Eddie Bauer
Credit: Eddie Bauer

Eddie Bauer Backdraft Jacket

($180; eddiebauer.com)

Weight: 380 grams

Best For: Alpine starts and campfire hangouts.

Few insulating layers are as versatile as the Backdraft. Wrapping the exterior of the synthetic-filled jacket are two fabrics: a water-repellent nylon on exposed areas and a highly breathable soft shell on the back and underarms. Together, they shield a light drizzle but also keep the jacket comfortable in a wide range of temperatures, from hiking near-zero to hanging out in the teens.

Bottom Line: Add a hard shell and it becomes a versatile four-season mid-layer.

Black Diamond
Credit: Black Diamond

Black Diamond BDV Hoody 

($220; blackdiamondequipment.com)

Weight: 424 grams

Best For: Moving fast in unpredictable weather.

The stretchy, wind resistant Schoeller fabric on this rugged-but-light soft shell is treated to make it highly water-resistant and stain-proof. When he tossed on the helmet-friendly hood, the shell kept our tester dry, inside and out, in a freezing drizzle during an uphill approach. On the climb, his favourite feature was the tapered wrists, which, with the help of gusseted underarm panels, stayed in place even when bashing axes overhead.

Bottom Line: A cool-weather shell for fast paced adventures in the mountains.


Credit: Marmot

Marmot Artemis

($270; marmot.com)

Weight: 312 grams

Best For: Warm weather defender.

In the competitive race to make the most breathable, yet still waterproof, jackets, Marmot just nosed ahead. Their NanoPro membrane impressed our testers, keeping them comfortable while hoofing it uphill and backpacking in the rain. The secret: microscopic holes in the membrane that allow air to flow in and out. Pit zips further breathability. Even with pockets and a big hoody, it remains impressively lightweight.

Bottom Line: Our new favourite jacket.

Marmot Marmot Men's Artemis Jacket Green Lichen/Greenland LG
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Jan 20, 2015)