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Help Choosing Softshell Jacket
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scienceguy288


Feb 14, 2013, 9:10 PM
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Help Choosing Softshell Jacket
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 I am in the market for my first softshell. After extensive research, I think I've narrowed it down to 4 or 5. Beyond looking at price and some basic metrics like whether it has a DWR coating, I am pretty lost.

The Marmot Super Gravity, Outdoor Research Transfer, EMS Cloudsplitter and the Columbia Triteca are my first choices.

If I can't find them in stock, my backups will be the Marmot ROM, the Brooks Range Black Mountain, North Face Apex Android, and the Stoic Lo Welder.

I was wondering if anyone had personal experiences with any of these and was willing to share them.

PS. I figured I should also mention that I am planning on using the jacket during winter ascents (and during ice climbs and cold belays) atop a base layer, so warmth is important (all of my first choices have some fleece liner or other sort of insulation), as is wind and water resistance. Since the latter two criteria are pretty much given in a softshell, I would also like it to be fairly compactable so that I can throw them in my pack for cold starts in Spring and Fall.

Thanks.
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easton


Feb 14, 2013, 9:48 PM
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Re: [scienceguy288] Help Choosing Softshell Jacket [In reply to]
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Not sure what you are using it for, but I love my North Face Apex. I used to think NF was yuppie gear, no good in the real outdoors. I have been proven wrong.

I use mine daily, part of layers for the cold, good for any amount of snow if you aren't out all day, and holds off rain for a while. I've worn it out on the town, and up 14ers. I live and work in the mountains and use it a lot just walking around outside for work.


jjanowia


Feb 15, 2013, 6:38 AM
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Re: [scienceguy288] Help Choosing Softshell Jacket [In reply to]
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scienceguy288 wrote:
I am in the market for my first softshell. After extensive research, I think I've narrowed it down to 4 or 5. Beyond looking at price and some basic metrics like whether it has a DWR coating, I am pretty lost.

The Marmot Super Gravity, Outdoor Research Transfer, EMS Cloudsplitter and the Columbia Triteca are my first choices.

If I can't find them in stock, my backups will be the Marmot ROM, the Brooks Range Black Mountain, North Face Apex Android, and the Stoic Lo Welder.

I was wondering if anyone had personal experiences with any of these and was willing to share them.

PS. I figured I should also mention that I am planning on using the jacket during winter ascents (and during ice climbs and cold belays) atop a base layer, so warmth is important (all of my first choices have some fleece liner or other sort of insulation), as is wind and water resistance. Since the latter two criteria are pretty much given in a softshell, I would also like it to be fairly compactable so that I can throw them in my pack for cold starts in Spring and Fall.

Thanks.
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I'd suggest reading the clothing section of Mark Twight's book "Extreme Alpinism" if you're looking for a softshell for use ice climbing or alpine climbing in winter in the lower 48.

Things to look for:

If I raise my arms over my head, does the bottom of the jacket lift way up? It is nice to have the jacket stay tucked under your harness when swinging tools.

Is the hood big enought o fit over a helmet and cinch down well for a storm? A hood big enough for this should make you look like a druid sans helmet.

I challenge the assumption that you want the jacket to be really warm. Anything that has a windproofing to it is going to trap some heat in. I'd go for something lighter weight, it will be more versatile. You can always wear a heavier baselayer if the day calls for it.

The blog coldthistle.blogspot.com is of a guy in the Cascades who is a bigtime gear junky with legit alpine climbing credentials. You might find his posts useful.

If I were in the market for a softshell for use primarily ice climbing or alpine climbing in cold conditions (e.g. winter climbing in the lower 48, or spring stuff in Alaska), I'd look at this for a lighter weight option:

http://nwalpine.com/bigfour

or this for a heavier weight option

http://www.backcountry.com/arcteryx-gamma-mx-hoody-jacket-mens

The Dryskin on the NW Alpine jacket is lighter and better breathing than the Gamma MX. I've climbed extensively in the Gamma MX (with a different older version of fabric) and found it to be great for winter climbing in the Cascades and Canadian Rockies in the teens and 20s, but it was too warm during movement (e.g. climbing) if temps were above freezing.


If you're looking for a jacket to wear around town a lot and occasionally do toprope ice cragging in, then just get whatever you think looks best from your list.

Last thing: If you're doing climbs with cold belays but where its too warm to wear the softshell moving, then the softshell is not the garment choice for that climb. I'd humbly suggest a nylon windshirt (a la Patagonia Houdini or old Marmot Ion) to wear while moving, and some sort of ultralight down or primaloft garment to toss on at belays such as the Patagonia Nano Puff or Down Sweater. Again, reading Twight's philosophy on clothing systems for moving vs belaying may be useful for you, and this recommendation is in line with his thoughts.


(This post was edited by jjanowia on Feb 15, 2013, 6:44 AM)


sween345


Feb 15, 2013, 2:04 PM
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Re: [scienceguy288] Help Choosing Softshell Jacket [In reply to]
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 guy,

Read up here http://coldthistle.blogspot.com/...t-shellsfinally.html


kyro


Feb 15, 2013, 3:04 PM
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Re: [scienceguy288] Help Choosing Softshell Jacket [In reply to]
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my suggestion
http://www.mountainhardwear.com/...4786,default,pd.html
Cant beat mountain Hardware products for actual climbing. I climb quite often in both the cascades and the Andes. Thats what i use when I need a warmer base layer.


(This post was edited by kyro on Feb 15, 2013, 3:04 PM)


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