Tag Archives: climbing clothing reviews

Review: Montane Ajax Jacket

March 20, 2018  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Montane Ajax Jacket

Montane Ajax Jacket

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 →

The 5 Best Rain Jackets for Hiking and Backpacking

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 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. 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

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

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
$280, 4.5 oz. (medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XL

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 →

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