We love this hardshell. This winter we wore the men’s and women’s Stretch Element in all conditions, from touring in Grand Teton National Park to competing in the Jackson Hole Freeskiing Open. It is one of the best all-around jackets out there, warm enough for cold days in the winter and light enough to wear during cool evenings in the spring and summer. Featuring stretchy panels in the elbows and across the shoulders, and utilizing Patagonia’s new seamless construction, the Stretch Element provides full-on storm protection at what feels like half of the bulk.
Full-featured with pit-zips, a helmet-compatible hood and chest pockets for stashing an energy bar or headlamp, this jacket excelled in a far wider range of conditions than any other hardshell we’ve worn. Many times this winter when we might otherwise have chosen a softshell, the Stretch Element made the cut because of its lightweight and bomb-proof weather protection. The only complaint is that the waterproof zipper–a great feature that eliminates the unwieldy Velcro flap of older models–takes time to break in before running smoothly. But from huddling inside its generous hood on the Grand Teton to hiking for turns with all the zips pulled open, this jacket saw as wide a range of conditions as we did this year, and performed well in all of them.