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Royal Robbins Windjammer Jacket : Big Performance in an Itty Bitty Package

I like to hike and travel light, and RR's Windjammer jacket is just the ticket, weighing in at a miniscule 3 oz. What's even better is that it packs into its own zippered front pocket, making a tiny, neat package that fits easily into my backpack, computer case, or sweatpants pocket.

The Windjammer's extreme portability means that I take it everywhere. On a recent trip to Georgia, it was the perfect thing for taking the edge off chilly mountain mornings. While working up a sweat hiking steep woodland hills, I enjoyed the soft, supple feel of the polyester microfiber fabric and its excellent breathability. I also appreciated the lack of shoulder seams, since any little chafing under my backpack straps turns my whole body into a giant, throbbing blister.

As the days warmed up, rather than slathering sunscreen all over my pale Yankee arms, I used my Windjammer's UPF 40-rated fabric to keep me from frying in the southern sun.

Back in Vermont, where the weather is still changeable, chilly, and moist, the water-repellant Windjammer has been my constant hiking companion. It blocks the wind nicely without the bulk or stiffness of most wind-resistant fabrics. On really blustery days and hikes in light rain, I battened down the hood with its three-way elastic draw cords and thawed my hands in the jacket's warmer pockets. When the weather let up, I opened the full-length zipper for ventilation and pulled my sunglasses (and hankie, and snacks, and iPod) out of the convenient chest pocket.

The Windjammer gets high marks for fit, too. Hook and loop tabs keep the cuffs comfortably snug around my wrists (again, no chafing), an elastic drawstring keeps the jacket from riding up on my hips, and a hook and loop strip on the hood allows me to raise the visor for better visibility (or to lower it when wishing to go incognito in town, heh heh). Available in: azure, periwinkle, mars red, jet black, and julep. Back length is 28" on size M.

Bottom Line: Light-packers and travelers of all stripes will love this jacket: it packs small enough to fit in a purse or pocket and provides excellent protection against wind, sun, and light rain. --N.W. (June '06)

Price: $44.

Manufacturer's Site:

BUY ONLINE : Buy products from Royal Robbins and get $10 off your American Hiking Society Membership.

If you like to stay fit on the road, check out the Fit For Business web site for a list of hotels with fitness centers or affiliated with health clubs.

iPod photo