Gear Guide 2012: Stoic Stash Shell

This shell handles wind, rain and snow like a pro offering versatility and a great fit.

[4-season bargain]

Most bargain shells compromise on fit, features, versatility, or all three. Not so with the Stash, says a former pro adventure racer who held onto this tough, sub-one-pound shell like a security blanket on wet summer traverses in the Olympics, fall trail runs in the Rocky Mountain foothills, and on alpine and cross-country ski days across Colorado.

On a storm-cloud-shadowed trail run, the jacket’s proprietary Bombshell Lite fabric breathed well enough over a short-sleeve baselayer to keep our tester from overheating (though he had to open the pit zips for uphill stretches). On a windy, 20°F powder day with blowing snow, he stayed toasty and dry wearing just a baselayer and a light fleece underneath.

Tall, athletic testers raved about the stretchy fabric and ergonomic cut: “I’ve worn a lot of shells, and this one fits me like no other—plenty of length in the arms and a snug, tapered midsection that still let me move easily,” says one 6’2”, 210-pound tester. Features aren’t flashy, but they work: Soft fabric prevents zipper chafe, internal storm flaps seal out zipper leaks, and the jacket features two smallish, lined handwarmer pockets and one internal stash pocket.

Smart: Waist drawcord loops are inside the handwarmer pockets, keeping them clear of hipbelts. Caution: Medium-to-large hikers may find the jacket too tight. $189; 13 oz.; stoicgear.com