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Brands

Apparel

Almost Editors' Choice 2010

These five finalists were close to the tops for our editors–for you they may be perfect.

» First Ascent Downlight Sweater

Like most First Ascent garments, this top comes in many sizes (regular S-XXL and tall M-XXL). Our 6’6” editor-in-chief called the tall/large “the best-fitting puffy I’ve worn.”

Downfall: Samples leaked feathers at the quilted seams, raising longevity worries. $169-$189; firstascent.com

» Patagonia M10

This superlight three-layer shell handles everything from summer backpacking to alpine snow squalls. The pit zips open into mesh liners that double as pockets, which is one way Patagonia keeps it so light. But four hundred bucks for a 10-ounce shell? Hmm. $399; patagonia.com

» Sierra Designs Vapor

This 850-fill down bag wowed half of our testers. “Amazingly packable and light for its warmth,” says one. But the cold sleepers among us shivered at 15°F (its rating), and the price is, well, lofty. $440; 1 lb. 14 oz. (reg); sierradesigns.com

» I/O Bio Merino Contact LS Crib

Not only is this soft merino shirt a steal, the ribbed construction enhances breathability, wicking, and fit. But it’s so ultrathin that it pilled under some pack straps. $60; io-bio.com

» Rab Slipstream

Soft, quiet, and very breathable Pertex Shield fabric makes this waterproof shell uncommonly comfortable for a full-featured jacket. But a sample shortage prevented the depth of testing an EC Award requires. $160; 12 oz.; us.rab.uk.com

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