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Re: EDIT - OWNER REVIEW- Patagonia Velocity Shell [Patrick]

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  • rcaffin
    ... Well, I am always happy to give MY opinion. (A willingness common to many on BGT maybe?) First of all, soft shell is a marketing term, so expect every
    Message 1 of 5 , Aug 30, 2003
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      snowmonkey wrote:

      > and overhearing a conversation about this
      > contentious meeting where industry folks were trying
      > to define what exactly a softshell was. does backpack
      > gear test have a working definition on softshells?

      Well, I am always happy to give MY opinion. (A willingness common to
      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
      never are).

      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
      the inside.

      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.

      Roger Caffin
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