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New Jacket

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
I am thinking about purchasing my first softshell jacket and I am looking for some suggestions. I currently just have a Helly Hansen hardshell, but I really need to layer up underneath it. So any suggestions would be helpful.
post #2 of 28
I'm very happy with the Marmot Storm King.
post #3 of 28
I’d have the same question.
Also – is it better to get good “heavy” softshell or lighter one and use thin gorotex windbraker on top of it when it is really windy, cold or raining?
post #4 of 28
'Softshells' actually run a wide spectrum of materials, construction, and features. There are shells like Patagonia's Dimension and Ready Mix that look just like tradiional hardshells (hood, cut to cover hips) but are made with breathable material, and there are ones that look (for lack of a better comparison) sort of like a track jacket, but still have a wide and conflicting range of features and materials - examples are Cloudveil's classic Serendipity, Mountain Hardwear's Alchemy, Arc'teryx's Sigma and Gamma models and countless more.

Some have windproof membranes which are warmer (and, duh, windproof) but inhibit the breathability, some have fleece linings of various thicknesses, some are cut trim and some roomy, some have hoods and some none, some have heavier fabric reinforcements on key wear areas, some are designed for mountaineering and some for area skiing...and so on and so forth. There are a lot of excellent softshells out there, but you have to know what you want to get good advice.

So it wold be helpful of the posters were to give a little info on where and how they ski, and what they're looking for in terms of features, and maybe a little info on the rest of their layering system. Because pretty soon, a number of people are likely to chime in on this thread stating that they like the softshell that they happen to own and that's what you should get, and the shells will be as different as day and night.
post #5 of 28
Bob is 100% right. The term 'softshell' is being applied to a VERY wide range of clothing.

One huge difference is do you want to wear the softshell as outerwear or as a layer in a 3 layer system?? The correct 'answer' will vary.
post #6 of 28
Another post of agreement with Bob.

I had an LL Bean softshell last year that had a finely woven outer fabric and a fleece fuzz on the inside. It sort of felt like wetsuit material -- thick and squishy. It was OK, but the fit was not real comfortable because the fabric was so stiff. And it wasn't very breathable.

This year I bought a Mountain Hardware "Offwidth" softshell. They have three versions -- two with fleece or other insulation, but I bought the basic uninsulated version. It's still wind and water resistant (due to the tight weave) but is a lot lighter feeling, fits extremely well, is comfortable, and breathes wonderfully. This would be my jacket of choice in all but the worst cold/windy/wet weather, when I pull out a GoreTex shell.

Decide what features you want in a softshell, and shop accordingly. And be aware that the fit varies. In general softshells are trimmer and fit tighter than standard jackets -- the idea is that they form the outer layer of your system of multiple wicking layers. Most softshell jackets will end up fitting like a slightly loose dress shirt. Some still fit like coats -- just depends on the brand and model.
post #7 of 28
Thread Starter 
I want the softshell as my outer layer, so I do want it to be windproof. I plan on wearing a base layer, like Under Armor and then some type of fleece, depending on how cold or hot it is. Then the softshell, unless you have some other suggestions.

I mostly ski in the in PA, at night so the temps are normally in the 20's.
post #8 of 28
well, I'm a north face guy, and since that is all i have experience with, I can only offer up those reccomendations!

I'm not sure what constitutes a soft-shell to you as that term is being applied quite broadly. However, the two soft-shells (well, what I consider soft shells) that I have had experience with are:
The North Face Falcon Stretch Jacket
The North Face Mountain Guide Jacket (I think that's the name).

I find them both absolutely great for layering, mobility, and warmth. The Falcon had more storage options and bells and whisltes if that is a concern. I've never had a problem with Northface.

Best of luck to you! Hope you find something that keep syou happy and warm!
post #9 of 28
Both the Falcon and Mtn Guide are traditional shells. If you look on the TNF website, they have a whole other category for soft shells with many choices. Some of the Apex jackets are decent.
post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by River Hill View Post
I want the softshell as my outer layer, so I do want it to be windproof. I plan on wearing a base layer, like Under Armor and then some type of fleece, depending on how cold or hot it is. Then the softshell, unless you have some other suggestions.

I mostly ski in the in PA, at night so the temps are normally in the 20's.
I would vote for the Mountain Hardwear Alchemy Jacket then. It's so warm that you won't need a fleece under it -- seriously. Its a pretty tight fit, so it's hard to even fit a fleece under it. Two thin long-sleeve shirts and that jacket and you'll be good for temps way lower then the mid-Atlantic usually sees. If you search these forums, you'll find some Alchemy jacket reviews -- there's a lot of people who like it. Not cheap, but you can usually find one on eBay for a good discount.
post #11 of 28
Just skied this weekend in my new Arcteryx Scorpion Jacket. It was unbelievably cold out--if you don't believe me, maybe Powdr or Mr. Crab can validate. The Arcteryx was amazing in its ability to keep me warm. So thin, so warm, so comfortable.
post #12 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by River Hill View Post
I want the softshell as my outer layer, so I do want it to be windproof. I plan on wearing a base layer, like Under Armor and then some type of fleece, depending on how cold or hot it is. Then the softshell, unless you have some other suggestions.

I mostly ski in the in PA, at night so the temps are normally in the 20's.
Isn't that how you layer with your current jacket? I have a Helly too and I find it is fine as long as I have all of the other right stuff...warm pants, good gloves that cinch down, warm helmet/hat, neck gaitor, etc.
post #13 of 28
I looked at about a dozen different softshells from various companies and ended up with the Patagonia White Smoke. It fit me best and it is a ski specific jacket that had the features I wanted. The outside fabric is very nice, has welded seams, and has water proof panels on the shoulders and elbow area. It is also very good in wind and is designed for layers underneath.
post #14 of 28
I use a Northface Apex softshell under a Northface Hyvent hard shell all of which i purchased last Feb . I ski mostly in the Northern Adirondacks and Tremblant .

It can get very cold -10 degreesF ambient temp w/o windchill is not unusual. When its really bad i use one of the original versions of the Columbia Titanium, it is damn near BULLETPROOF .

I spring days i'll use a Descente shell
post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Warp daddy View Post
When its really bad i use one of the original versions of the Columbia Titanium, it is damn near BULLETPROOF .

Gert Boyle sure knows how to make a warm ski jacket!
post #16 of 28
OH yeah , only drawback is thatits a might heavy compared to teh Northface --BUT hey who's bitchin
post #17 of 28
Thread Starter 
I just looked at the Marmot Sharp Point and the Patagonia White Smoke, both were very nice. The Marmot did not have much room for more then a base layer, but the White smoke had plenty of room. I do the the Marmot Sharp Point felt warmer, but I was inside. I wish they had the Alchemy to check out.
post #18 of 28
The Sharp Point has more of thier "tech fit" and is not meant to be layered much. The Storm King is similar in materials but made for colder weather so it has a hood and more room for layering.
post #19 of 28
Thread Starter 
Epic so I guess the Storm King would be a more all around ski jacket? I was just at the Marmot website and the Vortec looks pretty good as well.

For those who have went with Tech Jackets that are form fitted, do you wish you would have purchased a different jacket so you could layer a little more? Maybe the a tech fit would keep me from layering so much and I would be good with just a thicker base layer?
post #20 of 28
That jacket looks pretty similar to the STorm King. FWIW - I also have the ATV jacket which is of little use other than layering or for spring skiing on a very warm day. Marmot classifies thier soft shells as M1, M2 or M3 with the Storm King, Sharp Pint and Vortec being M1 and the ATV being M3. I'd like to get an M2 jacket for the inbetween days.
post #21 of 28
I have been looking for a new softshell ski jacket for the last 6 months. I tried on about every brand and style of softshell I could get my hands on. As someone mentioned before, softshells are a complex breed. Basically anything that doesn't classify as a regular waterproof breathable (ie gore-tex) can be called a softshell. There are so many different weights and materials used.

I wasted alot of time, but I finally figured out what type of jacket I wanted: a ski specific softshell. These are very rare.

In my research, most softshells seem to be made more for hiking/climbing than skiing. They are form fitting, with various weights and thicknesses. If I wanted a looser fit for skiing, I needed to size up, but then it didn't fit well.

I finally found a few softshells made specifically for skiing: the Marmot Storm King & Vortec, Patagonia White Smoke, Arcteryx Sidewinder Comp & Seeker Comp.

They all look and fit like a ski jacket. In addition the arcteryx and patagonia jackets are hybrids (hard shell on shoulders for waterproofness and softshell on body for breathability). In the end I went with the patagonia. It fits like their other ski jackets (room for layers underneath), has a nice high collar, removable hood, and fit me the best. I think unless it is raining, it should be weatherproof enough for skiing.
post #22 of 28
Nobody said anything about the materials. They are the key. The brand is not important. A true soft shell does not have a membrane. A true soft shell has outstanding breathability. It is neither waterproof nor windproof.

I have been looking for a soft shell last spring. I found it. It is made of Schoeller WB-400 fabric.
Schoeller also makes the Dryskin which is extremely breathable too, but offers less water and wind resistance. I have a Dryskin jacket and will buy two more WB-400 jackets.

If you want to know the truth about soft and hard shells click on the link from www.verber.com and scroll down until you see the chart that is the best: http://www.verber.com/mark/outdoors/...a-testing.html

To my knowledge, nothing beats Schoeller's fabrics. Not even powershield. If you want to know more about powershield click on this link from www.bushwalking.org.au: http://www.bushwalking.org.au/FAQ/FAQ_Softshell.htm
post #23 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by sywsyw View Post
A true soft shell does not have a membrane. A true soft shell has outstanding breathability. It is neither waterproof nor windproof.
This may be your definition or one you've read. But there is no official definition. Some manufacturers define hardshells as being water proof and softshells as not. Other manufacturers define the difference between the two by the outer material with softshells have a "softer feel". Softshells can be fairly windproof. It depends on the manufacturer.
post #24 of 28
Yes you can call it my definition.

Manufacturers can claim whatever they want. I don't have to listen to what they're claiming. I found what i was looking for: the ultimate in breathability with good weather protection. I will wear my soft shell everyday except rainy days (i won't be skiing in the rain anyway). I hope other people will find what they are looking for.
post #25 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thank you for all of your help. I picked up a Patagonia White Smoke. I think it will suit my needs the best, as I can layer if needed.
post #26 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by River Hill View Post
Thank you for all of your help. I picked up a Patagonia White Smoke. I think it will suit my needs the best, as I can layer if needed.
Smart choice.
post #27 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by River Hill View Post
Thank you for all of your help. I picked up a Patagonia White Smoke. I think it will suit my needs the best, as I can layer if needed.
Very nice jacket Prefer the layering and hybrid concept also...

When you want to add to your collection - For warmer days - and can be used for layering - checkout the North Face Apex Magic.
post #28 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by pcskier View Post
Just skied this weekend in my new Arcteryx Scorpion Jacket. It was unbelievably cold out--if you don't believe me, maybe Powdr or Mr. Crab can validate. The Arcteryx was amazing in its ability to keep me warm. So thin, so warm, so comfortable.
Great thread as I am interested in the same as the OP. This jacket looks good to me but I was wondering if you use the internal fleece and does it make it too warm, I usually layer ie icebreaker t shirt, thin fleece then jacket.

I normally prefer not to go icebreker t shirt, then jacket with attached fleece. To me it is more practical to have a fleece separate from the jacket so when taking jacket off you still have a fleece on. Just interested in your experiences

Also, I don't normally get that cold.

Cheers
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