Guest - Not logged in 

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets and Vests > Mountain Hardwear Alchemy Jacket > Owner Review by Jennifer Koles

Mountain Hardwear Alchemy Jacket
Owner Review
Jennifer Koles
March 20, 200


Personal Information

Name:  Jennifer Koles
Age:  32
Gender:  Female
Height:  5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Weight: 140 lb (64 kg)
Email address: jennksnowy at yahoo dot com
City, State, and Country:  Salt Lake City, Utah, United States

Backpacking Background

I started taking overnight backpacking trips three years ago in the Uinta Mountain Range in Utah. I found myself taking entirely too much gear. I am finding out slowly how to minimize my needs and not require extra luxuries. My previous outdoor experiences consisted of 4-wheel-drive camping in primitive areas and day hiking. I use a four season convertible tent or a three season tent for my shelter. I plan to take more trips, increase my duration, and reduce my two to three day backpack base weight from 17 lb (8 kg).

Product Information

Manufacturer: Mountain Hardwear
Year of Manufacture: 2006 (2007 Model)
Model: Women's Alchemy Jacket (also available in a men's model)
Manufacturer Website:
Color Reviewed: Deep Sea/Shark (royal blue and dark grey)
Colors Available: Avocado/Shark; Black/Shark; Deep Sea/Shark; Red Onion/Shark
Size Reviewed: Large 
Sizes available: XS, SM, MD, LG, XL
Manufacturer Stated Weight: 19.34 oz (548 g)
Measured Weight: 23 oz (652 g)
Warranty: "Mountain Hardwear guarantees that the materials and workmanship in every product we make will stand up to the use for which it was designed. This warranty does not cover damages caused by improper care, accidents or the natural breakdown of materials over extended time and use." This warranty information was obtained from the manufacturer's website.
MSRP: $240.00 USD

Alchemy Jacket

Image obtained from the manufacturer's website

Product Description

The Alchemy is considered a soft shell jacket. The manufacturer classifies the Alchemy as a jacket that is suited for ice or alpine climbing. My fiancé has the men's version of the Alchemy and he boasted about it for a few months. After taking possession of his Alchemy (that did not fit me very well), I decided to purchase one myself.

The jacket runs small in size. According to the size chart I was at the high end of the medium sizing so I ordered a large. Actually the retailer advised me to do so. My Alchemy fits me well and I am very happy that I ordered up a size.

The cut of the Alchemy is a close fitting, articulated, alpine cut. It is actually quite sharp looking. The jacket fabric is composed of a three layer laminate composed of a GORE-TEX WINDSTOPPER fabric with an inner fleece lining. This fabric is claimed by the manufacturer to be windproof, breathable, and water resistant. Nylon and Lycra taslan composes the shell body and the WINDSTOPPER membrane is laminated to it. This shell body has a DWR (durable water repellent) finish. The material is noted as having a two way stretch. I found the body and the fleece lining of the shell to have a soft touch. It is a very comfortable jacket.

One small inner pocket is on the right inside of the jacket and there are two larger hand type pockets on the exterior right and left side of the jacket. These exterior pockets are located more towards the front of the Alchemy. On the left sleeve there is a small pocket with welded seams that is perfect for a MP3 player or other small items. All the pockets have a reverse zipper to assist with keeping water out.

Centered at the back of the collar is a draw cord with the Mountain Hardware logo embroidered directly below it. Measuring at 2.75 in (7 cm) near the zipper to 3.25 in (8 cm) in the rear center of the collar, this is not a very high collar, which I actually like.

Two draw cords can be found on the inside of the jacket on the lower hem. Cord locks hold the cords in place. This is to obtain a more snug fit at the bottom of the jacket.

Where did I Use the Alchemy?

I have worn it while backpacking, hiking, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and x-country skiing primarily in the Utah Wasatch and Uinta Mountains.

The elevation ranges in these locations were 5,300 ft to 10,200 ft (1,600m to 3, 100 m). I encountered various temperatures during the testing period ranging from -11 F to 41 F (-24 C to 5 C). The field conditions consisted of snow, light rain, sunshine, cloudy skies, and wind on various days.

In the picture to the right it was around 2 F (-17 C). Burr..but, I was toasty warm in the Alchemy. On this ski trip I had an expedition weight and a silk weight base layer under the jacket. I actually became too hot while skiing uphill for 6 mi (10 km). While skiing down the canyon the Alchemy kept me warm. I was going so fast that layer of ice built up on the back of the collar. No wind was penetrating through the Alchemy.

Using various types of base layers dependent on the weather conditions I was never cold in the Alchemy. I actually became too warm on several occasions.

Both of us with Alchemy jackets

My fiancé and I at Alta Ski Resort in Utah. We are both wearing Alchemy jackets.


x-country skiing while wearing the Alchemy

How Did The Alchemy Perform?

How was my first winter using the Alchemy jacket? Awesome! I love the Alchemy jacket. I can not wait to use it in the spring months in shady canyons while rock climbing. However, there is one feature I would like added to this jacket. That would be some pit zips. While skiing I became overheated so I unzipped the font of the jacket, eventually that became chilly so I zipped it up again. Then of course I became to hot. It was like I was having hot flashes. With pit zips I would be able to have more venting options and not have to expose my chest to the chilly air.

Wind did not penetrate the Alchemy and neither did light precipitation. It is yet to be worn in a rain storm. The fabric shields from snow and drizzle quite well.

My MP3 player fits comfortably in the left arm pocket. That is the preferred location instead of placing it inside the jacket. Then it does not hit me in the chest when I am hiking or skiing.

The style of the jacket is great. I love the trim fit. All my friends love it. They touch it when they see it. They can not resist it. Almost everyone compliments it. I think it is stylish. Now I would not wear it to the Oscars, but I am not going there anyway. But, it was stylish enough to be worn on the beach one chilly afternoon in Southern California.

The jacket is somewhat pricey. But, there are deals to be found out there.

This is a really great jacket.


Read more gear reviews by Jennifer Koles

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets and Vests > Mountain Hardwear Alchemy Jacket > Owner Review by Jennifer Koles

Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

All material on this site is the exclusive property of
BackpackGearTest software copyright David Anderson