Mountain Hardwear Alchemy Hooded Jacket Review
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For the winter athlete that’s looking for a softshell that can handle pretty much anything you throw at it, the Mountain Hardwear Alchemy Hooded Jacket is all that and then some. This softshell provides the protection and warmth that you come to expect from a softshell, meaning it’s windproof for those blustery days and waterproof to keep out the rain and melting snow.
Since Mountain Hardwear promotes this jacket as a climbing or mountaineering jacket, I feel it is important to be upfront with you to tell you that I tested this jacket out in neither of these activities. Softshell’s make great ski and snowboard jackets for both in-bounds and backcountry, along with snowshoeing and winter hiking. And while not as significant, they also perform the basic job as your winter jacket. Now that I got that all off my chest, let’s get to it.
I tested this jacket out skiing in-bounds, out-of-bounds, and winter hiking. In the recent days, I’ve been testing the Alchemy jacket at Steamboat Resort for in-bounds skiing which has been a blast. There were both warmer blue bird days that I tested this jacket out in as well as sideways blowing blustery snow days where you can hardly see 5 ft in front of you.
Mountain Hardwear Alchemy Hooded Jacket Warmth
For skiing in-bounds, the Mountain Hardwear Alchemy Hooded Jacket performed like a rock star. To start, there is plenty of room to layer with this jacket. On the colder days, you can use a thin down or synthetic jacket to keep your core and arms warm. This is typically when the temperatures are below 15 degrees F, but depending on how well your body handles the cold, this can differ. For warmer days, you can wear a fleece pullover which typically takes up a little less space, and once again, fits great under the Alchemy Jacket. There is a small amount of warmth in this jacket as it’s typically meant for active pursuits because your body does most of the work at producing heat.
For skiing the backcountry, this jacket works just as well. I usually wear a little less while backcountry skiing since you tend to warm up much faster. That said, a standard baselayer works great if you’re skinning uphill. The side pockets of the Mountain Hardwear Alchemy Hooded Jacket are made with a hand warmer mesh material that allows your body to vent and breath out the excess warmth you build up while skinning uphill. Speaking of these pockets, they are positioned to fit a climbing harness, but they also work well with a hip belt from a pack. The pockets themselves are big enough to fit your skins in as well if you want to keep them close to your body.
In addition to the side pockets, there is an outer chest pocket that can be used for cell phones, energy bars, and other items you want to keep close. There’s also another smaller chest pocket on the inside of the jacket that is just big enough for cell phone, but nothing larger. I am able to fit a Samsung Galaxy 5 in the pocket, but there isn’t a lot of extra room after the phone is in. Last, there is a non-zippered pocket on the inside of the jacket that works perfectly for goggles or a pair of gloves. If it’s super cold outside, you can also stash a water bottle here so it stays close to your body for warmth which will prevent it from freezing.
For those looking to get a full range of motion while skiing and snowboarding, the Alchemy Hooded Jacket has plenty of room to move. This includes being able to move your arms, torso, and head in any direction the body can move and the jacket will move with you.
Is this Jacket Waterproof ?
Heck yeah!! I ‘ve tested this jacket out while the skies were dumping snow which was a great time to have the waterproof technology come into play. Since I was slogging along on a hike while testing the jacket in the snow, the snow wasn’t flying off me, but it was rather sticking to the jacket. While out for hours, the melted snow never soaked through the jacket and I stayed warm and dry. To help keep water from seeping into the jacket, the Mountain Hardwear Alchemy Hooded Jacket comes with taped seems. Anytime you have stitching in a piece of apparel, it lends itself to the possibility of water getting through. To prevent this water getting through, the Alchemy jacket and many other high end jackets use taped seems on the inside of the jacket.
To keep water out of the zippers on the Mountain Hardwear Alchemy Hooded Jacket, the designers at MH used water resistant zippers for all outer facing zippers on the jacket. For venting, there are two zippers on the main front zipper which means you can vent the jacket at the top, middle, or bottom of the jacket.
While skiing, I typically stay in the trees to get away and having a jacket that can withstand a scuffles with branches each day is a must. The Mountain Hardwear Alchemy Hooded Jacket uses a thicker outer layer, which means it can withstand a scuff, poke, or jab from tree branches, rocks, ice, and more.
Hoods on Jackets Rock!
We at ActiveGearReview.com love hoods on jackets, well at least most jackets. The hood on the Mountain Hardwear Alchemy Jacket is helmet compatible and adjustable. While skiing on cold days and when the snow or wind is blasting you from all 360 angles, the hood on this jacket is sure to save your face. I pretty much only ski with a helmet on with exception to skinning uphill or nordic skiing and having a hooded jacket that is helmet compatible is a must. While not wearing a helmet, the jacket has cinch cords that keep the hood close to your head keeping the cold air out and the warm air in.
After testing this jacket out for months in varying winter conditions with only great success, I give the Mountain Hardwear Alchemy Hooded Jacket two big thumbs up! This jacket is sure to please anyone who sets the bar high for their gear. For more information on the Alchemy Jacket and other Mountain Hardwear gear, please visit www.mountainhardwear.com or www.rei.com/mountainhardwear.