Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Comfortable fit, expandable, stretch chest pocket, chest pocket and pit zips are easy to open, offset main zipper avoids chin area, very breathable, compact, excellent stuff sack.
Cons: Sleeves and waist are on the shortside, pit zippers are unnecessary with Gore Active Shell, hood can be restricting when worn over helmet, non-adjustable cuffs and waist can let in cold air and can force you to take off gloves to get shell on/off,
Best Uses: Ice and alpine climbing.
The Mammut Felsturm Half Zip is the third lightest hardshell we tested. It uses Gore Active Shell and has a mix of excellent and poorly designed features that lead us to prefer other lightweight shells. The Felsturm, for example, runs a bit short in the arms and the torso, has pit zips (a feature that we believe is unnecessary on a Gore Active Shell jacket), and lacks a drawcord adjustment at the waist.
Our top rated, and lightest lightweight shell is the Arcteryx Alpha FL. This piece weighs a mere 10.7 ounces and has a full length zipper, larger chest pocket, and super comfy helmet compatible hood.
Stepping into the medium duty category, the 14.1 oz Patagonia Super Pluma is out top rated all-purpose hardshell with handwarmer pockets. Compared to the Quasar and Felsturm, the Super Pluma is more durable, more versatile, is built with Gore-Tex Pro Shell membrane (more durable), has a stronger face fabric, and two handwarmer pockets. Go for the Super Pluma if you want one shell for skiing, hiking, climbing, and everything else.
For the most durable and versatile piece of mountain climbing body armor choose the Arcteryx Alpha SV. This shell represents the ultimate in simplicity and function, and boasts a slew of well-refined climbing specific features. The Alpha SV is ideal for climbing mountains that cross multiple climates: start low by bushwhacking through dense, wet forests and finish up high on technical ice and snow. The Alpha SV is much more durable than the Alpha FL. Itís also more durable and has more room for layering than the Super Pluma.
For those on a budget we recommend the Rab Stretch Neo. Available for around $350 this jacket is nearly half the price of the Arcteryx Alpha SV, weighs nearly the same amount, and has nearly the same feature set. It's an excellent value.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Mammut Felsturm Half Zip is the third lightest hardshell we tested. It features Gore Active Shell and mixes some excellent features with some undesirable features.
The Felsturmís zipper is the best anorak zipper we tested because the zipper flows smoothly, has a large zipper pull thatís easy to grab with gloves on, and angles left of your chin. Itís significantly better than the Mountain Hardwear Quasarís zipper. The hood is reasonably good; it covers your chin more than most lightweight shells, adjusts well for having two drawcords (most hardshells have three), but we found that it can be restricting when worn over a helmet. Of our other top rated lightweight shells the Mountain Hardwear Quasar has a better hood for wearing underneath a helmet and the Arcteryx Alpha FLís hood is better for wearing over a helmet.
This author believes that the Felsturm's pit zippers are unnecessary on a jacket with Gore Active Shell. Their added ventilation can be beneficial in certain circumstances, but the majority of a jacket's venting happens with the front zipper. The Arcteryx Alpha FL uses the same materials and has an equally trim if not trimmer fit, yet we felt no need to vent the jacket more than half a zipper's length. Similarly, the Mountain Hardwear Quasar has a half-zip and no pit zips, and performs very well. The Felsturm would be lighter, and therefore better, if it didn't have pit zips.
Like all lightweight shells we tested, the Felsturm has a trim athletic fit. Unfortunately, we found the jacketís arms and body to be a bit on the short side; the sleeves left exposed skin at the wrists, and the bottom hem often rode up from underneath our harness. Furthermore, the jacket skips a drawcord adjustment at the wasist (it uses a lightweight elastic). As a result, wind and cold air enters the jacket. A simple and lightweight elastic drawcord would be better Ė the 9.5 oz. Mountain Hardwear Quasar and 4oz. Patagonia Houdini both have them. If you only use the Felsturm for it's ideal application (alpine climbing), however, your harness will seal the waist well.
The Felsturm's hit or miss features, and the fact that the shell weighs 20 percent more than the lightest tested, is why the Arcteryx Alpha FL and Mountain Hardwear Quasar scored higher. As for value, the Felsturm costs $50-$75 more than those top two rated lightweight shells.
— Max Neale
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: June 13, 2012
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