Originally Posted by X-EastCoaster
Insulated jackets and especially those "System" jackets are typically made from less quality fabrics and materials that trap internal moisture - not to mention their design itself will trap moisture. While very warm, they have no where to put the water vapor from sweat and they end up getting you wet and then you get cold. I personally would (as others have done) recommend a high end shell (ie Gore Tex XCR) and some nice breathable layers. I had my first season with the "good stuff" this past year and what a difference. I thought I might be cold because of the thinness of the shells (I'm cold blooded by nature) but I ended being very warm and super-regulated - which made bell-to-bell days a joy!!
The base layers are important too - I got a bunch of expedition weight capalene stuff at the patagonia outlet (on sale for like $18 a pop
vs ~$60 retail) which is really warm yet very breathable and regulating. Sierratradingpost.com has lots of comparable generic baselayers for cheap.
Sorry but many high end insulated jackets exist. Some of them use gtx xcr (ie Rossignol). Other manufacturers chose other fabrics but saying they are not quality products is not true. The difference is that they use synthetic fabrics like Promaloft ot Thinsulate. And you know what? It doesn't make a big difference because both don't breathe well at all.
I really liked the title of your post. I thought you would say something about softshells. So i'll say something about softshells.
People, if you want breathable fabrics i suggest you look at softshells. They are far more breathable than hard shells. In fact, they don't compare. But you have to look for true softshells. A true softshell does not have a membrane. IMO Schoeller makes great softshell fabrics. They are probably the best in the world now.
And if you don't belive me, check out these links which will show you that i'm telling the truth. I found the links when i was looking for the most breathable fabrics available. And i found them.
Note how breathable Schoeller's Dryskin is compared to all of the other fabrics hereHere
is a GREAT website for more info on hardshells and softshells
is another good site
So, it is clear that soft shells rule. Some manufacturers claim that they can be used in 80 or 90% of the time spent on the slopes. I think that this claim depends on the weather conditions and is not very realistic. But 70% is realistic. For the rest of time (ie worst weather conditions) i will wear my hardshells (insulated and shell) which don't breathe very well at all. In fact, there is no reason to buy expensive hard shells because they are not more breathable than the other hard shells. So it really doesn't matter if i get an Arcteryx or a chaper hard shell. The results will be the same: water will not pass through the membrane but i won't breathe, either...
Don't worry about the cold. You can wear a fleece underneath the softshell or something even more breathable like the Dryskin. If it is colder, i will be wearing the WB-400 as my outer layer and the Dryskin as my mid layer. If you look at the Beyond fleece website you will see that it is even more mbreathable than fleece. It is as warm as a 200wt fleece.
Btw, if there is something more breathable than the Dryskin and WB-400 let me know.