Pros: Lightweight, Waterproof, Rugged, Well styled, Comfortable
Cons: None really - may be pricey for some
If you are in the market for a well-made, waterproof shell, Mountain Hardwares Epic Jacket, is definitely worth your time. Priced competitively with other name brand lightweight shell jackets, the Epic is well made, waterproof, ultralight and most importantly, comfortable to wear.
Probably the last thing I needed to buy when I was in Freeport earlier this year was another jacket, but as I was in the LL Bean store, Mountain Hardwares Epic Jacket just called to me. It looked cool, was reasonably priced (I love the clearance center) and my only other lightweight shell was approaching retirement age, so my to my partners chagrin, I got it for myself.
The Epic Jacket is a lightweight (practically ultralight), waterproof, breathable shell jacket that provides protection during rainy weather in the summertime and can act as an outer, protective layer in the wintertime.
Constructed of Mountain Hardwares Ark Ripstop fabric and Conduit SILK coating, the jacket only weighs a total of 13 ounces (under a pound) and feels very light compared to other shell jackets that I have had.
The Ark Ripstop nylon fabric is a heavy-duty, rip resistant nylon fabric that stands up to the rigors of outdoor use quite well. The Conduit SILK coating on the inside of the jacket gives it both its waterproofness and allows the nylon fabric to continue to breath. Mountain Hardware claims that this system of construction is comparable to traditional waterproof/breathable laminates and compared to other breathable jackets I have, I would have to agree with them.
The jacket is made with a slight athletic cut, with the bottom narrowing down slightly and the sleeves are cut to allow for more natural movement, especially when you are wearing other layers beneath the jacket. There are velcro tabs on the cuffs of each sleeve, which allow you to adjust the fit of the sleeves around your wrist.
Venting for the jacket is provided through the mesh pockets (which can be zipped open or closed) and through the pit zips underneath each sleeve. For storage, in addition to the two front hand pockets, there is also a welded chest pocket with a water-resistant zipper that provides a dry, secure area for small items.
The jacket has drawcords to tighten the bottom and a single-pull hood adjustment system which makes it easy to tighten and loosen the hood. For comfort when you have the jacket fully zipped and the hood on, there is a chin guard in the jacket that is lined with micro-chamois, which gives your chin a smooth little place to rest.
Ive taken the Epic backpacking several times and Ive used it throughout the summer as my warm weather raincoat. In both situations, it has worked well. When Im backpacking its fitted enough so as to be comfortable underneath a backpack, but not so much that its restrictive to moving around, especially on some rougher hikes where youve got to use youre arms climbing around. The jacket is waterproof I made it through downpours and misty weather without getting wet underneath. The breathability of the Epic has also been a plus for hiking especially in warmer weather with the ventilation zips open, the jacket is not that uncomfortable, except in the warmest of weather, and at that point, why are you even wearing a raincoat?
As an around-town raincoat, the Epic has also worked well even though I dislike wearing a raincoat in the summertime since it tends to be warm when it rains and most raincoats are clammy and hot. The Epic is better between the breathable fabric and the ventilation zips, like when you are hiking, all but the warmest of wet weather is comfortable. The Epic also looks good, which while it may not matter for the woods, helps when youre wearing out and around at home.
When it comes to durability, Ive found that the Epic is well made. Ive been on several bushwhacking hiking trips where Ive been busting through thick spruce and balsam woods or wading through raspberry and pricker bushes. I havent noticed any holes, tears or rips in the fabric, which is an improvement over one of my past last lightweight shells, which looked like swiss cheese after a couple of bushwhacking trips.
On clearance, I got the Epic Jacket for about $75, which I thought was a bargain. Even at its more standard pricing between $100 and $125 is, what I would consider, money well spent. Mountain Hardware is a dependable brand that produces mountain tested and approved gear that should stand up to the rigors of heavy, outdoors use.
And thats just what Ive found with my Epic Jacket. Its handled hiking and bushwhacking with ease and looked just as good when I wear it around town running errands. The material is rugged enough to stand up to regular, heavy use and the jacket design provides for a freedom of movement in a comfortable, breathable material that is comfortable in almost any temperature.
If I had to do it all over again, Id get the Epic Jacket from Mountain Hardware. I have found it to be comfortable to wear, rugged and well-made, both waterproof and breathable and overall a quality jacket that I am glad to own.