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M Ultralight Waterproof Breathable Jackets: 2012 State of the Market Report

by David Chenault

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Article Summary:

In Part 1 of this report, I discussed the historical progression of lightweight raingear in the market, concluding that a general lack of progress in lightening WPB shells is due more to a lack of user demand than to technological limitations. I also suggested that while some users might find a shell heavier than 8 ounces (227 g) necessary, a large number of those who think they need a heavier shell would be well served by one of the ten current WPB shells on the market that both have a hood and are under 8 ounces (227 g). This second part of the report will review those ten jackets in detail.

There are three other rain shells on the market, besides the ten tested, which meet the testing criteria. The DriDucks and Rainshield jackets have been on the market for quite some time and are of a known quality. Both have excellent breathability, good waterproofing, a boxy cut, and are very fragile. I did not test either of them because such an effort would be redundant and because my experience has proven them far too fragile for my use. Hikers who need a light and cheap jacket, who only use their rain shell occasionally and not in brush, may find these an excellent option. ZPacks has also recently introduced a jacket made from a WPB Cuben Fiber laminate. It promises to be the lightest WPB jacket commercially available, but was too late to the market to be included here.

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