Gear Review: Helly Hansen EkoLab Rapide

This eco-friendly jacket is everything you'd expect from a midweight softshell.

[eco-friendly]

The Rapide is everything you expect from a midweight softshell—plus it’s greener than most. The fabric (47 percent recycled polyester, 45 percent virgin poly, and 8 percent spandex) is treated with a DWR that’s free of fluorocarbons. Yet there’s little, if any, performance tradeoff: Through four months of almost daily use, snow and drizzle beaded right off the surface, so the fabric never wetted out. And it’s highly wind resistant, with an unusually high, close-fitting collar that seals in heat and shields the chin from gusts.

Breathability is adequate, not outstanding. “It repelled all but the strongest wind, and as long as I unzipped the front for ventilation, it kept me from steaming up while ascending,” reports a tester who wore it while lapping backcountry runs off of Wyoming’s Teton Pass. The Rapide’s fleecy lining makes it warmer than some softshells of similar weight, and the cut (women’s is slightly fitted, men’s is more boxy) accommodates layering over any top.

Velcro tabs on the cuffs let our tester cinch them tight to seal out snow, and two handwarmer front pockets (positioned a tad low for use with a pack) hold sunscreen and energy gels. It’s not for extremes—the Rapide is overkill when skate-skiing, yet a bit thin for high summits (it lacks a hood)—but it’s ideally-suited for most moderate ski tours. $130; 15 oz. (w’s S); m’s S-XXL, w’s XS-XL; hellyhansen.com