What is a Soft Shell Jacket?

Ever wonder what a soft shell fabric is made of or whether or not it's waterproof? In this this article we'll break down the differences between soft shell jackets, hardshell jackets and why people tend to favor one or the other.

What Exactly is a Soft Shell?

Soft shell is a type of outerwear that’s more breathable, stretchy and comfortable than typical waterproof jackets (commonly referred to as “hard shells”) like Gore-Tex jackets. The fabric is usually a warm material such as fleece or our very own Equinox 3-layer soft shell fabric. A soft shell jacket is the preferred choice in outerwear for outdoorsmen and women who enjoy high output athletic activities like climbing, biking, skiing, and snowboarding because the material is much more breathable than a hard shell (aka you won’t be a sweaty, hot mess when you take off your jacket). Soft shells offer more weather resistance and warmth than typical mid-layers like fleeces, and more comfort and maneuverability than a traditional hard shell jacket.

How Does Soft Shell Compare to Hard Shell Jackets?

Soft shells are typically more breathable and comfortable than hard shell jackets. They are also more fitting to your body, and have enough stretch to move naturally with you, whereas traditional hard shells are restricting and reduce your range of motion. What athletes really like about soft shell is that if they work up a sweat the breathable material will allow the moisture to escape, whereas hard shell jackets lock moisture and leave the wearer oftentimes sweaty and wet.

Are Soft Shell Jackets Waterproof?

While soft shell jackets offer protection against moisture, we refer to them as “water-resistant” instead of “waterproof”. This is because soft shell fabrics have a durable water repellent (DWR) coating that keeps moisture from penetrating the fabric initially, but after long periods of time the moisture will soak through the woven fabric.

About Boathouse’s Zenith 3-Layer Soft Shell Fabric

Our Zenith soft shell fabric is highly water resistant. It has a unique 3 layer construction that includes a tough woven shell for water repellency, a soft brushed liner for comfort and warmth, and a waterproof laminate sandwiched in-between. We use this fabric on all of our elite performance soft shell jackets and vest such as: 

Men’s and Women’s Equinox Jacket

Our men’s and women’s soft shell jacket is the perfect all-weather American-made softshell. They are water resistant, breathable and lightweight and also incredibly comfortable to wear. Unlike a hard shell jacket you won’t get all sweaty and wet while performing at the top of your game in the cooler fall and winter months. Key features of the Equinox jacket include:

  • Lightweight, providing warmth without bulk
  • Moderate breathability; 5000 gr breathability rating
  • High water repellency and wind protection; 5000 gr waterproof rating
  • Select styles available with hoods for additional cold weather protection
  • Select styles offer fully sublimated side panels

The Equinox soft shell is available in 3 retail colors or available to customize using our online customizer. Choose your colors, upload your logo and select sublimated patterns for the side panel and create your own custom soft shell jacket! At Boathouse.com you can do it all online in minutes.

Equinox Vest

The Equinox vest is the same design and construction as our Equinox Jacket but in a traditional vest design. We offer it as a softshell vest for men and women's fit. This softshell vest is ideal for more moderate fall temperatures, or to act as a mid-layer under a hard shell jacket for double the warmth and protection without the bulkiness of layering up in 2 jackets.

We also offer the ability to create a custom soft shell vest using our online customizer. You can simply embroider names and logos starting at just $6 per vest, or go fully custom and select fabric colors, side panel patterns and upload your logo using our online customizer.

Men’s & Women’s Elevate Jacket

What separates the Elevate soft shell from the equinox soft shell jacket is the hood. The Elevate jacket is essentially the same design, construction, and Zenith soft shell material but with the addition of a warm, comfy and water-resistant adjustable hood with a concealed chord lock. This soft shell can be purchased retail in 3 stock colors or as a custom soft shell jacket using our online customizer.

We hope you found this post helpful in your search for a soft shell jacket. While you’re here, Boathouse has a variety of American-made soft shell jackets and vests to shop at https://www.boathouse.com/collections/soft-shell-jackets-vests

BOATHOUSE U.S.A. Crew Grey / Small