The average weight of the hardshells reviewed in this magazine in the last year: 16.5 ounces. So when a jacket beats that by more than 30 percent, we expect significant tradeoffs—like poor breathability or an ill-fitting hood—for the weight savings. Not so with the Felsturm. In fact, our team deemed it 20 to 30 percent more breathable than the best shells we’ve used in previous years.
The secrets: Gore’s new Active Shell membrane, which attaches to the face fabric using 50 percent less glue, and a no-nonsense design (half-zip, elastic cuffs, one pocket, zipper coils sewn straight to the supple 20-denier nylon fabric). During a ski tour up Utah’s 10,719-foot Lake Peak, our Rocky Mountain editor started skinning in the rain, climbed through sleet, and finally ascended into snow. “My partners constantly swapped layers, but I wore this shell in ultimate comfort from start to finish. And I never touched the pit zips.” Also killer: It packs to softball size.