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.
Built with Gore-Tex Active, the Tecto FL—the lightest and most breathable Gore product in the Arc’teryx line—also fended off wind like a brick wall, and yet moved moisture well enough to keep the two long-sleeve jerseys underneath my jacket almost completely dry; only the jersey cuffs got damp, from water leaching in from my gloves. Admittedly, in those cool temps, I certainly wasn’t overheating, but I’d give it an 8 for breathability. The hood is fully technical and helmet-compatible—it protected my face through snow squalls and wind-driven rain. Fit is athletic: the medium (thankfully) isn’t voluminous in the waist like too many jackets, but I could still layer a light fleece or summer-weight puffy under it, though not a thick puffy jacket. While tough, the 30-denier fabric has a lighter, more supple feel than heavier Gore-Tex shells. The only other features are a single pocket (left sleeve), an adjustable hem, and narrow hook-and-loop cuffs. For this all-weather performance and durability at this weight, you sacrifice pit zips (I didn’t miss them, but you might in warm rain) and more pockets. For ounce-counters who expect to get wet, that’s a good tradeoff. Bonus: The jacket is made for standard washer-drier cleaning; Gore advises machine washing warm and tumble drying medium until completely dry to maintain the water-resistant coating.
NOTE: 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.