Tag Archives: backpacking clothing reviews
Outdoor Research Interstellar Jacket
$299, 11 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
Anyone who’s spent enough hours in waterproof-breathable jackets while on the move in rain knows that the second half of that hyphenated adjective looms as critical to performance as the “waterproof” part. When OR introduced the Interstellar as an overhaul of a personal favorite, their Realm Jacket, for only $20 more—and unlike the Realm, also in women’s sizes—I was immediately eager to put it through the paces. After wearing it in weather ranging from rain and snow to strong winds, from a mid-September backpacking trip through Glacier to backcountry skiing at home in Idaho, I’m convinced the Interstellar has succeeded the Realm as a leading, top-value backcountry rain shell—but it does have one Achilles heel. Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
Shop for a rain jacket for dayhiking, backpacking, or climbing in the backcountry and you’ll see shells for adults ranging from under $100 to over $600, and from less than half a pound to over a pound—with just as huge and confusing a range of opinions on them from reviewers and consumers. I’m going to make the choice easy for you.
I’ve tested dozens of rain shells while hiking through soaking rains all over the world over the past two decades, writing reviews for this blog and previously for Backpacker magazine; I’ve learned how to distinguish the mediocre from the excellent. Here are my picks for the five best rain jackets for backcountry adventures that you can buy today. 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
You’re out on an all-day hike in the mountains, or a long climb or trail run, or backpacking. The weather forecast looked pretty good before you set out—but no one shared that memo with the wind that just started hammering your summit ridge, or the spitting rain and hail now pelting you as you contemplate the sudden drop in temperature and the miles between you and shelter. The question now is: What’s in your pack?
If you’re smart, it’s an ultralight jacket that takes up little space, but is about to gift you with just the right amount of weather protection when you need it. Here’s how to choose the best ultralight shell for your needs, followed by my freshly updated picks for the best models on the market today, based on real-life field testing and my 25 years of experience reviewing outdoor gear and apparel. Continue reading →
All-Season Shell Jacket
Montane Ajax Jacket
$380, 16 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: US men’s S-XXL, women’s 6-14
As the wind-driven snow came down heavily while a partner and I backcountry skied in Idaho’s Boise Mountains, I cinched the hood of my Montane Ajax Jacket closely over my head, looked around, and thought: “beautiful day.” We were skiing untracked, light powder, and despite wind chills around zero Fahrenheit or below hammering us for hours, I felt dry, warm, and almost completely sealed off from the inclement conditions in this all-season shell. If your usual mountain playgrounds often turn meteorologically unfriendly, the Ajax’s performance and price warrant a close look. Here’s why. Continue reading →