Tag Archives: backpacking clothing reviews
By Michael Lanza
Shop for a rain jacket for the backcountry and you’ll see shells for adults ranging in price from under $100 to over $600, in weight from less than half a pound to over a pound—and just as huge and confusing a range of opinions on them from reviewers and consumers. I’m going to make the choice simple for you. I’ve tested dozens of rain shells over the past two decades, at all price points, from many brands you know and don’t know. Hiking through soaking rains all over the world has shaped what I look for in a jacket.
Here are my picks for the five best rain jackets available today, ranging in price from $275 to $425—with great deals available right now on some of these top-performing shells. I think you’ll find one of them is just right for you. Continue reading →
With sleeping bags, we have temperature ratings. But with down/insulated/puffy jackets, what is best way to determine if a jacket will be warm or warmer or hot? Is it the amount of fill? Some but not all jackets indicate the amount of fill.
By Michael Lanza
Choosing a waterproof-breathable rain shell for hiking, backpacking, climbing, or other outdoor activities can be daunting. Prices range from under $100 to over $600, and weights from less than half a pound to well over a pound. Some are loaded with features, others so minimalist they seem like a glorified trash bag. You’ll also find the full gamut of opinions on them from reviewers and consumers.
Consequently, many hikers, backpackers, climbers, and others buy a rain jacket based on price, brand, or the recommendation of a trusted reviewer. That’s not a bad strategy, and it’s sometimes successful; but it’s really an incomplete strategy. The truth is, the right backcountry rain shell for you depends more on you than on any jacket—and our needs as backcountry users vary as much as our budgets. Follow these tips to find the perfect rain jacket for your adventures. Continue reading →
Ultralight Rain Jacket
Marmot Mica Jacket
$160, 7 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL
Ultralight rain jackets usually come at a heavyweight price. Given the relatively diminutive cost of the Mica, I decided to take it out in wet, windy weather from New Hampshire’s White Mountains to southern Utah’s Dirty Devil River canyon to see how it measures up to much pricier ultralight shells (such as Marmot’s Crux Jacket, which lists for over $100 more). What I discovered didn’t surprise me: Differences in price usually align with performance. Still, the Mica delivers what you expect from a basic rain shell—protection from rain and wind—raising a legitimate question of why you would spend a lot more money for a comparably lightweight jacket. Continue reading →
Winter Shell Jacket
Outdoor Research Skyward Jacket
$350, 1 lb. 7 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
From the moment we left our car, through several hours of backcountry skiing in Idaho’s Boise Mountains—uphill and downhill, in dumping snow and temperatures from the teens to the 20s Fahrenheit—until we got back to the car, this soft shell never left my back. Not once. The only layering change I made all day was to twice pull an insulated jacket on over the shell. The fact that I can’t remember the last time I wore any shell jacket all day, through a huge range of exertion levels in winter conditions, speaks to this shell’s superior breathability. But it proved superior by many performance measures as a shell for backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, mountaineering, and ice climbing. Continue reading →