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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The People's choice! Shells?

Here is  a chance for you the readers at Cold Thistle to sound off.  Write 10 words, 10 paragraphs or 10 pages on why you think your shell (soft, hard or hard shell pile) is the best thing since sliced bread.   Climbing related comments are the ones most appreciated here ;-)  Send it to my email address and add a name if you want credit.  Photos are cool as well.   And I'll then add them to the blog in a "people's choice commentary"  coming up soon.

My turn to learn from you!  And while we are at it, you can educate the masses!  Or just remind me how bad that "last" review was.  As always I'll be adding a few comments on the newest shells that are showing up here @ Cold Thistle right now.  Below, Westcomb pulled all the stops for this lwt Neoshell.  Seems like a perfect piece for climbing to me.  Details below, but more later once I get a chance to actually climb in it.    Bozeman next stop!

The Westcomb's, Shift @ 12oz (actual weight) in my perfectly sized (for me), US men's large.  Hood fits a Petzl Meteor helmet easily.   Arms and shoulders fit me extremely well with room to spare.  Jacket is made of  stretchable 360 NP Polartec Neoshell.  I would call this one a very light weight, stretchable (some stretch to be sure), hard shell.  $400 retail.
A couple of online reviews from users and the industry here:
Westcomb sez:
360 NP Polartec® NeoShell® - Durable water- and windproof nylon weave, breathability and stretch performance.

20 SPI - 20 stitches per inch exceed industry standards by at least 2x. This higher SPI allows for a lighter, yet stronger fabric seam giving a lifetime of wear and tear while reducing weight as additional top-stitching isn’t needed.

Micro Seam Taping - Creates the thinnest waterproof boundary while creating a more pliable seam without the added weight.

Laminated Zippers, Waist and Wrist Hems - Super durable fabric adhesive affixes these critical areas, creating waterproof, stitchless, lightweight seams with weld-like durability and ultra clean aesthetics.

YKK PU Zippers - Provide smooth operation with watertight performance. Reduces weight by eliminating the need for storm flaps.

Articulated Sleeves - Integrated strategic pocket areas allowing for unrestricted movement.


Bruno Schull said...

My choice for a softshell jacket is the Marmot tempo hoody. This is an inexpensive non-lined softshel. Mot importantly, it fits me really well in XL. I am tall with long arms, and I find it extremely difficult to find a jacket that works for climbing. The Tempo has a long back and arms, and is one of the very few jackets that I can tuck under a harness, and will not pull out when I raise my arms over my head. The hood works well over a helmet. The cuff closures are simple and effective. The pockets are located above the harness and out of the way of pack straps. No pit zips. Simple and clean. It is not as waterproof nor as wind resistant as some of the lined shells, but it makes up for that by being extremely breathable; the inside stays dry and your body stays warm. Great, simple, effective, inexpensive jacket. Also comes in some offensive florescent colors for Dane! All the best.

Ian said...

In my mind the best hardshell is the one that never leaves my backpack. I have yet to wear a hardshell I actually liked. I have a very lightweight Rab shell but I've only ever worn it once.

Anonymous said...

Rab Latok - eVent breathes so well I can scramble 60-70 degree lava flows on the sea shore non-stop in almost summer temps (stormy though). Pit zips are handy nevertheless. Fit is great, being 190cm 75kg (6'2.5'' 166lbs?) I've a place to spare in size L for even a down vest, but dual cords (hem + waist) make it fit snug when it's worn over just a thermo or light fleece. But yes, not much place to spare in forearms, as mentioned here earlier.

My complaints are: inner mesh pocket(s) are too small for drying your gloves (waist cord solves that partially) and no snow skirt or strap to keep it from riding up in powder dive scenario. But I've been unable to find a jacket better than this one. I'll buy their salopettes, too.

Anonymous said...

My current favorite softshell is the Patagonia Ready Mix and the predecessor Krushell. I've used these for winter ice for the last 8 years. What I like:

Great hoods that fit over a helmet and turn with my head.

Good body length and sleeves long enough to cover my arms when they're overhead or extended. I especially like the Centaur Cuffs on the Ready Mix; look silly, but actually work well to keep the sleeve end down over a glove.

Fabrics turn the wind and keep out a surprising amount of moisture. The smooth outer face sheds snow and raindrops. Plus both fabrics are light and flexible.

Napoleon pocket on each jacket is a handy stash point. The other pockets are less well positioned . The Krushell pockets not only end up under a harness belt, but the zips close in the down position. The Ready Mix pockets are better, but still tend to end up under the harness. A Patagonia problem I'm afraid.

Overall light and simple. If you're not wearing one, either of these fits neatly in your pack.

Down side: the light fabrics are not the sturdiest. I haven't shredded one yet, but I expect I will at some point.

Aging Viper said...

I put your Rab Neoshell to the test hiking across Scotland. The jacket itself seemed rather heavy and bulky for that task. Obviously designed for the groveling of Scottish winter climbing rather than hill walking, and I could have gone down one size. My first Rab, so next time I'll know. But Neoshell... It really works! Not perfectly, but the jacket has no venting options at all and yet I managed to stay reasonably comfortable at all times. I'm amazed to see that from a waterproof material. Looking forward to trying the Rab for winter ice.

This Westcomb jacket looks to be closer to my ideal storm shell. Light, good sleeves and hood, don't mind the lack of pockets. IF the body movement is as good as looks to be this is a winner.

Wayne said...

storm shell - montane superfly xt
heaps of pockets plus vents, great cut and hood and hood peak. go to on multi day trips with severe weather

i've just got a westcomb shift, juries out... probably a go to for less severe and warmer weather

i also have a westcomb focus. go to for colder weather except most severe conditions..

Dane said...

Big fan of the Shift myself. And find my use exactly opposite of what you are suggesting between the Focus and Shift. Shift also has a more generous cut pattern and is easier to layer under. So it gets more use as a colder weather shell. Having the stretchable Neoshell fabrics helps as well for active sports like ice climbing or skiing.

Focus has a tigher more trim pattern and the fabric doesn't stretch.

I like them both a lot but each has different strenghts IMO.

Wayne said...

I"m in New Zealand, i dont get the severe cold in winter.. i get heavy rain and strong winds, keeping the wind out is a bigger priority, i don't need a lot of layering esp if i'm on the move
but i've yet to try out the shift to see how it will fit in with my other gear

Wayne said...

i should also mention i want the bulkier cut to let more air in to be cooler, heeat disipation in teh rain is often a real problem for me in new zealand
i sized up on my jackets as well to get the more looser cut

Dane said...

Thanks, that makes more sense now :) I'll be curious to hear what you think of the wind and the Shift.