Tag Archives: climbing clothing reviews

The 5 Best Rain Jackets for the Backcountry

November 24, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Patagonia Pluma Jacket.

Wearing the Patagonia Pluma Jacket on the Tour du Mont Blanc.

By Michael Lanza

Shop for a rain jacket for 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 simple for you.

I’ve tested dozens of rain shells while hiking through soaking rains all over the world over the past two decades; I’ve learned how to distinguish the mediocre from the excellent. Here are my picks for the five best rain jackets for backcountry adventures.

These top-performing shells range in price from $275 to $549, with great deals available right now on some of them (see the links below). I think you’ll find one of them is just right for your dayhikes, backpacking trips, and climbing and other outdoor adventures.

I’d love to read your thoughts on them or other jackets you like in the comments section at the bottom of this story. Continue reading →

Review: Westcomb Recon Cargo Pant

October 12, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Westcomb Recon Cargo Pant.

Westcomb Recon Cargo Pant.

Soft-Shell Pants
Westcomb Recon Cargo Pant
$240, 11 oz. (men’s small)
Sizes: men’s S-XL
moosejaw.com

With heads bowed against the steady rain and driving wind, we plodded uphill toward the Grand Col de Ferret, a mountain pass at 8,323-foot (2537m) marking the border between Italy and Switzerland on one of the world’s great multi-day treks, the Tour du Mont Blanc in the Alps. Throughout that July day when the weather ranged from light rain to a wind-driven tempest, I never wore rain pants, only the Westcomb Recon Cargo Pant. I also wore them at other times on that nine-day trek, in light rain, cool wind, and in milder temperatures and sunshine, and through heavy rain and thunderstorms and temps in the 40s and 50s Fahrenheit on a 39-mile, mid-September backpacking trip in Wyoming’s Wind River Range. All of those situations demonstrated how these three-season soft-shell pants excel when the weather turns foul. Continue reading →

Review: Patagonia Pluma Jacket

September 5, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments
Patagonia Pluma Jacket.

Wearing the Patagonia Pluma Jacket on the Tour du Mont Blanc.

All-Season Shell Jacket
Patagonia Pluma Jacket
$549, 14 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XL, women’s XXS-XL
backcountry.com

For two straight days trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc in July, rain fell much of the time and strong gusts of wind seemed to hit us from all directions, while the temperature remained stuck in the 40s and 50s Fahrenheit. On the long, grinding ascent of nearly 3,000 feet to the Grand Col de Ferret at 8,323-foot (2537m), walking straight into a wind-driven tempest, I could focus on making sure my family and other companions were doing fine because I stayed completely dry—and thus warm and comfortable—in Patagonia’s new, all-weather super shell, the Pluma Jacket. Continue reading →

Review: Montane Minimus 777 Pull-On

August 22, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Montane Minimus 777 Pull-On.


Wearing the Montane Minimus 777 Pull-On while trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc.

Ultralight Rain Jacket
Montane Minimus 777 Pull-On
$289, 4.5 oz. (medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XL
backcountry.com

While any ultralight wind shell or rain jacket offers a lot of versatility, the Minimus 777 pushes the extreme low end in weight for waterproof-breathable outerwear, an appealing trait for hikers, trail runners, and climbers. And it demonstrated that versatility during the eight days I recently spent trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc: Whenever the wind started howling, or the sky began spitting rain, or we stopped for a break at a high pass, I reached for this sub-five-ounce shell. Here’s why. Continue reading →

Review: Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid Hooded Jacket

June 7, 2017  |  In Uncategorized   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   1 Comment
Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid Hooded Jacket

Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid Hooded Jacket

Ultralight Hybrid Rain Jacket
Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid Hooded Jacket
$145, 8 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL
ems.com

Just as the first waterproof-breathable membrane, Gore-Tex, did four decades ago, and soft-shell fabrics did nearly two decades ago, today’s hybrid outerwear let us rethink the role of rain jackets—or more broadly, weather protection—for everything from hiking and climbing to trail running and biking. Many of us find ourselves trying to stay warm and reasonably dry while exerting in wind and light precipitation more often than we’re trying to stay dry in heavy rain. In the small field of versatile shell jackets described as “hybrid”—because they’re made with more than one type of fabric—OR’s new Helium Hybrid Hooded Jacket ups the ante. Its combination of fabrics delivers unparalleled performance for almost any outdoor adventure when you’re on the move in variable weather, as I discovered wearing it on various outings lasting from an hour to several hours this spring. Continue reading →

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