Hard Shell


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In our 2018 Summer Buyer’s Guide test, 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…

This jacket is made with burly, seven-ounce waxed sailcloth and lined with soft polyester. Like fine leather, it will develop a patina that looks better the more you wear it. “You’ll have this jacket for years to come and will wear it so often that the price tag will start…

We gave this lightweight rain jacket a Gear of the Year award in our 2019 Summer Buyer’s Guide. The Bantamweight strikes a perfect balance between being waterproof and breathable, so you stay dry in summer showers and comfortable on strenuous hikes. “The Bantamweight feels like a windbreaker but performs…

We included the Helium II in our roundup of the world’s most portable gear. The jacket not only weighs in at just 6.4 ounces—it’s also completely waterproof. “Stow it in your running or hiking shorts, and whip it out for full-on protection when the weather turns,” our tester said.

In 2018, we called this shell “the holy grail of waterproof jackets.” “It feels softer than a soft shell but as waterproof as any hard shell I’ve used,” one tester wrote. If you want a jacket that covers all the bases with weatherproofing, breathability, and stretch, look no further…

This jacket is perfect for sudden afternoon showers or for layering over a puffy in colder months. Our writer tested the Ozonic on a climbing trip in the Sierra and appreciated the jacket’s stretchiness. It’s also built with 40-denier nylon, so you don’t have to worry about scraping it…

This jacket earned a Gear of the Year award in our 2019 Summer Buyer’s Guide for its perfect balance between breathability and waterproofing. “Two hours of riding in pouring rain and lots of mud, and it never sprung a leak,” said one tester. We credit the stretchy Pertex Shield…

This jacket was our favorite alpine shell in our 2019 Summer Buyer’s Guide. The hand pockets didn’t interfere with a harness, and the fabric is stretchy, durable, and weather resistant. “It’s not breathable enough for running, but the details that make it ideal for climbing work just as well…

Stio released the first version of the Downwater Anorak last year and we loved it. Made from a rugged water-resistant nylon treated with UPF 50-plus sun protection, it fends off wind and water while still looking casual enough to wear around town.

This hard shell is part of our Gear Guy’s ultimate ski touring setup. “This is one of the most breathable hard shells I’ve tested,” he wrote. When you’re not using it, the shell packs down to the size of a tangerine and only weighs one pound.

The best part about this shell is a set of zippers from arm to hem that allows it to vent like a poncho. Last winter, we evaluated over 100 men’s and women’s jackets to find the best ones for outdoor sports. While the Hemispheres wasn’t our top choice in…

Outside contributor Wes Siler called this jacket a timeless wardrobe staple for the outdoorsman. “The innovation here is a three-layer waterproof fabric that’s soft, thick, and stretchy and wears way more comfortably than the thin, crinkly hardshell you’re used to,” writes Siler. It’s ideal for around the town, hiking,…

Fall clothes that look as good as they work

When we tested new ski gear in 2017, this was the jacket we were most excited about. The eVent DVexpedition material is breathable and waterproof—ideal for grueling days in the backcountry or intense hikes. “We scratched the jacket over scree and raked it through tree branches, and it held…

We did a full review of the Zeta FL when it first came out last year and our tester gave it two thumbs up. Made from Gore-Tex Paclite Plus, the jacket (and the matching pants) is waterproof and highly packable. “The Zeta FL will become my new go-to rain…

In our roundup of the best jackets of 2019, we dubbed the Ventus Light the top backcountry shell. “Neither flimsy nor overbuilt, this three-layer shell is breathable enough for high-output climbs and just tough enough to spar with errant ski edges,” our tester said. Bonus: it packs down to…

The company claims it has made a more waterproof, more breathable jacket. We took it ski touring to put those specs to the test.

At long last, full-protection shells that breathe, too

Constructed with 2.5-layer GORE-TEX, the Paclite Stretch is built to brush off rain showers and snow. With vents to dump heat and a drop-tail hem that protects your lower half from downpours, it’s a complete waterproof package.

Our favorite puffies and shells for men and women, whether you’re riding lifts or out for a tour

Arc’teryx relies on Gore-Tex to provide a breathable barrier in this rainjacket built for trail running in cold weather. It has features like a fitted hood with an elastic brim that you can cinch down, pit zips, elastic cuffs and hem, and an internal chest pocket with a media port.

The H2No fabric that Patagonia uses for the Rainshadow is fully waterproof and fairly breathable, but cheaper to produce than Gore-Tex, keeping the cost of the jacket low. A helmet-compatible hood with a visor, watertight zippers, and a draw-cord at the hem are just a few of the highlights of…

Focus on fit, insulation, and fancy extras (or lack thereof)

Thanks to its light yet durable build, the Minimalist earned a place in our Reader’s Choice roundup of the best men’s rain jackets. “It has a minimal weight to it but feels substantial enough to be more than just a raincoat,” one tester wrote. “It’s truly a wind-proof waterproof…

Heavy-duty and highly visible, the Nordwand Advanced HS jacket is making a splash at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market

The sad story behind one of the outdoor industry's smartest hard-shell designs. Turns out, we were the problem.

When to wash your shell, how to apply a DWR, and whether to choose a spray-on or wash-in

When weather rolls in, grab one of these

Dress for success when you get snow, rain, and sunshine, all in 24 hours

This jacket is knit from recycled polyester "yarn," making it dump heat better than its competitors

Don’t leave home without a warm winter buddy.

Columbia just reinvented the rain jacket, and it works great

Gear companies from around the world released their brand-new summer 2016 products this week at Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City. We pored over all of it, and these five products—from a brilliant new water filter to a totally reinvented waterproof jacket—were our top picks for Gear…

Could this be the last rain jacket you’ll ever buy?

2015 Gear of the Year Winner

Barely-there shells for all kinds of conditions

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