Softshell recommendations?


Original Post
cmqr9001 Black · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 0

What's your favorite softshell? I'm in the market to buy one and wanted to see what features you guys like and don't like. I was leaning towards a lightweight softshell like the BD Alpine Start Hoody to general use a light softshell over a midlayer or as a windshirt for rock and alpine climbing. Also interested in use for ice climbing. Thanks!

Pascal Liddane · · Nashua · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 40

Mountain Hardware Super Chockstone, light, stretchy, breathes, hood is killer (fits under and over helmets), fits in pocket. I have worn it everywhere from going to class in the fall to rock, to ice, to alpine. (wearing it in my picture)

Climb Germany · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 2,485

The BD Alpine Start Hoody is great on cool mornings in spring/fall, or as an additional layer over a light fleece. But it's paper thin, barely a softshell really and not meant for real rain. Also super light and packs into itself to clip on your harness. So it's great for its intended purpose. But try it on first and be clear how thin it is before you commit.

Nat D · · Seattle, WA · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 425

I maintain 3 soft shells:

BD Dawn Patrol for coldest/most inclement conditions
OR Ferrosi for general purpose
BD Alpine Start for light and fast or warm

I've also considered an Arcteryx Squamish Hoody (more a wind shirt, not really a soft shell) to go even one level lighter/faster than the BD alpine start, but haven't yet

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0

It looks like you guys are all naming shells, and not softshells, which are much thicker and usually have a thin fleece type coating on the inside.

If you're looking for a good shell for climbing, especially ice climbing, then go with something with a 2.5 or 3 layer goretex type material. The BD Alpine start and Mountain Hardware Super Chockstone are both really awesome shells. I use them and love them, but they are not cut out for keeping you warm/dry when ice climbing. I've climbed ice plenty of times when it's just warm enough that water is splashing down from above and making it feel like I'm climbing in a rainstorm. Only when this rain hits you it instantly turns into a coating of ice all over your clothes.

Look for hard shell jackets. I climbed in the Patagonia Triolet jacket last year and it was awesome. It's a tad spendy, but they back up their gear well. patagonia.com/product/mens-...;cgid=mens-jackets-vests-hard-shell#start=1

If that's too much then look for other brands with similar specs. You'll be happier with those options for ice and alpine routes.

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 0

Right now Costco has their own brand (Kirkland) softshell jackets. I just bought one and it seems well constructed, but I cannot speak to long term use. It worked fine on a desert trip a few weeks ago in the Swell.

The huge feature? They're only $20 !

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 87

OP: I use the OR Ferrosi on top and OR Cirques or Patagonia Simple Guides on the bottom. Lots of other good options out there too, I don't think you can go wrong with any of the popular items.

http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/Softshell-Jacket-Reviews

Ryan Hamilton wrote:It looks like you guys are all naming shells, and not softshells, which are much thicker and usually have a thin fleece type coating on the inside.
All the jackets that people have named are softshells. Softshells can be quite thin, or can have fleece linings, it's about the material type. I much prefer softshells without linings, as they are much more flexible over a wider range of conditions.

Ryan Hamilton wrote:You'll be happier with those options for ice and alpine routes.
I would disagree, with the caveat that it's all conditions dependent. I climb in a softshell (or windshirt) the majority of the time, especially on alpine/mountaineering routes. If I did these climbs in a hardshell, most of the time I'd be too hot and too wet, due to lack of breathability.

Of course, if you're climbing in really inclement weather, or ice cragging on a wet drippy day, a hard shell might be more appropriate. Even then, I'd tend towards a hardshell on top and softshell bottoms, reserving hardshell pants for truly heinous conditions (mine rarely leave my pack, and often aren't packed in the first place).
Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0
Kyle Tarry wrote:OP: I use the OR Ferrosi on top and OR Cirques or Patagonia Simple Guides on the bottom. Lots of other good options out there too, I don't think you can go wrong with any of the popular items. outdoorgearlab.com/Softshel... All the jackets that people have named are softshells. Softshells can be quite thin, or can have fleece linings, it's about the material type. I much prefer softshells without linings, as they are much more flexible over a wider range of conditions. I would disagree, with the caveat that it's all conditions dependent. I climb in a softshell (or windshirt) the majority of the time, especially on alpine/mountaineering routes. If I did these climbs in a hardshell, most of the time I'd be too hot and too wet, due to lack of breathability. Of course, if you're climbing in really inclement weather, or ice cragging on a wet drippy day, a hard shell might be more appropriate. Even then, I'd tend towards a hardshell on top and softshell bottoms, reserving hardshell pants for truly heinous conditions (mine rarely leave my pack, and often aren't packed in the first place).
Agreed. I don't often alpine climb in a hard shell, but I ice climb in windy/wet often enough that I pretty much always climb in a hard shell. I know my BD Alpine Start wouldn't be a good idea in those conditions, but on something like a dry, windy alpine ridge or the Grand Teton it would be great.
Nolan Huther · · Clarkson University · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 567

I've really enjoyed my OR Ferrosi jacket. I've used it climbing, hiking and some other miscellaneous things too. Very movement friendly (read- stretchy), good protection and a solid shell. Great for fall cragging and a good bushwhacking shirt in spruce cripplebush, I'd imagine it would be great for some alpine from all I hear. Pretty breathable, and fairly inexpensive comparatively. Plus, wearing it around campus I get compliments on how cool it looks all the time. Downside is the hood is pretty annoying with a helmet, but not terrible. Hem is kinda low but has never bothered me. The arms are reinforced on the jacket and makes it quite hardy, but if you get the Ferrosi shirt (still great) it's more prone to wear since the stretchy fabric is somewhat light.

A-K · · Boulder, CO · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 0

+1 for the OR Ferrosi.

My go to for summer alpine days when the weather doesn't look horrendous. With a fleece underneath, my base layer barely gets damp after a few hours of medium rain. I have scraped, chimneys and squeezed in it and never worried about ripping it. I also wear while skinning backcountry skiing as I don't sweat in it like my hardshell. Although I never get compliments about how cool I look like Nolan, it comes in a variety of colors.

Cons: collar doesn't cover your neck, hood a little tight with a helmet, and the draw cord is right near your harness rack so I accidently clip things to it.

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 87

FYI, there are a bunch of additional comments about softshells here:

https://www.mountainproject.com/v/or-ferrosi-hoody/111663340

In addition to the Ferrosi, users recommend the Arc Psiphon SL and the Rab Sawtooth.

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 438

One thing to consider also is drying time. Thicker softshells also take longer to dry. The more elastane in a fabric the longer the drying time will be.

I found this with a rab zephyr, which I wanted to use a softshell for ski touring with high output. If I would sweat out the back it took forever to dry, I ended up getting rid of it and going to a BD alpine start. It breathes almost as well, blocks more wind, and dries very fast.

Also consider some of the new hybrid jackets with a waterproof membrane on the shoulders/hood for ice climbing.

cmqr9001 Black · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 0

Anyone have experience with the Arc Psiphon FL?

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 87
Christian Black wrote:Anyone have experience with the Arc Psiphon FL?
See previous post, and link:

Kyle Tarry wrote:FYI, there are a bunch of additional comments about softshells here: mountainproject.com/v/or-fe... In addition to the Ferrosi, users recommend the Arc Psiphon SL and the Rab Sawtooth.
Faulted Geologist · · Lawrence, KS · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 8

I researched materials a lot before deciding on the Rab Neo Guide. The Neo Alpine is a lighter build and lacks the pit zips. Neoshell fabric is waterproof and breathable, unlike the gore and other membrane products. Neo fabric is a tight weave that stops water but allows vapor through. Slightly less breathable than non-waterproof softshells, but nowhere near gore clammy. I wanted something that would save me carrying two jackets.

Rab is really thin cut like my skinny ass. Patagonia is like a wingsuit on me.

The only downside I have read about is durability. Some guides or daily alpine climbers wore them out, referencing a delamination. Warranty always took care of it from what I understood.

http://www.moosejaw.com/moosejaw/shop/product_Rab-Men-s-Neo-Guide-Jacket_10255905_10208_10000001_-1_

Bonus, it is on sale now!

Rab also produces clothing without the harmful DWR made from Teflon, which needs to be phased out due to fracking your organs up (kidney, liver, endocrine, will search for a link). It affects wildlife in the same way. They produced a new DWR with NikWax to solve the problem.

Kyle's rec is good. I love my OR jacket.

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 87
Faulted Geologist wrote:Rab also produces clothing without the harmful DWR made from Teflon, which needs to be phased out due to fracking your organs up (kidney, liver, endocrine, will search for a link).
PTFE is highly inert, especially at "normal" temperatures. It is not a significant health risk.

http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/athome/teflon-and-perfluorooctanoic-acid--pfoa

"Teflon itself is not suspected of causing cancer."

http://swac.web.unc.edu/thepipettepen/ask-a-toxicologist-is-it-safe-to-use-teflon-pans/

Surely there is some website that says teflon, cell phones, and Nalgene bottles cause cancer...
cmqr9001 Black · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 0
Kyle Tarry wrote: See previous post, and link:
The Psiphon SL and Psiphon FL are different jackets. The SL looks almost exactly what I want but i'm not a huge fan of pullover style for outer layers.
Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 87
Christian Black wrote: The Psiphon SL and Psiphon FL are different jackets. The SL looks almost exactly what I want but i'm not a huge fan of pullover style for outer layers.
Sorry! Arcteryx model names always get me confused.
AlpineIce · · Upstate, NY · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 0

If your looking for a softshell specifically for ice climbing and Arc'teryx fits you well, then I'd consider the Alpha Comp Hoody or the Gamma LT Hoody.

The Arc'teryx Alpha Comp Hoody has paper-thin soft shell (Fortius 1.0) in the torso and Gore waterproof laminate in the hood, shoulders, forearms and hem. I've never owned this piece, but a buddy of mine swears by it in the winter.

The Arc'teryx Gamma LT Hoody is a burly, stretchy, softshell that fits the bill. I have one and love it, although it is a little on the heavy side.

Sounds like a hybrid (mix of hardshell and softshell) may check all your boxes. Best of luck!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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