BEST FOR: Minimalists pinching pennies. THE TEST: The Vaporshell is made with Stoic’s proprietary polyurethane membrane, which testers found to be every bit as breathable as all the name-brand stuff. On a soaking weekend in the Cascades, the pit-zip-equipped Vaporshell never got damp inside, and rain still beaded off the exterior after two straight days of downpours. Testers gave it props for the trim cut (buy one size up if you’re on the cusp) but were less impressed with the unusually large hood, which was tough to cinch down because of inconveniently placed and insecure toggles. THE VERDICT: While it’s not as full-featured (there’s just one small chest pocket) as top-of-the-line jackets, it’s tough to beat the Vaporshell’s combo of performance and price. 13.6 oz
To improve breathability, Stoic’s Vaporshell and Westcomb’s Switch LT fabrics permit air permeability. By allowing air to pass through microscopic holes in the membrane—big enough for water vapor, but too small for liquid—moisture is expelled more quickly without sacrificing protection.