Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $450
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale
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Most recent review: July 13, 2013
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