Various companies like to claim their hardshell is the "toughest" or designed for the "harshest conditions". By definition, these conflicting claims can't all be true, but in the case of the Mammut Nordwand Advanced, we think they're pretty credible. This jacket accepts being a little heavier, to exploit burly Gore-Tex Pro fabric in a design with a generous cut. The result is serious weather protection in a shell that fits well and offers excellent mobility. Our more energetic testers are also pleased that it features pit zips, whose advantages in terms of ventilation for an expedition jacket easily exceed the added weight.The truth is that most shoppers don't need the toughest hardshells. But for those planning extended trips to mountainous zones, the Nordwand Advanced wins a Top Pick Award as the best hardshell for the harshest conditions.
Mammut Nordwand Advanced Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Unrivaled weather protection, decent venting options, perfect fit
Cons: Expensive, not ultralight, mediocre breathability
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The trend towards designing gear to be "ultralight" has accelerated in recent years, often with drawbacks in terms of durability and versatility that have been largely ignored. The designers of the Mammut Nordwand Advanced refused to ignore these drawbacks. The result is a hardshell that is reasonably light but without compromising on its durability or versatility. If you pick one up, you might not be able to brag about being ultralight, but you also won't be suffering when the snow starts falling unexpectedly.
In previous years the Editors' Choice winning Arc'teryx Alpha FL received a perfect score in weather protection.
Mammut can take pride in knowing that its Nordwand Advanced jacket is the reason it no longer does. That's because the Nordwand sets a new standard in weather protection. Its Gore-Tex Pro membrane paired with 70-denier nylon face fabric is incredibly tough. Our testers were also thoroughly impressed with the durable water repellent (DWR) coating that was still beading water after months of regular use.
All of the zippers are water tight. The hood features three drawcords and a 3.5-inch brim to shelter you from any kind of precip. It also fits great with or without a helmet.
The adjustable wrist cuffs use a simple hook-and-loop design made with appropriate length and width to dependably stay closed regardless of your wrist diameter or layering. With this jacket, we found ourselves praying for storms just so we could delight in true weather protection perfection.
This jacket's exceptional storm protection comes with some drawbacks, and principal among them is weight. A size large weighed in on our scale at 16.0 oz. This isn't heavy enough to be disqualifying, but it's four ounces more than its lightest comparable competitors. In drier mountain ranges or during less committing outings, these lighter competitors are probably a better choice. For wet climates or legit expeditions, however, the Nordwand's performance benefits are worth the added mass.
Mobility and Fit
On an ordinary garment, fit is important for comfort and style; on a hardshell that fit also influences weather protection, and ultimately, safety.
This jacket is a favorite among our testers in terms of fit. The hem is low and stays tucked in to a harness as well as any jacket we tried. The sleeves, meanwhile, are long and stay securely in place, even with arms overhead.
When it comes to mobility, the Nordwand Advanced suffers from the same crinkly feel as all jackets made from Gore-Tex Pro. Despite this noisiness and a mild resistance to movement, our testers didn't feel any constrictive areas or discomfort while taking it through a wide array of movements. We also love how this jacket pulls all this off with being loose or baggy. Across a variety of activities and with an assortment of under layers, the Nordwand continually impressed, which is why it receives top marks for mobility and fit.
Venting and Breathability
In our stationary bike test, we found the Nordwand's Gore-Tex Pro fabric, which relies on solid-state diffusion, to be less breathable than air-permeable fabrics like Outdoor Research AscentShell or The North Face Futurelight.
This disadvantage, however, is negated to some extent by this jacket's inclusion of underarm vents and a two-way main zipper, which many other hardshells lack. When conditions permit you to use those features (i.e., when it's not precipitating heavily), the Nordwand Advanced sheds heat nearly as well as any jacket we tried. It might not be the best choice if you hope to keep charging in a rainstorm, but if you're willing to slow down a little when it's storming, you can keep the Nordwand on when it stops and speed right back up.
Features & Design
Unlike some other hardshells, this jacket hasn't sacrificed on features to save weight. As we've mentioned, it includes a pair of useful pit zips and three pockets.
These zippered pockets are positioned on the chest (two external, one internal) away from your shoulders and hips to avoid irritation from backpack straps or a harness waist belt.
This jacket features three drawcords on the hood and two on the waist to seal out the storm. All of these are easy to tighten and loosen, even with gloves on. Unlike a few other jackets designed for alpine climbing, the Nordwand doesn't feature a pocket or separate stuff sack for stowing and clipping it to your harness. We also don't like that the material on the chin isn't soft. Instead, it's the same material as the rest of the jacket, which can be a little hard on your chin and lips if you're forced to wear it fully zipped up for a long period of time.
The Nordwand loses an additional point because it's marked with a feature called "Mammut Connect." We are concerned that some shoppers might confuse this marking for a proprietary version of an avalanche rescue reflector, such as the Recco reflectors that are now included on many ski jackets and enable rescuers to locate buried victims from up to 200 meters away. Mammut Connect, in contrast, is a smartphone app and a marketing ploy to encourage you to share your adventures in Mammut apparel. Mammut is free to promote this app, but we wish they would do it in a more responsible way that couldn't be confused with a potentially life-saving Recco tag.
The Nordwand Advanced comes with an astronomical price that places it among the most expensive hardshells we've tested. For this price, however, you receive best-in-class weather protection paired with sensible venting options. Although it's not a screaming deal, we still think this performance is a decent value for those that need a serious jacket for serious weather.
As much as we might not want to admit it, most of us don't need the "toughest" outdoor gear. But for those that do, there is the Mammut Nordwand Advanced. It's 70-denier Gore-Tex Pro fabric provides real waterproofness in a shell that is also dependably durable. The exceptional fit will be most appreciated on extended trips, particularly among alpine climbers who are tired of having their jackets come untucked from their climbing harnesses. Finally, the Nordwand's pit zips offer a degree of versatility that is missing in some of its closest rivals. Taking all this into account, this jacket is overkill for most shoppers, but our Top Pick for the harshest conditions.
— Jack Cramer