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GeneralGravitation
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Dec 5, 2018
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I'm going to echo a lot of what others have said here, but for outdoors and ultralight jackets, what I'm usually looking at is the quality of the material, the design, and the weight. There are many types of jackets that get used outside for the myriad of activities that we're all interested in, and each one needs to be slightly different. For hardshell jackets, I look for Goretex Pro and at least a 40D Nylon Face Fabric. Some of the newer 3L membranes are looking appealing, but Goretex Pro is still the best for overall protection. NeoShell and AscentShell are good examples of newer membranes that trade a little protection for more breathability. For my uses, Hardshells are an emergency piece to be used if the weather turns really foul and you're miles from any permanent shelter, so they should be light! Pockets that are climbing harness/backpack compatible and a helmet compatible hood that seals up well are a must. I use softshell jackets as my shell layer most of the time in the backcountry of CO because it's relatively dry and I need something breathable that still provides some protection. All of the design features, pockets and good hood, mirror the hardshell above, but I generally go for some kind of 3-way stretch fabric. Schoeler is a good example. Breathable insulation that vents well, but still keeps you warm, is a must for active use in the backcountry. Hybrid garments that use materials like PrimaLoft Gold, Polartech Alpha, or Polartech Alpha Direct, usually supplemented by lighter fleece under the arms, are great for this. Most of the time, a hood is a must for these as well. For none active use in dry environments, down is king! I look for 800+ fillpower ethically sourced goose down housed in a lightweight shell fabric, usually something like 10D Pertex. Hoods are a must, as are insulated pockets for giving your digits a little extra warmth. These should really take advantage of the properties of down and be super light while still providing enough warmth. A high fill weight to jacket weight ratio is usually good, as long as you don't sacrifice too much in durability or features. As far as makers go, my general preferences are: Arc'Teryx, Rab, Montane, Montbell, Mammut, Outdoor Research Black Diamond, Mountain Hardwear, and the North Face Summit Series also have some good pieces. La Sportiva and Salewa are relatively unknown for apparel here in the states, but I like some of their new stuff as well.
Dec 5, 2018
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