For high-wattage exertion in cold weather, get the XT Wings II: This thin, ultralight softshell provides wind protection without insulation and kept our tester comfortable while skate-skiing on groomed tracks and touring Vermont’s backcountry. The front features a wind-resistant double-weave polyester, but the underarms and back are made of stretchy, breathable fabric (a proprietary blend of Teflon-coated fibers called ClimaWIND) that wicks extremely well.
The combo kept wearers comfy up hills and down. “It’s great on its own over a shirt or as a midlayer, and proved more functional than a fleece, since it’s less bulky and offers more weather protection,” concluded our tester. She also found it perfect for cool-weather fall mountain biking and spring climbing and hiking. Light snow and drizzle beads off the fabric. The body-hugging cut feels trim, but the fabric is stretchy enough to allow for full freedom of movement.
The two zippered front pockets sit beneath a pack’s hipbelt, but don’t create pressure points. Caveat: The wispy weight makes it best for trips measured in hours, not days. On longer winter expeditions, wearers wanted something more substantial. $120; 6 oz.; m’s S-XL, w’s XS-XL; salomon.com