The Guide Jacket
The Guide Jacket
Gear Guy

When’s the right time to buy a fashion-forward warmer-weather soft shell?

I need a soft-shell jacket with high breathability that I can also use for casual wear most of the time. I'm going to use it on spring and cool summer nights. Basically something I can wear with a T-shirt after hiking or rock climbing, something highly breathable and wind proof, but it doesn’t need to keep me too warm. Should I wait until new models come out in spring or buy one now? Ugur Istanbul

The Guide Jacket

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I’d buy one any time. Nothing earth-shaking is coming out in the spring around soft shells. Maybe different colors in a case or two, but so what?

The Guide Jacket The Guide Jacket

A really good one is the Patagonia Guide Jacket ($175). It’s a tough, stretchy, comfortable piece that works as a shell, layered over warm long underwear, or as a layer under a shell. Plus it’s very urban-looking, with a clean design that boasts some low-key color options such as brown or olive. It would look great over a T-shirt or sweater around town.

There are others, of course. REI makes an excellent soft shell called the One Jacket ($199), the name implying it’s “the one jacket you’ll need.” And it is. A little heavier than the Guide—its Schoeller fabric is quite warm, in fact—but the idea is the same: A windproof (to 57 miles per hour, REI claims), breathable, water-repellent, all-purpose jacket that you wear when it’s cool, chilly, and breezy. Like the Guide, the simple design that is understated, and even cool seeing as the main color they sell is black. Very European. But, uh…can you get REI stuff in Europe?

The Mammut Alto Jacket ($179) might be more readily available. It’s like the Guide, a lightweight piece that is meant to do anything. I find it a bit mountain-looking compared with the Patagonia or REI models, but it’s a solid piece.

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