Back in the day (damn kids!) a hard shell was just that: crinkly, noisy and sweaty. Like Britney Spears at the MTV video awards. While we may yearn for a simpler time, the REI Shuksan waterproof breathable jacket is proof that change can be good.
The 3-layer Elements shell is state of the art: sealed seams, welded zippers, articulated joints and reinforced shoulders and elbows. The hood rolls up into a collar or zips off, the rear hem has a nice drop and there are ample adjustments. A powder skirt inside will make this shell perform in the pow; it even has spaced snaps so you can adjust it as your gut expands (are you listening Britney?).
Tick list aside, this shell really performs. A hard rain woke me up at oh-god-thirty one morning, and before I was fully awake I had been outside for half an hour trying to get wet in the Shuksan. No luck. Not only is it truly waterproof, a fact borne out by subsequent weeks of rainy weather, but it breathes well during moderate exertion.
A tricot lining gives your chin some love. The hand pockets are top-access oriented, which makes it slightly awkward to rest your hands in. But REI gets bonus points for the chest pockets, designed to be accessed from the opposite hand (right hand to left pocket) which is comfortable and doesn't interfere with pack straps as much as the conventional design. And yes, there's a headphone port for you damn kids.