Mountain Hardwear Windstopper Insulated JacketPosted By Mark on Jun 20 '08
|Napoleon Pocket:||Yes||Handwarmer Pockets:||2|
|Sleeve Pockets:||None||Zipper Type:||Storm Flaps|
|Chin Abrasion Guard:||Yes||MSRP:||$240|
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.
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.
All the zippers, including those of the pit zips, are 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’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.
Pretty simple: dual hem cinch cords, for convenient adjustment.
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 a 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 soft shell. And, a nice bonus is the shock cord neck adjustment, for merely unpleasant weather.
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.
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!
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.
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