"Industry’s lightest Polartec® NeoShell® Jacket. The Shift Hoody offers no-compromise wind and water protection, in a featherweight shell. Designed so the gram counting outdoor adventurer can maximize experience with minimal weight."
For this year's trip to Chamonix I was determined to not over pack or take so much new gear that I would never get a chance to use it all. I did exactly that last time. Besides the over weight and excess luggage charges (which were as much as my original plane ticket!) the entire process ended up a disaster. Gear was lost or stolen mailing it back to save money and there was gear in France I never did get a chance to use.
PPP on my part.
Of the seriously redundant selection of gear I had to choose from I wanted to make every piece count and use it hard while I was in Europe. But I had to choose.
I had to go down and actually count, but with 7 new shells to choose from, picking wasn't easy.
I settled on one lwt (The Shift) and one heavier Goretex version of a shell I'll write about in an up coming review. Needless to say both got used a lot this trip.
But it was the Westcomb Shift LT in Neoshell that took on the heavy lifting of being used day in and day out for most of the trip. Wind shell or rain shell the Shift proved up to the task. And to be honest I had wondered if it really would get the job done!
Below is a link to a previous review comparing the Shift LT in a slightly different context than skiing. Which most of this year's Chamonix trip was....skiing of one kind or another. Although I did use the Shift for some mixed climbing in pretty cold and windy weather this time around. The Shift LT sailed through those conditions with flying colors and me wrapped in comfort.
Dave bundled up in puffy and shell, just as I was. And still cold! Trying, but a good way to see just how wind proof your shell really is.
Lots of use on the Shift now but it was on two totally different day's efforts that the really impressed me. First one started out at sunrise on a cold windy day at 12,000 feet. I had my BlackLight puffy and a Piton hoody under the Shift. Everything I had for clothes, I had on. If the Shift would cut the wind well enough and I could keep moving I'd be fine. It eventually turned into a long day in the skin track. The Shift worked perfectly. I peeled layers under it as the day grew longer and I upped my own pace to gain some body heat. I went from chilled in the morning to what could have been over heated (but wasn't thanks to the exceptional breathability of the Neoshell) by late morning. It was broad range of temperatures, wind and levels of physical activity. The lwt Neoshell fabric that makes up the Shift really showed its value to me that morning. The Shift was the only shell I took on our 6 day Haute Route trip. I used it almost every day for at least a short time. It was easy to pack for weight and easy to get at in and out of my Arcteryx Khamski 38.
The second day that the Shift really impressed me was a little more dramatic. Things didn't really go exactly as planned fro mthe beginning. At the last second, for no specific reason I had stuffed the Shift into my nifty little Mammut ski pack, the Nirvana Rocker . Little did I know how the day would turn out. Thank goodness!
BTW, anyone that back country skis should own a Mammut Nirvana Rocker. For a small ski pack, I love this one! More later on the details. It doesn't look like much but for a small ski pack with everything you really need? It's the chit. I used one pretty much any day I skied around Cham. It is obvious in all the new the pictures. Only the required extra capacity made me switch on occasion to a Khamski 38.
Back to the story...Things were not looking so good from the Col Du Midi. The now obvious weather was coming in and the rap below was totally fubared. It was 4PM. At that moment the Shift was the last thing on my mind.
As the afternoon thunderstorm broke and first the rain and then the snow started coming down, from EVERY where, the Shift was the first thing out of the pack. And damn! It was a sweet reunion!
The snow went from just soggy to an isothermic mess in a hurry. Sucked to be *you* on a snow board. Ski made life much easier and safer, getting us in and out of the resulting wet snow avi terrain in a hurry.
the suck on a board in wet, soft snow
why does anyone ride a snow board?
avi debris off the Midi only moments, not minutes, old and Dave still slugging away at it
dry and happy in my Shift...and oh so thankful
The rest of that evening I spent initially skiing and then eventually walking out of the snow line and into the rain. It rained hard as on the bushwhack, and continued as I eventually walked down the well worn trail into Chamonix. A few small holes from the resulting abuse in my beloved Shift but nothing traumatic and it kept me dry the entire time...inside and out. No easy task for any shell in the conditions encountered. Mind you this one is well over a two years old now with lots of use and yet to be washed. Our day out was more akin to the typical NW bushwhacking slogs we have here so often. Funny really, just how natural it all seemed...4000 miles from my home turf. A full day out with all the things the Cascades offer so easy. (except access) Same reason I go to Chamonix just to avoid the same situation at home! In the two months this year of skiing and climbing in Chamonix the Shift was one of 4 garments I carried and used daily anytime the weather threatened me. I've mentioned the BlackLight puffy already. I'll eventually get to the other two.
Lights of Chamonix in the night rain..have to admit I was awestruck by the beauty.
Bottom line here? I still really like Neoshell as a shell material. In this case the lightest Neoshell fabric used sewing up the Shift LT really showed what it was made of in the wind and in really wet weather. Most importantly to me it breathes exceptionally well while still offering great protection in wind and rain. I have some of the newest Goretex garments I am very fond of as well. I will be writing about them and the experiences with those on the recent trip shortly.
How good is the Shift LT really? I mentioned I now have a few holes in mine. Not the garment's fault. Likely the lack of a headlamp and/or care in the slide alders. Been doing goggle searches now for a few days looking for another Shift LT in "Electric" on sale. That is how good I think the Shift is. I am willing to actually buy a 2nd one.