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The North Face Triumph Anorak : Get Wet, Stay Dry

The word anorak comes from the Inuit word annoraaq . Considering that the garment was invented by arctic paddlers for protection from wind, rain, and cold while hunting from their kayaks, it's only fitting that I wore my North Face Triumph Anorak for the first time this July before the start of a 20-mile kayak race around Cape Ann.

Located roughly 30 miles north of Boston, I was in Gloucester, the oldest fishing port in the United States, and, in case you're interested, the place where fish sticks were invented. Given the early start, I felt a bit chilly as I readied my kayak by the briny water's edge...until I donned the space-age white anorak: With the adjustable, attached hood and chest-to-chin zipper, the Triumph makes it easy for me to fiddle with my thermoregulation until I get it just right.  

After the race, I headed to Martha's Vineyard with my wife and daughter for a week of sun and fun on the bouncy Atlantic. Along with a book, towel, suntan lotion and a pair of goggles, I scrunched my North Face anorak into my backpack. Made of just two fabric panels and sealed with ultra light tape, the Triumph is as light as a  plastic  shopping bag and takes up about as much space. Early in the week -- thanks to the fall out of Hurricane Bertha -- the wind was cranking. Reading on the beach after  a body-surfing session  in the frothy waves, I was nearly shivering...until I whipped out the Triumph and was cold no longer.

Then, back home in Brooklyn,  I was unstrapping my kayak from my roof racks when the heavens opened up. The Inuit anoraks had to be regularly soaked with fish oil to keep their water resistance. Not  so the North Face anoraks.  Rather smugly I pulled  mine on  and cinched the hood, confident that the Hyvent breathable technology--a polyurethane coating with a multi-layer formula for waterproof protection, moisture permeability and durability--would do the job without a drop of fish oil. 

Availalble in men's and women's sizes.

Bottom Line : Annoraaq to the Inuits; called a 'windcheater' by the Brits: By any name, the North Face Triumph Anorak is lightest, waterproof, most breathable anorak you're likely to find - perfect for spring, summer or fall. --J.G. (Aug. '08)

Price : $179

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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.