Gear Review: Isis Aurora Shell

This Isis bargain shell will keep you dry in hours of downpour.

[bargain shell]

Sorry, gents: Like everything Isis makes, this steal of a shell is for gals only. A minimalist construction helps keep the price low, but is augmented by a few critical features, like Velcro-and-elastic cuffs, pit zips, and handwarmer pockets. The Aurora’s 2.5-layer laminated ripstop nylon kept testers dry even after nine hours of downpours in Big Sur, thanks in part to generously long sleeves. Two large hand pockets fall under a hipbelt, but you also get a mesh back pocket that opens via a vertical zipper (far to the side, so it doesn’t rub under a pack). “I was able to use it as an extra vent while trail running,” says one tester. Another used it to carry a water bottle and snack on a short Grand Canyon dayhike. The hood cinches with elastic at the sides and a strip of Velcro on the crown, which our New England tester could adjust even with gloved hands. Downsides: Breathability is only average. And fuller-chested testers found the cut restrictive; try it on before you buy. $129; 13.6 oz.; XS-XL;