ultralight wind shell reviews

The Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell in Spain's Picos de Europa Mountains.

Review: Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell

Ultralight Shell Jacket Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell $140, 3.5 oz. (men’s medium) Sizes: men’s S-XL, women’s XS-XL backcountry.com Obvious first impression: The Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell passes the test of being so light that there’s no reason to not carry it. But a shell this packable becomes truly invaluable when you can use it in a variety of …

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Review: Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra Pull-on and Jacket

The Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra Pull-on in the Grand Canyon.
The Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra Pull-on in the Grand Canyon.

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)
Sunnysports.com

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.

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Smartwool Men’s PhD Ultra Light Sport Jacket.

Review: Smartwool PhD Ultra Light Sport Jacket

Ultralight JacketSmartwool Men’s PhD Ultra Light Sport Jacket$115, 4.5 oz. (men’s medium)Sizes: S-XLmoosejaw.comSmartwool Women’s PhD Ultra Light Sport Jacket (hooded)$120, 5 oz.Sizes: XS-XLmoosejaw.com 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 …

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Review: Montane Minimus 777 Pull-On

Montane Minimus 777 Pull-On.

Wearing the Montane Minimus 777 Pull-On while trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc.

Ultralight Rain Jacket
Montane Minimus 777 Pull-On
$280, 4.5 oz. (medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XL
backcountry.com

While any ultralight wind shell or rain jacket offers a lot of versatility, the Minimus 777 pushes the extreme low end in weight for waterproof-breathable outerwear, an appealing trait for hikers, trail runners, and climbers. And it demonstrated that versatility during the eight days I recently spent trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc: Whenever the wind started howling, or the sky began spitting rain, or we stopped for a break at a high pass, I reached for this sub-five-ounce shell. Here’s why.

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The Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid Hooded Jacket.

Review: Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid Hooded Jacket

Ultralight Hybrid Shell JacketOutdoor Research Helium Hybrid Hooded Jacket$145, 8 oz. (men’s medium)Sizes: men’s S-XXLbackcountry.com Just as the first waterproof-breathable membrane, Gore-Tex, did four decades ago, and soft-shell fabrics did nearly two decades ago, today’s hybrid outerwear let us rethink the role of rain jackets—or more broadly, weather protection—for everything from hiking and climbing to trail running and biking. Many …

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