Why non-laminated Soft Shell?
Soft Shell fabrics were created by climbers in a effort to build a single garment with the comfort and insulating properties of fleece with the wind weather and abrasion resistance of a hard shell. Non-laminated Soft Shells are significantly more breathable, flexible, quieter and comfortable than Hard Shells or Windstopping Garments.
The Problem with Hard Shells
Hard shells are made with a waterproof and breathable laminated fabric that during high exertion outputs like mountain climbing do not breathe fast enough. Fabrics such as Toray’s Dermizax EV and eVent have certainly raised the bar in breathability but neither breathe well enough to move moisture outside of the laminate faster than your body can produce it in tough strenuous climbs. Because of this you’re left with a dampness and clamminess throughout your system underneath.
Besides limited breathability, Hard shells also limit mobility, restrict movement and are noisy, which make them almost impossible to wear on a stalk.
What is Soft Shell
Several pioneering companies in the early 2000’s, like Arcteryx, Cloudveil, and Polartec independently sought to remedy the pitfalls of Hard Shells, and their collective work has resulted in Soft Shell fabric technology. Soft Shells use sophisticated stretch woven fabrics with tight layered weaves and durable water repellent (DWR) treatments to guard against wind, rain, and snow in all but the most severe weather conditions bonded to a soft fabric on the inside such as a micro fleece.
Soft Shell keeps weather out like a Hard Shell, but breathes and wears like a fleece because there is no laminate. That means you don’t get nearly as sweaty during aerobic activities like ascending and you’re able to regulate your temperature much more effectively and remain comfortable during rigorous activity.
Besides unmatched breathability, non-laminated Soft Shells are fantastically flexible relative to their Hard Shell counterparts, fitting to your body without constricting, and stretching naturally when you move. You get a full range of motion without the restriction of a Hard Shell fabric.
Windstopping Laminated Soft Shells
Laminated Soft Shells breath 3 times slower than non-laminated soft shells. Think of Soft Shells as a moisture management system. This is the reason we DO NOT recommend a windstopping laminated layer in a soft shell fabric for mountain hunting.
A laminated soft shell defeats the entire purpose of this fabric by inhibiting the breathability and moisture management ability of this garment.
Laminated soft shells will make you sweaty, hot and clammy versus a non-laminated softshell which regulates temperature and moisture very well. Besides severly limiting breathability, laminated Windstopping Soft Shells are heavier and noisier than traditional soft shell.
I hope this helps give you a better understanding of why non-laminated Soft Shell fabric make the perfect mountain hunting fabric. I look forward to hearing your comments and questions.