It is that time of the year again: the days are getting longer and our summer gear makes its way out from storage. And like every year, clear skies and sunshine trick us into thinking that summer has arrived – that is until we step out of the house in a t-shirt only to shiver in the morning frost.
The crisp, sunny days of spring are the best time for outdoor adventure, but to make the most of it, a good between-seasons jacket is essential. The Proton line from Arc’teryx will keep you warm on a technical Alpine climb or a bike ride to work, and it comes in two versions: lighter LT and warmer AR. Insulated with Climashield continuous filament insulation, it can be used as a midlayer or as a standalone softshell jacket.
While the Proton is our favorite between-season garment, we rounded up a few features to look for before you choose yours:
Spring weather tends to be moody, so your jacket should be water resistant to withstand damp conditions or light rain. In case of a violent downpour, you might need to wear it under another more robust layer. To maximize comfort, search for slim cut and soft materials that sit well as part of a multi-layered clothing system.
Down is a great winter option, but it won’t keep you warm when wet. For moderate spring or autumn temperatures, choose a more reliable, synthetic insulation instead. It retains its warmth in any conditions and dries very quickly – which is important on days when you can get drenched by both rain and sweat. That said, a good between-seasons garment has to wick moisture to keep you dry and warm across a wide range of ambient temperatures and activities of differing intensity.
As spring days can pack all four seasons into just a few hours, chances are your jacket will be in and out of the backpack a lot. Look for a good warmth-to-weight ratio and durable materials that don’t deteriorate when folded. Continuous filament insulation outperforms staple fibre which tends to pull apart and lose its properties after prolonged storage. A rugged outer fabric will be more resistant not only when stuffed into a backpack, but also against abrasion on the rock.
When choosing a jacket, take a close look at zips (are they durable and taped?), pockets (how many are there? Are any of them insulated?), cuff and hem adjusters, as well as the hood (is it helmet compatible, adjustable and with a good field of vision?).
We’d love to hear about your favorite between-season jackets – what gets your vote?