Warm and Dry: Rock On Soft Shell

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Given New England’s nasty weather—11 months of winter and one month of bad sledding, so they say—it’s no surprise that a beefy new softshell has been designed in Massachusetts. The ROCK ON SOFT SHELL JACKET ($110, rock-on.com) has a light fleece lining, internal membrane, and DWR treatment that promise warmth and wet-weather protection. With no hood, this jacket isn’t suitable for extended rain, but it easily withstood a surprise downpour at one high-country crag, and it’d be just the thing for drippy ice climbs. It also offers plenty of features for almost 50 percent less than comparable coats: numerous pockets, adjustable cuffs, a drawstring waistband, and, unusually, pit zips with mesh-covered openings. There are trade-offs for the low price point: The pit zips were easy to open but nearly impossible to close with the jacket on, and the stiff wrist closures tended to snag. But during a power hike up to 12,000 feet in an earlyseason snowstorm, this jacket stayed comfortable at full steam. —Dougald MacDonald