Mountain Hardwear Exposure/2 Gore-Tex Paclite Review
Cons: Glossy internal fabric, poor mobility, hand pocket zippers not waterproof
Manufacturer: Mountain Hardwear
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Mountain Hardwear Exposure/2 Gore-Tex Paclite
$199.99 at Amazon
$625.00 at Amazon
$249.50 at Backcountry
|$375 List||$225 List|
$225.00 at Amazon
|Pros||Lightweight, inexpensive, easy to tighten drawcords||Unrivaled weather protection, decent venting options, perfect fit||Lightweight, excellent fit for active uses, solid weather protection, plenty of pockets||Ultralight, less expensive, excellent packability, decent weather protection||Good ventilation, bargain price, lightweight, fully waterproof|
|Cons||Glossy internal fabric, poor mobility, hand pocket zippers not waterproof||Expensive, not ultralight, mediocre breathability||Expensive, DWR treatment wears off quickly, great all-round performance but not outstanding in any specific areas||Limited feature set, questionable durability, high waist hemline, few venting possibilities||Interior fabric is clingy, feels delicate, limited drawcords|
|Bottom Line||This model is closer to a rain jacket than a hardshell, though it can be used as a lightweight just in case layer||Our favorite hardshell for serious adventures, it stands out if you're looking for an option with serious weather protection||A well-designed jacket that offers equally great weather protection, breathability, and mobility in a lightweight package||Our favorite ultralight shell to leave in our packs for unexpected storms||An ultralight waterproof model with underarm vents and and an exceptional price tag|
|Rating Categories||Mountain Hardwear E...||Mammut Nordwand Adv...||Patagonia Ascensionist||Arc'teryx Alpha SL...||Marmot Knife Edge|
|Weather Protection (30%)|
|Mobility and Fit (20%)|
|Venting and Breathability (20%)|
|Features and Design (10%)|
|Specs||Mountain Hardwear E...||Mammut Nordwand Adv...||Patagonia Ascensionist||Arc'teryx Alpha SL...||Marmot Knife Edge|
|Measured Weight (size large)||11.4 oz||16.0 oz||13.6 oz||7.6 oz||12.4 oz|
|Material||Gore-Tex Paclite 2.5L 100% nylon w/ DWR coating||3-layer 100% nylon Gore-Tex Pro||GORE-TEX Active with GORE C-KNIT, 30D recycled nylon||3-layer Gore-Tex with Hadron face fabric||Gore-Tex Paclite 2.5L 100% Polyester|
|Pockets||2 hand, 1 chest||2 front, 1 internal||2 zippered handwarmer, 1 zippered chest, 1 internal stretch||1 chest||2 hand, 1 chest|
|Helmet Compatible Hood||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Hood Draw Cords||1||3||3||1||1|
|Two-Way Front Zipper||No||Yes||No||No||No|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Before we get started, we need to emphasize that this a review of the Gore-Tex Paclite version of the Exposure/2. Mountain Hardwear manufactures other versions of the Exposure/2 made with different fabrics. We haven't had a chance to tests these other versions, and there's no doubt that they perform differently.
The Exposure/2 Paclite suffers from a few flaws that compromise its weather protection. Our biggest concern is the hood, which features a flimsy brim that directed water into the chin of the hood during our shower test. We are also unimpressed with the wrist cuffs that incorporate elastic and Velcro in a simple design that is ineffective at keeping the sleeves in place or sealing precip out.
Another issue is the zipper on the vertical hand pockets. These zippers are not fully waterproof and include a sizeable hole at the bottom where water can easily pour through.
At just 11.4 ounces for a size large, this jacket is among the lightest hardshells in our review. That makes it a great choice for drier climates where you don't end up wearing a hardshell every time out, but you still want one in the bottom of your pack for emergencies. Unlike some of the other ultralight hardshells, however, the Exposure/2 doesn't come with a sack or pocket to conveniently stuff it in.
Mobility and Fit
The source of all the Exposure/2's problem is the Gore-Tex Paclite fabric. This material doesn't stretch at all. The jacket is cut in a way that our lead tester described as baggy in the torso while the sleeves and hem feel short. The result is a jacket that left us disappointed with its overall fit. It was particularly frustrating when we raised our arms overhead and felt the sleeves and hem simultaneously move out of place. All in all, we think it moves and feels much more like a rain jacket than a technical hardshell.
Venting and Breathability
The same Paclite fabric that harms this jacket's mobility score also compromises its performance in venting and breathability. Our testers found that moisture quickly collected on the inside during our stationary bike test. It's hard to say whether this was more or less moisture than jackets with Gore-Tex Pro fabric, but the glossy internal surface of Exposure/2's Gore-Tex Paclite material certainly made it feel much clammier.
To make matters worse, this jacket is not fitted with any pit zips, so your venting options are limited when you start to overheat. In fact, if that happens, you're probably better taking the jacket off, rather than letting you sweat soak yourself from the inside.
Features and Design
Our favorite feature on this jacket is the rubber loops on the waist and hood drawcords, which make tightening either an effortless task, even with gloves on. We're not huge fans, however, of the large hand pockets because they extend low enough to irritate your hips if you're wearing a harness. The zippers on these hand pockets are also not fully waterproof. The breast pocket, in contrast, sports a trusty taped zipper and is large enough to store most phones.
Mountain Hardwear should be able to keep weight and costs by using Gore-Tex Paclite rather than Gore-Tex Pro fabric in this version of the Exposure/2, and indeed, it's one of the lightest and most affordable jackets in our hardshell review. Unfortunately, the same Paclite fabric undermines its overall performance in several ways. Despite the low price, we don't consider it a great value.
With the exorbitant price of many hardshells, it can be tempting to seek out less expensive options. Weighing in at just 11.4 ounces for a size large, the Exposure/2 is a particularly tempting ultralight model. After three months of testing, however, our review team thinks the search should continue. The Exposure/2 makes a great rain jacket, but we don't feel like its performance is high enough for technical hardshell applications like winter climbing or backcountry skiing.
— Jack Cramer
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