The Alpinist Mountain Standards reviews apply Alpinist's tradition of excellence and authenticity to gear reviews by providing unbiased, candid feedback and anecdotal commentary to equipment tested (hard) in the field. Our panel is comprised of climbers who use the gear every day as part of their work and play. Only the gear they would actually buy themselves, at retail price, qualifies for the Alpinist Mountain Standards award. The five-star rating system is as follows:
One Star = Piece of junk.
Two Stars = Has one or more significant flaws, with some redeeming qualities.
Three Stars = Average. This solid piece of gear is middle-of-the-road on the current market.
Four Stars = Better than most comparable gear on the market. It has one or two drawbacks, but still 90% positive.
Five Stars = Is there such thing as perfection? An Alpinist Mountain Standards award-winner.
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Cloudveil Zorro Jacket: A Masterpiece
Posted on: January 31, 2008
Weight: 14 ounces
When I was taking my ski exam in Europe, back in 1998, I was nicknamed "Zorro" by Bela Vadasz, one of the examiners. But truly, I did not feel like Zorro until I wore the Cloudveil Zorro jacket on many rainy days this summer and fall. In fact, I felt like grabbing my ice ax like a sword and making a "Z" in the snow more than once while wearing this piece, a great lightweight and windproof hard shell.
Versatile at just 14 ounces, the jacket is a "must bring" item that's easy to store on sunny days, breathable and always ready for pouring rain. It truly kept me dry. It was comfortable with a harness, with high-placed pockets that were easy to access when I was roped up and was wearing a pack.
It has a handsome cut, a clever way to hide the hood, large mesh pockets big enough for plenty of food and a Nalgene bottle on either side in the inside. This jacket is a well-thought-out masterpiece.
The Zorro is excellent for alpine climbs in summer, trekking in rainy places like Patagonia or Alaska or for drier weather when there's some snow. It's a great replacement for heavier and more expensive GoreTex-type jackets because it is a hard shell, but it's fully breathable, has pit zips and goes perfectly over a soft shell layer, if needed.
The only thing I didn't like is that the cut is a bit short. Sometimes it came out too easily from my harness when I had it tucked in. It's not quite as long as similar jackets I've used. Obviously this shorter cut makes it lighter, and possibly more fashionable, but when the cold gets in under the jacket, I wish it were a couple inches longer.
Pros: Lightweight; breathable; waterproof; comfortable with gear over it; good pocket size and placement; reasonably priced.
Cons: Cut may be a bit short for most.
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