If we had to summarize the performance of the Salomon RS Softshell in a concise elevator pitch, we would say that it kept our temperature remarkably stable no matter what activity we were doing or how hard we were pushing. The ability to put this jacket on right out of the car and leave it on through an entire run without being too cold or overheated is fantastic. It allows you to concentrate on more important attributes such as heart rate or cadence. However, while the three-layer softshell material does have a DWR coating, it's a bit lacking when it comes to keeping dry during precipitation — even if it's light. This makes the RS more suited to cold, dry weather than anything wet.
Salomon RS Softshell Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Even temperature regulation, comfortable
Cons: Not very water resistant, low wind resistance
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The RS Softshell is one of two softshell running jackets in this review. Softshells fill a niche that is often overlooked by lightweight wind layers. These thicker, more breathable jackets offer superior temperature regulation for cold-weather aerobic activity and virtually eliminate the uncomfortable clammy feeling common with thin windproof layers.
If breathability is at the top of your list of requirements for a running jacket, the RS Softshell is a great option. The stretchy three-layer material does an exceptional job regulating temperature and keeping moisture from building inside the jacket. Days when we felt just a bit chilly in the parking lot seemed to be right on the money for this layer. More often than not, we would wear the RS throughout our entire jog without feeling too warm or cold.
The entire back panel of the RS is made from a single layer material to aid in breathability. In contrast, the front three-layer panel, while still breathable, offers wind protection and insulation. Even in the low to mid 40's we felt comfortable in this jacket. While all of this breathability is fantastic for running, higher-speed activities like biking or the faster moments of cross country skiing proved to be a little chilly simply because so much air moves through the jacket.
If you need even more ventilation, there is a single snap a quarter of the way down the main zipper that allows you to keep the jacket under control while maximizing ventilation. If you run really hot, this may be a great feature for you.
While the RS Softshell does have a DWR coating and three-layer front face, the weather resistance isn't very robust. The stretchy breathable material allows moisture through quickly in rain and snow and seems to dry slowly compared to ultralight models. The DWR does a decent job repelling early morning dew, but that's about the extent of its water resistance. The wind resistance is a bit higher, but as this jacket is so focussed on breathability, the obvious downside is a sacrifice in weather protection.
Comfort and Mobility
As the name implies, the RS Softshell is quite soft. The entire jacket is form-fitting and very stretchy. No matter the activity, from running to biking to skiing, this jacket can move without feeling restrictive. The sizing is very form-fitting. While our main tester, 5'11", 175lbs, usually fits size medium or large in Solomon products, the RS large was snug.
However, the arm length is generous enough to keep your wrists covered even with outstretched arms, and the cuffs are tapered to offer some overlap if wearing gloves. While the jacket is put together with chunky sewing, it isn't very noticeable. As this jacket works best in colder temperatures, we typically had a long sleeve polyester layer underneath, eliminating any discomfort from such large seams. Where the jacket contacts the neck, it is also protected with ultra-soft fleece-esque fabric making it both warm and comfortable.
The thicker material that gives the RS Softshell it's high level of comfort and breathability also make it heavier and less packable than the ultralight models we tested. There is no dedicated stuff pouch, and even if there were, it would be bulky. Fortunately, when running on cold days, we never felt overheated and therefore didn't need to pack the RS away.
With reflective blazes on the chest and right shoulder, the RS Softshell has decent nighttime reflectivity — but it could be better. With drivers more distracted than ever, the standard for urban running jackets should be 360-degree reflective markings making you as visible as possible. The RS falls a bit short, but the reflective markings it does have are quite bright and noticeable.
The daytime visibility isn't exactly top-notch either. The color we tested doesn't stand out vibrantly against urban settings. Even a tiny bit more color would go a long way towards catching the eye of a hurried driver.
If you are in need of a highly breathable running or cross country ski layer, the RS Softshell is a great option. While the price is a bit high considering the overall performance, it does offer temperature regulation that competes with the best running jackets we have tested.
The overall score for the RS Softshell might not look enticing, but keep in mind that this jacket is a specialist. The three-layer face and single layer back provided some of the best breathability and ventilation we have seen in a running layer and kept us surprisingly regulated even when we were pushing hard. You're unlikely to find breathability this good in a jacket unless it's another softshell-style layer.
— Brian Martin