Patagonia the destination—not the eponymous company—is known for unpredictable weather, with everything from sideways rain to snow squalls and intense sun to brutal wind. After two weeks of trekking and climbing there, our tester deemed the Troposphere up to the challenge. For starters, the proprietary H2No laminate got high marks for waterproofing and abrasion resistance—there were no leak points, and no scuffing or wear evident after rough rock work. But lots of $300 shells can deliver that. The Troposphere separates itself from the crowd because it delivers winter-worthy protection at a year-round weight, and with superior stretch.
Testers also praised the non-clingy feel and the precision fit, with just the right amount of room for light winter layering without being baggy. A below-the-hip tail lays flat underneath a harness and cinches down tight to thwart wind and snow. It also has one of the best hoods we tested (it fits over a streamlined helmet), with four adjustment points that modify the brim, hood circumference, and neck height for a dialed-in, no-slip fit. Downsides: Breathability is only adequate (3 out of 5 stars), so testers needed the two-way, 14-inch pit zips to cool off, and they require two-handed operation. $299; 15 oz.; m’s XS-XXL, w’s XS-Xl; patagonia.com