Mountain Hardwear Barisian Jacket - Women's Review
Cons: High pockets aren't quite right for a harness.
Manufacturer: Mountain Hardwear
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Barisian is primarily made of a material called Motivity Soft Shell that is windproof while remaining soft and comfortable, moving with your body while wearing it. None of the other windproof jackets, like the Marmot Reyna or the North Face Apex Bionic, have this supple feel but instead are stiff and less comfortable. The flexibility of the Barisian makes it a better choice for activities like climbing or Nordic skiing that involve a lot of movement.
The Barisian has the best sleeve cuffs of any jacket in this review. There are internal sleeve cuffs with a thumb loop that fit snugly over your wrists, keeping out cold air and wind. The outer sleeves have an adjustable Velcro tab so that they can be secured over the cuffs of mittens or gloves, which is ideal for climbing or skiing when you want to keep snow out of your jacket.
The Barisian remains light because of its simplicity. (It weighs just over a pound, roughly the same as the Reyna, Guide Hoody, and Gamma MX.) It has just the necessary features to make it useful, such as an adjustable, helmet compatible hood and an adjustable hem. It remains streamlined with only two hand pockets instead of multiple unnecessary ones like on the Marmot Reyna, which has five pockets.
Mountain HardWear advertises that the hand pockets are chest high, making them accessible while wearing a harness or a pack waist belt, which we would normally find to be an exceptional feature. Though not quite chest high, the tops of the pockets are slightly higher than on other jackets. However, the inside of the pocket reaches all the way to the bottom hem. Items inside your pockets still sink down to rest below the harness or waist belt, rendering the higher pockets useless. The design could be improved by moving the whole pocket up higher still, and by sealing off the inside of the pocket before the bottom hem so you could still reach that pesky chap-stick at the bottom of your pocket while in your harness.
The features such as the higher pockets, helmet-compatible hood, and flexible fabric make this jacket well suited to alpine and ice climbing. Since it it windproof and light, we find it to be an excellent jacket for back country skiing. It is breatheable and moves easily while wearing, so it works well for other winter aerobic activities such as snowshoeing or Nordic skiing.
At $180, the Barisian is one of the least expensive softshells in this review, tying the Guide Hoody and being beaten only by the Apex Bionic. This is a fantastic bargain for such a comfortable, breatheable, and windproof softshell.
— McKenzie Long