Tag Archives: climbing apparel reviews

The Best Ultralight Hiking and Backpacking Jackets of 2018

November 7, 2018  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra Pull-on.

Testing the Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra Pull-on hiking rim to rim in the Grand Canyon.

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 →

Review: Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra Pull-on and Jacket

October 24, 2018  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
The Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra Pull-on in the Grand Canyon.

The Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra Pull-on in the Grand Canyon.

Ultralight Rain Jacket
Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra Pull-on and Jacket
$185 (pull-on)/$205 (jacket), 6 oz. (men’s medium pull-on)
Sizes: men’s XS-XL, women’s US 6-14 (jacket only)
Sunnysports.com

From bone-rattling cold wind on a September dayhike in Glacier National Park and a back-to-back, rim-to-rim dayhikes across the Grand Canyon in October, to wind and rain while scrambling peaks in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, Montane’s Minimus Stretch Ultra Pull-on keep me dry and warm, thanks to its solid wind protection and good breathability. Certainly one of the lightest and most packable waterproof-breathable shells out there, this pull-on, and the jacket version, are a top choice for trail runners, hikers, climbers, and ultralight backpackers. Here’s why. Continue reading →

Review: Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket

September 20, 2018  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket.

The Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket in Glacier National Park.

Down Jacket
Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket
$309, 11 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
featheredfriends.com

From lunch stops at mountain passes buffeted by cold, autumn’s-around-the-corner winds in Glacier National Park in September, to cool mornings and evenings in camp on that six-day Glacier backpacking trip and a four-day August trip in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, the Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket persuaded me that it’s hands-down one of the very best puffy jackets on the market—and an incredible value at its price. I don’t offer such praise casually or very often. But there are few pieces of outdoor apparel or gear on which your money would be more wisely spent. Read on to learn why. Continue reading →

September 5, 2018 The Sierra Designs Whitney DriDown Hoodie.

Review: Sierra Designs Whitney DriDown Hoodie and Sierra DriDown Jacket

In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

Down Jackets
Sierra Designs Whitney DriDown Hoodie
$169, 14 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
Moosejaw.com

Sierra Designs Sierra DriDown Jacket
$159, 12 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL

The best, three-season down and synthetic insulated jackets stand out for high-quality construction and materials—which translates to abundant warmth per ounce, low weight, and excellent packability. They also range from over $200 to nearly $400, and while worth every dollar, those prices put them out of reach for some consumers. What do you do? More-affordable puffy jackets generally have lower-quality insulation. That’s why the Sierra Designs Whitney Hoodie and Sierra Jacket, stuffed with 800-fill, water-resistant DriDown, look so enticing. My field testing found some flaws but still demonstrated why they’re a good value. Read on. Continue reading →

June 12, 2018 Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody

Review: Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody

In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

Ultralight Insulated Jacket
Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody
$299, 9 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XXL, women’s XXS-XL
moosejaw.com

The wind blew at a steady 30 mph or better and gusted over 40 mph—creating a wind chill around 40° F—on yet another Memorial Day weekend of “mixed” weather at Idaho’s City of Rocks. I zipped into my Micro Puffy Hoody, pulled the hood up under my helmet, and readied to belay for what would stretch into an hour as my partner led a long trad rock-climbing pitch. Fortunately, this featherweight insulated jacket kept me warm while standing idle for that long in those conditions. It did the same in similar temps and light rain later that weekend at the City, and in cool, strong wind while camping at the Grand Canyon’s North Rim and on the Esplanade during a four-day backpacking trip. One of the lightest insulated jackets on the market at a mere nine ounces, the Micro Puff is surprisingly warm. Here’s why. Continue reading →

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