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These pants were impervious to Cascade storms, but still light enough for spring touring. The key: strong and breathable Gore-Tex Pro Shell, and removable suspenders that make for a smooth transition from foul to fair. scottusa.com…

AEROBIC MASTER Good for Resort Hesitant about wearing a soft shell to the resort? Relax. In drier climates, the fleece-and-soft-shell Gamma SV is the perfect choice for hard-charging lift-lappers. Built with cozy, high-loft Polartec Power Shield fleece in the chest and a lighter version of the…

The svelte, 2,150-cubic-inch Koa 35 was ideal for light, fast overnight trips. Testers loved the breezy mesh back panel and the cram-friendly roll-top closure. And although it looks minimalist, the Koa is actually bedecked with a bunch of clever features. There’s a stretchy zip-away pocket on the front of the…

BEST IN BAD WEATHER The Touring Hoodie is fashioned completely from Polartec Powershield, a time-tested fabric that still provides one of the best combinations of stretchiness, breathability, and protection from the elements. Its sleek, understated design makes it a great choice for everything from day hiking to walking the dog,…

SKI SHARP Good for Resort Look as good as you ski. The Spectre is for the guy who wants street-smart style but not at the expense of top-end technical performance. Beneath the understated, retro tweed is a waterproof-breathable Gore Performance Shell membrane protecting the jacket’s blizzard-ready…

While pack makers continue to experiment with new suspension and ventilation systems, fit is still the most important factor. Go to an outdoor specialty store and try on several. Load up with at least 20 pounds, adjust them, and walk around. Take time to fiddle with all the straps…

Aigle Shems – Midweight Jackets: Reviews   With a soft fleece interior and warm, durable merino wool/nylon exterior, this jacket combines our favorite fabrics in one versatile top. 1.9 lbs; aigleusa.com         Patagonia Pau – Footwear: Reviews (Terry Heffernan) The coolest mocs we’ve ever laid eyes…

BIG PROTECTION The anorak is back (also see the Triumph, below)—and we like it. When a group of testers got stuck in a downpour on a mountain-bike tour in Utah’s Abajo Mountains, the only guy who stayed bone-dry was the one in the Alpha SL anorak. Credit the material, Gore’s…

Soft ShellsWe barely noticed this five-ounce piece in our packs. But when conditions changed, we appreciated every feature, from its chest pocket to its stashable hood. The cut is just generous enough to fit over a fleece, while the DWR-coated ripstop nylon is water-resistant enough to fend off a…

Warm, yet wild. Touches of corduroy give these waterproof, PrimaLoft-insulated pants a dash of outlaw flash. But what feels downright illegal is when you shed your base-layer bottoms, go commando, and still feel warm and fuzzy inside. powderhorn-world.com…

BACKCOUNTRY STANDBY Good for Backcountry Technically, the Vanquish is a “soft” shell, but it certainly didn’t behave like one in the field. Gore-Tex’s Soft Shell material is fairly breathable and virtually waterproof—we didn’t test it in driving rain, but it easily shed several hours of…

The light-yet-stable Vapor Flash bridges the gap between an overnighter and a multi-day hauler. At 3,200 cubic inches, this traditional top-loader is just big enough for several days’ worth of gear (one tester even hauled a six-pack in it). But at a waifish three and a half pounds, it…

SUMMER-WEIGHT CHAMP Meet our new warm-weather favorite. The track-suit-inspired Avido was a godsend in the middle of summer when we didn’t want to stuff a full-on rain shell in our packs but then got blasted by cold winds up in the hills. The reason, as one tester pointed out, is…

THE WHOLE PACKAGE Good for Resort System jackets might seem passé to some, but the reasonably priced three- in-one Rodeo Magic, which can be worn as a shell, a midlayer, or both, is a pretty sweet (and, of course, versatile) garment. While not as waterproof…

All-Season Workhorse The Lookout 45 was designed with winter in mind—there are ski-, snowboard-, and snowshoe-specific straps. But our testers liked it so much, they kept grabbing this 2,870-cubic-inch bag for weekend adventures all summer. That’s because everything—from maps to hydration tubes to camera cases—has its place on this tricked-out…

HIGH-PERFORMANCE HIPSTER Newcomer Scapegoat absolutely nailed “performance casual” with the Rosti, which instantly felt like an old favorite. It’s ideal for resort cruising and sidewalk surfing. On the slopes, the waterproof-breathable fabric, PrimaLoft One insulation, and meticulous seam-taping stood up to driving squalls at Beaver Creek. It doesn’t have tons…

SUPER-PACKABLE On those days when the forecast is for full sun, take the Triumph. Extremely packable and weighing in at an obscene five ounces (a bit more than a bag of potato chips), the Triumph is as spartan as they come—there’s one tiny front pocket and a basic but slightly…

Soft ShellsThe soft Cocona-and-polyester lining makes the Kenosha the warmest wind shell here. It proved its mettle on everything from a whale-watching trip in Maine to a 30-mile mountain-bike epic on the Colorado Trail. We even used it as a midlayer on a spring skiing tour in Rocky Mountain…

1.The Patrol 35 nails the most important feature in a winter pack: how well it carries skis or a snowboard. TNF’s Fly-Trap carrying system compresses skis (A-frame or diagonally) or board (vertically) amazingly close to your center of gravity. The result is excellent stability—which made me feel balanced and…

DUDE CRED Good for Backcountry FlyLow has a sense of humor. The care-instructions tag in this piece advises you first to “Drink Cold Beer.” But the Denver-based company also has a solid reputation for making durable, no-nonsense gear. And by using a highly water-resistant, stretchy “kung…

The 3,970-cubic-inch, top-loading Sentinel may not look as sleek and stable as the other packs here. But it’s sturdier than it looks. The traditional suspension system consists of two aluminum stays, while the main compartment includes rear sleeping-bag access and a generous stuffsack. What impressed us were the extras…

PRACTICALLY WATERPROOF If you took your favorite base layer, hard shell, and soft shell and threw them all in a blender, it would be a terrible mess. But Westcomb’s mash-up makes terrific sense. A thin layer of merino wool on the inside wicks away moisture (like a base layer),…

GATE HOPPER The 1,098-cubic-inch Silo 18 is an ideal choice when you’re jumping between the lifts and the sidecountry. Three stash pockets (one internal, two external) help you keep track of quick-grab items. The polyethylene back panel is just tough and stiff enough to make a solid base for ski…

Can Take a Beating The Ascent 40 was designed with climbing in mind; for example, it comes with a rope tarp. And while it does a fine job getting rope to the crag, we also loved it as an adventure-travel pack. That’s because the 2,450-cubic-inch Ascent is basically, as one…

THE CLASSIC If Toyota made a jacket, it would be a lot like the Escape: solid performance, great value. Made of Gore-Tex Performance Shell (the new name for the classic two-layer waterproof-breathable fabric), the Escape shucked off the elements in the nastiest Northwest storms. It’s not as light as comparably…

STYLE AND PERFORMANCE Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but our testers were unanimous: Thanks to its sleek design and refreshing lack of logos, the Shelter is the best-looking shell in the bunch. And, like nearly everything the eco-conscious, Portland, Oregon–based Nau makes, much of the Shelter…

The most breathable soft shell here, the Verglas was our favorite jacket for high-energy excursions. Whether testers were climbing or simply riding their bikes home from work, they were impressed with the Verglas’s vast comfort range. Credit the thumb loops, hood, and a woven nylon fabric that’s treated with…

DAY TRIPPER If your passion is touring, get the nimble Drift. “It’s the perfect size and profile for the typical day trip,” said a tester who put miles on the pack in the Colorado backcountry. Skis or snowboards strap on easily and stay rock-solid, with three different carry options. On…

TOWN AND COUNTRY Good for Backcountry Don’t worry, it’s also available in black and UPS brown. We were surprised that what looks like a soft-shell sweatshirt on acid could perform so well in nasty conditions. But this hoodie felt as at home riding the lifts on…

This was the best multi-day haul pack we tested. In terms of both price and usability, the 3,480-cubic-inch El Lobo hits the sweet spot. “Feels lighter than it is” and “really moves with you” were common tester refrains. Credit the Lobo’s X-shaped chassis and dual-pivot hipbelt, which, as advertised,…

Thanks to tough—and 100 percent recycled—fabric on the rear, knees, and ankle cuffs, these weather-resistant pants can handle everything from ice climbing to bushwhacking. patagonia.com…

1. No gimmicks here. The North Face’s new X-Radial suspension is the real deal. The secret is a lightweight aluminum, X-shaped frame that’s reinforced on the top and bottom to deal with heavy loads (up to 55 pounds) and actually pivots at the center of the X, which means…

CLIMBER’S FAVORITE The stripped-down Prolight 27 performs best when it’s going up. How do we know? After spending time in Colorado scaling multipitch climbs in Eldorado Canyon and summiting (and then skiing down) Longs Peak, our American Mountain Guides Association–certified tester didn’t want to give it back. “It was perfect,”…

Built for the Long Haul If you’ve got big plans this summer—or you’re the mule for a weekend family trip—you want a beast like the 5,200-cubic-inch XT 85L. The suspension system, a hybrid of old-school frame construction and new-school torso padding, didn’t flinch when one tester loaded it up with…

MOST VERSATILE New Gore-Tex Pro Shell fabric, which is lighter, more comfortable, and more durable than the company’s former top-of-the-line stuff (XCR), is one of the season’s standout innovations. The key is a softer inner fabric that works great when worn over a base layer. In the La Grave, Marmot…

LIGHT BUT TOUGH Like a clever fighter capable of KO’ing guys with considerably more heft, the Thunderhead offers protection that belies its light weight. That’s because it’s cut from Gore’s best stuff, Pro Shell, with lighter, thinner (but more abrasion-resistant) material in the shoulders. The hood is beautifully designed—easy to…

Climbing. Hiking. Backpacking. We knew the Offwidth was a winner when every tester filled out the “best for” line of our test card differently. True, it isn’t the most breathable or element-resistant soft shell around, but that’s actually a good thing—you can wear it for a wider range of…

HARD CHARGER Unless you huck off every cliff in sight, donning body armor is overkill. But a little back protection makes sense for anyone who ventures into exposed, big-mountain terrain. The multitasking, 1,450-cubic-inch Razor is built with a Shield Back System: foam-wrapped polyethylene pads that are part of the internal…

EURO CORE Good for Resort The Formula is the Porsche of this test—damned pricey, just as flashy, but worth every cent. Kjus’s designers tossed in everything from an integrated balaclava to a dedicated cell-phone pocket with a keeper leash. So plentiful are the hidden accessories that…

Cross a whitewater drybag with a technical backpack, and you might get something like the 4,393-cubic-inch Arrakis, this year’s burliest—and priciest—offering. Built with a tough, waterproof, washable nylon fabric, this roll-top beast was unfazed during a torrential rain that eventually saturated other packs. Three exterior pockets let you get…

1. This is simply the most adapt-able winter-specific storm shell we tested. The key is Schoeller’s new waterproof-breathable fabric with c_change technology, a membrane with a polymer structure that opens up when you get hot and contracts when you cool down. Translation: Testers didn’t overheat when their buddies did…

MOVES WITH YOU Built with a light plastic frame and hipbelt system and an Allen-wrench-adjustable pivot point that attaches a separate shoulder harness to the pack, the BA1 offers independent hip and torso motion. Testers were skeptical at first: The BA1 seems like a lot of money for a lot…

EFFICIENT MOUNTAINEER Our most organized testers especially liked this tough, sensible 1,850-cubic-inch pack. Internal pockets hold snow-safety gear, valuables, and a hydration bladder. Outside, five more: two on the side, one in the lid, one on the hip belt, and one shove-it pocket on the back panel. The ski and…

Old-School Cool A 1,950-cubic-inch daypack made out of merino wool? Yup. And it’s not a greenwashed gimmick, either. For starters, the merino wool here bears little resemblance to your favorite sweater; the yarn is worsted and given a ripstop treatment so it’s durable yet light. While the overall design is…

Caught in an avalanche. Mastless in the Indian Ocean. Come back alive from your worst nightmare.

New technologies take your fitness to the next level—by making the most of your downtime.

“Not just different. Better.” That tester’s observation sums up this 15-degree bag from Montbell, whose major tech innovation—spiraled baffles—made it the most comfortable and best-functioning bag we tested this year. Far from a gimmick, the spiral baffles drape more evenly over the body, creating…

Whether you're looking for an all-conditions ski shell or an insulated winter coat, we've got you covered

1. Most frontside skis are too precise and exhausting for freeskiing. Not the pared-down CX 80, which does away with heavy add-ons like complex binding plates for a more responsive feel. It’s ten millimeters fatter than most, but its World Cup­–inspired…

The latest batch of storm shells and insulated jackets ends the debate about performance vs. style