hiking apparel reviews

Gear Review: The North Face Apex Lite Jacket

The North Face Apex Light Jacket

Ultralight Wind Shell
The North Face Apex Lite Jacket
$130, 6 oz. (men’s medium).
Sizes: men’s and women’s XS-XL.

An ultralight wind shell can save you from a serious chill and is all but mandatory gear for a long trail run or ride, especially in damp, windy, and cool spring and fall weather.

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Gear Review: MontBell Torrent Flier Jacket

MontBell Torrent Flier Jacket

Ultralight Rain Shell
MontBell Torrent Flier Jacket
$249, 8 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: Unisex S-XL

When a violent thunderstorm caught me on the 9,595-foot summit of Eagle Cap Peak in Oregon, and the skies opened up with booming thunder, lightning, and pounding rain and hail, I was certainly glad to have this shell handy. It fended off strong winds and kept me dry through that tempest, as it did in extended, wind-driven rains in Norway’s Jotunheimen National Park, and when I got caught in a sudden June snow squall a pitch off the ground while rock climbing at Idaho’s City of Rocks.

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Gear Review: CW-X Pro Shorts

CW-X Pro Shorts

Trail Running Shorts

CW-X Pro Shorts
$72, 6 oz. (men’s small)
Sizes: men’s S-XL

After numerous hilly trail runs in my local Boise Foothills—ranging from six miles to a 25.5-mile, 4,600-foot, seven-hour July morning trail run-hike—I’m completely sold on the physiological benefits of these compression running shorts. Even on that 25-miler (running about three-quarters of the distance, walking the rest), a distance that would typically leave my quads feeling very worked and bloated with lactic acid, I felt strong right to the finish. My recovery from that run was faster, too, with much less stiffness and residual fatigue than I’m accustomed to after that long an outing.

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Gear Review: Hiking Shorts from GoLite and MontBell

Hiking Shorts

GoLite Yunnan Shorts

GoLite Yunnan Hiking Shorts
$75, 6 oz. (men’s small)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL

Hot summer hiking is a breeze in these shorts. I wore them for five straight, hot August days backpacking with my family (read: sweating under a heavy pack) in Oregon’s Eagle Cap Wilderness, and on summer dayhikes from Idaho to New Hampshire’s rugged and humid White Mountains. These shorts are cool and dry fast, thanks to mesh-lined hand pockets and a lighter, thinner nylon than is used in many other hiking shorts—perfect for summer hiking.

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Gear Review: Westcomb Shift LT Hoody Jacket

Westcomb Shift LT Hoody

Rain Jacket
Westcomb Shift LT Hoody
$400, 12 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL

Hiking the treeless, completely exposed rock and tundra of Besseggen Ridge in Norway’s Jotunheimen National Park, we started out in a cold rain in temperatures barely above freezing—but as we gained elevation, the rain changed to horizontal, wind-driven snow. On other days during that eight-day trek, we hiked for hours through spitting to steady rain in temps in the 30s and 40s Fahrenheit. When the sun did come out, we still met with strong, chilly winds that had us in jackets, wool hats, and gloves—including on a dawn ascent of the 6,667-foot peak Kyrkja. Almost every day, for several hours a day, I wore this jacket—and in such sustained, severe conditions, I was very happy to have it.

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