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Topic: Looking for a new shell< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
 Post Number: 1
scienceguy288 Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 21 2013, 1:18 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

After hiking a few of the high peaks during poor winter weather, I have decided that it is time I upgraded my outerwear. I currently have a nice down jacket, but my current shell is heavy, too big, and just generally cumbersome. I was hoping to find a technical shell that I could either wear on top of my down jacket to provide wind, water, and puncture protection, or a shell that I could wear by itself that can provide me with warmth and protection from the elements. I have been looking around, but I have a hard time differentiating between normal rain shells and something that would be used during winter ascents (and some ice climbing). Perhaps my main limitation is my budget. Being a poor grad student, it would be great if I could find something below 150. Thanks.
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vinovampire Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 21 2013, 3:38 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

"I have a hard time differentiating between normal rain shells and something that would be used during winter ascents (and some ice climbing)."

That's not surprising, since there isn't really any difference between a hard shell jacket/pant used rainy, 3-season trips vs. winter ascents. I've used the same Marmot PreCip and EMS Thunderhead shells year-round. In my opinion, the shell layer should be as simple and straightforward as possible, while maintaining functionality. If there's any difference, it helps to have a larger shell jacket in the winter to fit extra isolation layers (as needed). I would avoid any isolated "winter shells" targeted for skiers, since you'll be heating yourself up as you hike or climb. It's better to have separate warm layers.

What are you currently using for a shell?
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 21 2013, 3:47 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'll second the non-insulated shell. Your rain shell should not be used for warmth (insulation). If anything, most activities in winter require a light base layer with just a rainshell over that...it that much. Often, I will hike in just a base layer top in winter. Pit zips will help you with moisture management. I definitely prefer attached hoods vs. removable hoods personally. I use an Army Surplus Winter shell (Gore-Tex). I paid around $90 for mine. Slightly over-sized to allow for a down jacket and mid layer underneath. I use mine year round as well.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 21 2013, 4:00 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(vinovampire @ Jan. 21 2013, 3:38 pm)
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What are you currently using for a shell?

I am currently using a vinyl snowboarding shell which I used while downhill skiing.  I also have a Patagonia Rainshadow raincoat shell which feels a bit thin for winter for me.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 21 2013, 4:30 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The outer shell should feel thin. It's only designed to keep the moisture and wind out and allow interior moisture to pass through (assuming a breathable membrane is present).

You should have a base layer designed to wick moisture away from your skin. I use merino wool or polypro or similar wicking material.

An insulating layer depending on temps - fleece when active as it wicks and Down or synthetic puffy for periods of inactivity.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 21 2013, 6:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(scienceguy288 @ Jan. 21 2013, 4:00 pm)
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I am currently using a vinyl snowboarding shell which I used while downhill skiing.  I also have a Patagonia Rainshadow raincoat shell which feels a bit thin for winter for me.


The Patagonia Rainshadow shell seems like a good option for a winter outer layer, as long as it's sized large enough to fit your various isolation layers underneath. As Tigger said, your outer shell should seem thin. It's job is to rebuff rain, sleet, snow, and wind.

Since winter hikes and climbs can be very strenuous, people tend to build up a lot of heat when you're on the move. You don't want to start sweating and end up damp or even wet.

Below the treeline, I tend to avoid wearing an upper shell unless there's precipitation. I'll wear a long-sleeve polypro shirt and a lightweight synthetic jacket. When exposed to wind or rain/snow, I'll swap the synthetic jacket for the shell. On my lower half, I just wear polypro under my full-zip shell pants.

In my avatar, you can see that we're stopped on Mt Washington, NH and I'm wearing my shell and light synthetic jacket. My heavy puffy jacket is still in the pack.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 21 2013, 6:36 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

When you say "light synthetic jacket" do you mean a softshell?
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vinovampire Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 21 2013, 7:13 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(scienceguy288 @ Jan. 21 2013, 6:36 pm)
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When you say "light synthetic jacket" do you mean a softshell?

I use a discontinued Outdoor Research jacket, which would be similar to a Patagonia Nano Puff Hoodie Jacket (except it was half the price). I haven't tried one, but it seems similar to the new Marmot Caldera Hoody.

These light, mid-weight synthetic isolated hoody jackets replace a high quality fleece layer for me. They're more packable and tend to have a DWR coating, but still breath. It should fit under your big puffy down jacket in camp. I don't think anybody would put them in the same category as a soft shell.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 21 2013, 8:25 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I agree. Shell gear should be simple and as light as possible since it typically spends more time in my pack than on my back. I rarely wear it below treeline in winter conditions even when cold, preferring to layer properly and wearing a light softshell (but not windblock) as my outer layer. I tend to put out a lot of heat and perspiration. Depending on temps and wind conditions, I may not even wear it above treeline as long as I am moving, My shell pants get the least amount of use as I find I don't need them unless the conditions are really severe. I have not worn my shell pants on my last 6-7 trips up Washington in January/February. They are, however, always in my pack along with a puffy synthetic jacket in case I need to stop for any length of time, extra  layering pieces, hat, gloves, etc. My only point of disagreement would be with the one comment that suggested that it should be big enough to layer over a down jacket. In all my years on Maine/New Hampshire peaks in the winter, I have never felt the need to wear a  down or synthetic puffy jacket under a shell. I would be way too warm. I will however, throw one over my shell while hanging out at the summit or during a snack break.

In recent years, I have sold my older, overbuilt shells to buy lighter, more packable gear. My old Marmot and Mountain Headwear shells were bombproof but heavy and took up a lot of pack space. There is really no need for heavy abrasion patches, etc. With a little care, the ligher shells will hold up a fine. I am currently using either an LL Bean Ascent shell in goretex pro and a Rab Alpine Shell in Event. Very happy with both.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 21 2013, 8:59 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I agree with all of the above.  Keep the shell simple and light with plenty of ventilation.  You certainly want pit zips and core vents if you can get them especially if the jacket is not made of gore-tex or e-vent or similar fabric.  Breathable/waterproof fabrics are nice but not the ends all.  I'd suggest you look at Steep and Cheap on a regular basis or Gear Trade to find jackets in your price range.  A while back I was able to score a very nice MH goretex shell for $150.00 on SAC.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 23 2013, 7:09 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Honestly this is a good case for a softshell perhaps, if precipitation is mostly present as snow. It provides good wind protection and sheds light rain or wet snow well  but still breathes. In general i wouldn't wear a hard shell unless I am still or it is very windy/wet.



(runner9 @ Jan. 21 2013, 8:25 pm)
QUOTE
My only point of disagreement would be with the one comment that suggested that it should be big enough to layer over a down jacket. In all my years on Maine/New Hampshire peaks in the winter, I have never felt the need to wear a  down or synthetic puffy jacket under a shell. I would be way too warm. I will however, throw one over my shell while hanging out at the summit or during a snack break.

I think Tigger meant when resting, not active, it's nice to have a thick layer under a shell.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 24 2013, 12:02 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(SmokeyBear @ Jan. 23 2013, 4:09 pm)
QUOTE
Honestly this is a good case for a softshell perhaps, if precipitation is mostly present as snow. It provides good wind protection and sheds light rain or wet snow well  but still breathes. In general i wouldn't wear a hard shell unless I am still or it is very windy/wet.



(runner9 @ Jan. 21 2013, 8:25 pm)
QUOTE
My only point of disagreement would be with the one comment that suggested that it should be big enough to layer over a down jacket. In all my years on Maine/New Hampshire peaks in the winter, I have never felt the need to wear a  down or synthetic puffy jacket under a shell. I would be way too warm. I will however, throw one over my shell while hanging out at the summit or during a snack break.

I think Tigger meant when resting, not active, it's nice to have a thick layer under a shell.

Correct. That was what I was trying to say. Sorry it didn't come across that clear.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 24 2013, 11:33 am Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

i had the rain shadow for a while.  thought it was fine in terms of being waterproof and highly wind resistant.  downsides for winter is that it's cut pretty big - sleeves and body flap in the wind; fair amount of frost buildup on the inside; and fabric is very light, not very resistant to abrasion.  it's not heavy, though; mine weighed about 16 oz in size XL.

for $150, you will have a tough time improving on what you have in terms of a lightweight outer shell that stops wind and deals with precipitation. and, you won't find many shells geared for alpine conditions that fit OVER a down jacket.  (people usually climb with a shell and wear lighter layers underneath, and simply put the down jacket on over the top when they stop and rest so they don't get chilled).  for a little more than $150, there are some options that are cut a little more athletic, do a better job with letting moisture escape, have more robust fabric than the rain shadow, and don't weigh a whole lot more.  these are suggestions:

-if you can stomach the bright orange, the RAB Latok Alpine is on clearance at a site.  has a more narrow/athletic fit, is pretty light, and has an eVent membrane, very good at avoiding moisture buildup.  RAB runs very narrow, you may have to size up.  the RAB Latok is my go-to winter hiking/climbing shell, a heavier version with more pockets and reinforcements. [URL=latok campsaver]Latok Alpine[/URL]

-outdoor research furio jacket is gore tex pro shell - durable, a little heavier, a jacket built to handle a helmet and take some abuse.  a reasonably lightweight bomb shelter, and a sensational price for a GTX pro shell jacket from a great company:  OR Furio  

best of luck.  where were you in the high peaks, and when?
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