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Hard Shells with Good Condensation Performance

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

Have done a fair bit of searching and reviewing threads, but still have a question and hope some folks have some jackets they love.


I have a full suite of outerwear (Hardshell, softshell, insulated jacket, sweater lined w/Goretex even).

I have a condensation issue with my hard shell (TNF mid-level jacket).  Even with pit-zips open and relatively light layering (very light weight capilene base-layer and one other base-layer or light fleece shirt), I get a fairly decent amount of condensation buildup within the jacket.


I am looking for advice or good experience with uninsulated hard shell jacket models from the last year or two, in the mid-range (less than 300$ at end of season sales).  I am partial to Marmot and Patagonia, but willing to look at any quality brand, zip off hood a big plus.

From reading threads what I believe I am looking for is strong Moisture Vapor Transport Rate  (MVTR)(  performance in a jacket. Seems from threads 3-4 years ago that Goretex XCR was worth the extra cost, is that still the judgment or has industry a new standard bearer for hard shell membranes?


Appreciate any help and advice. 

post #2 of 3

IME for breathability Gore-tex < Gore-tex XCR/Pro < Event.  


I have a Rab jacket made with Event - I believe it's the Momentum - that I love for it's breathability.  It handles condensation better than my Gore-tex jackets.  You should go for whatever fits you best and has the features you want.  That said, I love my Rab jacket.  A little googling shows some pretty good prices online.  


However it should be noted if you're overdressed and perspiring fairly hard and it's cold, you'll get condensation in anything.  

post #3 of 3

I own/have owned Goretex, Goretex XCR and Goretex Pro Shell jackets.  When I ski the bumps mid-winter (too cold for pit zips to be open) on top I usually wear a silk turtleneck, a merino wool crewneck, a 200 wt. fleece pullover and a shell.  When I get back to the lodge, the inside of the shell is always clammy (regardless of the variety of Gore Tex I'm wearing--even the very newest stuff) but I am bone dry (and, thus, warm) because there are three layers between the (clammy) inside of the shell and my skin.  My point is, it doesn't matter that there is condensation on the inside of the shell if it's not making you uncomfortable.


However, it sounds like you're talking about a situation where (1) you're engaging in more aerobic activity than I usually do (like touring), or (2) you're talking about warmer conditions.  In those circumstances, an eVent shell might be an option (an eVent hard shell is more breathable than any variety of Gore Tex, but requires more frequent washing to maintain breathability).  You should also consider wearing a softshell.  I wear my Arcteryx Hercules hoody (made from highly breathable Polartec Powershield O2 softshell fabric and lined with fur-like fleece) even in mid winter, so long as it isn't windy (the jacket is, at best, moderately wind resistant).  In below to near-freezing conditions when I can wear the Hercules instead of a hard shell, I never experience condensation buildup.  As the weather gets warmer (or my activities become more aerobic) I turn to lighter/less insulated soft shell jackets.  I have found that (except for the Polartec Powershield O2, which has a very porous membrane) I prefer the "woven" variety of softshell to the "membrane" variety of softshell, because the woven jackets are less likely to trap moisture.  "Membrane" type softshell jackets include jackets made with Gore Windstopper or Polartec Powershield.  "Woven" softshell jackets include TNF Apex Bionic softshell and jackets made with a variety of softshell fabrics manufactured by Schoeller (Mammut and Cloudveil tend to use Schoeller fabrics).  The best option of all can be a wind-resistant fleece like Polartec Windpro (not Polartec Windbloc; Windbloc has a membrane and is similar to Gore Windstopper).  Fleece is extremely breathable; far more breathable than your hardshell, even with the pit zips open.


In case you're interested in learning more about the "theory" of layering, here's a link to a good blog on the subject:




Good luck making your choice.





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