Tag Archives: rain jacket reviews

December 18, 2017 A backpacker at Park Creek Pass, North Cascades National Park.

The Best New Hiking and Backpacking Gear of 2017

In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Every year, I field test a lot of new gear and clothing for three-season hiking, backpacking, climbing, and winter backcountry activities. Much of it’s pretty good. But to be honest, only a small number rise to the level of excellent, either for technical innovation or simply coming at a task from a new angle that makes their performance superior to others. On those rare occasions, gear can actually make the experiences we seek better in some small way. For this article, I’ve picked out the best pieces of new outdoors gear and apparel that came out in 2017. Continue reading →

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 →

September 14, 2017 Boston Charlies Camp on the Catwalk, Olympic National Park.

10 Smarter Ways to Think About Your Layering System

In Backpacking, Gear Reviews, Hiking, National Park Adventures, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   5 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Think of your layering system of clothing for outdoor activities 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 can link chords in a way that sounds good—because they work together. Similarly, we tend to acquire the parts of a layering system piecemeal, regardless of how well they work together. In this article, I’ll give you 10 specific tips for thinking about your layering system in ways that make it work better for you—and ultimately help you spend your money more wisely. 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: REI Talusphere Jacket

August 30, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,   |   1 Comment
REI Talusphere Jacket.

My daughter, Alex, wearing the REI Talusphere Jacket on the Tour du Mont Blanc.

Rain Jacket
REI Talusphere Jacket
$149, 15 oz. (women’s small)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XXL
rei.com

When trying to outfit themselves for backpacking and other backcountry adventures, many people may prioritize dollars for a better backpack or tent, and settle for a bargain waterproof-breathable rain jacket—especially if they intend to mostly avoid hiking in the worst weather. Parents trying to outfit a growing kid for the backcountry may feel similarly inclined toward frugality. To test that gear-buying strategy, I got my 14-year-old daughter a sub-$150 rain jacket that many consumers will undoubtedly consider, the REI Talusphere Jacket, for our eight-day trek on the Tour du Mont Blanc in July. Mixed weather—including wind on most days, and a day of hiking through wind-driven rain and cool temperatures over the 8,323-foot (2537m) Grand Col Ferret—spotlighted this jacket’s strengths and weaknesses. Continue reading →

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