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Anyone tried the new Polartec NeoShell?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

I was looking up the name of Polartec Wind Pro on Polartec's web site (to respond to a post) and saw an add for a new product, Polartec NeoShell.  Has anyone tried it?  If so, what did you think of it?  How does it compare to the traditional Polartec Power Shield?  Is it more breathable than my e-Vent hard shell?

 

STE

post #2 of 25

I personally have not tried it, but am intrigued by it. Very few Neoshell jackets on the market so far. Marmot, Rab, Westcomb by the looks of it. From some research on my own, apparently the Westcomb Neoshell is considerably lighter than the others. Here are a few reviews of each for your reading pleasure:

 

http://backcountryskiingcanada.com/index.php?p=page&page_id=Westcomb%20Apoc%20Jacket

 

http://www.backpacker.com/gear-review-westcomb-apoc-/gear/15859

 

http://coldthistle.blogspot.ca/2011/05/polartec-neoshell-update.html

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4adAN9i0daY

 

http://www.backpackersreview.com/gear-reviews/clothing-footwear/57-a-rab-neo-shell-jacket

 

http://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/review.php?id=4487

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzmwM8hZkXE3

 

 

And on the Powershield vs Neoshell, eVent, Gore, etc:

 

http://www.backcountry.com/store/qanda/244913/Anybody-want-to-wager-a-comparison-between.html

 

http://www.mountainproject.com/v/gore-tex-pro-shell-vs-active-shell-vs-polartec-neoshell-vs-etc/107499671

 

 

 

I love my DryQ Elite (customized eVent) jackets, I won't be ditching them anytime soon for Neoshell, but I would love to test drive a Neoshell to compare.

post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 

Thanks for collecting all of the links Bob.  Very interesting reads/views.  One thing I find interesting is how many strongly/diametrically opposed points of view there are on the various forums.  Looks like there might be some social engineering efforts being undertaken on behalf of the various manufacturers.

 

I agree that it would be fun to try out one of the Neoshell jackets to see how it performs.  I would also like to hear about how well Neoshell does in a long-term test.  Do the pores/spaces that air passes through get gopped up reducing the fabric's breathability?

 

STE

post #4 of 25

Sounds like it's very breathable. I'd be more interested in how it handles the wet.  I would think wind penetration shouldn't be a problem, but wetting out is more of a concern.  Westcomb makes top notch stuff, I have one of their eVent jackets.  And my Mountain Hardware DryQ Elite jackets are essentially customized eVent as well.  I've tried Gore-Tex, not terribly impressed at all.  Would love to get a couple reviews of side-by-side with the Neoshell, eVent, and Gore.....fanboys need not apply. Discuss fabric feel, weight, permeability, waterproofness, and so forth.  A practical, real-world comparison straight up.  Sadly, I'm not splurging for a Neoshell......my lovely wife has already decreed that I have too many jackets LOL.

post #5 of 25

I have two Westcomb Neoshell jackets - Apoc and Chrome. Neoshell has one huge advantage over Goretex and Event - it's very soft and there's none of the crinkling, tin foil feel of the others. It's almost rubbery - but in a good way. When you compare, the Goretex seems like a product still in development.    

post #6 of 25

Interesting. Perhaps you can comment a bit more on the breathability and performance, weight, etc? I must say, though, the Gore stuff does feel really crinkly, but the eVent doesn't. It's quite soft.  Maybe Neoshell is softer, but eVent is quite soft in my opinion.

post #7 of 25

When it comes to skiing, I'd honestly be concerned with something that claims a lot more breathability than eVent. I feel that on cold windy days, it would be too cold. I already notice a slight cold chill from the breathability of eVent (compared to GoreTex). It's not bad at all, but I wouldn't want something more breathable for lift-served. I'll just take my jacket off when I hike.

 

For backcountry, I can certainly see the benefit of Neoshell, though.

post #8 of 25

Columbia/Mountain Hardware also came out with a "air permeable" fabric around the same time as Polartec Neoshell. It was a big story in the greater outdoor industry around fall '10/winter '11, with Neoshell appearing in various manufacturer lines and Columbia and Mountain Hardware with its own.

 

For its part, Gore-Tex came out with "ActiveShell" around that time, which wasn't air permeable but was supposed to be more breathable than traditional Gore-Tex.

post #9 of 25

HI guys.  Thanks for including one of my links.  I've done two lengthy comparisons of  various fabrics and jackets which included Neoshell and been using Neoshell fabrics now for the last two winters now starting a third.  I've used both the "hard" shells like the Westcomb Apoc and now the soft shells like a Marmot Zion.

 

Two more links to multiple part rticles that some may find interesting.  Hate the term "fan boy".  Disrespectful at best.  But no question my own experiences have made me a big advocate of Neoshell in its various forms.

 

Blog is generally climbing specific.  But only thing I do or liek as much as climbing, is skiing.  So what I use for climbing gets used for skiing.

The most recent on soft shell comments start here:

 

http://coldthistle.blogspot.com/2012/10/soft-shellsfinally.html

 

Last year's hard shell comments (there are 4 total) are here:

 

http://coldthistle.blogspot.com/2011/10/more-on-shells.html

post #10 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dane View Post

Blog is generally climbing specific.  But only thing I do or liek as much as climbing, is skiing.  So what I use for climbing gets used for skiing.

The most recent on soft shell comments start here:

 

http://coldthistle.blogspot.com/2012/10/soft-shellsfinally.html

 

Last year's hard shell comments (there are 4 total) are here:

 

http://coldthistle.blogspot.com/2011/10/more-on-shells.html

 

Thanks for posting those and welcome to this forum, I've been reading your blog with some interest since your Immersion Foot article. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dane View Post

 Hate the term "fan boy".  Disrespectful at best. 

 

 

Of course it is.    "Fan boy" and  "Fanboi"  were invented to express disrespect, annoyance, dismissal for those with undue (uninformed, unreasoned) allegiance.    Of course, those who misuse those terms are guilty of the same level of ignorance they pretend to dismiss. 

post #11 of 25

I'll be rocking the Marmot Zion Neoshell jacket this season and will keep you all posted. Can't wait to try it out. 

http://marmot.com/products/zion_jacket


Edited by prickly - 10/17/12 at 3:03am
post #12 of 25

Most people can quickly tell the difference between a fanboy review and an objective one.  No offense given, and none taken, so no worries. Your reviews, Dane, seem very up-front and honest, from what I can tell.  It's pretty easy to see how you believe in what you do and how you do reviews; you're not regurgitating marketing drivel from sponsor companies.

 

I'm curious how the Neoshell stacks up for skiing in cold and high wind conditions, specifically when it's really cold and windy like a typical lovely East coast ski day?  And also the durability of how it may stand up skiing in the trees when the conditions are very different than open air on the groomers with no obstructions.

 

Thoughts perhaps?  Or even anecdotal from someone here who has tried the Neoshell fabric in more "demanding, ski-specific" conditions?

post #13 of 25

Skiing? I spent 2 months skiing at least 2 or  3 days a week sometimes more in Chamonix two winters ago when it was storming too much to climb.  I used a Apoc Neoshell for that trip and all my skiing but the last day.  Temps typical on the Midi  were -20/-25c and always some wind at 13K feet.  Weather was damn cold at times and the Apoc's Neoshell is one of the thinnest around.  Brilliant piece.  I was concerned about the breathability in our normal PNW conditions.  But I ended up skiing much more when I got home at Crystal and Alpental that year.  My season finally ened in early September after the volcanos played out.  Pretty good test imo to see what a shell material would do...hiking up and skiing down in all sorts of weather.

 

Bunch of skiing specific comments on gear @ the blog.

 

In that time I used the Apoc and the other shells I listed in the hard shell review for skiing.  The Apoc was certainly one of the best.  Over all the Neoshell was the best imo for weather protection.  And I have all the current technologies to play with.  Neoshell in a insulated version?  For skiing even better I think, being warmer.    It is the material it is laminated ot that makes it tough not the laminate itself.      

 

Long term durabilty I have no clue.  I have only used the stuff for a couple of years.  And by comparison nothing I use now gets used as hard as it would if I was spending the entire season in just ski boots.

 

The real question is not how Neoshell stacks up..that is a given.  It is how that PARTICULAR Neoshell stacks up.  Vey few real comaprisons between the Marmot Zion's Neoshell fabric and Westcomb's Apoc's neoshell.  Apples and oranges imo for use and obvious durability.  They both breath very well and they are both 100% water proof.  In one you can climb limestone off width in and likely not show any wear.  The other you would shred in short order, but its over all weight I suspect with out looking is under half of the Zion's.

 

The newest Goretex is good as well as are the RAB versions and Event's latest.  Few flies in the crowd.  Too much at stake.  But the real difference in the best is not the materail even if I do give the floor to Neoshell....it is the pattern and detailing on the garments and if you have used the right fabric to lay your laminate on...doesn't mateter if that is Epic, Neoshell or Goretex.   Consumer has to be smart enough (which i admit is not easy these days) to pick the right garment for your own use.  Because you can bet that garment is actually out there.

post #14 of 25

Very interesting.  After reading all 4 parts of your review/analysis, I was thinking the same thing.  How is the Neoshell used, on what weight jacket, for what use, etc, etc?  Just like there are many "ski jackets" of varying weights, durability, styling, fit, etc....even in the same material (Gore-Tex, for example).

 

I'm nearly identical to your size (I've lost 30lbs now) and find that certain companies' cuts fit far better on me now, and many others don't.  I found Westcomb jackets to fit rather short in the torso (and far too roomy if I size up) for me, so I'm selling my Mirage jacket.  Mountain Hardware stuff now doesn't fit me as well, it's too generous in the torso in an XL, but too short in the arms and torso if I size down to a L.  So now I've gotten Arc'teryx jackets (Atom LT, Rush) even though I'm not a fan of Gore-Tex overall.  EVent (and DryQ Elite, by extension) are far better.  But the one type I have not tried is a Neoshell.  And it sounds like there's quite a variety/difference between how it's used amongst different manufacturers/companies.

 

I wish there were even just one Neoshell jacket somewhere near me so I could just see it and feel it in person.  I'm not doubting it's properties, but I simply cannot buy an expensive jacket online and hope it fits properly.  Shipping to/from Canada is practically extortion by most online retailers, so no way I'm taking a chance and then shipping it back if it doesn't fit.  Even when I got my Arc'teryx shell, I tried probably 10 different models in various sizes, trying to find JUST the right one (and I did it all in person).

 

The Apoc looks very promising, but I'm very hesitant due to the short fit of my current Westcomb shell that I'm not looking to sell.  Where are the companies that make tall-ish, trim-ish fitting tech jackets?  Seriously, do they think everyone is "hefty" nowadays where shorter and boxy is necessary?  SIGH.

 

I guess I'd be looking for a durable, more heavyweight ski-oriented Neoshell jacket. Similar to an Arc'teryx AR-styled model.  SV or SL equivalent would be too extreme on the opposite ends of the spectrum I'd imagine for most "typical" ski shells.  Non-insulated (or lightly insulated as in a thin liner material, but not necessarily Coreloft/Primaloft, etc infill). There aren't many out there, but I'd certainly appreciate any advice or info you may have.  Great to have your expertise here, much appreciated.


Edited by Gunnerbob - 10/17/12 at 1:45pm
post #15 of 25

post #16 of 25

Bob I have no clue what you like to ski in.  I typically try to ski cold.  Freeze my ass on the way up and try not to over heat on the way down if I ma lifts.  So thin hat, thin gloves, thin pants and a shell with a bit of insulation. On the cold days up high In Cham I skied with a down sweater, long johns and a pair of soft shell salopettes and the Apoc.  I found a XL Apoc to have long sleeves, long body and  a decent cut on the body's torso.  Not too roomy.  I would expect the Large to be similar and actually fit me now bit I have not tried one.  It was chilly on the Vallée Blanche's 20k runs.  Hut half way down but two runs was a decent day for me.  3 was a full day.   Hard to get the clothing right with a long run and almost 10K drop.   

 

In the picture above I snugged the jacket up to my climbing harness  incase we needed crevasse stuff.  So it was  much longer than it shows here.

 

On a some what different  line of thought the two jackets I expect to ski in this winter will be the Marmot Zion (the insulated Neoshell soft shell) and the sleeper in the conversaion that I REALLY like as an insulated jacket for nasty winter conditions, the Eddie Bauer BC Micro Therm.  I love that jacket for a number of reasons.  Skied in it when I had the chance last winter and climbed in it more.  The thing rocks.  Water proof, breathes very well, vents even better and is warm.  But not too warm generally.  Worth a look.  It is everything and more than what EB claims.  Cheap to by comparison and a really simple jacket.

 

Even now I can wear either a XL or a L in the Micro Therm depending on what under it.  XL is the better of the two sizes for me even now I think to get the most from the jacket.   Way fun to start thinking about skiing again!!!  Thanks for the conversation, . 

post #17 of 25

Thanks for the info Dane, much appreciated!  I'll do some more research and see what might work.  Looking forward to the upcoming products for this season.

post #18 of 25

I recently purchased the Westcomb Apoc.  I read Dane's blog and comments here before purchasing this jacket.  There are also some very good videos on YouTube from a ski mountaineer and a Westcomb designer about this jacket.   I also considered the Zion, but rejected it because Marmot told me its hood was not helmet compatible.   I do not have access to Rab (on pro discount), but I understand they produce a NeoShell jacket.  An instructor at one area I teach at purchased the Westcomb Switch (I think, it is a really light shell with one pocket) and he was duly impressed with it after a January thaw rainstorm in New Hampshire.

 

I wrote a review on this site for the Apoc.  Thus far (my review is initial) is that NeoShell does deliver what it says it does: (1) functional water proofness; and (2) improved breathability over other WPB laminates.  I hope to add more comments as I get more time with this shell in 4 seasons.  I would say that NeoShell absolutely outperforms H2No, and is better than Gore products in a shell.  I have a pair of DryQ Elite (a type of Event I understand), and that product also works very well, plus Mountain Hardwear sells pants with inseam lengths, which is a real plus for me. 

post #19 of 25

Skied most of the season in the Zion. I thought it was a little less windproof than my old Arcteryx softshell, but it really does shed water as advertised. 

post #20 of 25

Breathability is hands down better then gore-tex or eVent, but it is not as waterproof. Noeshell is rated at 10,000mm, gore-tex pac-lite is 20,000, and proshell is 45,000mm. I spent a month in AK this winter with mine and used it about 75% of the time. On some days though the weather was too nasty and some water was seeping through. We were also snow camping. If you are going back to a lodge or a house at the end of the day and your jacket can dry out, then you probably will not have any issues, but be care full if you plan on using it for extended winter travel. I was skeptical, and I'm really glad I had my arcteryx jacket with me in AK or I would have been screwed.

post #21 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdennis2456 View Post

Breathability is hands down better then gore-tex or eVent, but it is not as waterproof. Noeshell is rated at 10,000mm, gore-tex pac-lite is 20,000, and proshell is 45,000mm. I spent a month in AK this winter with mine and used it about 75% of the time. On some days though the weather was too nasty and some water was seeping through. We were also snow camping. If you are going back to a lodge or a house at the end of the day and your jacket can dry out, then you probably will not have any issues, but be care full if you plan on using it for extended winter travel. I was skeptical, and I'm really glad I had my arcteryx jacket with me in AK or I would have been screwed.

 

What kind of jacket were you using though? Some neoshell jackets are designed as soft shells which could allow water seepage through the seams, zippers etc if the weather was bad enough, and others are designed as hardshells where water shouldn't be able to get through. A 10,000mm water column should be far more than enough to protect you in a storm as far as the online literature goes.

post #22 of 25

I'm looking at the possibility of getting a Neoshell for myself. However, I do have some concerns to it. Does Neoshell keeps you warm in really cold weather? I know that its the mid-layer that provides warmth, but does a neoshell retains it, especially on a cold harsh winter? I easily get cold and going camping in the winter can get risky if you're not using the right gear, and I'm kinda worried about this.

post #23 of 25

Depends on what you are doing.  If you need the breathability and weather proof, Neoshell is a very good answer.  If you need warmth you'll likely not breath as well through the insulation layers anyway.  So the choice is less critical imo.    In a direct comparison between shell materials I find Neoshell..("hard" shells not soft shells) to be less wind proof but always more breathable. 

 

http://coldthistle.blogspot.com/2013/01/alpha-fl-and-shift-lt-shells.html

post #24 of 25

    I do not ski anymore, but I believe that my new Neoshell rain gear would be amazing for it. Contact Lou Binik @ Foxwear.net. He makes the gear from scratch, so it fits perfectly (I'm 6'-4"). He also has 3 different thicknesses of Neoshell, midweight and heavyweight have a fleece like inside. Neoshell stretches too. I wore my Neoshell rain pants and Goretex fusion jacket at the same time to compare, 55 degrees, light rain, pretty strong effort, 5 mile commute. Goretex, with t-shirt underneath was cold/clammy, Neoshell was WAY more comfortable. I ordered my jacket from Lou the very next day. The pants are midweight fabric, the jacket that Lou made for me has midweight front, collar, and sleeves, the shoulders are heavyweight, and the back is made of lightweight Neoshell. I cannot say enough about Lou, he responds quickly to e-mails, mails fabric swatches to help you decide, discusses options etc. for your choices, and make them exactly to your size! How could anyone beat that? Check out Foxwear and the reviews of Foxwear (and Lou too!), you will only hear praise because he's that good!

    I live in Canada, and bike to work year round, -30 to 100F, rain or shine. 51 years old, but drive when snows more than 2".

post #25 of 25
My only experience with neoshell is with a pair of 3-4 year old Flylow Especial pants. I haven't really tested their wateproof abilities, but by far more breatheable than the one XCR jacket I own (Marmot), and quieter, with softer hand, but as mentioned, probably has more to do with the fabric the membrane is laminated to than the membrane itself.

IMO the best application for this particular incarnation of neoshell is touring. I prefer something more impervious to wind, and maybe even insulated with good venting options for lift-served, but for breatheability with constant high aerobic activity, I think neoshell is hard to beat without going shell-less.
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