Soft Shells

May 15, 2007
Outside Magazine

In the Store: There are as many jackets as cereal choices these days—you need a plan. What are the conditions you're dressing for? If you're heading to Utah for some canyoneering, a breathable and stretchy soft shell might be the perfect all-conditions jacket for you. Climbing Mount Rainier? You'll need a full-featured hard shell. » Make sure the fit's right—whether you're looking for an athletically cut jacket for aerobic pursuits or something roomy enough to slide over an insulating layer.

In the Field: We see a lot of overdressed guys out there—don't be one of them. Bring extra layers, yes, but treat them like tax forms: Use only when needed. Start your hike, bike, or run slightly chilled. Crack chest vents and pit zips early, before you overheat.

At Home: Wash your shell when necessary, but use a residue-free cleaner made for today's high-tech fabrics (from McNett, Nikwax, and Granger's). » Most jackets come with a water-resistant coating (called a DWR, or durable water-repellent, coating). All of them eventually lose effectiveness. When your jacket starts to wet out (water saturates the fabric), restore the DWR with an aftermarket treatment from one of the companies above.

Filed To: Soft Shell

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