This sprawling review (co-written with Ryan Stuart) evaluated 2019’s new jackets to select the seven best models—including “Gear of the Year.”
Marmot Bantamweight, $275
Too often, the “breathable” in waterproof-breathable is an exaggeration. Rare is the jacket that strikes the perfect balance between the two, so you can wear it without clamming up as temperatures and exertion levels rise. Now we have a shell that’s so light and breathable, you can wear it in the kind of weather that sends sweat geysering out of every pore. Weighing in at just five ounces, the Bantamweight feels like a windbreaker but performs like a hard shell, and it kept testers dry through hours-long deluges. That earned it props in all conditions, but particularly in the sweltering heat and humidity that make most jackets feel stifling. Credit the stretchy 2.5-layer Pertex Shield fabric, which is so gauzy that we initially doubted its durability.
We stand corrected. “Two hours of riding in pouring rain and lots of mud, and it never sprung a leak,” said one tester, a mountain biker, who further noted that the Bantamweight showed zero damage after several crashes. The material isn’t stiff enough to offer much shielding from strong wind. (Through-hikers and climbers who spend extended periods above tree line should consider the Arc’teryx Zeta SL on page 50.) But its breathability is excellent: perforations under the arms vent sweat, as do the mesh-lined hand pockets. Cinch cords in the hood and waist seal out weather. 4.9 oz (men’s) / 4.7 oz (women’s)