Shell Jacket is Tear Proof, 5 Ounces

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NWAlpine Eyebright shell is thorn proof, as well as waterproof.

NWAlpine Eyebright shell is thorn proof, as well as waterproof.

A 5 ounce waterproof-breathable shell jacket that makes devil’s club wilt just at the sight of it. I saw a preview of this thing last year and was sworn to secrecy. Now the Eyebright jacket has been public for a short time and good to go for a blog post, soon you can buy one for $600.00. NWAlpine Eyebright shell is Dyneema® with a breathable coating that’s said to be virtually the same thing as eVent. We’re seeing some amazingly lightweight but durable tents coming out with this textile as well, but a jacket that might be the last shell you ever buy is something to behold.

Aparantly, seam sealing Dyneema effectivly is said to be rocket science. So that’s the NWAlpine claim to fame. Long term durability for the seam taping and “bVent” coating need much testing, but the fabric’s beef-to-weight ratio is rather stunning.

If this and other Dyneema® garments prove out, it could be another game changer in terms of alpine mountaineering gear — both in the climbing and backcountry skiing arenas. Can you imagine your kit weight dropping another pound or so? k2, here we come. A few garments and other things made with this stuff could accomplish that. At a monetary price, of course.

Nothing is perfect. Dyneema® isn’t exactly body armor when used in garment cloth thickness. It’s got a low melting point, and while being incredibly cut, puncture and tear resistant for it’s thickness and weight still abrades quite easily. Main thing: in most modes this stuff is a heck of a lot lighter than nylon in equivalent strength.

Comments

4 Responses to “Shell Jacket is Tear Proof, 5 Ounces”

  1. Sue August 4th, 2012 8:29 pm

    Will a women’s version be available?

  2. Tyler August 6th, 2012 3:20 pm

    I am the clothing buyer at Mountain Shop in Portland, one of NW Alpine’s handful of retailers.

    Sue- To date there is no women’s product in the NW Alpine line. They are in the process of developing a women’s compliment to their current products.

    Generally, I wanted to know if there was a big market for this jacket, given the $475 price and that Dyneema can only come in white? What do y’all think?

  3. Lou Dawson August 6th, 2012 3:27 pm

    Tyler, I can go over to a well known etailer and find shells in the $400/500 price range… so the price point is no big deal if the jacket delivers what it promises.

    In terms of finding out what the market is for the Eyebright, best method is to try and sell some (grin).

    As for it making you look like a homeless person after much use, due to the white getting a nice “patina,” I think that’s the biggest problem for volume sales. Alpine climbers on long trips end up looking like dirtbags anyway, so not a big deal for them. But weekenders like cool lightweight gear as well, but many don’t want to get kicked out of the restaurant (grin) or not allowed in their front door.

  4. SB August 6th, 2012 4:24 pm

    How is the hood? In the picture, it doesn’t look very helmet friendly.

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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