Gore-Tex Pro Shell observations

9:09 p.m. on January 18, 2010 (EST)
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I decided to throw all my REI gift cards and other Christmas cash at a top-end rain shell and bought Outdoor Research's Mentor Jacket. It's quite the raincoat, I must say: full length pit zips. gazillion pockets, extra big hat, etc. Feels like it could fend off some serious weather.

The fabric is Gore-Tex Pro Shell, which is pretty heavy duty (in addition to being just plain heavy). Since we've had so much discussion about so-called waterproof-breathable fabrics, I thought I'd throw my experience in here.

I've hiked from about 15F up to the low 50s in this jacket. It performs no miracles -- with a pack on my back still gets pretty soaked. If I hike uphill with too much insulation I start getting clammy pretty quick.

A single light layer is all I need underneath down to about 30 degrees as long as I keep moving. Below that I more heavy-duty base layer is in order, but not necessarily an insulating one.

Today was pretty warm but I didn't feel like taking the jacket off (good protection from twigs and junk jutting over the trail), so I just unzipped the front and the pit zips and it cooled right down.

Everybody wishes Gore-Tex and its ilk could prevent the annoyance/inconvenience of layering and delayering. Sorry, the best Gore-Tex makes cannot do it.

However, if you mind your body's signals and avoid overheating, it works pretty good.

Next up: trying it out in the rain.

11:12 p.m. on January 18, 2010 (EST)
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98 forum posts

I'm potentially in the market for new shell gear to replace my elderly set (Marmot Lightspeed jacket (long since discontinued) and unidentified model REI pants).

I'm lusting after the Marmot Exum jacket right now, which looks beautiful and is a tad lighter than your Mentor. (On the other hand, I'm also still wanting to replace my current solo tent, and who knows where all the cash is going to come from...)

In any case, I'd be very interested to hear how you find your Mentor in the wet, as well as any other thoughts from anyone on the forum regarding Gore-Tex Pro.

2:21 p.m. on January 19, 2010 (EST)
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I too am in the market for a good hard-shell...I am currently looking at the Arcteryx Theta AR or SV. When it comes in (and after some field use in the Smokies during spring) I will update with details!

D

2:37 p.m. on January 19, 2010 (EST)
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15 forum posts

I purchased a Mountain Hardware Goretex Proshell off steepandcheap for 50% off. About a week after I got it in the mail I found myself in 20 degree weather in the Great Smokey Mountains. With a PolarMax baselayer and the XL jacket (I'm a Large) I was dry and breatable. The next day while hiking the temp rose about freezing and the snow on the trees began to fall on me, but the goretex proshell repelled the bombardment of meltwater and forever gained my trust. This MLK weekend I was in Pisgah and the goretex proshell excelled in keeping me dry over 12 hours of straight rain hiking.

Full size pitzips are AMAZING!

Pockets positioning and design with backpacking in mind.

I give the Goretex Proshell 5 1/2 stars!

4:47 p.m. on January 19, 2010 (EST)
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thanks for the report!

it would feel weird to go on a cold-weather hike and not have to shed or add layers. even with high-tech fabrics, it's a fact of life. i think this fabric breathes pretty well for something that stops water and wind; haven't tried eVent, which is also supposed to be very good.

@Tokyo Bill: i have been wearing a Marmot exum jacket for over a year. it's great. weighs under a pound, pretty simple design (great hood, relatively few pockets), has worn well. length is pretty short - for winter hiking/climbing, it's better with a high-waisted pant or bib. it has performed very well in awful weather on many parts of the spectrum - well below zero and 80 plus mph winds, drenching tropical storm. it's expensive, so try to wait until it's on sale. mine is an ugly color, but it was under $200 new.

7:26 p.m. on January 19, 2010 (EST)
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I reviewed the Exum Pro-shell jacket a while back here:

http://www.trailspace.com/gear/marmot/exum-jacket/review/13879/

I still find it to be the best option when the proverbial "cards are down."

"Breathability" is a tough term to talk about, I find, because it is directly related to one's ability to layer properly, and adjust pace/ventilation as required. I fault no jacket for wetting out because I didn't realize I was overheating; in this respect we share the same views, tommangan.

9:37 p.m. on January 30, 2010 (EST)
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306 forum posts

Well, my Arcteryx Theta AR (Pro-Shell) finally came in a few days ago, right before the big snow/ice storm here in Tennessee! All I can say is that it is the best money I have spent on any type of outer layer or shell. So far, with over 9 miles (I know that's not much--kinda limited by where I can go due to the roads!) it does an excellent job repelling/keeping water out. As for breathability it is pretty darned good and take the "pit-zips" into account and it is great (but it is a protective layer over your bodyso keep that in mind). When combined with a high loft fleece (Mountain Hardwear Monkeyman) it keeps me very warm and comfortable in temps down in the low 20s and 10mph winds (snow/sleet/rain all within 2 hours). I still have to test the "bombproofness" of the jacket and give it a bunch more miles, but again this is just an initial update but I will keep updating as more miles are piled on.

D

August 20, 2014
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