GoLite Kinetic Jacket/Vest
This is my first soft-shell garment, and it's the…
Price Paid: $120
This is my first soft-shell garment, and it's the real deal. It's amazing how versatile it is, and how wide my comfort range has expanded in it. I've worn it on warm winter days, cool spring days, on the lake fishing with a stiff and chilly wind, you name it. It breathes so much better than a conventional shell-type jacket that it's almost like wearing fleece, yet blocks wind beautifully and even sheds light rain. It's truly ideal for almost any condition. Haven't tested it out in a downpour, but then, it's not really designed for that.
I tried this and a similar product from Arc'teryx (the Theta something-or-other, I think), and found the GoLite to be a slightly better fit for my frame (5'11", 210 lbs, broad chest--I got the XL). Comfort is simply astounding. It moves with you like a second skin, and the outer fabric seems very durable. I perspire quite a bit, but it breathes better than any water-repellent jacket out there, by far.
My only "complaint" is that it is bulkier and heavier than a pure rainshell. However, since it is so versatile, I don't feel the need to bring even-bulkier fleece on most hikes, nor a full rainsuit unless I'm expecting really wet weather. It's as close to a "do-it-all" piece of clothing that I've ever experienced. I'm really wanting the Xirtam now, which IS supposedly waterproof, to round out the collection.