Mountain Hardwear Crucial Jacket



Waterproof: Yes Windproof: Yes
Hood: Yes Adjustable Hood: Two-Way
Cinch Cords: Hem Insulation: None
Cuffs: Velcro Pit Zips: Yes
Napoleon Pocket: Yes Handwarmer Pockets: 2
Sleeve Pockets: None Zipper Type: Water-Resistant
Inner Pockets: 1 Seams: Taped
Weight: 19.5 oz. Stowable: No
Chin Abrasion Guard: Yes MSRP: $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 hard shell 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.

Mountain Hardwear Crucial Jacket

Mountain Hardwear Crucial Jacket

Pockets

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

Mountain Hardwear Crucial Jacket

The two hand warmer 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.

Mountain Hardwear Crucial Jacket

Zippers

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 bath tub faucet for about 10 seconds.  After shaking the jacket free of 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.

Mountain Hardwear Crucial Jacket

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.

Mountain Hardwear Crucial Jacket

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.

Mountain Hardwear Crucial Jacket

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.

Mountain Hardwear Crucial Jacket

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

Hard shell 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.

Mountain Hardwear Crucial Jacket

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

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