Eastern Mountain Sports Helix Jacket

Inexpensive, do-it-all shell

With around 30 backcountry testing days, from climbing Utah ice to teaching avalanche courses and skiing in the Pacific Northwest, the Helix proved its worth as a perfect “quiver of one” waterproof/breathable shell. Polartec NeoShell’s updated membrane is more permeable than the previous version, allowing air to pull moisture away from the skin at the first sign of sweat, rather than building up moisture before it’s released (which causes that clammy feeling). Testers never wetted out despite high-output ice climbing. The long sleeves and stretchy nylon worked together to keep the jacket’s torso in place, even when one climber was reaching for high ice-tool placements. “The best feature is its simplicity; it works in all conditions and activities,” one tester said. “The price is $50 cheaper than other shells of this caliber, too.” Higher hand-warmer pockets were ideal when wearing a harness, and two inner mesh pockets easily fit rock shoes or gloves. $299; ems.com


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