ultralight wind shell 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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The Outdoor Research Helium Wind Hoodie.

Review: Outdoor Research Helium Wind Hoodie

Ultralight Wind Shell
Outdoor Research Helium Wind Hoodie
$119, 5 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XXL, women’s XS-XL
backcountry.com

If, besides very low weight, versatility counts for everything in an ultralight wind shell, the variety of places, weather, and seasons I’ve worn OR’s wafer-thin Helium Wind Hoodie speaks volumes about its value. From hiking up and sometimes running down crazy-steep trails in fall and the earliest days of spring in Utah’s Wasatch, New Hampshire’s White Mountains, and Idaho’s Boise Foothills, to the breezy heights of Hawaii’s high point, 13,803-foot Mauna Kea, and the windblown depths of the Grand Canyon, this shell fended off cool wind while taking up no more space in my daypack than my long-sleeve jersey.

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The Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket.

Review: Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket

Ultralight Rain Jacket Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket $159, 6 oz. (men’s medium) Sizes: men’s XS-XXL, women’s XS-XL backcountry.com Whether hiking through heavy, cool mist while backpacking the Wonderland Trail in Mount Rainier National Park, pulling this shell on frequently to fend off cold wind and rain showers during a five-day backpacking trip in The Maze District of Canyonlands National …

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The North Face Flight FutureLight Jacket

Review: The North Face Flight FutureLight Jacket

Ultralight Rain Jacket
The North Face Flight FutureLight Jacket
$280, 8.5 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XXL, women’s XS-XL
moosejaw.com

When The North Face billed its Flight FutureLight Jacket as the most breathable rain shell the brand has ever brought to market, that naturally caused a stir in the outdoor industry—and made me eager to put it to the test. From spring into summer, I wore this light rain shell for missions ranging from trail running in rain showers and cool wind, to backpacking through thunderstorms with strong gusts, and even backcountry skiing in variable spring weather. And while it has some minor flaws, the Flight FutureLight Jacket demonstrates impressive breathability and a comfortable fit.

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Arc’teryx Incendo SL Jacket.

Review: Arc’teryx Incendo SL and Cita SL Jackets

Ultralight Shell Jacket Arc’teryx Incendo SL Jacket and Cita SL Jacket $129, 2.8 oz. (men’s medium), 2.3 oz. (women’s) Sizes: men’s XS-XXL, women’s XS-XL backcountry.com With an ultralight shell—besides very low weight—we’re seeking a delicate balance between competing objectives: breathability for high-exertion activities like running, and protection against wind and light precipitation. On numerous late-winter and spring trail runs and …

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