Re: EDIT - OWNER REVIEW- Patagonia Velocity Shell [Patrick]
- snowmonkey wrote:
> and overhearing a conversation about thisWell, I am always happy to give MY opinion. (A willingness common to
> contentious meeting where industry folks were trying
> to define what exactly a softshell was. does backpack
> gear test have a working definition on softshells?
many on BGT maybe?)
First of all, 'soft shell' is a marketing term, so expect every
vendor to give a different answer. And it is fairly new too.
However, there is some concensus, as follows. If you take a nylon
fabric coated with polyurethane or a GoreTex fabric, both are
airtight and waterproof, and both could be called 'hard shell' (but
If you take a tightly woven, breathable, water-repellent but NON-
waterproof fabric and make a shell garment out of it, you have
a 'soft shell'. The water-repellency can be achieved by a Durable
Water Repellent (DWR) coating, or it can be achieved with something
like the silicone impregnation used by Nextec in their Epic fabrics.
Both these fabrics will leak under heavy rain, but they breathe well
and withstand light rain or snow, and shed wind very well.
(Epic is NOT the same as generic 'silnylon', which is highly
Where the disagreement usually comes in is UNDER the outer shell. To
make one of these fabrics work in practice, you have to keep it warm
and most likely off your skin. They need a 'warmth layer' under them.
Some vendors leave the warmth layer to the user to implement (eg a
thermal top), while other vendors insist on sewing a warmth layer on
For street wear, and maybe downhill ski wear, the sewn-in layer may
make sense, but for walkers and XC skiers it does not. (It is not
flexible enough.) So you get these fun but futile industry debates,
with neither side willing to give up their entrenched marketing
position. Boring, really.
However, do NOT think that soft shell is the answer to a maiden's
prayer (or a walker's prayer either). They are nice in the cold and
the wind, but the water-repellency usually packs it in completely if
the fabric gets at all sweaty. Then the shell leaks like a sieve.
I have been making both hard shell and soft shell gear for myself for
some time. The very light Epic fabrics make quite nice soft-shell
outer-wear for XC ski touring. I found out about the sweat failure
the hard way. The vendors don't tell you about it up front.