Shell Shocked: Raingear and Soft Shells are Getting Lighter and Breathing Better (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2004)

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by Alan Dixon | 2004-08-14 03:00:00-06

After reporting on sub-10 oz waterproof breathable jackets yesterday, we had a chance for a long talk with Patagonia’s garment R&D team. Now that we understand the physics of it, we understand why they expect the Specter Pullover to have better breathability than Gore-Tex XCR and PacLite and approach eVENT’s performance. Due to the proprietary nature of the work we can’t divulge the complete details. But…

Patagonia is doing some groundbreaking work on moisture transport in both waterproof breathable garments and soft shells. They even designed and built their own testing equipment when they felt that current testing apparati, even though very expensive, were not producing repeatable (or field confirmable) results. This year, for the first time, Patagonia lab-tested moisture transport performance consistently matched perceived field performance from guides and testers. One waterproof breathable garment that had puzzled the R&D team in the past was a favorite with backcountry guides since they could wear it all day without discomfort—yet it tested poorly in lab breathability tests. With the new test equipment and measurement parameters the garment finally tested with high breathability. Patagonia studied the garment and found out some surprising things about moisture transport that were not only applicable to waterproof breathable fabrics but also to soft shell fabrics. Conversely their study of soft shells showed some performance factors for soft shells that are applicable to waterproof breathables.

Patagonia Ready Mix Soft Shell Jacket

Armed with this information, they designed two new shells to be released in 2005 - one waterproof breathable, the Specter Pullover, and one softshell, the Ready Mix. See our dispatch from Day 1 for our report on the Specter.


Patagonia’s 14 oz Ready Mix Soft Shell Jacket

The Ready Mix soft shell fabric was designed using Patagonia’s new moisture transport findings to have better breathability without the moisture retention that’s plagued sofshells (they avoided fuzzy and absorbent linings and moisture hungry woven fabrics). Patagonia claims that the Ready Mix has a water repellent outer fabric that does a good job of evaporating moisture from the inside of the garment without getting wet itself. The Ready Mix is available for women in a pleasing light blue color.

MontBell Peak Jacket


A full featured WP/B for under 10 ounces!

MontBell introduces a new 3-layer polyurethane rain shell, the Peak Jacket. It appears to be somewhat air permeable like eVENT and may turn out to be a very breathable garment. For a light shell, it should be durable with its 3-layer construction and 22 denier shell fabric. Best of all MontBell achieves this weight without sacrificing essential features like pit-zips, two large pockets and Velcro adjustable wrist closures.

MontBell Torrent Flier Pants


MontBell Torrent Flier Pants

Same story with the new MontBell Torrent flier pants - functionality at 6.4 oz. Front snap, zipper fly, knee high side zips, and drawcord waist. It has the same tough 15 denier ballistics nylon 3-layer Gore-Tex XCR fabric as the Torrent Flier Jacket.


The Marmot entry into sub-10 oz rainwear, the 9 oz Essence Jacket. PreCip Plus fabric, and a minimal design with a single front pocket, drawcord hood and drawcord hem.

 


Citation

"Shell Shocked: Raingear and Soft Shells are Getting Lighter and Breathing Better (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2004)," by Alan Dixon. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/shell_shocked_raingear_and_soft_shells.html, 2004-08-14 03:00:00-06.

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