Lightweight with good stretch makes the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Jacket a great all round mountain hardshell
Lightweight hardshells abound I the outdoor clothing sector so it’s often difficult to carve out a niche when the choices are many. But as I have discovered over the many hundreds of hours I have stood in the rain, lightweight is not everything. Yes, I want a hardshell that is light and compact but I also want one that is going to keep me warm and relatively dry and that compromise between light and dry one I have battened with for many years.
For my own personal climbing and mountaineering I am happy to wear a lightweight jacket but for work when I’m standing around more getting cold, I prefer something a little more heavyweight. It’s important to remember that for fast moving mountain activities it is next to impossible to stay dry as you have the heat from your body against cold (and often damp) air. This will cause condensation and you will feel damp – period! What you hope for is that a hardshell will keep you warmer and a little drier than just your fleece. If you really want to test how waterproof a jacket is you need to stand still in the rain – then just see how quickly you get cold!
So where does the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Jacket fit in this range? Well, I’ve been using it this summer for mostly mountaineering (the driest year in the UK for well over 20 years made it a challenge, but hey I wasn’t complaining!). I have found the jacket a neat combination of lightness and waterproofing as well as a great windprooof for the couple of times I’ve used it for rock climbing on cooler days. But mostly mountaineering and hiking are what the Stretch Ozonic is best suited to. It has all the features you will need to provide shelter from the elements when you need it.
The Dry. Q Active membrane and the redesigned pit vents make for good breathability when on the move for approaches and fast movement en route. I will keep you dry when the clouds roll in and I also found it kept the clag at bay on those cloudy summit days when moisture just seems to get through everything. The Stretch Ozonic is a 2.5 layer jacket so as well as the membrane there is a tough 40D outer with a DWR (which has lasted well as well as being tough enough to be abused for climbing). This doesn’t affect the weight though and the Stretch Ozonic weighed in at 321g on the trusty CGR scales for the size Medium I tested. The stated weight is 318g for a size Medium.
I found the Stretch Ozonic very stretchy, one the most stretch hardshells I’ve used. The technology has really come on in recent years and you can really feel the stretch on this jacket. It is perfect for those activities where you might need some stretch: rock moves, running and mountain scrambling. Mountain Hardwear describe the fit of the Stretch Ozonic as standard and I would agree. I tested out a size medium and I am a U.K. 40” chest. The Ozonic fitted well with just a baselyer for running and fitted snugly with a mid layer fleece. It was tight when used with an insulation piece so I am not recommending using it for winter climbing. It would, however be great for winter running; I’ve been testing the jacket out in spring and summer conditions but I can see it being very useful in winter, particularly on those faster days in good weather when you are on the move and not belaying.
The hood is helmet compatible (just) and has a simple one handed adjustment. This cinched the hood tight with or without a hat on (my preference is to wear a peaked cap and cinch the hood over that). It didn’t need tightening with a helmet on. The hood peak is non wired, which is standard for North American hoods but it is is well laminated and worked as good as any hood peak I’ve used. As always my preference is to adjust the hood before I need to use It and then pull it up over my head when needed and adjust from there. The cord lock is situated in a covered ‘garage’ and was tricky to find with gloves on. There are two cord locks on the hem cinch so the Ozonic can be cinched up to help keep the wind out.
The new Ozonic has been redesigned with longer pit zips than the previous model which works great for fast moving days where you might be wearing the jacket all day. More ventilation can be achieved by mesh lined hand warmer pockets These are too low to be helmet and running vest compatible but are fine for keeping your hands warm on cold approaches with a pack on. There is also a handy mesh lined chest pocket which is very useful for keeping small energy bars and even my phone in. The YKK Vislon main zip is easy to use with gloves on and has a well sized storm flap to keep that driving rain out. I do like the bar tacking detail on the zip covers and it is even used on the hanger tab (which is a great touch and very rare)
In conclusion, the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic is a well made, lightweight shell that is super stretchy and able to move through any direction you put it through. It works great with a harness on and when wearing pack. I have used it throughout the Spring and Summer for a variety of mountain activities including: running, rock climbing, hiking and mountaineering and it has performed well. It a little heavy for a truly lightweight shell but makes up for it in the stretch.
The Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic comes in an amazing 6 colour combinations and sizes S – XL.
SRP £180 and is available from specialist retailers.