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Top 5 Softshell Jackets

A softshell jacket is a highly breathable yet wind resistant garment that is designed to be worn during high intensity activities in cold and windy environments. They are great layering pieces that can be worn under a waterproof jacket if needed as they don’t have taped seams so they’re rarely fully waterproof. All softshells offer some stretch making them great for climbing or scrambling.  

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Softshells can either have a stretch woven construction or be membrane lined. Stretch Woven softshells rely on the woven nylon face fabric to block wind and is the most basic form. These stretch, weigh a little more and have increased breathability and durability. Dry air enters the shell, picks up moisture from sweat and then leaves keeping you dry. The thickness of the weave provides wind resistance too. Some brands apply a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating on the outside of the garment to provide some water resistance. Membrane Lined softshells have a membrane laminated to the inside of the face fabric to provide wind and water resistance. These types of softshell are great at blocking weather but aren’t as breathable so moisture is more easily trapped. If the face fabric gets wet this further hinders breathability. GTX membranes will provide wind and waterproofing. Hybrid softshells use more weather resistant fabrics on certain parts of the garment such as front and arms and are combined with a more breathable fabric in areas like under the arms to increase breathability. Some softshells come with a fleece lining for comfort and extra insulation but this isn’t always included so look out for this. If you’re hiking in milder temperatures then choose a non insulated version. Bear in mind that you can always add a fleece or base layer underneath if needed. With this in mind we’ve listed our top 5 best softshells below from a variety of brands to suit your budget.  

Jack Wolfskin Muddy Pass

The Muddy Pass is a sporty hybrid softshell with a lined, fully windproof front for heading into prevailing wind. Made from Flex Shield, this Jack Wolfskin softshell is highly breathable with 2 way stretch and water resistance. Includes a light hood that stows away in the collar if needed and 4 pockets. Jack-Wolfskin-Muddy-Pass    

Montane Sabretooth Softshell Jacket

The Sabretooth is a membrane softshell with a tightly woven face fabric for excellent abrasion resistance. A Polartec Power Shield membrane is able to block 98% of wind and allows for great breathability and water repellency. Inside is a brushed fleece backer for warmth and breathability. This is a mountain Softshell so has alpine features including adjustable hood, venting pockets and a tailored fit as well as articulated arms. Montane-Sabretooth    

The North Face Nimble Jacket

The Nimble has been around for years as it’s very popular with hikers. This softshell is made from The North Face’s own Windwall fabric which provides high wind resistance on the mountain. There’s plenty of stretch for movement and a DWR coating provides water repellency in light showers. TNF-Nimble-Softshell    

Berghaus Ben Oss Jacket

The Ben Oss is a windproof stretch woven softshell and is blocked with a micro fleece for comfort, breathability and added insulation. A great budget option, this softshell comes with 3 pockets, adjustable hem and thumb loops for a great fit. 3    

Montane Alpine Equaliser Jacket

The Alpine Equaliser from Montane is a windproof, stretch, lightweight softshell with Thermo Plexus brushed microfleece lining for added insulation which also makes it fast drying. This mountain softshell jacket is packed with mountain features such as helmet compatible hood with stiffened peak, tall collar for face protection and two A line pockets positioned clear of a backpack harness. Montane-Alpine-Equaliser    

Caring for your Softshell

To prolong the life of your softshell we recommend washing at 30 degrees Centigrade on a gentle cycle with a non biological detergent or Nikwax Tech Wash. We suggest not using a fabric softener and to give the garment an extra rinse. Allow the softshell to drip dry. To re-proof your jackets DWR coating we suggest Nikwax SoftShell Proof after you have washed the item. This product can be used on wet garments.
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