But what about PacLite? I think this material, introduced about five years ago by the Gore-Tex folks, remains something of a mystery to many consumers. Here's the deal: Gore-Tex is delicate stuff, and needs protection from abrasion and dirt. On "regular" Gore-Tex jackets (and, for that matter, all laminated clothing), the Gore-Tex layer is sandwiched between a face fabric (the stuff you see on the outside) and either a lining fabric (three-ply) or a mesh liner (two-ply). PacLite retains the face fabric but eliminates the inner liner by adding thousands of little rubbery dots to the inside surface of the Gore membrane. These little dots don't add much weight, but do protect the membrane from abrasion by pushing the membrane away from your layering clothes.
The stuff works pretty well, but is expensive and has been a marketing challenge. The first generation of it was stiff, and the inner layer changed color to an alarming degree. Those problems have been ironed out, but price factors do remain. The Marmot Osprey was $300, and was such a poor seller that Marmot discontinued it this year. GoLite's Phantom uses third-generation PacLite and is priced pretty well at $228. Weight is an impressive 13 ounces in the large size. The Marmot Oracle is 17 ounces for a medium. Another good lightweight jacket is Patagonia's Lightning ($210; www.patagonia.com), which uses a proprietary waterproof-breathable material and weighs only 12 ounces. So that's a good choice, too.
Still, I'm inclined to encourage you to go with the Oracle. For the price, it's fantastic, lightweight rain gear.
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