Eco-friendly materials tend to be either expensive, poor performing, or both. But after putting this shell to the ultimate test in the soggy Pacific Northwest, testers applauded the light weight and breathability of this storm-worthy jacket. Typical waterproof/breathable fabrics are made from petroleum-based oil with tiny pores which pass water vapor but keep larger water droplets from getting inside. The HyVent DT EC membrane functions exactly the same way, but uses bean-based castor oil as a substitute for 50% of the petroleum while manufacturing the membrane.
Including a full set of features like long pitzips, an adjustable hood with stiffened visor, and Velco-covered front zip, the Venture would be a good choice even if it didn’t save The North Face over 50,000 pounds of petro chemicals. The textured interior of this 2.5 layer shell didn’t get clammy even when fast hiking, and mesh-lined chest pockets add to the ventilation options. It’s cut with a standard fit, not too trim but also not baggy. Top it off with a price of a hundred bucks, and while it’s a smart purchase, it’s also a no-brainer. (That’s why we gave it our Editors’ Choice Green Award for 2011.) $99; 12 oz.; w’s XS-XL, m’s S-3XL; thenorthface.com