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The Best Summer Jackets of 2018

(Photo: Inga Hendrickson)
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When weather rolls in, grab one of these.

hike
(Photo: Courtesy Outdoor Research)

Outdoor Research Interstellar ($299)

At long last, the holy grail of waterproof jackets. The Interstellar blew our crew away with an uncanny mix of weatherproofing, breathability, and stretch. “It feels softer than a soft shell but as waterproof as any hard shell I’ve used,” said one tester. “Not to mention that it’s the most breathable rain shell imaginable.” The Interstellar is the product of a new design process Outdoor Research calls electro spinning, which arranges polyester fibers in a crystal-like structure that’s waterproof, breathable, and flexible. The result, AscentShell, is a best-of-all-worlds three-layer fabric. The Interstellar vented sweat better than any waterproof shell we’ve seen in a long time. It didn’t leak during long days hiking in the rain, and the drop-tail design added coverage on rainy bike rides, making it a favorite of testers who ride to work. When temperatures rise,  mesh-backed chest and hand pockets help with ventilation. AscentShell’s stretch means it’s quiet and comfy, and it didn’t ride up when running in the mountains or reaching for handholds on a climb. And since it folds up smaller than a water bottle, the Interstellar has earned a permanent spot in our packs. 11.2 oz (men’s) / 10 oz (women’s)

Men's Women's

hike
(Photo: Courtesy Burton)

Burton Edgecomb ($350)

Best crossover

Don’t let the Edgecomb’s pedestrian appearance mislead you. With a sturdy Gore-Tex membrane, this unassuming jacket stood up to hours-long afternoon squalls while canoe camping in Ontario’s Killarney Provincial Park. The adjustable hood cinched up snug and kept rain from trickling in while still providing enough peripheral vision to navigate the park’s tight, marshy channels. We liked the Edgecomb’s classy pockets and snaps when traveling, even if they add a little extra weight. If your adventures tend toward the urban, this may be the only jacket you need in your closet. 13.6 oz

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hike
(Photo: Courtesy REI)

REI Stormbolt GTX ($279)

Best three-layer protection

The burliest shell we tested, the Stormbolt is down for whatever you throw at it. Constructed with tough, high-denier ripstop panels on the chest and shoulders and a Gore-Tex three-layer membrane throughout, the Stormbolt has a pack-friendly design complete with high hand pockets, a beefy waterproof zipper, and pit zips. It wasn’t the lightest jacket in our lineup, but 14-plus ounces is impressive for how resilient it is. When the forecast during a fall backpacking trip called for three straight days of nonstop rain, this was the jacket we reached for—and it never once batted an eye. 14.6 oz (men’s) / 12.4 oz (women’s)

Men's Women's

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(Photo: Courtesy Sierra Designs)

Sierra Designs Neah Bay ($89)

Most affordable rain shell

If we didn’t know better, we’d think this jacket costs twice as much as it does, given all the quality tech on show. The Neah Bay’s soft exterior is fully seam taped, and two hand pockets sit high and out of the way of a harness or a backpack’s waist strap. But what really wowed testers was Sierra Designs’ stretchy, waterproof-breathable, two-layer construction. After several hours spent trudging with a loaded pack in a heavy downpour, it never once leaked. And the attention to detail carried through to the helmet-compatible hood and adjustable cuffs. 15 oz (men’s) / 13.2 oz (women’s)

Men's Women's

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(Photo: Courtesy Adidas)

Adidas Terrex Agravic Wind ($99)

Best wind shell

This boldly patterned shell held up admirably in cool, windy conditions no matter what the activity. Superlight, stretchy polyester shrugged off gusts with aplomb, and the Agravic Wind was an exceptional performer during days spent riding, backpacking, and paddling. We pulled it out on lunch breaks during a mountain-bike trip in Tibet and never overheated when powering up steep climbs. Adidas’s PFC-free water-repellent treatment deflected light rain, though we wouldn’t trust the Agravic Wind to hold up in a downpour. Supremely compressible, the jacket disappears into a pack. 4.8 oz (men’s) / 4.6 oz (women’s)

Men's Women's

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(Photo: Courtesy Arc'teryx)

Arc’teryx Cerium SL Hoodie ($349)

Best light insulated jacket

The Cerium weighs less than most T-shirts (SL stands for superlight) and packs down to the size of a six-inch sub. A mix of 850-fill down and strategically placed Coreloft synthetic insulation vents serious heat, and we didn’t get cold when temperatures dropped below freezing on a high-alpine camping trip. As usual with the British Columbia brand, the athletic cut looked good and played well with layers both underneath and over the top, and the translucent DWR-finished face fabric—Arc’teryx calls it Arato 7—repelled light precipitation. Just be sure not to snag it on a tree branch: it’s prone to tears. 7.6 oz (men’s ) / 7.1 oz (women’s)

Men's Women's

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(Photo: Courtesy Mammut)

Mammut Ultimate V Tour SO Hoodie ($249)

Best for alpine pursuits

A trim, snug-fitting, windproof soft shell, the Ultimate V Tour SO feels right at home at the crag. Whether you’re bushwhacking on a sketchy approach or chimneying through a tight crux on multipitch climbs, the knitted polyester face fabric is designed to soldier through it all. Still, its 30-denier toughness hits the sweet spot between durability and breathability and should hold up well to abuse without being stifling. On high-output alpine missions, the jacket is designed to wick sweat, while a layer of Gore Windstopper should keep things com­fortable if a breeze kicks up above tree­line. 10 oz

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