I personally almost never carry rain gear, and except in the case where low 40's high 30's rain is expected, and mileage absolute has to be made, what's the point?
If you have a shelter, and pace isn't mandatory, isn't a shell largely redundant?
If it's going to be non-breathable, what's the point at all? You'll be soaked regardless. Having tried some non-breathable cuben clothing, I found it only useful for VBL. It soaked me out in or out of rain.
Maybe just maybe a loose fitting poncho style piece wouldn't be that bad, but if it's not also your shelter, the extra material needed to make it breathable enough would seem to discount it to me.
Apologies if I'm off base, if this thread is based on the idea that you "have" to have a shell at some point, then I guess I should just stay out of it. However, is that the point?
Why are we so sure that a hardshell is a necessary piece of equipment?
Not trying to be confrontational, I'm honestly inquisitive. I always look at nice rain jackets, and am even building a 3-layer event one when I have time to tinker, but I can never justify the cost of buying, or the extra time to finish sewing the one I'm working on.
Are we talking about rain shells strictly from the standpoint of winter use?