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Neoshell pants, where are thou?

One of the very few Polartec neoshell pants. Credit: Eider,  Shot on 2013-07-30 Photo taken.Licensed under: Public Domain.
One of the very few Polartec neoshell pants. Credit: Eider, Shot on 2013-07-30 Photo taken.Licensed under: Public Domain.

After having given Polartec NeoshellPolartecNeoshellWaterproof fabrics have forced outdoor enthusiasts to live with the restrictions of sweat, saturation, cold and overheating for too long. Introducing Polartec NeoShell. The first truly breathable, fully waterproof, temperature regulating fabric ever. Tested and proven by some of the most committed outdoor enthusiasts on the planet. With unprecedented breathability in a waterproof fabric, it's the ultimate in personal climate control. garments a go (Rab Stretch Neo pantRabStretch Neo panthttp://rab.uk.com/assets/product-images/stretch_neo_pants_beluga.jpgThe Stretch Neo Pant is a fully waterproof and highly breathable over trouser. The Stretch Neo Pant makes a perfect partner with the Stretch Neo jacket and provides complete wet weather protection. The Stretch Neo Pant boasts 3/4 length side zips to make getting them on and off very easy, 2 zip pockets with water- resistant zips, belt loops and brace attachment points and reinforced crampon patches. All these features hint at the Stretch Neo's favourite environment - out on the Mountain! and jacket in my case), I am coming to conclusion that Neoshell would be the best fabric for ice climbing in wet and windy conditions and high altitude use, where you need very good windproofness simultaneously with high level of breathability.

None of the softshells I've tried seem to cut it when it gets really windy. Obviously they aren't quite waterproof enough when ice climbing in very wet conditions either. Gore-products on the other hand tend not to be anywhere near breathable enough for highly aerobic. Therefore I feel that Neoshell membrane laminated to stetchy softshell fabric would be just what the doctor ordered. Apparently Dane appear to be convinced that Neoshell soft garments are a way to go as well: Polartec Neoshell "Soft"? The real game changer?.

Unfortunately, this is where it starts to get complicated. There seems to be none available. Neoshell is relatively scarce to start with, and most of the garments made out of it are jackets. To make matters worse, many of them are light to very light, which unfortunately means that the fabrics used aren't particularly durable. And virtually every single garment is laminated into hardshell fabric.

For example, Rab Stretch Neo garments are basically three-layer hardshell, that just breathes better than Gore Pro shell. However, they are not very stretchy and appear to handle wear and tear of technical alpine climbing very poorly. Most other Neoshell garments (Montane, Eider) seem to laminated into light or very fabrics as well. 300-400g pants are surely nice when packing your backpack, but are of very little use when they have been ripped into pieces. They work without a doubt great for hill walking etc. But abuse of alpine climbing is a different matter altogether. Furthermore, Rab Stretch Neo pants leave a lot to be desired as far as features go (lack of integrated gaiters, completely unnecessary and counterproductive long zips).

I've tried to find Neoshell soft pants with no unnecessary bells and whistles, but such pants appear to be very difficult to come by. Mammut apparently makes (or at least made) Mammut Gipfelgrat Jacket MenMammutGipfelgrat Jacket Menhttps://d1qxh2iwg385ci.cloudfront.net/medias/sys_master/8812490326046/Gipfelgrat_JA_black_bild1.eps_Zoom2.jpgThe latest innovative waterproof Soft Shell jacket for technical alpine use, all year round and in all weather conditions. The jacket has all the required features and an optimal temperature for use on the mountain. out of Neoshell, but not pants. The same applies to Marmot Nabu JacketMarmotNabu Jackethttp://cdn.marmot.com/sites/marmot.com/files/imagecache/product_full/product_images/80740_6674.jpgThe peak of high performance innovation, the Nabu Jacket, utilizes new Polartec® Neo Shell® fabric to blend stretch, waterproof and breathable qualities together. It also offers a special wicking backer to control sweat and keep your core ultra comfy, making this the perfect all-around mountain jacket.. Eider Uphill Neoshell pantEiderUphill Neoshell panthttp://www.eider.com/media/declinaisons/10430/image/c452x520/EIV1930_0247.jpgThe Neoshell membrane: the new membrane meeting Polartec expectations regarding breathability. Very technical pant dedicated to the most demanding mountaineers. is pretty much the only piece of kit that comes anywhere near. Seems to have been discontinued though.

On the other hand, Polartec Power Shield ProPolartecPower Shield ProIn 1998 Polartec launched Polartec Power Shield and the soft shell revolution. It was developed in recognition of the fact that 90% of the time you are outside, the weather isn't that bad. So there is great benefit in giving up a little weather protection, in order to get a lot more breathability. In 2010, we are building on that product history by adding real water resistance to our soft shells with the launch of Polartec® Power Shield® Pro. Polartec® Power Shield® Pro combines never before seen levels of air permeability with durable hydrostatic resistance to keep you dry both from within and from out. After launching Polartec Power Shield Pro at the consumer level in Fall 2010, it has won numerous awards, including Outside Magazine and National Geographic Adventure "Gear of the Year" and others. should be very good material for pants as it retains comfort and stretch of softshells but adds significantly better water-resistance and improved wind-resistance at very small penalty in decreased breathability. However, it appears to be very rare as well, as Patagonia Knifeblade PantPatagoniaKnifeblade PantBuilt for mobility and pared-down storm-level protection with optimal breathability, the Knifeblade Pants are highly water-resistant, performance stretch soft-shell pants built with lightweight, moisture-shedding Polartec Power Shield Pro fabric. is the only pant made out of that I've come across. Pants made out of regular PowerShield are more common, but obviously they lack the level or weather-proofness of PowerShield Pro.

That being said, Millet Roc Composite PantMilletRoc Composite Panthttp://www.millet.fr/resize/media/declinaisons/13231/image/f488x520/MIV5711_4333.jpgPant with braces, built from WINDSTOPPER® X Fast Stretch 3L fabric for modern mountaineering: ultimate performance, absolute precision, freedom of movement, extreme resistance to adverse weather and abrasion is very interesting concept as well. At least on paper, it seems to combine the weatherproofness of Gore-tex with comfort and breathability of Windstopper while minimizing the bad points of either. Lower legs are where you need water-proofness the most as you'll be regularly plodding in deep snow. This is also were poor breathability of Gore-tex doesn't really matter that much, as nothing breathes when inside deep snow. And lower legs is not where you sweat the most in any case.

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