So, the Brown Santa brought me a splendid box not too long ago. It was filled with all sorts of inclement weather gear. As I’ve said before, there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad choice in clothing.

One of the pieces I have been dying to try is the new Arc’Teryx Alpha LT Jacket. In my Snivel Kit it is a central piece and part of the overall layering concept. The outer shell can be the most important and demanding item you have, choose wisely based off your needs.

So, what are your needs. To understand what a good hard shell does means you have to understand how it works. Think of a sandwich. The meat of this sandwich is a waterproof and breathable membrane, which prevents precipitation from entering, while at the same time allowing precipitation to exit. The membrane cannot be used alone, so it has to be protected, usually with an internal and external layers. The membrane is fused to these layers and any seams are sealed with waterproof tape. The final product is a bombproof outer garment that is both wind and waterproof.

And that is a big reason it is a staple in my kit. Buy why choose a hard shell over a soft shell. A lot of that is going to depend on two things, your activity level and exposure to precipitation. If you are going to be getting your heart rate up you better make sure you can vent or choose anther option. But if you are going to be exposed to precipitation, especially extended precipitation then the hard shell is the way to go. I have stood on the range for 3 days straight in a virtual non-stop rain storm add some cold temperatures and it is pretty much miserable.

You have to protect yourself from that and if not, you have to seek shelter. For those of us who had to operate in inclement weather, seeking shelter wasn’t an option. The early hard shells were heavy and not totally waterproof. When I started investing in my own gear, I had the luxury of choosing some high end mountaineering gear and believe me, being exposed to the elements for extended periods is high risk. Only a fool would think they can tough it out for an extended period. Once you enter the environment, you become part of the food chain whether you like it or not.

So, I got to put into service a new jacket, well sort of. We got hit with a near severe thunderstorm, with heavy rainfall and high winds, it was literally blowing sideways…you got to love that. The new Alpha LT jacket was pretty damn awesome. I hate to say this, but the rain storm didn’t last long and once the lightening picked up I sort of lost my motivation, but not before I had a chance to feel out this jacket.

This bad boy is super light, which I LOVE. Weighing in at a mere 15 ounces it makes it hard to beat. It is loaded with features, such as ventilation zippers and chest pockets, but two of the features that don’t get enough attention are joint and head articulation. I had full range of unrestricted movement in my arms whether my arms were extended or brought close to my body. The hood is simple and big enough to fit over a helmet, but without obscuring your view like some others.

I’m confident that when mother nature decides to take her wrath out on me and subsequently the students I’m teaching, I will have a big smile on my face with this jacket on, which is code for bring it…

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