Cast Bolzonella

Softshell fabric: what is it and what are its 3 characteristics

Get away from the cold, rain and maintain an ideal body temperature with just one garment?!
With softshell fabric clothing you can!

In recent years, workwear has been largely inspired by sportswear, because they share the same needs.
The clothes in fact must guarantee ergonomics and freedom of movement and in the physical effort there should be a favorable microclimate. If the body temperature increases the heat and humidity produced have to flow out.
As well as  the Cooldry yarn for T-shirts and polo shirts, the softshell has been created for use in outdoor winter sportswear, such as skiing and hiking. in the professional field this fabric has been highly appreciated for its characteristics.

Softshell literally means “soft shell” and indicates a category of technical fabrics designed to ensure maximum comfort in situations of variable weather. Clothing textiles suitable for the mountains and for prolonged physical effort. It is the most suitable garment for dressing in layers, it should be worn over a microfleece clothing, while a technical fabric in propylene would be recommended as underwear.

It is not a raincoat

In general, the more waterproof a garment is, the less breathable it is. The biggest problem that outdoor sports lovers have found with waterproof clothing is the moisture trapped inside jackets and trousers. The advantage of the waterproofing clothes is annulled in conditions of rain and cold and when you stop to rest the sensation becomes uncomfortable.

The softshell, on the other hand, was created specifically to facilitate the release of moisture and regulate body temperature. For this reason, the outer layer of the softshell can not be waterproof, but water-repellent, thus ensuring in wearing it to remain dry and protected.

How it’s made

The softshell is composed of three layers of different materials, which guarantee excellent performance:

  • the outer layer is in high density water repellent polyester, which provides the garment with good resistance to external agents, with rain or snow;
  • the middle layer is instead a breathable membrane, thus allowing moisture to escape, without stagnating or wetting the interior
  • the inner layer is made of microfleece, which ensures good thermal insulation and is pleasant to contact with the skin.

The three layers are coupled, thus becoming a very light, elastic and soft material, which offers resistance to wind and weather, maintaining good breathability and freedom of movement.

Are all softshells the same?

The answer, of course, is no.
There are softshells that guarantee different performances and it is important to know them before buying a garment made with this material. The three key features, which measure the quality of a softshell product, are water repellency, wind resistance and breathability.

Water Column Tester

By placing a graduated column on the fabric, it is filled with water to determine the pressure at which the material is permeated. For this reason the impermeability of a fabric is defined in millimeters. Under normal conditions, rainwater pressure ranges between 1000 and 2000 millimetres. Above 5000mm the fabric offers excellent levels of water resistance, although it is not completely waterproof.

Air permability test

It consists in measuring the amount of air that permeates a fabric sample, using special equipment. The permeability percentage is normally measured in CFM (cubic feet/minute), where 0 represents the perfect insulation. It should therefore be considered in relation to the breathability of a fabric.

Breathability test

It measures how much water vapour passes through a 1 square metre portion of fabric in a 24-hour period, and is then expressed in MVTR (Moisture vapour transmission rate). A value of 4000 g/M2/24h is therefore higher than 1000 g/M2/24h and is already a good level of transpiration.

Softshell towards padded jacket

Many people prefer a softshell workwear, compared to the more traditional padded jackets, because it is much more practical and suitable for tasks in unheated environments and involving intense physical effort. The softshell guarantees the thermal insulation of traditional jackets and has a tailored fit. It does not hinder movement, but is a material designed for demanding and prolonged activities. On the other hand, when you are at the same external conditions, performing a job that does not require much movement, you need a padded garment: less breathable but with greater thermal insulation.

What are the advantages of Soft Shell?

The Soft shell has many advantageous features, some clear and others less obvious:

  • The structure of the fabric allows perspiration, and on the contrary preventing the penetration of external elements.
  • The soft shell garment is thermo-adjustable, an intrinsic feature that is made possible thanks to the presence of an internal membrane. This allows the wearer not to have to dress or undress depending on the excessive sensation of hot or cold, ideal for those who work outdoors all year round.
  • The fabric also has high elasticity characteristics. This allows an excellent adaptability to movements, ideal for those who use this type of clothing for work.
  • The soft shell fabric is particularly suitable for customization (in detail embroidery, transfer printing or screen printing of the logo and/or company logo)
  • It can be washed without any special care, at home.

Note: to keep its protection and elasticity characteristics unaltered, we recommend washing softshell garments at a temperature not exceeding 40°. Avoid ironing and preferably dry in the shade. Please always follow the instructions on the garment label.

Click on the images

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