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Mountain Equipment Lhotse Review

This purpose-built jacket is the best option for winter ice and mixed climbing, but it lacks the versatility to be useful for much else
mountain equipment lhotse hardshell jacket review
Rappelling in the Mountain Equipment Lhotse.
Credit: Sam Willits
Price:  $699 List
Manufacturer:   Mountain Equipment
By Jeff Dobronyi ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 11, 2023
73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 11
  • Weather Protection - 30% 10.0
  • Weight - 20% 5.0
  • Mobility and Fit - 20% 7.0
  • Venting and Breathability - 20% 6.0
  • Features and Design - 10% 7.0

Our Verdict

The Mountain Equipment Lhotse is a fully waterproof hardshell that excels in the vertical environment, emerging as an excellent choice for technical winter climbing and mountaineering. The shell fabric is sturdy, stiff, and completely waterproof. Taped seams, waterproof zippers, and a full-coverage adjustable hood complete the weather-resistant package. There are three external zippered pockets, as well as other useful features for alpinists. The fit is perfectly cut for swinging ice tools above your head without any restricted motion. The shell is on the heavier side and doesn't have the best breathability, so it's not our top choice for more aerobic activities. But when the snow, wind, and rain threaten your day in the alpine, this jacket will help get you up the route.
REASONS TO BUY
Perfect fit for climbing
Good features
Durable
REASONS TO AVOID
Expensive
Not versatile
Heavy
Not breathable

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $699 List$649 List
$649.00 at Backcountry
$625.00 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$519 List
$519.00 at Backcountry
$399 List
$399.00 at Backcountry
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Perfect fit for climbing, good features, durableExcellent weather protection, great fit and coverage, good ventilationUnrivaled weather protection, great fit, durable, vents wellSturdy weather protection, supple fabric, lightweight, breathableInexpensive, protective, versatile, lots of pockets
Cons Expensive, not versatile, heavy, not breathableVery expensive, a bit heavy, style not for everyoneExpensive, light on pocketsShort on pockets, slim fitHeavy, boxy fit, vents could be longer, stiff fabric
Bottom Line This purpose-built jacket is the best option for winter ice and mixed climbing, but it lacks the versatility to be useful for much elseThis super-protective and well-fitting hardshell is versatile for any winter activityOur favorite hardshell for serious adventures, this jacket is protective, durable, and relatively lightweightA lightweight shell that boasts great weather protection but without the bells and whistles of other jacketsA protective and durable hard shell jacket at a great price, but with a boxy fit
Rating Categories Mountain Equipment... Norrona Trollveggen... Mammut Nordwand Adv... Norrona Falketind G... Patagonia Triolet
Weather Protection (30%)
10.0
10.0
10.0
8.0
9.0
Weight (20%)
5.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
3.0
Mobility and Fit (20%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
Venting and Breathability (20%)
6.0
7.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
Features and Design (10%)
7.0
7.0
6.0
5.0
8.0
Specs Mountain Equipment... Norrona Trollveggen... Mammut Nordwand Adv... Norrona Falketind G... Patagonia Triolet
Pit Zips Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Measured Weight (size large) 17.6 oz 16.8 oz 16.0 oz 14.1 oz 19.8 oz
Material 40D Gore-Tex Pro with 80D reinforcements on the shoulder and arm 100% recycled 40D Gore-Tex Pro with 160D reinforcements on shoulder, forearm, and hood 100% Polyamide 30D Gore-Tex Pro 30D Gore-Tex with C-Knit backer 100% recycled polyester 75D Gore-Tex
Pockets 2 high hand, 1 chest, 1 internal zippered 2 front, 1 internal zippereed chest, 1 zippered electronics pocket inside front chest pocket 2 front, 1 internal zippered chest 2 hand, 1 internal zippered 2 chest, 2 hand, 1 internal mesh
Helmet Compatible Hood Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hood Draw Cords 3 1 3 1 3
Adjustable Cuffs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Two-Way Front Zipper Yes Yes Yes No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

With as much weather resistance as the best hardshells on the market and a climbing-specific fit, this jacket is a niche piece for technical endeavors. It's too heavy, stiff, and slim-fitting for everyday use in the city or on hiking trails.

Performance Comparison


mountain equipment lhotse hardshell jacket review - the mountain equipment lhotse jacket offers plenty of weather...
The Mountain Equipment Lhotse Jacket offers plenty of weather resistance for rainy hikes.
Credit: Sam Willits

Weather Protection


The Mountain Equipment Lhotse offers some of the best weather resistance on the market. It uses a Gore-Tex membrane to keep water out, all seams are taped, and the zippers are completely waterproof. Water never got inside this jacket during our testing, and wind is completely blocked as well.


mountain equipment lhotse hardshell jacket review - the mountain equipment lhotse's 40 and 80-denier gore-tex pro face...
The Mountain Equipment Lhotse's 40 and 80-denier Gore-Tex Pro face fabric is treated with a DWR finish that beads water well into the jacket's lifespan.
Credit: Sam Willits

The hood fits easily over climbing helmets or bare heads. There is a very stiff brim, which sheds water easily and provides some support for the front of the hood, but this brim is stiff and uncomfortable in non-technical terrain and around town, making it less versatile for other activities besides alpine climbing. There is a drawstring on the rear of the hood and one on each side.

mountain equipment lhotse hardshell jacket review - the hood easily fits a helmeted head and cinches down with three...
The hood easily fits a helmeted head and cinches down with three pull cords.
Credit: Sam Willits

Weight


At 17.6 ounces (500 grams) in size large, this jacket weighs more than other hardshells on the market. This is likely due to the use of thick and stiff 80-denier fibers in the fabric on the shoulders and arms. We think this jacket is most appropriate for technical climbing and mountaineering missions where weather protection is important to the user's safety.


This jacket is only a few ounces heavier than other options on the market, and this probably won't matter to most users. But, here at GearLab, we are big proponents of weight savings. Every extra ounce adds up, and if you opt for a lightweight kit over a heavy one, you'll notice that many pounds can be saved, which leads to more fun outdoors. This jacket is heavier than most others, and if you don't need the bombproof weather protection that it offers, there are much lighter options out there.

mountain equipment lhotse hardshell jacket review - gore-tex pro fabrics have a minimalist inner lining, saving some...
Gore-Tex Pro fabrics have a minimalist inner lining, saving some weight, but the thicker fabric on the shoulders and arms adds weight.
Credit: Sam Willits

Mobility and Fit


The Lhotse Jacket has a slim fit throughout the torso, with a decently long hem and sleeves that are long enough to stay over your gloves all day. The jacket fits best on those with long torsos and long arms. Our lead tester is 6'2" (1.88m) tall, with long arms, and a size large had perfectly long sleeves and a good bottom hem length.


Of note, the armpits are relatively snug, as the arm hole is smaller than most other jackets, meaning there isn't as much fabric bridging the side body when the arm is extended above the head. The result is a great fit for ice and mixed climbing, since the arms won't pull up on the waist fabric as much.

mountain equipment lhotse hardshell jacket review - the lhotse performed better than any other hard shell jacket for ice...
The Lhotse performed better than any other hard shell jacket for ice climbing, where our arms spend a lot of time over our heads. We rarely had to adjust our wrist cuffs.
Credit: Sam Willits

However, this snug fit in the armpit also feels less comfortable when the arms are placed down by the user's side. So, the cut is great for climbers, but less ideal for skiers, hikers, and everyday winter users.

mountain equipment lhotse hardshell jacket review - the side of the lhotse is cut in a way that pulls the fabric up into...
The side of the Lhotse is cut in a way that pulls the fabric up into the armpit, creating a great fit for alpine climbing, but it's slightly uncomfortable for casual use.
Credit: Sam Willits

Venting and Breathability


This jacket uses Gore-Tex Pro technology in the 3-layer fabric. Gore-Tex Pro employs a thin liner fabric on the inside of the shell, increasing breathability over regular Gore-Tex fabric, which has a slightly thicker lining. However, the relatively thick outer face fabrics used in Gore-Tex Pro can limit breathability. This jacket has plenty of relatively thick 80-denier face fabric around the arms and shoulders, which limits breathability in these areas, compared to the thinner 40-denier fabric areas around the torso and forearms. We find that we start to sweat relatively easily in this jacket, especially while wearing a pack.


The underarm vents are easy to pull, thanks to long zipper pull tabs and no hanging fabric flaps to get in the way. The vents are 13 inches (33 centimeters) long, which is decent, though shorter than many other hardshells on the market. Overall, there are more breathable and ventilated jackets on the market, so if you are an avid hiker, snowshoer, or aerobic winter traveler, there are better options. Winter climbers will find plenty of ventilation with this jacket.

mountain equipment lhotse hardshell jacket review - the armpit vents aren't as long as those found on other jackets, and...
The armpit vents aren't as long as those found on other jackets, and the material isn't exceptionally breathable.
Credit: Sam Willits

Features and Design


The Mountain Equipment Lhotse is well-designed with great features for alpine climbing.


First, there are two pull cords on each side of the waist hem, which divides the waist into four quarters, each of which can be tightened separately. Other jackets employ this design, but this jacket is the only one to split the pull cords into individual pieces, meaning you pull an individual strand for each quarter, not a loop. This makes customizing the fit a lot easier, and also eliminates a hanging loop of elastic cord that can get in the way of the gear loops on a harness. This smart design reduces the risk of mis-clipping and dropping gear.

mountain equipment lhotse hardshell jacket review - the lhotse's hem drawcords don't form a loop, which is nice for...
The Lhotse's hem drawcords don't form a loop, which is nice for keeping them out of the way of clipping gear loops on a harness.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Other useful features include two high hand pockets, and a chest pocket closer to the front. These pockets are all easily accessible even while wearing a harness, which is critical for climbers. However, we never used all three pockets at once, and can't envision a scenario where we'd actually need all three. There's a small internal zippered chest pocket, which is sized to hold a phone or small belonging. Another nice feature a the velcro strap that can fasten over a rolled-up hood, meaning the shell can be used without a bulky hood when conditions allow.

Two side hand pockets and one large chest pocket offer plenty of...
Two side hand pockets and one large chest pocket offer plenty of storage space, but if you actually filled them all, you wouldn't be able to climb comfortably.
An internal zippered chest pocket is useful for holding a phone...
An internal zippered chest pocket is useful for holding a phone, route beta, or keeping an energy bar warm.

Should You Buy the Mountain Equipment Lhotse?


This jacket is expensive, and it's also not the most versatile. It excels for ice and mixed climbing in winter conditions, and to alpine climbers, this jacket is well worth the price. It also has great construction quality, adding long-term value. That said, if you are in the market for a hard shell for skiing, hiking, or city life in rainy winter conditions, the climbing-specific features of this jacket will be under-appreciated.

mountain equipment lhotse hardshell jacket review - climbing ice in the lhotse jacket.
Climbing ice in the Lhotse Jacket.
Credit: Sam Willits

What Other Hardshell Jackets Should You Consider?


This jacket provides as much weather protection as our all-around favorite, the Norrona Trollveggen Gore-Tex Pro Light, and our recommendation for harsh conditions, the Mammut Nordwand Advanced. Either of those are a great choice if you need a top-of-the-line hardshell that is more versatile for different activities. Those jackets also perform just fine on alpine climbs. If you want a lighter jacket, the Norrona Falketind Gore-Tex is an outstanding choice for a 3-season hardshell that can also stand up to light winter weather. If you want a solid option that won't break the bank, the Patagonia Triolet offers good value with reliable protection.

Jeff Dobronyi
 
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