Layering for the alpine always proves to be a challenge. A handful of pieces must perform in chilly mornings, hot afternoons, blasting sun, drenching storms, cold evenings, and even colder nights, and they can’t weigh too much or take up a lot of space. Enter the Mountain Equipment Squall, a thin, ultralight (9.9-ounce) soft shell that packs into its own chest pocket. During surprise storms in California’s Sierra, the Squall repelled light rain, while the Exolite 125 stretch double-weave fabric proved amply stretchy for the twisting-and-turning motions of boulder scrambling. Simple in appearance, the Squall is nonetheless feature rich: The bucket hood swallowed various helmet sizes, and dual cinches created a snug fit when Tetons gusts kicked up to 35 mph. Articulated arms combined with adjustable cuffs made the sleeves perfect for climbing in inclement weather, and the waist cinch cord kept the Squall in place under or over a harness. The favorite feature was as simple as it is genius: an offset zipper. Because it sits off to the side, it doesn’t rub on the chin or nose when zipped up, keeping those sensitive-skin areas chafe-free and creating a pouch around your mouth, providing a small air pocket between your face hole and the jacket. When testers were breathing hard on steep approaches, they weren’t choking on synthetic fabric. Overall the shape was good for wearing on top of multiple other layers, but size down if you want a more athletic fit.