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Top 9 Mountain Hardwear Jacket – 2019

Mountain Hardwear Jacket

#1 Mountain Hardwear Beryllium Jacket

Waterproof:YesWindproof:Yes
Hood:YesAdjustable Hood:Two-Way
Cinch Cords:Hem & WaistInsulation:None
Cuffs:VelcroPit Zips:Yes
Napoleon Pocket:YesHandwarmer Pockets:2
Sleeve Pockets:NoneZipper Type:Water-Resistant
Inner Pockets:2Seams:Taped
Weight:18 oz.Stowable:No
Chin Abrasion Guard:YesMSRP:

Overview

This Mountain Hardware Beryllium jacket, geared towards alpine climbing and mountaineering, offers bombproof protection where it counts. This Jacket is excellently designed and it packs several nice features that set it apart from other Mountain Hardware shells. The Beryllium is not designed as an ultra-light shell, allowing for extremely durable construction through and through. The gang at Mountain Hardware did not take any shortcuts on this shell, and they put out what I consider to be the Cadillac of mountaineering shells. Not only will this jacket protect you from whatever you might encounter on the mountain, but it will also make you smile.

Pockets

The Mountain Hardwear Beryllium jacket features two Napoleon pockets, two handwarmer pockets, one interior mesh pocket on the left side with a zipper (a map pocket), and a mesh water bottle pocket on the inside right. You certainly won’t find yourself at a loss for storage space with this shell, even if it does add on a little extra weight. I have never had the need or the desire to carry my water bottle around inside my jacket, except keeping hot water by my core during downtime and trying to keep my water from freezing (which in most cases is done by keeping my Nalgene in my sleeping bag overnight). In most cases, I have found the water bottle pocket to be more useful for my goggles or my gloves, but in any case, it has come in handy a few times. I like the Napoleon pockets because they are just big enough to carry a digital camera without it flopping around.

Zippers

Mountain Hardwear Beryllium jacket pocket

All of the zippers on the Mountain Hardwear Beryllium jacket are welded and watertight except the main zipper, which has sturdy large teeth, adding to the overall durability of the shell. An internal flap as well as two storm flaps that Velcro together and button on the top and bottom protect the main zipper, making it just as waterproof as the welded zippers, yet more durable. The pit zips are generously long, adding breathability points to this jacket.

Hood

Out of all the well-designed features of this jacket, it’s the hood that takes the cake. First of all, the three-inch visor on this hood is triple or quadruple thick, so it holds it’s form well and does not get in your face and it definitely won’t soak through. The two-way adjustment system for the hood allows for a better fit than I have ever seen on a Jacket made to accommodate a climbing helmet.

The back adjustment on the hood is in the shape of a V, and with one hand you can adjust the hood so that it practically suctions to the back of your noggin when you aren’t wearing your helmet. It feels like the jacket is hugging you on the back of your skull! This design keeps the hood secure and does not allow the visor to droop down and obstruct your vision. The two pull strings for the face adjustment are easily accessible, and effectively block out the wind. The pull strings are designed so that the toggle is hidden inside the wall of the hood, making it almost impossible to snag. You can adjust the pull strings by pressing the button inside the jacket and pulling on the unobtrusive 1-inch section of the exposed chord. The remainder of the chord finds it’s home safe back on the inside of the jacket thanks to the eyelet tunnel system.

Body Adjustment

The Mountain Hardwear Beryllium jacket has a hem adjustment with two one-handed access points, as well as another cinch line three inches from the bottom. With double protection, your chances of ruining a perfectly good glissade by having your jacket infiltrated by wet snow are much less likely.

The cuffs are adjustable via a Velcro closure system.

Extras

If a person ever had the crazy thought that they didn’t want to sport their hood for some strange reason, there is a Velcro tab that would allow them to roll up the hood in a compact manner.

The top of the zipper flap and the base of the neck feature micro chamois lining for added comfort.

I thought that the zipper pulls on this jacket were a lot more practical than the ones on my Pinnacle, because they have more surface area and they are more easy to grip with gloves on.

Also, on the left side of the jacket on the bottom seam, there is a small clip for hanging your gloves for a moment.

Qualms

What is there to complain about? Some would say that this jacket is too heavy, but they should take a reality check. In each shell, there is a tension between the features you can include, and the ounces you can save. This jacket is made to have durability and weather protection, and it does those things well.

The biggest problem this jacket offers is the price, but you are getting the best that Mountain Hardware has to offer. In reality, everybody knows that Gore-Tex is overrated and overpriced, even if it is the very best in the waterproof/ breathability threshold. After months or years of dirt and pack strap friction, it loses its edge against other treated nylons. I foresee the price of Gore-Tex shells declining rapidly as other technologies come on to the market that is just as good or better.

Warmth

On a scale of 1-10, where 1 is a long-sleeved T-shirt, and 10 an expedition-quality mountaineering suit, The Beryllium is a 2. Hard-shells are not made to keep you warm, they are intended to keep you dry, and block the wind. This jacket is cut to accommodate layering. I wear it with my down parka, and there is just enough room.

Waterproof?

Definitely. Gore-Tex is typically understood to be the standard for waterproof fabrics, and the full seam taping and seamless shoulders help ensure full waterproofness.

Conclusion

If I were to give this jacket an overall rating, I would give it a nine out of ten. The Mountain Hardwear Beryllium jacket is plush. It is built tough as nails, with the best hood design I have seen on a jacket. The only reason I would give it a nine instead of a ten is that it costs too much, coming in at a pricey $475 MSRP. If you spend a good amount of your time in the elements, you should consider investing in this waterproof-breathable fortress – that is, if you are willing to sell your car and your dog so you can buy the Cadillac of mountaineering jackets. If not, you might consider waiting two years until this jacket drops down in price a couple of hundred dollars – If you can wait that long.

The Verdict: 9/10

#2 Mountain Hardwear Alcove Jacket

Waterproof:Water resistantWindproof:Yes
Hood:YesAdjustable Hood:One-Way
Cinch Cords:HemInsulation:Synthetic
Cuffs:Velcro & ElasticPit Zips:No
Napoleon Pocket:YesHandwarmer Pockets:2
Sleeve Pockets:NoneZipper Type:Storm Flaps
Inner Pockets:NoneSeams:None
Weight:34.9 oz.Stowable:No
Chin Abrasion Guard:YesMSRP:

Overview

Mountain Hardwear Alcove Jacket

The Alcove jacket, due out in Fall of 2009, is a very warm hooded shell, featuring a waterproof outer fabric and an excellent DWR.  Using Primaloft Eco, the parka is excellent for belaying or other cold-weather activities where protection is paramount.  It does have some kinks that could be worked out, though.

We here at Jacket Reviews have gotten a little taste of what Mountain Hardwear has in store for Fall of 2009.  Jonathan has already provided a review of the Refugium heated, insulated jacket, and I’ve gotten a chance to check out their new Alcove insulated jacket.

Pockets

Mountain Hardwear Alcove Jacket

The Alcove comes equipped with three standard pockets and two inner mesh pockets.  The first three consists of two basic handwarmer pockets, which are lined with a soft tricot material, and a Napoleon pocket, the front of which uses the same soft nylon from the inside of the shell, and the back of which is composed of the material making up the outer shell fabric.  The two inner mesh pockets are very roomy and would easily fit a Nalgene or a similar-sized bottle, presumably to keep the liquid from freezing.

Zippers

Mountain Hardwear Alcove Jacket

The three pocket zippers are small YKK zippers, with rubbery plastic pulls about two inches in length.  All are a reverse coil, which aids in water resistance.  Additionally, the handwarmer pockets are also protected by sturdy storm flaps, to help keep the nasty away from your gear.  The main zipper is also YKK, and it is dual-separating.  There’s not much protection on the outside, but just inside is a solid storm flap, with a nylon overlay that bears a striking resemblance to a seat belt (in feel, not in looks).

The Hood

Mountain Hardwear Alcove Jacket

The hood is insulated, like the rest of the jacket, and has the one-way adjustment in the front, with two drawcords on either side of the hood.  They are secured in an interesting way: they are run through a sleeve of hard plastic, which has a slit in it.  Simply pull the cord up through the slit, and it’s secured.  Well, in theory, anyway.  I found during use that the slit was too large, or perhaps the cord was too thin.  Either way, the cord had an annoying habit of simply falling out of the slit, undoing the tension that had secured the hood the way I wanted it.  It didn’t fall out immediately, but even normal wear caused it to come undone.  Not thrilled with that.  I did go to the Mountain Hardwear store and tried out another hooded jacket with the same hood adjustment (the Hooded Compressor PL jacket), and that one seemed to work better.  So this may be an isolated incident, but let’s hope it’s not a sign of something more prominent.

Body Adjustment

Mountain Hardwear Alcove Jacket

The hem is adjusted by means of dual cinch cords.  Something I thought was interesting was that the cord wasn’t, in fact, at the very bottom of the hem.  It was actually about an inch higher.  Not a problem, but interesting, all the same.

The cuffs are adjustable with velcro and elastic.

Extras

Mountain Hardwear Alcove Jacket

The Alcove, intended for use as a belay parka, has plenty of synthetic insulation to keep the cold away.  It’s constructed with Primaloft Eco, which consists of 50% recycled polyester.  The chin abrasion guard is similar to that of most MHW apparel; a soft, “Micro-Chamois” fabric which feels nice against the skin.  The Alcove comes with a stuff sack and is quite compressible for a jacket of its size (see picture for comparison with 32-ounce Nalgene).  The ends of the sleeves have elastic and Velcro, which I find to be the best of both worlds.

Qualms

You are now entering the danger zone.  I actually found a fair amount of issues with the Alcove.  First of all, is the issue of fit.  Like another MHW insulated shell I’ve used (the Windstopper Insulated Jacket), the Alcove has fit issues as well.  I don’t have the full story here since I’m usually a medium and the one I’ve been using is a large, but bear with me.  I’ve got the same fit issues as the Windstopper Insulated jacket: a baggy lower torso, short sleeves, and a bit of snugness in the shoulders.  I normally don’t mind a bit of an athletic fit and I’ve got fairly broad shoulders, so that’s not a huge issue, but you see that if I were to go down a size to make the lower torso less baggy, that would, of course, make the shoulders even tighter and decrease the length of the sleeves even more.  Perhaps there’s a niche market for mountain climbers with narrow shoulders, short arms, and beer bellies, but somehow I doubt it.  It’s kind of a disturbing trend.  Let’s hope it doesn’t continue.  Note that I’ve only had these kinds of fit issues with these bigger, insulated shells, and not really with other garments made by Mountain Hardwear.

Another kind of weird issue that I’ve discovered is that although MHW states the Alcove uses a waterproof shell fabric, the seams aren’t sealed.  In fact, many of them seem to form a little valley where the stitching was done, almost inviting water to get in.  If, as MHW says, the fabric is indeed waterproof (and also features a new DWR supposedly five times as durable as conventional treatments), would it hurt to just finish the job?  Sure, it’s Primaloft, so it retains many of its properties even when wet, but they could go further, and ensure it retains *all* of its properties.  Or, they could just take a waterproof shell and put some down in there.  Down’s the best insulator when it’s dry, after all, and if the shell is waterproof, it’ll stay dry.  It’d be a lot lighter, too; I checked out the Nitrous Jacket, made by MHW, and it was very light but extremely warm; hot, even.

Speaking of lightweight, the Alcove is not a small jacket.  It weighs almost 35 ounces and has quite a bulky feel to it.  It almost feels like there’s too much fabric put into it.

Finally, there’s the issue of the hood adjustment, which was covered in the hood section, so I won’t reiterate that.

Warmth

On a scale of 1-10, where 1 is a long-sleeved T-shirt, and 10 an expedition-quality mountaineering suit, I’d give the Alcove a 7.  It is bulky, but it is definitely quite a warm shell.  MHW did not skimp in this area.

Waterproof?

Well, kind of.  According to the press release, the shell fabric is waterproof, and it has a new DWR that is supposedly five times more durable than conventional treatments, but if the fabric itself is waterproof, why not seal the seams?  That would ensure full waterproofness.  At any rate, with the above factors, the jacket will keep you dry for a very long time.

Conclusion

I suppose that in the end, providing samples for us to test is a good idea.  It lets us point out possible flaws before the products are received by the general public.  The Alcove is a good idea, but I think it needs some refining before its release this fall.  All the main things are there, but seam taping, a better fit, and improved hood adjusters would make this pretty good jacket a great jacket.

The Verdict: 7/10

#3 Mountain Hardwear Refugium Jacket

Waterproof:Water resistantWindproof:Wind resistant
Hood:NoAdjustable Hood:None
Cinch Cords:Dual HemInsulation:Synthetic
Cuffs:Velcro & ElasticPit Zips:Yes
Napoleon Pocket:NoHandwarmer Pockets:2
Sleeve Pockets:NoneZipper Type:Storm Flaps
Inner Pockets:1Seams:None
Weight:24 oz.Stowable:No
Chin Abrasion Guard:YesMSRP:$375

Overview

Mountain Hardwear Refugium Jacket

The Mountain Hardwear Refugium Jacket is an exceptional display of technology that anyone involved in snowsports or consistently cold weather would be proud to own.  Its built-in heating mechanism keeps you warm and toasty in the coldest environments.  But, despite its innovation and high quality, its high price tag may hinder its success in the mass market.

The Refugium jacket is pre-wired to be compatible with Ardica’s MOSHI power system (the battery pack).  The Refugium jacket will retail for an MSRP of $230 when it is released in the Fall of 2009.  Unfortunately, for the jacket to reach its full potential and radiate heat, you must separately purchase the Ardica MOSHI power system which will run an additional $145.  This bumps up to the total cost of the jacket to $375.  Really, who is going to buy the jacket and not the power system?  There is no official word from any retailers yet if the jacket will ever be sold bundled with the power system for a slight discount, but you can be sure that the two will always be found close to one another.

The Mountain Hardwear Refugium Jacket is a snowsports jacket that is synthetically insulated with Thermic Micro (100% polyester, 120gm) insulation.  The body is made up of 30D Micro Taffeta (100% nylon), and the lining is Embossed Matrix Taffeta (100% nylon).

Pockets and Zippers

Mountain Hardwear Refugium Jacket

The Refugium jacket has two zip, fleece-lined hand pockets.  They are in a good location for your hands and keep them nice and warm.  The pockets have storm flaps to cover the zippers.

The jacket also features two-way pit zips.  The zippers on these pit zips are normal.  They are not water-resistant.

Inside the jacket, there is one additional pocket on the left side.  It is placed directly behind the heating element.

Body Adjustment & Fit

The Refugium Jacket is adjustable via dual hem cinch cords.  The cinch cords hold well and provide a nice seal on the bottom.  It does not have any neck adjustment available.

The cuffs are adjustable with velcro and keep a stretched, tight fit with elastic.

Mountain Hardwear Refugium Jacket

I should note here that the Refugium Jacket was a bit short for me.  This could likely be fixed by offering tall sizes, which I am unsure of the availability.  When zipped up, the mid-neck area (just above your collar bone, where if pressed on would make it difficult to breath), is a bit tight.  The upper neck area is very loose.  I would prefer that the mid-neck area were looser and the top of the neck were adjustable.  This may be partly due to the fact that the battery pack is weighing down the jacket, pulling it into your neck slightly.  The same weight also makes the back of the jacket begin to drift down your back if you have it unzipped.

Ardica Powered Heat: Where the Magic Happens

Mountain Hardwear Refugium Jacket

The Ardica Moshi power system heats the Mountain Hardwear Refugium Jacket by plugging into three flexible coiled heating elements in the jacket.  The first heating element is located on the back, opposite the battery pack.  This tends to get a bit warmer than the others because it stays closer to your body, weighed down by the battery pack, and it gains additional heat from the battery drawing power and getting warm.  The other two heating elements are placed towards each side of the bottom front near your rib cage, on the inside of where the handwarmer pockets are located.

Ardica MOSHI Power System

Mountain Hardwear Refugium Jacket and Ardica MOSHI Power System

The Ardica MOSHI Power System is an array of six flat lithium-ion batteries joined together by a rubber-like foam shell (I believe a couple of the blocks on the pack are other electronics).  Weighing in around one pound, it slides into the back of the jacket and zips in.  It can deliver up to 8.6 hours of low heat or 3 hours of high heat.  It may also be used to provide approximately 20 mp3 player charges, 11 cell phone charges, or any combination of heat and power.  It is designed to be able to cycle 500 times.  A cycle is fully charging then discharging the battery.

Ardica MOSHI Power System

To start the power, simply press the button on the outside of the jacket.  One press gets you low heat, two medium, and three high.  To check the status of the battery, simply hold the button down for a second and the three LEDs will flash.  The LEDs are directed upwards so you can easily see them and will not typically be visible to others in front of you unless it is dark out, in which case it is pretty obvious you are glowing.  While wearing this jacket around I once got asked if I was a cyclops.  At the very least, you’re sure to get some weird looks as people wonder why your jacket is glowing or flashing.

The better fitting the jacket is, the more effective the heat.  It is best to have the heating elements flat against your body.  Low heat is nice for cool temperatures, while high heat will hit around 100-105 degrees Fahrenheit for those icy days.

In testing the Mountain Hardwear Refugium Jacket, the biggest flaw I encountered has to do with the Ardica MOSHI Power System.  Luckily, it is an easily fixable flaw that I am told has been fixed for retail.  The power system has two plugs: one plug that delivers power to charge the battery pack, turn on the heat, and charge devices, and another plug that connects to the heating system in the jacket to deliver heat.  Each of these plugs is not very secure and both came unplugged in normal wearing conditions during testing.  The power plug came loose only once, disabling all power features of the jacket, while the heating plug came loose or fully unplugged during almost every use while wearing the jacket with a backpack, but also very frequently in normal use.  Although it’s easy to push back in, it does require taking the jacket off and possibly unzipping the compartment.  However, as mentioned previously, I am happy to note that this has been fixed for retail.  I have been told that a “locking strap” has been added to the power system to prevent the cables from coming loose.  I was very happy to hear this because it would have been a deal-breaker.

As a side note, the reverse side of the battery pack states “Improper use may result in fire.”  A word to the wise: follow the instructions.

Ardica Device Charger

The Ardica device charger is an optional accessory available for use with the Ardica Moshi power system.  It is basically a small square battery with device plugs for iPods, and any mini USB or micro USB device.  The battery must be charged by plugging it into the jacket.  I tried to charge it via USB on my computer, but the casing on the battery did not allow the plug to fit (perhaps there is a reason for this).  The Ardica device charger holds approximately one half of a device charge.  You may leave the charger plugged into the Refugium jacket for a constant stream of power to your devices, or you may disconnect it for portable power.

Yes, believe it or not, this jacket has a USB port.  It’s where you can plug things in.  The cable is located inside the left handwarmer pocket but may be relocated to the inside pocket.

Mountain Hardwear Refugium Jacket

Overall, I did not have very good luck with the Ardica device charger.  Its plugs feel flimsy, and it couldn’t seem to make up its mind if it was charged or empty when disconnected from the jacket’s main power.  Sometimes, on a full charge (indicated by a green light), the charger lasted under 30 seconds charging a V3c Razr phone before indicating that it was low on power (a flashing orange light).  On the other hand, I did manage to get a full iPod charge on one occasion.  The plugs are also not very conveniently located.

Mountain Hardwear Refugium Jacket

The Ardica device charger will retail for $50.  My recommendation would be to spare yourself the $50 unless you absolutely need its functionality.  It’s slightly less convenient, but it’s nearly guaranteed that if you plug your device straight into the jacket’s USB port with the cable that came with the device that it will charge just fine.  However, it should be noted that plugging a Razr V3c phone straight into the jacket via USB cable during testing did not work.  The phone displayed a message indicating an unauthorized charger.  So if you have a picky device, the Ardica device charger may be the way to go.

In any case, you can always leave the device charger plugged into the jacket power to give you the additional connectivity and constant power.  This seemed to work fairly well.

Waterproof?

The Refugium Jacket is not waterproof.  Your initial reaction to an electrically heated jacket not being waterproof may result in thoughts of electric shock.  Yes, I suppose under some one-in-a-billion circumstances that this would somehow be possible.  However, it is more likely that the electronics would be fried and you would remain untouched.  The battery pack likely does not output enough current to do any serious damage anyway.

Although being shorted out is a possibility, I would say that it is highly unlikely.  Although not waterproof, I found the Refugium Jacket to be highly water-resistant.  This can be maintained by making sure the jacket keeps a nice DWR (water repellent) on its outsides.  In my observations, the jacket was able to resist a running faucet very well.  However, if you’re planning to expose this jacket to a lot of moisture, it is recommended that you use it as a liner by zipping it into a waterproof shell.  To do so, it features loopholes on each sleeve and the neck area to secure it, as well as a double-sided zipper on the right side to be easily zipped into any hard shell.

The rubber control button with LEDs on the front of the jacket appears to be well sealed to protect against moisture or precipitation.

Washing the Jacket

The jacket will be washable, but not dryable.  Of course, you will want to remove the battery pack prior to washing.

Closing Remarks

The Mountain Hardwear Refugium Jacket will hit retail this Fall in 2009.  It will retail for an MSRP of $375 (including the power system), and be available in Black, Otter, Ranger, or Sapphire colors.

The Mountain Hardwear Refugium Jacket is a strong product but may be hurt by its high price tag and minor fit issues.  But in all, it will likely be the strongest heated jacket available for Fall of 2009.

The Verdict: 8/10

#4 Mountain Hardwear announces Refugium and Radiance Ardica heated jackets

Mountain Hardwear Refugium Trifecta Jacket
Mountain Hardwear Radiance Trifecta Jacket

Mountain Hardwear has announced that for their Fall ’09 lineup, they will be releasing Men’s and Women’s Ardica heated jackets.  The jackets will feature multiple heat settings and be able to charge your USB-compatible devices with an additional charger add-on.  The jackets will be able to provide up to 8.6 hours of low heat, or up to 20 MP3 player or 11 cell phone charges.

The Men’s Refugium Trifecta jacket and Women’s Radiance Trifecta jacket are 3-in-1 systems combining a full-featured, waterproof/breathable snowsport shell with a Thermic Micro insulated liner jacket enabled with Ardica technology.  The liner jackets will be wearable under any shell, serving as a portable charger and heating device, or zipped into the Refugium and Radiance Trifecta jackets for an exceptionally warm and dry jacket combination.

Ardica Technology Features:

  • Ardica’s Moshi Power System, a 295-gram portable heat and power system (sold separately), can not only deliver heat while integrated within your outerwear, but it also supplies a power source to charge anything by a USB cable. Using the Ardica Technology Connector accessory, it can be converted to run or charge various consumer electronics requiring up to 10 watts of power (equivalent to 11 cell phone charges or 20 MP3 charges).    
  • Three lightweight, flexible, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are comfortably positioned on the fronts and the back of the jackets.
  • Three temperature settings can provide up to 8.6 hours of on-demand heat to suit the user’s needs.
  • Moshi System only takes two hours to fully recharge from an electrical outlet     (or 1.5 hours for a quick 80% capacity charge) with 500 charge cycles
  • One-year warranty on all Ardica products
  • The jackets and internal wiring come with Mountain Hardwear’s lifetime warranty.

#5 Mountain Hardwear Windstopper Insulated Jacket

Waterproof:NoWindproof:Yes
Hood:YesAdjustable Hood:One-Way
Cinch Cords:HemInsulation:Synthetic
Cuffs:VelcroPit Zips:Yes
Napoleon Pocket:YesHandwarmer Pockets:2
Sleeve Pockets:NoneZipper Type:Storm Flaps
Inner Pockets:1Seams:None
Weight:26.6 oz.Stowable:No
Chin Abrasion Guard:YesMSRP:$240

Overview

Mountain Hardwear Windstopper Insulated Jacket

I’ll admit, I’ve got a jacket obsession.  I like jackets.  And every once in a while, a jacket comes along that I really like.  I can say with confidence that the Windstopper Insulated Jacket is one of those.  It does almost everything right.  Of course, no jacket is perfect, and this one’s not an exception, but it comes darn close.

Pockets

Mountain Hardwear Windstopper Insulated Jacket

The Windstopper Insulated Jacket comes equipped with four pockets: two handwarmer pockets, one Napoleon pocket, and an inner security pocket.  The handwarmer pockets are roomy and they are lined with a really soft tricot, a nice refuge for the chilly digits.  The Napoleon pocket’s pretty standard; not too big, not too small.  The security pocket is larger than the Napoleon in terms of both volume and length of the zipper.

Zippers

Mountain Hardwear Windstopper Insulated Jacket

All the zippers, including those of the pit zips, are the reverse coil, which aids in water-resistance, although they are not coated, to make them “waterproof” (no zipper is truly waterproof, though), and all of them have good long cord pulls for ease of operation.  The handwarmer and Napoleon zippers all have zipper garages to go home to at night.  The main front zipper is protected on the exterior by a stiff storm flap, appointed with metal snaps at the top and bottom, and Velcro in the middle section.  From the interior, another smaller storm flap helps to ensure that all but the nastiest wind and water stay away from the wearer.

The Hood

Mountain Hardwear Windstopper Insulated Jacket

The hood’s excellent.  It’s Mountain Hardwear’s proprietary Ergo Hood, which uses just one adjustment at the back of the hood to control volume and visibility.  This is probably my favorite hood, out of all the hoods I’ve ever used on any jacket.  And by that, I mean the Ergo Hood on any of MHW’s jackets, not specifically this one.  There is what seems to me to be a little excess fabric in the front, which could perhaps mean a bit of a decrease in visibility, but if conditions dictate that I want to wear a hood, I want protection, dang it!  And this hood offers it in spades.  Additionally, it’s removable (which is accomplished by means of a zipper and two snaps on either side of the collar), so that’s convenient, even though I rarely use the feature.  And perhaps because it’s removable, the collar/hood area is constructed so that even though the front zipper is fully up, it’s easy to put on the hood; you don’t have to unzip a little bit, just to get the hood on, which is nice.  I’ve encountered multiple jackets where that wasn’t the case, and this provides a pleasant change.

Body Adjustment

Pretty simple: dual hem cinch cords, for convenient adjustment.

Extras

As mentioned in the specifications, the Windstopper Insulated jacket features (surprise!) insulation.  It’s called Thermic Micro, and it’s basically Primaloft.  Nice and soft, compressible, et cetera.  The inside of the jacket is lined with really smooth nylon, which is perfect for layering or just feeling really nice against the skin.  Two-way pit zips are incorporated into the jacket, with a storm flap on the exterior, and a narrower flap on the interior, to prevent contact of the skin against the reverse coil zippers, which could become irritating.  As was mentioned previously, MHW made the hood removable, so it would work well under a hard shell in really ugly conditions, or just act as a hoodless, windproof softshell.  And, a nice bonus is the shock cord neck adjustment, for merely unpleasant weather.

Qualms

You almost had me, Mountain Hardwear.  I thought the jacket was perfect.  And I’m probably starting to split hairs here, but if somebody made a perfect jacket, everybody else would be out of business.  So, as it turns out, I’ve found a “flaw”: the fit of the jacket’s a little off.  I’ve noticed that this is a “feature” of a few of MHW’s jackets.  They tend to run a bit small, at least for me.  I’m typically a medium (5’10”, 190 for reference), but two out of the three Mountain Hardwear jackets I own are larges.  I definitely favor a snugger fit, but in the case of the Windstopper Insulated jacket, the medium was a little too snug in the chest, a little too short in the torso, and a little too short in the sleeves.  Not necessarily a problem; conventional wisdom dictates that you simply move up a size.  And with the large, the sleeves and torso length are fine, but the torso as a whole feels a tiny bit baggy.  It’s not close to being a deal-breaker for me, and the clear advantage of having a little room is that you can layer underneath more easily, but it was something I noticed, all the same.  So, caveat emptor.  Try it on before you buy, if you can, or order from a site with a killer return policy, in case the fit’s a bit off.  And, while I’m at it, the only other thing that could be called a qualm is that with regard to the neck adjustment, it works fine, but the top of the neck isn’t covered in fleece, which creates a bit of a crinkly feel against the neck, when the cord’s cinched snugly.

Warmth

On a scale of 1-10, where 1 is a long-sleeved T-shirt, and 10 an expedition-quality mountaineering suit, I’d give the Mountain Hardwear Windstopper Insulated Jacket a 7.  Windstopper + insulation = very yes!

Waterproof?

No.  But, fish, it sure comes close.  Windstopper is excellent at repelling water, and the solid DWR and seamless shoulders enhance the jacket’s water-blocking properties.

Conclusion

Mountain Hardwear is swiftly becoming my favorite outerwear company, and this jacket provides excellent evidence supporting my position.  A bunch of excellent features, including the Windstopper membrane, removable hood, and pit zips make this jacket not only sweet in cold, windy weather but also make for good versatility in milder conditions.  Qualms like minor fit issues and a potentially annoying neck adjustment keep this shell from being fully awesome, but those qualms are definitely minor, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better jacket with all the features that are incorporated into this one.  This is about as good as it gets, folks.

The Verdict: 9/10

#6 Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man Fleece

Waterproof:NoWindproof:No
Hood:NoAdjustable Hood:None
Cinch Cords:NoneInsulation:None
Cuffs:ElasticPit Zips:No
Napoleon Pocket:NoHandwarmer Pockets:2
Sleeve Pockets:NoneZipper Type:None
Inner Pockets:NoneSeams:None
Weight:17.6 oz.Stowable:No
Chin Abrasion Guard:YesMSRP:$139

Overview

With the solid financial backing from Columbia Sportswear, Mountain Hardwear, a smaller, younger brand, has a lot of room to try out new and adventurous gear on the market.  I believe that the Monkey Man fleece is the result of this allowance.  A unique look and a bit of humor have conspired to create a warm, functional piece that is excellent for layering in nasty storms or wearing just by itself.

Pockets

The Monkey Man is fairly minimalist in this regard, featuring three pockets: one outer Napoleon pocket and two handwarmer pockets.  The Napoleon pocket is backed by the main body fabric, and covered from the front with Polartec Powerstretch.  The two handwarmer pockets are backed by tricot and covered with the main body fabric.  What’s interesting about the handwarmer pockets is that they’re huge.  They go all the way from near the hem of the fleece, up to the top of where the Napoleon pocket is; on a large, that comes out to roughly 16 inches of height!  It’s a bit puzzling because the pocket openings are not extraordinarily large, but I guess if you need to fit a lot in there, you’ve got the room.

Zippers

The main zipper is a simple YKK zipper, and it’s neither coated to be water-resistant nor does it have any storm flaps.  This is forgivable, as it’s not designed for extreme weather protection, and the lack of extras enables it to operate very smoothly and quickly.  The other three zippers, for the Napoleon and handwarmer pockets, are the reverse coil, increasing water resistance, although this does raise the question as to why the main zipper isn’t reverse coil.  They’re not quite as easy to operate as the main zipper, due to the nature of the reverse coil, but they’re not nearly as difficult as some other water-resistant zippers.  All the zippers are equipped with both long fabric and metal zipper pulls, allowing for easy access.   

Body Adjustment

There are no cinch cords at the hem to adjust fit, although the Monkey Man does have Powerstretch at the hem, which functions adequately. 

Extras

As was mentioned previously, the fleece utilizes Polartec Powerstretch, and it’s featured at several spots: the cuffs, the hem, panels on the sides near the pockets, and on the Napoleon pocket.  Before this fleece, I hadn’t really encountered much Powerstretch, and this stuff’s pretty awesome.  I believe the previous garments I’ve seen had versions of Polartec’s fabric which weren’t quite as soft or plush as is featured in the Monkey Man.  Powerstretch has a really soft, thick microfleece on the inside, and a smooth, polyester outside, which, incidentally, is also quite soft.  Additionally, the main body is constructed of Thermal Pro, which MHW calls “Monkey Phur.”  It’s also very soft and thick, which aids in thermal retention.  The Monkey Phur and Powerstretch combine to make a very soft fleece; sometimes, I have to remind myself to stop feeling it up in public.  MHW’s newest version is even softer.  The outer neck has a thin layer of polyester, to aid in wind resistance.  Finally, the chin abrasion guard kind of small, but it gets the job done; it’s made of the same fabric as the outer neck.

Qualms

Speaking of wind resistance, this is where the Monkey Man falters.  Walking home one day, I noticed that with just a T-shirt on, I could feel the chill readily on my upper arms.  A weird spot to notice wind chill, perhaps, but there’s quite a bit of fabric on the main body (in retrospect, that may be why the handwarmer pockets are so large: the extra layer of fabric on the inside increases wind resistance), and the lower arms of the fabric had bunched up a bit, increasing the wind resistance.  So, the fleece is definitely not windproof.  But I usually just throw on a windproof shell, and I’m good to go.  Now, with regard to sizing, I’m usually a medium (5’10”, 195, for reference).  Mountain Hardwear can be a bit iffy, though, in the sizing department, and this is true in the case of the Monkey Man.  I had to have a large.  Admittedly, it’s probably the best fitting jacket I own, but it should be mentioned, all the same.  The sleeves and hem are very slightly long, but that’s fine, because I hate short sleeves, and I like a little more coverage.  Water-resistance could be a little bit better, but it’s got a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish, and it’s a fleece; it’s not designed to repel rain and snow forever.

Warmth

On a scale of 1-10, where 1 is a long-sleeved T-shirt, and 10 an expedition-quality mountaineering suit, I’d rate the Monkey Man fleece a 6.  The thick Thermal Pro fabric is excellent for body heat retention, but low wind-resistance knocks it down a bit.

Waterproof?

No.  Although the thick fabric and DWR finish aid in keeping the wet stuff off, at its heart, the Monkey Man is fleece, and fleeces aren’t designed for full protection against wet weather.

Conclusion

The Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man fleece is a really fun jacket and a good midweight layering choice.  Its wind resistance is less than optimal (mainly on the arms), and it has some small sizing issues, but superb technical fabrics and excellent comfort add up to a good pick for warm layering in cold weather.

The Verdict: 8/10

Interested in this jacket?  You might also be interested in these other warm fleeces:

#7 Mountain Hardwear Crucial Jacket

Waterproof:YesWindproof:Yes
Hood:YesAdjustable Hood:Two-Way
Cinch Cords:HemInsulation:None
Cuffs:VelcroPit Zips:Yes
Napoleon Pocket:YesHandwarmer Pockets:2
Sleeve Pockets:NoneZipper Type:Water-Resistant
Inner Pockets:1Seams:Taped
Weight:19.5 oz.Stowable:No
Chin Abrasion Guard:YesMSRP:$275

Fabrics utilized: 100% Ripstop Nylon
Laminate: Gore-Tex PacLite Shell
Lining: Super Brushed Tricot

Overview

Mountain Hardwear Crucial Jacket

With the Mountain Hardwear Crucial jacket, you get what you pay for.  In this case, you’re getting a sturdy, fully waterproof and windproof hardshell jacket with an all-around great feel.  This isn’t your average jacket, however; the Crucial jacket is intended for alpine climbing or mountaineering, and this becomes apparent as soon as you pull the hood over your head.

Pockets

Mountain Hardwear Crucial Jacket

The Crucial contains two handwarmer pockets, one napoleon pocket, one large left inner pocket, and an inner mesh water bottle pocket on the right side.

The two handwarmer pockets are well-placed and feel comfortable resting your hands inside them.  The inner water bottle pocket is just the right size to snugly fit a Nalgene bottle.

Zippers

Mountain Hardwear Crucial Jacket

Each of the three outer pocket zippers, as well as the pit zip zippers, are welded and watertight.  We conducted our very own “TP Test” to verify the integrity of these watertight zippers.  This consisted of placing some toilet paper inside one of the outer pockets and putting the pocket directly under a bathtub faucet for about 10 seconds.  After shaking the jacket free of the remaining water and opening the pocket, the TP was found to be completely dry.

The main zipper is an average, yet sturdy, two-way zipper.  This main zipper is protected by dual opposite storm flaps that Velcro to one another in five one-inch spots along the length of the jacket as well as buttoning together on the top and bottom.

Hood

To call the hood on the Crucial jacket large might be an understatement.  If the hood is not cinched at all, you can easily pull it over your head and almost down to your chin.  It’s important to point out that this was intended; the hood is able to accommodate a helmet for climbing/mountaineering (it also accommodates a bicycle helmet).

If you’re using the hood without a helmet, even if you adjust it, it can be fairly uncomfortable if you don’t have anything underneath it (such as a hoodie sweatshirt).  If you leave it unadjusted, it’s enormous and easily falls forward limiting your line of sight.  If you adjust it a lot, the internal cinch cords are angled in such a way that they uncomfortably lay across your upper forehead and possibly your ears.

If you don’t need to hood, simply roll it up and Velcro it shut with the included Velcro strap.

Body Adjustment

The Mountain Hardwear Crucial jacket includes dual hem adjustment which is accomplished by cinch cords on either side of the jacket.  The cinch cords are effective in sealing out wind and water and hold tight.

The cuffs are adjustable via Velcro.

Extras

The Crucial jacket includes a Ripstop Nylon shell.  Ripstop Nylon is a type of fabric that resists ripping or tearing.  If a tear in the fabric does occur, it is meant to be stopped and prevented from additional tearing.  This is apparent by a small square woven pattern you can see at a close distance on the outside of the jacket (visible in the full-size version of the picture above; click to see).  Each small square of the fabric measures a distance of 3x5mm.  These close weaves are meant to hold rips that may occur to as small an area as possible.

To supply ventilation, the Crucial jacket has pit zips which are sealed by a two-way welded watertight zipper.  These pit zips are long; they measure in at about 20.5” long, providing plenty of venting capability.

Qualms

As previously mentioned, the hood on the Crucial jacket is great for its intended use; activities that involve a helmet, an afro, or something else that involves large things on your head needing to be covered by a hood.  However, if you’re just wearing the hood on your bare head it can be rather uncomfortable and/or huge to the point that it can pull down over your eyes.

As noted on one of the internal tags in the jacket, the fabric is not fire resistant and will melt or burn if exposed to extreme heat.  Although it won’t affect the rating we give this jacket, we’d find it particularly awesome if Mountain Hardwear produced the first lightweight water/wind/fireproof jacket.  I’m not quite sure what type of application this would have, but if you can think of one, let me know.

Warmth

Mountain Hardwear Crucial Jacket

Hardshell jackets are typically not meant to provide much warmth.  The Crucial jacket provides minimal warmth in three ways.  It keeps you dry, it keeps the wind out, and it features three internal “MicroClimate Zones”.  These brushed mesh MicroClimate Zones are placed on the back and shoulder areas.  They provide very little warmth but their main purpose is to manage moisture, something that the internal material does not do well.

Waterproof?

Absolutely.  From the main jacket to each and every pocket, the Crucial jacket should have no difficulties keeping you dry in the most extreme conditions.  This is made possible by its Gore-Tex laminate, taped seams, and watertight welded pockets.

Summary

The Mountain Hardwear Crucial jacket is an exceptional jacket at a price that may put a dent in your wallet.  For an MSRP of $275, you can rest assured that you’re definitely getting what you’re paying for.  However, if you’re just wearing this jacket outside every once in a while in the rain, there are certainly cheaper alternatives that are less feature-rich but also provide a lightweight waterproof shell.  On the other hand, if you’re an avid backpacker or climber that needs a reliable waterproof shell, the Mountain Hardwear Crucial jacket is something you can wear and get the feeling that you have a 19.5-ounce waterproof tank on you.  It’s sturdy, it’s reliable, it gets the job done well and it will last.  If you’ll put it to good use, you can’t go wrong with the Crucial jacket.

The Verdict: 8/10

#8 Mountain Hardwear Backstage Jacket

Waterproof:YesWindproof:Yes
Hood:NoAdjustable Hood:None
Cinch Cords:Hem & NeckInsulation:Fleece
Cuffs:ElasticPit Zips:No
Napoleon Pocket:YesHandwarmer Pockets:2
Sleeve Pockets:NoneZipper Type:Water-Resistant
Inner Pockets:2Seams:Taped
Weight:23.2 oz.Stowable:No
Chin Abrasion Guard:YesMSRP:$199

Overview

Mountain Hardwear Backstage Jacket

The Mountain Hardwear Backstage Jacket is a solid soft shell offering exceptional warmth, terrific water resistance, a great fit, and some extra perks.  It’s all-around a fantastic softshell but does, unfortunately, come with one noticeable drawback.  Regardless, this is the jacket that’s replaced the hooded sweatshirts I used to wear instead of a full-on jacket, even in the pouring rain.

Pockets

The Backstage Jacket comes fully loaded with five pockets.  On the outside, it features two handwarmer pockets and one reasonably large left chest pocket.  These outer pockets are all equipped with water-resistant zippers.

On the inside, the two pockets are both located on your left side.  The lowest pocket, near the bottom of the jacket, opens up the fleece lining for storage.

The second pocket, located in the upper chest area, is a separate compartment sewn on top of the fleece liner.  This pocket’s main functionality is for that of an MP3 player.  It features a headphone port in the upper left-hand corner of the pocket to feed your headphone cable up and out of the jacket.

It should also be noted that this pocket may not accommodate all MP3 players, based on their size and headphone port location.  However, to compensate for this, the pocket has a cable hole running to the outer chest pocket of the jacket.  I’m able to put my larger 3rd generation iPod in the outer pocket and run the headphone cable into the jacket and up to my ears with no fear of getting the iPod wet (thanks to the water-resistant zippers).

Zippers

As mentioned before, each of the three outer zippers is water-resistant.  They are harder to open and close due to how they work to seal out the weather.  However, they become a bit easier over time.

The main outer zipper is, quite frankly, one of the nicest I’ve ever used.  It’s so easy to zip up and down that, if you zip it up to its attached side (not connected to the other side of the jacket) you can let it free-fall back to the bottom.  Don’t worry though, when you zip it up normally it stays put.  This main outer zipper is protected by a slightly stiff storm flap to keep out wind and moisture.  You’ll also be glad to know that not only does the upper part of the zipper have a soft chin abrasion guard, but the same material runs all the way down the inside of the zipper.

The zippers for the remaining two inner pockets are what I’d call normal; trouble-free zipping with metal ends.

Body Adjustment

The neck is adjustable with one cinch cord, while the hem is adjustable with dual cinch cords.  I’m sorry to say that this is where the jacket falls short.  If much pressure is put on the cinch cords (such as movement with a tightly cinched hem), they slide through the cinches and give way, loosening the grip.  This is disappointing as it can make it difficult to keep the air-tight seal.  This failure is as simple as insufficient cord locks.

Extras

The Backstage has a couple tricks up its sleeve.  In fact, one-up each sleeve and one on the inside of the jacket.  At the end of each sleeve, on the inside of the jacket, there is a comfortable, stretchy cuff that helps to seal in the heat.  My only complaint here is that they’re not as tight as they could be (in the event you have smaller wrists).  Nonetheless, it makes for a comfortable fit.

Previously mentioned in greater detail, the Backstage sports an inner pocket with a cord hole to its outer chest pocket.  This makes it a breeze to fit any size MP3 player in one of the two pockets, making it possible to run a headphone cord up through the jacket.  In fact, given the size of the outer pocket, it may be possible to fit a full-on portable CD player in it, passing the cord through the inside of the jacket.

Qualms

Weak cinch cords that struggle to hold during movement.

Warmth

This is one warm softshell.  I made the mistake of wearing this jacket with a thin, long sleeve fleece underneath for an 8-minute walk in mid 30 degrees (F) weather.  To say the least, I was sweating upon finishing my brief walk.  The Backstage Jacket features a PimpChimp fleece liner that offers comfort out of this world.  It’s so soft that I almost want to wear it with nothing underneath!  It’s not your average fleece; it’s fairly shaggy and offers the physical motion of wicking away anybody moisture.

Waterproof?

Offering fully taped seams, Mountain Hardwear’s Conduit Soft Shell Membrane fabric, an excellent DWR and seamless shoulders, the Backstage Jacket gives the hardest rain or snow a run for its money.  Walking in the pouring down rain, I have confidence that I’ll remain completely dry (with the exception of my head), along with what’s in my inner and outer pockets.

Conclusion

All in all, you can’t go wrong with Backstage Jacket.  It’s a concrete softshell that offers great features and superb extras.  Disappointingly, it falls short in a seemingly simple area; not being able to hold a tight cinch around the hem or neck.  Although this downfall is not what you’d expect out of a jacket in this price range (or any jacket for that matter), it doesn’t affect the overall feel of the jacket too much.  I’ve only noticed the looser hem cinch in very windy conditions with a large updraft.  The neck cinch seems to hold fairly well, likely because there is less movement around the area.  With this flaw aside, the Backstage is a warm, dry, concrete jacket that’s become my first choice for wearing three seasons out of the year.

Bringing down the score a bit is the unforgivable flaw of weak cinch cords.  This shouldn’t have been something Mountain Hardwear was able to overlook.

The Verdict: 8/10

#9 Mountain Hardwear Aiguille Parka

Waterproof:YesWindproof:Yes
Hood:YesAdjustable Hood:Two-Way
Cinch Cords:Hem & WaistInsulation:None
Cuffs:VelcroPit Zips:Yes
Napoleon Pocket:NoHandwarmer Pockets:None
Sleeve Pockets:NoneZipper Type:None
Inner Pockets:NoneSeams:Taped
Weight:15.2 oz.Stowable:No
Chin Abrasion Guard:YesMSRP:$295

Fabric utilized: Gore-Tex XCR, Gore-Tex PacLite

Overview

Mountain Hardwear Aiguille Parka

I think that in the search for the perfect hardshell, there are three characteristics that take top priority (already assuming full waterproofness): durability, breathability, and lightweight.  Due to a problem with a previous jacket, I was given the opportunity to own a Gore-Tex jacket of my choosing (thank you, Gore!).  I decided on the Mountain Hardwear Aiguille Parka, which I now consider one of the best jackets I own.  It’s got durability (Gore-Tex XCR on the hood, shoulders, and upper arms).  It’s got breathability in spades (Gore-Tex PacLite for the main body of the shell, and good-sized pit zips).  And it’s definitely lightweight, weighing in at only 16 ounces, very impressive for a fully seam-taped hardshell with a lot of features.  It doesn’t get much better than this, folks.

Pockets

Probably due in part to the desire to keep weight low, the Aiguille doesn’t have a lot of pockets.  In fact, it’s only got two.  And they’re not handwarmer pockets, either.  The cut of them is such that they can be accessed while wearing a pack, but the zippers are placed close to the main zipper, so you’d have to cross your arms if you actually wanted to keep your hands there.

Zippers

Mountain Hardwear Aiguille Parka

All the zippers on the jacket are “waterproof;” that is, they’ve been coated with polyurethane to keep out the precipitation.  Of course, no jacket is truly waterproof; the best zippers are only water-resistant because bends in the fabric and other features could let a tiny bit of moisture in.  But for the vast majority of people, it’s not going to make a difference, and indeed, I’ve never had problems with water leaking in through the zipper.  The waterproofing is used for all the zippers:  the main zipper, the two storage pockets, and the pit zips.  Of course, this helps to reduce weight and bulk, because storm flaps are basically unnecessary.  However, in the interest of absolute waterproof integrity, the exterior main zipper has small exterior storm flaps, on either side and on the interior, there is a stiffer, wider storm flap.  All of the zippers have long, fabric zipper pulls attached to the metal zipper pulls to increase ease of use.

The Hood

The hood on the Aiguille Parka is one of the best hoods I’ve seen utilized in a hard shell.  It actually only has one point of adjustment, in the rear, and the cord circles around the head and right behind the brim, for simple volume adjustment.  But it works really well, even better than some two-way adjustable hoods (that is, adjustable from the rear, and also on either side of the hood’s front).

The brim is a really solid, laminated brim, and hardly flinches in the face of nasty, wind-driven rain.  When fully cinched down, the brim sits down kind of low, but it’s great for when things turn really ugly, which I definitely find preferable to too little hood.  Finally, the hood is stowable, into a flap of fabric that connects to the Velcro at the base of the hood’s exterior, for when it’s windy, but not raining or snowing.

Body Adjustment

The torso is adjustable at two spots on the parka: the hem, and the “waist.”  I say “waist,” because even though it’s called a parka, the hem hardly extends lower than a normal hardshell jacket.  So the waist is kind of high.  But the adjustment’s there if you want it, and aided by dual cinch-cord pulls.

Extras

The cuffs are pretty simple: rip-and-stick Velcro tabs.  I prefer elastic mated with Velcro, because it seems that less stress is placed on the fabric when putting one’s arms through the sleeves, but these work, all the same.

The pit zips are good-sized and can be accessed from either the sleeve or near the ribs because they’re two-way.  But they’re not the easiest to open, due to the water-resistant coating.  They can be a little unyielding at times.  But at least storm flaps don’t get in the way, getting airflow to the core as efficiently and quickly as possible.

Qualms

No jacket is perfect, and as much as I love this jacket, it does have its drawbacks.  There are only two pockets, and their openings, so close to the main zipper, are such that they don’t allow hands to really rest in them, except for those who like crossing their arms.   

Another issue is that of the pit zips.  They’re pretty long, and they can be opened from either end, but their water-resistant coating means that they can be difficult to open sometimes.  But I suppose this is to make sure that water won’t get in, and it cuts down on bulk. 

Warmth

On a scale of 1-10, where 1 is a long-sleeved T-shirt, and 10 an expedition-quality mountaineering suit, I’d rate the Aiguille Parka a 2.  It’s quite thin, and thermal retention is minimal, despite its windproof, although it can get a little warm if you’re going at a good clip. 

Waterproof?

Absolutely.  Gore-Tex is typically understood to be the standard for waterproof fabrics, and the full seam taping and seamless shoulders help ensure full waterproofness. 

Conclusion

The Mountain Hardwear Aiguille Parka is not exactly cheap; at nearly $300 retail, those piggy banks had better be large.  But it does almost everything right: durability, breathability, and lightweight.  There are only two pockets, and the pit zips can be difficult to open sometimes, but for those seeking a top-notch quality jacket that’s both lightweight and durable, this is it. 

The Verdict: 9/10