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Softshell Choices

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Hi, Havent bought any outer layer gear in years. Read about hard and soft shells, DWR, goretex still seems to be around and many others... very confusing - the marketing dept's have been working overtime!

Anyway, I am looking at getting a softshell which should be useful 80% of the time - ski Tahoe. That is, If I am understanding the technology and real world application correctly.


Here are two softshells Im considering. If anyone is fimilar with them and could share their opinions it would be appreciated. As I do not purchase shells very often - every 7/8 years - these purchases are for the longterm


http://www.sierratradingpost.com/p/2...t-For-Men.html

http://www.sierratradingpost.com/pro...x?baseno=44105


Not sure why this one is so much more expensive. Am I missing something? I do like the pitzips, but, if these things breathe well and with a full front zip, perhaps not as necessary as pitzips in a hard shell? And, one of the two Im considering doubles as a vest - perhaps better than pit zips? Then again, could be a hassle trying to find a place to stash the arms when skiing - what a strange problem to have:

http://www.sierratradingpost.com/p/,41886_.html

thanks!
post #2 of 24
Both jackets you picked are not soft shells. They are windstopper fleece. That's a totally different animal then a soft shell. Checkout some of the other jackets that are listed as soft shell. I just bought a Cloudvail softshell from Them that has to go back way to thin for skiing. It would makea great jacket for summer hiking but I'm covered there.
post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 
Ok, but these two are listed as a softshell, same material - and - same weight? Very confusing...

http://www.sierratradingpost.com/p/,41886_.html

http://www.sierratradingpost.com/p/1...t-For-Men.html
post #4 of 24
These are not waterproof and that's why Utah49 is telling you they're not soft shells. As for skiing in Tahoe wouldn't you want something waterproof? and maybe something with a powder skirt? You really should go look at them in person. -even if it's not the exact model. This is a very good time of year to buy ski gear.
Some things listed as "soft shells" stretch and some do not. I always thought that some stretch was part of the definition of a soft shell. (Otherwise everything's a soft shell no?)
post #5 of 24
If you really want true a softshell, get one without a membrane. Goretex and Windstopper are membranes and reduce the breathability. The windstopper almost kills it. Anyone seen Patagonia's response to a question on a different forum? They test different materials and the differences are huge.

IMO if you want the best get a soft shell with Schoeller Dryskin for warmer weather and WB-400 for colder weather.

If anyone wants to know more on these materials PM me for some great links IMO.
Jamie
post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 
The thought is to use this fleece/softshell most of the time - somewhat water resistant, wind resistant and BREATHEs are most impoortant. For the other 20%, when its dumping or wet,. I would use a hardshell. I have read threads which people mentioned using windstopper type fleeces when its misting or lightly snowing on and off throughout the day with good results. Perhaps Im all wet with this approach...

Tog is correct - I need to go shop a bit and get educated...
post #7 of 24
I do have a windstopper jacket. It is nice for those days in the high 30s to 40s and dry! It would do in light snow. I also just bought a Marmot soft shell it has some stretch and is Ok for warmth seems to be good in moderate snow but not as good as other hard shell jackets I own. Take a look over at Overstock.com they have a few well made Jackets by Serac for $25.00 to $50.00 on sale check my thread in the Gear swap section. They also havea very inexpensive soft shell jacket. I have no idea of the quality But the Serac Jackets i own have been very good and I would not hesitate to buy another Serac if I needed another ski jacket.
post #8 of 24

Softshell v. Windproof Fleece

I have two softshells (different weights). I use them for 90% of my skiing. I think I wore my ski jacket twice this winter.

The first two items you linked are windproof fleece. On direct inspection you will see that a windproof fleece has an exterior finish like fleece. Softshells are another animal. They are a tight woven synthetic that repels water and is tight enough that it blocks the wind.

UTah49 is right there are some great deals on ski jackets at Overstock.com, including a few decent deals on softshells. I bought three jackets there yesterday.http://www.overstock.com/cgi-bin/d2.cgi?PAGE=ENDECA&searchtype=hpheader&N=0&keyword s=mens+softshell
post #9 of 24
I'll echo ski-dad'd comments, and try to offer what I think might help to clear up the confusion. Fleece jackets sometimes use the Gore Windstopper membrane. I believe the same membrane can also be used in soft shell jackets - so you could have a windstopper fleece right next to a windstopper softshell. They are not the same thing.

For what it's worth, I wear my softshell 90% of the time when skiing. It is the Schoeller WB400 fabric.
post #10 of 24
For a good explaination on the differences between Hard and soft Shell Jackets go to www.arcteryx.com. I think you will get a better grasp on the technology there. Arcteryx make great clothes that are bombproof but their prices are higher than Giraffe Pussy. If money is no object go with Arcteryx.
post #11 of 24
I picked up one of these a little while back and have been very happy with it. Its waterproff and breathes very well.

http://www.rei.com/online/store/ProductDisplay?storeId=8001&catalogId=40000008001& productId=48027460&parent_category_rn=40003636
post #12 of 24
Thread Starter 
Funny thing, I was just at REI last night getting educated on Softshells. Never thought buying a coat would be such a PITA. Tried two REI brands, a Acrtylex(sp?) and two different Marmots -all fit very differently - and - unfortunately I didnt like any of the fits. Its turnig out to be more difficult than buying ski boots!

The Synchro you pointed out looks like a fuller cut? Does it have a longer length? More like a parka than a jacket?

Although I have an athletic/lean build - 6'2" 185 I prefer the parka/fleece/slightly oversized style more than the trim/form fit. Part of that is b/c my torso is longer and jackets just seem too short. I guess I could order them, have them shipped to the store and if they dont fit return them. I hate doing that kinda stuff.... After trying on those different brands I am very gun shy about ordering a softshell over the internet.
post #13 of 24
Make sure you are getting a true softshell.
post #14 of 24

One more possibility.

Kuma:

As you're seeing, the whole topic of "softshell" is extremely confusing. I believe, but can't say for sure, that the term softshell was first coined to describe the Schoeller fabric that was referenced above. As more and more manufacturers have jumped into the category, those that don't actually license the Schoeller fabric have needed to dream up different names (and fabrics) for similar garments. They've done the same thing with waterproof, breatheable alternatives to Gore-Tex.

Schoeller is probably still the gold standard of softshell fabrics, but they're quite expensive.

I own three different "softshell" jackets; a Cloudveil Serendipity, a Columbia "Titanium" whatever (bought for $50 in a Cabela's online sale), and a Moonstone Nordwand that I bought at SteepandCheap.com for $83.

The Moonstone...

http://www.backcountry.com/store/MNS...cket-Mens.html

has become my favorite jacket. It's very lightweight, seems to move well, seems very durable, and seems to be quite waterproof, windproof, and breatheable. I ended up using this jacket *only* on my recent heli trip to Valdez. I wore a single layer capilene zipper top underneath and this Moonstone jacket as my outer layer. I was dry and not-too-hot, not-too-cold the whole time. I really like that jacket and you might want to consider it.

Here's what it looks like "in the field":

post #15 of 24
Thread Starter 
Yeah, schoeller fabrics are nice. I will be skiing Squaw this Thursday or Friday and I know a local shop that has a couple schoeller products left. I should be able to try them on and see how they fit. Someone mentioned in another thread that it doesnt matter how good it is unless it fits - I now know what they were talking about.

Forgot to mention , I also went to ski shop yesterday and a softshell that fit really well was a Salomon Whistler - 1/2 off for $80. Never heard of the fabric though - actitherm? Anyone filimar with it? Only drawback was it almost seemed too heavy for my personal tastes - I prefer layers.
post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters

Schoeller is probably still the gold standard of softshell fabrics, but they're quite expensive.
Schoeller Dryskin and WB-400 rule
WB-Formula is crap. This goes for all membranes out there. We don't need no stinking membrane!
post #17 of 24

mountain hardwear softshells

Kuma, you are correct, the Synchro has a fuller fit than many of the softshells. It is also waterproof. I tried the MH Alchemy (as well as a few other brands) and found that although it was somewhat willing to stretch, it seemed too restrictive. The Synchro is much more comfortable for me, and it is still tapered enough to not be too loose. By the way, Mountain Gear is one of the largest Mountain Hardwear dealers and they have an excellent return policy. At times they offer some pretty good sales on their website, but I have not checked it in a couple of weeks. Good luck.
post #18 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters
Kuma:

As you're seeing, the whole topic of "softshell" is extremely confusing. I believe, but can't say for sure, that the term softshell was first coined to describe the Schoeller fabric that was referenced above. As more and more manufacturers have jumped into the category, those that don't actually license the Schoeller fabric have needed to dream up different names (and fabrics) for similar garments. They've done the same thing with waterproof, breatheable alternatives to Gore-Tex.

Schoeller is probably still the gold standard of softshell fabrics, but they're quite expensive.

I own three different "softshell" jackets; a Cloudveil Serendipity, a Columbia "Titanium" whatever (bought for $50 in a Cabela's online sale), and a Moonstone Nordwand that I bought at SteepandCheap.com for $83.

The Moonstone...

http://www.backcountry.com/store/MNS...cket-Mens.html

has become my favorite jacket. It's very lightweight, seems to move well, seems very durable, and seems to be quite waterproof, windproof, and breatheable. I ended up using this jacket *only* on my recent heli trip to Valdez. I wore a single layer capilene zipper top underneath and this Moonstone jacket as my outer layer. I was dry and not-too-hot, not-too-cold the whole time. I really like that jacket and you might want to consider it.

Here's what it looks like "in the field":

Bob, thanks for the report. I am interested in the Moonstone, was wondering about it's use in 25-40 degree temps. With no vents was wondering if it would get a bit hot. I have a sessions hardshell that doesn't breath well and My silks and poly get wet from persperation. This looks good tho. Any inside pockets? And what about sizing? go with normal or big or smaller than usual?
Thanks, Mark
post #19 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by mkevenson
Bob, thanks for the report. I am interested in the Moonstone, was wondering about it's use in 25-40 degree temps. With no vents was wondering if it would get a bit hot. I have a sessions hardshell that doesn't breath well and My silks and poly get wet from persperation. This looks good tho. Any inside pockets? And what about sizing? go with normal or big or smaller than usual?
Thanks, Mark
Funny you should ask, Mark.

I just got a pm from another EpicSkier who actually HATES this same jacket. He said it seems to not be waterproof (or even resistant) and have lousy breatheability.

I replied that mine really seems to be excellent at beading water (I've skied it in a wet snowstorm with rain mixed in and stayed dry). I haven't done any really heavy hiking in it yet, so I guess my breatheability judgement might change. I have skied in it all day for about ten days and never overheated (just comfortably warm).

For now, my review is that it seems super comfortable and I've skied it in temps from about 10 degrees (F) to about 35.

Despite my opinion, it seems like there are some seriously mixed reviews. It may well be that the breatheability will be an issue once I start skinning or booting in it.

To be fair, however, I haven't found a jacket yet that I don't overheat in while going up anything fairly steep. I usually just take the jacket off and put it back on when I get to the top. That doesn't work too well, of course, if it's snowing or raining out. In those cases, I either get wet from sweating with the jacket on or from precipitation if it's off. The only thing I can wear while hiking heavily uphill is a cheapo Marmot Precip jacket with all the zippers open.
post #20 of 24
Thread Starter 
Sounds like you have lots of practicial expereince with softshells! It would be interesting to know how you would compare the Cloudveil (schoeller) to Moonstone. Is one better for warmer days, less windy, wetter conditions...and as mkevenson mentioned, the fit. The pics of the Moonstone make it look fitted/athletic. A pic of the Serindipity looks a bit fuller?
post #21 of 24
I believe the "Soft Shell" word was conceived by Patagonia when they launched their Regulator line in the early 90s. But the british alpinists have been using the concept for quite a time before that in the form of Buffalo, a mountain clothing brand cherished by old school british alpinists.

The best two articles I've ever read in the Soft Shell issue are:

http://www.psychovertical.com/?cuthecrap

http://www.psychovertical.com/?thebestsoftshell
post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuma
Sounds like you have lots of practicial expereince with softshells! It would be interesting to know how you would compare the Cloudveil (schoeller) to Moonstone. Is one better for warmer days, less windy, wetter conditions...and as mkevenson mentioned, the fit. The pics of the Moonstone make it look fitted/athletic. A pic of the Serindipity looks a bit fuller?
Here's my personal softshell evolution. Sorry for the long-winded account, but it might help you understand my preferences and why they might not be for everyone.

First off, I was a sucker for soft shell from the very beginning because I have NEVER had good luck with Gore-Tex. I've probably had a half-dozen Gore-Tex garments over the years and not a single one of them has kept me dry in a hard rain or heavy snowstorm. Not only that, Gore-Tex garments are noisy and I personally don't feel they're worth a crap when it comes to breatheability in a heavy-exertion scenario. YMMV. So, I was a perfect target customer for a concept that offered something different.

I started out with the Cloudveil and liked it a lot. Wore it quite a bit last year during ski season and also for hikes in the mountains during spring and fall. It seemed pretty good at keeping me dry in mild or sporadic showers and light snow. It was also quite warm. I liked it so much that when I got an email from Cabela's offering a Columbia "soft shell" for $50, I figured "WTH, I'll get another cheap one so that I don't wear out the Cloudveil as quickly".

Oddly enough, I liked the finish, fit, fabric, and performance of the Columbia so much that I started wearing *it* more than I did the Cloudveil. As time went by, I realized that what I disliked about the Cloudbveil is its warmth. It seems to be a heavier weave than the Columbia and I tend to be VERY warm-blooded by nature. Staying warm in the winter is almost never a problem for me and the Cloudveil actually seems too warm if I've got it zipped up and I'm quite active. The Columbia feels like it has a bit less bulk to it than the Cloudveil, so I eventually realized that I liked the Columbia better.

Then, this past February, I got a daily SteepandCheap.com alert that showed this Moonstone jacket for what seemed like a good price. Again, I figured I could use it as a grubbing-around jacket if necessary and I wasn't out too much if I didn't like it.

Here's where the fit part comes in. The Moonstone *is* a more trim or athletic cut than my other two jackets. I ordered it in a Large (I wear a 41 or 42-long sport coat) based on the fit chart on the web page. When the package arrived, it was a XL instead. Well, it didn't feel *too* bad and I'm the world's worst when it comes to returning things, so I decided to just keep it. It turned out to be perfect in Alaska because I was always wearing a beacon and always carrying an SLR digital camera underneath that jacket. It couldn't have worked out more perfectly. It's a little bit big if I just have a shirt on and nothing else, but I've decided I like the fit larger. I think if you just used it for in-resort skiing, biking, hiking, and whatnot, then the "normal" fit would be the way to go.

Anyway, when it arrived I started wearing it. It is a considerably lighter-weight weave than either of my other jackets and I loved it from day one. My normal clothing arrangement for skiing is a lightweight capilene zipper-top shirt and my outer-layer jacket. If it's super-cold (below zero F), I'll add a mid-weight fleece. If it's moderately cold (0 - 20 F) and I don't expect to be working very hard, I'll add a second capilene top. That's pretty much it for me and I know that's quite a bit less than most people wear. But I found that my standard layering just works really well with this jacket.

So the Moonstone just feels perfect for me. Now, keep in mind also that much of my skiing typically involves riding a tram or a gondola in-resort or booting/skinning in the backcountry. I don't spend a huge amount of time on exposed chairlifts and I think that's where it becomes necessary to wear much warmer clothing.

Given my normal routine and my preferences, this Moonstone is just right.

At this point, the Cloudveil is my least favorite soft shell. Go figure.
post #23 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuma
The Synchro you pointed out looks like a fuller cut? Does it have a longer length? More like a parka than a jacket?

Although I have an athletic/lean build - 6'2" 185 I prefer the parka/fleece/slightly oversized style more than the trim/form fit. Part of that is b/c my torso is longer and jackets just seem too short. I guess I could order them, have them shipped to the store and if they dont fit return them. I hate doing that kinda stuff.... After trying on those different brands I am very gun shy about ordering a softshell over the internet.
I would consider it to be a fuller cut. I am about the same exact size as you and also prefer a little longer jacket.
post #24 of 24
I had to size up when buying a softshell earlier in the season (LL Bean model that was quite nice). Unfortunately, it never fit right and I returned it. My normal size is XL, but that was too tight (especially in the arms, which is odd since I have skinny arms). The XXL fit like a more traditional ski coat, but was too big around the waist and I really had to cinch it down. I tried on other brands of soft shells with similar results. The sizing is definitely non traditional, and it seems to be aimed at those with a trim athletic shape wearing minimal under layers.
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