View Full Version : Softshell VS. Insulated Raincoat

11-12-2013, 22:21
I am in the need for a jacket that can withstand New England winter conditions while hiking.. I don't really understand the difference between the waterproof softshell jackets vs an insulated waterproof jacket. Is one better for hiking in the snow, sleet, rain? I have just been using my summer rain Jacket over my down puffy but it seems bulky and not so breathable. Any suggestions?

11-12-2013, 22:35
for hiking i prefer a softshell. as i wear layers underneath to regulate my body temp, and for camp, down parka,pants and booties.not really much use for an insulated waterproof jacket except for mountaineering. down isnt very good to hike in. save it for camp, otherwise itll get wet from sweat.softshells are breathable so you dont sweat as much, which can be a killer in extreme cold.

11-13-2013, 10:19
Something I wrote earlier:

Maybe it will help.

BTW, I would avoid an insulated rain coat. That is more for town (or maybe a ski slope) use than back country use. You will invariably get soaked underneath due to overheating with this garment.

Better to have to separate layers you can mix and match as needed.

11-13-2013, 10:36
Mags nailed it as usual. Cold and wet > hard shell. Cold and dry > soft shell. If you are doing it "right" on a cold, dry New England hike, most of your perspiration will freeze on the outside of your soft shell, and you can brush it off. If you were wearing a hard shell, much of that perspiration would have been trapped inside it (even with goretex or the like), and you would be wetting out from the inside. For a day trip, you can often carry one or the other based upon expected weather (note that in New England there tends to be more weather ambiguity than in other cold climates). For an overnight, you should probably carry both. I will carry both unless I am just going out for a couple of hours and it is dry.