Spyder Refuge Shell Jacket | $475
Spyder’s new Refuge jacket is one of the most innovative waterproof-breathable shells to hit the market in a long time. While most makers of new jackets prattle on about micro-stitch technology that promises to shed weight—among other minute details that are too difficult to truly judge—the Refuge has at least three features that are all function, improving, if not solving, problems with many shells.
First up is the hood’s “Skyview Brim,” a brim made of clear plastic. This simple detail allows you to see where you’re going as you slog upward while simultaneously protecting you from the elements. Next, the hood is the most easily adjusted I’ve ever used, especially with a gloved hand. You simply pull (one-handed) on an easy-to-locate tab to tighten the hood around your head; another tab loosens it. Also, the Refuge contains welded gills with breathable mesh over the lower part of the face. This “vapor chamber” really works—it’s refreshingly easy to suck wind as you climb, and the flap protects your face from harsh gusts.
The jacket has all the other functions that you’d expect in a top-shelf shell these days. At 20 ounces, it’s one of the lightest in its class, waterproof and breathable, and the seams are fully taped. There is an abundance of pockets, inside and out. The jacket, however, is a bit short— if you have a long torso, it might not stay tucked under your harness while you climb.