Mountain Equipment Hardshell Comparison

Buying a new waterproof jacket can be a bit of minefield as there are hundreds of jackets available, each using different terminologies, 'technologies', fits, materials and designed for different purposes. In an effort to make the task a little bit easier, we've written out a guide below which runs through all of the jackets available from Mountain Equipment (ME) to at least narrow it down. We're big fans of ME here at Succinct Gear Reviews so have spent a lot of time in the past getting to grips with the ins and outs of their jackets, thus why we've been able to put together this guide.


The Mountain Equipment Changabang in its element in Cogne. (©SuccinctGearReviews)

Material


Most of the Mountain Equipment jackets used GORE-TEX® in one of its forms. GORE-TEX® is a laminated membrane fabric which has, arguably due to their strong marketing department, become the house-hold name for waterproof materials. We'll note here that many alternatives do exist and in practice we haven't found GORE-TEX® to necessarily be a step above the rest. Ultimately, a shell is a shell an no matter what the marketing tells you about its 'breathability', you'll still sweat buckets if you're pushing yourself with it on. The materials used by Mountain Equipment for their shells are as follows:

3 Layer GORE-TEX®

The standard GORE-TEX® fabric. With the 3 layer option, the membrane is bonded to both the face and the inner fabric to form a single fabric. 

3 Layer GORE-TEX® Pro

As per the standard GORE-TEX® but better. It's allegedly more durable and 'beefy' than the standard Gore-Tex material. GORE-TEX® also claim 28% better breathability for the same waterproofness.

C-Knit GORE-TEX®

As per a 3 layer Gore-Tex fabric but the inner material used is a dense mesh rather than a standard fabric which makes it light, more breathable and softer to the touch than a 3 layer Gore-Tex fabric. This is one of the newer Gore-Tex 'Technologies'.

DRILITE®

DRILITE® is a propriety Mountain Equipment membrane technology. We've not tested DRILITE® in the field so cannot comment on its performance but if other propriety products are anything to go by, we're pretty confident it will give GORE-TEX® a run for its money.

Testing the effectiveness of GORE-TEX® in the Scottish hills (©SuccinctGearReviews)

Fabric Weight


Fabric weight is an important factor to consider in purchasing a jacket. The heavier the fabric, the tougher it will be but as a consequence the garment weight will increase. The fabric weight should therefore be chosen depending on what the jacket is intended to be used for. Fabric weight is generally measured in Deniers (D) which represents the weight of the yarns used in the fabric. The actual definition is the weight of a single 9,000m long stand of the material used in grams relative to a silk fibre which is 1D. In short however the bigger the number, the tougher the fabric is.


The choice of material weight you will want for a jacket will therefore depend on the use you will have for a jacket. As a general guide:
  • 10-20D = Ultra-light fabric
    • Running jackets - Will be kept in the bag most of the day.
  • 30-80D = Standard weight fabric
    • 30-40D - Walking jackets, unlikely to abrade against rocks
    • 40-60D - Skiing jackets, worn all day and need some resistance in case of falls.
    • 60-80D - Climbing jackets, likely to see a lot of rock abraison
  • 100-200D = Heavyweight fabric
    • Often used for bags

The physical weight of the garment may also factor into your considerations when comparing the jackets with approximately 300g of difference between the heaviest ME jacket and the lightest. None of the ME jackets can be considered as Ultra-light so if it's a running jacket you're looking for we'd recommend looking at another manufacturer.


Testing the effectiveness of 80D on a classic Cairngorm Granite route, Stirling Bomber, Coire an T'Schneachda. (©Brian Pollock)

Cuts


ME jackets come in basically two different cuts which can be summarised as follows:

Alpine Fit - Close fitting but with a good range of movement.

Mountain Fit - Less close fitting than the Alpine fit to accommodate extra layers or for people who find the alpine fit too sung.


Hoods


ME have developed an array of hoods to satisfy the range of requirements for the different users of their jackets. One of the major gripes with waterproof jackets in modern times is the large hood volumes used when a majority of users, in the UK anyways, are unlikely to use a helmet and thus have to deal with a flapping hood when it gets windy.

Super Alpine HC - ME's latest climbing helmet compatible hood. Largest volume and good mobility when used with a helmet.

Mountain HC - Designed for jackets where the user will occasionally use a helmet. Second smallest volume.

Mountain - Smaller volume than the Mountain HC hood, used for jackets where the wearer isn't expecting to wear a helmet.


Ryan demonstrating the spacious Super Alpine HC hood on the Tupilak jacket. (©SuccinctGearReviews)

Other


Other features present in some of the jackets which should be taken into consideration include:

Snow Skirt - Can be useful for ski jackets to prevent snow from coming up into the jacket. Usually removable.

Storm Construction - Jackets featuring this have been built using ME's best seaming technologies and zips to ensure that no water can make its way in.

2 Way main zip - Useful for climbing jackets if a belay device will be used on the harness whilst the jacket is on.

Armpit zip - Good for venting as Hardshells are notoriously sweaty.


Snow Skirt, a useful feature if you're planning on decking out a lot. (©Brian Pollock)

Comparison

See below for our comparison of all the ME Hardshell jackets. This can also be found digitally here:

Comparison Table of ME Jackets. (©SuccinctGearReviews)

Recommended:


Based on our experience of the ME jacket range as well as the intended designs of the jackets, our following recommended jackets are as follows:

All Mountain - Changabang
Climbing and Mountaineering - Tupilak
Trekking and Walking - Odyssey
Skiing - Havoc


Our favourite jacket, the Tupilak, on test in the Cairngorms, Route Major, Carn Etchachan. (©SuccinctGearReviews)


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