The biggest news of the show in apparel is Gore’s introduction of Active 2.0, a new version of the ultralight, ultra-breathable waterproof membrane. The new fabrics are approx. 20% lighter than the previous version, and will weigh in at 65 – 130 g/m2. This results in incredibly light apparel, and I’m curious to see if ever-lighter push will ever end!
Mammut’s Nordwand Light HS Hooded Jacket and Pants are just two of the pieces utilizing this new tech. Both items are made of 3-layer Gore Active with the C-Knit backer, which provides a comfortable, soft feel next-to-skin. Minimal features keep weight down, with the Jacket coming in at 240-grams and the Pants at 215-grams. The cut is trim and climber friendly, and I am particularly impressed with the cut of the Jacket’s cuffs — a study in perfect, no-frills fit. The Jacket has a single chest pocket with an attachment loop for the included stuff sack, and the Pants have a single rear pocket and 3/4 length zips for venting and easy on/off. New, high-end and ultralight tech doesn’t come cheap: Jacket MSRP is $450 USD / $650 CAD and the Pants MSRP is $350 USD / $500 CAD.
Outdoor Research also introduces a new Active 2.0 jacket, the Optimizer. With dual hand pockets, a chest pocket and a somewhat more generous cut, the Optimizer weighs in at 366-grams but should prove popular with all-around users thanks to the richer feature set. MSRP will be $400 USD.
Continuing the lightweight waterproof-breathable trend is another piece from Outdoor Research, the Interstellar Jacket. Using OR’s proprietary AscentShell fabric, a 3L membrane with built-in mechanical stretch, the Interstellar is actually a redesign of the current Realm jacket (review coming soon). Whereas I think the Realm is awesome thanks to its minimalist cut and two chest pockets, apparently the general consumer didn’t appreciate this so the Interstellar has two hand pockets and one chest pocket instead. Cut feels about the same as the current Realm, which is nice and slim, with generous stretch through the shoulders for a waterproof shell. MSRP will be $300 USD and weight comes in at 329-grams.
Black Diamond’s FineLine Stretch Rain Shell features their own BD.dry waterproof / breathable laminate in a trim-fitting alpine shell. There’s only one chest pocket as far as features go, and everything else is pared down as well. Weight is 280-grams and MSRP will be $130 USD / $170 CAD.
Taking the crown as the lightest waterproof shell, however, is RAB’s Flashpoint Pull-On weighing in at an incredible 130-grams. It uses 3L Pertex Shield, has one single chest pocket, minimal part-stretch cuffs and hem and a deep front zipper for easy on/off. MSRP in USD will be $250. (There’s also a new Flashpoint 2 Jacket with a full-zip and two hand pockets, weighing 185-grams and USD $300.)
Not a lot of new softshells for 2018, but the coolest innovation comes in the form of Phase Map tech from Mammut. I’ve highlighted this in my New Gear Awards post, which you can read here.
RAB introduces the Borealis Jacket and Pull-On, light-weight, highly-breathable softshells with a trim, climbing-friendly fit and incredible stretch. The Jacket has two chest pockets, whereas the Pull-On has only one, that also functions as a stuff-sack (with a neat little daisy-chain inside for clipping to a harness). The Jacket weighs 300-grams and the Pull-On 265-grams. MSRP in USD will be $115 for the Jacket and $95 for the Pull-On. At this price point, I can imagine almost everyone having one of these in their pack for windy summer days!
Another new softshell is La Sportiva’s TX Light Jacket, a plain-nylon jacket with superb fit and excellent stretch. It has an elasticized silicon hem to stay tucked down, Cordura-reinforced shoulders and a soft, cozy cuff. Weight comes in at 364-grams and MSRP in USD will be $140.
Finally, some pants! Helly Hansen introduces the Odin Huginn Pant, a highly weather-resistant softshell with a slim cut and stretchy fabric. I appreciate the built-in adjustments at the waist, and the articulated patterning for ease of movement. The Huginn has two hand pockets and a right thigh pocket, as well as two rear pockets (I love pockets!). Price in USD will be $180 for a solid-looking pant.