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Shell / jacket for skiing and mountaineering

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Am looking to purchase a new shell or jacket for some skiing next year and also hopefully some summer ascents of peaks like Rainier, Gannett and Hood.

With that in mind, am I better going for a soft shell than something heavier like a proper ski jacket? From reading around on here and elsewhere, it seems that Arc'teryx is perhaps the most regarded manufacturer and Cloudveil's also up there. As Arc'teryx is somewhat out of my price bracket, I've been looking at Cloudveil gear. I can get the Zero-G shell for $160 - is that a decent shell to go with? Should I be looking at something heavier (like the Cloudveil RPK)? Any other suggestions (up to around $250) would also be much appreciated!
post #2 of 15
With technical jackets, you kind'a get what you pay for. Check backcountry.com for more options at:
http://www.backcountry.com/store/group/100000124/Mens-Technical-Shells.html#app=price~+group~100000124+brand~+sort by~+cat~11+subcat~20+offset~-1+on_sale~+page_name~Mens-Technical-Shells

How about the Arc'teryx Alph SL Jacket for $299.45? It would be great for mountaineering.
http://www.backcountry.com/store/ARC...cket-Mens.html

Try to avoid Northface and Columbia, but the other brands should be okay. Hope this helps.
post #3 of 15
As Olylady says - you get what you pay for.

Search the web hard, and you'll find Arcteryx for (sometimes) half off. Pull the trigger as soon as you find them, or else someone else (me?) will.

Good luck.
post #4 of 15
Softshell for mountaineering??
Why??
post #5 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by pibrahim View Post
Am looking to purchase a new shell or jacket for some skiing next year and also hopefully some summer ascents of peaks like Rainier, Gannett and Hood.

With that in mind, am I better going for a soft shell than something heavier like a proper ski jacket? From reading around on here and elsewhere, it seems that Arc'teryx is perhaps the most regarded manufacturer and Cloudveil's also up there. As Arc'teryx is somewhat out of my price bracket, I've been looking at Cloudveil gear. I can get the Zero-G shell for $160 - is that a decent shell to go with? Should I be looking at something heavier (like the Cloudveil RPK)? Any other suggestions (up to around $250) would also be much appreciated!
as a fellow crossover person (skiing and mountaineering) I can tell you that a traditional ski jacket is USELESS for mountaineering. Way too heavy, not nearly packable enough, and doesn't work so well under a heavy pack or with outer layers (like a down jacket at rest breaks).

For mountaineering you actually want one each of the following:
Softshell (highly recommend the Outdoor Research Mithril or the Mountain Hardwear Torch - trust me, hooded softshell will get you through 90% of the weather)
Storm Shell (Something like the Outdoor Research Mentor is ultralight/packable and reasonably priced while also being tough and completely waterproof). For this, you need pit zips, a big hood that'll go over a helmet, and LIGHTWEIGHT. Anything more than 20oz is basically just extra crap bolted on that you do not need and that you have to haul up the mountain. Keep in mind, most of the time on a mountain the storm shell is gonna be tucked into the top of your pack so you need it to just be light and packable.
Outer Insulation (Something like the Mountain Hardwear Subzero SL Parka for winter conditions or the Hooded Compressor for summer conditions on big mountains). Note that the hooded compressor is a tighter fit so if you normally wear a L, get the XL to fit over the other layers at rest breaks.

When you translate this stuff to skiing, you'll find that you'll almost never use the outer insulation but more often you'll just be using the softshell and some bulkier stuff beneath it like a exped weight baselayer or maybe a ski sweater like those offered from Smartwool, Kuhl, or RoyalRobbins. The two softshells I mentioned are very technical so they'll work great for mountaineering AND skiing - completely waterproof, hood, good venting... You can toss the storm shell on for those really wet or windy days if you really need it.

Also, agree the Arcteryx Alpha SL is a good choice for a outer shell. Pretty much the exact equivalent of the OR Mentor jacket.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NordtheBarbarian View Post
Softshell for mountaineering??
Why??
Because it is the perfect choice.
post #6 of 15
[quote=nhluhr;982717] trust me, hooded softshell will get you through 90% of the weather)

Depends on where you ski. In the Washington Cascades we get a lot of wet weather. Often rain at bottom of mountain and snow or freezing rain high on mountain. A softshell maybe fine for the Rockies. But I have seen quite a few people have end their day early when their softshell gets soaked through. A softshell is more of a springtime coat for me. I wear or pack a Hardshell (traditional gore-tex or membrainshell) 90% of the time.

In Mountaineering you don't always know when that other 10% of the weather is going to hit.
The stormshell and softshell idea is good but it's 2 jackets.
OP already mentioned price as a concern.
post #7 of 15
My softshell is waterproof... perhaps you're thinking of a fleece - and yes, if you read my post, you see that you MUST have a real hardcore rain jacket packed away for when it dumps.
post #8 of 15

Arc Alpha SL

Quote:
Originally Posted by olylady View Post
How about the Arc'teryx Alph SL Jacket for $299.45? It would be great for mountaineering.
I have the Alpha SL and wouldn't recommend it for skiing at all. It might work for summer climbing, but I'd be worried about it wearing under a pack. It's very lightweight and I'm not sure how it would hold up to pack straps rubbing. I typically use mine for rainy days around town or on day hikes.

I also have the Arc'teryx Sidewinder AR and it's totally bombproof for skiing, but might be too heavy for carrying on a backpacking trip.

What about the midweight Arc jackets like the Beta? Year old models can be had pretty reasonably.

Good luck with the search,
Mike
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the recommendations and tips guys. I checked out the Arc'teryx Alpha SL and, having discovered what the SL/MX/etc abbreviations stand for, will the SL actually be thick enough?

The other thing I don't entirely understand about Arc'teryx's range is how they have a range of models, and then varying SL/MX/SV etc within each model? Presumably the models vary depending on the features they have (skirts, zips, etc) and then each model just comes in thicker/more waterproof versions depending on the acronym?

Are "technical jackets" just Backcountry's description for hardshells?

Finally, does anyone have any experience with the Cloudveil models (Koven, RPK, etc)? I can find more of their models within my budget than I can with Arc'teryx. Is it a given that sites like SierraTradingPost, etc., are all selling last year's versions? They don't seem to refer to any particular year...
post #10 of 15
If you're going to be doing mountaineering in the PNW you definitely need a hardshell. Softshell is probably okay for mountaineering in a drier climate, but you'd regret it up there.

Koven is an EXCELLENT jacket, but RPK might be a bit heavy for mountaineering. Also look for any of the eVent offerings from Westcomb - sometimes you can find the Mirage online pretty cheaply.

Also, REI now makes an eVent jacket that looks pretty sick and is reasonably priced. I'm typically not a fan of REI gear, but this jacket looks legit.

A good hardshell will last you 10 seasons so find something you're stoked on.
post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by pibrahim View Post
Are "technical jackets" just Backcountry's description for hardshells?
No... "Technical" refers to an overall level of refinement to any outerwear garment that means it will fit a little closer (not bulky), have good range of movement (gusseted crotch, etc), and be pared down to the essentials (no goofy add-ons like stowable hoods, 3-in-1 liner zippers, retro buttons, etc... If you have a beer gut, technical fits won't work so well for you... you should check out Columbia instead :lol:

In other words it is tuned for lightweight performance, not heavy style.

I've gone mountaineering in the PacNW (Rainier, etc) in both winter conditions and summer conditions and an lightweight hardshell is all you need. GoreTex Pro-Shell is kind of the gold standard here and the Mentor jacket from OR that I mentioned earlier is just that, while also managing to be priced about the same as the Arcteryx Alpha SL (which is a less durable, less waterproof Goretex Paclite membrain). A GREAT alternative to the Mentor if that's still too rich is the OR Furio, which uses ProShell only on the shoulders and arms (high wear areas) and Paclite for the rest and it's $100 cheaper and also on sale in many places for way less.

Hardshells are not meant to be warm. They are meant to keep the rain/snow/wind out. That said, this is why you want it to be very light and very packable - because most of the time on the mountain, you don't need the full rain gear and you'll be wearing a softshell instead. Not all softshells are created equal, of course. The $100 North Face Apex Bionic is not even close to good enough for these conditions. It's not waterproof (fabric is just water-repellant and there is no seam-taping), doesn't have a collar-cinch, and has poor venting. The $200 Torch from MH however is seam-taped, waterproof, hooded, pitzips and vent-pockets, etc... World of difference.

If you're only going to get one jacket (which is absurd, because no one jacket can literally do EVERYTHING), then you want a hooded waterproof softshell like the MH Torch, OR Mithril, or certainly Arcteryx, TNF, or Cloudveil have something to offer as well.

I kind of lean towards OR because they are almost always less expensive and their quality is absolutely top of the line. I can get any jacket I want from Arcteryx, MH, TNF for less than half price and I choose OR because I prefer their product.

oops... after looking at MH's site, I see they have replaced the Torch jacket with the Synchro Ski Jacket and Kramer Jacket... You can still find the Torch on many retailer websites.
post #12 of 15
I live in seattle and have had the mountain hardwear torch jacket. It's far from waterproof, and the workmanship was pretty lousy - i sent it back after six months because the welded pockets just disintegrated. The lack of a collar that covers your chin also makes it worthless for skiing in my mind. A nice design, just poorly executed. i have skied with a mountain hardwear hard-shell for 6 years though. I think an arc'teryx beta is a good option. patagonia can have some very nice, technical jackets cheap on their site (look for web specials), and they have great customer service and warranty.
post #13 of 15
I own a few Arc'teryx jackets and pants, all are great and serve the purpose well.
I have bought almost all of them from eBay, and at half the retail price or less. have a look on eBay
post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeC View Post


Quote:



Originally Posted by olylady View Post

How about the Arc'teryx Alph SL Jacket for $299.45? It would be great for mountaineering.


I have the Alpha SL and wouldn't recommend it for skiing at all. It might work for summer climbing, but I'd be worried about it wearing under a pack. It's very lightweight and I'm not sure how it would hold up to pack straps rubbing. I typically use mine for rainy days around town or on day hikes.


I also have the Arc'teryx Sidewinder AR and it's totally bombproof for skiing, but might be too heavy for carrying on a backpacking trip.


What about the midweight Arc jackets like the Beta? Year old models can be had pretty reasonably.


Good luck with the search,

Mike

Can you elaborate why the Alpha SL is not suitable for skiing?
post #15 of 15

I have been using some sort of a gore-tex jacket for most of my climbing/snowshoe/hiking trips as well as skiing for years now.  I don't think the brand matters all that much.  Arc Teryx is my favorite for fit, but a little spendy.  I bought a Cloudveil Koven three years ago for $124.00.  It isn't as refined and it doesn't fit as well as my Mtn Hardware or Arc Teryx jackets, but it's kept me dry for three years and doesn't weigh much.  I usually bring a light weight soft shell pull-over on my backcountry trips and only pull out the hard shell when it gets real windy or the rain starts.  I put more or less insulation underneath depending on how cold it is and what sort of skiing I'm doing.  That combo seems to work well for me.  If I could only afford one, it'd be some sort of proprietary goretex on sale - like the Koven.

 

I don't think I'd use an Arc Teryx SL for skiing simply because I'd be afraid it'd get ripped up.  It would be a great mountaineering/backcountry jacket though. 
 

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