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Backpacker Magazine – March 2008

March 2008 Essentials Review: Shell Jackets

by: The Backpacker Editors, Photos by Sethhughes.com

PAGE 1 2
Outdoor Research Revel
Outdoor Research Revel
GoLite Virga
GoLite Virga
Westcomb Specter LT Hoody
Westcomb Specter LT Hoody
Arc'teryx Epsilon SV Hoody
Arc'teryx Epsilon SV Hoody
The North Face Triumph Anorak
The North Face Triumph Anorak

Best Buy
Outdoor Research Revel

Some shells crinkle so loudly you can't carry on a conversation. Others seem to stiffen at the first sign of cold weather. No such problem with the Revel (Reflexa is the women's version). "The Pertex fabric is buttery-soft and stretchy, but it's no slacker in the rain," said our gear editor. The full-length side zips, combined with better-than-average breathability, kept her from overheating during a long climb up the Sand Creek Trail in Colorado's Sangre de Cristo Range. The Revel has one of the best stashable hoods we've seen: Whereas many others are bulky, stiff, and ear-high when rolled away–creating a sort of Elvis-circa-1968 look–the Revel's is unobtrusive, with a brushed liner that's cozy on the chin. Fit is dialed: shaped enough to look good, but roomy enough for layering. Available in men's S-XXL, women's S-XL. $150; 11.8 oz. (women's M); orgear.com

Bargain!
GoLite Virga

Things that weigh around 8 ounces: Two king-size Snickers. A pocket-size Leatherman. And the GoLite Virga, which also packs down smaller than an orange. How? A minimalistic design (just two big hand pockets and an elasticized hood) and a thin waterproof/breathable fabric (called Alchemy) that's silkier than most hard shells. The Virga rebuffed Colorado hailstorms on multiday treks and kept us dry during drizzly trail runs, and it has a slim, efficient fit. The fabric isn't as breathable as others in this review, and the non-adjustable hood tended to blow off in strong winds. But if you're a die-hard ounce-counter on a budget, those are small sacrifices. Available in men's S-XL, women's XS-XL. $80; 8 oz. (men's M); golite.com

Most Breathable
Westcomb Specter LT Hoody

Listen up, sweathogs! This eVent jacket never got more than slightly damp on the inside, even during high-exertion outings, like a 24-mile snowy hike in the Sawtooths. "It's so breathable I didn't even miss pit zips," wrote one editor. The design is ultra-minimalist, with just a single chest pocket and an iPod-size inner pouch, but the hood has both rear and side adjustments for a dynamic fit. The waterproof front and pocket zippers let Westcomb shave a few more ounces by eliminating zipper flaps. All testers loved the easy-to-layer-under fit. Available in men's S-XXL, women's XS-XL. $250; 10 oz. (men's M); westcomb.com


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