Tag Archives: backpacking apparel reviews
Arc’teryx Tecto FL Jacket
$369, 10 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
Rain shells in the “ultralight” category—which might be loosely defined as 10 ounces and under—tend to sacrifice some performance and durability. Not so the Tecto FL. I practically lived in this Spartan jacket on most of a four-day September trip in the Olympic Mountains, where we got slammed with strong wind, rain, hail, and wet snow, with temperatures in the 30s, for a solid two days, followed by a couple days of sunshine but chilly wind and temps in the 30s and 40s, during which I wore this jacket much of the time. We also bushwhacked for miles through pine boughs that would pour buckets of water over us in the Bailey Range. While my soft-shell pants and my waterproof leather boots eventually soaked through from that deluge, this jacket kept my upper body dry. I give it a 10 for waterproofness and durability, because it looks as new now as the day I got it. Continue reading →
L.L. Bean Ultralite 850
$179, 1 lb. 1 oz. (men’s medium), $189 tall
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, tall M-XXL, women’s XS-XL, petite XS-XL
In heavily falling snow at around 9,000 feet on Copper Mountain in Idaho’s Boise National Forest, I felt the cold touch my bones. We had been climbing uphill on skis, breaking trail, for about 90 minutes; I was wet, and now the wind on the exposed ridge where we had stopped for a bite hit us. I pulled this down jacket on over my shell jacket and kept it on while skiing back downhill—I was that cold—realizing the snow could saturate the feathers and thinking, “Well, we’ll see if this water-resistant down works.” Continue reading →
Patagonia Capilene 4 Expedition Weight Zip Neck
$99, 6.5 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XXL, women’s XS-XL.
No matter what your outdoor activity, in any season, the most versatile piece in your apparel quiver will always be a highly breathable, fast-drying, midweight top. That’s especially true in winter, when instinct tells you to go for a thicker, warmer base layer—which will often just make you overheat while on the move and then dries slowly. (More on that point at bottom of this review.) Patagonia’s Capilene 4 Expedition Weight Zip Neck fits the fill perfectly, pulling duty alone or over a lightweight, wicking top in winter, while being light enough for cooler days in spring and fall or in the mountains in summer. Continue reading →
Hybrid Cold-Weather Jacket
Marmot Variant Hoody
$185, 15 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
Whether a fast-forward winter sport like skate-skiing, or a pack-carrying activity like hiking, ski touring, and snowshoeing, many cold-weather outdoor adventures demand a jacket that doesn’t quite fit into the traditional definition of insulation, hard shell, or soft shell. Short story: You need more insulation in front and breathability on your back and arms. Enter the Variant, a hybrid cross between lightweight insulation and a soft shell. I’ve really grown to like it for my two primary winter sports, skate-skiing and ski touring, but it would function equally well for hiking and snowshoeing. Continue reading →
Looking for a gift idea for someone who loves the outdoors? Check out these reviews of my 25 favorite pieces of outdoor gear and apparel, trail food, and outdoor books of 2012.
* Westcomb Shift LT Hoody three-season, waterproof-breathable jacket.
* Gregory Savant 58 (men’s)/Sage 55 (women’s) backpack.
* Norrona Lofoten Warm2 High Loft Fleece Jacket.
* Sierra Designs Ymir 55 backcountry skiing and snowboarding pack.
* Cabela’s Thermal Zone 1/4 Zip Mock T-Neck winter top.
* Mountain Hardwear Super Power Hoody for cool-weather, outdoor workouts.
* Scarpa Moraine Mid GTX boots. Continue reading →