Technically, the streamlined Venta LT is a soft shell. But because most of the jacket (the shoulders, arms, and back) is cut from highly water-resistant fabricGore's best Windstopper stuffand its seams are taped, it shed steady Seattle rain nearly as well as our favorite storm shells. However, thanks to large swaths of stretchy polyester fabric under each arm, it breathed more like a soft shell. The result is a jacket that's as versatile as it is minimalist: Three pockets (one inside and two front) and a soft, polyester-lined collar and zipper placket are about it. If, like some of our testers, you prefer to have a hood, go with the Venta SV ($375). 13 oz; arcteryx.com
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