Gear Review: Westcomb Switch LT Hoody Shell

This shell was built to take on the toughest conditions with ease providing heavy-duty protection with superior breathability.

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“When it gets truly nasty out, there’s nowhere I’d rather be than huddled inside the Switch—it protects like a portable yurt,” says one tester. The Polartec NeoShell fabric deflected hours of fat Colorado flakes, while days of pouring Cascade rain beaded up and “flowed off like mercury.” Swatches of heavy-duty ripstop nylon and stronger-than-average stitching per inch make the Switch supremely tough, too.

It looks off-the-rack new after a season and a half of abuse on rock, sand, mud, and ice. But all that protection doesn’t make the jacket steamy, thanks to NeoShell’s fibrous membrane, which allows a tiny amount of air in to lower the jacket’s internal humidity. Testers reported superior breathability even on punishing uphills. A medium fit maintains an athletic profile while preserving space for a warm puffy, and increased volume from armpit to cuffs keeps multiple layers from bunching up.

Intuitive details abound: Hood and hem snug up easily with just a one-handed tug, and toggles stay tucked away from chafe points like hipbelts. Features are generous for the weight, and include two Napoleon pockets*, an internal media pocket, and a triceps stash. A high collar keeps out spindrift and mist while cradling the face in baby-soft velour lining. It’s not the lightest of the bunch, and it costs major coin, but in return you get a true year-round performer: “After a summer of backpacking, I can’t wait to go skiing in this thing,” says one tester. $430; 15 oz. (m’s M); westcomb.com