The Hobak is the Mercedes of winter shells–superbly constructed, with maximum function in terms of protection against foul weather and decked out with loads of luxury features. Made with Gore’s top-of-the-line Gore-Tex Pro Shell, the Hobak’s two layer exterior is extremely abrasion and tear resistant but also light, highly breathable and completely waterproof. The jacket still looked like new after two months of hard use backcountry skiing and winter camping. The Hobak is insulated with a dense, thin layer of Primaloft which kept our testers toasty when sitting around camp on cold days but, thanks to long pit zips and the shell’s breathability, the Hobak was not hot when we were hiking or skiing in below freezing temps. An adjustable hood and cinchable storm collar allowed testers to batten down the hatches during blizzards, but they could also zip-off the hood during milder conditions. A powder skirt and cinchable hem kept the cold stuff from creeping up and plenty of internal and external pockets offered just-right storage for everything from an iPod to bulky gloves.
$495; men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-L; 1 lb., 14 oz. (w’s M). (888) 763-5969; cloudveil.com.
EMS Aurora Shell Pant
If you’re tired of cheap rain pants that fit and feel like a plastic trash bag, the Aurora pants will be sure to please without maxing out your credit card. Made from a three layer proprietary waterproof breathable membrane, these pants kept us dry and comfortable on winter ski trips and on rainy spring backpacking trips. We found the fabric as waterproof and breathable as that used on shell pants twice the price of the Auroras. And the Auroras have the detailing that typically comes with high-end shell pants: a fleece-lined waist band, waterproof zippers and hand pockets, and snap bottom cuffs. The pants proved highly durable and withstood sliding down wet rocks and logs. Female testers also appreciated the flattering fit of these pants with a just below-the-belly-button waist and plenty of room in the hips and legs without looking baggy.
$159 m’s; women’s XS-XL; (888) 463-6367; ems.com