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Mountain Hardwear’s Jovian Jacket Review
Posted: 19 October 2011 12:05 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I must admit that at one time I had a bias for Mountain Hardwear products, I have owned many of their products and a few of the well crafted items are still around. I have always felt that Mountain Hardwear has been very successful with durability but lost a me with functionality and cost. Also currently I have joined the soft-shelll fan club as I have been backcountry skiing in Colorado’s dry powder, enjoying the breath-ablity and temperature versatility it offers. Recently I ended up breaking the current trends and tried out Mountain Hardwear’s new fall 2011 expedition hard-shell, the Jovian. This jacket offers their new DryQ fabric with the Elite expedition version. During the spring 2011 I placed the Jovian through many of the rigors of backcountry skiing, I must say that this jacket does impress. At first glance when I picked up the jacket I could not believe how light it was at 1lb and 3oz and immediately questioned its durability and functionality.


It is fun to play with new gear even when you are in the living room to check the features and explore the jacket before going into the field, for example to see if skins will fit inside the jacket. The skins do fit in the larger outside pockets but not inside the jacket closer to the body like some people prefer. This piece is a weight saving item and many pockets and winter jacket features are lost but with no major issues. There is no powder skirt for the powder hounds and I would imagine this jacket would take a beating if one was getting on and off a lift. If you are a alpinist or a ski mountaineer this jacket meets your needs. The helmet compatible hood allows for a nice fit when wearing a hard hat. The zippers are also easy to use with gloves due to pull tabs that have not broken yet and zippers that run up that did not open with gravity during a full day of use. The main pockets could be a inch higher to provide easier access with the hip belt engaged or with a harness. Before taking it out, the feature I was most excited about was its storage-ability, it packs down small for an alpine jacket. After checking this jacket out I was stoked to give it a harsh test out in the mountains.


What better place to test the jacket out then Rocky Mountain National Park in April with lots of wet snow mixed with warm and cold temperatures. Also the Park can be a windy place, what better way to test the DryQ breath-ablity and whether it was too breathable. The DryQ technology is new to Mountain Hardwear for the 2011 winter line. After Conduit was not that impressing Mountain Hardwear has finally developed a air permeable water proof fabric. I decided to start with a heavy layer system for my first day out as I was worried about the jacket being not as warm as my thicker soft-shell Before long I was dropping my layers. It felt like it was breathing well but it is still a hard-shell and it was April with too many clothes. I found it excellent with a light under layer and the jacket, this was where I could really tell that it was breathable but not too much. There was a few times in the wind it would have been nice to have a fleece layer in the middle but not bad enough to get it out of the pack.

The water proofing was evident immediately with the beading of wet snowflakes on the outside and no moisture on the inside. After the turns were enjoyed, exiting the line proved to be a difficult bushwhack where the jackets durability was truly put to the test. Our skin and ski out was through a thick national park forest with branches ready to rip the clothes at every turn. For the initial part I was trying to avoid a snag on a limb ready to eat my jacket, by the third hour I was ready for the celebration of a great ski day and my care slipped. Through pine trees and aspens a tear was bound to happen. With arrival at the car and inspection of the jacket I was amazed to see no rips or wear from the exit. Now granted I did not climb a chimney in the thing or wear the jacket for a month straight, but I know this jacket will survive some tough environments.


All around Mountain Hardwear has developed a product that can compete in the market and in the field. The cost is average at $475, but this is a high end jacket where many are in the $500 plus area. It overall impressed me, the only other thing to add would be some reinforced shoulders. This would add weight but many competitors are already producing this and it is something that is needed for the many people that are wearing packs. Also this Jacket is missing many features, though it makes it light weight, I would like to see more to this jacket. I felt the mechanism for loosing the hood was hard to use with gloves on. Also allow for a zip out skirt to help keep the body heat in and the snow out. Overall the DryQ technology is a success and many people will be talking about it next year, it will be great to see what innovations companies create to compete. I might not fully leave the soft-shell behind, but thanks to Mountain Hardwear’s Jovian jacket I have found a place for the hard shell again in my clothing ensemble.

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Posted: 20 October 2011 07:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Great review! MH is really pushing the idea that DryQ doesn’t require the heat pressure build up for the garment to breathe like Gore-tex does. Maybe DryQ will get me to take another look at hard shells too…

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Posted: 20 October 2011 09:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Do you think that the breathability makes sense like this in a hard shell?  How’d the wind protection hold up?  I know that when Im out in rough conditions, one of the biggest reasons I want a hard shell is wind protection.  Does the extra breathability defeat the purpose of this?  Im wondering if it is a contradiction in terms, an ultra breathable shell?  Hmm, does that line of thinking make sense to any one else?  Maybe I am missing the point.  Ive never been known for my smarts, just my ultra good looks…

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Posted: 20 October 2011 09:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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By the way YC, what bindings are you using?  Did you go for the Voile Light Rail or the Sparks?  Have you heard anything about those Karakoram binders?

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Posted: 20 October 2011 10:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Hey Mr. Killabeeski, I feel that if I would go with a hardshell in the coldest and nasty environments I think that a more gore-tex style shell that has a reduced breathablity would help in keeping you warm and this is also true in situation with down time, i.e. ice climbing.  In a colorado environment where you can wait an hour and the weather changes or high aerobic activity having a light weight breathable shell like the Jovian would be versitile and a great jacket.  Most soft shells are bulky and lack water resistance in the wet snow or freezing rain, where the Mountain Hardwears Jovian Jacket would help with both these issues. 

I currently ride sparks and love them.  The Voile Light rails are a great binding but I feel the sparks have the boot lower to the board increasing response and are a bit lighter.  The Voile’s offer the ejection strap but one could put that on most snowboard bindings.  Also where the wear occurs on the binding from skinning and sliding the binding on and off is replaceable with a few screws if the issue comes up, but I have used sparks for 60+ days and have had no issue.  I have not used the Karakorams yet and would like to try them in the near future.  The clips that hook the board together are reviewed by friends to hold the board together much tighter then the voile hooks.  For the binding themselves it is metal to metal conection with no plastic.  So if you huck, there is not a great deal of worries with the karakorum’s.  Where as with the Voile plastic pucks do break, which I have done a few times and seen happen to friends also.  If a splitboarder was to buy a board with out any interface I would recommend them to think about the karakoram bindings.  For $600 you get a great binding and interface.  the voile option is about a $100 dollars less and the interface comes with many of the decks on the market.

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Posted: 25 October 2011 12:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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So do you think give up on the soft shell and use the jovian for everything?  Is it that versatile?  I don’t know if I’m sold on this thing.  I’m pretty sold on wind stopper and pit zips in my arcteryx venta.  That thing is seam taped too so it is basically waterproof and waterproof.

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Posted: 06 November 2011 01:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I do think that the Jovian could be used for everything and that it is that versatile.  For only $75 more I do feel that you are getting a better shell.  I do feel that you are going to get more durability and warmth by it self with a soft shell.  With the Jovian you are getting a better layering system and huge weight benefits.  I still do use a soft shell frequently for its durability and affordability (save wear on the expensive hardshells), but the Jovian comes out in the nasty weather and long mountaineering/skiing days.  The Jovian is much more breathable compared to most hardshells but softshells still do have a slight advantage.

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