Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $450
Pros: Lightest Gore Pro Shell jacket tested, simple and effective features.
Cons: Hood provides little protection for neck and chin.
Best Uses: All-purpose, extended backpacking trips.
The GoLite Ashdown Pro is the lightest shell we tested that uses the Gore-Tex Pro Shell membrane. The jacket is simple, well featured and weighs 13 ounces. Itís an excellent choice for extended backpacking trips or general use. The main drawback to its design is the hood, which offers little protection for the chin area. Get this shell now, while itís on sale for $199 on GoLiteís website. This deal canít be beaten.
Our top rated and lightest lightweight shell is the Arcteryx Alpha FL. This piece weighs a mere 10.7 ounces, has is slightly more breathable material than the Ashdown. The Quasar is our top rated lightweight hardshell for hiking. Other superlight rain jackets will be lighter (by about 2 ounces) but none will be as durably waterproof as the Quasar.
Stepping into the medium duty category, the 14.1 oz Patagonia Super Pluma is out top rated all-purpose hardshell, and the winner of our Editorís Choice Award. Go for the Super Pluma if you want one shell for skiing, hiking, climbing, and everything else.
For the most durable and versatile piece of mountain climbing body armor choose the Arcteryx Alpha SV. This shell represents the ultimate in simplicity and function, and boasts a slew of well refined climbing specific features. The Alpha SV is ideal for climbing mountains that cross multiple climates: start low by bushwhacking through dense, wet forests and finish up high on technical ice and snow. The Alpha SV is much more durable than the Ashdown. Itís also more durable and has more room for layering than any lightweight shell or the Super Pluma.
For those on a budget we recommend the Rab Stretch Neo. Available for around $350 this jacket is nearly half the price of the Arcteryx Alpha SV, weighs nearly the same amount, and has nearly the same feature set. It's an excellent value.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
At 13 oz, GoLiteís Ashdown Pro is the lightest jacket we tested that uses Gore Pro Shell. It comes fully featured with two chest height handwarmer pockets, pit zips, and one internal zippered pocket. The fit is trim, but thereís sufficient space for a lightweight insulated jacket. The Ashdown is best at exactly what itís designed for- extended backpacking trips in foul conditions.
Our only complaint with the Ashdown Pro is its hood design, which offers little protection for your chin. High winds whip into the face area and you have nothing to duck under- unlike climbing specific hoods with larger chin areas. Though the shell is the lightest to use Pro Shell, the Patagonia Super Pluma weighs a mere one ounce more, and we believe the added ounce and its accompanying features (better hood), make the added weight worth it.
Best Application and Value
The Ashdown Pro is best suited to extended hiking trips that require the durability of Pro Shell. GoLite will be discontinuing the Ashdown in the spring of 2013 and transitioning to a shell lineup with Polartec NeoShell, which they claim is more breathable. (Our field testing doesnít support that claim.)
We strongly recommend the Ashdown if you get it now, while itís only $199 on GoLiteís website. This is by far the best deal weíve ever seen for a Gore Pro Shell jacket. And we have no idea how long the sale will be on for.
Due to conflicting information from GoLite's PR staff we deleted all of our photos of the Ashdown jacket in action.
— Max Neale
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: July 19, 2012
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