The Ultimate V is a fun, functional, and feature-rich windproof softshell that's ready to hit the trails with you on the next big adventure.
The Ultimate V kept us comfortable and cozy in chilly pre-spring weather.
The Ultimate V is thin and lightweight yet still offers decent weather protection. The windproof material is DWR-treated for water repellency so you can feel confident in a lot of different scenarios.
There are several windproof models in our review, but all the others are heavy and stiff with little-to-no breathability. This hoody, on the other hand, manages to keep the wind out while staying thin, light, and mobile. It is also quite water repellent, however — when really wet — it feels a bit cold, almost as if water is being held between the outer layer and inner liner. But that was also after our full-on water test where we stand under a running shower — a scenario that is pushing past the limits of what a softshell is meant to withstand. With more normal splashes of water, the Ultimate was fantastic and dried quickly.
Other bonuses of this hoody are the nicely fitted hood with chin protection for when it's really blowing outside and the comfortable thumb holes that overlap when not in use so as not to let the cold in.
The Ultimate V made a trip to the Great Wall of China in early spring - a great place to assess wind resistance and breathability.
If this were a normal jacket, the breathability would be decent but not mindblowing. But the Ultimate V isn't normal: it has zippers all the way down each side for maximum venting options.
This hoody is lined and windproof, but the membrane has an open 3D structure that helps it breathe. It feels nice against bare skin, though if you're particularly sweaty, you will still feel clammier on your arms and upper body than in a thinner unlined model like the Sigma Anorak. But you can vent most of your body with two-way zippers that start above the armpits and don't stop until the hem. Whether you want to vent just your pits or open up the entire torso, you can use this jacket to your advantage when modulating temperature.
Start at the top or the bottom, open up a lot or little - temperature regulation in the Ultimate V is super easy.
Considering this is a windproof jacket with huge zippers we wouldn't have been surprised if it suffered in regards to mobility and comfort. Not so at all, the Ultimate V is meant for movement.
Even when pulling on a harness and scampering up rocks we felt good in this layer. While the side zippers are not super conducive to being harness-bound, they are flexible and low-profile enough to mostly go unnoticed. The hood fits nicely under a helmet without being constrictive, and the arms are long enough that the thumb loops are functional for long-armed folks. Stretchy and thin, this is an excellent piece for an active lifestyle.
The streamlined cut and stretchy fabric of this hoody make it ideal for movement. Though it's better suited for hiking than climbing due to the zipper design, we still loved testing it on a chilly day at the crag.
The Ultimate weighed in at 13.1 ounces for a size medium — an impressive number considering it is windproof, lined, and has full-length side zips. It feels lighter than it weighs when on the body due to good design and implementation.
There are quite a few lighter options in our review, but none of them are as weather protective as this one save our other Top Pick winner, the Kinetic Plus. The Ultimate is a bit warmer though with better breathability.
Whether out for a casual stroll or on a more serious objective, this layer is an easy choice that won't weigh you down.
This layer received high marks for versatility because of how movable, protective, and creatively breathable it is. There are a lot of ways for adventure-lovers to put this impressive piece to great use.
We assessed versatility by looking at features, style, durability, and the ability of each piece to move seamlessly between activities. Outside of a few things the Ultimate V is impressive in each of these areas. It's feature-rich with an adjustable hood that fits under a helmet, two-way full-side zippers, thumb loops, two zippered hand pockets, and waterproof-yet-decently-breathable stretchy material. Its streamlined athletic cut is both attractive and functional, making it an easy layer to wear straight from the outdoors to dinner with friends. And the durable material can stand up to washes and wear, no matter how technical you want to get. The only times this isn't an appropriate jacket is if the temperature dips too low or too high. It's lined but not meant for full-on winter unless you are working really hard (though it's fitted enough to accommodate throwing a jacket over it). And while the side zips make for unique ventilation options, it's still not a layer you would want to wear if you're dripping sweat or in the sun. But for everything outside of the extremes, the Ultimate is a great candidate.
The Ultimate V has our favorite thumbholes of any model - comfortable even for long-armed people!
This jacket is optimized for long days hiking, but it's also appropriate and high-performing for things like biking, climbing, and more. It's not what you'll want to grab for full-on winter outings or sweaty trail-running excursions, but for much of the rest of life, it's a darn good pick. If you need something windproof but still want to be able to breathe and ventilate, this durable and stretchy hoody is downright awesome.
You can open up the whole bottom! Check out the Ultimate for adventures during those weird swing seasons where it's blowing wind like crazy one moment and tepid and sunny the next.
The Ultimate V is not cheap. It's one of the most expensive items in our review. But if you are someone that hikes and adventures a lot during seasons where the temperature (both yours and Mother Nature's) is constantly fluctuating, it very well might be worth it. It's well-constructed and durable, so you'll have a solid jacket for years to come. While there are better options for specific activities, if your main form of adventuring is hiking in the hills, this is a solid investment.
The Ultimate V SO is a high-performing windproof layer with excellent stretch, water repellency, and ventilation. The tailoring is on point, and the features are well-conceived. For those of you that want a competent wind-layer that will never feel overbearing or stiff, this is a clear Top Pick.
From the hills to the crag to the brewery, this stylish and versatile layer is a win.