Someday, shell weight won’t matter at all. We’ll just spray ourselves down with a waterproof nano-skin before heading out. Until then, we recommend this 5-ounce wonder for hikers who want to carry the absolute minimum. The 2.5-layer Pertex Shield Plus feels Charmin-thin and soft, yet the hardy polyurethane film-laminate fabric rebuffed chilly drizzle and skin-scouring sand on British Columbia’s Haida Gwaii island chain, and it kept another hiker cozy in 40°F temps and brief, heavy rain during a surprise squall in Grand Teton’s Cascade Canyon. And though it’s the lightest shell in the test, it boasts one of the year’s best features: a kangaroo pouch with a horizontal zipper. “It swallowed items as well as my grandma’s bottomless purse does, but zipper access wasn’t hampered by shoulder or sternum straps, so it enabled quick-draw camera grabbing when sea lions, bears, or eagles popped into view,” says a tester who wore it while documenting wildlife on Haida Gwaii. Testers also loved the ability to peer down into the pocket to see contents rather than having to fumble blindly for a knife or snack.
Testers warmed up when toiling under heavy packs in Banff National Park, but the fabric moved moisture adequately. “As soon as I felt my steam rise, I’d take a break and be dry in a couple of minutes,” says one tester who trudged through 12 miles of sand, gravel, and uneven rocks. A slim cut accommodates a baselayer and midlayer; anything more feels restrictive. Beyond the joey hatch, features are scant, and testers missed a face-protecting brim—but just-tight-enough Lycra hems, cuffs, and hood locked out drips and drafts. The whole thing packs to tennis-ball size. Standard half-zip pullover caveats apply: layering down can be a pain and risks drenching inner clothes; too much torsional rotation or hand-over-hand movement can cause bunching. $200; 5 oz. (m’s M); montane.co.uk