ultralight wind shell reviews

Review: The North Face Flight Series Fuse Jacket

The North Face Flight Series Fuse Jacket.
The North Face Flight Series Fuse Jacket.

Ultralight Wind Shell
The North Face Flight Series Fuse Jacket
$250, 5 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL, women’s XS-L
moosejaw.com

Biting winds hit us on the 1,400-foot, third-class scramble up 10,651-foot Snowyside Peak, roughly halfway through an 8.5-hour, 20-mile, 4,500-foot, mid-September trail run-hike of the Alice-Toxaway Loop in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains. So I zipped this ultralight shell up tight and yanked the hood over my head, and got what I needed from it right then: a shield from the wind, to keep me warm.

I also wore it in temperatures in the low 40s Fahrenheit for the first couple of hours that day, mostly running uphill, and for a long stretch on the downhill side of our loop that afternoon, when the temp topped out around 50. And it was equally ideal when I dayhiked to waterfalls along the Blue Ridge Parkway in the mountains of western North Carolina, on a mid-October day of light rain and temps in the 50s. Those situations spotlight the strengths of The North Face Flight Series Fuse Jacket, an ultralight shell made for runners that transitions over to long dayhikes when you’re trying to travel light.

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Review: Arc’teryx Atom SL Hoody

Ultralight JacketArc’teryx Atom SL Hoody$229, 9 oz. (men’s medium)Sizes: men’s XS-XXL, women’s XS-XLbackcountry.com Here’s a testament to the versatility of this partly insulated, lightweight wind shell: I’ve probably worn it more than any other layering piece I own over the past several months, for virtually everything I do outdoors, in every season: backpacking in August in Kootenay National Park, in …

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Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoody

Review: Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoody

Ultralight JacketBlack Diamond Alpine Start Hoody$165, 7.5 oz. (men’s medium)Sizes: men’s and women’s XS-XLbackcountry.com A breathable, ultralight jacket that sheds light precipitation can be the most versatile garment you own—something you wear almost as much as your skivvies. I’ve pulled on BD’s Alpine Start Hoody to combat wind, light rain, and cool temps on a 17-mile dayhike over the four …

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Gear Review: Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid Jacket

Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid Jacket.
Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid Jacket.

Ultralight Wind Shell
Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid Jacket
$165, 5.5 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL, women’s XS-XL
outdoorresearch.com

On a 7.5-mile trail run in Idaho’s Boise Foothills near my home, on an April morning with temps in the 50s and a strong, cool wind blowing, I stopped after climbing uphill for close to an hour. Sweating hard in that wind, wearing a lightweight, long-sleeve top that was now wet, I felt almost instantly chilled. Ahead of me were the last few, mostly downhill miles. So I pulled on this ultralight shell. While I was still perspiring for the rest of my run, the jacket delivered enough wind protection that I stayed warm. And when I finished, the inside of the jacket was only slightly damp.

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Gear Review: Westcomb Crest Hoody

Westcomb Crest Hoody
Westcomb Crest Hoody

Ultralight Wind Shell
Westcomb Crest Hoody
$140, 5 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-L
westcomb.com

With the plethora of very similar, five-ounce-or-lighter, nylon wind shells out there to wear on a trail run, ride, or dayhike, it’s hard to choose. But the Crest Hoody stands out in this pack for one reason: the wicking ability of its Pertex Equilibrium fabric. On spring trail and street runs and mountain bike rides, from the Boise Foothills to New England, I was surprised at how well the jacket wicked moisture off my sweaty base layer, even when I had this hoody zipped up to my neck.

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