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Snow layering or Do i even need a Hardshell?

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Re: Snow layering or Do i even need a Hardshell?

Postby asmrz » Wed Feb 06, 2013 4:36 am

Both layering systems have their advantages and disadvantages. I think we just need to answer some questions about ourselves, how we function in the mountains, our level of exertion, what kind of trips we go on, in what conditions. Do we participate in alpine trips off the beaten path, multi-day trips, in all seasons? I think that a bomb-proof set up must include both top and bottom hardshells.

If your concern might be wind protection and some water resistance, softshell jacket will do. I think softshell pants are very versatile in all kinds of mountain conditions, but I still bring light hardshell pants with side zippers (a must) when the weather gets nasty.

The softshells were developed when people expressed interest in clothing that was windproof as well as somewhat water-resistant and a little breathable. It has taken at least 10 years of outdoor industry's effort to develop softshells that would be all that. That effort still has not produced a garment that would do it all.

So in the absence of totally bomb-proof softshells, hardshells still rule. BTW Shoeller fabrics are fantastic, especially on pants.

So ask yourselv how will you be using the product, in what conditions, in what seasons and the answer might be easier to arrive at.

And if you feel that softshell top is the way, by all means go and buy one. But understand, it is not likely to answer all your needs. The post

above by WyomingSummits says it all.
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Re: Snow layering or Do i even need a Hardshell?

Postby asmrz » Wed Feb 06, 2013 5:03 am

BTW the specifics (for me) are: Capilene or other wicking material top long sleeve, Patagonia R1 or equiv. mid layer pullover, for winter conditions a good pile jacket, for pants I have several Shoeller fabric pants, the latest being OR Cirque pants, in winter I would suplement the pants with Capilene or Smartwool underwear, and I always carry hard shell and full zip pants. This has been my set-up for most of my fall and winter climbing for years. In the last couple of years,I started to carry an 8 oz. down sweater in winter. Since I need garments that must not prevent perspiration from escaping, I do not use a softshell. This works for me.
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Re: Snow layering or Do i even need a Hardshell?

Postby WillP » Wed Feb 06, 2013 5:29 am

Dude, it's your first trip. Here's how to do it:
1) Take everything - hardshell, softshell, insulating layer, thermal layers, etc.
2) Try it all out
3) Find out what works FOR YOU in the conditions you encounter
4) Base your clothing selection on future trips on lessons learned and conditions expected.

It's called 'experiential learning'. It leads to self-sufficient decision-making, and it's so much more valuable than asking a bunch of strangers (no matter how well-meaning their educated and experienced responses) 'what kind of pants should I wear?'.
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Re: Snow layering or Do i even need a Hardshell?

Postby Strider » Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:55 pm

Questions : 1- Shoeller fabric pants are "just" moutanin hiking pants or you can actually walk in snow in them?
2- i still cant understand this: are SOFTSHELL pants SNOWproof or not? i mean can you walk all day in knee deep snow in them?
( because if not i cant understand why the hell would anyone would buy them , being just overpriced heavy hiking pants)
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Re: Snow layering or Do i even need a Hardshell?

Postby asmrz » Wed Feb 06, 2013 5:39 pm

Shoeller fabrics were designed in Switzerland more than 25 years ago specifically for technical alpine climbing. The original fabric was stronger and tougher (by a mile) than anything on the market and it remained so for all these years. I have the original Dryskin pants that I have abused since 1993 and they are still in one (somewhat beat up) piece. They cost about $160 new and worth every penny.

If you need to know about Shoeller, google the company and their products. They have several fabrics that were designed for specific conditions. All their pants are water repelant, some quite a bit so. They are expensive, always were, but you pay for what you get.

But your question was, are Shoeller and other "Softshell" fabrics absolutely waterproof? Well the only waterproof product is coated nylon but it does not breathe and is quite fragile. Goretex and a miriad of fabrics like it (hard shells) are the other waterproof BUT breathable fabrics. A good softshell pants (like Shoeller and now many other brands) will keep the snow out of your boots and are reasonably water-repelant, but that is not what they were designed for. If you roll in the snow for an hour or two, you will be wet. That's what Hardshells are for.

So if you just want to walk in the snow, cheap hiking pants and coated nylon overpants for 20 bucks will do the job.

The issue gets more complex,if you want to use the best gear and clothing for alpine scrambling in all seasons, rough rock climbing, alpine and ice climbing and other outdoor aerobic activities that are hard on fabrics.
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Re: Snow layering or Do i even need a Hardshell?

Postby kevin trieu » Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:27 pm

Strider wrote:Questions : 1- Shoeller fabric pants are "just" moutanin hiking pants or you can actually walk in snow in them?
2- i still cant understand this: are SOFTSHELL pants SNOWproof or not? i mean can you walk all day in knee deep snow in them?
( because if not i cant understand why the hell would anyone would buy them , being just overpriced heavy hiking pants)

i think you are missing the part which nobody has mentioned so far and that's a pair of mountain gaiters. softshell or hardshell pants, it is usually combined with a pair of gaiters to prevent snow from getting into your boots. mountain gaiters are usually waterproof.
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Re: Snow layering or Do i even need a Hardshell?

Postby sneakyracer » Fri Feb 08, 2013 9:30 am

Hi, the Alps can be pretty wet during the summer. Rain is quite common even up to and above 3,000M. A lot of times its windy. So unless you have a lot of schedule flexibility so as to avoid bad weather or even variable weather days then I would take a hardshell. Specially for multi-day trips. You will also save some weight since most hardshells are lighter than most softshells and will serve as your windproof/rainproof layer. Most hardshells are quite durable also. Make sure you get one with a good hood that fits over everything and also has pit zips for ventilation.
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