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Snow layering or Do i even need a Hardshell?

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Snow layering or Do i even need a Hardshell?

Postby Strider » Sun Feb 03, 2013 11:15 am

Hello guys, i am planning to go climbing in the alps in a couple of months.
until now i was using this setup : base layer > midlayer (a fleece or a primaloft jacket) > Hardshell
i was thinking , am i doint it right?
recently i hear alot of people who just combine the mid layer and the shell layer and just using a quality softshell , which is more breatheabe and still keeps snow away. i mean just going Base Layer>Softshell .
i can always add some thicker baselayer/ light midlayer (a power stretch pullover for example) if i get cold.

what say you? Do i even need a hardshell for a classical mountaineering trip beginner level?
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Re: Snow layering or Do i even need a Hardshell?

Postby pvnisher » Mon Feb 04, 2013 9:12 am

Strider wrote: Do i even need a hardshell for a classical mountaineering trip beginner level?


Probably not, unless you get bad weather and want (or are forced) to be out in it.

You'll get more mileage from a baselayer and quality softshell trouser than you will from any other pant combo. I prefer Schoeller.
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Re: Snow layering or Do i even need a Hardshell?

Postby Strider » Mon Feb 04, 2013 10:37 am

i was actually talking about jackets. but i guess its stands correct for both pants and jacket?

i was wondering how dry will the Softshell pants keep me? i mean i can understnad that a softsehll jackets is good in dry snowy conditions but the jacket doesn't "spend" so much time in snow as the pants.
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Re: Snow layering or Do i even need a Hardshell?

Postby pvnisher » Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:56 pm

I nearly always bring a hardshell jacket with me since if it starts getting really bad it is convenient to have a hardshell. If I'm anticipating wearing it then I'll make sure it has pitzips (long ones, at that).
If it's just as a spare/insurance then I'll bring a very light, no-frills one like the OR Transonic.

But as long as it isn't rainy or sleeting, a softshell jacket will keep you as dry or drier (because you won't sweat as much) as a hardshell in snow and cold.

I still want pitzips and a hood on my softshell, by the way, for temperature regulation. I prefer the Mammut Ultimate Hoody for the enormous pitzips.
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Re: Snow layering or Do i even need a Hardshell?

Postby DukeJH » Mon Feb 04, 2013 6:55 pm

I don't know if this is a class or not but if you expect to be praticing any self arrest skills, the hardshell pants and jacket will help keep you dry.

I carry a similar systme as pvnisher. Baselayer top and bottom with softshell pants. I add an insulating jacket (Montbell Thermawrap UL or Icebreaker 260 hoodie) up top if needed. I carry my hardshell if there is a chance of nasty but usually just carry a windshirt in SoCal.
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Re: Snow layering or Do i even need a Hardshell?

Postby Dane1 » Mon Feb 04, 2013 7:17 pm

Depends when and how high in the Alps. I suspect you'll want that hard shell.
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Re: Snow layering or Do i even need a Hardshell?

Postby Hotoven » Tue Feb 05, 2013 3:53 am

Below freezing: soft shell
Above freezing: hard shell
(That is assuming your soft shell is windproof which I think most are?)

That is generally what I do, and if you wear decent gaiters (may be going out of style but I love them) they will protect the bottom part of your soft shell pants that spend all the time in the snow. They also help keep your legs warmer and potentially dryer.
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Re: Snow layering or Do i even need a Hardshell?

Postby Strider » Tue Feb 05, 2013 10:15 am

Hotoven wrote:Below freezing: soft shell
Above freezing: hard shell
.


i dont understand how a hardshell is better below freezing? a hardshell's main difference form a softshell is that the former is waterproof but how it will keep you warmer than a softshell?
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Re: Snow layering or Do i even need a Hardshell?

Postby Hotoven » Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:38 pm

I guess it’s important to first understand the definition of freezing which is 0 °C (32 °F). Anything ABOVE freezing is generally liquid. Anything BELOW freezing is generally snow or ice.

Most hard-shells are not insulated, so they don’t exactly keep you “warmer” they just keep the wind and wetness out. The layers underneath the hard-shell will keep you warm. One can wear a hard-shell in many cases; they are just particularly good ABOVE freezing where more water is present.

Most soft shells have some insulation and are windproof. They are water resistant in a lot of cases, but not something you want to wear usually ABOVE freezing. One can also wear a soft shell ABOVE freezing, just so long as it’s not pouring rain, or your not rolling around in the snow all day.

I hope this is helpful.
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Re: Snow layering or Do i even need a Hardshell?

Postby John Duffield » Tue Feb 05, 2013 3:35 pm

My hardshell absorbs more impact as well. Amazing some of the shots I've taken in it.

Having a hardshell over a puffy has the added advantage of giving you a little more flexibility on the rest of your trip. You don't want to head into that bar in Chamonix dressed in your summit shot clothes. The Puffy, by itself might be fine. Or if you want to strip a layer in the hottest part of the day.
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Re: Snow layering or Do i even need a Hardshell?

Postby asmrz » Tue Feb 05, 2013 5:14 pm

For some of us, the issue of breathability also comes to mind. My preference is very breathable first and mid layer and a hard shell for wind and inclement weather. I sweat too much in a soft or windstopper shell. The other issue would be if your trips are mostly in good weather, short trips or trips starting and ending at a hut. For those you might not need a hard shell. But If your trips include unpredictable conditions, multiday trips with chances of stormy weather, snowy conditions and wind, hardshell top and bottoms are preferable (at least for me).
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Re: Snow layering or Do i even need a Hardshell?

Postby Strider » Tue Feb 05, 2013 11:26 pm

so what you guys say basicaly is that i need both the softshell pants+jacket and a hardshell outfit?
can i get some possitive confirmation on this system:
1. warm summer mountaineering: base layer+ softshell layer
2. hard conditions: warmer base layer + softshell layer/ fleece (if i have the hardshell on top i dont have to wear a snowproff midlayer
) + hardshell on top?
although i still dont understand in which conditions would the hardshell be better than a windproof (i mean really windproof) softshell , IMO the softshell is both warmer, more breathable and windproof.
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Re: Snow layering or Do i even need a Hardshell?

Postby DukeJH » Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:00 am

The hardshell will be better than the softshell when the heavens open up and Noah makes his second coming on the ark.

I am also of the school that I'd rather have a piece and not need it than need it and not have it. It is a weight vs. value proposition.

Hotoven: Gaiters going out of style? No way! I have three pair for different boots and different conditions.
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Re: Snow layering or Do i even need a Hardshell?

Postby Hotoven » Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:18 am

DukeJH wrote: Hotoven: Gaiters going out of style? No way! I have three pair for different boots and different conditions.


Yeah I have three different pairs myself and don't leave the house without them when going on a trip. There was a thread on here somewhere where people were saying how useless Gaiters were, and how they are "out of style". The new style of pants are the reason for the so called uselessness of gaiters. I guess the trendy police don't affect you and I. :D
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Re: Snow layering or Do i even need a Hardshell?

Postby WyomingSummits » Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:30 am

My layering system in cold weather is as follows:

Light wicking longsleeve base.
Polartec 100 Fleece mid with half zip.
North Face Apex bionic softshell. Windproof and water resistant.
I always carry a hardshell. I have a 2layer GoLite shell with a very roomy hood. Many softshells such as mine are breathable and windproof, but only water RESISTANT. A harder rain will soak you. On a cold day, far from your sleeping bag, being WET can mean being COLD.....and that can lead to being DEAD. My hardshell layers pack down to the size of a softball for BOTH pants and top and weigh barely over a pound....definitely worth it. I wear a baselayer tights for pants and mountain hardwear Warlow softshell pants. I've been on many 6+ pitch walls on a 45 degree day when a rain storm moves in. Heavy wind and rain in 45 degree temps is a surefire recipe for hypothermia if you're not protected.
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