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The Backpacker Gear Hall Of Fame: Hardshells

A look back at the hardshells we've loved for years that are still at the top of their class.


Unlike other ultralights, this shell sports impressive features (like a chest pocket and adjustable hood and cuffs). The eVent DVL fabric saves…

Unlike other ultralights, this shell sports impressive features (like a chest pocket and adjustable hood and cuffs). The eVent DVL fabric saves weight and preserves breathability with a printed “screen” to protect the membrane instead of a liner. $280; 9 oz.; m’s XS-XXL; westcomb.com

“I felt totally protected during miserable, sustained rain,” says a tester of this three-layer Polartec NeoShell jacket; a standout bendable hood…

“I felt totally protected during miserable, sustained rain,” says a tester of this three-layer Polartec NeoShell jacket; a standout bendable hood brim adds to the weatherproofing. Breathability is top-notch, too. $375; 14 oz.; m’s S-XXL, w’s XS-XL; rabusa.com

A bargain shell that performs as well as jackets twice its price, the Plasmic kept clamminess at bay during tough climbs, and the silky interior…

A bargain shell that performs as well as jackets twice its price, the Plasmic kept clamminess at bay during tough climbs, and the silky interior feels great against bare skin when worn with a short-sleeve shirt. $140; 10 oz. (w’s M); m’s S-XXL, w’s XS-XL; mountainhardwear.com

The 800-fill down in this insulated hardshell (a 2012 Editors’ Choice winner) kept testers toasty on winter camping trips, yet the…

The 800-fill down in this insulated hardshell (a 2012 Editors’ Choice winner) kept testers toasty on winter camping trips, yet the waterproof/breathable exterior has well-placed, 10.5-inch, mesh-lined core pockets for venting. $299; 1 lb. 3 oz.; m’s S-XXL, m’s tall M-XXL, w’s XS-XL; eddiebauer.com

This light, affordable shell’s hydrophilic membrane wicks sweat through the outer fabric for impressive breathability.Two-way stretch and durability…

This light, affordable shell’s hydrophilic membrane wicks sweat through the outer fabric for impressive breathability.Two-way stretch and durability also drew cheers: “It’s one of the toughest shells in its weight class,” says a tester. $229; 12.3 oz.; m’s S-XXL, w’s XS-XL; bergans.com