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I decided to throw all my REI gift cards and other Christmas cash at a top-end rain shell and bought Outdoor Research's Mentor Jacket. It's quite the raincoat, I must say: full length pit zips. gazillion pockets, extra big hat, etc. Feels like it could fend off some serious weather.
The fabric is Gore-Tex Pro Shell, which is pretty heavy duty (in addition to being just plain heavy). Since we've had so much discussion about so-called waterproof-breathable fabrics, I thought I'd throw my experience in here.
I've hiked from about 15F up to the low 50s in this jacket. It performs no miracles -- with a pack on my back still gets pretty soaked. If I hike uphill with too much insulation I start getting clammy pretty quick.
A single light layer is all I need underneath down to about 30 degrees as long as I keep moving. Below that I more heavy-duty base layer is in order, but not necessarily an insulating one.
Today was pretty warm but I didn't feel like taking the jacket off (good protection from twigs and junk jutting over the trail), so I just unzipped the front and the pit zips and it cooled right down.
Everybody wishes Gore-Tex and its ilk could prevent the annoyance/inconvenience of layering and delayering. Sorry, the best Gore-Tex makes cannot do it.
However, if you mind your body's signals and avoid overheating, it works pretty good.
Next up: trying it out in the rain.