Ultralight Rain Shell
MontBell Torrent Flier Jacket
$249, 8 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: Unisex S-XL
When a violent thunderstorm caught me on the 9,595-foot summit of Eagle Cap Peak in Oregon, and the skies opened up with booming thunder, lightning, and pounding rain and hail, I was certainly glad to have this shell handy. It fended off strong winds and kept me dry through that tempest, as it did in extended, wind-driven rains in Norway’s Jotunheimen National Park, and when I got caught in a sudden June snow squall a pitch off the ground while rock climbing at Idaho’s City of Rocks. The Gore-Tex Paclite membrane delivers good waterproofing and wind protection.
But I like this jacket just as much when I’m not wearing it—because at a half-pound, it’s one of the lightest, most packable waterproof-breathable rain shells on the market. And it accomplishes this low weight and bulk without sacrificing deep (15-inch) pit zips, seam taping, or cuff, hem, and hood adjustability. But there are tradeoffs with a shell this light: Breathability is okay, but doesn’t compare with the best membranes on the market (including other Gore products). It has just one pocket (chest), and the hood lacks an extended brim to protect your face, like you’d find in a more technical and heavier rain shell. The 12-denier ripstop nylon is moderately durable, but don’t be entirely careless with it. Consider the Torrent Flier a good choice when low weight is at least as high a priority as weather protection.