If you’re considering a new mountaineering jacket, you might have discovered mountaineering enthusiasts divide themselves into two teams: team hardshell jacket or team softshell jacket. Climbing boards are full of debate on which is the better option for the activity.
Ultimately, in the debate over hardshell vs. softshell, it comes down to personal preference and your area of exploration. But for this article, we’re going to join team hardshell jacket. Here are five reasons why we think hardshell jackets, well, rock!
1. A hardshell jacket will provide you weather protection
A quality-made softshell jacket may be able to keep you protected from any light water or snow off the mountain, but if you find yourself on a mountain with an approaching storm, only a hardshell will suffice. The Arc'teryx Alpha SV Jacket, for example, is designed for mountaineering and climbing and all the extreme conditions that come along with those pastimes. All the best waterproofing technology won’t matter if your jacket seams aren’t protected. With the Arc’teryx jacket, strategically placed narrow GORE-SEAM® TAPE seals out water.
2. Hardshell jackets are designed to be breathable (seriously)
Tucked into those online mountaineering message boards are complaints about sweating and failed breathability. But with the right jacket, you really can get full hardshell protection without the worries of heating up within. The Patagonia Refugitive Jacket is made with GORE® C-KNIT™ backer technology for an even more breathable hardshell that’s still waterproof and windproof. Equipped with highly breathable GORE-TEX fabric and Pit Zips, this jacket will keep you dry and comfortable.
3. They’re built to last, while still allowing for ample mobility
You spend hours inches away from tough, mountain rock. You need a jacket that is durable and will hold up even if you encounter a screamer. The Outdoor Research Axiom jacket is made with GORE-TEX Active fabric, which was created to meet the intense aerobic demands of any alpine athlete. The soft fabric combined with the athletic trim fit makes for a superior jacket that won’t hold you back or get in the way of your tools.
4. Hardshell jackets are light enough to throw in your pack
Depending on your location, you may not have to worry about weather conditions often. A lightweight shell gives you the freedom to keep that might-need protection in your pack, just in case. As we all know, even a few extra ounces can make a difference in the backcountry. The Arc'teryx Alpha FL jacket weighs in at just about 11.5 ounces. This waterproof, windproof jacket offers ultimate breathability, freedom of movement, all while minimizing its weight. Basically, everything you could ask for in an outdoor jacket.
5. Bright colors can help during a rescue
Often, people head to the outdoors looking for solitude. Brightly colored outerwear can disrupt that feeling of solitude, which is why Leave No Trace advises only using brightly colored gear when necessary. However, when it comes to activities like mountaineering and climbing, the organization does deem bright gear necessary for safety. In a worst case scenario, your bright jacket may make it easier for rescuers to locate you after an avalanche or fall. For a brightly colored mountaineering jacket check out the following:
- Haglofs Roc Spirit Jacket in Dynamite or Glow Green
- Arc'teryx Beta LT Hybrid Jacket in Masago or Thalo Blue
- Marmot Cerro Torre Jacket in Vibrant Yellow or Team Red
When selecting a mountaineering jacket, there are many components to keep in mind. Find a shell that works for you and can protect you from any elements you may encounter. Happy climbing!