While many people have now contributed to the knowledge that informs what we have written here, this season was the third in a row that Andy Wellman was the head tester. He was responsible for disseminating products to volunteer testers, testing the products himself, and in the end, collecting the opinions of all the people who had worn and used these jackets, compiling that information into this review. Having continuity in the head tester from year to year ensures that we are able to bring an accurate selection of the best hardshell jackets available, while noticing changes in favorite models and industry trends from year to year. These are just a few of the reasons that we think you will find this the most helpful hardshell jacket review available.
This year, we tested 11 new jackets through the heart of winter in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Each jacket was used on many days, by many people, while performing all sorts of winter activities. The majority of the testing was centered around the famous mountain paradise of Ouray, Colorado, home to the Ouray Ice Park, where we did most of the ice climbing in the pictures you see. We also used these jackets to climb ice near Eureka and Silverton. Our days of testing while backcountry skiing mostly took place on Red Mountain Pass or in the Silverton area, while we did our resort skiing at Telluride. We did almost everything necessary in our daily lives while wearing these jackets, including work, shoveling out cars and sidewalks, and cruising around town.
To make sure that we had the best understanding of what models were the most weather protective and breathable, we devised head-to-head tests. For weather protection, we conducted the shower test, where we wore each of the jackets in the shower for three minutes. For weight, we weighed each of the jackets fresh out of the box on our own kitchen scale and ignored what the company said they weighed. For venting, we skinned mountains while wearing these hardshells, discovering along the way whether the location and function of zippers and other venting options allowed us to keep cool and dry.
You can read more about these individual tests in our Hardshell Jackets for Men review. While the head-to-head tests helped add to the picture we have tried to paint about each of these jackets, the vast majority of knowledge and opinion presented here is derived from our experiences using them for their intended purposes: outdoor adventuring in the mountains in winter.