The Nordwand Pro HS was a big hit for cold, icy adventures.
The Gore-Tex Pro fabric is the burliest waterproof breathable material offered by Gore-Tex. This is designed for high mountain and expedition use, tested on the roughest terrain and toughest weather. The Nordwand is designed for alpine climbing, ice climbing, and mountaineering, and ready for sideways snow storms and biting wind. Along with the Arc'teryx Alpha SV, this is one of the burliest and most weatherproof hardshell jackets in this review. If you want to tone things down a bit, we also really liked the more versatile Arc'teryx Beta AR.
The Nordwand keeps the cold weather out, and still allows easy access to your harness.
The Nordwand is designed for technical climbing and excelled in our ice climbing tests; this jacket moved with us no matter what direction we took. This excellent articulation comes from Mammut's own Vertical Motion ConstructionTM and their High Reach Technology. However they do that in the manufacturing process, it certainly translates well to freedom of movement in the complex and rugged high mountain environment.
This jacket is most similar to the Arc'teryx Alpha SV with only some minor differences that shake out in slight differences in the metrics. In terms of mobility, they are both excellent; the Nordwand, however, has a more slender fit while Arc'teryx tends to feel roomier in the torso. If you really value mobility but you're looking for the opposite and of the spectrum in terms of weight or burl-factor, check out the Arc'teryx Beta SL Hybrid, or the even more versatile Norrona Trollveggen.
Swing with ease in the Nordwand, it is designed for climbing movements of all kinds.
The Nordwand uses Gore-Tex Pro, a breathable three-layer waterproof shell fabric. This is the thickest and burliest of the Gore products, and certainly not as breathable as the lighter weight Gore-Tex Active or even their Paclite technology. However, the Nordwand is the type of jacket you would be wearing in frigid, harsh environments, so the Pro fabric is an excellent choice. For those moments where the wind dies down, and you're baking in the sun, the Nordwand has pit vents to shed heat in a hurry. There are two zipper pulls, too, which makes it easy to calibrate how open you want the vents, and where to open them, so the fabric doesn't flap, let in snow or rain, or otherwise get in your way.
For an impeccable blend of venting and breathability, check out the lightweight Arc'teryx Beta SL Hybrid or our Best Buy winner, the REI Drypoint GTX.
The pit vents can be calibrated to your level of venting needs with two zippers.
The Nordwand is the among heaviest jackets in this review. To be fair, we removed the snow skirt inside the jacket, since most other jackets did not have one, and re-measured. It was still one of the heaviest in the review.
If you are traveling to the types of places that require a shell as burly as this one, we think you'll really appreciate it; it's well worth the weight. This type of shell jacket is just going to be a bit of a commitment in terms of adding weight to your pack. The Nordwand was a little more versatile than the Arc'tery Alpha SV, but the Alpha SV is a little bit lighter. Minor tradeoff.
The Nordwand is stacked with snow, ice, and alpine-ready features; this is likely where it picks up a few more ounces than our other favorite expedition-ready hardshell jacket, the Arc'teryx Alpha SV. The Nordwand has a snow skirt, great for skiing powder, and it is removable for when you don't want it on ice or alpine climbs. The jacket has pit vents with two zipper pulls to calibrate the size of the vent and where you want it—this helps to optimize heat expulsion while keeping blowing snow out, ideally.
The hood is helmet compatible and has a strip of elastic and mesh to help it seal around your face. It is adjustable with one hand in the back, but it takes two hands to adjust the toggles in the front (mildly annoying and difficult to figure out which way to pull to tighten, but easy to loosen).
The mesh elastic flap helps seal and secure the hood around your head or helmet.
The Nordwand has pockets galore; two high hand pockets allow easy access above a hip belt or harness. There is an external chest pocket big enough for a large smartphone, and a left arm pocket (great for RFID ski passes). All zippers are waterproof except that side arm pocket. The main zipper can also be unzipped from the bottom which makes it easier to access your belay loop on your harness.
The Gore-Tex Pro fabric is an incredibly durable product; this is the shell material of choice for polar and high altitude expeditions. It is what we trust in the most extreme environments. Mammut layers excellent design and manufacturing on top of their use of the best fabrics in this Nordwand jacket. This jacket can handle the roughest conditions and will hold up to sloppy use as you yard on the zippers in a hurry to adjust pit vents or access snacks, maps, or your phone. The Arc'teryx Alpha SV and the Beta AR also get high marks for durability in this review.
The Nordwand is highly versatile for cold, snowy, alpine adventures. This is not a jacket optimized for temperatures where it is raining—this is a thick, burly shell best used in snowy, icy, alpine environments. If that is your destination, this jacket will hold up to a wide variety of activities, from ice climbing to resort skiing, technical ice climbs, and long expeditions.
Climbing high with the Nordwand Pro HS.
The Nordwand is optimized for the high mountains and winter use. This jacket excelled on technical ice and alpine climbs, moving easily through complex movements and a variety of paces. It also has features that make it excellent for skiing, both in-bounds and in the backcountry, especially on a powder day. This is a great hardshell for lots of our favorite winter activities.
Yikes, this is a lot of money. If that is worth it to you, then it is definitely worth it. If not, then it is definitely not. This is a highly specialized hardshell jacket for high mountain and rugged winter use and is not an all-rounder. But if you avidly pursue long ice lines, technical alpine routes, or steep and deep ski descents, this might be something to fit in your budget.
Mammut pats themselves on the back with their description of the women's specific Nordwand Pro HS on their website: "Woman power. Mountaineering has long since ceased to be an exclusively male preserve. As proven not only by successful expeditions and first ascents on the world's most difficult mountains and faces but also by the next generation of talent. The women's expedition squads are setting the direction: steep, long, adventurous and extreme. We have therefore designed identical women's items in our new Eiger Extreme collection - with a lot of help from our female athletes. For instance, apart from female-specific tailoring, the Nordwand Pro HS Hooded Jacket Women is based on exactly the same construction as the men's version."
It is true that many companies do not make equivalently technical garments for women as they do for men, and this has long been a frustration of our testers and athletes. Of those who do make equivalent garments, women have developed the joke that they really just "shrink it and pink it." Also, unfortunately, this has long been true. And while we do not believe that Mammut deserves a gold star for making a technical product that is actually designed for women with help from their female athletes, we do appreciate it; this, in our opinion, should be the standard, not the exception. At this point in history, if Mammut had somehow figured out how to be even more inclusive, going beyond the gender binary, then we might think about that gold star…
It was easy to enjoy a day out in the Nordwand without worrying about our layering.