Gear Guide 2012: Outdoor Research Mithrilite Jacket Shell

This multi-use shell demonstrates high performance weather protection with a breathable design.


A conventional softshell sacrifices some degree of weather protection to get that highly breathable, stretch-with-you performance. Not the Mithrilite. Made with a proprietary waterproof/breathable membrane and fully taped seams, this shell shielded climbers from surprise showers in Joshua Tree National Park, skiers from snowy weather in Oregon’s Three Sisters Wilderness, and hikers from biting wind on Mt. Hood’s Timberline Trail. “It’s a multiuse, extremely versatile climbing/biking/hiking/skiing/travel piece,” raves one tester.

While the Mithrilite doesn’t breathe as well as a non-waterproof softshell, testers were impressed with its comfort during high-output activity, thanks to hip-to-pit zips that can be opened from both sides for extra venting (and easy access to a harness or climbing rack). Another smart multisport detail: a hood that fits over low-profile bike and climbing helmets (but not ski helmets) without sacrificing mobility or peripheral vision.

Testers also loved the well-placed pockets (both handwarmer and Napoleon), the cozy microfiber lining against the neck and chin, a back hood adjustment that’s easy to grasp while wearing gloves, and street-ready styling. But choose this jacket for daytrips: It’s heavy, and dries slowly if the fabric does wet out (the face fabric got soggy but didn’t leak in all-day soakers). Bummer: The adjustment cord site leaked when snow built up on the hood. $199; 1 lb. 6 oz.;

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we may earn a small commission. We do not accept money for editorial gear reviews. Read more about our policy.

Trending on Backpacker