Hammock Underquilt Showdown;

Hammock camping is no longer reserved for just warm weather.

The Paddle Junkie's - Base Layer Buyer's Guide

Prepare for the cold! We run down our picks for the best base layers around.

Pentax K30 Rugged DSLR

The world's first DSLR that can take all Mother Nature has to offer

Shell Jacket Showdown

We test the most bomber shells on the market, here are our picks...

Gear of the Year 2012

Our picks for the best gear of last year.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Ultimate Camping / Festival Guide - Fall 2016

Summer may be over in the eyes of an astrologer, but there is still plenty of time to get outside and enjoy it. Of course you can never really over pack when it comes to going camping, whether it be a festival or hiking deep into the woods. I'm prone to carrying in way more gear then is needed but I'd rather have it when I need it then not have it. We at The Paddle Junkie are connoisseurs when it comes to bringing way to much stuff. However we have narrowed this guide down to a few of the essentials. Make sure to pack extra clothing and food but getting a few solid pieces will make your next camping trip a little easier and a lot more comfortable

Big Agnes - Rocky Peak 4 Mtnglo - MSRP: $299.95 - Buy It Now

Ranging from 70+ mph winds to Colorado scrub land, we have used this tent across the country and it has excelled in every environment. Not only is it extremely easy to put up, it takes about 3 minutes. Incorporated with a symmetrical, DAC lightweight aluminum pole system makes setting up a breeze. Any one who has went camping with their significant other knows that set up is a time of extreme frustration, not any more. Having the tent body clip to the frame, not only saves time but reduces stress. Color coded clips for the fly makes staying dry elementary. What really sets this series apart is the integrated LED strand sewn into the seam along the top. Lit using 3 AAA batteries the strand gives off more then enough light to enjoy this tent regardless of the weather or time of day. This tent is a little on the heavy side for backpacking but car camping this is a necessity. It does sleep four, so you could always make someone else carry it.

Big Agnes - Insulated Air Core Ultra - MSRP: $89.95 -  Buy It Now

Do you like sleeping directly on the ground? Most likely the answer is no, The Paddle Junkie crew are avid hammock sleepers but that isn’t always possible. I thankfully have found the next best thing. This 20’’ x 72’’ sleeping pad is big enough for me at 6’ 1’’ but packs down small enough to carry on your back. Weighing in at a meager 21oz, “stitched” together using aviation grade TPU lamination technology, this is the mac daddy of them all. Built with larger outer baffles allows you to stay cradled in the middle of the pad throughout the night. For being a fairly large pad I was skeptical on inflation but it didn’t take long. With the one way valve it’s relatively easy. My first time using it I half expected to be laying on the ground but to my surprise I found myself off the ground with the pad fully inflated. At $99.00 bucks it’s worth the extra coin for the insulation as well as the quality.

Sanuk - Sidewalk Surfers - MSRP: $60 - 99 - Buy It Now

If Sanuk isn’t the poster child for festival camping then I’m not sure what is going on. The Paddle Junkie crew have been huge fans of Sanuk since we started this. Extremely comfortable, durable and flashy as hell these bad boys have seen it all. Infused with a sandal bottom and a shoe upper these will conquer any terrain you can see on the campsite. I enjoy these at the office then straight to the bar without ever changing. They have changed up the styles a little over the years with new patterns and colors but the soul remains the same. Extreme comfort and style, these pair well with jeans or shorts. From the festival to the foyer, Sanuk is a staple in my rotation.

Grand Trunk - Kryptek Double Nest - MSRP: $99.99 - Buy It Now

Bringing a hammock to a festival is a necessity. Whether you sleep in it for the night or not, it’s a must have. It’s amazing the number of hammocks hanging in camp at every festival I have been to and Grand Trunk is perfect for it. The Kryptek uses an innovative pattern, is built with no-stretch fabric and weighs less than a one person tent. (19 oz) Built for two people to sit in comfortably (10'6" x 6'6") it’s when you’re hanging out in it alone is where is truly excels. Extremely comfortable and being so wide, I have figured out how to sprawl out on my side. Paired with a set of Trunk Straps you are ready for anything, from fishing by the lake to hanging out at the show.

CRKT - Amicus Folding Knife - MSRP; $59.99 - Buy It Now

The Paddle Junkie crew always carries a knife on them, whether it’s outdoors or hanging out with friends. Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT) makes some quality gear for a great price, based in Oregon, this US company works with the world's leading designers.  Amicus translates to friend or comrade and it lives up to its name. Designed and tested in the fjords of Denmark by legendary creator Jesper Voxnaes. The 3.4 in drop point blade can be used for almost anything, from creating kindlin to cutting up the veggies for dinner. A little on the heavy side for an everyday knife (6.7 oz), this is a perfect addition to the camping tote. I prefer a knife a little more on the heavy side, I can actually feel it in my pocket. Some may use this as their trail knife, I carry it with me everywhere. You never know how much you use a knife until you don’t carry it with you. Add this to the list and get a solid knife ASAP.

Liquid Hardware - Sidewinder Double Insulated - MSRP: $29.95 - Buy It Now

Any time you’re camping, whether it be at a festival or in the mountains there is nothing more important than having water on you at all times. We discovered liquid hardware at the last Winter OR and couldn’t be happier. Made from food grade steel, what sets these double insulated jugs apart is the quick tether system they developed. A powerful magnet on the lid allows for quick attachment to the top 2 in of the bottle. We happened to get our hands on the 16 oz and 20 oz versions, the 16 is my favorite of the two. It feels extremely sturdy without weighing a bunch. The new flip top lid allows for easy access and with a built in air hole the water comes out in a nice smooth stream not a big glug. I have a hard enough time getting the water in my mouth, I don’t need my bottle hindering me any more. For a solid bottle at a great price look no further, Liquid Hardware has you covered. They even donate a percentage of profits to both environmental causes and PKD (Polycystic Kidney Disease) research. Do you need a better reason to get one of these?

Osprey - Escapists 32 L - MSRP: $130.00 - Buy It Now

We tested the larger of the two sizes, 20 & 30 liter.  From heading to the beach to hiking the trails around the 7 sacred pools in Hana, this bag had room to spare for any day outing we had. Two large top-zip compartments handle the bulk of the gear, but the base pocket came in handy more than once stashing wet stuff away and keeping the rest of the bags contents protected.

I love to see this from a technical pack maker like Osprey.  The "one pack to rule them all" methodology is usually impossible, but unless you are planning a serious multi-day trek this pack will handle whatever you have cooking.  Light and nimble enough for an afternoon hike, yet capable of carrying everything I need for a long weekend deep in the woods.  As usual it was bomber built and backed by the Osprey "All Mighty Guarantee", one of the best in the business.

Kelty- Cosmic 20 Sleeping Bag -MSRP: $149.95 - Buy It Now

This three season sleeping bag is perfect, and has been the best bag for my spring and fall trips to the BWCA.  The 550 Fill Down and the insulated hood keeps you warm and toasty in the cool nights when keeping warm is essential.  The Cosmic is the perfect size for packing, but if you want to get a compression bag to compact the size even more you can do it with the Kelty Cosmic.

Probably the best part of the Cosmic is the price!  For a great down sleeping bag that will keep you warm and take years of abuse the Cosmic is only $120.  One thing that bothers me about some of the gear out today is the price, and what is nice about Kelty is they make quality gear for regular folks like you and me.  Let’s face it, price and quality both matter, and it is nice that somebody tries to make a great product while still trying to make it affordable for everyone.  Thanks Kelty, and I can’t wait for another season with my Cosmic 20.

Sailor Bags - Silver Spinnaker Cooler Tote - MSRP: $89.00 - Buy It Now

The Silver Spinnaker Cooler Sailor Bag has traveled with me many places this summer and I have officially thrown out my small Coleman hard cooler. The convenience of this bag is incredible. Instead of carrying the hard cooler that is clunking against walls or bruising your thighs with an awkward waddle, you can just throw this over your shoulders and be on your way. I have taken it camping in the mountains, boating, to the pool, and tailgating for Red Rock concerts. When the car is packed for camping there is never an issue squeezing the cooler in the car.

Sometimes I get lazy and forget to empty the cooler when I get home and the next day there is still ice with my items nice and cool. Even on hot days where it's 90 degrees and the sun is beating down in Denver this cooler is still doing it's job! The quality of the material has kept up with the beating of our activities and the zipper has never been an issue.

I highly recommend the Silver Spinnaker Cooler for all your summer activities. It will be the perfect size, quality, and style for your adventure!

Of course you can never bring to much stuff when you go camping, just ask the crew who go into the boundary waters with us. But getting a few really nice essentials make your journey all together more enjoyable. Camping is supposed to be about reducing stress and letting go, make sure your gear is up to the challenge and you will have a lot more fun.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Kermit Chair and Table (Gear Review)

The Kermit Chair (Left), The Kermit Wide Table, & The Kermit Chair Wide (Right)
The Kermit Chair, originally designed in 1984 by a BMW Motorcycle enthusiast appropriately named, well, Kermit. His vision was a chair that was lightweight and portable enough to carry on his motorcycle, yet sturdy and comfortable enough to spend long nights around the campfire. After exhausting his options, Kermit took matters into his own hands and built one for himself. Quickly garnering attention from his fellow bikers, The Kermit Chair was born. In 2003 Tom Sherrill, along with his wife Prudence, purchased the company from Kermit and continued the legacy! After graduating college in 2011, Miller, Tom and Prudence’s son, joined the team and they have since been focused on quality and family while working to provide campers and travelers everywhere with the best chairs on the market.

 The illustrious Kermit Chair is hand made in Tennessee from a hardwood base. The support brackets are air-dried oak, all of the wood is double-dipped in marine-grade polyurethane, and all of the hardware is aluminum or stainless steel to prevent rusting. All of the cloth is made from 1,000-denier treated nylon and is double stitched in the areas where most of the body weight falls to prevent unraveling. What’s even better is the chair has a 350lb (pound) weight limit and comes in an optional "Wide" version to give a bit more sitting area. CA-CHING!!

 Being 6’7” & about 300lbs, finding the perfect chair has been a life-long search full of compromises on quality, comfort, or both. When I first got the Kermit Chairs in the mail, I was a bit skeptical because of their compact nature and seemingly light-weight assembly (about 5lbs total in the bag). The initial set-up took about 5-10 minutes as I was being careful to follow the instructions to the letter, but once you’ve done it a couple times it takes under about a minute to get into action.

It was time for the moment of truth, the sit-down. The chair is pretty low to the ground and with my larger than normal stature I was extremely cautious finagling my arse into the seat. Next thing you know, I’m in the most comfortable portable/folding chair I have ever sat in. Ever. I was shocked, I didn’t want to get up! (so I yelled for my girlfriend to get me a beer) and the next thing you know I’ve been hanging out in the chair in my living room for almost 2 hours. Needless to say I was excited to get these bad boys out on the road and into the wilderness.

The chairs pack up nicely in small black canvas carrying bags that fit in the side bags of my Harley Road King without issue. My girlfriend and I loaded up the bike and set off for a weekend in Door County. Never before had I found chairs that I was able to easily and safely pack onto my bike along with all my other camping gear, I was floored with these chairs and I hadn’t even gotten any good use out of them yet!

You can tell quite a bit of thought went into the design of the chair.. The front of the chair is slightly taller than the back so you’re sitting in a nice relaxed position, and not straight up, so once you sit down you’ll find yourself wanting to stay put. They also offer leg extensions to raise the chair higher from the ground and even an attachable cup holder. In addition to the Kermit Chair, they also offer highly portable heavy duty tables appropriately dubbed “The Kermit Table” – they also offer a wide version that offers considerably more surface area. The perfect companion to the chairs, the table is equally as easy to assemble and disassemble and is also handmade in Tennessee.
"Sleeping Beauty and the Magical Chairs" (Girlfiend is asleep in the hammock)
All in all, I wish I had two more thumbs so I could give The Kermit Chair and Kermit Tables Four Thumbs Up! While the price tag might scare some people away, they offer a 5 Year Warranty against any defects in workmanship and materials. What’s even better? It covers regular wear-and-tear (within reason) as well! The second you set one of these chairs up and plop your jolly butt in it you can immediately tell it was made to last a life-time. Get rid of the hesitancy, and pick up a chair and table for your next trip – you won’t regret it.

Check out the full line of their product offerings on their website: http://www.kermitchair.com/

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Summer 2016 - Lifestyle Guide

Can you believe it's already August? Seems like just yesterday I was slipping on the ice on the way out to my car, but enough talk about the cold. The Paddle Junkie crew are big fans of the sunshine and we thoroughly enjoy looking good while playing outside. This year we are shifting our focus to the everyday user. Someone who wants gear that will work in almost any setting, not just mechanically but aesthetically as well. If you or anyone you know is looking for that piece of gear that allows for cross over from the work environment to the outdoors then you're in the right spot. From the sand to the supper club we have what you need to look good and stay comfortable in almost any situation.

Sunday Afternoon - Trucker Hats - MSRP: $29.95 - Buy it Now

We stumbled on to these guys at the Winter OR show in Salt Lake City this past January and couldn't be happier. Show special 5 bucks for this gorgeous water color trucker cap that we couldn't resist. Looking back I wish I would have bought the entire sleeve. As soon as I put this hat on it fit better than any hat before. They incorporated just the right amount of padding around the inside to allow for a pillow like fit without squishing your head. With styles ranging from truckers to lifestyle they have a hat for everyone. Most incorporation a SPF rating of 50+ they double as the all important sunscreen we always seem to forget.  Did I mention we receive compliments almost every time we wear these out? If I had it my way I would have a different style for everyday of the week. With the company helping support local and national causes the hat gains even more appeal. Be sure to check this brand out and help them keep up the good work. #dontforgetyourhat

Samuel Hubbard -  Hubbard Free Limited - MSRP: $225.00 -  Buy it Now

Shoe makers since 1930 these guys know how to make shoes. Blending timeless looks with modern technology allows for the comfiest "dress shoe" to date. Looking for a little style in your life, look no further. These shoes may not cut in on the trail but they do wonders from the office to out on the town. Inspired by sneakers this high quality hand built shoe is anything but. Built with a seamless one-piece vamp and hidden padding at the ankle contact point allows for surprising amounts of maneuverability. Built on a heavy duty Vibram sole this shoe is sure to last a lifetime. The price may be a little steep but the quality and craftsmanship was apparent the second these shoes left the box. I hate to say it but when it gets colder outside these will soon be a staple in the rotation.

Flowfold - Minimalist Wallet - MSRP: $10.00 - $30.00 - Buy it Now

Your wallet can be considered the most important piece of gear you carry around. It contains pretty much your entire life. From drivers license to credit cards it's important it maintains integrity. Flowfold was another amazing discovery from OR in Salt Lake City. Using the strongest, lightest and toughest materials they can find these wallets are designed to withstand years of abuse. With every product being made in the U.S it's important to support local business. I've had my wallet for roughly a year and it looks almost the same as the same day I got it. I have continuously shoved more cards in there and the wallet doesn't seem to stretch out. I could just as easily carry one card around and never fear of losing it. The wallet is the last thing you think about when gearing up but it's the first thing you miss. Spread the word and get yourself a one of kind piece at the same time.

Helly Hansen - Trysail Boat Shoes - MSRP: $100.00 - Buy it Now

Living in Minnesota a nice pair of water or boat shoes is a daily necessity. I desperately needed a pair and was pleasantly surprised when these showed up. I really shouldn't have been with the exceptional quality that we have come to expect from Helly. Highly breathable and quick to dry out these gorgeous shoe are perfect for almost any environment. I usually wear mine to the office then straight to sloshing around in the mud. I've used them for hiking on the trail, running errands and you'd be amazed at how well they perform on the slick boat deck. The tread looks like the shell of a sea turtle. Built with Helly Grip, Hellywear Protection and Premium Eva the Trysail is a perfect addition to your closet.

Fjallraven - Abisko Eco-Shell Jacket - MSRP: $400.00 - Buy It Now

Far and away the most lifestyle friendly shell in our shell buyers guide, the Abisko Eco-Shell is fast becoming my favorite jacket.  Fjallraven takes their commitment to sustainability and the environment seriously, and their efforts are highlighted in this shell.  The partially recycled polyester Eco-Shell fabric is has a very canvas like feel to it, clearly separating itself from the rest of the jackets in our test.  Through the use of a Fluorocarbon Free Durable Water Repellant treatment, it keeps you dry while having a much more lifestyle look and feel. Two hand pockets and a chest pocket provide ample storage, in traditional locations. Many shells are designed to be worn while your pack is on, which is great when your pack is on.  If you’re at the brewery, it’s kind of annoying. If you are looking for a shell that is built for the trail but has the looks to be downtown, this is the choice.
Sanuk - Range Fusion Slip-Ons - MSRP: $60.00  - Buy it Now

As long time fans of the Sanuk Sidewalk Surfers, we were thrilled to see new styles come out of the Sanuk camp last year.  These slip-on kicks are a bit more refined that the surfers, allowing you to dress them up for a night out while still oozing that beach ready style that made us love Sanuk in the first place.  A more rounded toe, clean lines and a more fitted styling make these one of the most versatile shoes in my collection.  I can rock these with board shorts at the lake or a pair of jeans out to dinner.  Comfortable and stylish, what more do you want?

Barstow (10938) - Polished Gold / Copper Sunglasses - Front View
Zeal Optic - Barstow Aviators - MSRP: $199.00 - Buy it Now

From their new Ellume line, the Barstows are a marriage of technology and style.  The lenses of the Ellume line are made from a plant based bio-plastic, a huge step in the elimination of petroleum from the production of sunglasses.  One may think you 'd have to sacrifice optical quality in the process, but you don't.  These shades provide amazing protection and clarity on par with any of the premium sunglass brands on the market.  Hand built in Japan, the details on these are impeccable.  Wood accents and up-cycled stainless steel converge to make a wearable piece of art.

DrinkTanks Growlers and Keg Cap - MSRP: $109 Growler $45 KegCap
Buy Growler Here   Buy Keg Cap Here

Never again drink flat warm beer by the campfire.  This set-up from DrinkTanks has forever changed portable frosty beverages.  The double wall insulated growler comes in both 64 and 128 ounce versions, so you have enough suds for you or a small crew.  The large handles make it super easy to carry and the cap is a fortress against spills.  What really made this my new favorite vessle is the Keg Cap.  Hook it up and a tiny CO2 cartridge pressurizes the tank and you can dispense the hoppy goodness inside just like a keg.  No going flat, no getting warm... Any beer snobs new best friend.

Swrve - CORDURA Slim Jeans - MSRP: $100 - Buy it Now

CORDURA is a name that any gear lover is all to familiar with.  Known for it's ruggedness and abrasion resistance, it has been a staple in outdoor gear for years.  Swrve recently launched a line of denim with CORDURA fibers woven into the fabric.  How durable is it?  Normal denim will handle around 75,000 "rubs" in the rub test.  Testers stopped the test on the CORDURA denim after 250,000 rubs, because they were just not wearing out.  Now take this incredible fabric and craft stylish jeans and you've got an outdoor lovers new favorite pant.  Add in brilliant features like reflective strips that are exposed when you roll them up and a seamless gusset so you can wear them in all kinds of conditoions without having them rub you the wrong way...  You get bulletproof jeans built to play in.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Wolverine - Edge FX EPX Waterproof Carbonmax Composite-Toe Work Boot Review

 Here at The Paddle Junkie, we live split lives, one life is the 9-5 Monday thru Friday gig and the second is outdoor enthusiast. We found the perfect work boot that allows these two lives to mesh together. The women's Edge FX from our friends at Wolverine. The newest addition to their women's footwear line and these new boots are perfect for anyone working indoors or out. 

My day job is manufacturing and I have seen a lot work boots and tried different types but these by far are the lightest & most stylish. The CarbonMAX safety toe makes this boot light weight but the Wolverine technology still gives you the safety you need at any location. With their moisture managing mesh and waterproof technology keep your feet and toes dry. Not to mention the dual-density Wolverine EPX anti-fatigue footbed allows you to be on your feet for 12 hours without paying the price after. These are not your grandpa's stuffy & stiff work boots, the breathable fabric allows gives some breathing room to your feet while you are working. 

They come in your standard base color of black with blue accents or you can choose the grey base with line accents which allows you to show a bit of your personality at work. Wolverine never disappoints and this boot is another shining example of the exceptional design & technology 
Wolverine promotes. 

MSRP : $130.00  - Buy It Now

Monday, June 6, 2016

Hard Shell Summer Gear Guide

If you don't know by now The Paddle Junkie team is based in Minnesota which means inclement weather almost every day. From 70 and sunny to 55 and rainy in a matter of no time, which means trying to be prepared every time we leave. Being prepared for anything Minnesota can throw at you means carrying a back pack with extra clothing, but not any more. Having a proper shell is a necessity when it comes to doing anything outside and we are here to point you in the right direction. Almost every major brand has a shell and there are a few minute differences between them and knowing which one suites your brand of outdoor activity best makes a world of difference. Different weights, materials and the cornucopia of technologies make choosing the right shell more difficult.

Helly Hansen - Odin Minimalist Jacket - MSRP: $220 - Buy It Now

Helly has been making top of the line outdoor gear for over a century and this is no different. An extremely packable and lightweight jacket, this is perfect for stuffing in a pocket or in the bottom of your pack to pull out in any situation. Built with  Helly Tech Professional, the 2.5 ply fabric is perfect for any outdoor situation. Fully adjustable hood, bottom hem adjustment and elongated cuffs round out the myriad of  technologies stuffed into this small package. Waterproof, breathable and built to layer underneath this jacket is so light you can't afford not to bring it along.

Craghoppers - Oliver Pro Series Jacket - MSRP: $150 - Buy It Now

I have a badass blue and orange Craghoppers Oliver Pro.  It’s designed with stretch fabric, and an AQUADRY membrane to keep me dry.  I’ve used this thing walking down the street to the nearest pub on a rainy day, which is the least this jacket can do for someone.  More importantly, I recently wore it during a downpour of a wonderful rain/sleet mixture in Northern Minnesota.  Not only did it keep me dry, but it helped keep the steady 20MPH winds at bay.  As I strapped my pack to come off the lake, I was wishing this jacket had pockets that were more accessible by my waist (they sit a little high in the structure of the jacket.)  However, that’s when I found out the pockets are perfectly designed to function while you have a pack on your pack stabilized with your waist strap.  It’s mind blowing when you’re getting tired, ready to go in and find warmth, just to realize you don’t need to take your pack off to put your gloves on.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, buy the jacket and use it once with a pack… you’ll get it soon enough.

Image result for adidas outdoor

Adidas Outdoor - 2-Layer Gore-Tex Wandertag Jacket - MSRP: $199 - Buy It Now

Usually when you think of Adidas you think of basketball or running but they have definitely stepped up their game in the outdoor world. Built to withstand almost any condition, this waterproof and breathable jacket keeps you nice and toasty with the addition of the Gore-Text lining. Zippered side pockets, which double as vents, make a nice addition when you're looking to stuff your hands into something to keep them out of the wind. I prefer my hood up but it has the ability to tuck the hood into the hem of the neck for a little more room. Not sure about you but it doesn't seem to bother me when my hood is flopping around behind me.

Works a lot better with the pocket zipped...
Patagonia - M10 Jacket - MSRP: $399

The lightest H2NO Performance Standard waterproof and breathable 3 layer hard shell Patagonia has ever built, and it shows. One of the favorite pieces in the series this shell is perfect for any weather. This jacket is extremely light yet surprisingly "heavy" at the same time. Built specifically for the rock climbers and mountaineers this jacket can withstand anything you can throw at it. The outer layer repels enough water to not get saturated which keeps the breathable membrane doing it's job. Exceptionally breathable when it gets hot yet able to retain your temperature in the cold rain. This jacket may not pack down to the size of some of the other jackets but a few extra ounces never hurt.

Arc'teryx - Zeta LT Womens Jacket - MSRP: $399 - Buy It Now

This is not your typical rain shell, this can go from the office to the outdoors without missing a beat. This jacket is more fitted than some of the other shells out there but that's one of the features I really enjoy is it's not so loose it looks like you are wearing a crinkly garbage bag. It's form flattering for all women. I would recommend going up a size if you want to use this coat as a layering piece. It's so lightweight it can be worn during any outdoor activity whether you are biking, running or hiking. There is nothing holding you back in this shell. One of the many highlights of this item is it's ability to pack down, while only weighing 10.5 oz. Perfect for any adventures, Midwest or outwest you have planned this summer. It does more than just look nice and pack up easy, it regulates your body temperature and resists the wind through the limited number of seams and PU coating. 

Fjallraven - High Coast Hybrid Womens Jacket - MSRP: $200 - Buy It Now

They say April showers bring May flowers, and I’ve been rocking my Fjallraven Women’s High Coast Hybrid shell through the April showers and will continue to rock it until the snow flies. This shell’s organic cotton make up makes it the perfect shell to keep you dry & comfortable whether it's a cool morning or a rainy afternoon. It keeps you protected from the elements without causing you to overheat, thanks to their installment of excellent ventilation to keep you comfortable through all your adventures. My favorite feature is the larger hood that is provided on this jacket. You throw it on and don't have to worry about it covering half your head. The best part is the hood is always with you but you can choose to rock the hood or fold it up and tuck into the collar of the coat. This lightweight, durable shell is the perfect addition to any outdoor enthusiast's coat closet. Also available in mens.

Mountain Hardwear - Supercharger Shell Jacket - MSRP: $225 - Buy It Now

Mountain Hardwear makes some killer gear, from basic camping to full blown assents they have everything. This isn't your typical lightweight shell, the Supercharger is barely there. The Dry Q® 2.5 layer 15D material makes for an extremely lightweight ( 6.1 oz.) waterproof breathable shell. This is another shell you can't afford to not bring with you. The jacket weighs nothing and can pack down to the size of your hand. Throw this jacket into the bottom of your pack and pull it out at the first signs o inclement weather. Built a little bigger it's a perfect shell to layer with. Pair this with a nice midlayer and your set for almost anything. Fully functioning hood fits a helmet for the more extreme mountain climbers. Built with a fully waterproof zipper your bound to shed water like it's your job.

Bergans of Norway - Eidfjord Jacket - MSRP: $339.00 - Buy It Now

For anyone who has never heard of Bergans of Norway, you are missing out. They have been creating top of the line clothing for over 100 years. The Eidfjord is a little thicker then all the other shells we received but this thing is bomber! The 3-layer Dermizax® with plant-based Ecodear® Polyester makes this jacket waterproof, windproof, and breathable. Laden with enough pockets to access whether you have a day pack or a full blowing hiking pack on. Each pocket doubles as a vent which allows for the shedding of heat in any situation. Velcro cuffs, articulated elbows and larger then normal fit, makes this jacket the ultimate shell. Quite possibly my favorite jacket ever. The price may scare a few people but this is worth every penny.

Adidas - 2-Layer Wandertag Camo - MSRP: $119.00 - Buy It Now

Adidas has an obvious flare for making gear that is as at home on the street as the trail.  Avoiding the “Skittles” colors while still building gear that does the job is refreshing to say the least.  I put this shell to the test on a 3-day camping trip in some of the most inhospitable conditions of the spring.  72 hours of straight rain and temps in the upper 30’s made life miserable for about 100 6th graders and the dozen or so adults along for the ride.  I, on the other hand, was bone dry.  Opting for their private label “Climaproof” material, Adidas delivers an incredibly effective shell at a price you can hardly believe.  Ringing in at only $119, this is clearly one of the best values in the line-up.

Arc’teryx - Zeta LT Jacket Mens - MSRP: $399.00 - Buy It Now

The Zeta LT is the definition of hard shell protection.  Utilizing Gore’s incredibly advanced N40p-X 3L GORE-TEX® fabric with GORE® C-KNIT™ backer technology, you get epic protection without sacrificing breathability or comfort.  One of the most athletic fits of all the jackets we tested makes the Zeta ideal for even the most active of pursuits.  From climbing to hiking, this jacket kept me dry in any conditions and activities we threw at it.  With Arc’teryx, it’s the little details that set it apart; waterproof zippers, zipper garages, articulated elbows, and a ball cap style hood keep even the most torrential rains at bay.  At $399 it isn’t cheap, but you get a jacket that will last for decades.

Outdoor Research - Men's Realm Jacket - MSRP: $279.00 - Buy It Now

Outdoor Research has been a long time favorite of mine. Thoughtful design is what separates them from the pack.  It’s the little things that make their gear great; pocket locations, an internal pocket that serve as a stuff sack and an integrated carabiner loop are all examples of design by people that actually use this stuff.  The 3 layer AscentShell™ fabric has more stretch than most hard shell fabrics while still delivering unbeatable water protection and remaining breathable all at the same time.  Laminated with a 20D polyester lining, the against-the-skin feel is soft so you don’t get that garbage bag feel.  An athletic fit without being too tight and accent piping and zippers make it a shell you can wear on the trail and at the pub and not feel out of place in either case.

Patagonia - Stretch Rainshadow Jacket - MSRP: $229.00

This incredibly light shell now lives in what I call my Bugout Bag, all the basic essentials for any impromptu outdoor adventure that permanently resides in the back of my SUV.  At 10.4 ounces, it’s less than half the weight of many of the shells in this test, and they can all be called light.  Completely water and windproof, it’s all the protection you need.  Patagonia didn’t leave parts out to make it happen either.  Proper pockets, stowable hood, waterproof zippers all around, a drawcord hem and it all packs into the chest pocket with an integrated carabiner loop; the jacket should add up to more weight than it does.  The one drawback to the light weight is the fact that the material feel so thin I fear it may tear. I’ve put it through some pretty vigorous testing, and worn it under a pack for hours in the rain and it still shows no signs of wear at this point.  For only $229, you get protection you can count on in a package that fits in your back pocket.  

Far and away the most lifestyle friendly shell in our line-up, the Abisko Eco-Shell is fast becoming my favorite jacket.  Fjallraven takes their commitment to sustainability and the environment seriously, and their efforts are highlighted in this shell.  The partially recycled polyester Eco-Shell fabric is has a very canvas like feel to it, clearly separating itself from the rest of the jackets in our test.  Through the use of a Fluorocarbon Free Durable Water Repellant treatment, it keeps you dry while having a much more lifestyle look and feel. Two hand pockets and a chest pocket provide ample storage, in traditional locations. Many shells are designed to be worn while your pack is on, which is great when your pack is on.  If you’re at the Brewery, it’s kind of annoying. If you are looking for a shell that is built for the trail but has the looks to be downtown, this is the choice.

Helly Hansen - Odin Enroute Shell - MSRP: $375.00 - Buy It Now

Helly Hansen knows how to deliver epic rain gear.  If you want to know you’re going to stay dry in literally ANY conditions, they’ve been doing it better than anybody for nearly 140 years. Alaskan crab fishermen,arctic sailors, alpinists, and guys like you and me can all benefit from the lessons they’ve learned.  The Odin line of gear simply doesn’t mess around.  This shell feels like it was made for a monsoon.  Utilizing their Helly Tech Professional 3-layer material with their Flow membrane, the Enroute shell is rugged and robust but still breathes as well as any jacket in our test.  I wore it in some of the most foul weather of our spring, 30’s and drizzly for 3 days.  At no point did I ever wish the jacket did more than it could.  Uncompromising and relentlessly rugged, this shell will stand up to anything you throw at it without flinching.

Bergans of Norway - Storen Jacket - MSRP:$ 499.00 - Buy It Now

The Bugatti Veyron of our test, the Storen is a super shell.  Every detail of this jacket has been hyper analyzed and nothing was left out.  The 3-layer Dermizax®NX with 2-way stretch material is simply impressive.  When you’re crawling up a hill with a pack on your back in the pouring rain, you don’t think about your range of motion until something limits it.  The Storen is mind bogglingly stretchy given how protected you are inside.  It has all the bells and whistles you want; hood, waterproof zippers, yadda yadda yadda…  It’s not until you put this jacket on that you truly understand the difference between good and great.  Of all the shells in our test, the Storen is the best balance of feel and performance.  If you want ultimate you need to be ready to pay for it though.  At $499, it should be amazing, and it is.

Helly Hansen - Jr Jotun - MSRP: $100.00 - Buy It Now

Just because you’re a kid doesn’t mean you have to settle for junk gear.  If you want to keep your kids outside regardless of the weather, investing in a legit shell is only going to make your life better. With all the features and construction of the adult versions of their shells, Helly puts the kiddos in a jacket that most grown ups would be jealous of.  Not their most technical fabric, but the 2-ply Helly Tech material is durable even in the face of a 12-year-old boys relentless beatings.  Do yourself a favor, get your outdoorsy kid this shell.  For only $100, it’ll be some of the best gear dollars you’ve ever spent.

Check out our behind-the-scenes testing video...  Just for fun.