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Jacket advice: Pro shell (stiff and crinkly) vs. Gore Tex soft shell?... RPK, Sidewinder, Stingray

post #1 of 47
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

My first post here, although I've been lurking for awhile and trying to glean as much knowledge as possible.  Very cool site!


Anyway, I've been in the market for a new jacket for some time, and have a little $ set aside to be able to splurge.  I'm looking for a shell that I can layer with for mostly lift-accessed skiing here in the Northeast.  Headed to Killington later this month (woo hoo!) and was hoping to find something before then.


After doing entirely too much research, I've narrowed it down to a couple of choices, based on all of the info that I've found on these and other forum reviews:


  1. Arc'Teryx Sidewinder AR.  This jacket seems to fit great and really feels "bombproof".  The problem is, it feels really stiff and crinkly and noisy.  Does anyone know if that wears off over time, or does it always feel like you have a plastic bag on?
  2. Cloudveil PRK parka.  If I could find this one in the right size (XL)/color combo, I think I'd be happy.  However, choices seem very limited in these (think they may be mostly sold out for this year already?).  I like the jacket enough, I have half a mind to just wait until next year for new colors to come out.  The only colors I can find at this point is the dark blue or black, which I can't see myself going with, with black pants.
  3. Arc'Teryx Stingray. Unlike the Sidewinder, this one is smooth and quite, and from what I understand, it still offers the same level of protection from wind and wet that the sidewinder does.  Only problem here is I think it might be cut a bit shorter.  But it has a very nice feel to it.


Anyone have any experience/thoughts on these?  In particular, does the Gore Tex ProShell break in over time to be less stiff and crinkly?  And of course, if anyone has any other suggestions that they love, I'm all ears.  For better or worse, I've steered clear of brands like Spyder and Karbon, mostly because of the stigma I perceive to be associated with them.  I've tried on Patagonia stuff, but not found anything that fit my size and tastes very well.


Based on the # of threads on this topic, I'm sure you're all burnt out on responding, but any thoughts are greatly appreciated.


The Yeffer


post #2 of 47

The stiff feeling of goretex won't change much over time if you're taking care of it properly by washing with a tech wash. If you let it get all dirty and crusty, it may start to feel more supple, but its no longer doing its job.  You'll get used to the feeling after a while and think of it more as a windbreaker than a plastic bag.  The "goretex softshell" is really just plain ol' goretex with a fleece bonded to it so it feels soft but still functions the same.  I'd think that if the feeling bothers you that much, this would be the way to go. 

post #3 of 47

Also check out the Arc'teryx Scorpion.  Bomber like the Sidewinder and Stingray, but made of Gore Softshell so it's softer on the outside.  Still fully waterproof and windproof.  It's the next jacket I'll be getting.


Own the Sidewinder AR and it is great, but doesn't breathe that well and is stiff.  Still a fantastic shell, but I think the Scorpion could be better.



post #4 of 47
Thread Starter 

Yeah, the Sidewinder just seems like it might almost be a bit too much for what I need, where I don't really get out in to the backcountry much. 


And I was also hoping to find something that I won't look like a tool running around town in.


The Scorpion sounds great, but why the heck do they choose those colors?!?  Honestly... black, dark brown, and salmon for the color palatte?  BTW, do you know what the main differences are between the Stingray and the Scorpion?  Is the scorpion longer?


I think I just make it far too complicated.


Decisions, decisions

post #5 of 47

They are basically the same jacket as far as cut and features, but the Scorpion has a thicker goretex on the shoulders to prevent abrasion from packs and skis.  btw, the sockeye color really 'pops' on camera, if thats your thing.

post #6 of 47

Both the Stingray and the Scorpion use the Gore Softshell material.  The only difference that I'm aware of is that the Stingray uses the low-loft version and the Scorpion uses the high-loft version.  I have the Stingray and it is a great shell.  However, I've started wearing Kjus Formula jacket and I prefer it over the Stingray.



post #7 of 47
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the info guys.   Anyone have thoughts on how the RPK chalks up against these?

post #8 of 47

I have the rpk and its built very nicely.  While some of this board may look askance, I would also investigate patagonia. 

post #9 of 47

I just bought the RPK.  If you can find a Spyder outlet, you can find some other colors from last year.  I got the Pompei(red).  They also had a blue and a olive-ish shade.

post #10 of 47

I have the Sidewinder and had the same initial reaction, but after you put on a layer or two (I wear underarmor and an arcteryx polartec jacket) the feeling of the crinkly plastic bag disappears.  I also really like that my zippers do not stack, dont think that alone is worth the price, but it is a nice feature. 

post #11 of 47

I use the Stingray as my ski jacket.  I tried the RPK (had a great deal on it, but returned it).  Despite using the ame soft shell RPK feels thicker, and clumsier.  Arcteryx made the impression of being built without an inch of extra fabric, and it worked very well so far this winter, it is breathable, warm and quet and I don't notice it much.  Probably the decision for you is on the fit- Sidewinder fits noticeably baggier than the Stingray, so if Sidewinder fits you better get the sidewinder and vise versa.  


P.S. Nothing is wrong with RPK- it is a great jacket, well-built and very functional, Arcteryx is just slicker and better-designed .

post #12 of 47

Take a look at Mammut softshell gore-tex.  You'll be glad you did.

post #13 of 47
Thread Starter 

I think I'm leaning toward the Stingray right now.  Alexzn.... is that a stingray you're sporting in your profile pic? 


I was hoping for something in a nice shade of red like that, but I guess you can't have it all.  Anyone seen the stingray in the "mahogany" color and know how it looks?

post #14 of 47

The Patagonia White Smoke series I have is very breathable, light, and quite functional without a bunch of uneccessary stuff.  I've only had it out 3 days so can't vouch for durability, but hey, it's Patagucci, they stand behind their products.

post #15 of 47
Thread Starter 

I tried on the Primo Flash from Patagonia and found the armholes to be oddly smallish and the powder skirt to feel kind of irritatingly "present" even when it was un-buttoned...probably just an issue with my personal build.   Just to confuse the issue further, perhaps I'll have to check out the White Smoke though.  Problem is finding a place where you can try one on!

post #16 of 47

I've owned the stingray for several years.I ski 21 days a year ,and the jacket looks new.I've since bought pants and a sweater,great company with bullet-proof products. Different models fit different body shapes so try them on and go for comfort and function.

post #17 of 47

I'll put in another vote for the Stingray.   Picked it up towards the beginning of the season from backcountry.com


The athletic fit of Arcteryx suits me well.   I ended up with the orange color, but the local REI had the mahogany color you speak of and it is very sharp and classy looking.     The jacket and zippers felt pretty stiff out of the bag, but after just a few days of use everything is great.  

post #18 of 47

im just  getting back into skiing after a LONG break, so, im new to all of this, skis, boots, geat etc.... I have a ??? what is the stigma you talk about with Spyder??? I thought they were a good company? Back in the day i had a "C.B.Sports" jacket.....loved it... they still in  business????

post #19 of 47
Originally Posted by The Yeffer View Post

I think I'm leaning toward the Stingray right now.  Alexzn.... is that a stingray you're sporting in your profile pic? 


No, it was a ThetaAR, which I no longer own.  (For the record, the pants were a rental; the picture was taken in Chile, and skiing there was entirely accidental; long story...).   My Stingray is buckweat (orange) instead of red; they don't even make them in a nice fire-red color, Mahogany is more of a reddish brown color.  The last year's red was a bit of washed-out red.   I believe their thinking is that Stingray is a resort jacket, so they cater to the fashion-conscious; my attitude always was give me the loudest color you can find, more visibility equals more safety.  Truly, my advise is to buy what fits you best, all these coats perform at the top level, and you will get used to the feeling of a jacket in no time.  




post #20 of 47
Thread Starter 

I'm no expert on the quality of Spyder clothing, though I've heard that in recent years their lower-end stuff has degraded somewhat, while the higher-end stuff is still top notch.


The stigma is more of a personal thing for me... I just find people walking around in their Spyder, Karbon and other "look at my jacket" types of styles kind of a turnoff... more about the looks and the brand, and less about the quality. "Gaperware" might apply here.


But hey, that's just me, and I might change my mind tomorrow if I came across the right Spyder jacket! .


Haven't seen a CB Jacket around in quite some time, myself.

post #21 of 47

IMHO:  Pro Shell is more waterproof/repellent, Soft Shell more breathable.  

post #22 of 47

I gotcha....know exactly what you are talking about.....my CB jacket was at least 20+ yrs ago..........

post #23 of 47
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post

IMHO:  Pro Shell is more waterproof/repellent, Soft Shell more breathable.  


Nope, both are 100% waterproof, and breathability is about the same.   GoreSoftShell just has a very thin microfleece backing.  Both have nothing to do with real soft shell fabrics, such as PowerShield or Schoeller Dynamic.


post #24 of 47

Another vote for Stingray here.  I bought my stingray pants from Alexzn a while back and have never been so satisfied!  The material is soft and athletically cut but not tight, windproof like a mofo and I've yet to get cold OR overheated in them.  They're everything you need and nothing you don't.  I look forward to buying a matching Stingray jacket sometime in the future, the material really is awesome!  You'll never regret it!   

post #25 of 47

I have an Arcteryx Scorpion and the quality is excellent if you're looking for a functional, windproof, waterproof jacket. The fit is pretty slim/athletic, but long enough so that I wear a medium at 6'1"/170.  The thin fleece bonded to the inside probably makes it slightly warmer than just a pro shell jacket, but probably slows breatheability somewhat.  I use it as a resort jacket and it's great.  Here's a link for the Orca color, which I have: http://www.mountainbuzz.com/swap/showproduct.php?product=10719&cat=15


I also have a Patagonia Scholler fabric softshell, which breathes much better, but they serve two entirely different purposes.  If you want breatheability for the backcountry, go softshell.  If you want weatherproof, go gore-tex or other laminate like eVent or dermizax, etc.. IMO, you should choose (or, go with something like a Mammut hybrid http://outside.away.com/outside/gear/gear.tcl?gear=Mammut-Blend-Hybrid&gear_id=4802&action=showgear or a Patagonia Light Smoke Flash hybrid for a softshell with some waterproof shoulders http://www.steepplanet.com/proddetail.php?prod=Patagonia-Light-Smoke-Flash-Jacket)


BTW, I tried on the Cloudveil RPK, and although it's the same inaptly named "Goretex Soft Shell" fabric, it is a heavier jacket, but with more pockets.   Ultimately, the Scorpion was lighter and fit trimmer on me. YMMV, so if you can, try them on. 


Oh, one more thing: I tried the Sidewinder type zipper on an Arcteryx Seeker Comp hybrid jacket but found the side zipper incredibly annoying, so I sent it back. Again, nice jacket, and YMMV...

Edited by Dino - Fri, 06 Feb 09 14:54:15 GMT
post #26 of 47

I'll put in a plug for the Arcteryx Stinger jacket.


It features gore tex pro and is similar to the sidewinder. However, the Stinger has a conventional zipper, roll away hood, different collar and more pockets. It's a superb jacket.


I'm with Alexzn on color....I opt for the brightest thing I can find.


Edited by The Squeaky Wheel - Fri, 06 Feb 09 16:06:50 GMT
post #27 of 47

I agree with jamesgig.  I've had the Sidewinder AR for a couple years.  It seemed a little stiff when I first tried it on in the store, but on the slopes I never even notice it.  Having the zipper come up off-center is a plus.  Also,  I thought the soft Gore-Tex was marginally less waterproof, but my memory may not be accurate on that.  Another possible concern:  I sling my skis over my shoulder when walking with them, and my jacket shows no signs of wear.  I don't know if the soft Gore-Tex fabric would hold up as well over time.

Edited by Jimski - Fri, 06 Feb 09 15:51:29 GMT
post #28 of 47

But, as indicated by Squeaky, that fluorescent green Stingray is pretty cool!

post #29 of 47
Originally Posted by Jimski View Post

But, as indicated by Squeaky, that fluorescent green Stingray is pretty cool!


They call it "Jalapeno"...

post #30 of 47

All great jackets but a little pricey.  Atleast here in Canada the prices of Arcteryx are on par with that of Karbon and Spyder.  I ski with a shell most of the time and layer accordingly, but in Eastern Canada it can get cold.  For Jan/Feb skiing I have a Descente insulated jacket that works great. 


As far as Patagonia goes is use their pants and the quality is great.  The new powder bowl line this year is definitely worth looking at.  The H2NO fabric I think is every bit as good as Gore-tex for waterproofness.


I just bought a Marmot Pallisades shell (2L Gore-tex) for $170 CDN.  More of a lighter shell, good for skiing but also Spring/Fall.


My favorite jacket by far is my old red and black North Face.  It's ten years old and still going strong.  May not be the latest in design by works for everything.  It still stays in the back of the truck wherever I go.


Best features to look for ... pitzips, a collar and hood that fit, sleeve/jacket pockets with zipper pulls you can use with gloves on.  For me I still prefer a storm flap on the front zipper over sealed zippers, but that's more personal preference.  For what it's worth you may not need the 3L Gore-tex in Arcteryx, the 2L design may be enough.  The new Gore-tex ProShell material is definitely an improvement over older Gore-tex.

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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Ski Gear Discussion › Jacket advice: Pro shell (stiff and crinkly) vs. Gore Tex soft shell?... RPK, Sidewinder, Stingray