Montane Featherlite Shell
One light and breathable jacket gets you four seasons’ worth of protection.
Model: Featherlite Shell Jacket
We hunkered down inside the Featherlite in freezing rain in the Wind River Range, summer storms in the Colorado Rockies, and wintry, 30-mph winds in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The verdict: always dry and comfortable. Storm-ready touches include a deep hood with an exceptionally well-formed wire brim for max protection and a long hem that blocked rain and wind when we bent over to pitch a tent.
It features the new eVent DVstorm, an air-permeable membrane eVent says is 40 percent lighter and 15 percent more breathable than the original (already one of the airier fabrics we’ve tested). The company pulled it off by using a more open microporous structure. eVent has always been riddled with ultra-tiny holes of varying sizes, too small to let rain in, but large enough to allow sweat vapor to escape; the new membrane has more large pores. The thin, 15-denier face fabric and 10-denier backer further enhance breathability. One Colorado tester said it prevented him from overheating in challenging conditions: “I huffed and puffed while breaking trail in 2 feet of powder,” he says. “I got steamy, but not sweaty, and when I stopped, I was dry in a minute and change.” A different tester still wished for pit zips when hauling a 50-pound pack uphill in a 50°F summer shower.
The tradeoff for better breathability: DVstorm is less durably waterproof than former iterations. We didn’t notice any weakness in protection over a season of hard use, but this may not be the best choice if you typically haul a heavy pack in the roughest conditions.
Good for a four-season shell: It packs to cantaloupe size.
Cut is athletic, with ample room for a baselayer and winter midlayer. The articulated shoulders leave extra space for arm movement, so we could reach and pole plant without yanking the shell out of our hipbelts. Nitpicks: Water-resistant zippers are stiff and fabric is “crinkly and wrinkly.”