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Mountain Hardwear Kor Preshell Hoody Review

This is the lightest softshell jacket we have tested, and it is a great choice for active sports
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $130 List | $58.48 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Superlight, wind protection, packable
Cons:  Not durable, minimal wet weather protection
Manufacturer:   Mountain Hardwear
By Ryan Huetter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 30, 2020
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 11
  • Weather Protection - 30% 2
  • Breathability - 30% 10
  • Mobility - 25% 8
  • Weight - 10% 10
  • Versatility - 5% 3

Our Verdict

The Mountain Hardwear Kor Preshell is either a super durable windshell or ultralight softshell jacket — actually it's both! It is astonishingly lightweight, coming in at less than half the weight of the next lightest jacket in this review. It packs down to the size of an apple, making it easy to stow in a running vest or even a cargo pants pocket. The Kor Preshell offers minimal weather protection in harsh conditions, but does well enough in a light rain to consider bringing it along on those long hikes or runs when the likelihood for precip is low, but you don't want to take a chance. This is not a jacket for every application, it is more of a specialized piece, but we like it so much that it wins our Top Pick for Ultralight Adventures due to its extreme lightness and packability.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

We tested the Kor Preshell in a variety of environments. From long day hikes in the cool spring months to trail running in the desert, this jacket excels at handling aerobic activity. We also went rock climbing, and while it is not the most durable, we are impressed with its stretch and its hardly-noticeable weight. The Kor Preshell is a niche jacket, best for ultralight pursuits, and we have awarded it our Top Pick for Ultralight Adventures.

Performance Comparison


Hiking out of the desert into the mountains in breezy winds - a great place to take the Kor Preshell Hoody.
Hiking out of the desert into the mountains in breezy winds - a great place to take the Kor Preshell Hoody.

Weather Protection


Compared to some of the heaviest jackets we tested in this review, the Kor Preshell feels like it is made out of Kleenex! Looks can be deceiving, though, and though it feels light in hand, it is actually made out of Pertex Quantum Air, a ripstop nylon fabric with stretch. This fabric is certainly the least weather-resistant and least durable of the reviewed jackets, especially when faced with our shower test to see how long it can withstand water.


It did not fare well, but let's also be honest that it is not a rain jacket. The Kor is an ultralight jacket that does best at blocking winds, and adding some extra durability to a baselayer you might wear underneath. We favored this jacket on trail runs, mountain bike rides, and climbs that did not have a lot of contact with the wall — and when the skies looked a bit more ominous, we reached for a more weather resistant layer (that weighs a good bit more!)

The hood fit adequately over a hat  but it not adjustable nor is it helmet friendly.
The hood fit adequately over a hat, but it not adjustable nor is it helmet friendly.

Breathability


OK, the Kor Preshell is not the most weather-resistant softshell we have ever tested. But the most breathable? It wins that designation by a landslide and is at the top of the ranking in this metric. The Pertex Quantum Air fabric is so light that it breathes much better than any shell we have ever worn, so much so that we barely even registered that we were wearing it, even while on strenuous mountain hikes. Whether wearing this jacket over a t-shirt or a base layer, we did not notice any extra moisture buildup inside.


We went on high-output trail runs in this layer, and were very impressed with how well it performed. To be fair, part of its exceptional breathability may come from the athletic fit that does not allow for wearing anything too bulky underneath — we usually only wore a thin long sleeve. It also does not have a lot of pockets that allow for any extra heat to get dumped, but we did not find that to be an issue.

Running in Death Valley NP was not even enough to make us sweat while wearing this jacket!
Running in Death Valley NP was not even enough to make us sweat while wearing this jacket!

Mobility


The Kor is a trim-fitting jacket that is lightweight and mobile as long as you don't need to fit a bunch of layers underneath it. It is the tightest-fitting jacket in our review, and we say that as a compliment. It is slim so that when you are running, cycling or climbing, you do not have any extra bulk or weight.

Trim-fitting for sure  the Kor might feel a tad bulky with much more than a thin layer worn underneath.
Trim-fitting for sure, the Kor might feel a tad bulky with much more than a thin layer worn underneath.


The panels on this shell are well cut, and the fabric does have some stretch, allowing for more freedom of movement during aerobic exercise — though at most we could fit a lightweight fleece pullover underneath before starting to feel constricted. The Kor is also cut fairly short, which we only really noticed when wearing it while climbing. It does fit underneath a climbing harness, though reaching high overhead, we could feel the hem pull up more than other models we tested.

Mobile enough to climb in  just don't scrape too close to the rocks!
Mobile enough to climb in, just don't scrape too close to the rocks!

Weight


We could not believe our eyes when we put the Kor Preshell on the scale to weigh it. Just 4.5 ounces? What?! We have tested some pretty light jackets in past reviews, but this one just blows the rest out of the water. It is not only light, but it's also extremely packable, fitting inside its own inside pocket complete with a clip-in loop for attaching to the back of a harness on a long climb.


The weight of the Kor does come at the cost of durability, though, so recognize that this jacket will not stand up as well to abrasion as heavier-duty options.

Light and packable  the Kor Preshell barely registers on our scale.
Light and packable, the Kor Preshell barely registers on our scale.

Versatility


When scoring the Kor Preshell on versatility, we considered style, features, and how useful the jacket is in a range of applications. This is a pretty specialized jacket, and it does incredibly well at what it is designed to do, though it did not score high this metric. A lightweight windshell that can also repel some light rain, it is excellent for light-duty use in relatively mild conditions, but it does not have a lot of utility in moderate or severe weather.


We found, however, that in cooler weather sports, we could easily wear a down jacket over the top of the Kor Preshell, gaining warmth as well as wind protection, thanks to the trim fit. It has two small handwarmer pockets that you can stash some gels or a thin pair of training gloves in. There is a hood, though it does not have adjustments, and it does not fit over a climbing helmet.

Hiking and running in mild weather conditions is what this jacket is best at.
Hiking and running in mild weather conditions is what this jacket is best at.

Value


The Kor Preshell Hoody costs about as much as our Best Buy Award winner, though it is a third of that jacket's weight. It is not super versatile and is one of the lower-scoring jackets in weather resistance, but if you value weight and breathability above all else, then it is a reasonable value.

Conclusion


The Kor Preshell Hoody is crazy light. Light enough that we forgot we were even wearing it. And light enough that if you decide to take it off, you won't notice it in your pack, either. It is a great option for those sports that need the best breathability, but also might need some light weather protection from drizzle and wind. Our favorite jacket for cycling and trail running, this niche piece does not work well for all weather conditions or for all activities, but as an ultralight windshell that is easily tossed into a pack no matter what the weather forecast calls for, we have decided to award it our Top Pick Award for Ultralight Adventures given its prowess in this category.

So small it fits in the palm of your hand! Check this jacket out if you want the lightest and most packable softshell.
So small it fits in the palm of your hand! Check this jacket out if you want the lightest and most packable softshell.

Ryan Huetter