Direct Alpine Deamon
The most durable shell of 2021.
If you’re eyeing scrambly, wind-whipped objectives this year, you need a burly shield like the Deamon to match. This shell’s 40-denier nylon face held up to months of off-trail exploration, and its full suite of features kept us dry even during days of sustained rain. “I ran this shell through the gauntlet, scrambling up the boulders and bluffs of Arkansas’ Ozark National Forest, and it came out looking new,” reports one tester. We particularly liked the well-fitting hood: “The brim is stiff, and keeps water from dripping on your nose,” our tester says. High pockets sit well above a harness or hipbelt, and the hood, hem, and cuffs cinch precisely. The Deamon has a Euro fit—the streamlined cut stays out of the way for reaching and scrambling, but brawnier hikers should consider sizing up. Three-layer Pertex Shield material (with a PU membrane) gave fairly good breathability, but we steamed up on steeps: “On a 2,000-foot climb over 2 miles along the Buffalo National River in constant rain in the 40s, I did get hot,” reports a tester. Drawbacks: price, and no women’s version