Gear Guide 2012: Marmot Vapor Trail Hoody Shell

A stretch material allows for excellent range of motion while its overall cut leaves room for layering.


From Cascade trails to squall-lashed sailing trips, one Pacific Northwest tester couldn’t quit the do-it-all Vapor Trail. “I used it alone as an outer shell during drippy dayhikes, an insulating midlayer on colder, high-altitude backpacks in Olympic National Park, and as an emergency shield during downpours on brief in-town commutes—I never ran out of uses for it,” he says. Mist, drizzle, and even short periods of moderate rain didn’t penetrate the Vapor Trail (though heavy rain will seep through pressure points, like where pack straps hit the shoulders).

The 100-percent polyester stretch material and generous cut under the arms offers excellent range of motion, but a medium overall cut leaves room for layering. It’s silky and pliant enough to sub for a puffy as a pillow, and media, sleeve, and dual chest pockets offer ample space for iPods, cameras, maps, and sunglasses. Smart design: Pointed cuffs draw beads of water off the sleeves.

Tradeoffs: It’s not the most breathable of the bunch, and the elastic drawcord hem always seems a little tight. Some logos are peeling off after two seasons of heavy use (otherwise, signs of wear are minimal). Bonus: Testers declared the Vapor Trail one of the most stylish picks. “I appreciated being able to go from trailhead to brewpub without having to change clothes.” $150; 14.5 oz. (m’s M);