'dragged' into the modern age on my anniversary

7:13 a.m. on December 9, 2010 (EST)
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been married 15 years today.  remembered to give my wife a nice pair of earrings, because she picked them out, bought them, had them wrapped, and gave them to me a while ago to give them back to her.  it's the recipe for a good marriage, i think.

she's a cautious day-hiker, i like bigger mountains, overnights, winter.  call me a throwback, but i like hard shells.  this morning, in a thoughtful and touching move, she gave me my first softshell, north face bionic apex it says.  

i know nothing about softshells, and i'm going to keep this regardless because it's my anniversary gift.  so, how and where do people where softshells like this, and what do people think of this one? reviews on this site look very good.

:)

4:59 a.m. on December 10, 2010 (EST)
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Congratulations on 15 years of marriage!  Happy anniversary!

In answer to your inquiry I own three of these 'TNF Apex fabric' shells.

1. The first one I bought is very light and really intended for use in Summer.

2. I have the Apex Bionic and use it when I am doing moderate work around the barn or out for a hack in late fall/early winter (before it drops below 0) 

3. I have the Apex Bionic Thermal, I use it for shopping/errands and for everyday use ie: wear it to work in cold weather conditions below the freezing point.

My experience with Apex is that although it is unrestrictive and very comfortable to wear, it allows too much air to pass through for winter backcountry use.  Especially when you may be standing around or collecting fire wood etc.  The Apex bionic fabric is rated at 0 cfm (cubic flow metres of air allowed to pass through 1" of fabric).  However, the jacket is not completely windproof (just the material) because the seams are not sealed you can really feel the air coming through.  The same goes for all my Apex shells with the exception of The Flight Series shell that is rated at 20 cfm because it is designed to let air in.

10:42 a.m. on December 10, 2010 (EST)
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Congrats on 15 years, Leadbelly :)

I only own a pair of Mountain Hardwear Softshell pants, and I love them. They are too warm to wear, even without a base layer, in anything warmer than 45F if I am actively moving. I haven't worn them in real winter conditions yet, but I am pretty confident that with a good base layer on they will do great for active wear in temps down to 5-10F or so.

I never would have thought I would like softshells, but these pants have made me really want a matching jacket.

Just my worthless two cents!

8:47 a.m. on December 13, 2010 (EST)
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Congratulations, leadbelly (on the anniversary, not just the jacket).

That was a nice gift from your wife.

I have two softshell jackets and two softshell pants. When you need a hardshell, you need a hardshell, but I also think you'll find a lot of uses for your softshell.

Try wearing it when you want the wet to get out (i.e. you want to let the sweat out with breathability), versus when you need to keep the wet off out (i.e. you need to keep moisture like wet snow or rain from getting you wet).

So use it if you'll be active and don't need waterproof protection.

I use my softshells in dry, active conditions: one jacket nearly always for skiing, among other winter outings (depending on other factors); the lighter weight pants I use for three-season hiking, and the heavier ones for winter skiing, used on Rainier, and more.

I love the jacket (it's in my profile photo at left), and once I got the pants I was sold. I find them all very versatile.

4:04 p.m. on December 13, 2010 (EST)
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Leadbelly2550

Out of curiosity, what is that Jacket you have on in picture called?  It is zip-in-compatible right?

I looks as though I also have that exact same one. 

I bought it a couple years ago but cant seem to locate the original product tags that came attached to it.  Yes...I try to save all my product tags.  Ever since I had a load of my gear stolen while out in B.C. I keep all of them.  It may sound funny to do that however when the insurance company was asking me to provide 'proof of purchase' for my old Pac-Lite Gore-tex shell all I could give them was the original product tags and pictures of me wearing it because I could not locate the receipt.  It worked out in my favour.  I knew they would come in handy someday. 

Just curious.

Reedr

3:38 p.m. on December 16, 2010 (EST)
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rdagg:

the shell in the photo is a north face mountain light shell.  it's gore tex, and yes, zip-compatible with the newer north face fleece.  i bought my original mountain light in 1992; north face replaced it for free after the seam tape started delaminating with this jacket around 2001.  it's a good jacket, did quite well on many winter hikes and climbs.  it's a little on the heavy side, and the internal mesh lining tends to be hard to navigate sometimes, especially with heavier layering.  i also liked the pockets better on the 1992 version.  the hood is OK without being great, it tends to droop over your eyes at inopportune times, like in high winds.  it's still in a closet at our house today and still functional after several years of use.  say what you want about north face, but it's a quality shell.   

i have a marmot exum jacket (gore tex pro shell) and a wild things snowkite jacket (eVent, a closeout purchase when they discontinued the style) that are my primary shells for most purposes today.  they are lighter weight, better for layering in the worst winter weather, and the hoods are much easier to adjust.       

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