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Which softshell for winter climbing in the Canadian Rockies?
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Pierre Descoteaux
(Pierre) - MLife
Which softshell for winter climbing in the Canadian Rockies? on 12/20/2010 20:44:29 MST Print View

Hello all,
I'm looking for some feedback and ideas from the bpl community since you all are so knowledgeable although, this time around light weight is not prerequisite.

I need a winter weight ( read furry) hooded soft-shell for ice climbing in the Canadian Rockies. A few years back I had a Patagonia Mix Master it was perfect!!! Until it was falling apart from too much abuse... If you know of some models that would be similar, let me know. I tried to find an Arct'eryx Gamma SV hoody but it is no longer made. It needs to have a helmet compatible hood, some pockets that will be usable even while wearing a harness, long enough to stay put under the harness, a great DWR finish.

Contenders so far...
Rab Baltoro Guide
Lowe Alpine Power Sheild Pro (I can't even find where to buy this thing!)
Eider Power Pro
Mammut Herron
Haglofs Fang
Norrona Narvik
Wildthings used to have a contender as well but their site and gear is being modified and little info is available for now.

Any feed back on those jacket or any other suggestions would be appreciated.


Jace Mullen
(climberslacker) - F

Locale: Your guess is as good as mine.
Re: Which softshell for winter climbing in the Canadian Rockies? on 12/20/2010 21:05:16 MST Print View

I have a Patagucci Ascentionist that I am pretty happy with. I don't know if it will work for Rocky climbing but it has worked out well for SoCal Alpinism :D

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
dead bird on 12/20/2010 21:05:50 MST Print View

i have the dead bird gamma sv hoodie ... personally i find i overheat in it unless its pretty cold .. itll work OK if yr climbing below -10C in the rockies, but youll overheat on the approaches

nanook ofthenorth
(nanookofthenorth) - MLife
... on 12/20/2010 21:55:43 MST Print View

Hey, I was just in that same situation, as much as I loved the Mixed Master I think the Pata Ascentionist w/ the R2 lining is a great replacement. Not as trim and w/o the targeted insulation, but a much better shell and lining. Overall, I'm thinking I like the Speed Ascent a bit more then the Mixed Master jacket
The Mixed Master jacket and pants were great, hard to find a good replacement these days.

Edited by nanookofthenorth on 12/20/2010 22:47:38 MST.

Dewey Riesterer
(Kutenay) - F
Westcomb? on 12/20/2010 22:06:07 MST Print View

I grew up and have worked in the mountains of eastern BC and western AB and used a lot of different shells and tops. So far, the finest I have ever seen is the gear from Westcomb of Vancouver, BC. I have Wildthings and ID jackets and they are excellent, but, Westcomb is just awesome. I have never been very impressed by "dead bird" gear and prefer ID to anything else due to simplicity and light weight, but, my next shell and other tops will be Westcomb. If, they make what you need, you might consider them.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Which softshell for winter climbing in the Canadian Rockies? on 12/20/2010 22:20:48 MST Print View

I haven't been ice climbing in a long time, but I can observe that most of the shells you listed will not be as breathable as your mixmaster. I thing you would would be more interesting in something like the Patagonia Guide Hoody or Ascentionist + R23 fleece, or maybe the Rab Vapour Rise Jacket (though it's a bit lighter than the Mixmaster).


PS: none of the above has the crotch strap.

Edited by verber on 12/20/2010 22:27:17 MST.

Babak Sakaki
(persianpunisher) - F
Re: Re: Which softshell for winter climbing in the Canadian Rockies? on 12/21/2010 02:47:09 MST Print View

I would also agree that the Patagonia Ascentionist is a choice jacket. Perfect do everything shell for here in the Rockies.

I have one in large I am parting with, if you are interested.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Which softshell for winter climbing in the Canadian Rockies? on 12/21/2010 09:04:09 MST Print View

I use a Marmot Super Hero. It is the best softshell I have ever used - the stowable, removable hood is a godsend and the breathable panels under the pits divine.

; )

I use it all the time in Banff and Jasper.

Michael Febbo
(febbom) - F
Patagonia offerings on 12/21/2010 09:37:03 MST Print View

I really do not like membrane softshells- especially with insulation as they are saunas. I might as well wear Gore-tex if I go that route (my Canadian made Gamma MX Hoody has been collecting dust for years).

Thus, the Patagonia Ascentionist appealed to me as the perfect jacket. After using it for two seasons, I have concluded:

good, slim fit
fabric is a perfect blend of fast drying, windproof, water-resistant and breathable
durable fabric (NOT true of the Ready Mix)

Hood does not fit my long neck correctly. While wearing a helmet, it is restrictive.
The hand pockets are placed incorrectly for a climbing jacket. They are too low and too small. If you wear a pack or harness, they are inaccessible.
The fabric is 2-way stretch, which is stiffer and more restrictive than Schoeller, Powershield, etc. (though better than Gore-tex)

Also, it appears that the jacket may be discontinued. The Guide Hoody has apparently replaced it, which is a heavier, stretchier jacket that (so long as you do not mind the weight) will perform equally well.

The Winter Sun jacket by Patagonia is the ultimate insulated climbing piece IMO- pockets are correctly placed, the fabric is the same as the Ascentionist, and the fleece is warm while also moving moisture.
I have no idea if Patagonia still carries these- they change their line up too often.

If you really want Powershield or the like, look at the Westcomb Skeena

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
skeena on 12/21/2010 13:13:47 MST Print View


the new skeena is event on the top and dryskin on the bottom ... it should be quite breathable and water resistant

as a note the EB FA frontpoint is something that ive heard good things about and is 1/2 price today ... hybrid as well

Pierre Descoteaux
(Pierre) - MLife
Softshells on 12/21/2010 19:42:22 MST Print View

I was under the impression that the Power Shield Pro was a more breathable than other membrane but you guys are all right e.i., it is still a membrane!

Jace, Robert and Michael: I'll have another look at the Pata Ascentionist. But I'll try it with my climbing pack! My old Pata Winter Guide had the same pocket accessibility issue Michael is talking about. I'll look into the guide hoody too.
Babak: I need a medium... Thank you for the offer though.

Pata winter sun. I though it could be a solution until I tried it and realized that the sleeves are too long and very bulky. I had the same sleeve length issue with the Speed Ascent.

Eric: Over heating on the approach... I usually do not wear the jacket on the approach. I live with the fact that I'll be freezing out of the car until I move fast and long enough to warm up on the approach.

Dewey/ Westcomb: I looked at the Recon hoody and it felt too warm. Its insulation is very thick and dense. I bet it would be a pain to stash in a bag. I'll try to see the Skeena Hoody in a store to get a better idea on it. Wild Things: I'll email them in the hopes to get some info.

Mark: Rab clothing is not in the shop around Calgary so it is hard for me to get a good impression. Crotch straps... never needed one!

David: Marmot Super Hero: If the price is right on Boxing day, I may go that route for simplicity sake. It is not as insulated as I would have liked but I guess that with the membrane it would do. Although I'm afraid of the moisture build up. I guess that's why it has pit-zips though.

So many things to think about now... Buying gear used to be fun but I've got some more homework to do...

Thank you all


(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Combo soft / hard shell? on 12/21/2010 19:54:40 MST Print View

NOTE: Eddied Bauer Frontpoint is 1/2 price, 12-21-2010 only. I'm no expert, but Dane of is an expert snow and ice climber, and he said: "Eddie Bauer Front Point jacket…
- a combo hard shell and soft shell.
- Very water resistant (my top was dry in a soaking waterfall that went straight through my pants and filled my boots to the brim)
- and very breathable. I am highly impressed with the details of this garment and the combo of materials used. A surprising and almost immediate favorite for cold technical climbing.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
canada on 12/21/2010 20:27:09 MST Print View

if youre in canada ... the EB FA frontpoint is $100 off ... at least in the vancouver store they are .... so $179 instead of $279 .... which is a pretty decent price for a softshell/hardshell hybrid

not to mention the EB no questions asked exchange warranty

Michael B
(mbenvenuto) - F

Locale: Vermont
softshells on 12/21/2010 21:59:46 MST Print View

I think "membrane" softshells get a bad rap, at least if that includes schoeller wb400, which I continue to believe is the perfect winter softshell and the best choice for you. But I haven't tried them all either. WB400 is much warmer, stretchier, and more breathable and weatherproof then my powershield top. My WB400 jacket is very old, and was custom made by beyond fleece. I loved it, but just can't afford to buy another. But in your price range, you should at least consider Beyond. Fit makes a big difference in a softshell, and their fit will likely be perfect for you. The Mammut Lazer is also made out of WB400 and fits all of your criteria. Schoeller dryskin is also very nice, but is much less weatherproof.

I am confused if the shock actually has pockets, so if you are at all interested, you probably should email them some questions. The cold fusion clearly does. They will take a long time to make it, so that may turn you off too. But it could be worth the wait.

Robert Cowman
(rcowman) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
gamma mx on 12/22/2010 03:21:17 MST Print View

I use the arc'teryx gamma mx for ice/mixed/alpine climbing. Also I've been using a MWH dragon jacket lately, because it has pit zips,and the integrated hand gaiters work well with my or alibi gloves.

Babak Sakaki
(persianpunisher) - F
Re: Patagonia offerings on 12/22/2010 03:26:48 MST Print View

Great review, I would agree with all of those points except the comments about the hood restriction and fabric. The hood fits my variant brim, but barely, and I think the fabric is 4 way stretch.

I've owned tested many softshells (the Arcterxy Gamma MX, Marmot Super Hero, Marmot Leadville, Stoic/ Welder (Lo), MHW Dragon...

And the Ascenionist takes the cake as the most durable and breathable, making it the most versatile. It is, however, probably the least waterproof of them all due to lack of a membrane, but I have used mine as my primary ski shell, and its perfect for the Rockies.