The Mountain Hardwear Stratus Full Zip is a lightweight fleece made for the rigors of the outdoors. Its heat-trapping grid pattern ensures it breathes well, wicks away moisture, and retains warmth. This piece makes an ideal garment for layering during heavy activity or as a standalone garment during intense hikes or climbs. The raglan sleeves, three-piece fitted hood, and thumbholes make this jacket a great highly functional piece to layer with or as a stand-alone performance garment while hiking, climbing, or getting out in the backcountry.Editor's Note: On August 26, 2022, we added the Stratus to our line up.
Mountain Hardwear Stratus Range Full Zip Review
Cons: Difficult to add many layers under, not as warm as other models
Manufacturer: Mountain Hardwear
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|Pros||High performance, solid fit, breathable, solid features||Breathable, lightweight, inexpensive, comfortable for athletics||Lightweight, easy to layer, breathable, drawstring hem||Inexpensive, cozy, great stand-alone jacket||Inexpensive, packs away easily, casual look for around-town use|
|Cons||Difficult to add many layers under, not as warm as other models||Average weather resistance||Lower warmth, no hood||Bulky and lacks breathability, hard to layer under tight layers||Poor warmth-to-weight ratio, bulky, not the best for layering|
|Bottom Line||Built for the athlete, this model provides warmth, as well as a highly functional piece||Highly featured and even higher performing, this cost-effective option provides a hard-to-beat value||This simple fleece is breathable and layers well, all for an excellent price||An inexpensive fleece jacket with a simple non-technical design and a bit of comfort||It's basic and heavier weight, but still maintains the creature comforts, and is soft and affordable|
|Rating Categories||Mountain Hardwear S...||Outdoor Research Vi...||Marmot Reactor 2.0||REI Co-op Groundbre...||Columbia Steens Mou...|
|Layering Ability (15%)|
|Weather resistance (10%)|
|Specs||Mountain Hardwear S...||Outdoor Research Vi...||Marmot Reactor 2.0||REI Co-op Groundbre...||Columbia Steens Mou...|
|Measured Weight||13.3 oz||13 oz||10.9 oz||11.6 oz||16.6 oz|
|Main Material||100% polyester||94% polyester, 6% spandex||100% polyester||100% polyester||100% polyester|
|# of Pockets||2||3||3||2||2|
|Unique Features||Raglan sleeves, thumb holes, three-piece fitted hood||Thumb holes, UPF 30, 3-panel hood with binding||Windflap with roll-over chin guard, flatlock seams||Stretch binding at waist and cuffs||None|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Mountain Hardwear Stratus Full Zip became our go-to jacket for climbing, evening hikes, and early morning runs because of its lightweight, well-fitted hood, numerous features, and excellent fit. It became a favorite for our testers while climbing next to the river on steep sport climbs and for throwing on while running in the Flatirons of Boulder, Colorado.
While other fleeces in this review are warmer, the Stratus Full Zip provides a good job of trapping heat while its users were active. This fleece wasn't the warmest piece we tested. If you're looking for a stand-alone fleece that can weather bitter cold, you might want to look elsewhere. The Stratus tends to be a bit light for days when you're stationary in the cold, but during high amounts of activity, it performs very well, providing consistent warmth and acting as a great insulating layer.
When the weather turned for the worse, our testers looked for a heavier fleece or needed to put on a hard shell for further warmth. The three-piece hood and the thumb loops kept our testers' heads warm and the sleeves in place.
The lightweight, soft grid pattern Stratus is quite comfortable on the skin. The three-piece hood fits extremely well. The textured fleece is hybridized, with a bit of stretch to it, making it move easily when under heavy activity. The fleece has a generally close fit which makes it great for moving.
Some of our testers find that these high-performance pieces have a tendency to be a bit restrictive in terms of fit but the Stratus allowed enough flexibility to move well. The jacket also has more of an athletic piece that doesn't feel bulky or baggy when another layer is needed.
This fleece performs well in this category. While trying to climb a difficult sport route next to the river at Button Rock in Lyons, Colorado, our tester stayed warm — without overheating. The grid fleece help regulate our temperature and allowed us to shed moisture when it became too hot.
A great feature of this jacket is the full-length zipper which allows for more ventilation when needed. If you're skiing or hiking uphill, the jacket can be fully opened without feeling like it will fall off.
For a full zippered hoodie, the Stratus layers exceptionally well. The chest pockets — as well as the two handwarmer pockets — stay well out of the way. The thumb loops keep the sleeves in place when putting on another garment and even the three-piece hood fits well under other layers.
The Stratus fits well under a harness and our testers were able to comfortably climb in it even with the usual annoyance of a zipper. The jacket stays down well and doesn't ride up, making it a great piece for stand-alone use or for layering. It's also a nice length to wear underneath a harness.
As with most fleeces, the Stratus did well in light rain and handled mist but when the clouds opened up, we found that needed to start running for shelter or put on a hardshell. This fleece did well when our tester wore it climbing technical rock terrain at 12,000 feet in Rocky Mountain National Park; it kept us fairly warm and dry until the afternoon thunderstorms really let loose. As with most fleeces, if the weather report calls for serious precipitation, it's best to bring a heavier shell.
The breathability of this jacket makes it less than ideal for weather resistance as does its thinness. However, the jacket did fine in comparison with the other models in the review.
The Stratus fell into the lightweight end of the scale for the fleeces we reviewed. Even with the hood and the full zip, the jacket achieved a reasonable weight. This comes in part from the thinness of the grid pattern fleece, which saved a bit of weight. The jacket offers a decent heaviness without being overwhelming.
Should You Buy the Mountain Hardwear Stratus Full Zip?
Considering its high performance, the Stratus comes at a decent price. Similar to the Patagonia R1 Full Zip but at a fraction of the cost, it offers a premium model with great features — without the high price tag. As one of the more technical pieces in the review, it performs exceptionally well.
What Other Fleece Jackets Should You Consider?
The Mountain Hardwear Stratus Full Zip is a high-performing fleece offered at a great value. This full zippered hoodie works well when you need something comfortable, breathable, and easy to layer over. While not the warmest or best option in a downpour, it's great for high-demand hiking, backcountry skiing, or climbing. The Outdoor Research Vigor is a similar jacket at a similar price.
— James Lucas
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