New shell/jacket suggestion

8:26 p.m. on October 2, 2011 (EDT)
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Good day all.

I'm looking for advice on jackets. I've had a TNF Gore-Tex Mountain Light Jacket for years. Its time for a replacement and I think I'm a little behind in my technology.


This is my fall/winter casual jacket when warm, snowboarding jacket with fleece insert, camping shell for overnight trips, and my replacement for an umbrella with the hood and GoreTex. I like being able to zip in inserts for layering. I like the hood and pockets. The current TNF model does not have hand pockets and I'm looking at the Marmot Taramack as a new solution, 1) for the features and 2) for cost.

What opinions do you have? Do you think this is a good alternative? Do you prefer the newer softshells and using separate fleece for under layers when colder? Is this as good at water prevention like GoreTex? 

I appreciate any comments I get.


Johnny

6:59 p.m. on October 3, 2011 (EDT)
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funny, i used a north face mountain light for years.  i'm wearing it in the photo on this site, in fact.  

marmot's membrain is, reportedly, somewhat less breathable than gore tex.  in practical terms, that means it's fully waterproof but more likely to build up moisture inside.  the same is supposedly true for some of the other proprietary waterproof-breathable technologies (Mountain Hardwear's Conduit, Patagonia's H2No, for example).  overall, i think gore tex works better than most of the proprietary waterproof/breathables out there.  i have a gore tex pro shell jacket that has been a mainstay for years - it's light, waterproof, breathes, stops wind, and has been very durable.  gore tex pro shell costs a fair bit more than some of the other gore fabrics, presumably because you're getting a very lightweight but durable fabric.  i don't quite understand why some flavors of gore tex cost more than others, though.  

eVent, on the other hand, is another waterproof/breathable option that a lot of people feel is better than gore tex at evacuating moisture.  i don't know if it's better, but eVent does work really well.  the trick is finding something reasonably priced.  i have a Wild Things eVent hard shell that has been fabulous; but, had i not found it on clearance, it would have been fairly expensive.

my wife and my dad both have an eVent hard shell from REI, the Kimtah.  it has two zippered hand pockets and a small zippered sleeve pocket, a hood with pulls on either side, and an elastic cord to tighten along the hem.  it has enough room to layer a fleece underneath, but more than that might make it feel tight.  it wouldn't be my preference because i have different design needs.  i like armpit zips and a more articulated hood, a more generous cut for more layering for winter hiking, pockets that are accessible when i am wearing a backpack, an interior pocket to carry a water bottle, and heavier nylon on the shoulders and arms that resists abrasion better.  But, it is a very breathable, waterproof hard shell that won't break the bank and appears to be well made and well thought out.  

my limited experience with soft shells is that they are great for casual and downhill skiing & other active outdoor sports.  i don't prefer them for camping because they don't compact nearly as well as hard shells.  i don't prefer them for winter hiking/climbing if i expect high wind, because i don't think they stop wind as well as most hard shells.  also, again based on my experience with one brand, while it's fine in a light rain, it tends to wet out in heavier rain.  there may be better soft shells that are waterproof and breathable, which would certainly address how they perform in a steady rain and might also improve resistance to high winds.  

if you really want something where you can zip in a fleece layer, it's going to limit your options.  

4:03 p.m. on October 5, 2011 (EDT)
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While not really best for casual wear, unless you just dig camo, I have and use my ECWCS goretex parka that was issued to me in the military. You can buy the older woodland models on ebay or at surplus stores for very cheap(i bought a brand new set(parka and pants) of the now retired woodland camo style for $60). The very versions are the new multicam or digital camo and go for alot more.

This thing is tough as nails, and is my hardshell of choice for late fall , winter, and early spring. You can zip or button many liners into it, not just the military ones. However, I prefer not to zip a layer into it. I use the pants year round for rain pants.

9:47 p.m. on October 5, 2011 (EDT)
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What about the new Neoshell fabric that is coming out?  Marmot and Westcomb have/are both coming out with new products.  The reviews have been good but I havent physically seen anything yet.

December 22, 2014
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