Gear Guide 2012: Montane Trojan/Athena Shell

If it's breathability you want, it's the Trojan/Athena that you need.

[most breathable]

“Simply the best combination of maximum weather protection with maximum breathability I’ve tried,” reports a tester. Others echoed the sentiment after comfortably braving fire-hose rainstorms in Olympic National Park, snow squalls in Colorado’s Mt. Evans Wilderness, and freezing fog in the North Cascades with the Trojan (women’s version is the Athena).

The ultrabreathable shell, made with an eVent membrane, bested all others on multiday excursions in Mt. Rainier, North Cascades, and Olympic National Parks. “I kept expecting to sweat out while huffing and puffing in clammy rain up a brutal ridge, but there was only a little dampness at the small of my back against the pack,” says one especially hot-blooded tester. The superior breathability is not due to the fabric alone; it’s enhanced by the jacket’s athletic, streamlined design, which has no excessive flaps or extra pockets to interfere with moisture transfer.

Testers also praised the articulated arms, which enabled unencumbered movement for scrambling and self-belaying on snow slopes in Washington’s Glacier Peak Wilderness. Two large chest pockets carry snacks or folded maps and provide additional venting; testers never complained about the lack of pit zips. A slim, bendable wire in the brim let testers adjust the rollaway hood without forming a rain-catching lip, and simple drawcords make one-hand volume adjustment a snap (there’s room for a climbing helmet, but only just).

Gripes: Extra-crinkly fabric means the jacket “rattles like a trash bag,” and long-limbed testers complained the sleeves were a bit short. And it’s not cheap. $449/$419 (w’s); 12.7 oz.;