The ideal softshell performance: maximum weather protection paired with maximum breathability, for the widest comfort range in the most conditions. The Kishtwar comes awfully close, thanks to Power Shield Pro, Polartec’s new fabric that supplements the surface DWR treatment with a waterproof/breathable polyurethane membrane underneath.
Yet thanks to the fabric’s microscopic air channels, the Kishtwar provided excellent moisture transport (sweat doesn’t have to condense first), letting our tester wear it throughout a rigorous climb up Colorado’s 14,255-foot Longs Peak. Plus, its four-way stretch allows for unrestricted movement and let him reach for rocky handholds while climbing. Though the Kishtwar isn’t seam-sealed, it repelled prolonged sleet and rain on a trek through Colorado’s Indian Peaks (it will leak eventually, so don’t choose it for multiday downpours).
The forgiving cut allows for versatile layering. Smart features include two hand-warmer pockets (placed high) and one Napoleon stash pocket, a hem cord that seals the bottom against gusts and deep snow, and a hood that adjusts like a gasket around your face with just one pull. But it’s not as easy to loosen: The tiny cordlocks on the side are tricky to locate and operate with gloves on, and make widening the hood (for a helmet) a task requiring two hands. $279; 1 lb. 2 oz.; m’s S-XXL; thenorthface.com