Gear Review: Mountain Hardwear Women’s Exposure/2™ Gore-Tex Paclite® Plus Jacket
Mountain Hardwear is upping the ante when it comes to outer shells. Paclite Plus is a new Gore-Tex technology geared toward shedding precious ounces while staying dry. The material is even more compact than the original Paclite, without sacrificing breathability, durability, or waterproof ability. These new innovations make the jacket more light and packable while still guaranteeing a decades-long lifespan.
Weight: 8.34 ounces (size medium)
Materials: Gore-Tex Paclite Plus 2.5L
Sizes: XS – XL
Style: Standard Fit
What’s the Deal with Gore-Tex?
Gore-Tex fabric was designed in 1969 with the main objective being a lightweight, waterproof, and breathable material for rainy adventure. The material does this by stopping liquid water, while allowing vapor to pass through. This means the rain stays out while sweat still dissipates. Apparel with Gore-Tex materials are typically more expensive, and have been seen in products from most major outdoor retailers. This new jacket from Mountain Hardwear features Paclite Plus, a new Gore-Tex technology designed to be even lighter, without sacrificing the original integrity of the Gore-Tex mission.
Circumstances of Review
Intense Rainy Outdoor Activity
My first spin with this jacket was on an unexpectedly wet bike ride. I was planning to test it as an early morning windbreaker, then lo and behold the rainfall came. For nearly the entirety of my ride to the beach (about two hours for me), I stayed bone dry and comfortable. However, as I began to sweat more I felt the jacket cling to my wet arms and felt increasingly claustrophobic. I took a quick break at the beach to shake it out. Within minutes, the jacket was completely dry. Though my plans to go for a quick swim when I got to the beach were thwarted and I spent most of the time on the bike path dodging snails, this ride was a great opportunity to test this jacket for comfort on a sustained activity with consistent rainfall.
On my way back home, I encountered some sweaty hill climbs. Again, the extra sweat caused the jacket to cling to stick to my arms. Underneath the jacket I was wearing a Patagonia Capilene T-shirt, which does a wonderful job of managing moisture. The only problem was with the parts of my arms that weren’t covered. So, I made sure to test this jacket with a moisture-wicking long-sleeve underneath to see if this could help with the stuffiness.
Next, I packed this jacket in my bag for a trip into the High Sierra. As I pulled into the parking lot on the afternoon of my first day, the gray clouds that had been gathering ahead finally relinquished their downpour. I quickly threw on my jacket, pulled my pack together, and hit the trail. This time, I was wearing a long-sleeved sun shirt underneath the jacket, which handles my sweat wonderfully. As I climbed uphill, I found myself both completely dry from the rain and comfortable despite the intense activity. A moisture-wicking base layer designed for heat, combined with the rain jacket is my new magic combination for summer storms. Even after the afternoon storm had passed, I decided to keep the jacket on because of how well it was breaking the wind.
As a Windbreaker / Outer Shell
I find myself consistently underprepared when it comes to wind. Profuse sweating makes strong gusts feel that much worse, yet not enough coverage is brutal as well. Enter this jacket as the solution to all those problems. This jacket works so well as a morning outer shell, to keep you warm during those first few chilly miles while managing sweat. I also have taken this jacket on every summit trip, so I can enjoy some snacks despite gusts of wind.
Casual Everyday Use
The main purpose of this gear review was to see how this jacket held up against stormy weather while getting outdoors. However, if I’m going to buy a $300 rain jacket, all-around functionality is important as well. I wore this jacket on two rainy mornings in a row at my job. I work outside, and I was happily impressed with how well I stayed dry while moving around. The lightness of the jacket works extremely well for layering over a sweater underneath during colder weather, but when it warmed up (yet stayed rainy), I was able to stay dry with still just a thin layer underneath. Plus, I think this jacket looks really sleek with some jeans (a rarity in my clothing choices).
This jacket packs down extremely small. Which, of course, leaves more room in your pack for Oreos. Also, it only needs to be left hanging for about 10 minutes before it’s dry and ready to be thrown in, which makes it that much better for backpacking trips. Who wants an always damp jacket?
Style / Sizing
As noted above, I feel pretty fly in my new shell. Mountain Hardwear recommends to select your typical size. I’m 5’10, and opted for a size medium. This was definitely the right move. I still have plenty of room in the jacket for layers underneath, though the arms are a bit long.
I seriously still can’t get over how light this jacket is. At 8.34 ounces for a size medium, I don’t think twice about throwing it in my pack for those “just in case” moments.
Warm Weather Use
The jacket is not as breathable as I had hoped. With a moisture-wicking long-sleeved layer, it works great to keep rainfall out. However, when the only layer I have underneath is a T-shirt or tank top, the sweat accumulates and can feel suffocating. On another rainy bike ride, I would most likely opt to get rained on as opposed to feel claustrophobic in my jacket. As a windbreaker, this jacket still works perfectly with only a sports bra or short sleeve underneath. But with heavy rain, if you’re planning on sweating I would recommend pairing the jacket with a moisture-wicking long sleeve unless you want sticky arms.
Adjustable Brimmed Hood
The adjustable brimmed hood is my favorite feature of this jacket. You can cinch the hood closed to any desired tightness with a drawcord on the hood. This keeps it in place, allowing you to power up a hill without having a hood flopping over your eyes.
The seam-sealed zippers prevent any water from seeping in through the zippers. This makes the jacket fully water-proof.
Again, the fact that this jacket packs into it’s own pocket is a game changer. There’s no excuse to leave it at home whenever there’s even a slight chance of precipitation.
I put this jacket through the wringer on my multiday trip. The fabric did not snag or tear anywhere, and after a wash (using the Gore-Tex recommend method), the dirt disappeared.
In addition to being a great rain jacket, this outer shell has become my favorite morning and wind-breaking layer. I throw it on for every summit. Nothing is more disappointing than scrambling off a peak too early because the wind is too unbearable. This jacket will be in my gear closet for years to come. For a lightweight rain jacket that still uses Gore-Tex material, this is an excellent choice for any adventurer.
Even with discomfort caused by intense activity, this jacket is much more breathable than my old Patagonia Torrentshell. I have brutal memories of sweating through wind and rain storms with the entire jacket clinging to my skin. I’m personally extremely thrilled with this upgrade, but here are some other comparisons to consider for your next outer shell.
Weight: 9.5 oz
Materials: GORE-TEX fabric with Paclite® Plus product technology
Weight: 10.6 oz
Materials: The North Face’s FUTURELIGHT material
Weight: 10.1 oz
Materials: 100% nylon, 20D mechanical stretch ripstop face with 100% polyester 12D backer
This item was donated for purpose of review
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