or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Ski Gear Discussion › Softshell or waterproof fleece?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Softshell or waterproof fleece?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hi there,

I am looking for opinions.... I believe I have a waterproof technical jacket in my stocking tomorrow, but I reckon a waterproof fleece of softshell would complete my gear. I am looking for something which could be used on the hill when it is warmer (without a hardshell) or could be used in combination with a hardshell when it is very cold.

I am also looking that whatever I buy may be used at home (Ireland). I do alot of walking (half mile walks many times a day) and would like for something that isnt as heavy as a big hardshell jacket, but which provides enough warmth and waterproofing to resist a shower of rain for the 5 mins I might be out in it and cope with the odd cool day. As another use, it might even be used for golf, so I would guess a neatish fit might be preferable.

So for my uses, which would you choose? Waterproof fleece of softshell jacket?

I am not looking to spend a fortune and of course do not have access to the great online stores in the US. I was looking at http://www.keela.co.uk
clothing, specifically the genesis fleece or zenith soft shell...

Many thanks

Adam
post #2 of 22
A softshell is really not much different than a hardshell, IMO. The fleece is going to give you more insulation. I am not familiar with their stuff, but I'd use something like the Patagonia R1 Granular for your needs, which I think is like the fleece.
post #3 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh
A softshell is really not much different than a hardshell, IMO.
IMO it is a huge difference between them. That difference is the breathability of the fabric. A top of the line softshell is a lot more breathable than a hardshell. I use a Fila softshell (the same model used by the Italian Alpine Ski Team) and it uses the Schoeller fabric. There is no comparison between the softshell and my Volkl jacket. Each was built with different purposes in mind.

Some companies claim the softshell can be used 80% of the time. I disagree. If i used it 80% of the time i would probably freeze in the colder months.
post #4 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by sywsyw
IMO it is a huge difference between them. That difference is the breathability of the fabric. A top of the line softshell is a lot more breathable than a hardshell. I use a Fila softshell (the same model used by the Italian Alpine Ski Team) and it uses the Schoeller fabric. There is no comparison between the softshell and my Volkl jacket. Each was built with different purposes in mind.

Some companies claim the softshell can be used 80% of the time. I disagree. If i used it 80% of the time i would probably freeze in the colder months.
You need to compare softshells and hardshells that are effectively the same other than the fabric, though. For example, an uninsulated hardshell to an uninsulated softshell. Yes, the softshell is more breathable and less waterproof. But, the difference is, IMO, minimal in comparison to the difference between either of them and a fleece (which is primarily an insulation layer)!

If I had a nice hardshell (which I do), I would add a good fleece before I'd add a softshell (which I have done).
post #5 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh
You need to compare softshells and hardshells that are effectively the same other than the fabric, though. For example, an uninsulated hardshell to an uninsulated softshell. Yes, the softshell is more breathable and less waterproof. But, the difference is, IMO, minimal in comparison to the difference between either of them and a fleece (which is primarily an insulation layer)!

If I had a nice hardshell (which I do), I would add a good fleece before I'd add a softshell (which I have done).
IMO the best thing about softshells is that they are A LOT more breathable than hardshells, even than the uninsulated ones. My Fila softshell does not have a membrain and this is the single most important factor in the equation IMO. Yes, you can get good uninsulated hardshells but they are far less breathable than a softshell.

I will try to use the softshell as often as i can (leaving the hardshells at home). This does not apply to the pants, however...
My softshell is insulated. To make a hardshell waterproof the companies need to use a membrain. So hardshells (insulated or not) do not compare to softshells in terms of their breathability. Back in July, i used the softshell on the glacier and i was impressed with its performance. All IMO.
post #6 of 22
Schoeller fabric has been around for many years as a staple for mountaineers and climbers. I have a pair of Scholler crack climbing pants that are ~18 years old. It's amazing that it didn't catch on in other sporting communites sooner.

There are many differnt weights of Scholler as there are many variations of trade marked fabrics that are basically the same as Schoeller. With a proper weight and a 'bit of fleece pile inside, you can have a relatively water and wind resistant fabric with some built in insulation. Add some pit zips and you can vent the heat. If you find your softshell isn't as water resistant as it once was after a few wash cycles, then a quick NikWax treatment will provide all you need for what you described. Even a hardshell will need this treatment applied after a few wash cycles lest you endure the outer nylon wetting out.

Marmot, Cloudveil, Patagonia, Mountain Hardwear, The North Face, Eider, Salomon and Arcteryx are some of the manufacterers that will provide a few choices.
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys.... would I be incorrect in thinking that the waterproof fleece is probably equivalent to an insulated softshell? I would see no reason for a jacket of any kind without at least some insulation, so an uninsulated softshell isnt really a concern to me....

Adam
post #8 of 22
I have never heard of a waterproof fleece.

The fleece was designed to be worn under an outer layer (in most cases). There are some fleece jackets with the windstopper membrain from Gore.there might be other variations as well.

I would not wear my softshell under an outer layer. It would not be comfortable.

IMO, the fleece (depending on its weight) used as an outer layer should THEORETICALLY be warmer than an insulated softshell. But i prefer a softshell. My softshell is very tight fitting and it feels great. If i were in your place, i would buy a softshell (insulated).

Good luck,
Jamie
post #9 of 22
A fleece can be windproof and water resistant, but you would not want to be wearing one as an outer layer if there is any sort of precipitation. For one thing, snow and ice will easily stick to a fleece outer layer, where a softshell or hardshell would resist or shed it.

Craig
post #10 of 22
I think the breathability and waterproofness is a function of the quality and type of the garment. My new Patagonia Stretch Element hardshell is very breathable, uninsulated, and completely waterproof as far as I can tell. It has no sewn seams...

When I compared it to its cousin the softshell equivalent, the only real difference I could tell was the hand of the fabric. I'm sure that the softshell would be a bit more breathable, but I can't imagine needing it, even though I run hot under my garments (I wear thin base and insulation layers).

Again, though, if you already have a hardshell (as buns does) I would not add a softshell but would rather add a fleece. YMMV.
post #11 of 22
You are asking for two different things.

I have Gore Tex XCR shells a Softshell and a ton of fleeces. I think all three have a specific use.

The softshell is more breathable but I wouldn't say it's way better then XCR.

My softshell will repel water but after awhile or if the rain picks up it will start to get alittle wet. My XCRs can be used in a severe rain or snow storm.

The do sell fleeces with a sprayed on water repellent coating (doesn't have to be windstopper) but that won't last long and doesn't work very well. I like windbloc fleeces for a standalone outer layer if it isn't too cold and I am doing something where I will be hot such as walking. It will shed a light drizzle but not a rain storm.

You don't want to layer a softshell under a hardshell because it would be bulky and you lose breathability. You also may not want to layer a windbloc fleece under your outer layers for the same reason.

You can layer a normal fleece under either a hardshell or a softshell and it will insulate, wick moisture, and breath. It is not great to use on it's own if it is cold, there is wind, or there is precipitation

I think all layers server a specifc purpose.

Is the hardshell you are getting insulated?
post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks again....

The jacket I got is not insultated, although it is heavy as far as technical jackets go because it has 3 layers.

My biggest trouble in all of this is I simply cannot try things on..... around where I live we have exactly no options. So this is why I ask opinions on what way to go!

I am definitely in two minds now.... I was going to go for the waterproof fleece, but am starting to believe a slightly heavier soft shell would be the way to go.... The question is finding one which is reduced as nicely as the fleece I was looking at!

Adam
post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 
How about a mountain hardwear alchemy jacket? Is this going to provide what I am looking for?

Thanks

Adam
post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by buns
How about a mountain hardwear alchemy jacket? Is this going to provide what I am looking for?

Thanks

Adam
I have been using mine as an all around winter jacket and ski in it early and late season. It has an athletic fit and isn't bulky.

I think it's a great softshell for the price.

http://www.mgear.com/pages/product/p...94967278%20783

For some reason the shark color (which I have) is cheaper then the others at mgear.
post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 
The reduced shark seems to be everywhere actually.... to be honest I wouldnt consider spending another $100 just for another color!
post #16 of 22
Buns, if you don't have a fleece, though, make sure to get one. As Scalce mentions, best to get one without the waterproofing for insulation purposes. You'll need something between your base layer and shell, and that won't be a softshell!
post #17 of 22
Thread Starter 
I am actually a bit of a fleece junky.... I dont have any particularly heavy fleeces and I dont have fleece jackets, but I wear light and light/mid weight fleece tops in place of t-shirts or shirts whenever the weather is cool enough! So I have a mid fleecy layer sorted.... maybe that was something important I should have mentioned already!

So could a softshell not be worn directly over the top of a t-shirt when im at home in warmer weather?
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by buns
So could a softshell not be worn directly over the top of a t-shirt when im at home in warmer weather?
I wear my softshell all the time with just a t-shirt underneath in the winter.

The Alchemy and most good softshells have a very thin fleece material on the inside which makes it warm.
post #19 of 22
buns, I'm with Scalce, then. BTW, you may not need another jacket of any kind! Not to say you shouldn't get one if you want!
post #20 of 22
hell i say take a real good soft shell (like my mountain hardware alchemy) and then put a real nice north face thinsalted polartec (very warm) fleece or vest under it ..thats the best. Light 100% wind and water proof and quite warm
post #21 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh
buns, I'm with Scalce, then. BTW, you may not need another jacket of any kind! Not to say you shouldn't get one if you want!
On the button!

It is totally a case of want! I just didnt know which of my wants was more functional for my needs..... it sounds like it is the soft shell!

Thanks guys!
post #22 of 22
Thread Starter 
I ordered a small shark mountain hardwear Alchemy this morning with some nikwax waterproofing.... now cross your fingers that it gets here before I leave!

Thanks for the help

Adam
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Gear Discussion
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Ski Gear Discussion › Softshell or waterproof fleece?