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Arcteryx Hercules (powershield o2) vs Beyondclothing cold fusion (schoeller wb400)

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
I know softshells get talked about a lot, but I've got a question that pertains to a new model with a new (somewhat) material - polartec powershield O2.

I'm in the market for a softshell and I've narrowed it down to two options. The arcteryx hercules hoody or the beyondclothing cold fusion. I've tried on a number of softshells and I've found that a good fit is very important. I haven't tried the hercules, but I tried the griffon, which is a lower-loft version. The other option for getting a good fit is to go the custom route and get a Beyondclothing cold fusion. The arcteryx uses powershield o2. Has anyone heard of this variant? The beyond uses schoeller wb400.
My priorities from most to least important are: wind protection, water resistance, breathability, and warmth. Really though, I'm looking for a good balance of all those qualities. . I definitely don't need something completely windproof or waterproof. When the wind is howling, or it's raining steadily, I can throw on a waterproof shell. I just need something that will handle some drizzle or shed snow. The one use that I have the toughest time with is resort skiing. I usually work up a good sweat skiing and hiking and traversing when wearing a waterproof shell. That leaves me feeling clammy when I get back on the lifts.

-The arcteryx uses powershield O2, which malden mills made specifically for arcteryx. Because of its limited use, it's kinda hard to determine the qualities of it. I believe it's supposed to be more breathable than regular powershield, but I think that means a compromise in wind protection. I do know from trying it on, that it has a really nice interior that feels great and comfortable; almost like fur. Even though it's not super stretchy, it's very compliant, which makes it feel like it's not even there most of the time. I find some materials very stiff, which make them hard to move your arms and they can feel constricting.
-The beyond clothing cold fusion uses schoeller wb400. I've heard a lot of good things about the material in terms of wind and water protection and breathability. I tried a mammut laser on, which didn't fit well, but it uses the wb400. The material is pretty comfortable with a fleece interior and its very stretchy, which makes it easy to, well to stretch. It seemed stiffer than the arcteryx though, which made it feel a bit more constricting and noticeable that I was wearing it. Perhaps with a better fit, it will be as comfortable as the arcteryx.

-The shock is a new version of the cold fusion jacket. It offers gusseted under arms and articulated elbows, which is the same as the arcteryx. As an option, I can get pit zips on the cold fusion. The arcteryx doesn't have them. Both offer hoods.

-the beyondclothing with the options I want is $75 less expensive than the arcteryx, which is definitely something to consider.

Basically my hesitation with the arcteryx is its price and ability to keep me warm on the ski lifts. My hesitation with the cold fusion is that (warmth aside) it won't be as comfortable to wear as the arcteryx. Any insight would be appreciated.
post #2 of 3
It is good to see that more people are considering soft shells these days.

Here are some thoughts on the subject.

The powershield o2 is the high loft version of the regular powershield. That makes it warmer than the regular version. There are a few manufacturers offering high loft versions of the powershield. I have read somewhere that with most male skiers, the regular powersheild should be warm enough down to 0 degrees Celsius while the high loft should be good down to -10 or even -15 degrees Celsius with just a single base layer garment. -15 degrees Celsius? I find that hard to believe. I tried on a regular powershield jkt and IMO it would not be warm enough for 0 degrees Celsius w/ single base layer garment.

I own a Fila soft shell jkt w/ Schoeller Original Soft Shell. It is the best jkt i ever owned. The material is very similar or identical to the WB400. Fila did a great job with this jacket because they exceeded the specifications for the WB400. Most WB400 jkts have 12-14% PU foam. My jkt has 24%! That makes it warmer and more wind and water resistant than the regular WB400. I also own the Mammut Cerro Torre jkt. That jkt was not as warm as my Fila. The construction is bulletproof. The materials are warm and that is one of the reasons the jkt is warmer. It has waterproof zips. The only drawback is that it does not have a hood. I could not ski w/ a hood so i do not consider it a drawback. Here you can see it. I wore it down to -5 degrees Celsius w/ just a single base layer garment and spring gloves and i was very comfortable. The real test came one day when the wind was howling on top of the mountain. In the valley it was warm. I was wearing just a mid-weight base layer underneath, a powerstretch beanie with little wind protection and my spring gloves. I was very surprised to see that the wind was blowing soo hard on top of the mountain. My jkt kept me warm. If i wore a winter beanie and gloves it would be even better. At the end of my ski day i had to wait for a friend for 10-15 min. on top of the mountain. After 15 mins my hands started to cool down. Luckly, he came so i went home. That was definitely not the optimum setup but my jkt did everyting it could to keep me warm. I have a powerstretch and thermal pro fleece jkts. For the coldest days i will wear the powerstretch jkt as an expedition weight base layer, with the thermal pro as the mid layer and my Fila Original Soft Shell (and, of course, thicker beanie and gloves!). IMO it should be good down to -10 (maybe -15) degrees Celsius. The jkt is really bombproof.

Regarding Mammut, with some jkts they are using the WB400 and Dryskin. If that is correct, the jkt will not be as warm as a regular WB400. Look carefully at the jkt and see where they dryskin is being used. The WB 400 should be used for the shoulder and arms areas with the Dryskin on the sides for more breathability. Is the body made of WB400?

The high loft Pshield should be warmer than the regular WB400. Perhaps as warm as my jkt or even warmer. I read some reviews saying that the pshield is not as breathable as wb400. It depends on the PU they are using. That is the difference between soft shells w/ PU and hard shells. The PU of the sft shells is discontinuous. The PU of the hard shells is continuos because it has to protect the membrane. that said, i don't think you can go wrong with either jkt (assuming the Mammut is not made of Dryskin). The Dryskin is great but if you mix it with WB400 you end up with a jkt that is not as warm and wind resistant as a full WB400 jkt and not as breathable as a full Dryskin one.
post #3 of 3
I have had a Beyond jacket for three seasons now and it has some of the schoeller fabric (but I'm not sure which one). What I can say about the Beyond jacket is that they are constructed very well and if you call and talk with the company they are more than willing to help you out with any questions you have.

Take a look at this site for specific info on the WB400.

After skiing Squaw for three seasons, Tahoe backcountry skiing trips, Shasta and Rainer Summits... I'm a huge fan of the Schoeller Textiles.

I like the Beyond Clothing line because they are custom made and if you have funky body measurements your gear will fit you perfectly. You can ask to have the jacket a little longer to cover your lower back while sitting down, finger loops, etc. Oh and made in the USA is a bonus too.

When I order new soft shell gear I will definitely order Beyond Clothing!

It is a tough decision since Arcteryx makes such great equipment too.


He who dies with the most toys wins!
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