Women's gear, up first
I'm heading to Kilimanjaro. What's the best waterproof jacket to take along? Jen Toronto, Ontario
Eddie Bauer's BC-100 ($169, eddiebauer.com) is a superflyweight waterproof jacket. Unbeknownst to many modern mall crawlers who associate Eddie Bauer with women's pinstriped oxfords, the Seattle-based company got its start in the early 1920s as one of the original outdoor gear manufacturers. This year Eddie Bauer reinvigorated its lineup with help from a few tough climbers, namely Peter Whittaker, Dave Hahn, Ed Viesturs, Melissa Arnot, Chad Peele, and Seth Waterfall, who not only helped design the First Ascent line but are currently giving the highly technical line the Mount Everest test. Fittingly, the motto for the new First Ascent line is: Everything you need. Nothing you don't," and the BC-100 is exactly that: waterproof, breathable, streamlined, hooded, with water-resistant zippers, adjustable cuffs, ergonomic pockets compatible with harnesses and packs. Plus, it packs so small and tight that you'll likely forget you brought ituntil you need it.
A slightly heavier, warmer, and more technical option is the Westcomb Cruiser ($349, westcomb.com). This upstart Vancouver company designs clean, simple, and highly functional gear. The hooded Cruiser, with ample pit zips and four big pockets, is made from waterproof Event fabric that keeps the rain from coming in and allows your sweat to move away from your body and evaporate. With hard-wearing fabric in the shoulders, arms and hood, and lighter fabric on the lower body, the Cruiser will cover you in a wide range of weather events. New this fall is Westcomb's Phantom Hoody ($499), a similar, albeit even more technical, piece.