Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $100 - $155 | Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros: Light, simple
Cons: Not packable, sticky pit-zip zippers
Best Uses: Backpacking, anytime you need a lightweight rain jacket
Simplicity is the name of the game with the Epic Jacket. An all-in-all middle of the road performer that is fairly lightweight, the Mountain Hardwear Epic Jacket is missing some key features.
The drawbacks to the jacket are that it can't pack down into one of its own pockets and that some of the zippers are sticky (expecially on the pit-zips). If you are looking for a light rain shell but don't want to shell out for the Patagonia Rain Shadow, this is a great jacket for you. Generally, however, we would recommended the similarly priced, slightly heavier Patagonia Torrentshell that has the bonus of being packed into one of its own pockets for maximum portability. To save a little coin but to still get top performance, the Marmot PreCip is your best option, and for the most comfortable, featured, but heavy rain jacket we tested there's the Marmot Oracle.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Similar in features and weight to the Patagonia Rain Shadow, this is a middle-of-the-road jacket. It has medium weight, great waterproofing, but can't stuff into its own pocket. It works well as an every day rain shell.
With 10,000 mm in water resistance, we found that the jacket was pretty darn waterproof. Mountain Hardwear's Dry.Q Core laminate is effective, all the seams are fully taped and all the zippers have storm flaps or a waterproof coating.
Mountain Hardwear's Epic Jacket has two mesh-lined pockets that can be left open in addition to the pit-zips to help with breathability. While the jacket isn't very breathable with the vents all closed, once we opened the pit-zips and the pockets there was a marked increase in air circulation with little loss of weather protection. The pockets are rather small, however, and didn't add as much ventilation as the large front pockets on the Marmot Precip and Marmot Oracle.
Comfort & Mobility
We enjoy the simple design of the Epic Jacket. No Frills, just function. The jacket fits well, even with a layer or two underneath, and is generally comfortable and good looking. Testers' range of motion was generally uninhibited and the jacket kept mid-sections covered in reachy situations.
The hood is comfortable and easy to adjust, as it has just a single cinch on the backside of the hood. The cinches along the waistline are easy to operate and the cuffs are adjusted with a simple Velcro strap.
The main front pockets are mesh lined to help with breathability and warmth, though they are small. There's also a little waterproof pocket on the chest for stashing your belongings safely.
While the zippers on the pit-zips have a waterproof coating that does a good job keeping the water out, the coating also makes the zippers really sticky; almost impossible to work with one hand. Generally testers preferred a zipper that can be quickly operated with one hand, especially on the pit-zips.
Weight & Bulk
The Epic weighs 12 ounces, which is pretty middle of the road compared to other shells, though leaning towards the lightweight end of the spectrum. For a very minimal and lightweight rain shell, check out the Outdoor Research Helium 2 - Men's. Or for a jacket of similar weight but better and more comfortable features, try the Marmot Aegis.
The biggest drawback to this jacket is that it can't pack inside itself. We aren't sure why two of the lightest jackets we tested (this and the Patagonia Rain Shadow) don't pack into one of their own pockets, but we feel that it is a major design flaw. It is impossible to clip the jacket onto your harness or the outside of your pack, resigning it to being packed inside the pack (not as easy to get to) and requiring that you carry a pack (sometimes when climbing you may not want a pack with you).
This is an excellent shell for any activity in wet or rainy conditions,backpacking, or around town use. It can also cross over as a shell for skiing or other winter activities, but will require layers underneath.
At $120 this is right in the middle in terms of price. It is $60 less than the similar Patagonia Rain Shadow. Saving $10 while only adding half an ounce seems like a good idea.
The Mountain Hardwear Epic Jacket - Women's jacket has been discontinued, but if you're looking for a women's rain jacket, check out the Mountain Hardwear Plasmic - Women's, $140.
This is a decently priced, average performing, fairly lightweight rain shell.
— Robert Beno and McKenzie Long
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: December 2, 2013
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