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“I’ll have a softshell, or maybe a hardshell, or just something warm? Now I’m confused”! In short, a hardshell layer offers waterproof capability, while a softshell offers protection against the wind with varying degrees of warmth. The Marmot Super Hero Jacket is a softshell jacket for the active outdoor enthusiast. While it may be weather resistant, it is not waterproof so it allows perspiration to escape during exercise.
WINDSTOPPER material is used throughout which is obviously what makes it windproof and breathable. While the majority of the body of the jacket is supple and soft allowing freedom of movement, the shoulders and over arms are made of more durable material to guard against abrasion on rock, rucksack straps and the like. The small hood zips on and off which could be seen as an advantage or disadvantage depending on your point of view. Lighter material is used for the underarm area allowing for greater breathability. Consideration for this heat dissipation is an important aspect for alpine activities because as you exercise, you generate heat and moisture and it’s important to allow that moisture to escape while exercising in order to prevent you from over heating during exertion and from getting cold when you stop.
There are some areas where the Super Hero falls slightly short as a leading alpine softshell however. While the zippers are slanted, given the supple material of the main body of the jacket it is hard to zip the pockets open and closed with one hand, something which is often required while climbing or scrambling. The Velcro sleeves are not elastic so it can be difficult to get bulky glove gussets under these. The hood is incompatible with helmets in that it stretches to even meet the mid-point of the helmet. There is also no stopper for the main zipper to slot in to which means that when zipped up, the bottom of the zip has a tendency to open and ride up a bit. While this could be seen as an advantage by some that might want to vent from the bottom, it mostly proved a nuisance.
The serious alpine climber would ask for more from a softshell jacket and at a minimum that means a helmet compatible hood and reliable zippers. Having said that, there are numerous softshell options on the market and as a general wind protection layer for the active person, the Super Hero would rank among the better ones. Marmot have certainly only ever been in the business of producing top quality garments.
Our sincere thanks go to Marmot, The Great Outdoors and Outsider magazine.
This piece of gear was supplied by Outsider Magazine.