One of the most indispensable items you need for a long day on the trail — whether hiking or running — is a featherweight shell. Generally, it weighs only a few ounces, so you won’t even notice you’re lugging it along in a hydration pack, but you will be thankful you have it when the weather takes a turn for the worse and you need a buffer from wind and drizzle. There are many models to choose from, but most amount to little more than a rip-stop garbage bag. The Second Light jacket, from Jackson Hole, Wyoming-based Stio, however, offers a few features to boost comfort and function.
The nylon layer stretches and moves with your body, while at the same time allowing some of your body heat to escape — a DWR treatment keeps larger rain drops out where they belong. A chest pocket is large enough to hold a smartphone, while one at the hip doubles as a stuff sack, compressing the jacket down to the size of a softball. Best of all, a silicone strip along the back hem keeps the jacket from bouncing around and riding up, especially helpful when you’re running and jumping along trails. These additions add slightly to the weight, but at just 4.4 ounces, it’s still extremely portable.
We found the combination ideally suited for mountainous trail runs, even on a warm summer day. As our pace slowed while approaching an Adirondack summit that was shrouded in mist and fog, we slipped on the Second Light to help stay warm. On the descent back into clearer, warm weather found at lower elevations, the jacket was easily stowed in our pack for the remainder of the run.