The Softshell jacket man is relatively unknown to the general public, yet it has tended to replace membranes in many cases in recent years.
The Softshell (soft protection) is by nature opposed to hardshell (hard protection). The softshell is, softer to the touch and above all more flexible and stretchy than waterproof jackets (hardshell).
The difference between a softshell and a waterproof jacket is that the softshell is stretchy. It does not have a waterproof membrane. Of course to make things more complicated the brands offer jackets with semi-waterproof membranes like the windstopper but the jacket built with this type of membrane cannot be mentioned as waterproof because the seams are not sealed.
The men's softshell jacket is a fabric with tight fibres that has undergone a chemical treatment that makes it water-repellent. The softshell is resistant to light rain, but above all to wind and snow, while being much more breathable than a membrane fabric. In fact, in the mountains, in 95% of cases a softshell is more suitable than a membrane. Contrary to a Windstopper jacket, on a softshell it is the weave of the fabric that provides the windproof effect.
In short with the men's softshell jacket you preferred breathability and windproofness when with a hardshell you preferred waterproofing.
The softshell becomes an essential for intense activity in the mountains where rain protection is not a priority.
With a water-repellent windproof outer material and a lined interior (sometimes in fleece), the Softshell jacket man guarantees you a pleasant temperature in cool or cold weather during your activities.
It is important to note that a Softshell is not a waterproof jacket, far from it. While its water-repellent characteristics allow it to withstand light showers, you will not be protected if your exposure is particularly long or if the rainfall is too heavy. On the other hand, while the Softshell jacket is not designed to protect you from the vagaries of the weather like a Hardshell, it is extremely breathable.
The Softshell is a jacket made of a tightly woven fabric and chemically treated to make it water-repellent. This technology is called DWR (durable water repellent). Thanks to this chemical treatment, a Softshell jacket withstands non-violent rain for more than 30 minutes. Water does not penetrate and slides down the mesh. Be careful, however, in case of heavy rain, the Softshell does not protect you. Moreover, once soaked, the fabric will take quite a long time to dry because of its tight fibres. Indeed, if this fabric is designed not to let water in, once soaked, it is also difficult to extract this water. All in all, it makes sense...
The softshell jacket is ideal for high altitude treks with dry weather or occasional light rain.