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.
While the Nordwand Advanced is our favorite jacket for the harshest conditions, it's also our favorite for when the sun comes out and makes ice climbing a drippy, wet endeavor.
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.
Our testers are extremely impressed with DWR finish on this jacket.
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.
At 16.0 oz for a size large, the Nordwand Advanced is not exactly ultralight. Nevertheless, we believe its additional features and durability are worth a few extra ounces.
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.
It's great to find a hardshell like the Nordwand with sleeves that don't shorten and a hem that doesn't rise in a variety of positions.
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.
Although the Nordwand's Gore-Tex Pro fabric isn't particularly breathable, it has a two-way zipper and underarm vents to give you possibilities for venting excess heat.
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.
This jacket's adjustable cuffs are simple hook-and-loop designs. They stay closed and seal out weather effectively.
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.
The hood closes with a trio of drawcords -- one in the back and two in the front. Our favorite aspect of its design is a big, 3.5-inch brim that ensures precip doesn't run into the collar.
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.
For comfort and accessibility, the chest pockets on the Nordwand Advanced are positioned above a waist belt on a backpack or harness.
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.
We think the three curved lines in the Mammut Connect logo are irresponsibly similar to the Recco logo. Mammut Connect is NOT a rescue reflector system, it's a social media marketing app.
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.
Our testers were equally impressed with the water and wind protection of the Nordwand Advanced, seen here meeting the challenge of a Lake Michigan squall.
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.