rain jacket reviews

The Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell.

The Best Ultralight Hiking and Running Jackets of 2022

By Michael Lanza

You’re out on an all-day hike in the mountains, or a long climb or trail run, or backpacking. The weather forecast looked pretty good before you set out—but no one shared that memo with the wind that just started hammering your summit ridge, or the spitting rain and hail now pelting you as you contemplate the sudden drop in temperature and the miles between you and shelter. The question now is: What’s in your pack?

If you’re smart, it’s an ultralight jacket that takes up little space, but is about to gift you with just the right amount of weather protection when you need it.

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Outdoor Research Helium AscentShell Jacket.

Review: Outdoor Research Helium AscentShell Jacket

All-Season Shell Jacket
Outdoor Research Helium AscentShell Jacket
$399, 11.5 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
moosejaw.com

Heading to Iceland for a couple weeks of hiking—including trekking hut to hut, when we’d be committed to hitting the trail every day, no matter the weather in a place where it’s rarely good—I knew I’d basically be living in my rain shell, so I wanted it to feel good and to work. I wore OR’s Helium AscentShell Jacket for several hours every day for a week trekking Iceland’s Laugavegur Trail and Fimmvörðuháls Trail, through cool temps with wind and rain on most days, and on several dayhikes along Iceland’s Ring Road, with similar weather, including hard, wind-driven rain at times. And this lightweight shell rose to the challenge of some of the most difficult conditions that most hikers, backpackers, and climbers ever face.

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The Black Diamond Helio Active Shell.

The 6 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 consumers. Look no further. This review spotlights the best rain jackets for the backcountry and provides expert tips on how to select the right one for your adventures.

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The Black Diamond Treeline Rain Shell.

Review: Black Diamond Treeline Rain Shell

Rain Jacket
Black Diamond Treeline Rain Shell
$130, 10 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XXL, women’s XS-XL
moosejaw.com

High-performance rain jackets for the backcountry cost real money. Cheap rain shells often compromise on quality. Through a rainy, three-day, August backpacking trip in the Wind River Range, including hiking nine miles in wind-driven rain and temps in the 40s Fahrenheit on our last day, this lightweight jacket kept my 20-year-old son dry. If you want a rain shell that delivers good quality at a price that leaves you gas money to reach the trailhead, the Treeline warrants a close look.

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A backpacker above Toxaway Lake, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

The Best Backpacking Gear of 2022

By Michael Lanza

The Maze District of Canyonlands National Park. The Wonderland Trail. The Teton Crest Trail. Yosemite. The Grand Canyon. Glacier National Park. The Ruby Crest Trail. The Pasayten Wilderness. Yellowstone. The Wind River Range. The North Cascades. Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains. The High Uintas Wilderness. The Tour du Mont Blanc. These are just some of the numerous places where I’ve tested the backpacking gear and apparel reviewed at The Big Outside—so that I can give you honest and thorough, field-tested opinions that help you find the best gear for your adventures.

And that’s exactly how I came up with these picks for today’s best backpacking gear.

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