With the hood stowed away in the collar, the Carbon is sleek and stylish enough to blend in downtown (there's even a subtle honeycomb pattern on one side of the back of the jacket for added evening flair). But it made the grade here because it's also built to backcountry specs, complete with pit zips and watertight zippers. The Gore Paclite fabric, a slightly lighter-weight version of standard Gore-Tex, easily shucked off an afternoon of driving rain. Considering how compactly it folds away, the brimmed hood impressed testers with how much coverage and peripheral vision it afforded. We would have liked an inside pocket for gadgets, but this was still our favorite travel or around-town piece. 13 oz; merrell.com
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