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Shell Jackets

Mountain Equipment Garwhal Women’s Jacket

Light, effective rain jacket

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MSRP: $195

BEST FOR: Easy stowing, staying dry and you can move in it

The summer—which stretched to half a year—long ago that I guided in North Wales, I spent what must have been half my net worth on a Gore-Tex jacket. Because when August arrived, the rain did, and we went out in everything.

It’d be hard to prize any jacket as much as I did that one, which I wore about daily for months, but Gore-Tex parkas have come a long way. Loyal as I am to its memory, that first jacket was a li’l stiff. I was pretty bundled up.

The Garwhal Women’s Jacket, out earlier this year, is really made for climbing and movement. The arms are articulated: pre bent for you. Huge zip pockets sit high, which is less handy for putting and taking things in and out while hiking or around town, but good for wear under a harness. The stonker front zip goes halfway up your face, which really helps in wind and rain, and the hood is adjustable for a helmet. (Would it accommodate my astronautical Joe Brown of yore? That’d be asking a lot).

At 10.8 ounces, the jacket is light and easy to pack into a crag or mountain pack. I’d bring it on a big mountain hike as well, or in any situation where you want a good bombproof jacket.

The jacket has a simple, clean design (no underarm zips) and a trim fit. It is designed to accommodate layers but is comfortable over a sleeveless shirt. It comes in both women’s and men’s. Size down—the women’s 12, for example, means American women’s 10.

Mountain Equipment, founded in 1961 in the UK and distributed in the United States since 2011, has partnerships with the Scottish Avalanche Information Center and, hey, my old workplace, the Plas y Brenin National Outdoor Centre.

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Rock and Ice vigorously tests all gear it reviews for either 50 days or 50 pitches. This is a time-consuming process and limits the amount of new equipment we can present to our readers. Every year hundreds of new products hit store shelves, and most of these aren’t reviewed due to our stringent selection and review process. To better keep you more up to date on what is new, we present First Look. Gear in First Look has not always been field tested, but is gear we think you’d like to know about as soon as it is available. Some of the gear will be reviewed using our 50 days/50 pitches criteria, in future print and online editions of Rock and Ice. We have opted to use affiliate links in our gear reviews. Every time you buy something after clicking on links in our gear articles you’re helping support our magazine.