Tag Archives: ultralight wind shell reviews
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. Here’s how to choose the best ultralight shell for your needs, followed by my freshly updated picks for the best models on the market today, based on real-life field testing and my 25 years of experience reviewing outdoor gear and apparel. Continue reading →
Ultralight Rain Jacket
Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra Pull-on and Jacket
$185 (pull-on)/$205 (jacket), 6 oz. (men’s medium pull-on)
Sizes: men’s XS-XL, women’s US 6-14 (jacket only)
From bone-rattling cold wind on a September dayhike in Glacier National Park and a back-to-back, rim-to-rim dayhikes across the Grand Canyon in October, to wind and rain while scrambling peaks in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, Montane’s Minimus Stretch Ultra Pull-on keep me dry and warm, thanks to its solid wind protection and good breathability. Certainly one of the lightest and most packable waterproof-breathable shells out there, this pull-on, and the jacket version, are a top choice for trail runners, hikers, climbers, and ultralight backpackers. Here’s why. Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
Think of your layering system of clothing for outdoor activities like hiking, backpacking, climbing, and skiing 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 link chords in a way that sounds good. Similarly, only by treating your layering system as a dynamic, interconnected whole can you move more comfortably and safely in any weather. In this freshly updated article, I offer 10 specific tips for making your layering system work better—which ultimately helps you spend your money smartly. Continue reading →
Smartwool Men’s PhD Ultra Light Sport Jacket
$115, 4.5 oz. (men’s medium)
Smartwool Women’s PhD Ultra Light Sport Jacket (hooded)
$120, 5 oz.
Whether hiking, trail running, or mountain biking, when I need a jacket to manage variability in my exertion levels and/or the inevitable wind, temperature swings, and maybe light precipitation, I look for a couple of qualities in that shell: high breathability and reeeally low weight. From a chilly and very windy October dayhike of 11,749-foot Mount Timpanogos in Utah’s Wasatch Range, to numerous fall and winter trail runs and rides in the Boise Foothills near my home, in cool temps and conditions all over the meteorological map, Smartwool’s PhD Ultra Light Sport Jacket has had my back. Here’s why its breathability distinguishes this ultralight shell from the competition. Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
Whether climbing peaks, taking an ultra-dayhike or trail run, Nordic or backcountry skiing, or backpacking, the more time I spend in the backcountry, the more I value and wear lightweight jackets and vests that pull double duty as middle and outer layers. Unlike with heavier, warmer, and less-breathable jackets, you can often wear this type of garment while on the move—while your body is producing heat, but you still need some warmth. That makes you more comfortable and, ultimately, safer in widely ranging mountain weather. Plus, you get more bang for your buck from versatile layers like these because you use them more.
Here are six of the very best. Continue reading →