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Patagonia Super Cell Jacket

Here in coastal Norway, the wet, snowy months of late winter and early spring produce a variety of challenging conditions, from blizzards to torrential downpours. Lucky for me, I've been testing Patagonia's Super Cell Shell.

This high performing jacket is Patagonia's lightest GoreTex hard shell. The Super Cell has done an incredible job of protecting me from the elements.

The first thing I noticed about Patagonia's Super Cell jacket is its ultralight weight. At just under 13 ounces, the Super Cell is lighter than much of the competition, yet it also comes complete with pit zips, nice pockets, and a super functional hood.

I’ve been searching for a jacket like this for a while now for situations where my other super-light shell doesn't quite cut it because it's too thin and fragile for everyday use with a pack. The Patagonia Super Cell, on the other hand, can take whatever I dish out. I’m happy to take this jacket ice climbing and I don’t worry that I’ll tear it should I crash into a tree while backcountry skiing. And I’m more than happy to carry an extra few ounces if it means I get a usable hood and awesome ventilation through the armpits.

I really like the GoreTex Paclite fabric of the Super Cell, which is quite a bit lighter and every bit as breathable as its heavier big brother, Gore’s ProShell fabric.

I first tested the Super Cell jacket on an ice climbing mission in the wet mountains of the west coast. It was snowing, but the temps were fairly warm. These conditions are ultimate yuck – it means one can easily overheat and easily get sopping wet. Thankfully, the jacket didn’t wet out and didn’t leak through any of the seams or waterproof zippers; it also breathed really well. The lengthy pit zips made a huge difference in keeping my temperatures regulated during the gross approach through the lower elevation forests.

Our ice fall was pretty far off trail and we soon found ourselves bashing through a thick boreal forest, climbing over fallen trees and slipping in the snowy slush. These are prime conditions for poking holes in expensive shells, yet my Patagonia Super Cell jacket survived unscathed.  

While actually climbing, I couldn’t have asked for a better jacket. The helmet-compatible hood is big enough and cut in a way that lets me freely turn my head from side to side – something I can’t say about a lot of jackets and part of the reason I am normally not much of a hood guy. Also, I loved how the pockets are located relatively high on the torso so as not to interfere with my harness.

Unlike many oversized, billowing hard shells, the Super Cell is cut pretty trim. I like this a lot since it means there’s less stuff to get snagged, tangled, or caught in the wind.

Patagonia’s Super Cell jacket comes in men’s sizes from S to XXL in black, gray, red, mango and blue, and in women’s sizes from XS to XL in black, green, aqua and purple.

Bottom Line: A key layer and major player in my winter pursuits thanks to its awesome breathability and light, simple, bombproof construction – N.W. (April 2012).

BUY ONLINE: $249, shop at Moosejaw. Click for Backcountry.

Manufacturer's Site: www.patagonia.com

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When hiking or camping, always carry the "10 Essentials":

Extra clothing, extra food and water, lighter or water-proof matches and fire starter, map in waterproof envelope, compass, pocket knife, sunscreen and sunglasses, flashlight or headlamp, first aid kit, emergency shelter.

Source: Seattle Mountain Rescue and Seattle Mountaineers.