3 Lightweight Backpacking and Hiking Shells to Stash in Your Daypack

Carry one of these barely-there jackets, and you'll be equipped for the next rainy day.

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Let’s face it: you can’t control the weather, and the difference between enjoying your adventure and regretting it can all come down to gear choice. We’ve reviewed three different lightweight jackets that help keep a smile on your face no matter what mother nature throws at you.

Ortovox Merino Windbreaker


The Ortovox Merino windbreaker is by far the lightest jacket of the three (2.1 ounces per manufacturer specs). But don’t be fooled; this minimalist still packs a punch when it comes to features. One of our favorites is how it packs tightly into its own breast pocket then provides a fabric loop for attaching to your pack. Constructed out of 50% Merino wool it’s windproof, regulates moisture extremely well, and helps minimize odor, while a DWR treatment fends off light rain. Additional features we loved include the self-adjusting hood, slim fit, elastic cuffs and waist, and impressive water-resistance. 

Buy the Ortovox Merino for $200

The North Face Venture 2 Jacket


The North Face Venture 2 packs several essential features into one moderately priced jacket. While middle-of-the-pack in weight (11.6 ounces), this coat is waterproof-breathable, not just water-resistant like most others in the category, and packs into its own pocket for easy transport. Sporting a more relaxed fit, the Venture includes features like sealed seams, armpit vents (crucial if you don’t want to steam up like a sauna on the inside), Velcro cuffs, and a cinch cord on the waist for a customized fit. Overall, its balance of weight and protection made it a must-carry when we headed out into the ever-changing conditions of the Rocky Mountains. 

Buy The North Face Venture for $99

Marmot Minimalist Jacket


The Marmot Minimalist is the heaviest of the jackets we tested (14.9 ounces, per manufacturer specs), but it’s the greenest too: 100% of the fabric used in this piece is recycled. Powered by a Gore-Tex membrane, this jacket works well alone or as a protective shell over an insulated jacket. The PFC-free water repellent finish and taped seams kept us dry and happy even in the worst conditions. Other notable features include armpit vents, an elastic drawcord waist, and elastic cuffs. If you are looking for something a little more substantial, including key features for staying cozy and dry, than this Marmot is for you.

Buy the Marmot Minimalist for $188