What’s in a Name?

Backpacker - - NEWS -

For years, jack­ets have been grouped into hard­shell and soft­shell cat­e­gories. But that di­vi­sion blurs more and more: The lat­est "hard­shells" fea­ture soft, stretchy, breath­able ma­te­rial, and many "soft­shells" now have the weather pro­tec­tion of hard­shells. (Ex­hibits A and B: the Brook­sRange and The North Face shells on this page.) Our testers have found it bet­ter to sim­ply dis­tin­guish be­tween waterproof and not waterproof. In this sec­tion, we're re­view­ing only waterproof shells, since they pro­vide the pro­tec­tion you need for the foulest win­ter weather.

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