I've written before about the importance of carrying a jacket in your pack, even if you're heading to Southeast Asia or Central America. It can get cool and rainy at any latitude, especially in the highlands or the desert. You don't want a travel jacket to take up much room though, which is where something like the GoLite Ether wind jacket comes in.
Weighing a mere 3.5 ounces, this wispy and comfortable jacket stuffs down inside its own pocket that's part of the jacket and then only takes up about as much space as one pair of socks. After it folds into itself there's a handy loop on the outside too, so you could hook it to a clip on some hiking shorts when on the move.
In my tests it repelled water well in a sprinkling rain and was a worthwhile windbreaker. There are a few sacrifices to keep the weight down--like only one pocket--but there is an adjustable hood and elastic to keep the sleeves around your wrist.
This GoLite Ether wind jacket is half the weight of the Sierra Designs one I got from REI, but does that make it worth twice as much money? The other one is under $30 for 7 ounces, while this one lists for $70 for 3.5 ounces. They're both made in China from 100 percent polyester, so you're basically paying a premium for the patented coating, lighter fabric, and a smaller package. If you're a runner, cyclist, backcountry hiker, or just someone with the money to keep everything as light as possible, go for it. Or if this doesn't feel like a splurge for a soon-to-depart traveler on your gift list, they will be impressed with your thoughtful gift.
This travel jacket seems to go in and out of stock at the online retailers like Backcountry.com, so try the buy links at the GoLite site if you want one of these and can't find it locally.
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