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  1. #1
    Senior Member sers's Avatar
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    Worthwhile sub-$150 winter softshells?

    I'm looking to get a softshell to get me through a Boston winter. I'll be layering of course, but I'm looking for something to act as an outer layer in all conditions but heavy freezing rain. Ideally, I'd like to pick up one for less than $150. Any reccommendations of make/model or online retailers to look at would be greatly appreciated

  2. #2
    Dog is my copilot. GGDub's Avatar
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    http://www.sierradesigns.com/mens.display.php?id=218

    This is what I use. Water/wind proof. Not too bulky in the wind either. It also doesn't dorky when you're wearing it around off your bike.

  3. #3
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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  4. #4
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    In softshells, the "one", the benchmark softshell jacket under $150,would be the MEC Ferrata jacket made of the regular weight Schoeller Dryskin.


    up the sticker a bit and grab the classic, arguably one of the first softshells on the modern market, the Cloudveil Serendipity, made with more nappy Dryskin Extreme.

    There are a TON of softshells out there, including some that are just bad news for aerobic activities. Best to do a little product research before buying.

  5. #5
    Sensible shoes. CastIron's Avatar
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    Sierratradingpost.com!
    I shop there a lot. Picked up a Mammut Schoeller nano-something or other softshell, very nice for about that much. Their stock comes and goes, but usually it's top shelf product in limited, steeply discounted lots.
    Mike
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    It looks silly when you have quotes from other forum members in your signature. Nobody on this forum is that funny.
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    Why am I in your signature.

  6. #6
    '07 Dean El Diente
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    I bought this one, in yellow, at an REI store today for winters in Houston. http://www.rei.com/product/47914343.htm

  7. #7
    Sensible shoes. CastIron's Avatar
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    Isn't "winters in Houston" an oxymoron?
    Mike
    Quote Originally Posted by cedricbosch View Post
    It looks silly when you have quotes from other forum members in your signature. Nobody on this forum is that funny.
    Quote Originally Posted by cedricbosch View Post
    Why am I in your signature.

  8. #8
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Sierra trading post is bound to have some great deals on real softshell jackets, not like several of the not-softshell sweat buckets mentioned above.

    The best deal right now, one to jump on, is the Ibex speedplay jacket, on sale in their outlet website section, $136.00. This would quickly become your favorite jacket.

  9. #9
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    Check out the Burley line of jackets. I found the Nor'wester to be a great mix of breathable and waterproof/wind-proof. It is well designed and 'lots of reflective tape' for visibility. Designed for recumbent though, they have another one that is designed for the DFers. as well.

    I think you will find it far superior to the Novara from REI. I attempted those and did not like the quality and breath-ability of the REI product. Sorry for those of you that recommended it.

  10. #10
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    REI has a couple of Polartec Power Shield jackets for ~$130. Does any one know how this material compares to other softshell materials.
    I feel like most of the recommendations made so far are for waterproof rain gear and not the water resistant softshell jackets like Power Shield I think of when "soft shell jacket" is mentioned. Are these water proof jackets breathable enough for aerobic activities in cold weather. I was looking for something very breathable and wind proof/resistant that would be somewhat water resistant, incase I got caught in a cold shower.
    Craig

  11. #11
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Power shield is pretty warm compared to some of the other soft shell fabrics. Powershield is a layer of fleece on the inside, bonded w/glue to a nylon, smoother faced outer shell. Warmer, still quite breathable, more breathable than a 'softshell' with gore windstopper membrane. This is warmer, and more weather resistant.

    Because cycling is such an aerobic activity, like cross country skiing in cold weather, I prefer the breathability of simple bicomponent weave softshell fabrics like Schoeller Dryskin or Ibex Climawool. Bicomponent, woven softshells have the most breathability yet still maintain a high degree of weather resistance. They rely on no extra layers, no glue, no membranes, and therefore have the best moisture transport of any of the softshell fabrics.

    I switched to softshell jackets and pants almost 10 years ago, when the fabrics first started getting used in US performance clothing. I've owned several types of jackets and pants over the years, and also tested and sold outdoor gear in the past, I think this stuff is great. From biking to ski mountaineering, softshells are the way to go.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 11-04-05 at 12:24 PM.

  12. #12
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    The Marmot ATV (04) softshell has Schoeller Dryskin for under $100.00,(normally 179.00).

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    I also live in the Boston area and I've been using an EMS Apollo jacket (made from Schoeller WB-400) for the last couple of years. I also have a Marmot ATV (Schoeller Dryskin Extreme with a extra insulation layer in the front). The Marmot is OK for maybe down to 40 degrees with another layering underneath, but when I go out in really cold weather, I wear the EMS jacket. It has better wind resistance and more insulation; on the other hand, it doesn't breathe as well -- but it's still much better than waterproof-breatheable fabrics, and it's more than enough in cold weather. Unfortunately, they discontinued the Apollo jacket, but there are other companies that make jackets out of WB-400 (Mammut and BeyondFleece, for example).


    I think Power Shield is one of the heavier-duty softshell fabrics out there. The middle layer is some sort of plastic membrane. I think it has better wind/water resistance, at the expense of breathability and stretch. I think the lack of stretch leads to a less comfortable jacket -- I've tried a couple on and they seemed to restrict movement. The cut matters here, of course.


    There's comparison chart of some fabrics here:
    http://beyondfleece.com/images/conte...omparison.html

  14. #14
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    To keep this topic hopping,

    Schoeller WB-400 is a great, warmer, superstretchy soft shell with high weather resistance. I've got some bigmountain bibs made of it and the fabric is amazing, but definetly a below freezing fabric. Powershield, though it feels like it has a membrane, that is just glue and 2 layers of fabric. It's almost as warm as the WB-400 but a bit more breathable. Still, for below freezing conditions, in Boston either would probably work real well for those frigid days. These are great fabrics for downhill skiing.

    I've got the Marmot ATV jacket as well, and think this is one of the better ones out there for aerobic stuff, even much below freezing with a sweater underneath. just not heavy rain. It depends on your personal comfort level and exertion, I think. The more breathable jackets made out of Schoeller or Climawool are more comfortable due to their more effective moisture transport.

    ...I talked myself into buying the Ibex Speedplay jacket from the Ibex websale to replace a tired, 5 year old MEC Feratta jacket that has been my single most often worn piece of clothing in the last half decade- softshell clothing ROCKS! for those of you who haven't tried them yet.

  15. #15
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    According to Polartec's web site, Power Shield actually does have a polyurethane membrane sandwiched in the middle. My sense (although I haven't used a Power Shield garment extensively) is that it doesn't breathe as well as WB-400...

  16. #16
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Didn't know it had a membrane! A poly U membrane, Polyurethane is what's used in cheap waterproof jackets...that definetly puts it down a notch in softshell versatility.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    To keep this topic hopping,

    Schoeller WB-400 is a great, warmer, superstretchy soft shell with high weather resistance. I've got some bigmountain bibs made of it and the fabric is amazing, but definetly a below freezing fabric. Powershield, though it feels like it has a membrane, that is just glue and 2 layers of fabric. It's almost as warm as the WB-400 but a bit more breathable. Still, for below freezing conditions, in Boston either would probably work real well for those frigid days. These are great fabrics for downhill skiing.

    I've got the Marmot ATV jacket as well, and think this is one of the better ones out there for aerobic stuff, even much below freezing with a sweater underneath. just not heavy rain. It depends on your personal comfort level and exertion, I think. The more breathable jackets made out of Schoeller or Climawool are more comfortable due to their more effective moisture transport.

    ...I talked myself into buying the Ibex Speedplay jacket from the Ibex websale to replace a tired, 5 year old MEC Feratta jacket that has been my single most often worn piece of clothing in the last half decade- softshell clothing ROCKS! for those of you who haven't tried them yet.
    What's the word on the Ibex Speedplay and how does it compare to the Marmot ATV ?
    Also wondering if Marmot is still using schoeller since bieng acquired by K2 in 04 ?

  18. #18
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    I'll let you know about the ATV/Speedplay comparison as soon as the Ibex jacket arrives FedEx, this thread is what got me convinced to order the Ibex speedplay...I went to look at my old MEC and it is falling apart at the seams, literally!

    I have a lot of Ibex shizzle and some of their Climawool shorts, and have high expectations for the Speedplay jacket.

  19. #19
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    I got an Ibex Speedplay fedex today; compared to the Marmot ATV, a little lighter gauge, fit more like a classic track jacket, nice reflective tape; downside, black colored back! instead of the body color(grumble, no mention of black in the description...)

    Took it out with a long sleeve base layer on and put it through some paces, it's lighter gauge than the Marmot ATV and more air permable. If that becomes a liability remains to be seen, as does the water repellancy. It still needs a lot more use to gauge it accurately, but its a good replacement for my MEC Feratta that is pretty much toast.

    I'm putting the Ibex speedplay and Climawool lite in the spring-summer-fall jacket category, and the ATV in the Fall-Winter-spring category.

    I'll still use the Speedplay in the winter here in the Northwest, i'll have to take it cross country skiing to see how runs in the snow.

  20. #20
    Gambe di sparviero
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    I got an Ibex Speedplay fedex today; compared to the Marmot ATV, a little lighter gauge, fit more like a classic track jacket, nice reflective tape; downside, black colored back! instead of the body color(grumble, no mention of black in the description...)

    ....
    I am looking for a softshell jacket like this, too, but was bummed about the black back. I wrote Ibex and asked if the jackets were all one color, and got a prompt (and cheerful) reply from a Carrie Huppe:

    "Yes, it is all one color!!"

    Which doesn't jive with your experience, but I think I'll give it a try as my ancient Bellweather, while reasonably windproof, is the antithesis of breathable.

    Thanks, all, for the great recommendations in this thread. (I'll let you know what color(s) my Speedplay is when I get it.

    David

  21. #21
    Prairie Path Commuter
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigAlMN
    Check out the Burley line of jackets. I found the Nor'wester to be a great mix of breathable and waterproof/wind-proof. It is well designed and 'lots of reflective tape' for visibility. Designed for recumbent though, they have another one that is designed for the DFers. as well.

    I think you will find it far superior to the Novara from REI. I attempted those and did not like the quality and breath-ability of the REI product. Sorry for those of you that recommended it.

    I second this. I just bought the Rockport jacket in yellow. There jackets are designed for cycling. Not all REI jackests have zip pits, etc.

  22. #22
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    Anyone tried the Ibex Pingo or North Face Apex Magic ?

  23. #23
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    http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_d...=1132183754255

    MEC Ferrata Hoodie: Schoeller dryskin extreme w. 3xdry; $155 CDN, which is as inexpensive a regular price as you'll find.

    I've owned a Cloudveil jacket made of the same fabric, and it's really nice for mild, dryish winters (down to -10 or -15C). Not waterproof enough in driving rain and harsh slop. Breatheable, stretchy, and softer than materials with a membrane, such as Polartec Powershield. A bit of wind does get through the fabric, but that's kind of the point of a softshell.

    I currently have the MEC Pamir jacket ($145): Powershield Light, no hood. Warmer, but less breatheable than Dryskin. There's also a hooded jacket in this fabric at MEC (the Halo), bit it's $85 more. Looks nice, but the price puts it at the level of many other brands.

  24. #24
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    Is the workmanship good on the MEC jackets ?
    Sounds like the Cloudveil Serendipity is the top of the line jacket made with Schoeller.

  25. #25
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    My MEC Feratta jacket has seen over five years of heavy mountaineering, ski touring and everyday biking use and is very well put togther. I've beat it up however, and it needed replacing. Cloudveil Serendipity has the panache as the old guard king of the softshells.

    It's really more about the fabrics though. Any non-laminate softshell like Dryskin, Dryskin extreme, Climawool or Tweave will have better moisture transport at the expense of some wind resistance. (I have a first gen patagonia Dimension jacket for full conditions winter mountaineering that's a 100% windproof non-laminate softshell fabric, but this fabric is uncommon, and Patagonia switched to a laminate in the later versions of this jacket)

    Any guled-laminated softshell fabric like Powershield, powershield lite, windstopper or WB-400 will be more wind resistanct at the expense of some vapor transport. That's why a lot of the windstopper jackets have pit zips, and none of the Dryskin jackets do that I know of.

    All of the fabrics have differing characteristics, but nonlaminate jackets seem to be the most versatile, and the lam jackets seem to possess greater weather resistance.

    I'm loving the Ibex climawool, even though its got the black back the wool makes it warmer than my Ferrata at the same cut (track jacket) and style of fabric (non lam) It's also less clammy than my dryskin jackets because the wool inside provides superior moisture management. not that dryskin would ever be considered a clammy fabric.

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