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Gear Review: Helly Hansen Racing Light Softshell

This sleek softshell was built for speed and temperature regulation.

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If you like to redline it on Nordic skis or monster hill-climbs, get this thin, uninsulated windshell. Stretchy, ultrabreathable panels under the arms and across the back release moisture so effectively that sweat vapor visibly puffed out from these zones when our tester paused during cold-weather workouts. Two mesh-lined pockets (one front, one on the side seam) and two 14-inch zippered vents on the chest (where cool air enters more directly than at the pits) offer additional airflow. Windproof, water-resistant polyester fabric with a PU membrane on the chest and arms boosts weather protection (elsewhere, the priority is breathability). A zippered gusset on the back of the neck accommodates a neck gaiter. Freedom of motion is outstanding, thanks to precise tailoring. But sophisticated sewing ups the price. And the side pocket chafes beneath bigger packs (but not low-profile hydration packs). $300; 9 oz. (w’s S); m’s S-XXL; w’s XS-XL; hellyhansen.com

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