Caring for your soft shell
Our range of soft shell clothing covers a broad range of products which have differing properties and fabric constructions. However all will last longer and perform better if cared for correctly. Soft shell clothing should be periodically washed and after use should be dried thoroughly. When not in use it should be stored in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight. Zips should be kept clean and regularly lubed.
How to wash your soft shell
All soft shell garments be they EXOLITE, GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ or GORE® WINDSTOPPER should ideally be washed using a specialist cleaning product such asGrangers Performance Wash, Nikwax Tech Wash, Fibertec Pro Wash, or Storm Clothing Wash. If these aren’t available then soap flakes which can be purchased from a supermarket are also fine, and failing that simple liquid detergent without fabric softeners can be used especially on heavily worn products.
Before you begin, clean any detergent out of your washing machine: if you use the powder drawer, give it a thorough clean, pouring hot water down it to remove any residue. Finally, run a short rinse cycle with the machine empty to clear any remaining detergent.
Ensure all pockets are empty, drawcords under tension are released, velcro adjusters fastened and all zips including pocket zips and ventilation zips are done up fully.
Read the care label found inside the jacket.
Select the appropriate wash cycle on your machine - ideally this should be a programme with a low to medium spin speed setting such as Delicates, Woollens or Handwash and with a temperature setting of 30°C or 40°C . Multiple garments can be washed at once but avoid washing heavily soiled garments together. Lightweight Softshell fabrics may only need to be rinsed once but for all others, rinse thoroughly (preferably twice) before removing.
Garments can then be air-dried or tumble-dried as necessary (please check care label) or reproofed. Even if air-dried, tumble-dry again on a low heat setting to help reactivate any DWR (Durable Water Repellency) treatment on the outer fabric. This can also be achieved by carefully ironing the outer fabric on a warm setting, ensuring to place a thin cloth between the garment and the iron. Do not allow the iron to come into contact with any zips, gaskets or logos.
Finally all components such as cordlocks should be checked and zips thoroughly lubed. We recommend using a product such as Gear Aid Zipper Lubricant, McNETT Zip Care or Zipper Stick. Alternatively natural products such as Beeswax can also be used. The garment can then be stored away as normal.
Reproofing your soft shell
A Durable Water Repellent (DWR) treatment is often applied to the outside of soft shell garments to help water to bead and run-off. It is a key component in helping any soft shell fabric to be water-repellent.
In use, you may notice the garment gradually begins to ‘wet-out’ when in contact with water or melting snow for any extended period of time. This occurs when water is no longer being repelled but instead is being absorbed into the garment's outer layer of fabric. It is usually most noticeable in high-wear areas such as the shoulders, knees or seat. This is because the performance of any DWR is compromised by abrasion as well as dirt and oil contamination. Whilst no soft shell is waterproof any build up of moisture on the surface can reduce breathability and lead to longer drying times.
DWR can be reactivated by washing and drying (see washing a soft shell jacket) but if this has not had the desired effect it may be time to consider reproofing your garment as well. Reproofing is a process that should only be undertaken on clean garment.
We recommend using a spray-on reproofer such as Grangers Xtreme Repel, Grangers Performance Repel, or Nikwax TX Direct Spray-On, Storm Proofer, Storm Eco Proofer, Fibertec Guard Pro or Fibertec Guard Eco.
Concentrate the spray on areas that are ‘wetting out’, following any relevant instructions. If you prefer to use a wash-in reproofer, select the appropriate wash cycle on your machine - ideally this should be a programme with a low to medium spin speed setting such as Delicates, Woollens or Handwash and with a temperature setting of 30°C or 40°C and add the recommended quantity of proofing agent.
Even if the reproofing product is not heat-activated we still recommend drying the garment in a tumble dryer or ironing the garment as per our washing instructions as the original factory DWR is heat activated.
Unfortunately, even when well cared for, soft shell garments can get snagged, torn or damaged, especially if climbing or mountaineering. Such damage is not covered by our warranty as this is deemed normal, if unfortunate, wear and tear. However, many of these faults can be repaired both ‘in the field’ and professionally.
Small Tears etc - Gaffa Tape / Duct Tape
Gaffa Tape or Duct tape applied over the immediate tear will work effectively for short-term fixes of Softshell clothing. It is best applied to the inside of the garment but can also be applied to the outer fabric. Either way the fabric needs to be clean and dry. It’s unlikely to be a permanent solution.
Small to Medium Sized Tears etc - Tenacious Tape™ or Betrafol® Tape
Specialist repair tapes such as Tenacious Tape™ or Betrafol® Tape can be very effective at repairing small tears, but they do have a somewhat distinctive aesthetic. Please be aware however that such tapes, whilst extremely durable and often able to endure sustained use even at very low temperatures can leave residual marks which when taken off are near impossible to remove.
Jammed or stiff Zip Pulls
Prevention is the best form of cure so regularly clean all zips using warm, soapy water. Do not force jammed zips. If washing and lubing a zip does not free a zip, carefully inspect the zip head for obvious signs of grit or dirt. If tooth or coil damage is visible then the zip puller has already had too much force exerted on it. Only a professional repair can solve this.
Should you require a professional repair, many of the common problems which occur through use can be rectified and will ensure your Softshell clothing continues to provide many more years of service. This includes partially or completely replacing zips, replacing or re-attaching drawcords and professionally repairing fabric tears or nicks. Contact us for further information.
End of Life
The lifespan of soft shell clothing varies considerably. Frequency of use, activity type and obviously the durability of the original product will all play a part in how long soft shell clothing can be expected to last for. But if you think your clothing is nearing the end of its life please do everything you can to prolong it. Manufacturing soft shell garments which are complex and involve many components and materials is very energy intensive and one of the most effective ways of reducing their environmental impact is, as strange as it may seem for us to say, to make what you buy last as long as possible and not replace it needlessly.
Here’s what you should do instead:
1) Revere it - Our products are made to be used. Learn to value the experience etched into the very fabric of your gear. Every nick, every mark is not just wear & tear but a story and a statement.
2) Revitalise it - Wash and reproof your garments. You can do this yourself or use the services of a professional aftercare service.
3) Repair it - Many minor faults that may seem terminal can actually be easily fixed. It may seem expensive but think about the cost not just of a new jacket but the bigger environmental cost to your consumption.
4) Relegate it - Just because your jacket or a pair of pants can no longer cope with a winter storm does not mean they are not ‘good enough’ for a wide range of less severe uses. So consider relegating your winter soft shell jacket to the jacket you reach for when walking the dog, wearing around town or occasional walks.
5) Reappropriate it - Use the garment for something it was not originally designed for but works perfectly for. Keep old soft shell Pants for outside house maintenance or chopping logs.
6) Reassign it - Just because a jacket may not meet your needs any longer it may meet someone elses. Don’t use this as an excuse to not think about your own actions (!) - but there are numerous specialist charities who need outdoor clothing and many groups will gratefully receive donations of used gear, even if slightly damaged.
7) Reuse it - Have you ever thought of making a crampon bag out of your burly but broken pants? Or using bits of a jacket as durable bike cleaning rags? Basically anything that requires something to be durable whilst still being soft on one side can be made from pieces of your soft shell clothing.
8) Recycle it - Recycling can save energy and resources that would otherwise be used in the manufacture of virgin materials but for a lot of soft shell garments, especially those with laminates it’s practically impossible to do. Composite materials, bonded components, a mixture of different polymers all mean that a lot of soft shell clothing put to no other use is destined for landfill… that’s why we’d ask that you try to do everything you can to keep your soft shell clothing in use for longer.