Westcomb Shift LT Hoody

Rain Jacket
Westcomb Shift LT Hoody
$400, 12 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL
westcomb.com

Hiking the treeless, completely exposed rock and tundra of Besseggen Ridge in Norway’s Jotunheimen National Park, we started out in a cold rain in temperatures barely above freezing—but as we gained elevation, the rain changed to horizontal, wind-driven snow. On other days during that eight-day trek, we hiked for hours through spitting to steady rain in temps in the 30s and 40s Fahrenheit. When the sun did come out, we still met with strong, chilly winds that had us in jackets, wool hats, and gloves—including on a dawn ascent of the 6,667-foot peak Kyrkja. Almost every day, for several hours a day, I wore this jacket—and in such sustained, severe conditions, I was very happy to have it.

The biggest selling point is the Polartec NeoShell, a polyurethane membrane that Polartec claims—and I’ll vouch for—has the wind protection and waterproofing of a hard shell, yet the high breathability, stretch, and supple feel of a soft shell. When I reviewed Westcomb’s 15-ounce Switch LT Hoody, I called it a legitimate four-season shell because of its combination of weather protection and breathability. But the Shift, coming in a few ounces lighter, is now the better choice for spring, summer and fall. The Shift shaves ounces by having just one pocket (a deep chest pocket), thinner seam tape, laminated zippers and hems, and (unlike the Switch) no pit zips. Still, it remains a technical, all-conditions shell—best exemplified by the fully adjustable, helmet-compatible hood that kept windblown rain and snow out of my face and turned with my head, and the waterproof (but smooth-moving) zippers. And with this breathability, I didn’t miss the pit zips. A high collar covered my neck from wind and light rain when I dropped the hood, and the velour chin guard is a nice feature. From design to comfort and performance, the Shift LT Hoody is a winner.

—Michael Lanza