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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Mountain Hardwear Typhoon Jacket: No Water, No Weight
Posted on: September 12, 2007
Weight: 13 ounces or 371 grams (women's large)
The search for the perfect multi-season jacket is exasperating—it has to perform well in various temperatures and conditions yet pack well, weigh nothing and (most importantly) look good. So you can imagine my excitement when I found a lightweight, durable shell that lived up to all my expectations. I found Mountain Hardwear's Women's Typhoon Jacket to be the perfect merger of fashion, function, and price. Weighing in at thirteen ounces and sporting a reasonable retail price of $199, its design and color options add a sense of style that rounds out this performance garment.
I tested the Women's Typhoon as an all-around summer piece, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well it functioned in a large temperature range. The morning of the Coeur d'Alene Ironman, there was a nasty wind combined with temperatures in the low 50s. It was crucial to keep cold air off of my skin, and the Typhoon was instrumental in helping me stay warm (and therefore relaxed) before the race began. After the event, the evening brought cooler temperatures, which I again combated with the lightweight Typhoon. After this experience, I know the Typhoon also will perform well in the spring and fall.
Back home in Jackson, WY, day-hiking on Snow King Resort and taking longer backpacking trips are regular rituals. Needless to say, the Typhoon found its way to the top of the mountains in all sorts of conditions. Occasionally, because of the varied and unpredictable Wyoming weather, I'd experience a full spectrum of the elements in the same outing. This made the Typhoon a staple in my pack. It contended well with rain and hail, as the rollaway hood (with a Velcro closure) was easy to maneuver when storms rushed in unexpectedly. The hood is roomy enough to fit easily over a climbing helmet. And if you're not wearing a helmet, an easy-to-use, single-pull hood adjustment system forms the hood around your head, allowing little, if any, rain or wind to penetrate. Additionally, it did not render any sort of burden when the sun came out—the pit zips and mesh front pockets were well designed, providing excellent ventilation for sweaty days.
Other elements of the design could be improved, however. I'm a pocket person—I like to zip tidbits into my outer layer when active—and I found the storage areas on the Typhoon to be small for my liking. Also, Mountain Hardwear has placed the cinching cords at the sides of the coat, where they're more difficult to reach than if placed in front.
When the weather was warm and dry and I had no need for a jacket, the Typhoon packed down considerably well, occupying hardly any space in my pack and adding no noticeable weight. While backpacking in the Gros Ventre wilderness, a torrential downpour put this jacket to the true test. In the thick of the storm, water did not completely saturate the jacket. Instead, the raindrops beaded on the outer layer, which quickly shed the precipitation. I did find that heavy rain caused the cuffs to soak up with water fairly quickly. Although the wetness did not spread up the arms, like I've found on other outerwear, it was annoying enough that I rolled up the cuffs. However, I maintain that the thinness and lightness of the Typhoon make up for this drawback. And when the heavy rains continued to pound the jacket relentlessly, I was pleased to find it was truly breathable and waterproof, and it didn't stick to my skin or other layers. This is the best lightweight jacket I've owned. It deserves five stars.
Pros: Gore-Tex Paclite is truly durable, lightweight, waterproof and breathable; packs small; relatively inexpensive; stylish.
Cons: Pockets are small; drawcords are oriented on the sides; cuffs soaked up with water in heavy rain.