Soft Shell vs Hard Shell Jacket

Which jacket shell do you really need to wear? Soft shell or hard shell?

When you’re wearing a hard shell jacket, it just basically means that it’s a semipermeable membrane that’s used to keep out the rain.

When you go with a soft shell, that’s gonna be a more permeable, usually a polyester membrane that has brushed polyester on the inside.

Soft shell is more for dry cold climates, while hard shell is more for cold, wet climates.

When we’re talking about the difference between a hard shell and a soft shell jacket we’re really talking about two different things.

They will both keep you relatively dry. My personal experience is that the hard shell will keep you the driest, primarily because it’s a semipermeable membrane, usually a gore-tex, but not always.

The point of this article is to talk about what’s the best for you, and in what kind of conditions.


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What’s The Best Shell For Aerobic Type Activity?

If I’m going out and I’m getting some exercise, let’s I say I’m running with the dogs, if I’m doing that and I’m expecting it to be cold, but dry, a softshell jacket, which is actually fairly light, is what I would wear.

There’s not much to soft shell jackets. They have a slight fleece type material on the inside.

But one of the big things about soft shell jackets is they are stretchy. They got a little bit of a flex to it. They are made to be a more aerobic type material.

Hard shell jackets are going to keep you dry. If you look on the inside, you’ll see that it is a light membrane. It’s bonded to a ripstop nylon on the outside. You have taped seams just like you would in any waterproof type material.

So if it’s a wet snow type of activity or a light rain to a medium rain, then I would wear this type of jacket.

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What If I’m Mostly Inactive But Want to Stay Dry?

What if you’re not doing some highly aerobic activity? Let’s say it’s a stop and go activity.

A hard shell jacket is the type that you’re gonna want to wear when the odds are that you’re gonna have a lot of rain, wet snow moisture.

A soft shell jacket is the type of jacket that you’re gonna wear if it’s a cool dry day, maybe some dry snow. This is going to keep you warm in a cool dry environment.

Whereas a hard shell jacket is just going to keep you dry, it’s not necessarily going to keep you warm, because that’s not the purpose behind it. It’s meant to be an outer layer, an outer shell.


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In short

When it comes to selecting a jacket, you want to consider what actual things you are trying to achieve with that jacket.

It’s a little bit confusing sometimes between soft shell jackets and hard shell jackets.

For me personally, if I’m gonna be wearing the jacket in aerobic conditions, where I’m sweating from the inside and there’s not precipitation from the outside, I’ll always choose a soft shell jacket,

It’s a lightweight insulation piece that offers pretty good protection from a wide variety of elements.

When things get a little more serious weather-wise and there’s a significant wind or real precipitation, especially rain, that’s the perfect time for a hard shell jacket.

It’s gonna keep all the moisture out, it’s a super lightweight jacket and it doesn’t do anything else. That’s what it does and that’s what it does really well.

So if I’m looking for warmth, I’ll add a different layer, but I know that if I need that moisture protection, that one piece is gonna be what I’m gonna look for.

Two different jackets, they overlap a lot. I always have both of them with me.

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