Capitilizing on the growth of ultra endurance sports, many outdoor brands are launching the most minimalist of gear that doesn't skimp on weather protection and performance. In 2011, The North Face led the way in featherweight performance with their Verto emergency shell. Now you can expect to see many more products following suit in 2012.
From Mountain Hardwear, the Ghost Whisperer Anorak is a wind and water resistant shell that literally fits into your pocket. Capturing the ultralight prize at just 53 grams (women's 49 grams), this jacket is lighter than that Snickers Bar in your other pocket.
The featherweight jacket is made from a 7 denier by 10 denier ripstop nylon fabric, the same nylon used by Mountain Hardwear in a super-lightweight sleeping bag designed specifically for the alpine speed demon Ueli Steck.
A deep neck zipper provides a ventilation option for when you are working hard on the trail, while reflective trim adds visibility in low light conditions. The Ghost Whisperer Anorak stows inside its own built-in pocket, which you can then throw in your own pocket or pack.
The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Anorak comes in both a men's and women's version and retails for $135.
Continuing on the trend of featherweight pocket size weather protection, Montane brings you the new Slipstream GL Smock. Not quite as minimalist as the Mountain Hardwear jacket, this windproof featherweight jacket clocks in at 80 grams, but gives you added functionality with a snorkel hood and zippered front bib stash pocket.
For 2012, Norrona has taken a shaver to their wind and water resistant Bitihorn Aero 100 jacket. Weighing 89 grams, the new version is slightly longer, but Norrona has cut out the hood as well as the air vents to get the weight down as low as possible. For help with ventilation, the men's and women's Bitihorn Aero 100 utilizes a full zip, while elastic cuff sleeves enable you to pull them to expose your forearms. This featherweight jacket folds up into its own pocket for quick and easy storage.