Ultralight Wind Shell
Westcomb Crest Hoody
$140, 5 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-L
With the plethora of very similar, five-ounce-or-lighter, nylon wind shells out there to wear on a trail run, ride, or dayhike, it’s hard to choose. But the Crest Hoody stands out in this pack for one reason: the wicking ability of its Pertex Equilibrium fabric. On spring trail and street runs and mountain bike rides, from the Boise Foothills to New England, I was surprised at how well the jacket wicked moisture off my sweaty base layer, even when I had this hoody zipped up to my neck.
On several outings in temperatures ranging from around freezing to the mid-50s, in wind and with no wind, I worked up a good sweat, soaking my synthetic T-shirt, but the inside of the jacket hardly got damp. On a mountain bike ride in the Boise Foothills, with temperatures in the mid-50s and no wind, I put the jacket on for the long downhill return after a 50-minute climb that left my synthetic T-shirt wet with sweat. In 20 minutes of downhill pedaling, my T-shirt dried out under the jacket: Basically, the Pertex Equilibrium breathed well enough to allow my body heat to push the moisture from my base layer through the jacket. By comparison, the nylon fabric of many ultralight wind shells does not breathe; they just offer some protection from wind and a light shower, but will trap most of your perspiration on the inside. The Crest Hoody also cuts wind and repels light precipitation, though it will wet out in a steady rain. Two minor complaints: The hood has no adjustability or elasticity and flaps around loudly in wind, and the chest pocket lacks a port for an ear buds wire.
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.