Best Gore Tex Pro Shell Jacket

4:26 p.m. on July 25, 2008 (EDT)
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I'm looking for a do it all shell made out of Gore Tex pro shell. I'm willing to shell out the cash, but I want to make sure I get the right one. I've looked at a number of them online, from the Outdoor Research Mentor, various Arc'Teryx shells, and the North Face Free Thinker. I'm looking to use this for Skiing, Backpacking, and wherever I might get wet. Anybody have any first hand experience?

11:54 p.m. on July 25, 2008 (EDT)
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First, there is no such thing as a "do it all shell". Hard shells to suit the activities you mention differ in the requirements of the activities (skiing vs backpacking), and in the variations of the activity. For example, take skiing. There is a difference in what you want for skiing (since you are on a backcountry site, I assume you mean backcountry skiing) in the Presidentials vs Wasatch vs Sierra vs Cascades, and in any of those between deep winter and spring. There is also a difference in what you look for if you are going for a day tour, an overnight camp, or a multiday expedition (such as a traverse of Katahdin or the Sierra Haute Route). I use different wpb shells for doing the Echo to Kirkwood Ski Race vs following the same route, but camping for a couple days to skin up and ski down in some of the basins. If you do the Wasatch in deep powder conditions, you might want a powder skirt, which would be overly warm in Cascades spring conditions.

Goretex (including the current generation) doesn't really breathe all that well. You might want to consider one of the eVent shells, such as those by Wild Things http://www.wildthingsgear.com/ . I have found Marmot Gtx shells to be significantly better than North Face shells. I don't care much for the design of the Arc'T shells, though they are well made (their "features" don't match my needs, plus I have found that "waterproof" zippers can be a real pain).

Remember that backpacking and BC skiing take place in very different weather conditions and temperatures. You might find that pit zips help with the different temperatures (and humidities), but you might not.

Best thing is to go to some shops and actually check the shells out (Wild Things and some of the other better manufacturers only sell on-line, so you need to find someone with one you can look at).

4:12 a.m. on July 26, 2008 (EDT)
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I think Bill covered it; except:

Get the jacket you would want to walk around town and sit at the bar wearing. That way, if you don't like it's use out on the hill, you can still get your money's worth. Leave the light/bright colours to things you don't have to clean so often (rucksacks, gaters, hats). Buy from an ethical company like Patagonia and not TNF or buy one made in Canada. Get a simple design. Buy local. Here ends my opinion.

11:55 a.m. on July 26, 2008 (EDT)
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I own Mountain Hardwares' Epic jacket and pants. Non Gore-Tex.
Cost around 200.00 for them both plus shipping. It was one of the lowest priced shells they had. It is half the weight of my best rain suit, much easier to pack, easier to get on and off and the the zippers for venting work better.
I own Columbia and Cabelas' suits, they do repel water, but that's about all.

Only reason I got a shell is because I'm tired of wearing rain suits that are poorly articulated, poor ventilation, and tear up too easy.
I do not go mountaineering, so my needs are minimal. Really just want to stay dry, and be able to raise my arm without undoing my pack belt. I like pit zips for what I do, I usually leave them open unless the rain starts to get heavy, even when it is not raining my outer layer picks up a lot of moisture here. I have had water bead up and run down my jacket and pants even when it is not raining.

This is my first shell so I have nothing to compare it too, just thought I would mention it because I have seen several simple backpackers like me, not mountaineers, buy $600.00 shells just to stay dry or look cool.

12:57 p.m. on July 26, 2008 (EDT)
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Quote:

I have had water bead up and run down my jacket and pants even when it is not raining.

Now that is high humidity!

3:25 p.m. on July 26, 2008 (EDT)
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Bill S. ...The water just floats in the air, especially in the mornings.
I have had to learn not to underestimate the climate in the Southern Appalachians, especially along the Blue Ridge Escarpment, one of my favorite places due to its diversity in terms of terrain, weather, plant life (amazing), and wildlife.

One book I own says that according to the Koppen classification system it is considered "marine west coast".
Another calls it a sub-tropic rain forest. I just know it rains a lot, and there is always moisture in the air.

Fog here is so thick we often joke about being able to open your Mountain House meal and lay it on its side for a while to hydrate it.

4:28 p.m. on July 26, 2008 (EDT)
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For ...marine west coast... climatic conditions, especially where some frost and even snow is encountered, I have found eVENT shells to be far superior to anything else I have tried.

I have an Integral Designs Thru Hiker in bright yellow eVENT and it is SO superior to ANY other wpm shell I have had that it is remarkable. The other one is an ID Pullover in garbage bag green and made from the same stuff that Evan makes his bivies from, it is TOUGH, low visual impact and my backpack hunting shell.

I have had Early Winters, original Marmot, Black's and Synergy Works ventile shells, the best MEC and a superb Jack Wolfskin one and the eVENT shells just kick their collective butts in wet, foggy and miserable weather, plus they are MUCH lighter.

I also recommend Wildthings, have a custom pair of tights made by them and will definitely buy more from them, excellent gear and really nice people.

9:05 p.m. on July 26, 2008 (EDT)
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I just visited the event website, I see now, eVent is the fabric and is used by different manufacturers.

The site has a good intro.

If the performance is that much better I can see the justification for spending the money.
I don't usually stop hiking just because it is raining, and sweating was always a problem It's like a sauna!
My MH shell is nothing special, but it is so much better than my old stuff.
The ID shell made of eVent fabric looks interesting.
I see the rain jacket costs $240 or $260 or so.
kutenay, are you saying the ventilation is kick but?
That is my biggest problem.

3:43 p.m. on August 17, 2008 (EDT)
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I have not had any experience with E-vent fabrics, but I have noticed that at least a few of the shells built with the fabric do not include pit zips simply because the fabric breathes so well they are not needed.

5:16 p.m. on August 17, 2008 (EDT)
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In a marine environment, as differentiated from an arctic environment, given proximity to oceans in each, you WILL sweat when hiking, especially carrying a heavy pack. The eVENT shells wick this like nothing else I have seen and pitzips are superfluous, IMHO.

I first experienced eVENT here on the BC coast as my buddy had a Montane jacket when we were hiking in January, 2005 and it is WET here! I was struck by the difference between this and my Jack Wolfskin GT parka and decided to invest in one of my own and finally found the ID ones, sized the way I like them.

I do not like pitzips and I am a hardcore eVENT user from now on; Marie from Wildthings called me the other day and told me about some new developments with their line and I will buy another jacket from them, in eVENT, when I save some more gear $$$$$.

July 30, 2014
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