Our take We thought it was a bit gimmicky at first, too: This shell comes with interior nylon “backpack straps” that let you unzip and delayer without having to stop and fully remove the jacket (it just hangs off your back). The straps are thin and unobtrusive, so there's no downside when they're not in use, but you gain an extra feature that's handy when you're not backpacking. “I used the straps on day missions that had me touring up a mountain in warm weather with a small pack on,” one Colorado tester says. “They don’t work as well with a big pack—the shell would bunch up underneath—but they're useful in-bounds and on hikes.” But this shell isn't a one-note jacket: It kept us protected and comfortable on days with unpredictable weather—ranging from wet snow to sunshine—thanks to above-average breathability from two-layer Gore-Tex Paclite.
The details Mesh-backed chest pockets with two-way zippers add extra venting and fit skins. The regular cut let us pile on midlayers or thicker puffies, though taller testers (over 6 feet) wished for a little extra length on the sleeves and hem. Miss: The hood doesn't fit over a helmet.
Trail cred “The merino wool-lined collar is great. When you zip all the way up, not having scratchy polyester against your mouth and nose is a big morale-booster,” one tester says. 686.com