Luminous Landscape Forum

Equipment & Techniques => Cameras, Lenses and Shooting gear => Topic started by: BernardLanguillier on November 09, 2017, 05:40:40 pm

Title: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: BernardLanguillier on November 09, 2017, 05:40:40 pm
I have been extremely disapointed over the years by the lack of true breathability of the various types of Goretex based jackets.

Amazingly I have only discovered now the existence of a seemingly much better alternative, the Polartec Neoshell. It is 6 times more breathable while being fully waterproof.

Only a few major brands offer it, apparently as a result of the commercial practises of Gore inc, but things are starting to change with Rab, Marmot, Mountain Hardwear, Westcomb and, most interestingly, Millet now offeing high end jackets based on Neoshell.

Online reports by users are amazingly positive (a real landslide), but I was wondering if any of you had first hand experience?

The target applications will be those for which breathable jackets are needed, meaning trekking, snow shoeing, skiing, ski touring,... and landscape photography on the go far from the road, which is the reason why I write this here. Moving, getting all sweaty in a Gore-Tex jacket and then stopping to take pictures is a great way to get really cold! ;)

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: jrsforums on November 09, 2017, 09:06:32 pm
Nice article, if you have not seen it.....

http://blistergearreview.com/gear-reviews/mountain-equipment-centurion-tupilak-gore-tex-pro-vs-polartec-neoshell

also...

http://blistergearreview.com/recommended/outerwear-201-marketing-wars-new-technologies-paradigm-shifts
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: BernardLanguillier on November 09, 2017, 09:16:41 pm
Nice article, if you have not seen it.....

http://blistergearreview.com/gear-reviews/mountain-equipment-centurion-tupilak-gore-tex-pro-vs-polartec-neoshell

Thanks for the link, interesting indeed.

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: armand on November 09, 2017, 09:37:56 pm
I have a Montane jacket made of Neoshell that I bought few years ago that I have yet to use but I plan to this Dec-Jan if you have the patience.
I did use some Neoshell hiking/trail running shoes though, the Altra Lone Peak 3.0 Mid Neoshell.
The waterproofing is not the greatest, the membrane saturates easily and then it doesnít breath, I canít say 100% that it wasnít leaking but my feet with wool socks were warm despite my lack of judgement on the top (I used a pocho with a thin baselayer under but it didnít fit the greatest and for 4-5 hours I had a very cold rain driven by the wind going straight through the side holes). I didnít get to use it for too long in drier weather but it did seem to breath ok.

Now this being said, I donít think any material out there is really that breathable once you get moving fast. Everything that depends on its DWR is prone to failing. If you donít have very strong winds or going through the bushes I think a poncho is still the more breathable choice, there a couple namely from Packa and Exped where they clip around the backpack and you take them off when not raining while they remained attached to your backpack and easily accesible should the rain start again.
Something in between is Sierra Design Cagoule where the backpack hipbelt comes under the jacket and theoretically preserve better high flow, and you need flow for these materials to breath.

For something thatís closer to Neoshell in water resistance but more breathable you can try the Rab Kinetic plus. Have yet to get one but can be used as windshell too, and if you donít expect heavier or prolonged rain.
As compared to others Neoshell is not that new but have yet to gain a lot of traction, I think they had some issues with the membrane resistance too.
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: BernardLanguillier on November 09, 2017, 11:07:13 pm
Thanks.

Yes a poncho made from a breathable material can be a good solution when the weather is mild, a lot less so for the winter conditions in which I am considering using these jackets.

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: armand on November 09, 2017, 11:50:09 pm
Well, the good part is that in winter you donít need that much waterproofing. Wind protection and breathability are more important if you are well below freezing and you donít deal with slush.

Now what did you use so far? I think most of the top of the line use various types of Gore-Tex and fewer EVent (which is between GTex and Neoshell breathability and water resistance wise).
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: BernardLanguillier on November 10, 2017, 12:00:54 am
Well, the good part is that in winter you donít need that much waterproofing. Wind protection and breathability are more important if you are well below freezing and you donít deal with slush.

Now what did you use so far? I think most of the top of the line use various types of Gore-Tex and fewer EVent (which is between GTex and Neoshell breathability and water resistance wise).

Yes, in full winter you are correct, the problem is the in between season when wet snow in Japan can make you very wet real quick with a soft shell.

After years of various Goretex hardshells, I used the past 4-5 years a soft shell from Mountain Hardwear made of Conduit. It works very well in cold snow, but gets wet very quickly in wet snow. There are some small problems with it (poor handcuff design,...), weak stitching in some areas, fabric very weak to staining (sun block,...)... but overall it has been a good product. The key issue is that it is basically only usable in January and February and I am looking for a more universal design.

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: armand on November 10, 2017, 12:42:21 am
Iím not sure what you need exists   ;D

I think the latest trend is Gore Tex Pro, and make sure it has venting zippers (underarm, the bigger the better). I have doubts that Neoshell deals that well with prolonged wet conditions.

Obviously layering is important, I take it you are familiar with it.

And slow down if you can which is sometimes easier said than done. This summer when going downhill in the pouring rain my friends were behaving like it was a race; 2 hours later when we finished I was soaked from the inside despite having the vents wide open. The shell had a decent material, I was happy with it in the past when I was moving slower.
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: shadowblade on November 10, 2017, 01:16:29 am
I use a Rab Neoshell jacket. It's great in wet conditions, where I can expect constant rain for hours or days at a time, as well as as a rain jacket for long hikes where the whether could be anything and everything (in which case I would normally not bother bringing a softshell). It just doesn't wet through, no matter the weather.

For drier conditions, where the most rain I would expect would be brief showers rather than nonstop rain, I prefer a Ventile jacket - it's much more breathable than Neoshell, and even many softshells, while trapping less heat than softshells. A single layer can stop rain for a good few hours; a double layer is rainproof, but also not very breathable. Most importantly, its rain resistance and breathability vary according to the weather - shoulders and backs may wet out quickly, due to being subject to most of the rain, becoming waterproof but also nonbreathable, but the front and underarms, not exposed to as much rain, stay dry and breathable. So you get water resistance where you need it and breathability elsewhere.
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: francois on November 10, 2017, 05:56:57 am
Bernard,
While I donít own a Neoshell jacket, Iíve used a Patagonia Knifeblade jacket which is supposed to be a very close fabric variant. While the Knifeblade isnít taped (so wet performance is far from perfect), it breathes better than the GoreTex jackets that I also have. That said, Iím also experimenting the ďnewĒ breathable insulated jackets (see links below). When weather gets wet, I pair them with a light GoreTex (or similar) shell and so far Iím happy with the results. I must say that due to health problems; I canít yet push the limits in terms of exertion ;-(

Patagonia Nano Air jacket: https://www.outdoorgearlab.com/reviews/clothing-mens/insulated-jacket/patagonia-nano-air-hoody
Arcíteryx Proton jacket: http://www.thealpinestart.com/2017/08/review-arcteryx-proton-ar/ or http://altitude-blog.com/en/arcteryx-proton-ar-hoody-review/

Here's an old article that could be an interesting read: http://coldthistle.blogspot.com/2014/11/patagonia-nano-air-and-arcteryx-atom-lt.html
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: BernardLanguillier on November 10, 2017, 06:45:31 am
Thanks for the feedbacks!

In fact I own 2 Patagonia jackets based on nano air (one vest and one with external H2O shell) but I only use the vest in the backcoutry as a mid layer. They are great though!

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: MattBurt on November 10, 2017, 09:56:51 am
I have not tried Neoshell myself but I'll keep an eye out next time I need something like that.
It's not typically that wet here so I often wear a softshell (Outdoor Research) jacket which is also my go-to backcountry ski jacket. Breathes better than any other piece which for the on and off exertion of ski touring is perfect as long as it isn't too wet.

I recently bought a more rain-centric shell too, a Marmot Precip jacket for my Africa trip. It was inexpensive and highly rated and is made of their Nano Pro fabric which seems to be similar to GoreTex. It never got that rainy for me in Africa so I haven't really put it to the test besides a few storm days here bike commuting. So far, so good.
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: cgarnerhome on November 10, 2017, 09:58:48 am
I have had good experience with Arc'teryx shells.  They use Gore-Tex Pro.  I also like their shell pants.  Both have good venting capability.  I had the opportunity to use it in fairly heavy rain recently and it held up nicely.  The negative is their stuff is expensive!
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: MattBurt on November 10, 2017, 10:13:38 am
I have had good experience with Arc'teryx shells.  They use Gore-Tex Pro.  I also like their shell pants.  Both have good venting capability.  I had the opportunity to use it in fairly heavy rain recently and it held up nicely.  The negative is their stuff is expensive!

Yes, I have their Alpha SV Bib (https://www.rei.com/product/105246/arcteryx-alpha-sv-bib-pants-mens) pants for skiing and they have held up really well for years. I was considering a new pair until I saw that they go for now!  :o
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: BrownBear on November 10, 2017, 11:03:54 am
The definitive test of "breathable" occurs when inside temp and ambient temps are close, especially with high humidity.  I used Goretex for years with perfect happiness in cool coastal weather and cold weather, then brought it along for boating use in Florida.  Ha!  About as worthless as unvented nylon.

Before I spend a cent on Neoshell, I'll read carefully through any tests, especially those indicating ambient temp and humidity. If it works well in cooler and drier conditions but not in warm humid conditions, I don't see any reason to replace my Goretex until it's worn out and ready for replacement. If it performs better in the warm humid stuff, replacement could be imminent.
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: armand on November 10, 2017, 04:04:59 pm
If you can accept the cost these are out there: http://www.adventurealan.com/review-hyperlite-mountain-gear-shell/
I do have some questions on their long term durability
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: MattBurt on November 10, 2017, 04:27:32 pm
There's so much good gear out there now, it's all just varying degrees of good to great.
I go through at least some outdoor gear every year and try to just keep an eye on places like SteepAndCheap.com for closeout deals. I also often buy in the wrong season for the best deals.
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: armand on November 10, 2017, 04:34:26 pm
There's so much good gear out there now, it's all just varying degrees of good to great.
I go through at least some outdoor gear every year and try to just keep an eye on places like SteepAndCheap.com for closeout deals. I also often buy in the wrong season for the best deals.

I do this and now I have a ton of stuff waiting to be used. The good part is there is almost nothing I can justify buying, even it it's on sale  ;)

PS Unless it's a really really good sale  :D  For example Patagonia has a 50% off about twice a year at which price they become reasonable
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: Craig Magee on November 10, 2017, 07:20:28 pm
I borrowed a friend's Rab Neo Stretch jacket a few years ago and it was a nice jacket, breathability seemed good for when you are on the move, but as soon as you stop it's maybe a bit to much. Noticed feeling colder in it when windy than my gore jacket, same with the eVent jacket I have.

A fan of layering. Usually have a few jackets with me when shooting in the hills. Some insulation (fleece, Atom Lt, down), an Arcteryx Squamish and a NF active shell jacket I got cheap. Only ever get the Active Shell out when it's constant rain or a heavy shower. The Squamish is pretty good as shaking off light showers, mist, snow. My friend rates the Rab Vapour rise really highly for cooler seasons, not tried one yet.
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: shadowblade on November 10, 2017, 10:34:27 pm
I borrowed a friend's Rab Neo Stretch jacket a few years ago and it was a nice jacket, breathability seemed good for when you are on the move, but as soon as you stop it's maybe a bit to much. Noticed feeling colder in it when windy than my gore jacket, same with the eVent jacket I have.

A fan of layering. Usually have a few jackets with me when shooting in the hills. Some insulation (fleece, Atom Lt, down), an Arcteryx Squamish and a NF active shell jacket I got cheap. Only ever get the Active Shell out when it's constant rain or a heavy shower. The Squamish is pretty good as shaking off light showers, mist, snow. My friend rates the Rab Vapour rise really highly for cooler seasons, not tried one yet.

That's the good thing about Neoshell. If it was even more breathable, it'd be even better. As it is, it's a whole lot better than Goretex, and probably the most breathable thing that can stop a sustained, heavy downpour. Still needs vents, though.

I like single-purpose layers. Wind jackets which don't insulate. Insulating layers which trap hot air, but not anything else. A rain jacket which didn't stop wind would be ideal, if it could be made (probably from some extreme hydrophobic material, woven in a standard weave without a membrane). I can then mix and match these to suit the conditions. This is why I generally dislike softshells - they're only good in one type of condition. When you just need to stop wind or rain, the insulation makes them too warm, particularly during exertion. When it's cold, but dry, they trap too much sweat and moisture. It's only when it's cold, raining and you aren't physically working too hard (and could use the insulation) that they're much good.
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: armand on November 10, 2017, 11:43:21 pm
This is why I generally dislike softshells - they're only good in one type of condition. When you just need to stop wind or rain, the insulation makes them too warm, particularly during exertion. When it's cold, but dry, they trap too much sweat and moisture. It's only when it's cold, raining and you aren't physically working too hard (and could use the insulation) that they're much good.

You should look at that Rab Kinetic Plus, it sounds very interesting. I'm still debating if I should get one but a softshell which is thin, stretchy, very breathable, much more water resistant than usual (I think it's similar to Neoshell at around 10K) has its appeal. I learned about it from here: https://www.backpacker.com/gear/rab-kinetic-plus-jacket
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: armand on November 11, 2017, 12:49:04 am
For Bernard, you might want to read the last post here: https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/86604/
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: shadowblade on November 11, 2017, 01:45:23 am
You should look at that Rab Kinetic Plus, it sounds very interesting. I'm still debating if I should get one but a softshell which is thin, stretchy, very breathable, much more water resistant than usual (I think it's similar to Neoshell at around 10K) has its appeal. I learned about it from here: https://www.backpacker.com/gear/rab-kinetic-plus-jacket

No thanks - i find that even the thin, fluffy lining on the inside of some jackets is often far too warm when I'm moving. I prefer a rain jacket with no insulating properties at all, beyond that needed to make it water-resistant.

At the end of the day, I can put up with being rained on more than I can put up with overheating.
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: BernardLanguillier on November 11, 2017, 02:09:42 am
For Bernard, you might want to read the last post here: https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/86604/

Thanks.

I once owned a Rab event light rain jacket and was not impressed at all. It was even worse than Gore-Tex in the very humid Japanese summer rain.

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: armand on November 11, 2017, 08:15:44 am
Thanks.

I once owned a Rab event light rain jacket and was not impressed at all. It was even worse than Gore-Tex in the very humid Japanese summer rain.

Cheers,
Bernard

Never used EVent. The point I got from that link is the Rab doesnít make jackets with Neoshell anymore and they were mentioned the most here.
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: BernardLanguillier on November 11, 2017, 08:34:46 pm
Never used EVent. The point I got from that link is the Rab doesnít make jackets with Neoshell anymore and they were mentioned the most here.

Got the point, but they seem to have replaced neo by Event and that doesnít convince me based on my past experience.

Reading a lot around, I have the feeling that Marmot and Westcomb may be selling the largest amounts of Neoshell jackets.

Since they are not that well represented in Japan, I am currently likely to invest in either Millet or Mountain Hardwear that both have dedicated brand stores within 100 meters of each others 10mins train away from my house in Tokyo. The Millet White Neo jacket has better technical appeal for ski touring with a powder skirt,... (and is definitely featurewise one of the best options in the world regardless of the material it uses) while the MHW is a more streamlined design with one version looking like a standing Belgian flag 🇧🇪 which I find hilarious in its own right.

If they work well this winter I may try another neoshell as my lightweight summer rain jacket too and here I am not sure yet about the best option.

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: francois on November 13, 2017, 05:02:58 am
You can also find NeoShell jackets from Jottnar (https://www.jottnar.com/us/mens/hardshell-jackets/asmund-hardshell-jacket), 66į North (https://www.66north.com/men/jackets/hvannadalshnjukur-shell-jacket/) and Montane (https://www.montane.co.uk/mens-c1/clothing-c25/waterproof-c11/further-faster-neo-jacket-p54).

Since you have Millet and MHW stores available, I think that this is the best way to shop around. Sometimes, sizing is weirdÖ For instance, Rab doesn't fit me well. With my chest size, I need an XXL and even then, sleeves are on the short side but around the waist/belly, the jacket is oversized. Arc'teryx XL always fits like a glove while MHW XL is often boxy (could use an L but then sleeves are too short).

Edit: typo correction
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: NancyP on November 13, 2017, 12:54:58 pm
Whatever you choose, get pit zips, the bigger the better!
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: BernardLanguillier on November 14, 2017, 02:40:57 am
Whatever you choose, get pit zips, the bigger the better!


Yes, definitely. I would not even consider a jacket without pit zips.

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: francois on November 14, 2017, 04:27:18 am

Yes, definitely. I would not even consider a jacket without pit zips.

Cheers,
Bernard

Most NeoShell jackets have no pit zips, unfortunately.
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: BernardLanguillier on November 14, 2017, 06:41:22 am
Most NeoShell jackets have no pit zips, unfortunately.

The Millet, MHW and Marmot offerings do I believe.

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: francois on November 14, 2017, 12:26:19 pm
The Millet, MHW and Marmot offerings do I believe.

Cheers,
Bernard

Yes, those ones do have pit zips but other jackets omit this essential - in my opinion - feature. The Rab didn't have pit zips and that's why I passed on it.
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: armand on November 14, 2017, 04:20:32 pm
Most NeoShell jackets have no pit zips, unfortunately.

Mine doesnít, when I bought it I didnít think much about it but now I wish it did. It was more of a rush decision and I have yet to use it as itís more of a backpacking fit but slightly heavier than what I already have for warmer weather. Iíll definitely try it skiing this winter and Iíll report here later.

Itís this one: https://www.montane.co.uk/mens-c1/clothing-c25/waterproof-c11/further-faster-neo-jacket-p54
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: BernardLanguillier on November 14, 2017, 05:36:50 pm
Yes, those ones do have pit zips but other jackets omit this essential - in my opinion - feature. The Rab didn't have pit zips and that's why I passed on it.

Indeed. I know that Rab is quite popular but I have never been too impressed by their design choices.

I find in particular MHW to be consistently brilliant across their range of products while proposing very decent prices compared to the other top contenders such as Mammut or Arcteryx.

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: MattBurt on November 14, 2017, 05:48:07 pm
My OR soft shell jacket doesn't have pit zips but it does have a lighter weight, more breathable material there that seems to do the trick. I almost didn't buy this jacket because of that but I need one then and the price was right. I don't miss the zips!
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: BernardLanguillier on November 14, 2017, 07:45:14 pm
My OR soft shell jacket doesn't have pit zips but it does have a lighter weight, more breathable material there that seems to do the trick. I almost didn't buy this jacket because of that but I need one then and the price was right. I don't miss the zips!

I also own light soft shells without zips and that is fine, but their level of weather proofness is very low, they could at best withstand a light rain for a few minutes.

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: francois on November 15, 2017, 11:08:44 am
Indeed. I know that Rab is quite popular but I have never been too impressed by their design choices.

I find in particular MHW to be consistently brilliant across their range of products while proposing very decent prices compared to the other top contenders such as Mammut or Arcteryx.

Cheers,
Bernard

Mammut is usually over-engineered and too expensive. I always managed to get great prices with Arcteryx and the fit is perfect for me. When I have to pay full price, MHW is top. Customer service is also great, affordable and quick.
I got a couple of Millet jackets but quality control was lacking. After a short discussion with a Millet employee, he acknowledged that they were having some QC issues but that things would improve very soon (that was 3 or 4 years ago).

Let us know when you finally have some experience with Neoshell.
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: MattBurt on November 15, 2017, 12:51:11 pm
I also own light soft shells without zips and that is fine, but their level of weather proofness is very low, they could at best withstand a light rain for a few minutes.

Cheers,
Bernard

Right, I might feel less enthusiastic about it if I lived somewhere wetter.
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: armand on November 16, 2017, 11:50:37 pm
While looking for something else I found this for whoever might be interested: https://www.backcountry.com/flylow-genius-jacket-mens?skid=FLG005D-NEP-S&ti=UExQIENhdDpNZW4ncyBDbG90aGluZzoyOjEwOmJjLW1lbnMtY2xvdGhpbmc=
The reviews seem good.
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: BernardLanguillier on November 17, 2017, 12:35:59 am
Thanks, sounds good indeed.

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: MattBurt on November 17, 2017, 05:42:57 pm
FlyLow makes quality gear. I've met and chatted with the company founder and several of my friends who are active backcountry folks swear by their stuff.
Title: Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
Post by: armand on November 17, 2017, 11:10:50 pm
I have one of their midweight down hoodies which is more versatile than others as it has pit zips. Pretty decent otherwise too, gets used when I expect more frequent stops situations.