By Michael Lanza

You’re out on an all-day hike in the mountains, or a long climb or trail run, or backpacking. The weather forecast looked pretty good before you set out—but no one shared that memo with the wind that just started hammering your summit ridge, or the spitting rain and hail now pelting you as you contemplate the sudden drop in temperature and the miles between you and shelter. The question now is: What’s in your pack?

If you’re smart, it’s an ultralight jacket that takes up little space, but is about to gift you with just the right amount of weather protection when you need it. This article offers my expert tips on how to choose the best ultralight shell for your needs, followed by my freshly updated picks for the best models on the market today, based on real-world, backcountry field testing and more than 25 years of experience reviewing outdoor gear and apparel, including more than 10 years running this blog and previously the lead gear reviewer for Backpacker magazine for 10 years.


Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-guides to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

The Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket.
” data-image-caption=”The Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket.
” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Outdoor-Research-Helium-II-Jacket-lead2.jpg?fit=300%2C206&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Outdoor-Research-Helium-II-Jacket-lead2.jpg?fit=900%2C616&ssl=1″ width=”900″ height=”616″ src=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Outdoor-Research-Helium-II-Jacket-lead2.jpg?resize=900%2C616&ssl=1″ alt=”The Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket.” class=”wp-image-41466″ srcset=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Outdoor-Research-Helium-II-Jacket-lead2.jpg?resize=1024%2C701&ssl=1 1024w, https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Outdoor-Research-Helium-II-Jacket-lead2.jpg?resize=300%2C206&ssl=1 300w, https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Outdoor-Research-Helium-II-Jacket-lead2.jpg?resize=768%2C526&ssl=1 768w, https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Outdoor-Research-Helium-II-Jacket-lead2.jpg?resize=1080%2C740&ssl=1 1080w, https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Outdoor-Research-Helium-II-Jacket-lead2.jpg?w=1200&ssl=1 1200w” sizes=”(max-width: 900px) 100vw, 900px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ />The Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket.

Ultralight Jackets Explained

What is an ultralight shell jacket? There’s no consensus definition, and considerable variation among today’s models. But basically, the term “ultralight jacket” explains their primary advantage: They weigh under about 10 ounces—and some a fraction of that—and are very packable, often stuffing down to the size of a fist. In other words, they are usually less than half the weight and bulk of a standard waterproof-breathable jacket. While a few may be partly or even fully waterproof, many are water-resistant and windproof, providing a minimum level of protection from the elements.

Smartwool PhD Ultra Light Sport Jacket.
” data-medium-file=”https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside

Comments

0 comments