Shells

Shells are some of the lightest pieces in the backpack clothing arsenal. Quite simply, shells block wind, negating wind chill. Of coarse, most rain jackets perform this function just as well or better, but even the heaviest shells can weigh a fraction of the lightest rain jacket. This makes them a very niche item, primarily used for chilly conditions when rain isn’t expected, allowing you to layer warmly without bringing the heavier jacket.

Shells do add heat to the temperature rating of your layering system, so they can be used in conjunction with a poncho or a rain jacket, though it will effect the breathability of the jacket. In most cases, this is overkill.

Some shells are treated for water resistance, but none are waterproof, so they can not be used as a substitute for a proper rain jacket, which is what makes them so condition specific.

 

The following are the stats and my humble opinions of shells that I’ve used or researched and wish to use on the trail:

 

 

Montbell Tachyon Jacket – $99

montbell-tachyon

Weight: 1.6 oz. (45 g)
Fabric: 7-denier Ballistic Airlight rip-stop nylon
DWR:  Polkatex® DWR treatment
Compressed size: 3.3 x 1.6 x 4.3 in. (11× 8.5 ×4 cm)

  • Elastic cuffs
  • Reflective safety logos
  • Mesh under arms for ventilation
  • Packs easily into integrated stow pocket
  • Fabric weight: 21g/m²

The Montbell Tachyon Jacket is a windbreaker, not a rain shell. Windbreakers excel at trapping heat and blocking warmth-robbing wind chills.

The  Tachyon Jacket is a stripped down Super Ultra Light piece of gear that can perform well on its own in certain conditions but excels as part of a layering system or in a poncho-topped rain system.

Some of the lightest nylon available means fragility and if you are not wearing the jacket when a wind gust comes through, it could literally blow away. This is a great just in case piece of gear, since you can bring it along at virtually no weight penalty. I have also seen hardcore SUL backpackers go with just a water repellent windbreaker as their only rain protection.

The Tachyon does have a light DWR treatment, but nothing that will protect for any significant amount of time.

 

 


 

 

 

Montbell Tachyon Anorak – $99

montbell-tachyon-anorack

Weight: 1.9 oz. (55 g)
Fabric: 7-denier Ballistic Airlight rip-stop nylon
DWR:  Polkatex® DWR treatment
Compressed size: 4.5 x 3.3 x 1.6 in. (11 x 8.5 x 4 cm)

  • 10in. (26cm) front zipper
  • Draw cord hem and hood adjustment
  • Elastic cuffs to seal out drafts
  • Reflective logo on body and back
  • Packs easily into integrated stow pocket
  • Fabric weight: 21g/m²

Essentially the same as the Montbell Tachyon Jacket, but with a slightly different build (10″ zipper instead of full length zipper and chest panel construction) and the addition of a hood.

These modifications add .3 ounces to the total weight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclosure: This website features affiliate links. These links guide you to other websites where you can further research and purchase items. In return for traffic generated from my website, I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Any commissions earned go towards keeping this site running and allowing me to continue to hike new trails. Thank you for your support.