*ZIPPER GARAGE A small, covered portal at the top of a zipper. A garage on the main zip protects your chin from irritation and prevents water from leaking into the slider.
An eVent jacket for less than 250 bucks? We don’t know how those REI bean counters cooked the books on this one, but we love the results: The Kimtah delivers top-notch breathability and weather protection for a few twenties less than the nearest shells in its class, making it a superb value. “I felt totally comfortable powering uphill in a central Cascades rainstorm with temps in the 40s, while wearing just the Kimtah and a baselayer,” one tester reports. “And on a late-fall ascent of Washington’s Mailbox Peak, the Kimtah shed everything from drizzly rain at the trailhead to wet snow flurries at the summit.”
Credit the eVent membrane for the above-average breathability; it vents sweat vapor without the need for a humidity differential between the shell and the outside air, which helps prevent moisture buildup inside. The jacket easily accommodates a midlayer for colder weather, making it more versatile than a standard lightweight shell (downside: it’s a bit heavy for a three-season jacket).
Other smart features: Velcro cuffs that seal out precipitation and angle over the back of the hand for enhanced coverage; an adjustable, wide-brimmed hood; two handwarmer pockets placed high enough to clear a hipbelt; a fleecy zipper garage* that doesn’t chafe the chin; and a cinchable hem with toggles that rest below the waist (so they don’t dig into the hips while you’re wearing a pack).
Drawbacks? A baggy cut and extra features, like storm flaps over the non-waterproof zippers, make the Kimtah a shade less breathable than more expensive eVent shells. Another quibble: The hood adjustments around the face require two hands and are tough to grasp while wearing gloves. $239; 15.5 oz.; rei.com