The claim: Thanks to the addition of a highly water resistant (and 99 percent windproof) membrane, Polartec's new Power Shield Pro fabric is weatherproof enough for aerobic outings in anything but a driving rainstorm. That, combined with impressive breathability, makes it ideal for hiking the bowl in a wet snow or light rain.
The trial: I used a Power Shield Pro jacket on a spring ski mountaineering trip to Iceland—in terms of climate, far wetter than anything you'd find outside of low-elevation Alaska. As billed, the fabric breathes as well if not better than a basic soft shell. And when worn as an outer layer, wet snow and drizzle didn't penetrate through to my insulation.
The verdict: Because Polartec doesn't promote Power Shield Pro as fully waterproof, it doesn't require manufacturers to tape the seams. This was only an issue when I put a thick down coat on over the Power Shield Pro jacket already scattershot with beaded raindrops. Somehow that combination pushed moisture back through the seams. It would have been smarter of me to put the jacket on over my puffy—but I'm a spoiled Western skier unused to real rain. For 90 percent of the days that I actually want to go skiing, the Pro is more than weatherproof enough. Polartec.com
Shown here: The North Face Kishtwar jacket; $280; thenorthface.com
From the Early Winter 2010 issue