- The Shell from Hyperlite Mountain Gear is an ultralight jacket that uses a combination of Dyneema and eVent technology, keeping it both waterproof and breathable.
- With liberal use of DCF, The Shell is an extremely lightweight and compressible jacket, making it a great packable accessory for thru-hikes.
- An array of shock cords, VELCRO straps, and YKK zippers give HMG’s The Shell an extreme amount of adjustability and coverage for different weather conditions.
- The Shell is currently one of the most expensive waterproof jackets available today.
Reviews by our Readers
Hyperlite Mountain Gear
Ultralight Technical Jacket
Camping, thru-hiking, travel, backpacking, packrafting, climbing, skiing/snowboarding
WHERE TO BUY IT:
Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s Website
XS / S / M / L / XL
0.32 lbs / 5.16 oz / 146g to 0.39 lbs / 6.20 oz / 176g (depending on size)
DCF-WPB with Dyneema and eVent technology
#5 YKK VISLON Aquaguard
For several decades since the 1970s, Gore-Tex was the name that defined waterproof rainwear. Made from a thin fluoropolymer membrane coated with a durable water repellant (DWR) layer, Gore-Tex prevented fabric from soaking up water while allowing moisture and vapor to escape. The main limitation of Gore-Tex products was the need to reapply the DWR layer, as the coating wears off over time or due to repeated stress. Until recently, there were no serious challengers to Gore-Tex as the world’s premium waterproof material, but we may have the first real contender with The Shell from Hyperlite Mountain Gear.
HMG’s The Shell is an ultralight technical jacket made from Dyneema Composite Fabric with waterproof breathable properties (DCF-WB) which incorporates Dyneema and eVent technology. DCF, a fabric made from ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene, is bonded to a polyester fiber on the outer face to reinforce durability, and a layer of eVent membrane on the inner face to keep the fabric breathable. The company also incorporates the Dyneema fabric into their Windrider and Southwest packs, as well as on their popular Stuff Pack.
Dyneema technology offers a unique combination of durability, compressibility, and tear resistance, in a lightweight and waterproof fabric. With the eVent membrane technology, The Shell allows heat and perspiration to escape without compromising its waterproof performance. Being a dry system, eVent membranes do not need to get wet in order to vent the heat in the inner chamber.
In a growing field of ultralight rain jackets, The Shell stands out by being one of the lightest and most compact. Depending on size, the Shell weighs between 5.16 and 6.20 ounces. This is approximately half the weight of most alternatives with the same quality. It does not soak up water, so hikers don’t need to worry about the jacket getting heavier as rain continues to fall. Despite the jacket’s light weight, The Shell feels solid and durable.
Another huge benefit is The Shell’s extreme compressibility. It can be folded down to about the size of a pint and should fit in the outside pocket of most backpacks. When you need to put The Shell away, a stuff pocket with a waterproof zipper and clip-on loop comes included with the jacket.
It’s easy to stand out with The Shell. It has a bright white color with black accents that is both minimalist and elegant. Despite having a wrinkled appearance, the DCF feels smooth and soft against the skin. The Shell has a single waterproof YKK zipper that runs right down the middle. The black central zipper meshes well with the black VELCRO adjustable cuffs and shock cords on the bottom hem and on the rear and front of the hood.
A sophisticated adjustment system is only part of the weather protection features that The Shell offers. The central zipper goes all the way up a high collar that has an attached Polartec Power Dry chin guard. The hood has a stiff brim and is compatible with most mountain helmets. The Shell is long enough to provide below-the-belt coverage. With the shock cords on the bottom hem and the VELCRO cuffs, The Shell offers complete coverage against the elements.
The Shell’s solitary hip pocket seems poorly designed and feels like it was added as an afterthought. A more spacious and useful chest pocket would have been a better alternative.
Compared to other waterproof jackets, The Shell has a lot more room in the shoulder and upper torso areas. Technical climbers will probably appreciate the full range of motion that they’re afforded by the non-constricting fit. In fact, The Shell is spacious enough to snugly fit over a down jacket, making it a great windbreaker in extremely cold weather.
The high-quality materials and top-shelf build come at a price, though. At $450, The Shell could easily cost twice as much waterproof jackets from other brands. However, this is a truly unique product that has the highest durability-to-weight ratio of all other waterproof jacket brands. The DCF-WB material is vastly superior to Gore-Tex and eliminated the inconvenience of having the DWR coat reapplied after just a few months of heavy use.
The Shell is an ideal waterproof jacket for thru-hikers who will benefit from its lightweight and compact design, as well as its adaptability to different weather conditions. Since The Shell weighs next to nothing, long-distance hikers will barely notice the additional load of this high-end waterproof jacket. Skiers and canyoneers will also appreciate how non-restrictive The Shell is to their movements.
Another huge selling point of The Shell is its durability. The extreme level of durability may be a bit overkill for hiking exclusively across maintained trails, and hikers can probably find much cheaper and practical alternatives.
However, The Shell is not ideal enough for climbing in terrain where the jacket will regularly scrape against sharp and jagged rocks. There really isn’t an ultralight jacket that is strong enough to withstand rugged conditions like this, and climbers will have to settle with thicker, heavier, and stronger alternatives.
As with all Hyperlite Products, The Shell was made using Hyperlite’s extremely high level of manufacturing standards. If the jacket has any manufacturing defects, Hyperlite Mountain Gear will gladly offer a free repair/replacement or an outright refund of the original price paid. Just keep in mind that the use of Hyperlite products for commercial purposes and damage due to negligence or abuse will render the warranty void.
Lastly, this warranty only covers Hyperlite products purchased directly from authorized dealers. These do not include third-party and auction sites including eBay or Amazon.
- Made using DCF-WB technology, The Shell is extremely lightweight and compressible, while also being waterproof, durable, and tear-resistant.
- The Shell has a sophisticated adjustment system that provides complete enclosure for the roughest weather conditions.
- The Shell has a roomy upper torso and shoulder section which is non-restrictive and makes The Shell spacious enough to be worn over a down jacket.
- The hip pocket is too small to be significantly useful.
- Not durable enough to withstand constant scraping against sharp and jagged rocks.
- Much more expensive compared to waterproof jackets from other brands
Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s The Shell is a unique product that offers a durability-to-weight ratio not found in other waterproof jackets. With breathable membrane technology, The Shell is extremely adaptable to different outdoor activities and varying weather conditions. Its adjustment system keeps it comfortable in any scenario regardless of the size of the user. The Shell also looks great with its classy white color scheme with black accents.
However, The Shell is also one of the most expensive waterproof jackets available today. Although its price will always be a hurdle, we can attest to the high build and material quality of The Shell. This is an ultralight jacket that is poised to revolutionize the field of waterproof jackets in the future.