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Hands-on Gear Review
Mountain Hardwear Thermostatic Jacket - Women's Review
Cons: Fabric pills after limited use, absorbs water
A technical jacket that has cozy features and an attractive cut and design, the Mountain Hardwear Thermostatic Jacket really impressed us. We thought this thin, lightweight jacket performed well during big adventures and still looked great; it's the lightest of the jackets we tested - packing down to the size of a one-liter water bottle. Throughout the testing process, we closely compared the technical attributes of the Thermostatic with the Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket - Women's, Outdoor Research Cathode Hooded Jacket - Women's, and The North Face ThermoBall Jacket - Women's. We approached these four jackets as a subcategory of the review since they were the lightest and most compressible and we wanted to see how they stood up against each other.
This jacket hasn't changed too much over the years, but this year they added a fancy new carabiner loop! Feel free to clip take this jacket onto a harness for any alpine adventure.
RELATED: Our complete review of insulated jackets - women's
Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings
Two year ago, the Mountain Hardwear Thermostatic Jacket earned an award for its light weight and flattering features. With the introduction of many new contenders, it was dethroned - even though it's been the same jacket for two years. This product serves as a great technical workhorse jacket and has a burly zipper our testers loved. Additionally, it has a flattering feminine fit and a few critical features that significantly increased its comfy factor. This piece works well as a mid or outer layer whether you're running errands around town or belaying 400 feet up a wall. We just wish that it had a gear loop so that we could clip it to a harness or backpack.
Like the other pieces in this "subcategory" of insulated jackets, this product has 60 g/m2 of Thermal.Q Elite insulation. After performing a head-to-head test, during which our testers wore the jackets on a cold evening while camping, this product was not quite as warm as the Patagonia Nano Puff or the Rab Xenon X Hoodie - Women's. Instead it was on par with the Outdoor Research Cathode. Neither the Thermostatic nor the Nano Puff, however, were as warm as thicker jackets like the Arc'teryx Atom AR Hoody - Women's or Outdoor Research Uberlayer - Women's. Even though we tested a non-hooded version of the Thermostatic jacket, you may still be able to find the discontinued hooded version from select online retailers.
Compressibility & Weight
This was the most compressible and lightest weight jacket tested. Weighing it at of 9.7 ounces (medium), it compresses into one of its hand pockets and measures a little smaller than a one-liter Nalgene bottle. This is a perfect size for long missions when you need to go light.
This year, Mountain Hardwear changed things up and fulfilled our wishes! They added a hefty loop to the jacket, making it far more versatile and upping its scores in this category.
None of the quilted jackets that we reviewed, including this one, did shed water as well as the continuous shell jackets. Additionally, we were unimpressed by how much water it absorbed after standing underneath a showerhead for five minutes. We were shocked to learn that it absorbed the most water of all the jackets tested and took the longest to dry out. As a result, it was docked a few points in this category, as it wasn't nearly as water resistant and resistant to absorption.
In terms of wind resistance, this jacket performed on the same relatively low level as the other quilted jackets. The ripstop outer provides a great barrier for a little while, but with frigid, blowy conditions, this jacket is just not built to stand up to super cold and windy situations. Continuous shell coats like the Xenon X and the Arc'teryx Atom AR did a much better job.
Comfort & Coziness
This jacket works hard to outdo its competitors in this category. This piece features really nice fleece-lined hand pockets (but no chest pocket), as well as a fleece-lined chin guard and garaged zipper. It has comfy elastic cuffs and a drawcord at the hemline to seal in warmth; however, it's worth noting that these pull cords are a little bulkier than those on other jackets. This piece is definitely not as comfy as the plush Columbia Kaleidaslope II Jacket - Women's, but as a technical piece, it impressed us with its extra features.
Even though its wind resistance was sub-par, this jacket did not score highly in breathability. Like the ThermoBall and Nano Puff, the Thermostatic lacks breathable fabrics and insulation. If it featured softer, more breathable materials like the Patagonia Nano Air Hoody - Women's (Our Top Pick for Breathability) it would have scored higher in this category.
Style & Fit
We were pleasantly surprised at the flattering fit of the Mountain Hardwear Thermostatic. This jacket is cut slim enough that it looks feminine while still providing enough space to layer lightweight pieces underneath. Plus, its arms and torso were plenty long for even our longer limbed testers. Since 2013, Mountain Hardwear has not changed the style and kept the vertical zig zag design that we really loved.
Since it's lightweight and compressible, but still provides a good amount warmth, we would recommend this jacket for a wide variety of outdoor adventures, including hiking, backcountry skiing, alpine adventures, and rock climbing. It is also great for wearing out with friends or running errands around town.
At just $185 (cheaper than last year!), this is one of the least expensive insulated jackets we tested. It's a great value if you are looking for a lightweight jacket with plenty of features and an added stylish flair. But, if you're looking for piece that still compresses into its pocket (with a carabiner loop) and offers more warmth for a slightly higher price, check out The North Face ThermoBall.
One red flag that we did observe was that the fabric started pilling after just two weeks of use. That said, all the other components have remained intact and its burly large-tooth zipper makes us confident that zipper replacement won't be necessary for a very long time. Even if it was, Mountain Hardwear will replace your zippers free of charge - another plus for this piece.
We liked the Mountain Hardwear Thermostatic because of its light weight, compressibility, flattering style, and comfy features. If you're looking for a strictly technical piece, the Patagonia Nano Puff may be the way to go, but if you're seeking a little more balance, we think the Thermostatic is a good choice.
Thermostatic Hooded Jacket - Women's
— Amber King and Amanda Fenn
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: November 11, 2014
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