My old rain jacket did a great job of keeping out the rain. It also did a great job of keeping in sweat. So when I first tested Mountain Hardwear’s Super Light Plasmic Jacket, I thought I was getting more of the same. I was wrong. Just like the website claims, The Plasmic Jacket’s, “Dry.Q™ EVAP’s innovative system of channels disperses moisture for faster evaporation, improved breathability and a drier interior feel without pit zips.”

Plasmic 1

The first test was just coincidence. A thunderstorm caught me walking home from the library. Concerned about ruining the borrowed books, I stuffed them under the Plasmic Jacket. Half a mile and several minutes of downpour later, the books were still completely dry.

The jacket’s hood has a thicker brim to keep rain from falling into my face. I found this especially wonderful because I wear glasses. Most hoods protect my head and drip the water onto my glasses. Caught in that afternoon thunderstorm, the jacket kept all the water off not only my torso but also my face and glasses. The hood also has two points of adjustment (one at the neck and the other on the back of the head) so I could fine-tune the fit.

Plasmic 3The collar zips up high on the chin, and the sleeves (which have adjustable cuffs) ran long down onto the palm of my hand. The utility of such measurements make sense – it keeps more of me dry. Personally, I really like the longer-sleeve style. When unzipped, the collar and hood hang loosely and comfortably, and the sleeves were long enough for coverage but not too long to annoy me whenever I needed to reach for something.

Plasmic 2But so what? How many other jackets are just like that?

For me, the real benefit of the Plasmic Jacket was its comfort. Because the Dry.Q EVAP technology lived up to its claims, I never felt overly sweaty or hot on my hikes or when I just wore it around town. I tested this jacket on two different hikes, both rising above 11,000 feet (the second hike higher than 14,000). I found something pleasantly unusual with the Plasmic jacket. When I first started hiking – in the cold morning – its wind-resistance allowed my own body heat to keep me warm. This continued through to the top of the mountains. But even as I came down – now in the hot afternoon sun – I found that I didn’t overheat. I did lose the pleasure of the breeze against my skin, but I didn’t feel too hot or sweaty. The Plasmic jacket kept my body temperature consistent. While I wouldn’t recommend wearing it for a run on a hot day (it can’t wick away that much sweat), for a day-hike it worked perfectly.

Because I never felt too hot or too cold, I kept the jacket on the entire day – which made the jacket a form of sunscreen. Personally, I’m a bit overprotective of my skin and I really liked the fact that (especially at 14,000 feet) the jacket kept my skin covered without being too hot or too cold.

An major unsung attribute to this jacket was its compression. I could squeeze the whole thing to the size of a softball and stuff it into a my pack. I could take it out later and hang it for an hour or two and it would be wrinkle free.

Plasmic 4I liked the style so much that I wore it for a while as my normal coat. I stopped wearing it out in social, public places for only one reason: it’s rather loud… literally. Hiking a trail and hearing the swish-swish of jackets and pants doesn’t really matter to me. But when I walked into a movie theater with friends and the jacket swishing was louder than my whispers, I felt a little conspicuous. I was rather bummed. I had a lightweight, useful and stylish jacket but it just didn’t work in social situations.

With the jacket itself, I had only one problem: ruggedness. While hiking down a scree field I slipped. Bracing my fall against a rock, the jacket sleeve tore. It was only a small tear – about an inch and half – and I did mash it against a rock, so I can understand its durability issues. Also, because it’s only a super light shell, I can’t expect it to be remarkably durable.

Pros

  • Stylish and comfortable
  • Waterproof
  • Super light
  • Regulates body heat
  • Dry.Q EVAP technology works well

Cons

  • Noisy swish movements
  • Not particularly rugged

Date Available: currently

Manufacturer: Mountain Hardwear

MSRP: $200

Weight: 7.7 oz

Model Tested: Mountain Hardwear Men’s Super Light Plasmic Jacket

Colors available: Green, Navy, Blue, Black and Red

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