A lot is expected from a good climbing shell. It has to be waterproof, but breathable; light, but durable. It has to keep you warm and have good ventilation. And it has to fit well, even though it’s worn over multiple layers of clothing. It’s like asking snow to be a little warmer. But the Mountain Hardwear Quasar Lite Jacket delivers on every expectation.
This is Mountain Hardwear’s lightest climbing shell. It’s a 2.5-layer jacket designed to handle rapid and difficult ascents. The fabric is Dry.Q™ Elite technology, which claims to have an air-permeable membrane that “instantly expels excess heat and moisture.” I don’t know all the mechanics, but I can tell you I did a test run on a 600 meter ascent in 80° weather with the jacket fully zipped and didn’t feel stuffed. (The jacket comes with two voluminous zip side pockets that can double as core vents.)
I also tested it in a heavy rainstorm and found it not only kept me dry, but was quick to dry itself once the rain subsided. The Dry.Q™ Elite fabric feels a little rough – not something you’d cuddle up to. But there’s none of the stiffness you’d expect from such sturdy material. It’s mobile and flexible while maintaining a good fit. Somehow, the bottom hem is designed to not move even when your arms are fully stretched, so there’s minimal tugging and readjusting – an attribute that’s even more appreciated when you’re wearing a pack.
Fabric type: Dry.Q™ Elite
Weight: 12 oz
Colors available: Shark, Ginko, and Hyper Blue (respectively, charcoal with orange accents, yellowish with gray accents, and blue with black accents)
Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
Mountain Hardwear Men’s Quasar™ Lite Jacket$240.00
- Zippers double as core vents
- Two front zip pockets are huge and designed around pack straps
- Hood is a bulky and hard to adjust (Not a problem if you’re wearing a brimmed hat or climbing helmet)
- Zipping from the bottom up, front zipper tended to stick