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 Men's Typhoon Jacket: Resilient Repellent
Posted on: November 21, 2007
Weight: 15 ounces
For a review of the women's Typhoon, click here.
Washington's mountains experience a summer drought and a winter monsoon. Between these perfect conditions for climbing and skiing, spring and fall bring persistent storms that deposit large quantities of rain or wet snow during shoulder-season outings, leaving me no choice but to pack a hard shell. Generally, mild temperatures cause me to loathe wearing a rain jacket, as sweat inevitably builds up. I pull on my hard shell when I reach the point where I am getting wetter without it than I will be while sweating in it. Get stuck in rain or wet snow on a long climb with no waterproof layer and, as Canadian guide Scott Davis says, "the forecast calls for pain." That said, there are days where nothing less than waterproof will work. Despite marketing claims, no fabric is both adequately breathable and waterproof. I thus prefer my shell jacket to be light, compressible, totally waterproof, and able to be worn over a soft shell.
This summer and fall I carried Mountain Hardwear's Typhoon jacket up the north ridges of Forbidden Peak, Johannesberg Mountain, and Mt. Stuart. These routes necessitate light packs and deliver big consequences in wet weather. The 15-ounce Typhoon jacket features beautiful seams and components comparable to jackets twice its price. It is made of Gore-tex Paclite(TM) fabric, which is lightweight, compressible, and waterproof. The cuffs close tightly and securely with minimalist inspired laminated Velcro tabs. The hood fits well with or without a helmet and easily adjusts to give you an adequate field of vision. A simple and secure adjustment allows you to quickly snug the waist. The pockets are well placed and sized appropriately. All in all, Mountain Hardwear has contributed much thought to the design of each part of this jacket.
I also found the jacket quite durable after it stood up to several classic northwest bushwhacking sessions and rock routes. A conversation with a large guiding service that used the jacket in their rental programs confirmed my impression that the Typhoon is durable and will not fall apart quickly.
The one aspect of the design I remain neutral on is the zipper, which is heavier than zippers found on other lightweight shells. With the beefier zipper you do gain durability and ease of use, but it increases both weight and bulk in the hardware and flap needed to protect the non-waterproof zipper. Furthermore, despite the quality and durability of the Typhoon, the whole package ended up seeming overly heavy and a touch bulky. All the great features add up, and in the end this "lightweight" jacket is no longer lightweight and instead treads into bulky territory. The stowable hood, the engineered pockets, the pit zips, and an excess of logos and tags all contribute to drive the weight and bulk of the finished product up to a point where I am unlikely to take this on trips where space and weight matter. This feels harsh for such a well-made coat, but the jacket was noticeably larger than other choices when packing for recent climbs.
Pros: Good overall design; durable; very functional.
Cons: Bulky; excess of features result in more weight than necessary.