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Mountains weather can serve up a diverse set of conditions and can change fast. Being presented with a damp drizzle one moment and blazing sunshine makes picking what to wear a tough call. With this variety of weather conditions the protection a soft shell can give makes dressing for these conditions easy.
Soft shells can be broadly described as a wind proof, almost waterproof layer with certain styles offering a degree of warmth. However this can be tweaked depending on the type of base layer you use under them.
So in between wall to wall sunshine and bellowing blizzards, soft shells is one of the most useful pieces to take into the mountains.