A fleece has fibres that create multiple air cells to trap warmth inside and give superior protection against cold. It has virtually no moisture retention and an excellant warmth-to-weight ratio. It has various weights (100, 200, 300) indicate specific insulating thickness. A fleece is perfect for layering when on outdoor activitties, and acts as the middle layer trapping the warmth inside to give you superior protection.
The soft shell combines the benefits of a Hard Shell and Fleece in one. Soft Shells are made from stretchy fabric that fit like a glove without constricting, stretch fluidly with the body without resisting, and allow moisture to escape from inside without letting it penetrate from outside. A Soft Shell jacket is a great choice for an all-round weather condition jacket.
A Hard Shell has full water resistant properties and "breathes," meaning it allows vapour from your sweat to escape from the shell while disallowing water from rain or snow to penetrate your jacket. A Hard Shell jacket is not as breathable as a Soft Shell jacket, but repells 100% water and is designed for extreme sporting activities.
TECHNOLOGY GUIDE: FLEECE, SOFT SHELL & HARD SHELL FLEECE