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Long-term shell durability
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eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Re: Re: OR on 11/26/2011 14:38:31 MST Print View

no idea on that one ...

i will say that using those nasty fluro-whatyamacallit DWR (grangers) lasts longer than nikwax or the other alternatives ... just treat the spray on as you would painting (open space, well ventilated)

ive had dead bird DWR on my old stingray start to wear off after about 3 hikes/climbs ... a quick spray of grangers and some dryer time solved the issue ... my MH softshell needs a good DWR renewal though after one season and many pitches

i suspect alot of complaints about jacket wetting out and condensation issues are because the DWR aint renewed on a semi-regular basis .. though im sure most BPLers are more informed about this and do it more than the general public

patrick walsh
(apbt1976) - F
Yeah.. on 11/26/2011 14:58:28 MST Print View

I was using NikWax products to renew the DWR on those pants so maybe that's the problem. With that said wearing a waterproof or resistant piece of gear 1-3 times and having to apply a product like Grangers or NikWax is pretty lame imop.

My Patagonia Alpine Guide Pants dont do that to me nor do my Marmot Rock Stars.

Guess those two items left a bad taste in my mouth for OR? I did love the fit of the pants though!!

Edited by apbt1976 on 11/26/2011 14:58:59 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Ozo durability on 11/26/2011 17:35:01 MST Print View

Ben, I've been using the Ozo since May, so not an enormous amount of use. Part of that was during the Wilderness Classic, where I wore it for about 55 hours straight (including napping in it). I can say that by that time I was not being at all careful, did some rather nasty bushwacking, and it came out fine. The hood is generous, but probably not quite big enough to comfortably go over a larger climbing helmet.

You are correct that if you want good durability and venting you'll need to spend more oz. I had an Alpha SL pullover before the Ozo, and I don't think the fabric on one is more durable than the other. The extra 3-4 oz is mainly in the side zips.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
OR Helium on 11/26/2011 20:53:41 MST Print View

Mike Moore already mentioned the OR Helium, and I'll say that my experience this year matches what he said. What I can add is something about the durability of this jacket --- I've been quite impressed.

I thru-hiked the CDT this year, starting in a lot of snow in Montana in June, and I wore the jacket most days for at least part of the day. It served for me both as rain jacket and wind shirt. I was on occasion pushing through some thorny stuff towards the end (ocotillo cactus branches, that sort of thing), particularly when doing some night hiking the last couple of days and some bushwhacking + scrambling up to South Peak in the Florida hills, and I expected to find this light shell to be somewhat cut up or something as a result, but in fact it still looks quite good.

I liked this enough that I just bought one for my wife. I certainly don't guarantee that it would be as durable for you, and note that there's not *that* much true bushwhacking through brush or major scrambling on the CDT (at least not if you can read a map ...), but still, for such a light shell I think that it did quite well.

Ben W

Locale: NW Center for Volcano-Aided Flight
Durability on 11/26/2011 22:05:02 MST Print View

Thanks to all for the various input and suggestions, it's been interesting to consider. A few specific responses and some general notes:

Dave, I appreciate the comparison on the Ozo vs Alpha SL Pullover weight. After revisiting these two, I began to suspect a large part of the difference is zippers. Your Ozo durability use case is also really good info! I'm also looking forward to the rest of the installments in the SOTMR (esp. <8oz shells) soon. If there's durability beta on those shells that will not appear in the articles, I'd also love to hear that.

Brian, this is great durability beta on the OR Helium! And it's still waterproof after all that pack wear? Awesome.

I would love to hear more durability anecdotes like Dave's, Brian's, or (from farther back in the thread) Ryan's, about any shell, covering intensive use over short intervals or normal wear over moderate or longer intervals. (It feels weird to call a CDT thruhike a "moderate" interval, but I am hoping for a piece to last me years.) Anecdotes of good and bad durability are equally useful! I should point out that in addition to jackets, I'm interested in rain shell pants, which likely will take more intensive abuse [glissading, wading through brush] -- but perhaps less intense normal wear [no pack strap friction] -- than jackets. I do realize that they are probably less commonly used here than the shell tops.

Durability requirements
I've somewhat overstated the abuse I expect my shell (top) to see, mainly because I've found my previous shells' durability so pathetic just under normal wear conditions. I would define "normal wear" as abrasion and stress due to packing and storage, contact with me, my clothing, and my worn gear (backpack, harness, helmet, etc.), but not pokes from sticks and brush, crampon bites, rock scrapes, etc. In fact, the large majority of the latter that I've experienced have not occurred while wearing a rain shell. My Essence only brushed through some mild branches a few limited times that I can remember. It has seen use in rain on trips on trail (or in alpine conditions with no scrapage) as well as covering me on my daily commutes by foot or bike. My Houdini, on the other hand, has withstood slide alder, slips of multiple yards down rough slopes, prickers, rough spruce boughs, etc. surprisingly (even shockingly) well. I do not even see any scrapes on the fabric.

I've been shopping under the pessimistic hypothesis that no ultralight shell is going to last years under normal wear. (My experience does not contradict this hypothesis.) However, I really hope it's false, hence my search here for counterexamples!

An ultralight shell that could withstand normal wear for multiple years would get me really excited.

A non-ultralight, but still reasonably light shell that could withstand normal wear for multiple years would still make me happy.

An ultralight shell that could withstand bushwhacking and occasional alpine stress for years would have me beside myself with delight.

A non-ultralight, but still reasonably light shell that could withstand normal wear for multiple years would make me very happy.

(Largely re: no pit zips on Helium, Ozo, etc.) As long as there's at least moderate breathable/ventable and it's actually keeping water out, I will be fine, as I have managed OK with the breathability of the pit zip-less Essence. (From Will Rietveld's Field Testing report, it would appear most options are likely better than the Essence, though the membrane has changed since my version.) I have on occasion really missed pit zips from my older shell, but mostly been OK. As long as my shell is actually keeping water out, I can manage the condensation with other methods.

The light and well-warrantied options are attractive, as Eric and Mike have pointed out, but without reasonable evidence that it's going to last, I still get skittish. From a token environmental standpoint, one of the reasons I'm looking for something to last years is to minimize my impact. I would rather buy a piece that's a little heavier, more expensive, or more intensive to manufacture and have it last me five years than buy one that's less expensive and lighter, but have to replace it (even if for free) annually. Brian's beta about his level of use of the Helium on the CDT gives me a glimmer of hope that maybe even some light options would last the distance.

Edited by bpwood on 11/26/2011 22:35:58 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
LW shell durability on 11/26/2011 22:49:37 MST Print View

My experience, and the thesis under which I'm operating under at the moment, is that the quality of the shell fabric (in either a WPB or wind shell) is more important w/r/t durability than the weight. The Helium is a great example. The Pertex fabric is really densely woven and slick, which I think does a lot to explain it's excellent durability. Same can be said for the Houdini.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Still waterproof? on 11/27/2011 14:15:01 MST Print View

"Brian, this is great durability beta on the OR Helium! And it's still waterproof after all that pack wear? Awesome."

It's waterproof insofar as I've used the spendy "techwash" and DWR solution pair for this after I got back home. Waterproof is, as has been so well discussed on this site, a relative term. In Montana there were a couple of times when hail fell so hard that we just sort of stood there like livestock in a field, heads down and enduring it until it slacked off. No way to stay dry in that, but I wouldn't expect anything even the least bit breathable to do any better (?).

I would also caution against my experience being a major durability beta. While it's true that the CDT isn't as nicely brushed out all the time as the PCT and AT (generally ...) are, the vast majority of time nothing was brushing against my coat. Someone doing a lot of continuous scrambling and bushwhacking would likely put more wear on a coat in a couple of weeks than I did in five months.

OTOH, I suspect in turn that I put more wear on the coat than a typical customer would in many years, so --- it's all relative.

Ben W

Locale: NW Center for Volcano-Aided Flight
Re: Still waterproof? on 11/27/2011 21:22:47 MST Print View

Brian, right, I'm not looking for absolutes, knowing that's impossible. And for durability I was actually thinking more along the lines of you just wearing it a lot even if not brushing through thorns of doom (or even anything). Call me pathetic, but I was excited to hear that it had lasted through near daily wear. :) My experience with failure has been solely due to abrasion from my clothes and my pack and not something DWR would help much with, so it sounds like it's at least a step up from that! Not proof of multi-year durability under, but something.

wayne clark
columbia peak 2 peak on 11/27/2011 22:02:15 MST Print View

columbia omni-dry membrane used in their peak 2 peak shell is made of polyethylene. they tout the membrane as being extremely strong, a lot stronger than other membranes, meaning they can make thinner lighter membranes, so for th give weight of the jacket (440gm)it has a heavier shell than other jackets.
their membrane is about as breathable as event.
it has pit zips.
it's a polyester shell, weight for weight polyester is weaker than nylon

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Re: Still waterproof? on 11/27/2011 23:01:58 MST Print View

"My experience with failure has been solely due to abrasion from my clothes and my pack and not something DWR would help much with, so it sounds like it's at least a step up from that!"

Right, and indeed I wore my pack pretty much constantly when wearing the jacket. Here's a picture that shows the jacket pretty well, and was taken on the next-to-last day of my five month trip (just 2+ weeks ago), coming down from South Peak in the Florida mountains (some jackassery when my hiking partner and I found an ibex skull):

I've got the jacket beside me now, and indeed while there's an overall feeling of some wear, it's still in good shape and the shoulder areas under the pack straps are not worn out as I might have expected.