by Geir Mjosund 27/03/2016
Softshell Jackets are your best friend when you are out on the mountains. It is clearly the piece of gear I use the most, this jacket you will wear at all times. It is the perfect combination of weather protection and breathability for outdoor activities in cold weather.
Softshell Jackets – You Best Friend in the Mountains
Softshell Jackets are much more breathable and much more comfortable than hardshell jackets. An example is that during our trips to Elbrus and Mont Blanc I was wearing my Black Diamond Dawn Patrol LT Shell all the time, except when I was sleeping. I also use it when moving from home and to work. Softshell Jackets are best for activities where your body is working hard and creating a lot of heat and moisture. Just remember when you are in the mountains on an expedition and the weather gets worse, you will need to throw on an insulated/or hardshell jacket on top.
There are 4 types of softshell jackets, you have stretch woven and fleece insulated, membrane lined and fleece insulated. Some jackets only have 1 type and some have them combined. All these types influences the mobility and the weight of the jackets. It all depends on the mountain you are going too. If you are going on a mountain that requires non technical climbing the mobility and stretch of the jacket is maybe not so important, a mountain like Elbrus, where you just walk up most of the time. On a more technical climb it’s important that the jacket has a bit of more mobility and lower weight. Let’s say I would not climb K2 in a very breathable and lightweight jacket. Even if its a technical mountain I would be more concerned to protect myself against the weather. Then again, if I was climbing in the Alps around Chamonix I would probably choose a lightweight and very breathable jacket. Under I have listed my 5 favorite softshell jackets, all of them good for different types of expeditions and climbs.
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Hoods are one of my favorite things especially on softshell jackets. If you’re moving about in the mountains and it starts to snow, you are going to need something to protect you head against the weather. Also remember to choose a jacket that has a helmet compatible hood.
Another important feature is the pockets. I personally like a chest pocket for small items like a smartphone, but also the 2 lower pockets to be high enough so they are not blocked when using a harness. Another important thing is of course style, how it looks and how it fits your body, I personally like it to be quite slim fitting so it doesn’t get in the way.