Winter is almost upon us (did it ever really end?) and the choice of jacket styles has grown again. Advances in technology mean that not only can you buy an expensive waterproof jacket with ports for your mobile phone, iPod or Blackberry but that even standard jackets have features that were not available a few years ago. Fabrics are now more easily manipulated, and promising to be very popular this winter are jackets made using ‘soft-shell’ fabrics.
Shell refers to the outer layer of a jacket designed to block wind and/or water from entering and there a three main types. Completely waterproof jackets protect against water and wind, but conversely prevent moisture from escaping. A hard-shell layer, such as Gore-Tex, is waterproof and somewhat breathable. They are typically made up of a thin, porous membrane that blocks liquid water, but lets through moisture. A soft-shell layer allows moisture to evaporate freely, provides protection from wind chill and partially blocks water. When combined with a water repellent coating this option provides cover over all three categories. Soft-shell jackets are also lighter, less bulky and more breathable than their counterparts.
David Sanders-Smith, of Result, states that: “Soft shell fabrics is the latest line-up of must-have performance jackets. The fabric is lightweight that stretches to further enhance performance and comfort levels required for today’s ever demanding outdoor lifestyle. In addition, Soft shell offers high levels of warmth and has to be the first choice outer layer when worn in dry and cold weather conditions”.
Still the best selling jackets for outdoor activity are completely waterproof examples, with those such as the Regatta Stormproof Jacket proving particularly popular. And if it is too cold for the traditionally thin jacket it can always be used in conjunction with the warm but absorbent fleece, such as a Uneek Fleece Jacket.