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Best Shell.....Whats your take?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
i am currently in the market for a good shell.

before, i had a North Face Free Thinker. It was a fantastic jacket for me, and i really liked it. lately i have done alot of back country, thus causing alot of stress of my shell. after awhile things started crapping out. the glued on markings started coming off, then lastly the main zipper stopped zipping, eventually not zipping at all. a jacket that doesnt zip was pretty useless to me, luckily North Face has lifetime warrentys on all defects(this includes zippers ). so now im going to have a $500 check sent to me and i can get any jacket i want with it, doesnt HAVE to be North Face either.

my roommate tells me i should get a jacket thats more geared to mountaineering instead of ones for resort skiing, so it lasts longer. he tells me North Face is pretty much crap now days, and i should get away from them. he likes using Mountain Hardware, but i have a few friends that have Mountain Hardware jackets and they are ALWAYS complaining about how the fabric gets that dirty, hasnt been washed in a few years, look in just a days use, or less. they say they will never buy Mountain Hardware again because of this, so im not sure i would want to have to deal with that problem either.

so my question is, what kinds of jackets have you liked, whats worked the best for you, and why?

i have $500 to blow on a jacket, so price is of no concern to me.
post #2 of 18
Check out the Arcteryx line. I started using it 4 years ago and now wouldn't change for a different shell. Plus they are about the best product made. They will cost you the check you have, but worth it.
post #3 of 18
Arc'teryx Sidewinder SV
post #4 of 18
Whatever shell you like
post #5 of 18
I tried all the usual suspects last winter, Arc'teryx, DNA, Marmot, .......etc.
I was stunned and amazed when I stumbled on to a Killtec shell. Awesome features and great waterproofing. Pocket placement is da Bomb!
post #6 of 18
Every company makes a good shell. It's like asking what tent you should get. Be more specific...
post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
im wanting something that is super durable while still having alot of pocket features. i really liked having the bicep, audio, and goggle chest pockets. it HAS to have pit zips. i would kinda of like to get something with those type of pockets but it also need to be able to handle alot of abuse for extended periods of time.
post #8 of 18
My family has been very happy with Orage.
post #9 of 18

Many choices

North Face is not bad these days if you go to their high-end lines, check carefully. My current favorites are Arcteryx, Westcomb, and Cloudveil. Westcomb uses EVent which is by far the most breathable waterproof fabric. The downsides are that it is a bit thinner and needs to be washed often to maintain breathability. Breathability makes it colder than other jacket on the market. You really notice that, no joke. Desing and construction is top-notch.

Arcteryx is usually great, although lately they started making clothing for people who have the Schwarznegger's physique- the broad shouldered gym rat types. If you don't fit that description (I don't), check out Cloudveil- they make extremely well-designed gear and it fits a "normal" person much better than Arcteryx.

Other perennial favorites are Marmot and Patagonia. I have never seen a Marmot shell that fitted me, but your mileage may vary. Patagonia is very good too if you manage to find a shell that fits you and give you the material that you need. i think their skiing jacket is a hybrid shell, which may not be what you want.

I would asy that it all comes down to the choice of fabric and fit. My current favorites are the EVent for warm conditions and GoreTex SoftShell for everything else (keep in mind that GTx SoftShell is not a true soft shell, it is regualr Gore-tex with a soft lining; it is very comfortable, warm, and quiet).
post #10 of 18
I really believe that the Swedish brand Haglöfs is at the very top when it comes to durability and quality, although there are certainly other very good shell brands.

The Swedes know something about cold and "form follows function". The problem is that Haglöfs is not distributed in the USA but it is in Europe and Japan. They also make a a number of mountaineering oriented shells.

Haglöfs' site is worth visiting even if you buy something else. It provides detailed descriptions of the various features incorporated in their shells, fabrics used and their respective qualities, shell weight etc., which may help you in your hunt.
Good luck.
post #11 of 18
With $500 to burn you should be able to find something! Arc'teryx and patagonia have superior workmanship in my experience. I've had two mountain hardwear jackets and both had warranty issues - they fixed both for free, but i had to pay for shipping and was without my jacket for a month both times. Patagonia has become my favorite because their customer service is so good (at the patagonia store).
For example: I bought a shell online for half off, but it was too big. So i returned it to the retail store and they shipped the next size down, to my house for free in two days (it was the only one in that color on the west cost too, from the santa cruz outlet). They've been very professional and friendly to me, so i think they deserve the plug. REI and EMS are also pretty good about just taking back stuff that has fallen apart.
It doesn't matter now, but you also probably could have had that zipper replaced for ~$20.
post #12 of 18
Don't shy away from Mountain Hardware because of stories of them getting dirty. Their high-end shells are sweet. As are Marmot's. As are ArcTeryx's.

Just go to a mountaineering store and look around. Quite simple, really.

My marmot 3Layer lasted me 8 years. which is kinda stupid. It looked pretty gay after 3 of 4 years due to changing fashions trends. I don't ski for the fashion side of things, but still. Just because it will last forever, doesn't mean you'll necessarily want to wear it forever.

If you want a decent lightweight, no frills Goretex shell with a simple mind, look at Cabelas. Save the additional 400 for your gas tank. And then buy another new jacket next year. New gear is fun.
post #13 of 18
NF has various lines/levels. If you go for the high line, its still great stuff; expedition worthy. They have several jackets that are exactly what you are looking for, check their site.
post #14 of 18
Arc, Patti, DNA, Kjus, Mt Hardwear, sali make really nice stuff. There are a lot of nice new stuff going to hit this fall so if you can wait, I would strongly suggest it. It will come down to what fits you best and what features you like. Arc' is bomb proof, dependable stuff but you won't find all those pockets and all. I will second the vote for Patti, they have some really nice new stuff coming out for this season. At $500, you can get something new and only slightly discounted.
post #15 of 18
I love my Arc'teryx Sidewinder AR. Stowable hood, lots of pockets, pit zips, powder skirt, completely waterproof.

Had Mountain Hardware and North Face stuff before that. Good stuff, but the Arc quality is much higher.

post #16 of 18
sidewinder, excellent but not a softie (yet)
post #17 of 18
My orage jacket has blown me away with its performance. Although if you bought it for full retail you might blow through most of that budget.
post #18 of 18
Originally Posted by Lostboy View Post
I really believe that the Swedish brand Haglöfs is at the very top when it comes to durability and quality, although there are certainly other very good shell brands. ...
Sierra Trading Post had a bunch of Haglofs jackets on sale over the last year or so. Probably low on stock at this point.

I'm assuming this is a storm jacket b/c you're asking about a shell. I have an Arc shell (Scorpion) with 2 front, 2 interior pockets. Great fit/workmanship, powder skirt, and good hood. I tried the Arc Sidewinder, but didn't like the offset zipper. I also tried on a Cloudveil RPK that was nice, and had lots of pockets and a powder skirt. Arc is trim fitting, Cloudveil was roomier.

If it's for milder weather, then a softshell or hybrid jacket will probably work better, i.e. more breatheable, but enough protection from elements. Patagucci makes nice softshell/hybrid jackets, as does Marmot, Arc.
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