Essentially a mock-up of our Editors' Choice Award-winning Patagonia Houdini, the Backcountry Canyonlands jacket provides solid protection from the elements in all of the key ways. The ripstop-style nylon is not only impressively wind resistant, but will help you fight off a little more than just a passing rain shower. However, the Canyonlands falls short in the details. Despite the inclusion of small, underarm vents, this jacket suffers from pockets of pooled heat and sweat. This flaw is in large part to it's restrictive fit, with a particular lack of mobility in the arms and shoulders. Designed with backpackers in mind, this lightweight shell easily packs up and stores into its own chest pocket — ready to be stashed in any pocket and taken along for the ride.
Backcountry Canyonlands Lightweight Review
Cons: Sweat-suit feel, limited mobility of arms
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Although it has a similar design and build to our all-around favorite wind jacket, the Backcountry Canyonlands jacket falls short in some key categories. We found that during high-output activity, the tight, athletic fit made for a swampy chest and back — despite the inclusion of simple, underarm vents. But where this jacket slips in terms of fit and functionality, it shines when it comes to performance in less-than-sunny weather. A sturdy nylon weave bolsters robust wind resistance and effectively sheds water even during extended light rains.
The Canyonlands jacket does a solid job of blocking the wind — in this regard it performs very similarly to our Editors' Choice Award winner. The sturdy, nylon build is a force for blocking much more than just a stiff breeze, and we were impressed with how comfortable we were in a hearty winter wind while traversing an alpine ridgeline.
The drawcords on the hem and hood, combined with fully-elastic cuffs do a great job of locking this jacket down when the going gets tough. Even though this jacket doesn't sport a storm flap, we only noticed a chill across our chest when facing the wind head-on.
Breathability and Venting
As with many jackets that excel in blocking wind, they fall behind when it comes to allowing air to escape, and the Canyonlands windbreaker is no exception to this rule. Even when compared to other, similar nylon builds, this jacket has a pretty unfortunate trash bag feel.
During extended hill climbs, we found ourselves uncomfortably sticky with sweat on more than one occasion. This jacket is designed with simple pit vents, but too tight of a fit through the underarms doesn't allow for adequate airflow, trapping heat and moisture across the back and down the arms.
Weight and Packability
When it comes to weight, the Canyonlands jacket can hang with the best of 'em, weighing in at a mere half-ounce heavier than the lightest windbreakers in this review. The thin, nylon fabric is compressible, and this jacket easily packs away into its own chest pocket.
But for its weight and compressibility, this jacket packs up to a size that is noticeably bulkier than its competitors. We docked the Canyonlands a few points for not including a harness loop — a lacking feature that is better explained by this jacket's fit and function as related to climbing.
Fit and Functionality
More fashionable than functional, the Canyonlands was a tough sell for more serious alpine endeavours. While the jacket sports an athletic cut and lays very nicely underneath a harness or waist belt of a backpack, it is tight across the chest. This, combined with a lack of material stretch, would definitely prohibit bulkier body types from moving comfortably in this jacket.
Even for the skinny, mountaineer's frame of our lead tester, the tight fit of the Canyonlands restricted any reaching movements — we would not recommend this jacket for climbers — and the hood of the jacket is also much too small to accommodate a helmet. All of these factors, combined with this jacket's ventilation, point in the direction of less-intense activities like backpacking.
The Canyonlands wind breaker does prove its worth in terms of water resistance. Nylon typically performs better than polyester shells when it comes to shedding water, and the durable weave of this jacket convinced us of its ability to handle short bursts of inclement weather — both in our shower test, and during a walk through a heavy fog and light rain.
A jacket that provides solid wind and weather resistance, the Canyonlands will live up to its name in keeping you comfortable and dry during your next off-season adventure to the heart of the desert. More expensive than competitors that perform similarly well in more than just these two metrics, this jacket does not quite live up to its price-point when considering it as a well-rounded option.
A perfectly packable windbreaker to help fight off a cold wind and/or a light rain, the Backcountry Canyonlands is a great option as an alternative to a bulkier rain jacket. You won't even notice this lightweight jacket stashed away in the bottom of your pack, until it's time to batten-down for that fast-approaching storm.
— Aaron Rice