Polartec NeoShell Waterproof Breathable Fabric Review

For years, GORE TEX has been the name of the game in waterproof breathable fabrics. Other challengers have come and gone, but GORE TEX has been synonymous with outdoors jackets and pants for a long time.

Then along came GE eVent, a fabric that took a big leap forward in the breathability front — venting better to keep you dryer from perspiration, key for backcountry comfort. That’s evolved into Mountain Hardwear’s Dry.Q, a fabric we’ve gotten a lot of experience with over the past year, and have been really impressed with.

But now, Polartec, well known for fleece and soft shell materials, has created NeoShell, and they’re saying it’s more breathable than any other waterproof fabric on the market, by a wide margin.

We perked up at Tahoe Mountain Sports when we heard this since breathability is key to temperature regulation and comfort when you’re working hard hiking, backcountry skiing and climbing.

With bullet points including two-way air exchange, true air permeability, soft-shell feel and stretch, all while maintaining or exceeding industry standards for waterproofing, we’re really excited. According to Polartec’s numbers, GORE TEX has an air permeability of effectively 0 cubic feet per minute, eVent about .15 and NeoShell .5. That is a wide margin.

Here’s a video showing how easily air moves through NeoShell fabric without letting any water in, put up against a GORE TEX fabric:

Sold! We picked up two pieces in the new NeoShell fabric: the Rab Stretch Neo Jacket and Rab Stretch Neo Pants. Not only were we psyched on the new fabric, but we’re extremely impressed with the fit and finish from Rab, a new brand here at Tahoe Mountain Sports. With a long alpine fit, a minimalist, no nonsense ethic when it comes to bells and whistles, and a great understated look, these layers should become a quick favorite.

So if you’re looking for the cutting edge in waterproof breathable fabrics, a material that blurs the line between soft shell and hard shell, check out Polartec’s new NeoShell in our Rab line, then get out and enjoy the changing weather!

Rab Stretch Neo Jacket – Men’s
MSRP: $364.95

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