Jack Roberts RIP
I would have thought that of my 11 choices in soft shell jackets either insulated or uninsulated shells would have been my favorite. One or the other.
Turns out I am a big fan of the newest technology like the Neoshell fabric used in the Marmot Zion. The inexpensive REI "town and country" hoodless version I reviewed feels the same to me but offers significantly less weather protection. But the REI version still makes a darn good ice cragging jacket if you don't require a hood. And while cragging I seldom require a hood. My guess would be they are the same fabric without the Neoshell laminate in the REI version and a very good DWR that does an incredible job on the their fabric.
Given the right material, that is wind proof, 100% water proof and does in fact breath well enough for your own use you could cut your layering system by weight and bulk.
Neoshell I think offers a chance to do all that if a company like Arcteryx, OR or even Mammut would put some time and effort into a single package. Single package as in "action suit" package.
Neoshell has me thinking how I could revise my layering system for the better. But at the moment none of the options available jump out at me as a replacement. Maybe a Neoshell Atom LT?
More on layering here:
Mark Twight's "action suit" is a reality in every serious alpine climbers kit. The newest fabrics like Polartec's Neoshell or any of the better Goretex or Shoeller newest offers are now giving us a chance to design the ultimate "action suit". Only Mountain Hardware seems to be up to the task at the moment with the new Ueli Steck line of gear. And they haven't covered everything or made any real innovations imo. They have just done things better...not really different. It is time for different!
I have one of the few pair of Neoshell Salopettes that I know of, and simply love them in the alpine. Mating the right jacket with those pants is a priority for me. So I am still looking for the ultimate shell.
There will be a time...when the action suit starts with your crampons....then your boots and then your "shell", boot sole to a head covering system. "THE" suit will include an integral glove system, gaiters and different options for insulation depending on the temperatures. Water resistance and breathability will be a given. I've been climbing more decades than I like to admit to. But a systems approach to our clothing is not all that far away in the grand scheme of things.
This is on my blog list but worth checking out as well if you haven't already: