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Fall Gear Guide 2013: Insulation

Stay warm with a little extra insulation in these performance proven jackets.

Fall Gear Guide 2013: Hardshells

Beat the elements with armor-like protection.

Fall Gear Guide 2013: Softshell

Wind is no match for these versatile jackets.

Gear Review: Mountain Hardwear Plasmic Jacket

A bargain rain jacket that's actually breathable.

Gear Guide 2013: Shells

Stay dry and warm with core protection for any weather.

Gear Guide 2013 Table of Contents

412 trail-tested products

Gear Review: Patagonia Piton Hybrid Hoody

A versatile fleece midlayer that performs like outerwear.

Editors' Choice Snow Award 2012: First Ascent BC MicroTherm 2.0 Jacket

An outstanding winter performance combo.

Editors' Choice Snow Award 2012: Sierra Designs Tov Jacket

Warm, high-tech, and fitted for optimal winter performance.

Gear Review: Mammut Eigerjoch/ Biwak Jacket

This coat redefines what warm means.

Gear Review: Outdoor Research Incandescent Jacket

A versatile and lightweight puffy you won't be disappointed by.

Fall/Winter Gear Guide 2012: Hardshells

Stay protected from the elements with these nine hardshell picks.

Gear Review: adidas Terrex Skyclimb Hardshell Jacket

The comfort of a softshell with the protection of a hardshell.

Gear Review: The North Face Split Hardshell Jacket

A lightweight hardshell for under $200.

Gear Review: Outdoor Research Mentor Hardshell Jacket

A great all-around jacket that handled a month straight of wet weather and rough hiking.

The Science Behind Water-repellent Down

Will water-repellent down bags make synthetic insulation obsolete?

Gear Review: Arc'teryx Alpha SL Hybrid

A do-it-all hardshell for wilderness warriors who want four-season versatility in a light, packable, and impeccably cut package.

Spring Showers Rain Shell Giveaway April 16-20, 2012

Don't let the rainy season of spring keep you off the trail. Enter to win a rain shell a day and hit the trail in style.

Gear Guide 2012: Hardshell Jackets

Core protection for any weather and environment

Gear Guide 2012: Softshell Jackets

Stay dry and comfortable on the move with these breathable softshells.

Gear Guide 2012: Marmot Athena Jacket

The Athena's attractively trim fit flatters ladies' curves better than any other rain jacket we tested this year.

Outdoor Retailer Roundup: Tiger Tail, CAMP, & Old Favorites with New Products

BRR Nick, who is also a physical therapist, found lots of back- and budget-friendly gear on Day 3.

Outdoor Retailer Roundup: Face First Travel Pillow and Saxx Men's Underwear

Day 2 had this reporter looking for comfort - gloves, hats, travel pillows, and undies.

Holiday Gift Guide 2011: Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man/Woman Jacket

Warning: Wearing this jacket will encourage complete strangers to pet you.

Fall/Winter Gear Guide 2011: Hardshells

Protect yourself from the worst of nature in these hardshell jackets.

Fall/Winter Gear Guide 2011: Insulation

Stay warm with these puffys, fleece, and wool layers.

Gear Review: Ibex Tuck Softshell Jacket

A weather-resistant softshell that has strong moisture and odor control.

Gear Review: Sherpa Adventure Gear Lobutse Softshell Jacket

A softshell jackets that's not too heavy, warm, bulky, or expensive

Gear Review: Outdoor Research Paladin Hardshell Jacket

A super durable jacket for the multisporter

Gear Review: Icebreaker Spring Boxer Brief and Pace Hipster

Don’t muck up the performance of your pants by wearing cotton undies underneath.

The Best Breathable, Waterproof Rain Jackets

Four companies made bold claims about cutting-edge waterproof technology in 2011. So we gathered a dozen rain jackets with the new fabrics and put them to the test in a head-to-head challenge. Verdict: We've never worn a more breathable crop of shells.

Gear Review: Columbia Peak 2 Peak/Peak Power

Made with Columbia Omni-Dry this full-featured jacket is $40 less than its nearest competitor.

Gear Review: Mountain Hardwear Jovian

Made with a PTFE membrane made by General Electric this shell was great in heavy rain.

Gear Review: Westcomb Apoc

Made with Polartec NeoShell, this versatile jacket is durable and breathable.

Gear Review: Mammut Felsturm Half-Zip

Made with Gore-Tex Active Shell this breathable jacket was wearable in a wide range of temperatures.

Gear Reviews: Featherweight Shells

Windproof jackets for every type of hiker.

Gear Review: Outdoor Research Vigor Jacket

An extremely lightweight and tough jacket that's only $70.

Gear Review: Patagonia Nine Trails Jacket

This hoodless Patagonia jacket is extremely breathable.

Gear Review: Mountain Hardwear Shadowland Jacket

A windproof jacket with a warm, brushed tricot lining.

Gear Review: GoLite Kenai Jacket

This waterproof, windproof jacket loves crappy weather.

Gear Review: Arc'teryx Celeris Jacket

A great jacket for trail runners at only five ounces.

Mother's Day Gift Guide: Montbell Alpine Light Down Parka

Maximum warmth for minimum weight

Gear Review: The North Face Leonidas Jacket

A stretchy, three-season jacket

Gear Review: GoLite Malpais Jacket

A ridiculously light shell that also blocks wind and rain.

Gear Review: Marmot Ether DriClime Jacket

Gear Review: Stoic Welder Lo Jacket

The perfect three-season jacket.

Gear Review: Rab Boreas/Aurora Pull-on Jacket

Gear Review: REI ecoSensitive Revelcloud Jacket

PrimaLoft, DWR-treated Pertex Quantum, and recycled polyester make this a warm and eco-friendly puffy jacket.

Gear Review: Montbell Alpine Light Down Parka

A hooded, 800-fill down puffy.

Gear Review: Ruff Wear Cloud Chaser

A primo softshell jacket...for your dog.

Editors' Choice 2011 Green Award: The North Face Venture Jacket

Get total weather protection for half the gas.

Editors' Choice 2011: Rab Boreas/Aurora Pull-On Softshell Jacket

Get a softshell that's so light and versatile, you won't leave it behind on multiday treks.

Editors' Choice 2011: MontBell Alpine Light Down Parka

Low weight, high warmth, and modest price make this jacket a perfect fit.

Gear Review: MontBell Thermawrap BC Jacket

A light, warm, synthetic layering piece ideal for damp conditions and active pursuits.

Gear Review: MontBell Tachyon Anorak Jacket

An extremely light and extremely packable windshell.

Gear Review: GoLite Demaree Canyon Jacket

A packable puffy with a sleek, athletic fit.

Gear Review: SCOTTEVEST Fleece 5.0 Jacket

Has 24 pockets to keep all your gadgets in place

Gear Review: Outdoor Research Virtuoso Puffy Jacket

This puffy has high-end weatherproofing and an insulated, versatile hood

Gear Review: Outdoor Research Alibi Jacket

A stretchy softshell jacket that is perfect for dayhikes

Holiday Gift Guide 2010: Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover

A perennial favorite of BACKPACKER editors, the Nano Puff is a no-brainer layer that your gift-ee will use 12 months a year.

Holiday Gift Guide 2010: Marmot Aegis Jacket

This 14-ounce shell is equally at home on the trail or around town, thanks to its reliable weatherproofing, performance features, and plush niceties.

Fall/Winter Gear Guide 2010: Softshells

Find a jacket that's suited for highly active, cold-weather activities.

Gear Review: Columbia Carabineer II /Frosty Forest Parka

Cool-weather enthusiasts–skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers, & winter hikers–will love this jacket.

Gear Review: Merrell Raven/Falconry Tri-Therm Jacket

A three-in-one jacket system...that works.

Gear Review: Patagonia R1 Full-Zip Jacket

This lightweight fleece jacket has been a long-time tester favorite.

Gear Review: REI Antifreeze/Davos Jacket

-20°? No problem for this bargain heater.

Gear Review: Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody

A super warm jacket that compresses down to softball size.

Gear Review: Columbia Heat Elite Jacket

Columbia's "Omni-Heat" increases insulation by 20 percent over standard fill.

Gear Review: The North Face Redpoint Vest

A core-warming affordable, functional vest.

Gear Review: Montbell ThermaWrap BC Jacket

A versatile jacket that blends in anywhere.

Gear Review: Mountain Hardware Gravitor/Sooka Jacket

A waterproof ski jacket that's warm as well.

Gear Review: Canada Goose HyBridge Jacket

A hybrid softshell/puffy jacket.

Gear Review: Rab Infinity Jacket

A water resistant, down-filled force field.

Budget Apparel Guide: $100 Rainshells

Our testers endured a year's worth of wet, cold conditions to find six lightweight jackets that will keep your body dry and your wallet plump.

Budget Apparel Guide: Apparel - Insulation

From mild autumn evenings to winter's deep freeze, here's how to stay warm for less.

Gear Review: Kuhl Skuhl eVent Shell

Repel spring (and summer and fall) showers with this eVent jacket.

Gear Guide 2010: Essentials A to Z

Having the right boots, packs, bags, and tents is never enough. Here, a roundup of all the other "essential" pieces of gear you'll want in the great outdoors.

Gear Review: McNett Tenacious Tape

Repair any fabric with this super sticky tape.

Toughest Gear: Patagonia Regulator Series

Fleece sturdy enough to satisfy an Argonaut.

Toughest Gear: Feathered Friends Helios Jacket

This Feathered Friends puffy jacket stays fatter than a StayPuff marshmallow.

Almost Editors' Choice 2010

These five finalists were close to the tops for our editors–for you they may be perfect.

Gear Review: Millet 350

This lightweight shell is mountain ready.

Gear Review: White Sierra Tempest Tek Jacket

Total rain protection at a happy, happy price.

Gear Review: Merrel Norgate

A do-it-all rainshell with a roomy cut.

Gear Review: Patagonia Down Sweater

A sweet, packable puffy with big warmth

Gear Review: Marmot Eigerwand Jacket

This synthetic-filled puffy stays warm even in wet, sloppy snow.

Gear Review: Sierra Designs Flex Down Jacket

This stretchy-baffled down jacket traps mega heat for serious warmth.

Gear Review: Nikwax Down Proof

Boost the performance of your down gear

Gear Review: Smartwool Arm Warmers

Transform your shortsleeve tee to long with these cozy add-ons.

Gear Review: Patagonia M10 Jacket

At 10.5 ounces, this jacket worked as a windshell in the Swiss Alps and and handled rain and wind in New England and the Rockies.

Gear School: Insulation

Stay toasty with the right fill for your bag and puffy jacket.

Editors' Choice 2008: Rab Latok Alpine Jacket and Westcomb Specter LT Hoody

Unparalleled breathability and clean, lightweight designs distinguish the year's top shells.

Fall/Winter Gear Guide: Softshells

Whether you're skiing, snowshoeing, running, or hiking this winter, grab one of these softshells.

Fall/Winter Gear Guide: Hardshells

These six hardshell jackets will keep you covered in any weather.

Fall/Winter Gear Guide 09: Insulating Jackets

Stay cozy in all temps with these puffy jackets.

Gear Review: Sierra Designs BTU Parka

This shell-puffy combo comes with a shorter fit for climbers.

Gear Review: Rab Ascent Jacket

The super warm Rab jacket has an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio.

Gear Review: Mountain Hardwear Synchronicity Jacket

Mount Hardwear combines a puffy with a shell in their Synchronicity jacket.

Gear Review: MontBell Permafrost Light Ultralight Jacket

This featherweight MontBell jacket is perfect for moderate winter temps.

Gear Review: Cloudveil Endless Down Jacket

This 700-fill down jacket was an instant tester favorite.

Gear Review: ARC'TERYX Atom LT Hoody

This warm, but not bulky, hoody can do double duty as insulation or outer shell.

Gear Review: REI OXT Airflyte Running Jacket

This hoodless jacket is breathable and stretchy, perfect for aerobic activities.

Gear Review: Rab Latok Alpine Jacket

This '08 Editors' Choice Award winner is still a staff favorite.

Gear Review: Outdoor Research Revel Jacket

This Outdoor Research jacket was deemed "most comfortable" thanks to its stretch Pertex Shield fabric.

Gear Review: ARC'TERYX Alpha SL Pullover Jacket

Pulling this jacket over many layers is a breeze with the elbow to hem pit zip.

Gear Review: Westcomb Revenant Hardshell

This Westcomb hardshell is at its best in extreme, wet conditions.

Gear Review: Millet Aerial Max Evo Hardshell

This Millet hardshell is a great climbing jacket due to its high range of motion.

Gear Review: Ground Essence All-Season Shell

This lightweight, breathable hardshell comes complete with a transponder.

Gear Review: ARC'TERYX Squamish Pullover Jacket

Soak up the sun in this windproof ARC'TERYX pullover.

Gear Review: The North Face Valkyrie Jacket

This cold-weather The North Face jacket comes complete with handwarmer pockets.

Gear Review: REI Taku Waterproof Jacket

This waterproof, hooded REI jacket is stretchy and breathable.

Gear Review: Cloudveil FirsTurn Hooded Jacket

This Cloudveil jacket is great for wind, snow, and light precipitation. And it's under $200.

Gear Review: ARC'TERYX Gamma LT Pullover Softshell Jacket

This ARC'TERYX pullover is the perfect mix of baselayer and jacket.

Gear Review: Mountain Hardwear Epic Kids' Shell Jacket

Kids stay warm and dry with this deluge-proof shell, perfect for everything from family hikes, to waiting for the carpool.

Fall Apparel Guide 2009

Goal: Help you stay comfortable in any weather. Solution: Hike through two-week-long downpours and hurricane-force winds to bring you the best new gear for every trip.

Gear School: Raingear

Understand waterproofing, and you'll pick the right shell and keep it working like new.

Apparel Guide 2009: Puffy Jackets

Ever seen a cold goose? Slip into one of these cozy down (or synthetic down) heaters, and you'll understand why you haven't.

Gear Review: Mountain Hardwear Compressor PL Puffy Down Jacket

This midweight synthetic packs small and repels light rain and snow.

Gear Review: Patagonia Nano Puff Down Jacket

This quilted pullover was a go-to jacket all year round.

Gear Review: First Ascent Downlight Sweater Down Jacket

This puffy is perfect as a midlayer for skiing or a springtime camp coat–and comes in a wide variety of sizes.

Gear Review: Mammut Pilgrim/Vinson Puffy Down Jacket

This overstuffed puffy was the warmest of the bunch with a high-collared hood and hand gaiters.

Gear Review: RAB Microlight Alpine eVent Down Jacket

This microlight puffy will keep you warm no matter the rain, sleet, or snow.

Gear Review: The North Face Crimptastic Down Jacket

This close fitting jacket is great for winter cragging, or fast trips from spring trough fall.

Gear Review: GoLite Mckenzie Reflexion Jacket

Waterproof and breathable, this hard shell is perfect for cold places and pursuits.

Gear Review: Mammut Lobuche Shell

New technology makes for a super breathable, go anywhere hard shell

Gear Review: Marmot Nano Shell

Weighing less that 10 ounces this ultralight shell withstood 3 days of torrential rain.

Gear Review: REI OXT Airflyte Running Jacket

This high intensity, breathable jacket is perfect for fast day hikes and cross training.

Gear Review: First Ascent BC-100 Shell

Bargain shell for rainy weather

Gear Review: Stoic Jacket

This "magic coat" is great for changing conditions.

Ultralight Shells

These versatile jackets weigh less than a pound and pack smaller than a grapefruit.

Gear Review: Western Mountaineering Hooded Flash Down Jacket

This puffy layer saves weight without excess cold spots.

Gear Review: Patagonia Houdini Ultralight Shell

Trim fitting, highly durable, and easily packable, this is one shell you'll never question packing.

Gear Review: The North Face Trajectory Hybrid Ultralight Shell

Gear Review: Mountain Hardwear Tempo Ultralight Shell

With a fleece lining, and Gore Windstopper fabric, chills are blocked and breathability is excellent.

Gear Review: Marmot Mica Ultralight Shell

While editors were wringing out their socks, nothing penetrated the Mica's waterproofing.

Gear Review: ARC'TERYX Alpha SL Pullover Ultralight Shell

With a puffy insulated layer and the clean anorak design, this ultralight did the trick in wet Welsh weather.

Review: Cloudveil BPM shell

Survival Gear: Ultimate Survival Kit

Want to make it out alive? Consider packing these 17 items carried by a veteran Yosemite search-and-rescue ranger.

Extreme Layering: All-Purpose Clothing

For all-purpose performance year-round, this layering system works overtime through any weather.

Extreme Layering: Rainy-Weather Clothing

Don't let a crappy forecast keep you home for the weekend. Just pack this deluge-tested system.

Extreme Layering: Hot-Weather Clothing

From the Grand Canyon to sunshine-pounded Colorado peaks, stay cool and comfortable with this ultralight system.

Extreme Layering: Cold-Weather Clothing

Our testers faced raging blizzards, pounding hail, frigid temps, and 60-mph winds to select these top clothes.

Extreme Layering: Clothing for all Weather Conditions

Wild weather coming? We've devised a perfect system for every condition.

2008 Apparel Guide: The Outtakes

We couldn't fit all of our reviews in one spot. Here, read the outtakes.

Apparel Guide: Jackets and Insulation Essentials

Stay warm with the Arc'teryx Kappa SV Hoody, Marmot Torrid, REI Ladro Hoodie, and Solstice Cool Ruler.

Apparel Guide: All-Purpose Shells

Check out the Cloudveil Hobak, EMS Aurora Shell Pant, L.L. Bean Ascent GTX, Mountain Hardwear Dragon, and Sierra Designs Cyclone Eco

March 2008 Perfect System: East

March 2008 Perfect System: Southwest

March 2008 Perfect System: Rocky Mountains

Backpacker 2008 Gear Guide: Perfect System

The best gear in the world can be worthless in the wrong conditions. That's where Backpacker's Perfect System comes in.

March 2008 Essentials Review: Shell Jackets

Backpacker Gear Guide: Essentials

Packs, tents, boots, and bags–that's easy. Now comes the hard part: Everything else. Below, you'll find our top picks for all the lust-worthy backcountry essentials you'll need to make your trip safe, fun, and simple.

How to Lighten Your (Planetary) Load

We found 17 pioneering products that will cut your carbon cost without sacrificing performance.

Kids' Stuff

How to Buy PVC-Free Gear

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is waterproof and durable, but the manufacturing process creates carcinogens

How to Waterproof Everything

From your tent, to your bivy sack, to yourself, learn how to stay dry and comfortable.

Gear: Clothing

Clothing is gear that's just as important as a tent or sleeping bag. We'll help you choose wisely.

Gear Checklists and Shopping Guides

Make sure you don't forget a thing with our comprehensive gear checklists for pretty much any trip occasion. Plus, learn how to pick the perfect piece of gear.

Cut Winter Weight: 4 Ways to Pack Light and Stay Warm

Don't overload your pack. Learn how to leave the non-essentials behind and still stay warm.

How to Repair a Jacket Zipper

Salvage a few more years out of your favorite jacket with these zipper fixes.

Sustainable Gear: Growing A Greener Jacket

Cutting-edge fabrics make outdoor gear eco-friendly.

Editors' Choice: The North Face Diad Jacket

Testing confirms it: You can get a real rain jacket for less than 8 ounces.

Cold-Weather Gear Review: 5 Winter Fixes

How to make your cold months warmer: boots, bags, jackets, backpacks, and booties for frosty weather

Apparel Review: More For Your Money

Budget shopper or big spender? We have the perfect three-season layering system for you.

Apparel Review: Marmot Kids DriClime

Don't let your kid board the bus underdressed this winter

Jacket Review: REI Mistral II

Comfortable, water-resistant fabric earns points lost from this jacket's boxy fit

Ultralight Shell Review: Save Weight, Money, and Time

Keep your wallet and load a little lighter with Outdoor Research, Marmot, and Integral Designs

Jacket Review: Ground Repel eVent

Stay sweat-free in all conditions with this lightweight shell

Jacket Review: EMS Thunderhead

You don't have to be a direct Mayflower descendant to appreciate a little Yankee thrift with this rain shell

Jacket Review: GoLite Phantom

Racing a storm to a peak is no time to whip out an inferior rain shell.

Jacket Review: Sierra Designs Hurricane LT

This super-compact and affordable shell is perfect for the Southwest

Jacket Review: MontBell Thermawrap

This is one of the lightest three-season sleep systems we've seen

Stone Cold Campers

They kill swiftly and silently. They flit like ghosts through enemy forests. And they will brew you a fine cup of cowboy coffee. Meet America's deadliest hikers as we hump ruck with the Special Forces.

How Pete Stays Dry

3 waterproof secrets from veteran mountaineer Pete Takeda

Getting Navy SEAL Gear

How to acquire your very own Navy SEAL Protective Combat Uniform.

Jacket vs. Vests

Going sleeveless might save you weight, but will a vest keep you as warm as a jacket?

Jacket Jargon

Make the proper buying decision by first learning the language of jackets.

How To Pick Raingear

Getting the right shell has as much to do with personal needs and hiking habits as it does with the quality of a garment.

Layering For Winter

How to dress smart and stay warm when Old Man Winter blows in.

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