Im in the market for a lightweight, waterproof, and breathable shell. Id like something lighter than the Gore-Tex XCR shell I previously used year-round. Whats your recommendation for a jacket that I can combine with my soft shell to create the perfect winter-sport combo? Etienn Montreal, Quebec
Patagonia Grade VI Jacket
Grade VI Jacket
One shell to consider is Patagonias Grade VI Jacket ($299; www.patagonia.com). Its a lightweight, fairly minimalist piece thats tough enough to withstand mountaineering, skiing, and other abusive activities. Patagonia makes it with their proprietary H2No coating, a treatment I rate as very good in the waterproof-breathable department. It has a hood, chest vents, water-resistant zippers, and three-layer construction that helps it layer very well with a soft shell.
Mountain Hardwears Swift Jacket ($260; www.mountainhardwear.com) offers a good buy in a piece made with Gore-Tex. In this case, its Gores PacLite, a thinner version of regular Gore-Tex XCR that nonetheless offers excellent wet-weather performance. The downside is that its a bit less durable. But the Swift is designed as a mountaineering piece, and the notion that youll need it less when using a soft shell should help extend its life.
Finally, I really like REIs Taku ($199; www.rei.com). Its an all-purpose jacket, trimly cut for skiing, climbing, and the like, that combines three-layer nylon material on the shoulders and arms, with a lighter, more breathable material around the torso. Its very light, and very comfortable.
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