Excellent balance of weather resistance and air permeability.
Super versatile—equally at home on the mountain and at the pub.
Hood is too small for some helmets, lacks adequate adjustability.
Hemline is too crowded (with cordlocks, seams, pockets) to layer comfortably under the hip-belt of a larger pack.
This is a solid, predictable jacket that is considerably more than the sum of its parts—a great choice for everything from rock climbing to spring skiing to snowshoeing.
The Simple Guide is aptly named: this jacket sports no frills and few notable features, but packs a big performance punch. The ideal balance of weather protection and breathability is a constantly moving target, but for stop-and-go activities in variable weather, the Simple Guide kept me comfortable through an impressively broad range of conditions.
Fabrics Woven with entirely recycled polyester fiber (plus 9 percent non-recycled Spandex), the Guide’s fabric scored a bonus point for “green-ness.” Roll your eyes if you must…I think it’s awesome. If the stretch-woven poly showed signs of distress after a few days of J-Tree offwidthing, or left me steamed on a steep approach hike, I’d feel much less generous…but it didn’t, and I don’t.
Zippers The lighter-gauge-than-expected main zipper wasn’t a liability, but could’ve been a bit more burly. That little nitpick aside, the YKK zippers were just as I expected they’d be: fobbed for ease of use, garaged for enhanced weather and/or snag protection, and generally flawless.
Hood Just a bit too small and a bit too light on adjustment to really lock down over a climbing helmet, the Simple Guide’s hood was blown back off my head a few times when gusts exceeded 30 mph. When worn without a helmet, however, the simple single-pull adjustment was sufficient to achieve a comfortable and secure fit.
Finish and Initial Quality Simple but sophisticated, it’s the little things—a stiffener laminated into the main zip’s windflap, potentially annoying seams flatlock-stitched out of the way—that made this jacket so easy to wear. Nothing flashy, and everything in its right place.