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Salomon RS Softshell Review

A highly breathable and comfortable soft shell that makes aerobic activity in the cold much more comfortable
Salomon RS Softshell
Photo: Salomon
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Price:  $150 List | $67.48 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Even temperature regulation, comfortable
Cons:  Not very water resistant, low wind resistance
Manufacturer:   Salomon
By Brian Martin ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 12, 2020
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69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 9
  • Breathability - 30% 7
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 6
  • Comfort and Mobility - 20% 8
  • Portability - 15% 5
  • Features and Visibility - 15% 8

Our Verdict

If we had to summarize the performance of the Salomon RS Softshell, 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. However, while the three-layer softshell material does have a water repellant 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.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Salomon RS Softshell
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award   
Price $67.48 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$139 List
Check Price at REI
$89.73 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
Check Price at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
69
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77
67
63
Star Rating
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Pros Even temperature regulation, comfortableLightweight, good breathability, packs into pocketComfortable and stretchy material, good weather protection, breathableVery light, soft and comfortable materialInexpensive for a fully waterproof jacket, good phone pocket, solid build quality, thoughtful design details
Cons Not very water resistant, low wind resistanceNot the most weather resistant, fit is hit-or-miss for larger framesHood is not adjustable, almost no reflectivityNo pockets, limited weather resistanceUncomfortable inner lining, poor reflectivity, becomes a sauna in warm conditions
Bottom Line A highly breathable and comfortable soft shell that makes aerobic activity in the cold much more comfortableOur favorite model, this lightweight, breathable running jacket is ideal for all occasionsA comfortable jacket with just the right balance of weather protection, breathability, and weight, with a lower sticker price than the higher-end modelsA comfortable, lightweight performance top that blurs the line between a shirt and jacketA serious piece of kit aimed at runners who want to keep the weight down and stay dry while going fast
Rating Categories Salomon RS Softshell Arc'teryx Incendo H... Brooks Canopy Patagonia Airshed P... Salomon Bonatti WP
Breathability (30%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
Weather Resistance (20%)
6.0
7.0
5.0
4.0
8.0
Comfort And Mobility (20%)
8.0
7.0
10.0
10.0
7.0
Portability (15%)
5.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
Features And Visibility (15%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
5.0
5.0
Specs Salomon RS Softshell Arc'teryx Incendo H... Brooks Canopy Patagonia Airshed P... Salomon Bonatti WP
Measured Weight 11.6 oz (Size L) 4.4 oz (Size S) 5.4 oz (Size S) 4.5 oz (Size M) 6.6 oz (Size S)
Number of pockets 2 1 3 0 1
Main Material Polyester Lumin 100% nylon 20D Ripstop fabric DriLayer Seal 100% ripstop polyester 100% nylon Polyamide
Unique Features 3-layer softshell with DWR coating Media pocket Elastic cuffs, packs into pocket Integrated stuff sack, double zipper Packs into chest pocket, waterproof
Vent Type Stretch jersey backing Mesh panels under arm Chest zip vent Front zip vent Back vents
Reflective material? Yes Logo and blazes Blazes No Yes
Hood? No Yes Yes Yes Yes

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.

Performance Comparison


The RS Softshell is great for temperature regulation.
The RS Softshell is great for temperature regulation.
Photo: brian martin

Breathability


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 where 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-40s, 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.

With the entire back panel of the RS being super stretchy single...
With the entire back panel of the RS being super stretchy single layer breathable material, the RS can dump excess heat with the best of them!
Photo: brian martin

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.

Weather Resistance


While the RS Softshell does have a Durable Water Repellant (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.

The front face of the RS proved a decent wind barrier but overall...
The front face of the RS proved a decent wind barrier but overall the jacket isn't meant for wet weather protection. Rain made it through quickly.
Photo: brian martin

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.

The RS is a tight fit even in size large. The jacket hugs every part...
The RS is a tight fit even in size large. The jacket hugs every part of your body but is adequately proportioned to give full unencumbered range of motion. Tapered wrist cuffs guarantee no chilly wrists!
Photo: brian martin

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 fabric making it both warm and comfortable.

Portability


The thicker material that gives the RS Softshell its high level of comfort and breathability also makes it heavier and less packable than the ultralight competitor models that 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.

Compared to single-layer lightweight running jackets, any softshell...
Compared to single-layer lightweight running jackets, any softshell would seem like a super-chonk. The RS doesn't feel burly or cumbersome while running though, which is a definite selling point.
Photo: brian martin

Features


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.

A plethora of reflective markings around the RS provide decent day...
A plethora of reflective markings around the RS provide decent day and night visibility, but it could be better.
Photo: brian martin

Other noteworthy features include the previously mentioned stretchy back material and the front snap that allows you to open up the zipper for ventilation and keep the jacket from falling off.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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