Gear Guide 2012: MontBell Versalite Shell

This featherweight shell is full-featured with ultralight wind protection and a relaxed cut.

[full-featured featherweight]

While many featherweight shells ruthlessly cut extras to save grams, the Versalite reaches rock-bottom weight while preserving key features, like two pockets, 12-inch pit zips, a low (protective) hem in back, and adjustable Velcro/elastic cuffs. And it’s more affordable than most, too.

MontBell’s thin, proprietary 2.5-layer laminated fabric paired with water-resistant zippers shrugged off all-day precip: “I hiked through heavy mist, extended drizzle, and several cloudbursts,” reported a tester after a trek in Washington’s Henry M. Jackson Wilderness.

Another hiker praised its ultralight wind protection in 30-mph gusts. The relaxed cut accommodates a light puffy, but the shell still packs down to papaya size (smaller in the included stuffsack). Breathability is only average, but the pit zips help compensate. Dings: Testers wished for a stiffer brim, and the fabric is a tad crinkly. $179; 6.7 oz (m’s M); montbell.us