just In - Mountain Hardwear Plasmic Jacket

Just arrived, refreshingly sleek entry level waterproof shell jacket from Mountain Hardwear.

Posted: 2 April 2013
by Jon

The Plasmic's clean look is partly down to the use of a slick YKK Vislon zip.
Captive hood cords mean no flappage in high winds.
2.5-layer Dry.Q Evap fabric uses a surface print to wick moisture. Zip gets internal storm flap.
Hood would benefit from a stiffer peak, but fits well and moves with your head.

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.

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Discuss this story

I bought a Plasmic from Cotswold on 4 March and tried it out on the Fairfield Horseshoe a couple of days later. It was dry but there was a cold wind blowing. I have to say that I was disappointed with breathability/wicking as I was wet inside. Perhaps I need to give it another chance and will be interested to read the review and other users comments.

Posted: 03/04/2013 at 09:49

MHW appear to be one of these brands that use a generic term in this case DryQ fabric to describe a number of different fabrics.  When I first heard of DryQ it was being used to describe a fabric made to MHW spec that had an event type PTFE membrane which resulted in a very breathable fabric.  The fabric used to make the Plasmic jacket appears to be completely different with the only thing they have in common being the "brand name" applied to the fabric.  At the very least this is confusing.  The North Face seem to have a similar problem with its "own brand" waterproof fabic called HyVent.  Last time I looked on the TNF website their were about five different versions of the fabric all using the same name but with different technical specifications for things like the MVRT and Hydrostatic Head and weather they were three layer or 2.5 layer fabrics.

Posted: 03/04/2013 at 20:46

The eVent-based fabric is called Dry.Q Elite and it's what they use for their top-end jackets - they add their own backer and face fabric to the membrane which they buy from GE. The 2.5-layer fabric in the Plasmic is different, but I wouldn't write it off just because it's not eVent (though eVent has a 2.5 layer fabric this year, which Rab using alongside the Pertex Shield 2.5 layer fabric.

You'll also be delighted to know that Lowe Alpine has three versions of Triplepoint due out later this year: one is based on eVent, one is based on Sympatex and the third is the original Triplepoint Ceramic reborn.

And yes, it is a little confusing. The brands would argue that it allows them to use the best possible technology for any particular purpose and price. Ultimately, an entry level jacket is unlikely to use a top-end breathable fabric simply because they cost a lot.

Posted: 04/04/2013 at 15:46

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