Just arrived, refreshingly sleek entry level waterproof shell jacket from Mountain Hardwear.
Why should a basic, affordable, hill-walking jacket look or be any less effective than a top-end shell? That was the question Mountain Hardwear asked themselves and their answer was the new Plasmic Jacket, a 'slicker than the average shell' waterproof with a price-tag of £110.
Lightweight But Tough?
We've just got one in for review and it's a neat bit of kit. For starters, it's decently light at a measured 280g for a size medium jacket. A fair bit of that is down to the lightweight 2.5-layer own-brand Dry.Q EVAP fabric that uses an interior print-type pattern to speed up wicking and evaporation through a PU-based membrane.
MHW says it's decently breathable - no pit-zips needed or fitted - and comfortable to wear with an inside surface that's not 'sticky and plasticky' and an outside that uses durable Nylon with a micro rip-stop pattern. Feels reassuringly tough too.
Clean Zip Styling
It looks cleanly styled too. One of the main reasons for that is the use of a chunky, exposed YKK Vislon Aquaguard weather-resistant, which is usually only specced on much more expensive jackets and is backed up with an internal storm-flap. We like Vislon zips, not just because they look good, but because they run really cleanly and easily with no snagging or fuss, one of the reasons they're starting to appear on down clothing too.
Cut is good too in a trim, 'not tight, not loose, just right' sort of way with a medium sort of length. We can layer it easily over a microfleece, but it's not at all flappy. We like the detailing too. In no particular order, single-sided hem adjuster cord, Velcro cuff tabs and tethered semi-concealed hood adjusters, so no cord flappage.
Hug A Hood
The hood's generally good too with a nice close fit, though in an ideal world, we'd prefer more stiffness in the peak for UK conditions. Our other minor quibble is with the twin hand-warmer pockets. They're sat a little low, which is fine for wearing around town and, indeed, for hand-warming duties, but does mean that they tend to sit under a rucksac belt, making them fiddly with a pack in place and there's no higher-sited alternative.
Overall though, we reckon the Plasmic is a cracking jacket for the price. The cut is spot on, the hood fits well and moves with your head, and the 2.5-layer fabric manages a neat double act of being both light and feeling decently tough thanks to the Nylon face. If it breathes and wicks as well as MHW claims, it should work impressively well.
Above all it's a jacket that shows you don't necessarily need to break the bank to buy a well-fitting, neatly featured waterproof shell for general hill-walking use.
More once we've used it for real in the tropical delights of the British spring. Price for the Plasmic is £110, more at www.mountainhardwear.eu.