/ Men's and women's winter shells - recommendations?

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L mattmjones on 10 Oct 2017
Hi everyone - I'm new to this forum, but was just wondering if you could offer some buyer's advice. I'm doing a UKML winter mountaineering course in Scotland in Feb, and am in need of a new winter waterproof shell. I'm looking to spend up to £300 if necessary, but could do with some thoughts on the comparative benefits of various membranes etc as well as fit. I'm tall and slim (6' 4", 40" chest), which means I usually sit awkwardly between a M and a L in outdoor kit. At the moment it's a toss-up between the following:

- ME Lhotse or Tupilak - both Gore-Tex Pro. Leaning towards the Tupilak as the hood seems to work better with a climbing lid on?

- Jottnar, Montane or Rab Neoshell - but has anyone had any experience with Polartec Neoshell in gnarly winter conditions? Will it hold up?

- Paramo Velez - was impressed with the overall fit of the newer Paramo kit, although the arms and front hem seem a bit short.

- Berghaus Extrem 8000 Pro - another Gore-Tex Pro shell. In truth maybe a bit over-specced for me, but you can pick it up in various places for about £300 at the moment, which seems a bargain compared to the £490 RRP. Has anyone tried it on though - is it boxy like other Berghaus jackets I've owned?

- Helly Hansen Odin 9 Worlds jacket - bit leftfield, but looks durable and robust. Uses Helly's own 3-layer membrane, which on paper stacks up ok against Gore-Tex/eVent/Neo etc... have found a cheap (£100) one.

My girlfriend is also doing the same course, and she could do with a better winter shell too. She's small (5' 5") and very petite - normally an XS or a UK6, which usually means buying a UK 8 in outdoor kit ,as so few brands make tiny women's sizes. I've mostly been looking at the female versions of the jackets above - ME Manaslu/Rupal/Ogre, Montane Alpine Pro, TNF Point Five etc. Any advice on women's shells for petite frames? Thanks!
Kahti - on 10 Oct 2017
In reply to mattmjones:

If you're struggling for something long enough while still a slim fit might be worth looking at ski/snowboard jackets. A couple of "mountaineering" brands do them - norrona, patagucci and arc' spring to mind, but also the higher end stuff from the likes of burton, sweet protection, o'neill etc is made for ski mountaineering and therefore designed more similarly to a climbing jacket (gore pro, aquaguard zips, high denier fabric, helmet hood etc) but with a longer cut. Expect to pay top dollar for them tough.

Don't have much experience with womens jackets except the ME lhotse's we had as staff jackets last year. The XS/8 was too narrow at the hips for even quite petite women so definitely worth trying some on before you buy.
BnB - on 11 Oct 2017
In reply to mattmjones:
I've owned and repeatedly tested (on actual winter climbs!) both the Jottnar Bergilmir (Neoshell) and the ME Tupilak (GoretexPro) and the Neoshell wins every time for me. For a slim chap the cut of the ME is actually a bit better, as is the hood, but it simply doesn't breathe well enough. Being stood on a cold belay for an hour (you'll do plenty of that), soaked in sweat, is no fun.

The Neoshell breathes brilliantly, is waterproof to the required levels, and you can boost the resistance to high wind penetration by smart choice of midlayer, eg "active insulation" (Nano Air), or combine a light insulator with a wind shirt, which has the additional benefit of helping the layers glide over each other. But now we're slipping into the real purpose of winter climbing: layering choices!!

If you run a bit colder, however, GoretexPro will keep you better insulated from the wind, and might be preferable, in which case, go Tupilak.
Post edited at 07:33
inboard - on 11 Oct 2017
In reply to mattmjones:
Paramo will make you a custom version of any of their garments, with arms cut to suit you. Alternatively look at Cioch mountain gear, based on Skye, who make stuff out of same (paramo) fabric but to their own designs (and are also custom measured)
TobyA on 11 Oct 2017
In reply to BnB:

I'm trying to remember what jacket you wore when we did Pinnacle Ridge in Feb? Was the Bergelmir purchased since then? Anyway I'm very glad when other people notice the wind penetration through neoshell, sometimes I worry that I'm bonkers and imaging it because other folk don't seem to notice! My understanding was the new Goretex Pro was similar now, but I've not tried anything in that new version to know myself.
BnB - on 11 Oct 2017
In reply to TobyA:

No. I was in a softshell that day. I can remember because it was one of the few winter days the Lakes experienced last season. I remember you braving a hoolie in the Bergilmir, forgetting that your partner for the day was a complete bumbley, and being impressed that you could do without a belay jacket. Though you probably quietly regretted your choice when I took twice as long as a wad.

I did enjoy about 7 Scottish routes last year, a good effort considering the season, and mostly in a Bergilmir that I picked up mid-season. I'm a fan and do agree with you about the air permeability from out to in, though I recall you being more concerned about it than me. It layers well over a windshirt to eliminate the sensation.
alasdair19 on 11 Oct 2017
In reply to mattmjones:

There about at least 2 other paramo jackets that will work well as a tough winter jacket one will surely fit! I run not and prefer them over membrane jackets on performance and there durability is remarkable with a bit of tlc.

Cairngorm mountain sports in aviemore carry a full paramo range really good people.
EarlyBird - on 11 Oct 2017
In reply to mattmjones:
I haven't tried Neoshell in a mountaineering context but as a material for a winter cycling jacket it's almost miraculous - based on this experience I will be getting a Neoshell to replace my Goretex Pro mountaineering shell, at least when I trash it enough to justify the cost of replacement. I should add I run warm.
Post edited at 22:36

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