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.
The votes are in: Check out the winners of Outside's 2006 Gear of the Year awards, including the year's hottest shell.