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kmehrtens

Softshell for Denali

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What is everyone's favorite softshell jacket that worked our well for the West Buttress?

 

I also posted this in the gear topic section too.

 

Thanks.

 

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only been up west buttress denali once. Since the air is so dry and cold, goretex actually does a good job with breath-ability, which is atypical for goretex.

 

my system that worked well for outwear is either the down puffy or simple goretex over various layers or a real simple nylon windbreaker. Something like the pataguchi houdini. I think that this very lightweight nylon windbreaker was worn 80% of the time. Even when it was snowing, the windbreaker was fine. When it got windy or up high, the goretex jacket or puffy was the thing.

 

i think a softshell jacket is just going to add weight as you need a goretex jacket anyway. (for cutting the wind, the softshell is not adequate. think 30 mph winds) You will be having 2 items for the same purpose.

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same thing with pants. tight stretchy type pants down low and add goretex pants for mid and high mountain life. never had breath ability issues. no need for softshell pants.

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I have MH Dragon soft shell now, but I am looking for something less bulky when packed, weights a little less and lighter weight. But then again, if I'm wearing it most of the time I won't be carrying it around. I was looking at the difference between a Patagonia Houdini and a Black Diamond Alpine Start. I'm thinking if I need something more substantial I will use my hard shell (Arcteryx Beta AR).

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IMO, a houdini or similar and a exp weight top would be more versatile than a soft shell jacket. prolly weighs the same.

 

FWIW, I did not feel the need for a front zipper to vent. I was fine with a anorak level of venting.

 

I was rather surprised by the ability of goretex to breathe up there. I think I brought softshell pants never just carried it to 14K camp realizing that it is dead weight because I still had thin and thick bottom layers in addition to puffy pants.

Basic rule is if you can not wear all your layers on in one time (extra skivvy and socks excluded) then you brought too much. I would add that if you can not adjust to the micro differences in temp, then you did not bring enough. One needs to keep the body under low stress. There are a lot of stresses already like hauling crap up the hill and altitude. Adding stresses like too hot or too cold only takes away from the bodies ability to adapt to the other physical stresses. insufficient calories and dehydration are other stresses that are critical to be minimized also. basically a obsessive compulsive dedication to personal maintenance will help with the ability to adapt to altitude.

the main take away is that the clothing system should be able to micro manage the body temp so that you are always neither a little too hot or a little too cold. always just perfect like the bed goldilocks was looking for, hence the preference for multiple wearable layers.

 

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I feel like just about any softshell would work. OR cirque pants and enchaintment jacket is what I took and pretty much lived in the entire trip, then added a light down jacket when it got cold and the big puffy jacket came out at 14 camp and above and the puffy pants on summit day. I put on my hardshell jacket once and never used hardshell pants. In general I'm a fan of softshell over hardshell in that they are just more comfortable in how they fit and are more forgiving to stuff like crampon point snags, plus they are usually cheaper to replace than goretex if you thrash them.

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if you really must have a softshell, take the lightest, thinnest one you can find (I have no recommendations). I don't like softshells - they're typically heavy, and as a hybrid of shell/insulator, they perform neither function very well in my experience. I had excellent experience with the most breathable insulating layers I could get (sherpa pile -- but you'll likely have to make them yourself - I did) and the lightest hardshell pieces I could find/make. My "hardshell" pants were a simple nylon taffeta - and they saw me up the Cassin Ridge and a solo of the West Buttress. A full-on three-layer goretex is overkill in my opinion -- its not going to rain up there. A solid lightweight windproof is what you want. Keep it simple - lotsa breathable insulators, and a single simple shell ensemble that you can wear over all or none of you insulating layers.

Also try questioning the Denali climbing rangers. whatever they're wearing is probably a good choice.

-Haireball

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