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I just picked up a north face ama dablam jacket and really like it but it's a size large and may have to get another. Im having a hard time realizing I'm a medium. I was wondering what fabric types you like and or jackets? I don't have a ton of dough so I like to buy used. What jackets should I look out for?

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Gore Paclite is advertised as being extremely breathable. I had one and couldn't understand the claim. It was the most useless jacket I've ever owned in terms of breathability. It was light, however.


If you want something that is light and actually breathes, you should check out a shell made with event fabric. Like this one in the Yard Sale, which, despite what the thread says, is still available.

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Think less about the waterproof breathable laminate inside (Paclite, Pro Shell, Event, etc.) and think more about the outer shell fabric. You can get wildly varying breathability from any laminate depending on the type of shell fabric it's mated to. Don't write off any one laminate because some guy on the internet had one and it sucked.


I will say though that Gore has restrictions about how light or in some cases how heavy a face fabric you can use with their various products. That's why looking closely at proprietary laminates like Hyvent, Membrain, Elements, etc. makes a lot of sense. If you own the laminate then no one can limit how light you can go with the face fabric. Just remember that any trade-off in weight means less durability (to some extent).


Also be careful with used stuff or at least make sure you use a product like Grangers on it once you get it to make certain there's a solid DWR to keep water from absorbing into the fabric. Any jacket with a bad DWR coating will eventually breathe very poorly as pores are blocked by absorbed moisture.

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Ryan, having worked in outdoor retail and product design for 6 years I have learned a thing or two about fabrics. Something you might not know about Gore fabrics in general, and Paclite in particular, is that it uses urethane to protect the PTFE laminate from oils and dirt. The tradeoff here is that breathability is compromised. By contrast, eVent does not use urethane in its laminate formulation, so breathability is a bit better. That being said, there are limits to how well ANY laminate/coating will breathe, so if you find that your jacket is retaining moisture on the inside the problem is not the jacket, it's the wearer using the wrong tool for the job. In my experience, Paclite is not even breathable enough for standing around and conducting light activities in camp.


The weight of the face fabric does not appreciably affect the breathability of the membrane, at least not in the weight range that most manufacturers are using on their garments. If you laminate Gore Tex to 12oz/yd cotton canvas that will affect breathability, but when you are comparing 1.3oz/yd ripstop nylon with 1.6oz/yd nylon, the differences will be imperceptible.


Which is why I find your statement about proprietary laminates puzzling. Most "proprietary" laminates are just licensed rebranding of other products. Do you really think REI designed and manufactures its own laminate? Of course not, they just license it from another company. I have visited the Gore factory and seen their testing facilities. Face fabric weight is not a consideration in their certification process. Overall performance is how they evaluate garments.


You are spot on with your observations about the weight/durability tradeoff and the importance of keeping your garments clean and properly treated to ensure that they perform as intended. If the face fabric is soaked, your body's water vapor is not going to move through that barrier.



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Thats too bad.. of the gore lineup I figured paclite would be the more breathable considering it's a single layer opposed to the 3 layer proshell. Anyone have input whether the proshell is actually any more breathable? The new "active shell" is getting lots of attention as of lately. Also, brands are coming our with ever more of their own technologies such as mountain hardwear's dry Q, and I'm curious as to how they stack up.

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Fromage- I should have been more clear. When I was refering to "some guy on the internet" I guess I was also including myself. People seem to jump on board with anonymous advice that all too often seems to be based on who actually took the time to post up. If this thread lived forever you might have five different people saying they loved Paclite and five others saying they hated it. That's more what I was getting at in that you can't believe everything you read. I don't want to turn this into a "Jets vs. Sharks/West Side Story" battle over who has more relatively useless info about what at the end of the day amounts to toys.


I also wasn't trying to defend Paclite to too great an extent. It comes back to the right garment and balance of properties for the right task. That's tough to answer in brief forum reply and yet you see plenty of people basing buying decisions off of just that. Also being on the industry side of things I am aware of the difference between Event and Gore. My concern with Event is that most people don't really take that good of care of their stuff and though the specs aren't quite as sexy, Gore is often a better longterm solution for many.


I know the companies are not tinkering in their own secret lab. It's just there is more flexibility in fabrics with "in-house" laminates. I do think there is a difference though when comparing really light face fabrics like 1.3oz/yd to "traditional mountaineering weight" fabrics like 3 or 4oz/yd.

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with most laminates on the market, breathability is about layers and moisture transfer.


i.e. more layers = less breathable (air is a layer) and moisture transfer relies on a humidity gradient between the environment inside the jacket and outside. which is why pretty much nothing breathes on a wet spring/summer day. if the humidity outside = that inside, no moisture gets out. (although I haven't seen anything on the matter, I'd be curious if membranes actually worked in the reverse direction if you somehow had less humidity inside than outside...in theory they should pull moisture into the jacket)


this is the premise that gore-tex works on, and its the premise that most standard low-cost PU membranes work on.


as far as layers go, the idea is that each "layer" is a barrier to breathability. so jackets with fewer should breath better. according to Gore, this is the reason that Paclite should actually breath better than Pro-shell *under ideal conditions* (paclite is 2.5 layer, proshell is 3, and performance shell in a 2-ply jacket is 4 because of the air layer between the lining and the membrane). in your entire clothing system, everything represents a "layer" in a way...something to keep in mind. so if you're winter climbing and you have a base and a light fleece under your waterproof jacket, you actually have at least 4 extra "layers" in play: base-air-fleece-air.


what eVent and NeoShell do differently is allow some air permeability...I think the idea is that this facilitates the evaporation of sweat before your body heat turns it into water vapour. so the perception is that eVent and NeoShell breath better but that they may also feel "colder". (also, DryQ is actually the eVent membrane licensed to Mountain Hardwear so the same applies to them.) I think Pertex Shield is also air permeable but don't quote me on that.


Active Shell still uses the same PTFE membrane that is in every product Gore makes, but the lamination process has been refined so as to eliminate the breathability-killing glue layer.


realistically there are tons of options. find what fits your pricepoint and application and get that. for example pro-shell may not be the best choice for summer alpine but for winter alpine when you have tons of layers in play and you're more concerned with durability, maybe it's what you need.


i'll reference Dane's blog here in saying that the membranes these days all breathe really well, but what sets jackets apart is their activity-specific design. the best jacket for backpacking is not the best jacket for climbing.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I work over at the North Face and according to the information provided by Goretex, Paclite is substantially less breathable than Pro-Shell according to lab tests. If I can remember I will check and get the exact ratings for the different fabrics next time I work.

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I have have an XCR jacket which I have replaced with paclite jacket and climb in both to good effect. And I'm a sweaty gindofaguy.


The key in my opinion in the PNW is to judge your baselayer just right & not to wear a midlayer, use your pitzips. This way you have what Mark Twight calls the action suit, which means you are OK when moving verging on the cold, but not sweating.

You feel lightly dressed and can open/ close the pitzips if you feel you've got the baselayer a bit off. Also hat on/ hat off helps control body heat to a good degree.

And when you stop, put your synthetic puffy on.


The paclite is...light, and packs small, which is good. Windproof & waterproof if necessaey.

Rubbish for skiing in on sunny days though.


My baselayer is an REI silk longsleve + IO biocompatibles very thin wool waffle longsleve (2nd ascent) + IBEX woolies wool tanktop if it's getting cold.

My 2 cents. Jake

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I work over at the North Face and according to the information provided by Goretex, Paclite is substantially less breathable than Pro-Shell according to lab tests. If I can remember I will check and get the exact ratings for the different fabrics next time I work.


this was my impression as well but the Gore rep said Paclite was more breathable! get your stories straight hahaha

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Check the information that was sent to us from corporate here are the rating for some popular fabrics

WpR= waterproof rating BR= breathability rating


Event WpR 30000mm BR 22000mm

Gore Paclite WpR 28000mm BR 15000mm

Gore Performance Shell WpR 28000mm BR 17000mm

Gore 3 Layer Proshell WpR 28000mm BR 25000mm

Marmot Membrain WpR 200000mm BR 25000mm

Marmot Precip WpR 15000mm BR 12000mm

MH membrain WpR 20000 BR 20000mm

Hyvent DT WpR 25 PSI BR 750-800 g/m^2/24hours

Hyvent Alpha WpR 75 PSI BR 700-750 g/m^2/24hours

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