after about ten minutes i feel like i'm wearing a wet towel.
> I did buy a jacket made of the same fabric, perhaps swayed by a review on here which described it as 'sex on a coathanger'
MoS, have you seen this thread?
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