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Marmot Pro shell vs Performance shell?

9:53 a.m. on December 30, 2010 (EST)
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I am in the market for a new shell as my beloved old Marmot has finally started taking on water:(  I have finally settled on the Marmot (women's) Fjell (a 3L pro shell)  or the Spire ( a 3L performance shell).  I took a look at Arcteryx ( beta AR and Theta SV).  These jakets are really impressive, but the features seemed to be too "minimalist" for me right now.  I like the zip out powder skirts in the Marmots.  And I need ample pockets (see next paragraph)!  So far I have not found another jacket with the powder skirt feature (also checked OR, North Face, honestly don't remember if I checked Mountain Hardware). 

The bottom line is, I am now a mom of 3 kiddos ages 2 to 7, and so my main uses for this jacket are going to a be "pack horse" and then hopefully some skiing, backcountry skiing, hiking, and (hopefully, sometime soon) backpacking  or climbing some 14ers (with kiddos in tow). I need a decent "3 season" jacket that I use in cold weather and snow but I can throw in a backpack if necessary.  I know that it's impossible to find aj ack-of-all trades hardshell.  I'm just looking for something reasonable. 

Is there any other shell I should consider? 

What's the difference with performance vs proshell?  Weight?  Durability? My understanding is that breathability is about the same?? (I'm not even considering eVent right now because I think it's probably splitting hairs in my current state of affairs)

Any advice would be appreciated because we don't live in place where I can really pick the brain of a professional outfitter that knows his stuff.  At this point all I have been able to rely on are the extremely helpful people at Marmot.  I'm looking for a less biased view..

9:51 p.m. on December 30, 2010 (EST)
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If you drill down in Marmot's website, they have a link to download the dealer technical manual. http://marmot.com/product/content/marmot-tech-manual

It explains the difference.  gore tex pro shell is advertised as a tougher material, with the gore tex bonded to a somewhat lighter yet tougher outer nylon, and also bonded to an inner lining.  i own and regularly use the Marmot Exum jacket that's made with gore tex pro shell.  it's a shell that has 3 layer gore tex, but it's very lightweight and feels like it's one piece of material.  gore tex performance shell has a separate inner lining, not bonded to the gore tex on the interior.  (the exum is a great shell - though perhaps more spartan in terms of features than you might want).  

in terms of performance, the gore tex membrane is the same - pro shell won't breathe any differently than performance.  the difference comes in the weight and durability of the nylon that the membrane is bonded to, and the separate interior lining.  of course, jackets may also have different features you like.

i like the light weight of gore tex pro shell and would probably opt for the Fjell.  check around the internet, because you can find very significant discounts.  

eVent is also waterproof and breathable - a lot of people feel it breathes better than gore tex.  i have a Wild Things eVent shell that's excellent.  i can't much tell if it breathes better when i'm hiking uphill with a pack on, but it is a worthy alternative to gore tex.   i think Westcomb makes eVent jackets (the men's revenant, the women's vapor fx, for example) with removable powder skirts.  the Wild Things Alpinist jacket doesn't have a powder skirt, but it's an excellent eVent shell with good pockets and features.  

6:00 p.m. on December 31, 2010 (EST)
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Hmmm.  We'll see what shows up on Monday!  I called Marmot back one more time (now that I could adequately articulate my questions) and the rep checked with the design department this time.  Interestingly enough, he also started to recommend the proshell.  But after listening to my various needs (including a lot of hauling kiddos/kiddo stuff around mountains) he checked with the design department.  They all came back and unanimously recommended the Spire (performance shell).  Apparently the Spire, while using a goretex performand fabric, is bonded to a thicker , "tougher" outer fabric than the Fjell (proshell).  This makes the jacket 4 oz heavier than the proshell version.  It's also a 3L goretex, not a 2L, so it doesn't have the mesh lining, it's bonded to the interior tricot ( I made sure I carified that).    They all felt that from a jacket performance standpoint, they were virtually the same.  The only other diffs were a wrist pocket and a inch in length...I'll let you know what I find!  Also another interesting point, in my research I came across a string at backcoutry.com that described a similar Lowe jacket (perform goretex and "tougher/slightly heavier outer fabric).  In fact, the Lowe rep that answered the string stated that, from a performance standpoint, they felt it was just as good as its proshell cousin, and therefore a better buy than the higher end version.  We'll see if that's true! 

I have become very intrested in the eVent, though.  I really wonder how it performs in while running or on a bike.  Sounds great!

8:14 p.m. on December 31, 2010 (EST)
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I've got an Exum as well, and it is better in every aspect than any previous 4-season shell I've owned, including a Marmot Alpinist III (older, original, 3-layer Gore-tex, now their "performance" layer). With that being said, I LOVED my Alpinist.

9:42 a.m. on January 1, 2011 (EST)
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Do you really need a powder-skirt? Off-piste skiing?

Some Marmot jackets are overloaded to gain sales, and some have a large advertisement inside: it says, "Marmot" in big letters and adds nothing, taking up breathing space. They can be excellent for some features though, such as the hood on the Exum etc.

Arcteryx are great, just too expensive. I think the Beta AR is a lovely jacket and the fit is usually excellent for women but it is a simpler concept and shorter for climbing, than the other jackets they do.

All in all, I would say go for a jacket that looks nice and fits well over the amount of layering you plan to do, that is long enough at the hip, that feels like a second skin when you move around, with zips that work easily, a hood that moves and is firm at the peak, with cord locks that are easily reached and do not whip your face or catch in a harness, and so on. Pockets are great, but what really ends up in them? Arms should have cuffs that vent wide. A dark colour will stay away from the washing machine longer but might not look as nice or be as safe on the hill.

Event is probably better but Goretex or similar works well. I find softshells replacing my hardshell use, so a lightweight but not too flimsy jacket would be my choice, as it would not get used too much in the ten years I own it.

Mountain Hardwear and Patagonia are not to be overlooked either, especially if they tick all the boxes and are on sale.

For the price of an Arcteryx or top of the line Marmot, at retail, you could probably buy a windproof smock, a lightweight softshell hoody, and a very lightweight hardshell.

5:37 p.m. on January 1, 2011 (EST)
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performance vs proshell - performance is what used to be just gore before they add new items to their line...it can come as a 2 layer and a mesh or in a 3 layer - outer, membrane and inner. the thing with proshell - it "breathe" better as it have more "holes" in it, and the way that the inner layer is build is way better - stronger, lighter and work better for layering with other cloths.

I use to call jackets made of performances "walking the dog" jackets - they are great, but you feel when you are wearing them.

11:10 p.m. on January 1, 2011 (EST)
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Well, based on what everyone is saying here, I ruled the Fjell back in and ordered it.  I'll try them on side by side and see...  thanks for all of the input.

4:08 p.m. on January 2, 2011 (EST)
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To answer Pathloser (and Nirotem),

I think I do need that powder skirt and the pockets.  The circumstances of my life have changed and I am generally carrying everything from chapstick to energy bars to sunglasses, wipes and all kinds of crap for everyone including me.  When skiing with these kids, you just have to have everythig at the ready.  As crazy as it sounds the proshell has an extra pocket that I'm actually coveting more than the proshell material.  The powder skirt is really for getting down and dirty with the kids this winter because hey I NEVER fall when skiing(ha ha!).  But I hate bibs, and a hip length coat just isn't going to keep the snow from going up the back.

Now, I do dream of the day (hopefully in a couple of years) when I can get off piste, or get back on my crosscountry skis, but that's not right now.  So to be fair, as much as it is a kick to the 'ol ego, maybe what I DO need is that "dog walking jacket."  But in my experience, the soccer mom jackets are usually only good for one or two pursuits.  I don't want  something with insulation or psuedo waterproofness.  It's just too limiting.  So that's why I found myself looking at the Marmot (again).

I did really like that Beta jacket.  I will say though that the OR really interested me a little more.  I think I really want a soft shell next, but I am keeping the OR in mind for the future.  I also plan on checking out the eVent jackets. 

7:51 p.m. on January 3, 2011 (EST)
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not crazy at all to look for pockets and features you like.  it makes a difference in how much you like and use the gear.

for what it's worth, i started carrying a small pack when i started skiing with my kids, in the interest of being the 'mothership.'  (father ship?).  i really didn't enjoy having their stuff crammed into my pockets.  

11:32 p.m. on January 3, 2011 (EST)
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Well, I received both jackets today and compared them.  I found the Fjell on Zappos for roughly the same price as the Spire.  That made it a real comparison of performance rather than price.  The spire (performance shell) was a very nice jacket, but I finally chose the Fjell Proshell for a couple of reasons.  I "noticed" the Spire jacket more when layering.  It DID have a weightier/beefier outer fabric than the proshell, which I thought at first would be a plus.  But after layering underneath, I found myself "fighting" the weight of the fabric more.  Along the same vein, I found that I could more comfortably layer more under the proshell because it used waterproof zippers and thus had less "flap" material to bunch in the arm pit area.  In the past, I would not have noticed it, but the womens specific jackets are clearly cut much closer to the body.  As such, I may have to purchase another layering piece in the future, because I have been known to layer capilene and my (very) old sierra designs windstopper fleece underneath my shell on a very cold day (instead of a fleece T).  This isn't the norm, but it is not as close fitting a garment and is a little bunchy to begin with.  On a ridiculous day, I assume some sort of a soft shell cut closer to the body would probably work better.  Otherewise, i can't say enough about how great that fit was.  Thanks for strongly suggesting I try it out.

As far as the backpack goes, I'm already taking care of that.  My husband is on to me.  He's been the main "mothership" for the last couple of years .  My old excuse of "you should carry the backpack because you're such a great skier and you NEVER  fall" is now falling on deaf ears.   But I do get a new Osprey out of the deal so i really can't complain too much..

3:15 p.m. on January 4, 2011 (EST)
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sweet! good to hear you like the fit and the feel of it! good luck out and about using it :)

I used to work in a shop, and told people many times not go over-spec with their gear, if you need that extra pocket or extra bit and it'll make your life better, you should go for it, if you get the same features then it come to the materials, and the proshell, as you noticed, layer better.

8:49 p.m. on January 8, 2011 (EST)
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anything that gets you a new pack is great! can't go wrong with Osprey.

Mystery Ranch makes a number of small daypacks designed for skiing, for what it's worth. 

April 23, 2014
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