The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Mountain Hardwear Kor Strata Hoody Review

An excellent active insulated layer at a more reasonable price than the top competition.
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $220 List | $219.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Affordable, lightweight, very breathable, looks good
Cons:  Chin a little too tight, not good wind protection, not super warm
Manufacturer:   Mountain Hardwear
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 4, 2019
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66
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 13
  • Warmth - 25% 5
  • Weight - 20% 8
  • Comfort - 20% 7
  • Weather Resistance - 15% 5
  • Breathability - 15% 8
  • Style - 5% 8

Our Verdict

Want a top-notch active insulated layer complete with super breathable stretch fabrics, but don't want to pay a top-notch price to get it? Look no further than the Mountain Hardwear Kor Strata Hooded, our Best Bang for the Buck winner. You can expect roughly a 30% discount at retail price compared to the most expensive and popular active stretch jackets, while not really needing to compromise at all in terms of performance. This jacket makes an excellent choice as a mid-layer during aerobic pursuits and works fine as an outer layer for activities like climbing or hiking if the wind isn't blowing too hard.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award 
Price $219.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$194.95 at Backcountry
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$239.99 at Amazon
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$299.00 at REI
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$215.00 at Amazon
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Pros Affordable, lightweight, very breathable, looks goodLightweight, warm, great wind protection, sheds water well, affordableComfortable, very breathable, light, stylishWarm, good water resistance, comfortable, excellent mobility, stylish, durableWarm, affordable, good wind resistance
Cons Chin a little too tight, not good wind protection, not super warmDoesn’t breathe well, fit isn’t very athleticHard to get the proper fit, expensive, poor weather resistance, thinExpensive, annoying hem cinching buckles, not the lightestHeavy, not very breathable
Bottom Line An excellent active insulated layer at a more reasonable price than the top competition.The best lightweight insulated outer layer is highly wind resistant and impressively warm.The most iconic active insulated mid-layer offers great breathability.The top overall performer among the active insulating jackets.A synthetic filled version of a down jacket, designed to optimize warmth.
Rating Categories Kor Strata Hoody Rab Xenon Hoodie Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody Arc'teryx Proton LT Hoody Rab Nimbus
Warmth (25%)
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Specs Kor Strata Hoody Rab Xenon Hoodie Patagonia Nano-Air... Arc'teryx Proton... Rab Nimbus
Measured Weight (size) 13.0 oz. (L) 11.0 oz. (L) 12.5 oz (M) 14.5 oz (L) 17.0 oz. (L)
Manufacturer Stated Weight (size) 12.8 oz. (M) 12.7 oz. (L) 12.2 oz. (M) 13.2 oz. (M) 17.8 oz. (L)
Insulation 50 g/m2 Primaloft Gold Active 60g Stratus 60g FullRange insulation Coreloft Compact 80 Cirrus insulation w/ 3M featherless fibre
Outer Fabric Pertex Quantam Air 20D Ripstop Atmos ripstop 100% nylon ripstop Fortius Air 20 (84% nylon, 16% elastane) Pertex Quantum
Stuffs Into Itself? Yes, clip loop Yes, clip loop Yes, clip loop No Yes, barely, clip loop
Hood Option? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number of Pockets 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Mountain Hardwear Kor Strata Hooded is an active insulated mid-layer that uses PrimaLoft Gold Active to provide breathable insulation. It compares favorably in performance to the rest of the same type of jackets made by other manufacturers, with its own unique pros and cons. This jacket is a bit thinner and not quite as warm as some others, but also breathes exceptionally well, making it an excellent choice for high output activities. Like most layers of this nature, it doesn't protect well against the wind. However, it has a comfortable fit that looks good and does all that is asked of it.

The hood and cuffs use thin elastic much like many other hoods found on lightweight jackets that do not have the option of being tightened using drawcords. There is a drawcord on the hem, however, with an internally sewn buckle that is both low profile and easy to release once tightened. The two external hand pockets are both zippered, one of which serves as a stuff sack when turned inside out, and there is also a zippered external chest pocket.

Performance Comparison


The Kor Strata is a nice looking  thin and highly breathable active insulated layer made with Primaloft Gold Active insulation that fits well and is comfortable. It performs very similarly to competing jackets with similar designs  but costs a fair bit less  and is thus a great value.
The Kor Strata is a nice looking, thin and highly breathable active insulated layer made with Primaloft Gold Active insulation that fits well and is comfortable. It performs very similarly to competing jackets with similar designs, but costs a fair bit less, and is thus a great value.

Warmth


The Kor Strata uses 50g/m2 PrimaLoft Gold Active synthetic insulation to keep one warm. This insulation is designed to stretch and be air permeable to allow for great breathability and simply feels a bit thin compared to some of the other options in this lightweight jacket class. The thinness is backed up by the fact that it's only 50g/m2, which means the insulation itself is less dense than the more common 60 g/m2 used by most competitors, and the light weight of the jacket implies that there are not extra layers stuffed inside to compensate for the lower density.


In conditions such as these  a thin  highly air permeable and breathable jacket such as this one is not super effective at keeping one warm when used as an outer layer. It only feels sufficient if we are moving to generate heat  and if its layered over with a shell.
In conditions such as these, a thin, highly air permeable and breathable jacket such as this one is not super effective at keeping one warm when used as an outer layer. It only feels sufficient if we are moving to generate heat, and if its layered over with a shell.

Simply put, this is not the warmest jacket you can buy, but that shouldn't be the reason you are buying it. It's designed to be worn as a mid-layer while you are moving to generate extra heat, where a super thick insulating layer would actually be detrimental. The elastic around all of the openings is not super tight, but does an okay job of keeping the heat in and the cold out, although the design of the collar leaves the chin exposed and unable to be covered up.

The single hem draw cord helps seal off this lower opening to prevent cold air from coming in  and we like this design because it has a simple press buckle sewn inside the fabric which is both easy to use and very low profile.
The single hem draw cord helps seal off this lower opening to prevent cold air from coming in, and we like this design because it has a simple press buckle sewn inside the fabric which is both easy to use and very low profile.

Weight and Compressibility


Our size large test model weighed 13.0 ounces on our independent scale, although on Mountain Hardwear's website, they claim that a size medium should average around 12.8 ounces, which is virtually the same weight. Regardless, this is one of the lighter choices you can make.


At 13 ounces for a size large  this jacket is not very heavy  but also isn't the absolute lightest. Still  those who want a lightweight jacket at a reasonable price should be happy with this one.
At 13 ounces for a size large, this jacket is not very heavy, but also isn't the absolute lightest. Still, those who want a lightweight jacket at a reasonable price should be happy with this one.

It is possible to stuff this jacket into one of its hand pockets, and unlike some others, we found this pretty easy to do, which makes it easy to bring along on climbs or stuff into a smaller daypack. The stuffed package is relatively small, and there is a clip-in loop for attaching it to harnesses.

Five jackets that stuff into one of their own pockets for easier transport  as well as a nalgene bottle for size reference. On the top left in black -- BD First Light Stretch  Center Mountain Hardwear Kor Strata  Right -- Patagonia Nano-Air. On the Bottom is the Rab Xenon (blue) and Rab Nimbus (orange).
Five jackets that stuff into one of their own pockets for easier transport, as well as a nalgene bottle for size reference. On the top left in black -- BD First Light Stretch, Center Mountain Hardwear Kor Strata, Right -- Patagonia Nano-Air. On the Bottom is the Rab Xenon (blue) and Rab Nimbus (orange).

Comfort


This jacket is very comfortable, with only one small complaint as it pertains to the fit. We found it to fit great as an active layer, with little extra room that needs to be heated, while also allowing for perfect mobility of the arms and shoulders. Raising our arms overhead or swinging them about didn't cause the sleeves or hem to ride up too high, and we felt no constrictions in the shoulder or armpit regions. Our only complaint is that the top of the main zipper, in the chin and neck area, is too tight. We couldn't tuck out chin behind the collar because there wasn't enough room, but if we zipped it all the way up, then it also pressured the front of our neck.


One of our few complaints is the fit of the collar. Shown here  you can see that it is too short and tight to pull up over the chin  leaving the entire face (in our case non-bearded) exposed to wind and cold. However  left in place as is shown here  the collar is also tight against our neck.
One of our few complaints is the fit of the collar. Shown here, you can see that it is too short and tight to pull up over the chin, leaving the entire face (in our case non-bearded) exposed to wind and cold. However, left in place as is shown here, the collar is also tight against our neck.

The feel of the fabrics themselves, made of Pertex Quantum Air, are very soft and nice against the skin. These fabrics stretch easily, ensuring a great mobile fit.

While we could imagine having the sleeves be ever so slightly longer  and the hem a tad lower as well  the reality is that this jacket fits excellently for the size  and does not at all impede any sort of movement we make.
While we could imagine having the sleeves be ever so slightly longer, and the hem a tad lower as well, the reality is that this jacket fits excellently for the size, and does not at all impede any sort of movement we make.

Weather Resistance


Like all stretch active layers, one shouldn't expect much in terms of wind protection. The PrimaLoft Gold Active is designed specifically to be as air permeable as possible to release the heat and moisture built up when moving and sweating. This also means that wind from the outside can easily pass through the outer face fabric and insulation with no problem. If it is cold and windy, a light windbreaker or other type of shell is needed to stay warm.


On the hike out from the crag one day it began to rain lightly  and the only jacket we had was the Kor Strata. In the light rain  it was pretty effective at staying dry.
On the hike out from the crag one day it began to rain lightly, and the only jacket we had was the Kor Strata. In the light rain, it was pretty effective at staying dry.

We aren't sure whether the Kor Strata has a DWR coating applied to the face fabric or not, but regardless, there is virtually no water repellency beyond the very lightest of drizzles. In our comparative testing using the shower feature on a hose, water didn't bead up and run off like with other jackets, but simply soaked in immediately, thoroughly wetting out the exterior fabric. Of course, one of the significant advantages of synthetic insulation is its ability to trap heat while wet, but by no means should this jacket be substituted for a rain shell.

Testing the water resistance of this jacket by spraying it with the garden hose. While it wasn't the worst performer  there were also many jackets that fared much better.
Testing the water resistance of this jacket by spraying it with the garden hose. While it wasn't the worst performer, there were also many jackets that fared much better.

The DWR coating did a decent job of causing a heavy dousing to run off  but as you can see  a fair amount also soaked right into the face fabric  suggesting this jacket is only really water resistant in a light drizzle and for shorter periods of time.
The DWR coating did a decent job of causing a heavy dousing to run off, but as you can see, a fair amount also soaked right into the face fabric, suggesting this jacket is only really water resistant in a light drizzle and for shorter periods of time.

Breathability


In our comparative breathability testing, the Kor Strata felt like one of the top scorers, allowing more air to pass through, which aids in the movement of hot, moist air from the inside of the jacket to the outside as quickly as possible.


As we have already mentioned, this jacket is simply thinner than many of its competitors, while using less dense insulation, so we felt like there was less material for air to pass through. When working hard and needing to dump heat, we found it worked great, but conversely, it is extra chilly in a cold wind.

Running uphill repeats on a 70 degree sunny day. We found that the Primaloft Gold Active insulation more than backed up its claims to be among the most breathable  and felt significantly less sweaty in this jacket than in many others.
Running uphill repeats on a 70 degree sunny day. We found that the Primaloft Gold Active insulation more than backed up its claims to be among the most breathable, and felt significantly less sweaty in this jacket than in many others.

Style


This jacket is made with subdued earth tones and a matt finish fabric that isn't flashy or gaudy like lots of outdoor clothing. There is an extra logo on the wrist that doesn't need to be there, but overall it looks nice, unassuming, and stylish enough for wearing out on the town.


With subdued matte finish and color schemes  this jacket looks nice and can easily be worn out at the crag  on the trail  or at the coffee shop.
With subdued matte finish and color schemes, this jacket looks nice and can easily be worn out at the crag, on the trail, or at the coffee shop.

Value


Since we are bestowing our Best Bang for the Buck award, we think it is a solid value purchase. While it's a bit thinner and less warm than some active mid-layers, it has its positive attributes like its low weight and enhanced breathability. Overall, the performance is just as solid as far more expensive competitors, so it makes a great value purchase for the budget-conscious.

Here on a late fall hike after a small dusting of snow in the Kor Strata. This jacket offers one of the best values you can get with a reduced price point  which is why we call it our Best Bang for the Buck.
Here on a late fall hike after a small dusting of snow in the Kor Strata. This jacket offers one of the best values you can get with a reduced price point, which is why we call it our Best Bang for the Buck.

Conclusion


The Mountain Hardwear Kor Strata Hooded is a lightweight, highly breathable active mid-layer that looks nice and is versatile for lots of different activities. Perhaps its best attribute is its low price, which makes it the obvious choice for our Best Bang for the Buck award.

The Kor Strata is a good looking  very comfortable  and super breathable jacket that performs very similarly to others of its kind  while simply costing quite a bit less  which is why we recommend it to you. It is also lightweight and compact  easily stuffing into one of its pockets for easier transport.
The Kor Strata is a good looking, very comfortable, and super breathable jacket that performs very similarly to others of its kind, while simply costing quite a bit less, which is why we recommend it to you. It is also lightweight and compact, easily stuffing into one of its pockets for easier transport.


Andy Wellman