Gear Review: Westcomb Shift LT Jacket

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adventure journal westcomb shift lt hooded jacket

If you count ounces, or to be even more precise, grams, you can either a) buy an inexpensive featherlight shell and hope it doesn’t rain very hard, or b) spend some money and buy a featherlight shell that works. Several companies have succeeded in building amazingly light, well-constructed shells that have made lots of “editor’s choice” and “gear of the year” lists — Westcomb’s Shift LT Hoody is one of those, at 12 ounces the industry’s lightest jacket with Polartec® NeoShell®

NeoShell has been hailed as the holy grail of hard shells, being waterproof, windproof, and breathable — and the Shift is, in fact, amazingly breathable. The fit is a little looser on me (pretty standard men’s medium) and accommodates a few layers underneath — I actually wore it ice climbing a few times last winter. The velour chin guard on the high collar is one of those tiny, wonderful features when you’re spending days with the hood up (keeps the chafed face to a minimum). The Shift has only one pocket, no pit zips, and minimal velcro cuffs, but still has a three-point adjustable hood that fits over a helmet.

The one thing I’d love to change: making the Napoleon pocket into a stuff sack to stow the jacket. But it’s hard to complain about a breathable, waterproof, windproof, 12-ounce jacket.

$280-$400 LINK


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{ 3 comments…read them below or write one }

  • Steven Threndyle (@threndyleski)

    You’re into ice climbing now, SC? “Color me impressed…” This jacket sounds… awfully specialized. I’d likely be a lot better off shedding 20 lbs of body fat, first.

  • Abomb

    I own this jacket, but unfortunately haven’t really given it a thorough test beyond hiking in the rain with it. It’s definitely way more breathable than any Gore-tex I’ve ever worn. I think most of that comes from the fact that the jacket is air permeable while Gore-tex is not. It does shed the wind some, but when a cold wind blows you can feel cold air migrate into the jacket. It’s actually kind of a strange feeling when wearing a shell, but with insulation underneath it’s not an issue. No one should expect it to be condensation free though. When I wore it last it was 50°F and steady rain. It got a little humid on the inside, but noticeably better than Gore-tex. While I felt a little sweaty I didn’t feel wet or like the jacket was clinging to my skin. My one fear is that when I where it this fall with a heavy pack the shoulders will wear through a little. I’ve heard of it happening on some of the lighter Westcomb shells. If it happens I’ll end up returning mine to REI.

    The Napoleon pocket is huge, and I won’t use it much myself. I wish instead of the chest pocket they could have provided two small hand pockets or maybe pass through type hand pockets where your hands could reach the inside of the jacket. The latter would at least save weight over typical pockets.

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