a woman hiking wearing a regatta softshell jacket

How to Choose a Softshell Jacket

Softshells are one of the go-to jackets when you need some lightweight protection. Versatile enough to be worn for lifestyle use or in a layering system, softshells are popular as they offer a bit of everything - water repellence, wind resistance and breathability.

Softshell Jacket Guide: All You Need to Know

What Is a Softshell Jacket?

Softshell jackets are lightweight and stretchy. It's a style designed to provide maximum mobility and comfort to the user, and are usually made up of woven fabric which is water resistant and wind repellent, perfectly bridging the gap between a fleece and a coat. As well as the woven fabric, softshell jackets are also layered (typically two or three layers) to build up the level of comfort and breathability.

It's the softer alternative to a hardshell, which is used in creating some of the more robust waterproof jackets. Our hardshell jackets are actually fairly soft to the touch, but softshells are of course softer and you'll certainly feel the difference.

Softshell jackets lack the robustness of a proper waterproof coat, but the trade off in waterproof protection offers more flexibility and enhanced overall comfort, whilst still retaining some water repellency and wind resistance. Here at Regatta, we design men's softshell jackets, women's softshell jackets and softshell jackets for kids. Keep an eye out for the two labels below to spot the difference between the two main types of softshell we offer.

softshell logo

Water repellent and wind resistant to keep you warm and comfortable during high energy activities.

softshell xpt

Crafted from lightweight and water resistant materials, our Softshell XPT range is ideal for showery conditions. As products in this range have a membrane, the actual fabric is waterproof and windproof, rather than just relying on a DWR treatment to fend off the rain, though the range doesn’t feature taped seams. This breakthrough technology enables better performance and breathability whilst the lightweight qualities give greater ease of movement.

Are Softshell Jackets Waterproof?

So, if the trade off is in the waterproof protection, are softshell jackets still actually waterproof? The answer is no, because in order to be officially waterproof the garment must not allow water to penetrate it, meaning it needs to have a hydrostatic head rating as well as taped seams. Here at Regatta, our softshell jackets are typically only water repellent, which is applied with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating. Check out our guide on the difference between waterproof, water repellent and water resistant for more information on the varying types of water protection.

softshell technology explainer graphic

Are Softshell Jackets Warm?

They will keep you warm, but not by means of insulation. Instead, softshell jackets help maintain your body heat. Their wind resistant nature means that wind won’t penetrate the jacket and make you feel the effects of the cold breeze. Some of our softshell jackets are designed with a brushed back, which helps trap warmth and stop the effects of wind chill in the event your back gets sweaty. Rely on them for similar levels of warmth to a fleece – something to throw on for daily use, unless you’re going out in really adverse weather.

What Are Softshell Jackets Used For?

Softshell jackets have plenty of uses as they’re so versatile. They’re great for lifestyle use, but they’re catered for getting active. Cyclists and runners will feel the benefits of them in particular, as they bring some welcome breathability and moisture control in a relatively thin, close-fitting style. Given their roots in activewear, some of our softshells also feature reflective detailing in order to enhance visibility when commuting or exercising in the dark.

Softshells are also good for layering, as once again their thin build allows them to effortlessly slot into the sleeves of a waterproof jacket to serve as a mid layer. However, they’re more something you’d bring along with you in case of rain and to throw on if you do get caught out by the bad weather, as opposed to bringing your waterproof jacket if you’re certain you’ll encounter some rain.

rg_uk-Blog - Author - Chris Taylor

Chris Taylor

Chris covers all things gear and lifestyle related for Destination Outdoors.

Publish Date: 17/06/2021

Updated: 12/03/2024