"Life is brought down to the basics: if you are warm, regular, healthy, not thirsty or hungry, then you are not on a mountain... Climbing at altitude is like hitting your head against a brick wall - it's great when you stop."

Chris Darwin

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Hybrid clothing

Alpha Composites for ice climbers and alpinists offer more protection than a softshell, but stop short of replacing a hardshell. They are for the fast and light world of rapid travel, mixed environments and alpine conditions. Source: . Credit: Arc'teryx .
Alpha Composites for ice climbers and alpinists offer more protection than a softshell, but stop short of replacing a hardshell. They are for the fast and light world of rapid travel, mixed environments and alpine conditions. Source: Arc'teryx. Credit: Arc'teryx .

Several brands appear to be coming with hybrid clothing. The principle is logical enough: combining hardshell where the protection matters the most with softshell where breathability is more important. In theory this should yield the best of both softshell and hardshell in a single garment without the downsides of either.

At least Millet has had such garments out for some time (e.g. 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 with Gore and Windstopper fabrics) and BD Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid ShellBlack DiamondDawn Patrol Hybrid Shellhttp://demandware.edgesuite.net/sits_pod21/dw/image/v2/AAKN_PRD/on/demandware.static/Sites-bdag-Site/Sites-bdel/default/v1394263047035/products/apparel/W27W_Dawn_Patrol_Hybrid_Shell_azurite_410_50.jpgCombining hardshell protection with softshell flexibility, the Dawn Patrol™ Hybrid Shell is a dynamic, hybrid layer built for continuous movement and unpredictable weather. came to market for 2013/2014 winter season. For 2014/2014 season at least Arc'teryx and Marmot are having a go with comparable approach. Arc'teryx uses combo of Gore and softshell fabrics in their Arc'teryx Alpha Comp seriesArc'teryxAlpha Comp serieshttp://images.arcteryx.com/S14/450x500/Alpha-Comp-Hoody-Cayenne.pngAlpha Composites for ice climbers and alpinists offer more protection than a softshell, but stop short of replacing a hardshell. They are for the fast and light world of rapid travel, mixed environments and alpine conditions. whereas Marmot combines various Polartec fabrics in their Marmot Misto JacketMarmotMisto Jackethttps://orhub.s3.amazonaws.com/discoverW14/2014_New_Product_Gallery-500px/Polartec_MarmotMistoJacket.jpgPOLARTEC’s Marmot Misto Jacket & Pants is a cold-weather mountaineering kit featuring a first-of-its-kind hybrid construction using the most breathable waterproof fabric on the market, Polartec NeoShell. The kit also features Polartec Power Shield and the first-ever breathable puffy fabric, Polartec Alpha fabric, to maximize weather protection, insulation, stretch and breathability..

The idea seems sound enough, particularly for pants. Nothing really breathes when stuck knee deep in snow, therefore having lower legs made of of very breathable fabric comes with little gain. No reason not to use as waterproof a fabric as possible where it comes with no penalty. The mix of fabrics is a delicate art though; too little waterproof stuff and it does you no good, too much of it or in wrong places and the downside of waterproof fabric becomes all too evident (impaired flexibility and comfort due to lack of stretch (in most cases, albeit some waterproof fabrics have at least some stretch)) and impaired breathability. Another possible downside of such approach may be additional seams.

As a side note, apparently Rab is expanding their Neoshell line with Neo Guide jacket and pants. They are supposed to utilize heavier fabric in places compared to their 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! garments.

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