Our take No, you don’t always need a windshell for backpacking. But for summit bids, exposed terrain, and chilly mornings, their protective-yet-breathable performance can come in handy. This one is so affordable and diminutive—it packs down to baseball size—adding it to your kit is a no-brainer. “Worn over a thin midlayer, the Featherlite kept me warm in 35-mph howling wind while I hiked in open, rolling terrain along the Front Range,” thanks to its Pertex Quantum Eco fabric, one Colorado tester notes.
The details The Featherlite was breathable enough to keep us from getting clammy on a hike along Boulder Creek in the 40s with a loaded pack, but its DWR only fended off about 15 minutes of light rain before soaking through. A unique two-way, one-third-length zipper provides venting on your torso while keeping the collar from flopping around. Plus, the adjustable waist snugs up an otherwise baggy hem (which makes it easier to take on and off), the single chest pocket fits an energy bar or smartphone, and the elastic cuffs cling nicely without drooping.