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'Bombproof' HardShell Suggestions
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By Sdm1568
From Ca
Mar 18, 2013
Mt Whitney April
I plan on hiking the AT next year, and doing more in the Sierras this year and I'm looking for a athletic fit, Lightweight Hardshell - gortex or eVent preferable. Budget of about $325, open to all brands or suggestions, I read through some of the forums but maybe you have a link to a similar subject - Thanks!

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By Scott McMahon
From Boulder, CO
Mar 18, 2013
Bocan
Patagonia M10.

It's a bit higher than your initial price range, but I'm sure you can find it on sale sometime in the time frame you are looking for.

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By Sunny-D
From SLC, Utah
Mar 18, 2013
Top of Jah-Man Sister Superior
Rab Momentum is a great solid and light hardshell made of Event. 13 oz.

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By divnamite
From New York, NY
Mar 18, 2013
It's not lightweight but the most bombproof shell I've ever worn. Arcteryx Alpha SV. You literally feel like putting on a layer of armor.

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By NorCalNomad
From San Francisco
Mar 18, 2013
Don't think you want a "bombproof" WBP jacket on the AT trail, too heavy. Probably something with Gore packlight or some other ultra light eVent jacket (like the Uli Steck pullover) is going to fit that need better.

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By Ryan N
From San Louis Obispo
Mar 18, 2013
RJN
+1 for the Alpha SV. Its a bit heavy, but it really keeps you dry. Ive cimbed a soaking wet multipitch ice climb and had my sv jacket, sv gloves ans lt bibs, and i didnt even come close to getting wet. My partner im sure wishes he could say the same. As for price, its steep, but well worth it. Always been a fan of gor-tex...

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By Mattberr
From utah
Mar 18, 2013
uintas
Outdoor research axiom which has Gore tex active. Lightweight, very breathable/durable.

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By Stuart Hickey
Mar 18, 2013
Outdoor Research Foray Jacket MSRP $200 Gortex shell. They have designed the jacket with zippers that run from under the armpit all the way down the the hips so it opens up like a poncho and becomes very breathable. They also raised the pockets a little so they are above the hip belt when its buckled. I actually just purchased mine today before posting this

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By Reid Kalmus
From Breckenridge, Colorado
Mar 18, 2013
+2 for the Alpha/Theta SV from Arcteryx. Not what you want for the AT though. For a through hike check the Arcteryx Alpha SL ( not SV ) it has GoreTex Pro in the shoulders, elbows and around zippers, and GoreTex PacLite everywhere else $350 retial... Lovin mine:)

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By Mark Wyss
From Denver, CO
Mar 18, 2013
Mt. Baker
All of the Arcteryx models mentioned are excellent I am sure. I bought a pair of Beta AR pants last year but never got to use them so I can't speak to their performance in the field. I think they are $350. Check out the specs and reviews on their site/backcountry/etc.

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By Sdm1568
From Ca
Mar 18, 2013
Mt Whitney April
Thanks for all the replies - does anyone have experience with Montbell Hardshells? I have a few of their items including the ul down hoody that I really like. Also I agree I don't need anything as heavy duty as the alpha sv, maybe the theta or alpha sl is a good option. I want it to be as lightweight and durable(doesnt everyone haha) as possible (under 18oz). Also would like it to be able to withstand some early winter alpine climbs. Maybe I just need two jackets - thanks again MPers

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By Zirkel
From Bishop, CA
Mar 18, 2013
Owens Gorge.  Mt Tom in background.
No really... Alpha SL pullover.

Lightweight? Check.
Durable? Check.
Athletic fit? Check.
Under 18 ounces? 11.3 check.

No bells and whistles. Simple and bombproof.

arcteryx.com/Product.aspx?lang...

But don't take my word for it.

alpinist.com/doc/web10s/ms-el-...

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By slobmonster
Mar 19, 2013
What size are you? I have a very lightly used Marmot Exum jacket, black, Mens Medium, that I'd let go for far less than $325. Like $150 shipped in you're in the lower 48. Gore-tex Proshell yadda yadda, big hood, great hardshell but I seem to never wear it...

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By Kirk Miller
From Golden, CO
Mar 19, 2013
Bugaboos, 1978 <br />Photo by Ken Trout
My OR Axiom performs better than any hard shell I've had. No need for pit zips. Light but durable. OR has an even lighter, less expensive shell with the same gore tex active fabric called the Transonic.

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By Sdm1568
From Ca
Mar 19, 2013
Mt Whitney April
Zirkel wrote:
No really... Alpha SL pullover. Lightweight? Check. Durable? Check. Athletic fit? Check. Under 18 ounces? 11.3 check. No bells and whistles. Simple and bombproof. arcteryx.com/Product.aspx?lang... But don't take my word for it. alpinist.com/doc/web10s/ms-el-...


Been looking at this.... I'm gonna try it on at my gear shop. Thanks for the info

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By Emmett Lyman
From Washington, DC
Mar 21, 2013
Personal photo
NorCalNomad wrote:
Don't think you want a "bombproof" WBP jacket on the AT trail, too heavy. Probably something with Gore packlight or some other ultra light eVent jacket (like the Uli Steck pullover) is going to fit that need better.


Definitely agree with this. Check with other AT thru hikers on WhiteBlaze or with the gurus on BackpackingLight, and I think you'll find that most send this sort of luxury item home within the first couple weeks. My preference is to carry a windshirt and umbrella - more breathable, more flexible, and much lighter.

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By kilonot
Mar 21, 2013
It depends somewhat on when you leave. I started Mar 13th and ran into snow a few times. Freezing rain is the real killer though. I had a fairly heavy fully taped rain jacket ($120 columbia) which was not very breathable but had some vents. I wore it maybe 5 or 6 times in 10 weeks.

If I were starting again and had that budget to work with I would probably opt for a jacket similar to the one I had for the start and than a lightweight pullover for the rest of the trail. Maybe get the heavier jacket again when approaching Katahdin, depending on how late in the year it is.

Many of the things you bring you will probably find you do not need. Some big ones for me were:

Heavy mid height hiking boots - totally unnecessary once you get pack weight down.

Tons of fuel - test how much you will use in a day so you aren't carrying 3 weeks worth.

Rope / big knives / gun / bow and arrow (I didn't bring a weapons but plenty of people do.) - you are not Grizzly Adams. You aren't going to be hunting or defending yourself from wild animals. A 3 finger knife and some 550 cord is more than enough.

Water filter - not worth the weight, use tablets.

Whisper Lite - I started with one and it's great, but most meals are made by boiling water, so an alcohol stove is much lighter and does the trick. If you are going to get fancy, than a whisper or simmer light is probably worth it. You can only eat so much Ramen and Tuna.

Try to get fruit and veggies in whenever you can. You should indulge a bit when you're in town, you'll be dropping a lot of weight, but don't eat too much greasy shit. After eating clean for weeks you will get sick.

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By Dave Bn
From Fort Collins, CO
Mar 21, 2013
Dreamweaver
I have the Arc'teryx alpha SL. I like it quite a bit. Simple and lightweight. My two complaints are (1) the hood is enormous, not even my ski helment fills the space and (2) it's cut a bit short in the front and will ride up and come out from under a harness.

You could also consider the Patagonia super cell which is similar to the alpha SL but cheaper and cut longer.

Nevertheless, in my opinion and in my system a hard shell is more of an emergency piece that comes out when either my softshell outer layer ain't enough or it starts raining. In other words, the hardshell stays in the bottom of my pack 99.9% of the time.

I know it will rain on the AT, but I just don't think goretex is necessary so it might behoove you to look into lighter weight shells. A couple suggestions:

Marmot Super Mica

Marmot Hyper

Dane at Cold Thistle was a big fan of the hyper.

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By rock_fencer
From Columbia, SC
Mar 21, 2013
Myself placing a a blue/yellow offset MC to protect between Bolt 2/3 just post crux . <br /> <br />Picture credit goes to eric Singleton, and many thanks to Josh Bagget for the great belay.
Sdm1568 wrote:
I plan on hiking the AT next year, and doing more in the Sierras this year and I'm looking for a athletic fit, Lightweight Hardshell - gortex or eVent preferable. Budget of about $325, open to all brands or suggestions, I read through some of the forums but maybe you have a link to a similar subject - Thanks!



i have heard that poncho's are very effective in keeping you dry on the AT and can be used as tarps as well. Problem with the east coast is it is so humid making gore/event an almost gaurantee to get soaked with sweat if your moving hard in the rain

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By Morgan Patterson
Administrator
Mar 21, 2013
Stoked...
The Arcteryx sidewinder is bad ass and light, but not ultra light:

bentgate.com/shop/arcteryx/arc...

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By Morgan Patterson
Administrator
Mar 21, 2013
Stoked...
rock_fencer wrote:
i have heard that poncho's are very effective in keeping you dry on the AT and can be used as tarps as well. Problem with the east coast is it is so humid making gore/event an almost gaurantee to get soaked with sweat if your moving hard in the rain


+1

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By BWIce
From Carlisle, PA
Mar 21, 2013
North face of long's.
I've taken bombproof hardshells on extended trips and always found them overkill. I've done probably 200 miles on the AT over the past 10 years and an all-mountain shell is overkill. For 3 season hiking I take my Patagonia Torrentshell Pullover. It's a great hardshell, doesn't breath as well, but is very light and protects well.

If you talk to hardcore thru-hikers, they usually send their shells home and buy a cheap sil-nylon poncho/tarp that doubles as shelter and rain protection for themselves and their pack. This is the one I see a lot of thru-hikers sporting:

basegear.com/sea-to-summit-ult...

With that said, my new favorite shell is my Rab Stretch Neo, but it is much more of a soft shell - which is why I like it. It replaced my Patagonia Stretch Element, which wasn't nearly breathable enough.

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By Mark Wyss
From Denver, CO
Mar 23, 2013
Mt. Baker
I have no idea why I was thinking "pants" when I gave my first suggestion, must have been one of those late-night MP sessions when I just couldn't sleep.

Anyway, I know your original post said you preferred gore or event, and a lot of people followed that by suggesting that a $325 shell might be overkill. I suppose this is relative on what kind of deal you can land but overall, I would have to agree. I have an Alpha LT now that fits my skinny-ass great! I found it for $380 and even though its only 13oz, I wouldn't use it for hiking only. Assuming your sole purpose for this jacket is hiking, I wouldn't shell out the extra cash. There are cheaper alternatives.

I have been looking into the Marmot Essence jacket, ~8oz. $190. I have not tried it on yet so don't know how athletic the fit will be. I also considered the OR Helium ~6oz. $150, but when i tried it on at the store a climbing helmet wouldn't really fit under it too well so that jacket isn't practical for my purposes. Marmot also has a jacket in the same "category" as the two aforementioned. It's a tad lighter than the Precip. I'm sure its decent but there is some ugly black crap they decided to put on the shoulders that really annoys the hell out of me. Didn't even bother trying it on.

Have fun on your trip!

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By DOGM
Mar 29, 2013
If you plan on keeping it a while, go heavier (nice shoulder and waist protection), but, honestly, I bet a $100-$150 ultralight would get you a couple seasons with a full pack. Get lots of vents. 10 weeks in Costa Rica during the rainy season with an Arc'Teryx Theta felt like overkill until my 2 buddies' jackets went down; then I felt like a king.

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By phil wortmann
From Colorado Springs, Co.
Mar 29, 2013
Shredded by the Center Route.
+1 on the Patagooch M10. The best compromise between breathablitiy and waterproof that I have found.

Arcteryx jackets are definitely more bomber, but don't seem to breathe as well, which would not be a good thing on the AT.

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By Kyro
Apr 6, 2013
have you thought about the MH quasar? Ultra light and breathable. I have tried both the alpha and quasar and def would choose the quasar due to its weight, compact storing and just how breathable it is.

backcountry.com/mountain-hardw...

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