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softshell pants - arcteryx vs rab vs norrona

Original Post
Lynda Pedersen · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 0

Looking to buy a softshell pant - mostly ice climbing and some mountaineering, in the northeast. I tend to run cold and am leaning towards the arcteryx gamma mx or rab calibre or the norrona windstopper falketind. All seem to have good specs. Any experience with either? other recommendations also welcome.

SThal · · Logan, UT · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 140

Windstopper is madness for pants. Just get hardshells instead if you go that route.

that guy named seb · · Britland · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 205

My rab trousers fell apart after two days due to a horrendous design flaw, I bought arcteryx instead and they are nicer in every way. Basically, get arcteryx, it's completely worth it. The Psphison Ar is what I got as a work for just about everything pair while being more durable than my gamma rock panta, if you only want them for winter get the sv variant.

Lynda Pedersen · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 0

I looked at hard shell, but for ice they didn't seem to give the flexibility or hold up to sharp edges/crampons that I was looking for. But I didn't have a pair to actually try out. I have the opposite problem - I don't generate the heat to dump... :( I wore 3 layers of underarmor/base layers under the soft shells I was using. Was zero out in NH last weekend...I have also looked at the OR cirque, Mammut Eismeer and Marmot Tour. But maybe a hardshell would be better? Too many choices! :)

Jack C. · · Calgary, AB · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 325

I've got the OR cirques and really like them a lot. With a pair of thin merino baselayer pants I'm absolutely fine ice climbing in the low 20's. I managed to punch a crampon point into the upper thigh when my belayer let me over a ledge too quickly and the tear did not run at all. Just a little hole. They also appear from my experience climbing in really wet conditions to be reasonably water resistant and they dry extremely quickly even just standing around in the cold. What I like best is the fit which is amazing with it's integrated velcro straps on the waist. I can't say enough good things about them, especially considering you can get them on sale for just over 100 big ones. And OR's return policy is great too.

Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 480
Dave Schultz wrote:I find that in the winter I REALLY want/need the ability to dump heat. Mostly for skiing, but "mountaineering" would fall into the same category of higher speed/heat and thus need to get rid of that heat. Ice climbing I find I can deal with the heat for the short northeast approaches; longer approaches would fall into the "mountaineering" category in terms of needing to dump heat or I ski in if the approach is long enough. I don't think a softshell material alone is enough, and all the softshell pants/bibs that have vents are normally small or have some fabric to keep snow out, which also makes dumping heat that much less effective. I tried the Procline FL this season for a day of resort skiing, which was great and a day of ice climbing and did NOT like them (sent them back). I don't think they would vent heat well enough for skiing or longer approaches. I use full bib hardshell (ALpha SV) in the northeast and love them. They provide all the water protection, layer well, and fully vent. Just my 0.02 If I had to choose between those three brands though, I would almost 100% of the time choose arcteryx because they really make good stuff and am willing ot spend the extra cash to get top of the line. I would look at the other options and try and convince myself to not by arcteryx, but they probably have the better product anyway.

For years I rocked softshell pants for everything but skiing. I've been in NH for a minute and they got tons of snow lately. My Arcteryx bibs have been great!!
AlpineIce · · Upstate, NY · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 255

I too jumped on the bandwagon, purchased and wore hardshell bibs this year. For just ice cragging, I wear my Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Schoeller softshell pants, but for anything multi-pitch, I've been wearing the Jottnar Vanir Bibs made out of NeoShell. NeoShell really is super breathable, waterproof and comfortable. Jottnar makes a women's version, the Vanir LT. They're just pants, no bib. Very highly recommended.

Jottnar is a British company solely-focused on alpine climbing. They have no hiking or ski line, just climbing, so they're entire product line is engineered, built and designed to work with a harness, mountaineering boots, helmets, etc.

I never really paid any attention to Jottnar until I decided on a hardshell bib setup and knew I wanted NeoShell. There isn't many companies using NeoShell at this point, and Jottnar was the only one I could find that made both pants and bibs in NeoShell specifically for alpine climbing.

In regards to keeping warm, have you tried a different baselayer setup? The reason I ask - There's nothing wrong with Under Armor, but maybe there's a better solution out there for you? On cold days, I wear the Rab Nucleus Pants under either my hardshell or softshell. They are a waffle-grid fleece pant very similar to Patagonia's R1 line. Very warm and surprisingly very breathable. If that still isn't warm enough, I'd recommend the women's Rab Power Stretch Pro Pants or the women's Patagonia Nano-Air Light Pants. All three are made to be worn next-to-skin and under a hard or softshell pant.

I'm another big fan of Arc'teryx and you generally can't go wrong with any of their products.

jdejace · · New England · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 5

If you're gonna drop the $$ for Neoshell...…

Lynda Pedersen · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 0

Omg, those are awesome...

Ol Leatherhands · · Olympia, WA · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 0

I second the OR Cirques for several reasons. First of all, OR's warranty is insanely bomber. Second, they're super comfortable and made with schoeller. Third, I've owned a pair for 8 years and they're still going strong. Fourth, I burnt a hole in a pair and OR replaced them. Fifth, they're compatible with suspenders, if that's your thing. Sixth, throw on a base layer and you're golden. Seventh, they're a small company that's run out of the US and is employed by real athletes and cool ass people who stand behind their work.

Arcteryx sucks. The only thing they do right is GoreTex shells and articulated fits. Everything else is garbage and marketing with the exception of a few select pieces. I've owned arcteryx. They overcharge, their t-shirts are designed specifically to make sure your nipples are highly visible, and their warranty is a load of bullshit compared to OR and Pata.

Buy OR.

Also, the pata Kniferidge pants are pretty fking sweet, but I think windstopper / neoshell gets way too moist at the level you're looking to do business.

Ruth23 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 0

Obviously, fit is key in addition to functionality. As a woman who runs cold, I usually go with a medium or heavy wt pair of long undies, plus a pair of fairly thick softshell pants or gtx shell, if it's sloppy out. What separates my system from others is I've managed to find zip thru crotch versions of everything from the md wt base layer (an old version of OR's Wild Rose line) hvy wt base layer (Arcteryx), Isis lt wt softshell pants, heavier softshell pants from an old Marmot "climber suit" (I separated the top from the bottom, so I could wear the pants alone), to a pair of Patagonia stretch gtx pant. It is SO nice not to have to drop trou while wearing a harness, I often brag to my climbing buddies when I go to pee.
I don't know if you can find pants with this key function, but it might be worth looking for.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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