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Advice for a hardshell for early spring and late fall.
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Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: Re: Helium HD on 04/05/2014 11:50:00 MDT Print View

"anything LESS than 32 is going to be frozen. So even just a soft shell and a down jacket is fine."

There are no absolutes though. :) It could be 28F, and a warm rain won't freeze until it's on the ground for a while. Snow will still melt on your shell into the 20's because it's warmed by body heat. At some point, a soft shell will wet-out in those conditions. You may not notice it until it soaks into the down and makes you cold. Also, I never wear any down while moving because perspiration will soak into it and wet it out.

Polyester or polyester fleece is the best choice for insulation while moving in these conditions.

Edited by AndyF on 04/05/2014 11:52:18 MDT.

Kate Magill
(lapedestrienne) - F
Re: Helium HD vs Super Mica on 04/05/2014 12:45:32 MDT Print View

As has been mentioned, opt for the better warranty. A 2.5 layer shell WILL wet out on you someday, often not long after purchasing it, and it's nice to be able to replace it hassle-free. Marmot will probably honor the warranty, but it may take FOREVER (in my experience). OR is great about replacing damaged gear no questions asked and ASAP.

That said, if you want a strictly shoulder-season shell, consider investing in a 3-layer fabric--eVent or NeoShell or GTX Pro. The Patagonia M10 might be perfect for you, albeit at a higher pricepoint than the jackets you've mentioned. I think the added breathability and durability are worth the peace of mind if you regularly find yourself in cold-and-wet conditions.

Brian Lindahl
(lindahlb) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: rain shell on 04/07/2014 16:10:59 MDT Print View

> IMHO, a windshirt and light fleece like an R1 will
> provide all the protection of a soft shell at less
> weight and far more versatility.

Windshirts aren't anywhere close to the breathability of a softshell. That's their downfall. For colder temperatures (or pants), where you'll likely be wearing a windshirt almost the entire time, I much prefer a softshell. I find it much more comfortable and much easier to regulate temperature to avoid sweating. (doesn't really hurt pack weight either, since it's a 'worn' item)

For me, in Colorado, this is pretty much any winter trip, and some of the colder fall/spring trips.

I find windshirts and down jackets a better compliment than windshirts and fleeces, because of this. If I'm cold enough when active to wear a fleece and windshirt, I'd rather bring a softshell. If it's too warm to wear the fleece when active, then the windshirt makes sense, and the fleece is useless, since a down jacket provides more warmth and weighs less.

I always bring a rain jacket, unless it's too cold for rain (almost all winter and many spring/fall days).

Edited by lindahlb on 04/07/2014 16:13:30 MDT.

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
False-Windshirts aren't anywhere close to the breathability of a softshell on 04/07/2014 17:36:55 MDT Print View

Brian,

You said that "Windshirts aren't anywhere close to the breathability of a soft-shell." There are windshirts available with air permeability near hard shells to those equal to the air permeability of typical summer shirts. Soft-shells also fall in this exact same air permeability range.

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Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: soft shell insulation qualities on 04/07/2014 22:37:56 MDT Print View

I don't think much of the insulating power of the soft shells I have tried. You get a thick slab of smith faced polyester that protects from abrasion, wind and light precip, but when it's cold and the shell is in contact with your base layer, it is cold. I really do find a 100w fleece and a windshirt to be warmer and have better moisture transport, plus the ability to wear them in combination and with my rain shell and even for sleep.

IMHO, soft shells are heavy and too single purpose for a hiker who can come up with a wide range of weather conditions. I am adamant that a soft shell can't be substituted for a rain shell.

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: soft shell insulation qualities on 04/08/2014 00:41:30 MDT Print View

I've gotta agree with Dale on this one.

Also, I find the statement "[it] doesn't really hurt pack weight either, since it's a 'worn' item" absolutely hilarious.

Not trying to pick on Brian (or anyone, for that matter), but I am just constantly amused by the mental gymnastics many of us do to wish weight away.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
YEP, Dale's keerect on 04/08/2014 16:25:08 MDT Print View

I agree with Dale on "softshells". Mine is COLD compared to even 200 wt. pile under a windshell or eVent parka.

For the weight I don't think a "softshell" is at all worth carrying. Good synthetic fiber insulated jackets (Climashield, for ex.) coupled with a windshell or GOOD WPB parka are very warm for the weight.

Edited by Danepacker on 04/16/2014 23:35:06 MDT.

Erik Usis
(erikusis) - MLife
Westcomb on 04/13/2014 16:42:04 MDT Print View

Love my Westcomb Focus LT Hoody. Winter camped to 20F with it several times, down shirt underneath, felt fine. Made in North America. A bit pricey, though you can sometimes find it for $200 on sale, and you don't have to buy a soft shell. Minimalist, no pockets.

Edited by erikusis on 04/19/2014 18:38:35 MDT.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Great Lakes Bay Region
Re: Westcomb on 04/13/2014 17:06:54 MDT Print View

I used a Mountain Hardwear Quasar (event) pullover last autumn and really liked it.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Helium on 04/14/2014 17:45:57 MDT Print View

my Helium spends 95% of the time in my pack, but those 5% of the times I need it- it does the job; it's a no frills hardshell that works, the Helium HD might be worth looking into as well

Brian Lindahl
(lindahlb) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Re: soft shell insulation qualities on 04/16/2014 16:07:50 MDT Print View

> Also, I find the statement "[it] doesn't really hurt
> pack weight either, since it's a 'worn' item" absolutely
> hilarious.

In my experience, having the weight of something distributed over your entire body is a HUGE difference from having that weight in your pack.

> I don't think much of the insulating power of the soft
> shells I have tried. You get a thick slab of smith faced
> polyester that protects from abrasion, wind and light
> precip, but when it's cold and the shell is in contact
> with your base layer, it is cold. I really do find a
> 100w fleece and a windshirt to be warmer and have better
> moisture transport, plus the ability to wear them in
> combination and with my rain shell and even for sleep.

Hmm, I've never been too cold in just a baselayer and a thin softshell when working hard, even in temperatures around 0 degrees F. I do use a variety of baselayer weights, though, including powerstretch in sub-zero temperatures. When are you actually wearing both your 100w fleece and windshirt during activity?

> There are windshirts available with air permeability
> near hard shells to those equal to the air permeability
> of typical summer shirts. Soft-shells also fall in this
> exact same air permeability range.

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/alpine-start-review-chenault.html

According to the above review, both are heavier stretch-woven garments. In my opinion, this puts them in the softshell category. Rab also even calls the Boreas a softshell. They're certainly VERY lightweight softshells, and perhaps more accurately described as a windshirt-softshell crossover? They're quite heavy if you were to consider them as a 'windshirt', at least compared to the rest of the windshirt market. They're about twice the weight, if not more. They also take up much more space in your pack.

Edited by lindahlb on 04/18/2014 12:47:06 MDT.

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: Re: Re: soft shell insulation qualities on 04/16/2014 21:38:26 MDT Print View

Brian,

I find it more constructive to just ignore all of the marketing hype's slicing and dicing names. In reality a shell is either a rain-proof type or a non-rain-proof type. In those two categories select the characteristics that are important to you. See
Here

Edited by richard295 on 04/16/2014 21:41:53 MDT.

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: Re: soft shell insulation qualities on 04/17/2014 00:22:27 MDT Print View

"In my experience, having the weight of something distributed over your entire body is a HUGE difference from having that weight in your pack."

Brian,
This is a perceptual illusion. Lift a quart of water in one hand and a 2 lb. down sleeping bag with the other and tell me which one feels heavier. For most people, it's a no-brainer: the water seems heavier, even though the muscles in both arms are working just as hard to lift each item.

It goes without saying that having an item on your person versus having it in your pack does not change its physical mass, even though it might seem like it does. At the end of the day, you are basically burning the same amount of calories. That was my point.

Apologies for the thread drift.

Edited by dmusashe on 04/17/2014 00:24:49 MDT.

Brian Lindahl
(lindahlb) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: soft shell insulation qualities on 04/18/2014 12:38:03 MDT Print View

It's not a perceptual illusion when it's throwing off your center of balance and your back and shoulders start getting sore. It's not all about burned calories. ;)

Edited by lindahlb on 04/18/2014 12:45:08 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: weight is weight is weight on 04/18/2014 16:44:55 MDT Print View

1) your heart and muscles can't tell the difference

2) you need to load your gear properly or get a better pack

Weigh is weigh and it takes the same calories to move it a meter up hill regardless if it is on your pack or worn.

You can pile the manure any way you like, but a soft shell is inefficient in terms of weight, performance and versatility.

It won't keep you dry, it won't keep you warm and weighs as much as 3 useful layers. Great for climbers, skiers, or posing at the bus stop, but not in an UL kit.

Brian Lindahl
(lindahlb) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: weight is weight is weight on 04/24/2014 15:47:25 MDT Print View

Like I said... it's not all about the calories. And yes, my muscles can certainly tell the difference between weight on my shoulders and weight distributed across my body. I'm much more comfortable when it's distributed across my body. It has nothing to do with loading gear properly or getting a better pack. It has everything to do with the fact that the weight is being supported by shoulder straps and a hipbelt versus being supported by every inch of your skeletal and muscular system. There's no changing that fact. Perhaps some of us are more sensitive to it than others?

Dale, can you answer the following?:
I've never been too cold in just a baselayer and a thin softshell when working hard, even in temperatures around 0 degrees F. I do use a variety of baselayer weights, though, including powerstretch in sub-zero temperatures. When are you actually wearing both your 100w fleece and windshirt during activity?

Cameron Habib
(camhabib) - F
Re: on 04/24/2014 16:25:36 MDT Print View

Seems like a lot of good advice and info in here; your choice is probably going to come down to your specific needs and desires.

Personally, I'm a fan of GoreTex, and specifically Arcteryx GoreTex jackets. Keep in mind that even though it may be snow, once it hits your jacket, even with the best insulation, it'll eventually melt and turn to water, and you don't want to get wet in those temperatures. I have an Arcteryx Alpha SV I picked up a few months ago and couldn't recommend it more. I do a fair bit of rock climbing (what this jacket was intended for), and it's consistently blown everything else out of the water (no pin intended). It's not great for around town (no hand warmer pockets), it's fairly heavy, pricey, and fairly stiff / noisy, but short of taking a saw to it (which isn't even valid since I've seen it hold up to plenty of ice axes), it'll last you a lifetime. They make a bunch of other models (Alpha is climbing oriented, Beta is an all around, FL is the lighter weight version of the SV) that have different purposes and may be worth a look at.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: weight is weight is weight on 04/24/2014 20:24:55 MDT Print View

Brian asked, "Dale, can you answer the following?:
I've never been too cold in just a baselayer and a thin softshell when working hard, even in temperatures around 0 degrees F. I do use a variety of baselayer weights, though, including powerstretch in sub-zero temperatures. When are you actually wearing both your 100w fleece and windshirt during activity?"

I would normally wear a base layer appropriate to the basic temperature and would add or subtract the windshirt as needed. It would indeed be cold if I needed a 100W fleece with high exertion, but it would be a great combo for lighter levels of activity.

My point was that the two garments are lighter than a typical softshell while giving higher performance and greater versatility.

Once you stop moving the softshell is a cold boat anchor. Overcome the DWR and it will take a long time to dry. So there you are, wet, no loft, and you need yet more layers to make up for the deficiencies of the softshell. They don't work for me.