First Ascent Mountain Guide Jacket
Don’t let the interior seam tape mislead you: This is not a hardshell. But after subjecting it to frigid, 30-mph February gusts, we had to cut it open with a knife to prove this thin, supple softshell wasn’t armored with a Windstopper-like liner; It was that windproof. Over a year of testing, it quickly became our go-to softie for chilly day hikes or dry-snow ski tours, with it’s comfy, quiet four-way stretch fabric, slim fit, and quartet of pockets—two of which are big enough for skins. The DWR coating can repel dry snow or drizzle, but soaked through after one minute in our shower test. Since there’s no laminate, though, breathability remains high—especially in the lighter fabric on the torso. The zippers are blissfully fluid, and the hood—which offers best-in-class peripheral vision—is helmet compatible (climbing: completely; skiing: a little tight, but fair enough). Bummer: The neck opening is unnecessarily loose, dumping too much heat and rendering chin tucks useless, while still feeling a little restrictive when turning our heads with a helmet. Also, the hood cinch chords are a pain to tighten and harder to loosen—very difficult with gloves or in a precarious stance—but this sin is more forgivable in a softshell. Bonus: The understated style let us wear it around town without losing favor at the bar.
Takeaway: This is a powerfully wind-blocking soft shell that you'll end up loving for 90 percent of your adventures.
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