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Mountain Hardwear Alchemy Review

   

Softshell Jackets - Men's

  • Currently 3.6/5
Overall avg rating 3.6 of 5 based on 3 reviews. Most recent review: March 13, 2013
Street Price:   $200
Pros:  Warm, highly weatherproof, good zipper, functional pockets, many features.
Cons:  Bulky cuffs, ugly chest pocket, not breathable, no stretch.
Best Uses:  Alpine skiing, rock climbing.
User Rating:     
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 (4.5 of 5) based on 2 reviews
Recommendations:  100% of reviewers (2/2) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Mountain Hardwear
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ March 13, 2013  
Overview
The Mountain Hardwear Alchemy has been discontinued because Mountain Hardwear dropped thier contract with W.L. Gore Associates, which makes Windstopper and Gore-Tex membranes. See our full Softshell Jacket Review to compare all of the models that we've tested and are currently available. In case you stumble upon an Alchemy for sale somewhere we've left our original review, which was written in March of 2011, intact for your viewing pleasure. (Note that because we've tested numerous newer jackets and have expanded our comparison many of the comments and comparisons below are no longer accurate.)

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Likes
The Mountain Hardwear Alchemy is the burliest non-hooded softshell weve reviewed. It is well equipped with features that add performance: the cuffs have a fleece lining that seals out cold air and a pull cord does the same for the collar (this is only jacket with this feature). The Alchemy is made of two-way stretch Gore Windstopper with a warm fleece lining. This is the warmest non-hooded softshell and the third warmest overall.

The Alchemy jacket is best suited to dry cold weather activities where theres no need for a hood. We like it for spring skiing and multi-pitch rock climbing but we prefer a light fleece and windshirt.

The fit is slim and true to its size. Theres sufficient space for a base layer and thin fleece, but little else.

Dislikes
The Alchemy is well featured, but almost too much so. The non-adjustable cuffs have a thick flap of fleece inside. This is designed to seal out cold air, but it is bulky and rather tight. Large warm gloves fit well over the sleeves but the bulky fleece makes it difficult to tuck thin liner gloves underneath. We believe the jacket would be better without the bulky fleece lining at the cuffs.

Another drawback is the ugly chest pocket. Numerous testers agreed that the pocket was obnoxious to look at and left the front of the jacket visually unbalanced. The pockets welded construction (no sewn seams) creates thick dark borders around a light grey center. Its perfectly functional but unpleasant to the eyes.
More importantly, the Alchemy is heavy, warm, completely windproof, and very durable. This is good for some occasions (like climbing a heinous offwidth 1000 feet off the ground), but bad for most others. The jacket is not very breathable, which also limits its uses. We think youre better off with a lightweight fleece and windbreaker or a lightweight synthetic jacket.

Best Application
Alpine skiing.

Value
Poor.

Chris McNamara and Max Neale

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: March 13, 2013
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (4.5)

100% of 2 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
3 Total Ratings
5 star: 33%  (1)
4 star: 33%  (1)
3 star: 33%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 2 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
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   Dec 3, 2012 - 09:40pm
edwardm · Mountain Biker · mass
this jacket does what its supposed to. nice and warm and keeps the wind out. I'd say the fit is decent. it's a little short and bulky in the chest. No pitzips to regulate heat. I typically wear this when It's really cold and windy… but sunny. As a disclaimer, I am affiliated with Gore for product testing of Gore-tex products for the purpose of product review and recommendation. I do receive items from Gore for these purposes.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Nov 20, 2012 - 09:28pm
coloradonate · Minneapolis, MN
As a member of Gore MountainTechs, I have the opportunity to field test GORE-TEX gear in some of the harshest conditions…this jacket has not disappointed! First and foremost, the important part: it performs excellent in even strong wind, which retains core warmth in very cold conditions. I have worn it as my only jacket in temps of single digits and stayed warm (albeit while staying active). It is not a parka by any means, but works great as a solo jacket if working out aerobically, or works as a mid-layer in the brutal cold. Breathability is excellent, but it does not have pit zips for those extreme aerobic times. Regarding fit, it has a perfect sleeve length and torso length for me, and I usually require tall sizes to avoid the dreaded short-sleeve. The cuff fits tight, which is great for me, but could be a hindrance if you have large wrists. Pockets are well placed for casual wear, not as good if wearing a pack. I'm pretty slim, and there's a bit of extra room in the chest which creates some very slight baginess, but it's minor in the grand scheme of things. After years of consistent use, it has literally zero signs of wear and has held up great. Overall I would highly recommend this jacket!

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Mountain Hardwear Alchemy
Credit: Mountain Hardwear
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