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Author Topic: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?  (Read 208231 times)

BernardLanguillier

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Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
« 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
« Last Edit: November 09, 2017, 06:23:20 pm by BernardLanguillier »
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jrsforums

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« Last Edit: November 09, 2017, 09:25:49 pm by jrsforums@gmail.com »
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armand

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Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
« Reply #3 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.

BernardLanguillier

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Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
« Reply #4 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

armand

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Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
« Reply #5 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).

BernardLanguillier

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Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
« Reply #6 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
« Last Edit: November 10, 2017, 12:11:52 am by BernardLanguillier »
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armand

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Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
« Reply #7 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.

shadowblade

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Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
« Reply #8 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.
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francois

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Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
« Reply #9 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
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BernardLanguillier

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Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
« Reply #10 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

MattBurt

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Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
« Reply #11 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.
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cgarnerhome

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Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
« Reply #12 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!

MattBurt

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Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
« Reply #13 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 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
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BrownBear

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Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
« Reply #14 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.
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armand

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Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
« Reply #15 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

MattBurt

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Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
« Reply #16 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.
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armand

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Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
« Reply #17 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

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Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
« Reply #18 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.
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shadowblade

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Re: Any first hand experience wih Polartec Neoshell based jackets?
« Reply #19 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.
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