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I’ve talked about softshell a lot, let’s talk very briefly about hardshell (Gore-tex/level 6/waterproofs). Since I’ve got these US issue ECWCS outer waterproof trousers from back in the 90s here to look at, seems appropriate.

The first thing to know when you’re shopping is that companies claiming their softshell jackets are waterproof are full of shit. I only tend to see this with the cheaper brands and it’s annoying; the higher end companies use the phrase water resistant but that’s what applies and is correct. Everything is a compromise between breathability (letting the sweat out from inside) and keeping the rain on your outside from getting in. Some fabrics do better than others but there’s no miracle solution yet.

You won’t get much of that greenhouse feeling with a softshell so you can run around comfortably, but it also won’t keep the rain out for very long. A hardshell layer will create a personal amazon jungle climate for you if you run around in it too much, which is actually a technique in mega cold temperatures, but not good for weather ~5C or above.

In cooler temperatures when you’re not going to be fully exerting yourself for long periods, then a hardshell can come in to play if the heavens really open up. Ideally they’re actually best used when you’re stationary, be that guarding or laid up waiting and hiding. Even gore-tex won’t keep all water out indefinitely though, especially if pressure is applied. Get your trousers wet and sit down, guess what?

The unfortunate thing from a general outdoor usage perspective is that decent hardshells cost a bomb. From an airsoft perspective however you can get US Woodland/DCU or DPM/DDPM on your local version of eBay for a tiny fraction of what any other Gore-Tex type apparel would cost.

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