Need wind/rain jacket: Impressions of Gore Active Shell garments?

1:57 p.m. on June 21, 2012 (EDT)
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I'm looking for a wind & rain jacket that will pack up small and yet provide good protection for an extended rainy day on the trail.  I'm not backpacking, altho I might have a fanny pack or a light daypack, depending on where I'm hiking.

Most of my hikes are in mountainous conditions where wind is a bigger issue than rain, so the primary purpose of the garment I see is wind protection.

I've had poor luck with Goretex PacLight garments, finding them not especially durable after 100 days+ of use.  ProShell jackets mostly seem to be too heavy-duty, altho my Arcteryx one has held up for 5+ years of use, it generally doesn't make the trip due to bulkiness & weight. So I'm interested in Active Shell garments, mostly for 3-season use, especially summer (so venting/moisture management is an issue).  I'd use my ProShell in the winter.

Most of the modern jackets I see are made very short, both to keep the weight down and with the assumption that you'll be wearing rain pants too. Frankly, I find short jackets annoying. I'd much rather have a jacket that provides hip coverage, like the 60/40 parkas of old.  I still have a Patagonia Storm parka from 30 years ago (does not breathe at all, but is a great length.

Feature-wise, I want a hood & hand pockets, plus an inner mesh pocket would be nice.  I like a pullover style, but would consider a full zip too.

I've seen some positive reviews of Gore Active Shell, specifically for the Mammut Felsturm & the Arcteryx FL series.  Neither of these are as long as I'd like, but probably the Felsturm is close to ideal for me (no hand pockets tho, and no variable wrist closures).  I'm concerned about how expensive these garments are, but if they'll hold up and really work, I could be persuaded to make the investment.

What has been your experience with Active Shell?  Do you know of any brands that deliver against my requirements?  Thanks!!

12:58 p.m. on July 6, 2012 (EDT)
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The new Axiom is getting good reviews, but it's more of a climbers'/hiker's jacket than a backpacker's coat. Worth looking at, though.

http://www.outdoorresearch.com/en/axiom-jacket-m-s.html/

5:14 p.m. on July 6, 2012 (EDT)
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I have not tried the new GTX Active Shell but last season guys in my ski patrol who just got the new Patagonia Active Shell Patrol parka really liked it for it's excellent breathability.

 

Two other good choices: (but light weight)

1. REI Kimtah eVent parka >> Light (my size XL is 1 lb. exactly) and very breathable. Many nice features. My best parka.

REI has a heavier eVent parka meant for backcountry use that even has a RECCO reflector in the right sleeve for location if you're buried in an avalanche at a ski resort. Virtually all ski resorts now have RECCO tanscievers.

2. Cabela's Rainy River GTX PacLite parka >>  I've had mine for 5 years now, using it both in the city, day hiking and backpacking with no signs of wear. The chest pockets are mesh backed helping it vent during periods of high exertion. Like the REI Kimtah, the PacLite parka is loaded with good features.

I'm considering having a tailor sew in waterpfoof pit zips in both parkas. Can't hurt.

6:30 p.m. on July 8, 2012 (EDT)
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i think it's worth trying on specific jackets as opposed to drawing conclusions based on a label.  gore tex pro shell need not be heavy; i have had a marmot gtx pro shell jacket for years that weighs about 14 ounces.  not familiar with gtx active shell; i have had good luck with eVent lately for hard shells.  my favorite eVent shells happen to be from Wild Things and Rab. 

1:32 p.m. on July 9, 2012 (EDT)
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I've enjoyed cheap ProPore garments like Frogg Toggs.  They don't last long, but nothing is lighter and more breathable.  These typically last a season or two for me.

9:52 p.m. on July 10, 2012 (EDT)
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Thanks for the suggestions.  I dithered and didn't make a decision, but brought along my old gear for another trip.  I've spent the last 10 days hiking in Acadia Nat'l Park, but only one rainy day and I stayed in the tent for a couple extra hours until the worst passed.  Not much of a test for my decaying old gear.  Wow, what a Great place for day hikes!  A different peak or two every day, fantastic scenery, and moderate to difficult hiking, but nothing too strenuous.  The local free bus system gets you all over the island, so with a little planning you don't need a car and yet can have quite different experiences and scenery hiking each day.  Highly recommended, especially when the weather is as nice as we had.

On my trip, I checked out the L.L.Bean ProShell parka, which fits quite well, but was $349 not on sale.  I was not impressed with the stitching quality compared to my old Arcteryx or Patagonia shells, especially looking at things like the velcro wrist closures.  But feature-wise it looks solid, so I may give it a try.  The L.L.Bean guarantee is iron-clad.  It is still shorter than I consider ideal, just hip length and doesn't really cover my butt. Bean had some super-cheap so-called waterproof/breathable parkas too, but nothing that I thought would stand up to the continuous usage that I lay on these kinds of garments.  They were cut longer though, and certainly packed down small.

I also looked in the North Face store and Patagonia.  The Patagonia Super Pluma was especially nice, and seems very lightweight even tho it is ProShell.  Nicely made too, and on sale, but still premium priced.  I saw some of the new NeoShell garments at North Face, but not the new lightweight fabric that Westcomb uses on some of its lightweight parkas.  The heavier stuff has a fuzzy interior, nice against the skin, but far too warm for summer. Construction quality seemed notably poor compared to Patagonia, or even to the better Bean gear.  Now there's a brand that has fallen into mediocrity. 

I'm still looking for some Active Shell garments to see what they feel like in the flesh.  So anyway, the search goes on.  Thanks again for your ideas!

11:48 a.m. on July 12, 2012 (EDT)
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If you are looking for length the Arcteryx Theta is great. I have an AR and it is amazing. The Theta breaths well, and is light enough, I think. It is completely wind/water proof, although rain doesn't seem to be your issue. The only down side is the price, a brand new one will run you about $500. I found one in the store that was last years model for $350. It is a bit over 1 lb, just in case you want the wieght.


Also, the Arcteryx warranty is just as good as L.L. Bean, if not better.

3:59 p.m. on July 12, 2012 (EDT)
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Thank you Flamingo!  Actually, my 5-yr old Arcteryx jacket is a Theta SV, size Large.  It's a bit heavier than yours, but has served me well, with over 350 days on the trail and the slopes.  I agree about the warranty, and the construction quality and outer fabric durability has been outstanding on mine, as well as on other Arcteryx gear I own. 

I've looked at a Beta FL, which is the new Gtx ActiveShell version, and so far it is at the top of my list, even though it is shorter than I would like.  Currently I see it on sale at Backcountry.com  I also really liked the Patagonia Super Pluma, which I've found on sale for about $325, very tempting!  Both are quite a bit lighter than my old warrior.  The Patagucci has pit-zips, and the Beta FL does not. 


It's been so dry in my area this year, I'm really not feeling so much pressure to make a decision.

3:11 p.m. on July 19, 2012 (EDT)
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I went through the same exercise recently and checked on the Alaska outdoors forum.  Career outdoors people like HellyHansen believe it or not.  They are not expensive, and are durable.  Gore-tex will get you wet in prolonged wet conditions.  It is very slippery on wet slopes, and will not stand up to the brush.

4:04 p.m. on July 19, 2012 (EDT)
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I owned a HH ski jacket for several years.  I remember it a durable, but not very breathable.

Patagonia currently running a sale 50% off!  Unfortunately sold out of Super Pluma jackets in my size.  Back to search mode...

November 22, 2014
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