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Extreme Layering: All-Purpose Clothing

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

SOFT SHELL

Marmot Kingpin
It was easy to identify the most versatile jacket in the test: It’s the one that never saw the inside of a closet. One tester wore the Kingpin nearly every day for several volatile winter and spring months while dayhiking, backpacking, snowboarding, climbing, and biking in the Rockies. He also packed it as his only insulation in summer weather. It’s made entirely from stretchy polyester Polartec Windbloc, a fleece-lined soft-shell fabric that proved fortresslike against bone-chilling breezes, wet snow, and temps down to the low teens. An adjustable hood adds warmth and weather protection (albeit weight) and pit zips allow venting, which increases versatility in moderate temps and during aerobic activities. The Kingpin isn’t waterproof (it’s not seam-sealed), but Winbloc has a weather-shedding membrane that prevented wet-out during several daylong shellackings of wet snow and a 30-minute spring shower. Fit is trim and athletic, but roomy enough for a baselayer and a light midlayer underneath. For trips when you need total waterproofing, add Marmot’s Essence ($150), a minimalist eight-ounce hard shell that testers loved for its reliable, ultralight protection. (The Reyna, pictured, is the women’s version of the Kingpin.) $230; men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL; 1 lb. 8 oz. (men’s M); marmot.com. Reader service #117

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