Soft vs. Hard Shells

Discussion in 'Gear Talk / Reviews' started by Goatguy, Oct 30, 2016.

  1. Goatguy

    Goatguy Member

    I'm looking to upgrade some gear and am debating a new hard or soft shell. What do you all use, and what would you recommend for a shell that would serve me well on ice (and, as a bonus, for occasional winter forays above treeline)?
  2. Billy Bevans

    Billy Bevans Member

    You want to look for a shell / jacket and all gear in general (backpacks, outerwear, tools, etc..) that covers a large spectrum of use; meaning it can serve many many purposes. Hard shells (and anyone please correct me if they feel I am wrong) have really been phased out as the new wave of "soft shells" have taken on amazing properties of shedding the elements. That being said you want to take into account many of the factors that you face when you climb... For me, I climb in everything from technical scrappy mixed chimneys, easy flow classics, and high altitude.. It is my humble opinion the Shoeller type Fabric (with Gore windstopper type) is superior and covers the largest spectrum of applications.. In a mixed chimney where Im slotted grinding all over the rock, the shoeller fabric withstands a beating! I use it when I climb easy new england gullies and the classics in the andes, the alps... I have even used the fabric in the higher himalaya (7000m)... I find it breathable when aerobic, very resistant to bad weather and easy to layer under and over. Downside... it doesn't pack down well... how to plan for that... plan on wearing it... bottom line it protects like a hard shell but wears like soft shell... I rarely see climbers out in hard shells anymore.. A few people carry them squished in the bottom of their pack as insurance against raging weather, but I've become confident and knowledgable about what my gear can handle..

    As for me I wear my base layer, an Arcteryx Atom hoodie as insulation and a Mammut Nordpfeiler (North Pillar) Shell. Hope this helps !
    Goatguy likes this.
  3. Brettinnj

    Brettinnj Member

    This past February my partner and I hiked up to Chimney Pond to climb Katahdin. I wore a new (never been washed) Black Diamond Convergent Shell made out of Windstopper active shell. I loved this jacket and it was going to be my "go to jacket." It was snowing steady (wet snow) on the 17.2 mile trip out. After about 4 hours, the jacket had soaked up water like it was made out of cotton. I had the same opinion as Billy does before that day. I would say if you are going out "cragging" within an hour of your car, softshells are great. But for a multi day trip I would go with a hardshell.
    neiceadmin likes this.

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