Mountain Hardwear Tempest SL
Weight: 443g (large)
Riding, running (well OK, more like shuffling along with wooden legs than proper bouncy non-cyclist running) and wandering about going “look I’ve got a proper hard outdoor jacket on I have”. All in a wide variety of typically horrible British winter weather including whole afternoons of rain, drizzle and other climatic spit, and a couple of real hose downs.Who?
Mountain Hardwear have been gradually building up a line of top performing and innovative outdoor gear for the past 8 years, but have only come to prominence in the UK in the last year or so. Jon from OUTDOORSmagic is a big fan of the stuff, and he was kind enough to lend us this jacket for test. Unfortunately for him we’ve been unkind enough to hang onto it for ages –sorry luv, but we like it!What?
Mountain Hardwear have a reputation for unorthodox thinking that produces excellent results. However until you actually try it, the “on the label” explanation often makes you feel you’re paying a lot of cash for what you’re getting. The Tempest SL is no exception.
For a start although the silky fabric (“breathable Conduit SL membrane laminated to a very fine 30D rip-stop nylon face material” according to Jon) is waterproof, the big pit zips and lack of seam sealing mean they can only call it “weather resistant”.
The whole jacket has a ‘Vapor-Therm’ wicking fabric liner, which keeps your base layers dry and adds a bit of warmth against wet and wind rattling the outside.
Cuffs are Velcro strap and elastic, which are easy enough to snug down or slide up according to weather. The hem is slightly dropped at the rear, with a single handed drawcord at each side to take up slack. Another internal elastic drawcord at waist level tightens across the back, to create a hip hugging fit and keep the big arm vents open. The high neck gets elasticated drawcords which also adjust the very neat roll away hood. This is thin enough to sit under a helmet but doesn’t get in the way when stowed and even gets a wire peak for keeping off rain.
A storm flapped one way zip runs up the front, with two zipped handpockets, and a chest pocket big enough to swallow even a laminated OS map easily, which is a welcome change.Does it work?
As it’s not officially waterproof you’d therefore be forgiven for thinking you can get a similar shower top for around £60, but the proof is in the wearing.
For a start, as the jacket is cunningly cut to avoid seams over the top and front of the shoulders, the bit that takes the brunt of the rain when riding is plenty water proof, even once it’s thoroughly wetted out. Even if we did get seepage on long, wet rides it was still warm and cosy inside, drying quickly as soon as the rain stopped. The cut also gives plenty of upper arm movement (designed for climbers but equally useful for singletracking) without dragging up the hem or sleeves.
The fabric itself is impressively breathable, with the liner taking the edge off cold winds and sleet making it much more winter happy than a thin single skin windproof shell. If the heat gets too much the huge belly to elbow pit zips give superb air conditioning, meaning you can leave the jacket on through a wide range of weather and hard work situations. Single hand elastic drawcords can be opened or shut easily, and the waist and hem cords mean you can snug it all down if you want.
The map pocket is great (simply because it takes a laminated map with ease) and the handwarmer pockets come in handy (ho ho) when you’re off the bike, as does the stowaway hood.
The only drawbacks we can think of are the thermal liner which restricts its’ usefulness during showery summer weather and the lightness of the material which we’d be slightly concerned about crashing on regularly.Should I buy one?
If you’ve got the money and want a very versatile but still very high performance jacket that you can wear out round town without getting pelted with abuse then this could be your ideal anorak. We’ll certainly miss it when we have to send it back to Jon.
For more information on the rest of Mountain Hardwear’s rugged range of gear head for www.mountainhardwear.com