Can a $300 jacket really be a great value proposition? Yes, if it’s made with Gore-Tex Active Shell, a tester favorite for breathability since it debuted a little more than a year ago. One user raved about the Transonic after using it on alpine peaks in Europe, soggy trail runs through England’s Yorkshire Dales National Park, and multiday treks in Wales. He and other testers reported top-of-class breathability during highly aerobic activities, even in the most challenging conditions (read: humid uphill slogs) and without pit zips. Credit Gore’s lightest iteration, which is about 20 percent more breathable than previous versions (but not as durable; Active Shell is intended for light-and-fast outings, not rough abuse).
The shell shrinks down to mango size for easy packing, but offered complete protection: Testers weathered 20°F, screeching winds on France’s Mont Blanc and all-day soakers in the Britain. Standout feature: the well-designed hood, which uses an internal gasket system and moldable brim to barricade out wind and rain without compromising visibility. “On the summit ridge of Switzerland’s Mönch, I was grateful to be able to pull the hood up right over my helmet to block the howling winds without obscuring the view,” reports one climber. One chest pocket fits lip balm and a small sunscreen, and the main zip is slightly offset to prevent chin rub. $300; 11.9 oz.; outdoorresearch.com