Mountain Hardwear asked
us to test its Swift Jacket in Gore-tex Paclite - at just 380gr the
lightest and most breathable shell in it's extremely technical clothing
range. We used it from icefalls in the Dolomites to the "best" driving
rain the English Lake District and SW coast had to offer. And we
understood not only why these areas are so evergreen, but also why we
liked the Swift jacket so much.
Functional and essential
The Swift Jacket is a jacket marked by it's bare-bone, essential nature, by the fact that all its functions we conceived for a precise reason. Starting with the only two pockets, placed at the front and relatively high up so as to be accessible even with a rucksack on and waist strap closed tight. The zips are obviously waterproof and never showed signs of wear and tear, just like the underarm ventilation zips. The chin guard is lined in Micro-chamois so as to keep the chin smooth. The cuffs can be closed with a thin velcro strip, and the waist can be shut by using the hemcord.
There's not much more to the Swift Jacket than this, apart from the beautifully large hood (which easily covers a helmet) with its laminated brim. The hood can adjusted with just one hand and when not needed can be rolled up into the collar. From our point of view this is the only "superfluous" feature and, clearly, this boils down to questions of taste.
The waterproof Paclite soul
Waterproof and breathable are the buzzwords for outdoor clothing and, as mentioned above, the Swift Jacket uses Gore-tex Paclite (a laminated combination of an internal Paclite membrane and an external Paclite Ripstop) that the weather stays out not in. Paclite has a series of advantages of 3 layer Gore-tex: unlike traditional Gore-tex it does not need a separate internal lining, meaning that the jacket is 15% lighter compared to similar 3 layer jackets whilst being more compact. Furthermore, Paclite has the advantage of being far more breathable (40% according to Gore-tex itself) - this is an important factor during long aerobic activities. Obviously all seams are heat sealed with the Gore-seam technology to ensure that seams are 100% waterproof. How does all this perform outdoors? Extremely well - total protection from the elements, from rain to snow, hail and strong winds. And since the jacket was so light and packable, it followed us wherever we went: when the weather was good in remained stowed in the bottom of our pack, ready for action whenever necessary.
Cuts a figure
Like all Mountain Hardwear jackets the Swift Jacket is sophisticated and profiled and we found the fit was fairly narrow. Since it has no lining it will be worn over several layers in cold conditions; be careful not to wear too many!
We used the Swift Jacket for almost a year, in all seasons and in practically all mountain sports. It doesn't have any reinforced areas, but despite this the Swift Jacket, with its Ripstop shell, shows no sign of wear and tear. This robustness pleasantly surprised us and is further confirmation of the valor of this ultra-light, reliable jacket.
If you are searching for a simple, functional, lightweight and robust jacket then look no further than the Mountain Hardwear Swift Jacket.