With the many different types of outdoor functional jackets, you quickly lose track of which jacket is the right one for you. With freezing temperatures in the mountains, you’ll need a different jacket than trekking through the jungles of Southeast Asia. Therefore, you should not buy a jacket on good luck, but inform yourself about the different types of outdoor functional jackets and find and buy the jacket that suits you.
Softshell jackets consist of two to three laminated membrane layers. As a rule, the exterior of the jacket is made of a durable material that transports moisture outside. Inside, softshell jackets are often fitted with a fleece to increase the wearing comfort of the jacket and warm the body. There is usually a membrane between the outer and inner layers, which allows the exchange of moisture.
Softshell jackets are very compact, robust, weatherproof and lightweight. Depending on the membrane system used, a softshell jacket can be air permeable and warm or windproof and resistant. The jacket is usually not completely waterproof. Nevertheless, the jacket is suitable for 80-90% of all outdoor activities.
A hard-shell jacket is an outdoor jacket with a very robust structure that tends to rustle. The jacket also consists of two to three membrane layers, but the top layer is abrasion-resistant and durable. The hard-shell jacket is therefore completely waterproof.
Due to the waterproof outer layer, the breathability of the functional jacket is somewhat more limited. In addition, the material does not warm. For hard-shell jackets, therefore, the onion shell principle is recommended, in which a fleece jacket is worn under the hard-shell. The hard-shell jacket is therefore the perfect all-round outdoor jacket and very well suited for continuous rain.
And guess what? The hard-shell jacket is good for other outdoor works too like fence and deck staining too, especially when you need to finish staining your fence and deck in cold season.
Fleece jackets are lightweight, keep warm and dry very quickly. They are therefore optimal for the onion peel principle to be worn as a middle layer. Functional jackets made of fleece are very breathable and resistant, keep the body warm and are very comfortable to wear. Fleece has different names such as 100 or 200 fleece. These units represent the weight per square meter. A 100 fleece weighs 100g per square meter. The higher the weight, the thicker and warmer the fleece jacket.
Fleece jackets are not waterproof and therefore not suitable as an outer jacket. In combination with a hard-shell jacket, the body is kept warm and optimally protected from rainfall.
Down jackets are the classic among outdoor functional jackets. As the name suggests, filled with down and therefore keep warm even in freezing temperatures. The jackets are still very light. Due to the properties of down, which can provide “heat almost without weight”, down are used in beds, sleeping bags and functional jackets. They keep very warm and are therefore very suitable as a winter jacket or for skiing. Down jackets often convince with the design and are therefore often used as fashionable winter jackets.
Down jackets are not so well suited for hiking, because you can sweat quickly with them and the insulation effect decreases sharply when wet. For rest on the summit, moderate efforts or everyday life, however, they keep very warm in cold and bad weather. In cold temperatures and continuous rain, a down jacket is recommended as a middle layer under a hard-shell jacket, so that the insulation is maintained and the body stays warm and is protected from rain.