After bumbling and fumbling my way through West Clear Creek last summer, I’m now in the process of shaving weight off my pack—piece by piece.

9 to 5 Hiker HyperAir Cover

Tackling phase two of lightening my load, I took an upgrade I didn’t consider when weighing my original gear list—the rain jacket. In Arizona’s desert climate, a rain layer will spend more time in your pack than on your body, so weight and space matter. I was completely satisfied with my Patagonia TorrentShell, which I scooped up on sale in 2015, but an offer from Gore-Tex had me tossing it aside for a lighter, sexier option.

Lighter Than HyperAir

Gore-Tex sent me The North Face HyperAir Gore-Tex Jacket to review for its blog last month. This is undoubtedly a premium product at $250, but those dollars convert directly into saved weight. While the scale reads 339 grams (12 ounces) for the Patagonia (left), The North Face jacket (right) comes in at a mere 188 grams (7 ounces)—almost half the weight.

9 to 5 Hiker Patagonia TorrentShell 9 to 5 Hiker North Face HyperAir

You can read my full review of The North Face HyperAir on the official Gore-Tex blog (posting soon), but this jacket is almost futuristic compared to the TorrentShell. The Gore-Tex material is thinner, lighter, and more breathable (and yes, in full disclosure, I was hired to review this jacket so  take my words with as many grains of salt as you’d like). The HyperAir has bigger side pockets, so it doesn’t pack down as small as the TorrentShell, but a small pouch in your backpack could add to its compression.

9 to 5 Hiker Rain Jackets Stuffed

The TorrentShell is packed tightly into the pocket while the HyperAir has room to spare.

Expensive Weight Loss

The total weight savings by switching to The North Face HyperAir is a matter of ounces, less than half a pound, so $250 is understandably a steep price to pay for a small weight loss. But if you’re a believer in the idea that every ounce counts and are looking for a more premium rain layer, the HyperAir will check both of those boxes for you. Here’s what the total pack weight looks like before and after the new jacket.

9 to 5 Hiker Lighter Pack TorrentShell

Pack weight with the Patagonia TorrentShell

9 to 5 Hiker Lighter Pack HyperAir

Pack weight with The North Face HyperAir

Affordable Alternatives

If you already own a rain jacket like the Patagonia TorrentShell, go ahead and keep it. Even a $15 rain poncho off Amazon will do the trick if weight savings is the ultimate goal. The HyperAir is a fantastic piece and I’m happy to own it, but I would spend those dollars on a lighter tent or quilt before going all in on a rain layer.

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