so, is polartec neoshell really worthwhile?

6:31 p.m. on February 12, 2012 (EST)
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i spent a lot of this weekend outside in blowing snow, cold (for here), oscillating between being stationary and high-output.  mostly wore my soft shell (TNF Apex) and had some issues with the wind and with stuff soaking in after being out for a long time.  otherwise, i was glad while going uphill & carrying that i wasn't wearing a 'hard' nylon wind shell, which i only put on over the soft shell when i was static.  though i have an eVent shell with major armpit zips, it's a hard shell - hard faced fabric, slippery against backpack shoulder straps and hip belts, noisy, doesn't stretch or flex at all.    

question is - has anyone used polartec neoshell, the 'soft shell' iteration, enough to say how it actually works and performs with a soft shell jacket? more specifically:

-are 'soft shells' backed with polartec neoshell really soft shells, or are they more like a hard shell in terms of stretch/freedom of movement? (i acknowledge that some jackets using polartec's neoshell are classic hardshells, eg. the Westcomb jackets.  i'm not interested in those).  

-is the neoshell membrane really on par with a non-membrane soft shell in terms of how well it 'breathes,' or do neoshell soft shells tend to be meaningfully more moist inside?

-does the neoshell membrane really keep you fully dry and really do a better job stopping wind than a non-membrane soft shell (i'm assuming the answer to this question is 'yes.')

i'm not looking for a technical comparison or a discussion of water vapor transfer rates or hydrostatic pressure tests; i have done my research and understand what the numbers say.  looking for someone's actual practical experience.  i figure that some time this summer, a vendor will want to unload neoshell 'soft shells' that are too warm to feasibly wear in many places in the summer....but i'm trying to figure out if it's even worthwhile.

12:18 a.m. on February 13, 2012 (EST)
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I have owned my Westcomb Apoc for awhile, and have been able to use it on several strenuous day hikes. I can only comment on comfort and breathability....which is a 10 out of 10 in my opinion. The fabric has a "soft hand"... My eVent jacket stays in the closet, as it is stiff and crinkly compared to the Apoc. Still need to test it in the rain, which I have not been able to do so as of yet. Neoshell is all that it is cracked up to be, I think.

7:31 p.m. on February 13, 2012 (EST)
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I too own the Apoc by Westcomb and it has officially replaced every single piece of Gortex I own.  It breathes exceptionally well.  It stretches like a softshell.  I have worn it in 40 degree weather xc skiing and I was comfortable unlike roasting if I had my Gortex jacket on.  I dont care how many pit zips a $700 Arcteryx jacket has or how "beautiful" the zippers are.  I've worn this jacket sitting on chairlifts in VT in pouring rain (aweful ski season have I said that yet?!) and I was warm, dry and comfortable.  The water beads right off just like Gortex.  I cannot say enough good things about this fabric.  I know Marmot makes a Neoshell jacket (cant think of the name of it).  I tried it on at my local REI shop.  Its a nice piece but its a little heavier than my Westcomb.  The Marmot almost has a light piece of fleece on it.  Nice and comfy in winter but I would never wear it in the summer.  Way too hot.  I would seriously get the Westcomb.  If you dont like it you can always return it.

9:08 p.m. on February 13, 2012 (EST)
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i appreciate the responses.   that looks like a great jacket.  westcomb rolled out a light & relatively minimalist neoshell/hardshell this year, the switch hoody, that is intriguing, too.  because i already have really nice eVent hard shells already, i think another one would be a little excessive.  

i'm really looking for a soft shell - i like them for cooler/cold weather high output activities, love the abrasion resistance and the little bit of stretch.  so far, unless i look at something ridiculously expensive, it seems like the rab stretch neo and the marmot zion are the candidates, but i'm not in buying mode, at least for now.

November 27, 2014
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