If you walked into a store and could choose whatever jacket you wanted, which one would you grab? That actually happened to me a few months back and I picked this Mountain Light shell with Gore-tex from North Face. Others were flashier or trendier, but this one lets me stomp out into the rain without an umbrella, so I went for the practical choice.
I don't have a whole lot of North Face clothing in my wardrobe. I know this branch of the giant VF Corporation makes great products, but their jackets are kind of like iPods and Crocs---something everyone and their brother seems to have on them already. I do have one North Face windbreaker fleece though that I got years ago and I like it a lot. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and join the crowd.
This Mountain Light jacket is one finely tuned piece of technology. It is really and truly waterproof---a claim I've tried out a dozen times now---yet it is truly breathable too thanks to the Gore-tex liner. That alone doesn't justify the $300 price tag, I'll admit, so there's a whole host of features that take this beyond your average shell. It's got Velcro cuffs, a hood with cinch straps, covered pockets in and out, a place to put your music player, and armpit zips to let the sweaty heat out and regulate your temperature.
Then you've got a cinch strap adjustment at the waist, sealed zippers with a double flap, a zipper that will accommodate a zip-in liner, and an "internal stretch water bottle pocket." (You say water bottle, I say flask...)
The jacket itself has a lifetime guarantee from North Face and then Gore-tex has a lifetime guarantee on top of that. So you can trust this thing will do what it's supposed to do: keep you warm, dry, and comfortable. It's listed as weighing 28 ounces, which is about half the weight of another shell I own from Marker. It would be a great choice for winter sports or just days of walking around in iffy weather. Proof I believe in this shell for travel: it's the only coat I'm carrying to snowy Salt Lake City for the next few days.
Back to that nagging question you may have: How did I get to walk into a store and pick out any jacket? I could make up a story about winning a contest or my rich aunt coming to town, but really it's because the Gore-tex people were feeling generous when I visited their offices and they made me feel like the Snoop Dogg of the travel gear world, just handing me clothes so I would try them out and talk about them. OK, I'm easy. Hey...nice jacket!
This Mountain Light jacket comes in several colors, available at Backcountry.com.
Related post: 8 Things You Should Know About Gore-tex
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