If Conrad Anker were the CEO of some well-known social-networking site, this is the kind of hoodie that he’d be seen sporting. In short, it does the business when conditions are at their worst, including during several frigid nighttime rides and downpours this winter. The jacket employs Schoeller’s sophisticated Nanosphere technology to offer reliable water- and abrasion-resistance (a claim to which we can attest, with the caveat that water beads up and has habit of dripping off onto other more casual, non-water-resistant apparel like shoes and jeans!). Compared to other burlier winter coats, the Stealth Hoodie almost feels a little flimsy, but this is an illusion. Triple Aught’s “c_change” membrane provides wind- and waterproofing, while offering breathability when things get more aerobic than running from a little rain; the non-fussy nylon exterior protects against abrasion without making you look like Robocop. By itself, it’s not the warmest of pieces, but layer up and you’ll be snug. Overall, as Mark Zuckerberg might say, “Like!”.
Editor’s Note: We also reviewed an earlier model of the Slealth Hoddie LT; the new one boasts additional features (like the use of Nanosphere)…and a higher price.
As we mentioned after the Summer Outdoor Retailer, New Zealand’s Icebreaker continues to expand their line of high-quality merino wool into designs that marry their magical wool with soft shell exteriors to provide weather-proof pieces with all the all-natural qualities already associated with the brand. The Viento Jacket (hooded: $325; non: $300) and the Stealth Jacket ($300; pictured left) and Hood ($325) will boast a water-repellent, breathable, wind-proof exterior, with a comforting merino wool lining. We particularly like the fashion- and fit-forward silhouette of the women’s Viento Hood ($325; pictured center), with its slim hourglass cut.
Their GT line—technical apparel dialed for high-aerobic activity like winter running, Nordic skiing, and skiing and riding—will expand with new garments like the Drive Long-Sleeve Half-Zip top ($140; pictured right), with wool has been treated with nanotechnology to add water and stain resistance. This bluesign-accredited technology integrates tiny nano particles on a rigid surface to reduce the contact area to let mud, water, and oil simply run off the fabric.
Perhaps most compelling, however, is the slight revamp to their travel-inspired line, which expands its formerly slim/athletic fit to become a wee bit roomier. This should make products like the woman’s Vista Skirt ($100) and windproof soft shell three-quarter-length Highline Jacket ($380), the men’s Escape Hood Stripe ($140), and the Seeker Pants ($180) appeal to a broader swath of smart travelers.
www.hellyhansen.com, 15.6 ounces
This unique variation on the venerable shelled fleece jacket design truly impressed us during recent tests, with its excellent insulation-to-weight ratio, easy venting, and fast moisture transfer in sweaty situations. At first glance the H2Flow looks like a standard hoodless zip-front jacket with a taffeta outer shell, fleece inner, and twin zip pockets. However, the shell fabric isn’t nylon, it’s tougher polyester, which resists UV degradation and doesn’t stretch or absorb water when wet. Beneath that is a 200g Polartec brushed fleece with yet another difference, a Swiss cheese pattern of circular cut-outs that trap air to increase insulation, while also helping to disperse sweat vapor. The cut-outs are body-mapped, with larger holes and closer spacing in high-sweat areas like the central back, while smaller, widely spaced holes cover the chest and midriff.
The side panels and sleeves are lined only with a lightweight brushed nylon, while the fleece torso is further lined with a loose open mesh for slippery layering and free air flow. As if that weren’t enough, two foot-long zippered vents run down the chest, and the pockets are all mesh, forming de facto vents as well.
The overall effect is a jacket that’s nearly as warm as a puffy when zipped up, but resists rain showers, transfers sweat better, and vents far more than either puffies or standard shelled fleece. The weather resistance and wide temperature range made it perfect for humid, chilly camp evenings and soggy autumn trail runs on damp, cold, 11,000-foot Boulder Mountain. It’s already become one of our key layering staples, as fall progresses into winter.
- Steve Howe
Looking toward spring 2013, Arc’Teryx will continue to develop some of the best-performing products in the outdoor industry. And while their price points are some of the highest, our experience with their line has proven that you’re buying a jacket, pack, or a lifestyle piece that’ll last a lifetime, not just a season. Here are a few things that have us excited.
The bag line will expand next spring to include a variety of travel packs, which will appear in three sizes, from carry-on to checkable. The duffle-style Covert line will be made of 500D Cordura and a burly double weave for solid weather resistance, and come with stashable shoulder straps, strategically-placed grab handles, and light-colored inner lining to help you find what you need quickly. Meanwhile, the new Haku Rope Pack is destined to become a climber’s favorite crag accessory. The medium-sized shoulder pack incorporates a massive tarp at the bag’s mouth. When you’re ready to haul your rope to the next crag or hike out for the day, you spread out the tarp, dump the rope on it, pick up the tarp by the corners, lift, shake, and—viola—the rope drops into the bottom of the pack. Then you just fold in the tarp, roll the bag closed like a dry bag, and you’re ready to go. No more stuffing and jamming to fit everything in. (We also think it may offer great last-minute travel packing solutions for the less OCD-inclined.) On the backcountry side, the newly designed Aristo packs look interesting; they incorporate “wingman” side pockets at both sides of the pack base for easy, on-the-go access, which lets the pack ride against the lumbar for on-the-trail comfort.
On the apparel side, they’ll playing with a mixture of fabrics, employing patches of Gore-Tex Pro and Paclite in the Theta SL Hybrid Jacket for targeted, on-the-body performance, and mixing up cotton and poly in their 24 lifestyle line. We also love what we saw of the women’s Codetta (pictured), a three-quarter-length hooded jacket made from Gore-Tex, with a hem vent and fashion-forward storm flap over the zipper. This urban, travel-friendly jacket will run for $369.
marmot.com, 1.02 pounds
The Leadville has been in Marmot’s line for years—with good reason. As one seasoned tester reports, it’s risen to the top of his go-to list for soft shell jackets in cool temps and variable conditions (aka: this jacket is the Holy Grail for gearheads). The Gore-Tex Windstopper fabric locks out averse weather in a variety of activities, from spring skiing in Utah corn to biking in Scotland to hiking through the biting winds of the Andes. It also proves to be about 80 percent waterproof, which is enough to handle all but monsoon-like conditions (though, as with most water-resistant soft shells, the jacket will eventually soak through after an hour of moderately persistent drizzle). The inner panels (under the arms and along the torso, as seen by the differently-colored fabric) are constructed from a slightly lighter mix of poly and elastane, offering additional breathability and stretch. The pocket construction, including two zippered handwarmers, is the execution of simple versatility. A draw string at the hem increases protection against truly foul weather, and the mid-height collar is lined with kitten-soft microfleece. The partially elastic sleeve cuffs fit snugly, with Velcro tabs to really lock them down. Gauntlet-style gloves, which pull over the cuffs, fare best, though one tester was able to routinely tuck his lightweight gloves under the cuffs and bike and hike without gaps. For temps at 50 degrees and up, the Leadville may prove a bit too warm, especially if you’re exerting yourself. But for mild to cold weather, this jacket is tops. Refreshingly, little has changed since the jacket first premiered; the logos are now reflective (a nice touch for urban cyclists and runners), and the color schemes have gotten a bit brighter. But even if you go with the flashy orange hue, rest assured that that near-florescent color will become subdued over years of reliable use.