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Montane Mohawk Review

   

Hardshell Jackets

  • Currently 4.0/5
Overall avg rating 4.0 of 5 based on 5 reviews. Most recent review: July 18, 2013
Street Price:   $499 | Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Zippers are supposedly more watertight than most others.
Cons:  Hood is restrictive when worn over a helmet, small velcro closures are less sticky than other shells, chest pockets could be larger,
Best Uses:  High output alping and ice climbing.
User Rating:     
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 (4.0 of 5) based on 4 reviews
Recommendations:  100% of reviewers (3/3) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Montane
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ July 18, 2013  
Overview
The Montane Mohawk is one of four medium duty climbing-specific shells we tested. Compared to its competitors, the Rab Stretch Neo and Arc'teryx Alpha SV, it suffers from inferior features and increased price. Even so, the jacket performs well for a host of different applications.

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Intro
Of the twenty-one hardshells we tested four were medium duty climbing-specific with crossover chest pockets. These have a very similar set of features, weigh between 15.8 and 18.7 ounces, and utilize four different waterproof breathable technologies. These jackets are the Montane Mohawk (eVent), Rab Stretch Neo (Polartec NeoShell), Mountain Hardwear Victorio (Dry Q Elite) and Arc'teryx Alpha SV (Gore-Tex Pro Shell). All of them excel at alpine climbing and technical mountaineering; they're reasonably lightweight, sufficiently durable, have hoods that are designed to be worn over a helmet, and their crossover pocket design helps to keep the user balanced on technical terrain. This type of hardshell arguably offers the greatest performance for its weight, and, though designed for climbing, they can be used for anything. Below we discuss how the Mohawk compares to its three closest competitors and to the other seventeen shells tested.

Likes
The Mohawk is made of eVent, an air permeable ePTFE laminate that's arguably more breathable and allegedly less durable than Gore Pro Shell. Compared to the Alpha SV and Stretch Neo, the Mohawk's material could be better for high output activities. Being air permeable, eVent is arguably less warm than the others- heat and water vapor escape through the membrane. (Gore believes that a shell cannot be air permeable and windproof at the same time.)

The Mohawk has a comfortable and unrestricted fit. Its big and burly zippers are easy to open, and highly durable. The hood pull cords tighten easily with one hand, and it has strips of reflective material so you can be found easily at night.

Dislikes
Compared to the Rab Stretch Neo and Arc'teryx Alpha SV, the Mohawk suffers from inferior features. Namely, the hood is RESTRICTIVE when worn over a helmet with the zipper closed. This author found that his chin was pinched and he couldn't look to the sides without significant effort. (The Alpha SV's hood is super comfy in comparison.) The Mohawk's crossover pockets, though deep, are not wide enough. The Alpha SV's pockets are bellowed and thus have much more space. Finally, the Mohawk's velcro wrist closures are among the worst of the twenty shells tested. The hook tab is tiny and the loop tab is very thin, which means the closure is sticky. This problem is exacerbated in cold conditions when snow and ice freeze in the velcro, rendering it useless. More velcro please. And finally, the Mohawk does not have pit zippers, which is fine becuase it doesn't need them (eVent is sufficiently breathable), but pit zippers do increase user comfort because they provide more options for ventilation. Though we don't penalize the Mohawk for no having pit zips, in general, we prefer a jacket that does have them- and the Arc'teryx Alpha SV does and it weighs only 0.9 ounce more.

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Velcro comparison, top to bottom: Montane Mohawk (strip is too thin), Rab Stetch Neo (two little strips), and Arcteryx Alpha SV (the best of all 20 shells tested). More surface area helps the velcro stick when its frozen with ice and snow.
Credit: Outdoor Gear Lab
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Velcro hook comparison, left to right: Montane Mohawk (too small), Rab Stretch Neo (slightly larger), Arcteryx Alpha SV (super big and super grippy).
Credit: Outdoor Gear Lab

All in all, we the Arc'teryx Alpha SV offers increased performance in every category except membrane breathability. Generally available for $100 less, the Rab Stretch Neo offers more value than the Mohawk and costs nearly half as much as the Alpha SV.

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Medium duty climbing-specific shells, L to R: Montane Mohawk, Arcteryx Alpha SV, and Rab Stretch Neo. The Alpha SV is the most durable; is the only one with pit zips; has the best hood, zippers, and pockets; and weighs only 1 once more than the others!!
Credit: Outdoor Gear Lab

Chris McNamara and Max Neale

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: July 18, 2013
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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  • 5
 (4.0)

100% of 3 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (2)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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   Jan 29, 2013 - 05:52am
KouleKafe · Backpacker · London
The jacket is doing fine and is durable, so far. Velcro is fine, too (what matters is more how much there is to 'grip' and that's enough). - I want to see more Montane reviews. It's a popular brand in the UK, esp. for UL backpacking etc.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Jul 6, 2012 - 01:43pm
 
Max Neale · Other · Maine
I've posted my email response to Garrett's questions below. My text is bold.

Responding to your fist comment posted on the review (1. You condemn the Mohawk jacket to a low durability rating of 6 our of 10, but then state "but cannot comment on its durability relative to the other membranes (we haven't used it long enough)")

The text you quote refers to the durability of Polartex Neo Shell, not the Mohawk's eVent. "We found polartec NeoShell to be similarly breathable to Pro Shell, but cannot comment on its durability relative to the other membranes (we haven't used it long enough)." I can see how this is confusing so I'll delete the reference to NeoShell entirely.
  1. How did the Mohawk receive 2/5 stars while the Rab Jacket received 4/5 stars but the cumulative scoring between the two jackets only differed by one point? Is that simply due to the price of the Rab jacket?

This is an error. The 2 star rating was meant for the Mountain Hardwear Victorio, which is the lowest ranked jacket in this category. The Mohawk now has 3 stars- one less than the Rab Stretch Neo, which is due to that jacket's improved features and lower price.
  1. I understand that you have publishing deadlines, but the Mohawk was sent from here in Colorado on the 25th of June. Your review was published on July 1st. A first impression article I can certainly understand, but I have a difficult time understanding a full review after a such short time in use.

As I said in the text, this review based solely on my limited experience with the jacket. It missed the previous 9 months of testing that the other shells had. Normally we do "First Look" reviews for pieces like this, but we happen to have all 20 other shells to compare it to, and having studied hardshells for the past year I thought it was reasonable to do a more comprehensive review.
  1. Where did you get the information the eVent as less durable that Gore? Our eVent shells (along with many of our competitor's event shells) are consistently reviewed as some of the most durable shells on the market. I've just never heard that before, so you mentioning it in your review came as a bit of a surprise.

"allegedly less durable" We can't confirm this, as we've only been testing shells for a year. Membrane durability, in my opinion, should be tested over the long-term, i.e. 5 + years. There should be a reference to eVent's durability here: http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-gear/Insane-in-the-Membrane.html?page=all
  1. In terms of the hood, it does seem as if you have a size too small. To the best of my knowledge, Montane's jackets do not receive bad marks for their hood size.

The sizing is correct for me (we tested all men's mediums) and hood is definitely restrictive with a helmet. Three people tried on the Mohawk with a helmet (Petzl Meteor III) and confirmed that the hood is uncomfortable when the main zipper is closed.
  1. In terms of not having pit zips, this was a deliberate design decision because the eVent fabric is indeed so breathable. As other reviewers have noted about Montane's shells (namely Backpacking Light), the pit zips are entirely unnecessary for a shell that is this breathable.

I added this to the review "The Mohawk does not have pit zippers, which is fine becuase it doesn't need them (eVent is sufficiently breathable), but pit zippers do increase user comfort because they provide more options for ventilation. Though we don't penalize the Mohawk for no having pit zips, in general, we prefer a jacket that does have them- and the Arcteryx Alpha SV does and it weighs only 0.9 ounce more."
  1. And finally, in regards to the RIRI zips, I wish I had more time to shoot you some information about these zippers. These are fantastic Swiss made waterproof zips, and I'd love to tell you more about them.

They feel slightly better than the competition and having watertight chest pockets is great. I look forward to seeing how they hold up in the longterm .

And your comment about velcro: " Regarding the cuff, the Mohawk has been used and abused in Scottish Highlands as part of our rigorous testing for two winters now and have not heard that at all. Its a light and fast mountain shell. We think that your readers would find that the amount of Velcro on the Mohawk is certainly adequate. Not all users would necessarily subscribe to a "more is better" philosophy on velcro coverage."

When it comes to alpine climbing shells I think most climbers would agree that the stickier the velcro the better. Snow and ice clog all types of velcro so the longer it sticks the better. The Mohawk's velcro is just a tiny strip. Given its inherent limitations in cold conditions it seems illogical to skimp on velcro. If a shell is going to have velcro I believe that it's worth doing the velcro well- the increase in weight is worth it.
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Jul 4, 2012 - 05:11pm
 
Sport Hansa · Backpacker · Boulder Colorado
Sport Hansa is the US and Canada importer of Montane. Further to our message below regarding your methodology, we would like to add the following comments addressing the jacket itself:

It seems from your review (and as you have admitted) you have not used the shell much if at all. There is considerable deeply though-out material both on-line and with the garment that describe the use and philosophy of this shell adequately. We are not sure if you were able to review that material.

You have missed the point completely about the zips. These are Swiss made RIRI zips and are completely waterproof. Hold the YKK Aqua Guards up to the light as used on other similar pieces and you will see light pouring through the cracks. They are simply not truly waterproof. Therefore, one should think that the two huge pockets on front of Mohawk with RIRI zips on them effectively act like wearing two dry bags on your chest!

Regarding the cuff, the Mohawk has been used and abused in Scottish Highlands as part of our rigorous testing for two winters now and have not heard that at all. Its a light and fast mountain shell. We think that your readers would find that the amount of Velcro on the Mohawk is certainly adequate. Not all users would necessarily subscribe to a "more is better" philosophy on velcro coverage.

You seem to miss the point about stretch. The stretch panels across forearms and under arms gave great arm lift and movement when climbing, an important attribute of this shell.

We suspect that the jacket may not have been sized correctly on your tester hence comment about hood. The hood has carefully thought-out cinching and a wire peak for shaping around glasses and allowing excellent lateral line of sight.

We'd be interested to learn more about where you are basing the assertion that eVent is not very durable. Please do post any sources.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Jul 3, 2012 - 07:14pm
 
Sport Hansa · Backpacker · Boulder Colorado
As the importer of Montane for the USA and Canada we find your review quite hard to understand. Over the next days we will rebut your assertions individually, but the following facts in your review caught our eye immediately :
  1. You condemn the Mohawk jacket to a low durability rating of 6 our of 10, but then state "but cannot comment on its durability relative to the other membranes (we haven't used it long enough)".
  1. While you give the Mohawk a 2 out of 5 stars based on an overall score of 67, you award the Rab Stretch Neo as a Best buy and 4 out of 5 stars. But that Rab Stretch Neo received essentially the same overall score as the Montane Mohawk (68). Please explain your methodology.


Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Montane Mohawk
Credit: Montane
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