THE NORTH FACE IMPENDOR SOFT­SHELL

Backpacker - - Shells -

OUR TAKE If you’re the climb-in-any-sea­son type, you’ll ap­pre­ci­ate this cozy num­ber. The Impendor is the warm­est soft­shell in the test, thanks to a heavy-duty polyester knit and a wind­proof mem­brane that make it ideal for cold days at the crag (or ice climb­ing). “It fended off wind and 20°F temps on a late-win­ter climb on Col­orado’s Lumpy Ridge,” one tester says. The cut is also roomy enough for a layer or two un­der­neath. Even though it’s warm, the Impendor still has de­cent breatha­bil­ity, thanks to the poly knit. “I was treat­ing it like an ul­tra­light puffy or fleece, but one that I felt good about leav­ing on when I started mov­ing again,” our tester said af­ter a day in El­do­rado Canyon.

THE DE­TAILS The Impendor’s pli­able fab­ric pairs with ex­tra-stretchy un­der­arm pan­els made from a ny­lon-elas­tane blend to ac­com­mo­date even the most awk­ward reaches, and it tucks bunch-free un­der a har­ness. The ad­justable hood fits over a climb­ing hel­met. Like most soft­shells, it wet out quickly in sus­tained pre­cip.

TRAIL CRED “The real breatha­bil­ity test comes when you’re strug­gling up a long lay­back crack— then you’re deal­ing with the sweat of ex­er­tion and fear,” notes a tester. “But on the gnarly pitches of Block Tower in Col­orado’s South Platte zone in chilly temps, this jacket didn’t add to the chal­lenge by mak­ing me hot.” $189; 15.2 oz.; m’s S-XXL, w’s XS-XL; thenorth­face.com

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