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Topic: Lightweight hard shell jacket, What's the latest?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 02 2014, 1:10 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I haven't seen a hard shell jacket discussion here in a while. Can anybody recommend a light, weather-tested, no frills jacket?
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 02 2014, 3:59 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

What kinda price range? Weight range? Bush whacking?

Details make a difference.

Cheers

Carl


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 02 2014, 9:43 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Everyone seems to own one eventually so I'll throw out the marmot precip
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 02 2014, 10:43 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(booyah @ Feb. 02 2014, 9:43 pm)
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Everyone seems to own one eventually so I'll throw out the marmot precip

Not to be argumentative, but my understanding is that the PreCip is a raincoat, not really a hard shell which is not quite the same thing.  I think of a hard shell as being sturdier, a bit heavier and for build for harsher weather than just rain. Could be I'm wrong.  Maybe others can comment.  Anyway I've got a  Mountain Hardware gore-tex model that I've had for several years that I've been pretty happy with except for it's less than generous cut.  Some it's a bit tight fitting it over insulating layers.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 02 2014, 10:52 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I always think of a hardshell as a rain coat with an insulating liner.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 02 2014, 11:23 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Starbreaker @ Feb. 02 2014, 10:52 pm)
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Here...
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 03 2014, 12:31 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Good article.  In summer wet conditions, I take a rain jacket.  In winter wet conditions, I take a hard shell.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 03 2014, 12:52 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

fair enough, I guess I've always used them interchangeably

to me a hardshell is defined as a true waterproof breathable, and a softshell is a water resistant/wind resistant usually insulated layer.

by those definitions most good technical "rain jackets" would qualify to me as a hardshell, but if you're talking about something of a heavier spec I could see that.

I usually wear a precip as a hardshell in winter, or I have a heavier three layer shell that I wear as well, but honestly I prefer the precip most of the time.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 03 2014, 3:42 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm partial to the Arcteryx Beta AR and Alpha SV.   My arc jackets are tried and true but they're only Gore Pro Shell.  eVent and Neo shell fabrics appear to be better so I've been trying new jackets.  I've recently started using a Rab stretch Neo.  This is a soft shell though.  Its been fantastic for ice climbing.  I tried the Rab Latok but returned it after realizing it didn't even have welded seams.  The Latok Alpine has welded seams so that might be next.  Both Arcteryx and Rab are known for their athletic cuts though it seems Arcteryx has started accommodating more rotund folks.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 03 2014, 7:13 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Not sure I agree that a "hardshell", by definition, is heavier/more robust or different from a rain jacket.  Imo, the delineation is pretty straightforward:

Shell = outer layer in a baselayer+insulation+shell system, so un-insulated by definition
Hardshell = waterproof
Softshell = not waterproof, but likely to be water resistant

There are weight vs breathability tradeoffs in hardshells.  eVent, Neoshell are heavy but I don't think that's because the manufacturers want a more robust material; if they could make it lighter and still maintain the specs, I think they would (and eventually will, I'm sure.)

I think the 'Helix' Neoshell anorak at EMS is a great buy ($124).  Also been a fan of the BC200 from First Ascent for a long time.  $199 minus 25% promo right now.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 03 2014, 9:16 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I use a rain jacket as a "hardshell" year round. But, I live in Tennesee, and our winters don't usually get that bad, so I don't need anything with a built in insulation layer.
I also happen to use the precip as suggested above.
My only issue is that I wet out in areas that build up sweat (shoulder straps and wrists normally).
But I've always had that problem.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 03 2014, 9:27 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Patagonia, Arc'teryx, OR, Marmot, etc don't differentiate, and often call their jackets "waterproof hardshell rain jackets".

I like Marmot's shells, and am ok with the Precip, but am always peeking at lighter options like the Super Mica or OR's Helium II, and ones with better features like the Aegis.

Light, weather-tested and no-frills? Frogg toggs' UL rainwear is all that and dirt cheap. Just don't yank on the zipper, and consider it disposable if you get into any brush or use with abrasive wear, because it's history if you do.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 03 2014, 9:41 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Starbreaker @ Feb. 02 2014, 8:23 pm)
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(Starbreaker @ Feb. 02 2014, 10:52 pm)
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Here...

Excellent article with lots of good information.  Thanks for the link.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 03 2014, 9:41 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm currently having pretty good luck with a Marmot Membrain jacket (I don't remember the model name). Definitely a little more breathable than the Precip, but, when it comes right down to it, if you have to hike in a rain shell in temps above say, 45, you're probably going to sweat it out at least to an extent.

I haven't done much heavy bushwhacking in it--I have my doubts about how well it would hold up in those conditions.

I think I got my jacket on sale for ca. $100.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 03 2014, 11:45 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I dislike insulated shells.

That said, I've always considered a hard shell to be the outer layer, insulated or not.

I use specific insulation layers with my hard shell. I find it to be a lighter combination than an insulated jacket most often and helps keep me from overheating in winter. If I hike using an insulated hard shell with a pack on in the teens, I would roast. However, I still like the moisture protection from heavy snows that a hard shell provides. Most often, it is a couple Polypro or a Merino wool layer under my hard shell. When I get to camp, I switch to a thicker down mid-layer for more casual play.

I will be watching this thread closely as I've been using the same heavy ECWCS shell for many years. It may be time to bite the bullet and upgrade to something tough but a bit lighter. Bombproof has always been my primary concern.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 03 2014, 12:23 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

As I'm a 3 season guy (I hibernate in winter) I have had great luck for a couple season with a Columbia Hydrotech II..  It's 2.5 layer Omni-Tech...  It's not as breathable as the high dollar Arc stuff, but I got it on sale for 75$.  I got it a size larger so it fits nicely ovre my Flash 22 and still packs into it's own pocket for easy storage.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 03 2014, 12:39 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Pat Torrentshell user here. Basically the same as most mentioned on here i.e. 2.5 layer, no insulation and pit zips. Works great for me year round in the PNW. I think that for $100 you can get a great last years model hard shell from a good manufacturer.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 03 2014, 1:57 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Fwiw, soft shell jackets can be waterproof.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 03 2014, 2:57 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Walkinman @ Feb. 03 2014, 1:57 pm)
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Fwiw, soft shell jackets can be waterproof.

Then what makes it a 'softshell'?

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 03 2014, 3:17 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I mean a rain jacket. Something like the Alpine Ascent BC-200 is what I'm thinking (too bad they only have size S on sale). Definitely no insulation, and I already have several soft shells. I'm looking for something lighter than my old school TNF Mountain Light.

Thanks for the responses - keep em coming!
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 03 2014, 3:51 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(toejam @ Feb. 03 2014, 3:17 pm)
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I mean a rain jacket. Something like the Alpine Ascent BC-200 is what I'm thinking (too bad they only have size S on sale). Definitely no insulation, and I already have several soft shells. I'm looking for something lighter than my old school TNF Mountain Light.

Thanks for the responses - keep em coming!

I use a Marmot Super Mica, which I've had for several years now.  Quite light (around 8oz), pretty breathable (Membrain), lots of venting options (full zip, pit zips, mesh lined pockets),  and a reinforced brim on the hood.  I love this jacket.  I think I paid around 150 for mine.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 03 2014, 4:59 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(TigerFan @ Feb. 03 2014, 10:57 am)
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(Walkinman @ Feb. 03 2014, 1:57 pm)
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Fwiw, soft shell jackets can be waterproof.

Then what makes it a 'softshell'?

soft shells and hard shells

And more and more of the newer soft shells are waterproof.

Remember too that 'waterproof' isn't an absolute. Oddly enough, there are varying degrees of what exactly 'waterproof' is.

Toejam - what kinda budget are you looking at? A couple of the newer Mtn Hdwr jackets are great, but they're $$$.

is it something you bushwhack with, or just for on trail hiking? Ultralite or a medium weight thing you can wear in winter as well? And where do you live/backpack? What kinda temps and climate are you looking at?


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 03 2014, 6:30 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Walkinman @ Feb. 03 2014, 4:59 pm)
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(TigerFan @ Feb. 03 2014, 10:57 am)
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(Walkinman @ Feb. 03 2014, 1:57 pm)
QUOTE
Fwiw, soft shell jackets can be waterproof.

Then what makes it a 'softshell'?

soft shells and hard shells

And more and more of the newer soft shells are waterproof.

Remember too that 'waterproof' isn't an absolute. Oddly enough, there are varying degrees of what exactly 'waterproof' is.

Er... OK, but I think the "waterproof softshell" label is market-speak.  Manufacturers are free to label and market their jackets however they want but I still stand by the basic waterproof/non-waterproof definitions.

That said, I do agree that there's varying levels of waterproofness.  Just like any other gear purchase, I would make it a point to understand the specs.  I have a Patagonia softshell that I often wear around town in light rain and, in fact, it's always kept me dry but, for backpacking, I have stricter criteria for what I would call a rain jacket or hardshell.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 03 2014, 6:38 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

IMO, which is worth what you have paid for it, a hard shell would keep me dry in the shower, like the one at the REI in Seattle.  A softshell would not, but it would keep me warmer.  

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 03 2014, 6:51 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Quite a few soft shell jackets are plenty waterproof. They tend to be heavier, burlier and more robust, but they're plenty waterproof. Market speak isn't the issue.

Waterproof and (lightly) insulated soft shell.

It'll keep you just as dry as virtually any other rain jacket will .. it weighs more, costs more, but it's also more comfortable, warmer, and a much better winter jacket (powder skirt, for example - and the "Blue Moon" is to DIE for. :) ). But waterproof and soft shell isn't just market speak.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 03 2014, 10:45 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Walkinman @ Feb. 03 2014, 6:51 pm)
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Quite a few soft shell jackets are plenty waterproof. They tend to be heavier, burlier and more robust, but they're plenty waterproof. Market speak isn't the issue.

Waterproof and (lightly) insulated soft shell.

It'll keep you just as dry as virtually any other rain jacket will .. it weighs more, costs more, but it's also more comfortable, warmer, and a much better winter jacket (powder skirt, for example - and the "Blue Moon" is to DIE for. :) ). But waterproof and soft shell isn't just market speak.

Yeah... like I said, I don't care what Arcteryx chooses to call it, a waterproof Goretex jacket falls in the "hardshell" column in my book.  Not saying that it's not a great jacket but I also think that Arcteryx has some of the slickest marketing around.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 04 2014, 12:27 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(TigerFan @ Feb. 03 2014, 10:45 pm)
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Arcteryx has some of the slickest marketing around.

They'd better be considering what they charge for their stuff.  I wonder, is it really worth it?  I don't doubt that it's good stuff but is it that much better than the other leading brands - North Face, Mountain Hardware, Rab, First Ascent, Marmot, etc.?  Anyone want to comment?


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 04 2014, 1:02 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(hikerjer @ Feb. 04 2014, 12:27 am)
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(TigerFan @ Feb. 03 2014, 10:45 pm)
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Arcteryx has some of the slickest marketing around.

They'd better be considering what they charge for their stuff.  I wonder, is it really worth it?  I don't doubt that it's good stuff but is it that much better than the other leading brands - North Face, Mountain Hardware, Rab, First Ascent, Marmot, etc.?  Anyone want to comment?

I consider my Beta AR and Alpha SV jackets worth the price.  I have bibs and other outwear that I like almost as much but I can't say the same for their clothing.  I like the athletic cut and how everything they make has a consistent fit for me but the prices seem a bit steep.  

For instance, their palisade and rampart hiking pants are very nice but I have some First Ascent hiking pants I like just as much that are less expensive.  I've had plenty of Marmot gear but a lot of the clothes are just cut for beefier folks.  I'm 5'10", 165 lbs with a 42" chest and 30" waist.  I do like the Marmot Super Mica and Nano rain jackets though and they're lighter than any of my Arcteryx jackets.  

Frankly, while other companies make plenty of nice gear I don't want to take the time to try them all out to find ones I'll actually like.  I can buy Arcteryx sight unseen and know that it will fit well and that it will work in the field.   I guess I'm willing to pay a little extra for this convenience.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 04 2014, 1:41 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I love my hooded Golite Goretex Paclite jacket. It keeps me dry for hours in the rain, the stiffened hood wraps tightly around my face...it has 8" pit-zips for ventilation, and the side-pockets are so huge that each will hold a 1.5 liter water bottle zipped up.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 04 2014, 3:24 am Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE


(hikerjer @ Feb. 03 2014, 8:27 pm)
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(TigerFan @ Feb. 03 2014, 10:45 pm)
QUOTE
Arcteryx has some of the slickest marketing around.

They'd better be considering what they charge for their stuff.  I wonder, is it really worth it?  I don't doubt that it's good stuff but is it that much better than the other leading brands - North Face, Mountain Hardware, Rab, First Ascent, Marmot, etc.?  Anyone want to comment?

Hey hikerjer

Take a look at some of the pricing on new Mtn Hdwr stuff, or Patagonia, etc. Arc'teryx aren't THAT much higher than some of those.

Is that much 'better'? Arc'teryx are almost always at the front of the pack with creative design and technology. The others tend to follow. You pay for that R&D. You also pay for branding, but their gear lives up to the rep, imo. In general, anyway.

I have some items I prefer by other brands, and some I prefer by Arc'teryx. I think they're too tied to Gore-tex though, and wish they'd look at stuff like eVent, etc, as well, but they won't.

Their Gamma MX is awesome. The Rush and the Stingray are both fantastic. For lighter weight rain gear (hard-shells) I know I'll wear them out and replace them reasonably quickly, and I haven't found that's any different with Arc'teryx gear at all. My only complain about their rain gear is the zippers; I've had two of their top of the line rain shells (I forget which model) both leak with the zippers on the pockets. I've also seen a couple of other people have the same issue (and definitely plenty without, as well). And Arc'teryx are the only company I've seen advertise that their zippers are not waterproof. I haven't had that issue with other brands.

All those companies make good gear. I don't think any one brand makes 'the best' across the board. I like Montbell's down stuff, and I like Patagonia's soft shell pants. I really like the newer Mtn Hdwr rain shells. And so it goes.


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