Rain Jacket Reviews

A backpacker at Evolution Lake on the John Muir Trail in Evolution Basin, Kings Canyon National Park.

The Best Backpacking Gear for the John Muir Trail

By Michael Lanza

So you’re planning to thru-hike the John Muir Trail and making all of the necessary preparations, and now you’re wondering: What’s the best gear for a JMT hike? Having thru-hiked the JMT as well as taken numerous other backpacking trips all over the High Sierra—mostly between late August and late September, which I consider that the best time to walk the Sierra, to avoid snow and the voracious mosquitoes and blazing hot afternoons of mid-summer—I offer the following picks for the best lightweight backpacking gear and apparel for a JMT thru-hike.

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A backpacker hiking in rain on the Dusky Track in Fiordland National Park, New Zealand.

5 Expert Tips For Buying a Rain Jacket For Hiking

By Michael Lanza Choosing a waterproof-breathable rain shell for hiking, backpacking, climbing, or other outdoor activities can seem daunting. Prices range from under $100 to over $500, and weights from less than half a pound to over a pound. Some are loaded with features, others so minimalist they seem like a glorified trash bag. You’ll also find the full gamut …

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Mammut Kento Light HS Hooded Jacket.

Review: Mammut Kento Light HS Hooded Jacket

Ultralight Rain Jacket Mammut Kento Light HS Hooded Jacket $219, 5.5 oz./156g (men’s medium) Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s S-XL moosejaw.com When the sky darkened with foreboding, black and gray clouds that suddenly obliterated the sharply angled peaks flanking the John Muir Trail in the Evolution Basin of Kings Canyon National Park, I pulled on the ultralight Mammut Kento Light HS …

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Outdoor Research Helium AscentShell Jacket.

Review: Outdoor Research Helium AscentShell Jacket

All-Season Shell Jacket
Outdoor Research Helium AscentShell Jacket
$449, 11.5 oz./326g (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
backcountry.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 Treeline Rain Shell.

Review: Black Diamond Treeline Rain Shell

Rain Jacket
Black Diamond Treeline Rain Shell
$140, 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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