The Mountain Hardwear Chillwave Jacket would have won every category in our review a couple of years ago, however, the classic and tested design it is a bit outdated. The coat is incredibly warm and a wise choice when winter mountaineering or ice climbing, but a bit heavy and bulky compared to our Top Pick winner, the Rab Neutrino Endurance. Despite the stiff competition, it is just as useful as when the coat was first used in the mountains in its early iterations, and new materials have upgraded it to meet modern standards. The product is a work horse and performs admirably, but we would like to see a style and fit upgrade from Mountain Hardwear.
Mountain Hardwear Chillwave Jacket Review
Cons: Incredibly bulky, unflattering, felt stiff
Manufacturer: Mountain Hardwear
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Mountain Hardwear Chillwave is a great old-school style parka designed for the gnarliest of conditions. A wind resistant outer shell and removable hood are married with durable materials, creating a good - but not great - winter jacket.
This is not a jacket designed for sitting in a cafe or library, but for the frosted alpine environment. When all the zippers and flaps are cinched, the coat is a veritable fortress of warmth.Iy is filled with high quality 700 fill down. Featuring a box baffle design that eliminates cold sports near the stitching, the sheer amount of fabric integrated into the design gives a feel not unlike wearing a kitchen oven. If warmth is the primary concern, this is a high quality piece, however the Canada Goose Expedition Parka is even warmer still.
In the end we felt that this coat was too bulky and heavy to be carried in the backcountry.
The Airshield Core that makes up the exterior of this jacket is a middle-of-the-road fabric. It breathes well when used in the cold and blocks wind and moisture. The removeable hood has a large velcro flap that prevents any moisture from finding its way into the coat, and the sleeves can cinch tight against the wrist thanks to another pair of velcro flaps. The thick YKK zipper is easily accessed with gloves and is covered by a storm flap (held in place by yet more velcro).
If your idea of comfort is wearing a sleeping bag around all day, this might be the ideal coat. When sitting at a belay or on a ski lift, the coat is extremely comfortable and absolutely fills whatever seat one finds with excess fabric and down spilling all over the place. Once moving, however, the wonderful folds of down backfire as you're left battling stiff zippers and velcro flaps and being blinded by a hood that can house a lap dog. Again, these are features ideal on big mountain expeditions, but the Rab Neutrino Endurance has shown that similar comfort and warmth can be had without paying such a hefty price in mobility.
With bulk and weight come comfort features, and any user that decides on this jacket will be rewarded. The hood can be removed, but be careful to remember it is detached, as anything removable can be misplaced. The collar and hand pockets are fleece lined and very soft. Both hand pockets and two chest pockets, are insulated and perfect for electronics like a phone or GPS. An inside chest pocket on the left side works well to store the included stuff-sack and a large mesh pocket inside at the waist is perfect for keeping gloves and goggles warm.
A really useful feature when in cold and windy environments is the face protection built into the hood. A pair of Velcro straps secure windproof nylon over the face in the event of harsh weather. This comes in handy on exposed slopes and in driving gales, although when not needed it get in the way - and the velcro has a habit of getting caught in a few testers' beards. Finding out just how important these features are for your next trip will be key in deciding if this jacket is for you.
Some may prefer this classic mountaineering style, a call back to the mid-90's when posters at the gear shops showed the same coat proudly on the summits of K2 and Everest. For others, the pyramid-shaped hood, thick shoulder reinforcement, and boxy shape are out-dated and uncomfortable. The Rab Neutrino would slide right in with any social gathering, providing weather was cold enough to warrant a heavy coat.
Mountain Hardwear has always done a splendid job making durable products. The shoulders and hem line are reinforced with a heavy fabric that won't tear or fail. Despite very rough abuse in a variety of conditions, there was no sign of failure at any point. Overall we felt that no extra care was needed and the product should last years, even with hard use.
Some of the most fun one can have in life are in areas so cold and miserable that the fun is considerably reduced. For activities like winter mountaineering, ice climbing, or even Alaskan Cruises, this coat will not only keep the user warm but completely enveloped in a sea of down and nylon. Providing fit and style are not a concern we recommend this product.
The cost of this product continues to rise and at $415 we feel it is starting to become priced out of the market. It doesn't perform much better than the Rab Neutrino Endurance, and the Arc'teryx Camosun Parka is of drastically higher quality.
One could do much worse than this tested product, a safe and cumbersome option for very cold and miserable weather.
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer
- Cost - $350
- Ultralight down jacket
- Winner of our Editors' Choice award
- An example of a more modern product from the company
Mountain Hardwear Hooded Ghost Whisperer - Women's
- Cost - $350
- Weight - $7.2 oz
- Available in colors that you either love or hate
— Greg Davis