Softshell garments are highly abrasion-resistant, elastic and wind-resistant, as well as offering enduring water and dirt repelling properties. Besides their breathability, soft shells are extremely flexible compared to their hard shell counterparts, fitting your body without constricting, and stretching naturally when you move.
Traditional softshells offer a water-resistant, tightly woven fabric distinguished by excellent stretch and breathability. They are good for all types of climbing, cross-country, snowshoeing and backcountry skiing, hiking, and for any other outdoor activity that involves a rigorous, aerobic element where protection from lighter rain showers and snow is important.
However, under heavy rain the fabric will likely not withstand the amount of water and you will feel wet.
The latest evolution is a more functional soft shell with a waterproof membrane. These garments are still more flexible than comparable hard shells with a waterproof/breathable membrane, but with a reduced level of their original breathability.
Softshells are actually revolutionising the classic 3-layer principle by combining the second and third layers, thus uniting temperature regulation and weather protection in one single garment.