WHAT IS “SOFTSHELL”?
“Softshell” is a class of woven materials used to make technical outdoor clothing that’s more breathable (but less water and wind resistant), more flexible, and generally more durable than hardshell materials. Softshells emerged in the early to mid-2000s in outdoor activities like climbing and mountaineering—aerobic activities with dynamic weather conditions, where a highly breathable, somewhat waterproof, somewhat windproof piece of technical clothing kept its wearer moving, dry, and warm.
SOFTSHELLS VS. FLEECE
A softshell may be made of hard-faced fleece—a fleece material with a woven “face” to increase wind and water resistance—but a softshell is not a fleece. Fleeces are soft, napped insulating fabrics made from synthetics or wool. Though fleeces are highly breathable, they are neither wind nor water resistant. Windstopper fleece presents an obvious exception to the rule: by laminating a wind-stopping membrane to the inside of fleece, the folks at W.L. Gore have created a fleece that is somewhat breathable, very wind resistant, but minimally water resistant. Softshells are typically wind and water resistant, and don’t pill or generate lint and pet-hair-attracting static, significant advantages over fleece.
*Cool Kid offer a wide range of softshell clothing from brands CeLaVi and Minymo