Gear Review: First Ascent BC-100 Shell

Bargain shell for rainy weather


Think your last trip was wet? Two Maryland testers spent 18 days in May hiking the 250-mile Tuscarora Trail and had just four days without rain or sleet. Couple that with highs in the 70s, steep grades, and stifling humidity, and you have a stat sheet that could ruin a long-distance hike. "These jackets beaded water on day 18 as well as day one," says one of the testers. "They were critical to us finishing our trip."

Part of Eddie Bauer's new line of high-performance yet affordable backpacking and mountaineering apparel, the BC-100 has smart features like pockets that are accessible with a pack on, spray-proof zippers, a Napoleon pocket for a camera or other quick-grab items–and the whole thing packs down to the size of a Nerf ball. Quibble: no pit zips. "Breathability was adequate, but would become exceptional with more venting options," said one tester. And another found the fit baggy. $169; 15 oz.; men's S-XXL and tall L-XL, women's S-XL;