/ Neoshell - Anyone else disappointed?

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Katherine Ross - on 28 Oct 2013
Has anyone else got clothing made of NeoShell and found it's worn out far quicker than they would expect? I've had my Rab Stretch Neo jacket for around 20 months, and have been very disappointed with its durability. The last time I used it in heavy rain for a full day was back in March, and it was leaking after about an hour while my legs (Gore Tex Performance Shell) stayed completely dry. The face fabric has gone all bobbly and in the past couple of months the waterproof membrane has started to crack and flake away around the hood and across the shoulders so water comes in immediately. My boyfriend has the same jacket and his has failed in exactly the same way after less time, although he is probably a bit rougher on his. I don't think I've put mine through anything a good waterproof wouldn't be able to cope with and I do look after my gear.

I think I'm going to see what Rab say about it but wondered if anyone else has had a similar experience with theirs.
CurlyStevo - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to Katherine Ross:
Davie mentions issues on this thread
http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=564741&v=1#x7519690
adamsky - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to Katherine Ross: Ive had the same jacket for just under two years. Have used in scotland, the lakes and himalayas. i'm also pretty disappointed with the durability as well. The bottom popper came off not soon after buying so I sent it back to Rab. I also mentioned the durability too them and the fact the fabric has 'bobbled', they just said to expect that with the weight of the jacket as its a compromise. I think the hood is a pretty naff design as well, does not stay in place when not wearing a helmet even sinched right down.

I do however notice the difference in breathability but don't think its designed for scottish winter climbing.

Adam
Wee Davie - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to Katherine Ross:

I had problems with my Stretch Neo. Initially I was delighted with it- it was very breathable, more windproof (and not as chilly to wear as a pure softshell) but after half a season's use I came to the conclusion the build quality was dire.

The wear and tear to the cuffs and the velcro cuff fastenings was striking. The previous Rab jacket I'd had was in better condition after 4 seasons use.

I didn't test it in wet conditions (last season was so good!) so I can't comment on that.

I ended up sending it back and got refunded with no explanations or apology.
Stuart S - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to Katherine Ross:

Interesting to read this - I was very tempted to buy a Rab Stretch Neo last week but thought that the fabric looked like it might wear quickly, so ended up going for the ME Lhotse in good old goretex. Sounds like I might have made a wise choice.
Wee Davie - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to Stuart S:

The galling thing for me is that my Neoshell definitely lived up to the hype at first. If it hadn't started self- destructing I would be shouting its virtues from the rooftops...

I'm not convinced it's a Polartec issue. Interesting to see if this thread doesn't get zapped.
David Bennett - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to Katherine Ross: Not all neoshell is the same. I went a different way and got a mammut gipfelrat, it's totally bomb proof and still breaths extremely well. I think it's great. Down sides are it costs a fortune and weighs a ton but I wouldn't be without it.
In reply to David Bennett:
> Not all neoshell is the same.

I would echo David on this from my experience. I reviewed the Marmot Zion two years back http://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/review.php?id=4425 I used it loads that winter and then loads again last winter. Beyond the hood, it was a great jacket for skiing and climbing for me. I didn't use it in the summer really, but winter is pretty long here and I was wearing it about town sometimes as well as for climbing and skiing at weekends, and XC skiing in the evenings sometimes too. The jacket still looks great and as far as I can tell there is no problem with the membrane - still working as it should. It is heavy tough fabric though, totally different from the RAB one that I've seen in shops.

I have two other NeoShell jackets currently, the Marmot Nabu - more 'softshell' like; the review will be up on UKC once Jack has had time to edit it, and the Jöttnar Bergelmir where the material looks much more like trad 3-ply goretex (so maybe more like the RAB type of neoshell) than the more "softshellesque" neoshells that Marmot have used.

Basically NeoShell is a membrane that can be applied to other layers in the same way goretex is as I understand it.
BnB - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to TobyA: I had high hopes for the Neoshell Nabu as the softshell that would herald the demise of the goretex outer. And I'm a big Marmot fan. I think they strike a very good balance between quality and price. A sort of John Lewis of the outdoor world. But when I finally got to try one on I was appalled at the fit. I'm accustomed to everything (in size medium) fitting me pretty well off the peg. The Nabu however seemed to be cut for the generous "American" figure and the medium bellowed several inches out in front of me. I did try the small on, but that pinched under the arms as I feared it might. Truly the worst fitting item I've ever tried. I suppose they call that sized for (winter) layering. I'd say sized for a flotation device. It's also quite heavy, but I guess that might at least make it durable and I hope it performs well, as I suspect it might. I look forward to your review, Toby
ice.solo - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to Katherine Ross:

could be a Rab problem. correct me if im wrong, but havent they had other quality issues over the last few years.

tobys hit the nail - there are many different neoshells, some only available to different markets. maybe Rab got a compromised batch?

i have early neoshell jackets 3.5 years old that look almost new after being used on granite), and lighter ones that that tho still fine after a years heavy use i might not take onto wet granite to begin with. am yet to hear problems like this from arcteryx, mammut about theirs.

BUT, what you describe is a serious failure in several ways and id be on the phone to Rab and Polartec asap. thats simply not a normal rate of breakdown, and youre being lied to if anyone says it is.
In reply to BnB: Fits me pretty OK, but I find RAB medium to tight across my chest and shoulders so I guess I need a wider fit. My waist is 32/34-ish, so I'm not really fat but I don't notice the Nabu is particularly loose at the front.

It is pretty heavy, but then I started looking on websites at the weights of top of the range full-on Goretex jacket and was surprised that plenty come in at about the same weight 500-600 grams. Of course you get lighter hardshells, but I guess they're the more slimmed down versions.
cliff shasby - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to Katherine Ross: I bought an eider uphill jacket in neoshell last year,it hasnt been used much as i mostly wear a softshell but...i holed it in about 15 places on one mixed pitch (ok it was a rough pitch)but also its only been in the rain about 3 or 4 times and the water repellant coating has completely gone,it is a very thin and lighweight top though.

I repaired the holes with iron on seam sealer tape but i dont think i will be buying neoshell again unless the softshell neoshell fabrics are definetly better,although i think i read they have made active shell less durable lately.
stevieweesaxs107 - on 28 Oct 2013
In reply to cliff shasby:
My Rab Neo is Magic,had it for almost 18Months used Winter Climbing on the Ben Last year many Munros saying that lives in my bag mostly, I own 2 Arcteryx Alpha Lt and Sv jkts, I much prefer the Rab mine is still in Great Nic still highly breathable, I've had no Durability issues however I'll be keeping a beady eye on it now :-)
BnB - on 29 Oct 2013
In reply to TobyA: My waist is 30-32 and I'm narrow shouldered so less butch than you ;-) The small cut into my armpits and didn't have the required sleeve length or that might have worked. There seems to be a degree of Americanisation going on in the sizes of clothing at the moment, not just technical gear either.

I agree a Proshell jacket is usually 500g. Perhaps ome of the weight is psychological. The Nabu just feels heavy. Not as much as the Gipfelgrat, mind. Now that is heavy.
ice.solo - on 29 Oct 2013
In reply to BnB:

consider that the lightest neoshell jackets to market have only been about 340g.
In reply to all:

A sort of side question for everyone using NeoShell - who has found they notice the wind coming through it? I write about this in the Nabu review so won't go into depth here; but interested to know if others know what I'm talking about.
BnB - on 29 Oct 2013
In reply to ice.solo: And you can get goretex for 250g in a less rugged implementation. But one that, if this thread is to be believed, is a darn sight more durable than Neoshell.
ice.solo - on 29 Oct 2013
In reply to BnB:

and you can get pertex in half that again. it all depends what properties you want in a garment.

NS is still in its early phases, but it pays to see the bad cases in perspective. the cases of a few same generation Rab jackets doesnt represent it all. indeed NS comes in many more variants than goretex. it doesnt excuse sub-standard stuff making it onto shelves (and even more sub-standard excuses being given by retailers/manufacturers), but its worth looking at the big users of the stuff to see if problems exist there as well.
ice.solo - on 29 Oct 2013
In reply to TobyA:

ive thought about this since you mentioned it a year or so ago (correct me if im wrong there), and no i hadnt - until this morning.
i popped a new NS jacket on to go to the gym and yes, definitely felt a degree of coolth (apparently that used to be a word). the rain was repelled fine, and tho id not quite say it felt like wind whistling thru it, it did feel cooling instead of warming - something usually reserved for pertex shells i find.

deserves investigation.
In reply to ice.solo: Try wearing it over a t-shirt for instance on your bike, or just when it's windy. I can notice the difference quite easily on my lower arms, i.e. bare skin. I've done some reading on this and have come to the conclusion that it's not surprising with the membrane being purposefully air permeable.

eVent is said to be the same. I've only got one eVent item and haven't noticed it with that although maybe because I've not worn it in really crappy conditions.
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David Bennett - on 29 Oct 2013
In reply to TobyA: yeah, I have noticed this too but overall prefer the breathability over slightly cooler running
CurlyStevo - on 29 Oct 2013
In reply to ice.solo:
One thing you have to watch is noticing its cooler when damp as some of that would be expected with evaporation. A better test would be if you notice it cooling when its not wet, however on bare skin if the air temperature is much cooler outside I still think some cooling would be expected where the jacket is touching skin.

CurlyStevo - on 29 Oct 2013
In reply to TobyA:
I've not noticed wind coming through event BTW.
In reply to CurlyStevo: I just think it feels different from wearing a goretex regardless of whether you're sweaty or not. It's not big issue really, but people should be aware that air permeable membranes are exactly that.
newhey - on 29 Oct 2013
In reply to Katherine Ross:

No problems with my Rab neo stretch after 18 months of regular use. I do hope it continues to perform as it is the only jacket I have ever owned that actually breaths properly. Everything else like Event and different varieties of GoreTex over the years were like sauna suits after a few wears.
ice.solo - on 29 Oct 2013
In reply to CurlyStevo:

i think youre right there re skin contact and cooling.
i suppose the thing is i usually dont wear it over just a t-shirt.
Katherine Ross - on 29 Oct 2013
In reply to Katherine Ross: Interesting to hear that other manufacturers' jackets are faring better. Perhaps Rab have tried to make it too stretchy? Mine has cracks in the membrane which aren't visible until it's stretched. I also find that it's not as windproof as it claims, and the hood doesn't fit very well at all without my climbing helmet - it billows in strong wind and I invariably end up with a line across my forehead from the elastic. My boyfriend and I bought our jackets 6 months apart and in different parts of the country so it seems unlikely that it's just a bad batch.

I also have a Rab softshell still almost like new after 2 years (bar a replacement of the hood elastic, free of charge and very helpful service) and a synthetic belay jacket which has been great too. Shame this jacket's letting them down.
In reply to Katherine Ross:
> I also find that it's not as windproof as it claims,

See discussion above, NeoShell isn't as windproof as Goretex. I think waterproofs that aren't totally windproof will take some getting our heads around!
cliff shasby - on 30 Oct 2013
In reply to TobyA: yep,this has been mentioned a few times i know of,neoshell is def not as warm due to not being as windproof.
Wee Davie - on 30 Oct 2013
In reply to Katherine Ross:

I was a bit perplexed by the name Stretch Neo, as mine didn't seem to stretch any more than any other shell jacket I've owned!

The wind resistance of my Stretch Neo was less than a Gore shell, but because the breathability was so good it was by far the most comfortable mountain jacket I've had.

However, the build quality was terrible and that plus the lack of communication from Rab during the process means that I won't be buying any Rab products anytime soon.
Katherine Ross - on 30 Oct 2013
In reply to TobyA: I appreciate that it probably isn't as windproof as Gore Tex, however it claims to be 99.9% windproof! Of course it's not 100% but I'd say somewhere around 90% is more realistic - if they'd claimed that sort of number, even 95%, I'd probably be a bit happier about it. Perhaps they just need to be a bit more open about the intended use of the jacket: it would make a fantastic alpine jacket, for drier conditions, but it's not very good for Scottish Winter and the UK's wet climate in general.
needvert on 30 Oct 2013
In reply to Katherine Ross:

Out of curiosity, why 90% or 95% instead of 99.9%?

What does 99.9% windproof mean?
Dan_S - on 30 Oct 2013
In reply to Katherine Ross:
> Perhaps they just need to be a bit more open about the intended use of the jacket: it would make a fantastic alpine jacket, for drier conditions, but it's not very good for Scottish Winter and the UK's wet climate in general.

I think that the fact the material is slightly wind permiable is what makes it ideal for the UK climate. Neoshell is the moat breathable jacket I've used, but I've not noticed any wind penetration.

Waterproofs work best in terms of breathability in dry environments as there is a moisture concentration gradient which favours water passing from the inside of the jackets membrane to the outside world.

In our much more moist environment, this moisture gradient is always less favourable, and therefore the membrane will be less breathable. Having a small amount of air movement through the membrane means that some of the moist air produced inside the jacket isn't effected by this non-favorable gradient and will be dispersed.
BnB - on 30 Oct 2013
In reply to Dan_S: Doesn't that potentially work both ways, ie from the ouside in!!
In reply to Katherine Ross:
> (In reply to TobyA) I appreciate that it probably isn't as windproof as Gore Tex, however it claims to be 99.9% windproof!

Who claimed that exactly? I've been reading loads of stuff related to NeoShell recently because of the review I was writing, and haven't seen that claim. I does seem companies have difficulty deciding how to talk about the air permeability of neo-shell though. I watched some video from one of the big trade shows a couple of year back where they interviewed a Marmot guy talking about the Zion, and there he mentioned the air-perm thing a lot as a big positive. But when they described the jacket on the website no real mention from what I remember.
martinph78 on 30 Oct 2013
In reply to Dan_S:
> Waterproofs work best in terms of breathability in dry environments

Genius :)

I see what you are saying, and agree. This is the problem that manufacturers face trying to create shell jackets.

We want/expect too much from them I think. I know many folk, including myself, don't use shell jackets to their best. For example, venting them, removing a layer before adding a shell, slowing the pace a bit (so as not to generate as much sweat), etc.

I also don't see how stretchy membranes are ever going to last as long. The constant stretch and movement is going to wear the membrane out far more quickly than a standard shell. There is always going to be a compromise I guess.


Toby, re: Event, I've never noticed any wind coming through my trousers, and I've worn them with the thinnest trousers or shorts beneath them in all temperatures and wind strengths.

Siward on 30 Oct 2013
In reply to TobyA:

From the rab website it's properties are given as:

Waterproof
Highly breathable two-way air exchange
Blocks 99.9% of the wind
Stretch for active comfort
Warmth without weight
Less noise than a hardshell
Machine washable
In reply to Siward:

> From the rab website

Thanks Si. I wonder where RAB got that statistic from then? It has the feel of the 87.4 % of statistics that are pulled out thin air because they sound quite nice. ;)

It may well be about right if 0% is standing in your birthday suit and 100% is standing behind a concrete wall, but I guess it's another way of saying not completely windproof, which can of course be a good thing sometime anyway!
martinph78 on 17 Nov 2013
In reply to TobyA: I had the opportunity to try a Neoshell jacket for 12 hours last-night. Initially I liked the fabric, finding it comfortable (it does soften up and the stretch/against skin feel is quite nice). It does bead water like nothing else I've seen before as well, but this is just a coating which will inevitably wear off.

However...

It isn't windproof. It does feel cold against the skin, and on top of the fells with my back to the wind my neck was like ice. I've never noticed this before in all the years of wearing various shell garments. It was uncomfortable and very cold against my neck. Colder than just the wind itself (I understand this will be a combination of damp as well as wind, but never felt "warmer" by taking the hood down before!). If I was wearing it over just a base layer (as I often do in summer or when moving fast and light) I'd have needed to add another layer.

After 2-3 hours walking in proper damp (continuous drizzle, wind and hill fog) I sheltered for a break. The jacket was damp inside. All over. I was wearing a micro fleece and 200 weight fleece underneath it, and between the fleece and the neoshell it was really damp/wet. Between the two fleeces was dry, and even my baselayer felt dry except for the usual pits and back. Looking at the way the jacket was beading water, I can only assume that this dampness was from sweat (I was quite warm but certainly not hot).

At the end of the night (12 hours later) it was damp, clammy, and quite cold inside the jacket.

This is the sort of typical British weather that we get, on the fells, in the dark, heavy hill fog, wind and rain. Wearing nothing fancier than fleeces, carrying a 45 litre pack. Just the sort of place where you want to pop a shell jacket on and feel warm, dry, and protected. Unfortunately I didn't find this to be the case with neoshell. The reduction in wind-proofing just doesn't cut it for me, and it was at the expense of no more breathability than my active shell. The reduction in windproofing alone might not have been such a problem if it had been dry inside the jacket, but combined with the damp it acted like an air-conditioning unit. Not want from a shell jacket.

In comparison, I have an active shell jacket and haven't noticed the same. It's totally windproof, totally waterproof, and I think it's actually more breathable...

I also had a pair of Event trousers on, and (as always) found them to be dry inside (no sweat at all), totally windproof (just light walking trousers underneath) and completely waterproof (despite plenty of use and not a lot of washing!).

It's a shame because I quite liked the "stretch" of the fabric in terms of comfort, and it doesn't flap in the wind like my other shell jackets.


I'll be trying it on a run tonight, as I guess that's where it might come into it's own, but for typical hillwalking and climbing etc, in typical fell type conditions, it won't be one I'd recommend.


In reply to Martin1978: What jacket is it? Neoshell can be put on to very different feeling fabrics.

I think I remember that eVent is also supposedly air permeable but there don't seem to be the same discussions about it's windproof-ness... odd if physically, they work in the same way.
martinph78 on 17 Nov 2013
In reply to TobyA: Latest version of the OP's
ice.solo - on 17 Nov 2013
In reply to Martin1978:

I wore a NS jacket in sleet, rain and snow for 8hrs on friday, between -5 and +5, all constant moving, 1200m of gain/loss. Wore it over just a mesh base. Stayed dry.

Point is: theres a dozen types of it and judging them all over one experiment makes no sense.
martinph78 on 17 Nov 2013
In reply to ice.solo: Whichever version of Neoshell Rab have used in the Stretch Neo Jacket is the Neoshell that I am referring to in my opinion and findings above. Hope that makes more sense :)








martinph78 on 17 Nov 2013
In reply to ice.solo: Which version did you wear on Friday? Point is: theres a dozen types of it and judging them all over one experiment makes no sense.

;)
ice.solo - on 17 Nov 2013
In reply to Martin1978:

im not standing up for NS, so am interested in when it fails (and the lead up to it).
seems a few people are having issues with the Rab version, along with bits of their other gear, so im wondering how much is down to quality. NS isnt as tightly controlled as GTX.

as yet im yet to see complaints of mammut, westcomb etc failing, but maybe thats due to language and location.

it may be that Rab got a shit batch, or some other element in construction is sub-standard.
or, it could simply be that use in the UK (conditions and other fabrics its often worn over) is a bad match, which then can be down to marketing and hype.
ice.solo - on 17 Nov 2013
In reply to Martin1978:

i wore a more recent version, as part of a now-3 year testing process.
BnB - on 18 Nov 2013
In reply to ice.solo:
> (In reply to Martin1978)
>
> I wore a NS jacket in sleet, rain and snow for 8hrs on friday, between -5 and +5, all constant moving, 1200m of gain/loss. Wore it over just a mesh base. Stayed dry.
>
> Point is: theres a dozen types of it and judging them all over one experiment makes no sense.

Wi' nowt but a string vest on under the shell it's no surprise sweat wasn't an issue. I don't think this teaches us much about neoshell's effectiveness, but it is a good advert for Brynje.
In reply to Katherine Ross: For anyone following this discussion my review of the Marmot Nabu is now up: http://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/review.php?id=5883 with my thoughts on the windproofness of NeoShell.
dutybooty - on 20 Nov 2013
In reply to BnB:

> I'm accustomed to everything (in size medium) fitting me pretty well off the peg. The Nabu however seemed to be cut for the generous "American" figure and the medium bellowed several inches out in front of me

Thats strange. I'm a medium off the peg in everything else I buy (apart from t-shirts, but I like them tight) but in the Marmot Zion medium was too small and the large was just a tiny bit too big, but not so much you'd notice unless you were paying attention.
martinph78 on 20 Nov 2013
In reply to ice.solo:
> (In reply to Martin1978)
>
> as yet im yet to see complaints of mammut, westcomb etc failing, but maybe thats due to language and location.
>
> it may be that Rab got a shit batch, or some other element in construction is sub-standard.
> or, it could simply be that use in the UK (conditions and other fabrics its often worn over) is a bad match, which then can be down to marketing and hype.

Reading Toby's review of the Mammut jacket it appears that it is more than just a Rab issue. In fairness, the Neoshell is doing what it's designed to do, it's just not suited to hardshell weather protection IMO.

Also, yes, in the UK we would tend to wear more than just a string vest under our shell jackets!

I think you are right about the marketing hype. These jackets should be marketed as a waterproof softshell rather than as a hardshell, but that's something I've added to Toby's review thread.

captain paranoia - on 20 Nov 2013
In reply to TobyA:

> I think I remember that eVent is also supposedly air permeable but there don't seem to be the same discussions about it's windproof-ness...

I've noticed that Event is marginally air permeable, and can feel cooler than Gore-tex. That can be good or bad, depending on your need to shed heat and water vapour (when active), or retain heat when static. Compromise, or swings and roundabouts...
Wee Davie - on 20 Nov 2013
In reply to Martin1978:

>These jackets should be marketed as a waterproof softshell rather than as a hardshell

I disagree. NONE of the Gore hardshells I owned (quite a few over the last 20 years or so) lived up to their waterproof and supposedly very breathable billing.

I would say, ironically, that Neoshell redefines what a performance mountain jacket should do.

My issues with the jacket I owned were down to poor construction.

Ragingpossum on 20 Nov 2013
In reply to Katherine Ross:
I have owned a Rab Stretch Neoshell Jacket for about 30 months (bought shortly after they were first released). It has been used for Scottish winter, alpine climbing and pretty much everything the British weather can throw at it within that time.

For the first 12 months I found no issues with the waterproofing ability of the jacket. However, for the past year or so the fabric is noticeably less waterproof to the extent that the entire jack wets out within 2 hrs of constant rain and the arms within 30 minutes.

In terms of keeping the wind out, it is very poor in comparison to goretex pro and I can echo the feeling of the jacket being generally cold to wear. To the extent that I find it too cold to wear with only a short sleeve on underneath.

Durability wise, the material is roughed up in places and I have put a few small holes in the usual places. Whilst disappointing, I would expect similar signs of wear on any hardshell.

The hood I find works well with a helmet on but the cinch system is useless when not wearing one.

Overall I am very disappointed with this jacket and cannot wait to replace it. However, I imagine that the jacket would make a good ice climbing or alpine shell as opposed to a do it all hardshell that can survive the British elements.
andyathome - on 21 Nov 2013
In reply to Katherine Ross:
Kate, et al,

We really do expect quite a lot from our kit don't we?

Just what do you want a waterproof to do?

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