I sweat profusely while hiking. I love winter and fall, but summer kills me. In your opinion, what is the most breathable, light rain shell out there? Money is no object, and I was hoping I could use it for three-season hiking, if possible.
The best jackets for weather resistance and breathability when you’re moving for long periods of time in rain are, in my opinion, still those made with a membrane (Gore-Tex and eVent are the best known). And to oversimplify, breathability vs. waterproofing basically comes down to how the manufacturer calibrates the membrane’s permeability. Better waterproofing often means less breathability and vice versa. Gore-Tex has long been known for its highly reliable waterproofing and eVent for its breathability.
For a lightweight, fully technical, three-season shell that places a premium on breathability, the two best jackets I’ve reviewed are the Montane Featherlite Shell Jacket, which uses the newest iteration of eVent, and the Westcomb Focus LT Hoody, another nice, lightweight shell that uses a previous version of eVent. Read my reviews (which I’ve linked here); there are some differences between the two jackets.
See also all of my reviews of rain jackets.
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I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu. See also my stories “Buying Gear? Read This First,” “5 Tips For Spending Less on Hiking and Backpacking Gear,” “The Simple Equation of Ultralight Backpacking: Less Weight = More Fun,” and “Ask Me: How Do We Begin Lightening Up Our Backpacking Gear?”
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