Gore-Tex jacket reviews

The Black Diamond Helio Active Shell.

The 5 Best Rain Jackets for Hiking and Backpacking

By Michael Lanza Shop for a rain jacket for dayhiking, backpacking, trail running, or climbing in the backcountry and you’ll see shells for adults ranging in price from under $100 to over $500 and in weight 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 …

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The REI XeroDry GTX Jacket.

Review: REI XeroDry GTX Rain Jacket

Rain Jacket
$159, 12 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL, men’s tall M-XXL, women’s plus 2x and 3x

How much rain shell do you want in mountains with variable weather? How much should it weight—and how much should you pay? Those questions came to mind when I wore the REI XeroDry GTX rain shell through hours of cold wind and steady rain, with a bit of wet snow, at the tail end of a five-day September backpacking trip in the Bechler Canyon area of Yellowstone National Park. I was happy with its moderate weight and packability for three-and-a-half days of sunny, mild days at the outset of that trip, when this shell stayed in my pack. But I was even happier that it has features that kept me dry when the weather turned ugly. And paying much less for any gear makes anyone happy.

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Review: Black Diamond Helio Active Shell

All-Season Shell JacketBlack Diamond Helio Active Shell$399, 12 oz. (men’s medium)Sizes: men’s S-XL, women’s XS-XLbackcountry.com The rain began before we hit the trail on the second morning of a five-day June trek in northern Spain’s Picos de Europa Mountains; by late morning, we reached the snow line, and the light rain turned to wet snow, accumulating several inches on the …

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10 Tips For a Smarter Layering System

A backpacker on a rainy and windy day high in the Olympic Mountains.
A backpacker on a rainy and windy day high in the Olympic Mountains.

By Michael Lanza

Think of your layering system of clothing for outdoor activities like hiking, backpacking, climbing, and skiing as a musical instrument. When you’re first learning how to play, you practice one chord or note at a time. But you only begin to produce music once you link chords in a way that sounds good. Similarly, only by treating your layering system as a dynamic, interconnected whole can you move more comfortably and safely in any weather. In this freshly updated article, I offer 10 specific tips for making your layering system work better—which ultimately helps you spend your money smartly.

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