Watertight Alibi: Outdoor Research Alibi

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Winter’s biggest challenge: finding a jacket that’s breathable for high-output activity but warm enough for downtime, trim enough to layer but also made with smart technical features. The OUTDOOR RESEARCH ALIBI ($250 for women; $260 for men; outdoorresearch.com) is the answer. We tested a sample late last winter in Vermont, and the Alibi quickly became the jacket we usually reached for, whether ice climbing or skiing. It’s light (1 lb. 6 oz.) and hybrid: the waterproof hood and shoulders repelled waterfall splash on spring ice in Smuggler’s Notch, and the fleeced softshell body was water-resistant enough to keep the jacket from soaking through. The waist-to-pit zips practically turned this jacket into a poncho for full venting on the walk in, but the water-resistant zips didn’t leak during climbs. Thumb loops in the stretchy inner cuffs boosted glove warmth and prevented sleeves from riding up. Hand-warmer pockets were big enough to stuff gauntlet gloves, and an inner electronics pocket kept iPods and cameras warm. Bonus: a stretchy tuck-away helmet liner complements the helmet-compatible hood. —Berne Broudy