/ alternatives to the Arcteryx Gamma MX Hoody
Just wondering what alternatives people would recommend to the Arcteryx Gamma MX Hoody as a winter climbing softshell. Am thinking of ditching the hardshell and going for fit and comfort this year.
Given how good hard shells are now with Gore Pro-shell (or whatever it's called) and because i do more skiing, i'm perhaps inclined to ditch the softshell jacket. I still have my Gamma Hoody but find my Beta AR a better all-rounder particularly in bad weather.
These are two reviews of Marmot 'soft'shells that fit that description:
Of the two, the Zion is better I reckon - its just more breathable. I just hope this year they've put a proper sized hood on it! If so I think it would be an excellent winter climbing jacket.
I've had a Gamma MX hoody for several years and it has been my go-to jacket for winter climbing. In the 10/11 season I climbed 35 days and only once put on a hard shell. I think the Powershield Fabric is good balance between wind and water resistance, and breath-ability. In the worst weather you can feel the wind penetrate it, and on warmer days it does have the tendency to wet out in places, so its in your interest to keep DWR up to standard with frequent washes and re-proofing.
I have however, for the coming winter season, just purchased a Patagonia Knifeblade Pullover. I am yet to use the jacket, but from inspection it seems like a very good design. Firstly, I really like the clean streamlined design of smocks for climbing. The hood is helmet compatible and the sleeves are long with gusseted underarms. The Powershield Pro fabric is considerably lighter and thinner then regular Powershield but feels very tough and is effectively waterproof. The biggest disadvantage I can see to this jacket is that it may not breath quite as well as the Gamma, the upside of this though is what I expect to be considerably superior weather protection, so much so that I expect to be able to forgo carrying a hardshell all together.
interesting ideas so far, thanks
Personally would be a bit wary of ditching the hardshell for this particular jacket, if you were to go this route then powershield pro is supposed to be more weather resistant (the knifeblade as mentioned, or the insulated northwall, and I think rab do one as well...Baltoro pro I think-this has insulation built in too though), or there are some neoshell jackets which are softshell like in design-dunno what they are like.
I would be a bit happier going out in these types of jackets without the back up of a "hardshell". Some are a bit pricey though!
Softshell jackets that can be used under hardshells (things like Rab Vapour Rise) are more versatile than thin softshells like the Knifeblade, but they aren't as protective. As ever it's the comfort/protection trade-off.
ive had one for 8 years and there are no cuts/tears anything,just a slight bit of fraying at the cuffs,i dont know how anybody can say they are not durable.
any softshell wets out...if im climbing on continental ice and its like -5 to -20 cold and dry the softshell is best,if in scotland or warm days on the ice where its wet you need a hardshell,its as simple as that.
i looked at the waterproof softshell type stuff,but they are too heavy to use for everything,also the neoshell/softshell garments are no where near as soft and plush as powershield they are more like cardboard.
i bought a neoshell jacket this year(eider uphill) to give it a try,but on cold/dry days i'll go for the gamma.
I agree the original Gamma MX were great, and durable, I used one a lot, still do. They were certainly the best of the woven type softshells and justifiably popular. I've not tried the new model/fabric.
Millet have always made several jackets very similar to both the Gamma MX Hoody and what was the Patagonia Mixmaster. I have a MM and it's good but too warm for summer/alpine and of course not at all waterproof for wet winter. The Pata Knifeblade looks good, haven't tried it.
For me, for climbing, one of the great advantages of the woven-type softshells over hardshells is that they stretch - it makes a huge difference to actual climbing movement and general comfort. I have a couple of VapourRise type garments and I rarely wear them as they pull and grab when I move so are neither comfortable nor practical to climb in - Buffalo, Montane, Rab, Marmot etc, all the same.
As Toby says, fit is very important, more so than brand. Especially if you have a hard-to-fit body shape, when you first try on a jacket that properly fits and moves with you it's a revelation and you realise that a lot of other jackets don't fit you well at all and aren't worth whatever they cost. Everyone is different.
I have Rab Stretch Neo pants and they are quite good, definitely more breathable than Gore and essentially waterproof, plus they have a little stretch, so I'd give the jackets a go if they fit. And I could afford one. And I didn't already have about seven jackets hanging up behind me.
You can buy direct from Patagonia UK:
RE the MX, the changes between the old and new material isn't big and to be honest both would wet through after a while in the rain, I think the difference is a slight loss in wind resistance new vs old at the benefit of course of improved breathability. The outer material of the new one appears a bit more delicate as well. Like I said I wouldn't spend a day in the hills with an MX old or new without a hardshell in my bag for back up.
It's an unlined softshell which I pair with different thickness insulation depending on the weather.
I.e. If it's windy and drizzly/light snow I'll chuck it on over a long baselayer for the walk in, then chuck a fleece under at the base of the route.
If it's really cold I'll have a fleece under for the walk (rare) and double up at the base.
Much tougher than hard shell and it doesn;t matter so much when it gets abraded and catches little nicks.
Only bad sides? The hood is a little small for helmets and the fabric tends to bind to fleece a bit. I've been considering a synthetic midlayer to keep things a bit more slippy :-)
As to their current range???
Knifeblade looks similar (obviously in smock form) but...hmm....£90 more than I payed for the Ascentionist!¬!!!
I don't think there's any way I could walk in wearing something as warm as a Northwall though.
ME Orion looks pretty good
It's basically a high tech Buffalo. Patagonia said in their catalogue about a decade ago that's where they got the idea from when they first started doing furry-lined 'soft shells'.
I have the Speed Ascent from a few years back, It's probably not that much heavier than some thicker non-membrane stretch woven softshells, but much warmer.
ok looking like its a shortlist of
gamma mx old model
3 out of these are as rare as unicorns teeth!
dont know about the other patagonia jackets,but the mixmaster was way to baggy for my liking to wear under a harness.
worth a try: http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=522212&new=7039451#x7039451
You might also consider OR Alibi, thats what I got to replace my old MX Hoody.
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