Mountain Hardwear Thermostatic Jacket
I received this jacket this spring thinking that it was going to be my summer belay jacket and emergency layer for customers in need of a little extra warmth. On first inspection it seemed like the other lightweight synthetic nano jackets I have previously had. This was a favourable comparison as I have always liked the others. On closer inspection the jacket actually looks a little better made with a higher stitch count and a nice Vislon main zip finished with very neatly embroidered branding. All in all it looked quality, but was it functional?
Seven months on, having put this use on many hill and crag days at work and two alpine trips, all I can say is yes. Emphatically yes!
First off, let's look at the warmth, after all that’s what its all about. MHW have used their own synthetic insulation in this jacket. The Thermal Q Elite uses dual thickness fibers to mimic down giving compressibility, loft and durability. It is warm to, in my unscientific testing at least as warm as the equivalent 'Primaloft One'. So warm in fact that I’m going to continue using this as a mid layer for skiing and climbing this winter.
On to the shell material and this is wonderfully light and soft to the touch and yet seems to hold up well in the face of squirming up (and sliding down) the darkest of Peak district classic chimneys.
The DWR performs well with the tight weave shrugging off short showers well not allowing the insulation to get wet. I have also found that when I have had a sharp soaking it does dry very fast and with no palpable loss in warmth. Something I like in comparison to a lightweight down jacket. However watch this space for Guy's review of the MHW hydrophobic down in a similar package.
In use the cut is good, I like the length in the body it stays tucked into a harness well. The hand warmer pockets are large however not accessible with my harness which is a shame. I think I would rather one Napoleon pocket rather than the two hand warmers Same thing happens with a rucksack waist belt and anything you have in the pockets has to be shuffled about to avoid it digging in. Packing the jacket into one pocket is easy - if anything it could be compressed smaller if you wanted. A benefit of this is that not compressing the jacket too much helps with the resilience of the loft. Another small thing, but I do like the collar, it is pleasingly snug about your neck without being constricting. Sizing is good to layer over light layers, you could probably get away with a smaller size if all you were going to have under it was a baselayer.
So in summary, this is a lightweight warmth booster, made from an excellent materials set. Lighter and in my opinion, better cut than the competition. This really is a very good jacket for UK 3 season cragging. Easy to clip on the back of your harness for the belay. I'm thinking it is going to be an excellent mid layer in my winter layering system.
The Best Bits
Very lightweight and compressible.
Weather resistant warmth, high weight to warmth ratio.
Smart and stylish, in an outdoorsy way!
Neil Warren is an instructor working with Pure Outdoor in the Peak District.