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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets and Vests > Mountain Hardwear Epic Jacket > Owner Review by Peter Spiller

Mountain Hardwear Epic Jacket
January 22, 2008

Owner Review By: Peter Spiller

BiographyField Conditions
Product Information
Field Report
Field LocationsConclusion

Personal Biography:
Name:Peter SpillerPeter Spiller
Age: 37
Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83m)
Weight:190 lb (86 kg)
City, State, Country:La Mesa, CA U.S.
Backpacking Background: I have been camping and hiking avidly since childhood.  In the last several years I have become more passionate about backpacking and kayaking, and have become a Chapter Outing Leader for the Sierra Club. I am also the Car-Camp Coordinator for the "Wilderness Basics" course held annually in San Diego.  I day hike locally most every weekend both alone, with other adults, and with my children.  I also plan and execute several longer-term trips each year, including many multi-day trips to the Anza-Borrego Desert, the Grand Canyon,  Snowshoeing in the Sierra Nevada's, and a father-daughter trip to Yosemite.


  Product information:
Manufacturer:Mountain HardwearMH Epic Jacket-from the Mountain Hardwear Website
photo courtesy of Mountain Hardwear
Manufacturers Website:
Listed Weight:13oz (390 g)
Delivered Weight:15 oz (425 g)
Purchased:January 2007
Manufacturers Description: (from the website) Superlight, fully waterproof, breathable backcountry shell with a Conduit™ Silk laminate.


Field Information:

Field Locations:

The Mountain Hardwear Epic jacket is primarily used in San Diego County, as well as one trip to Santa Catalina Island. This Epic jacket has also traveled to the High Sierras for a 10-day car camp trip, as well as a 3-day Father Daughter trip to Yosemite.  My Epic jacket functions as a integral part of my 10-essentials.  I carry it in my pack during the majority of my day hikes, and it is my primary shell for all seasons other than winter.


Field Conditions:

 The conditions vary from mild sea level chaparral, to oak and pine forests with substantially more temperature fluctuation .  San Diego County has a diverse climate, and the Epic Jacket has seen it all.  The coast has a tendency to have mild temperatures and damp air.  While the desert at opposite edge of the county is dry and windy. A bit of winter snow and rain is thrown in from the mountain range at the center of the county.  Precipitation in San Diego County tends to be sparse, but frequent enough to effectively evaluate this jacket.  The Sierra Nevada Mountains in central California has thunderstorms rolling through almost every summer afternoon, dropping precipitation almost daily,  and is a perfect climate to test a rain shell.  


Field Report:


I purchased my Mountain Hardwear Epic rain jacket as my primary rain jacket for backpacking and day hiking.  This jacket has traveled with me on virtually all my trips from the Anza-Borrego Desert in winter, to a soggy day-hike on Santa Catalina Island, to the unpredictable thunderstorms during summer camping in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It also has served as my go-to jacket for rainy days around town.

The Mountain Hardwear Epic Jacket is a light breathable rain shell, made out of Mountain Hardwear's waterproof, breathable Conduit Silk fabric laminated inside a ripstop nylon exterior.  The fabric is lightweight, and in my experiences lives up to its claim of being waterproof and breathable.  There is a napoleon pocket on the chest, with a water resistant zipper, two hand/venting pockets that run most of the length of each side of the front of the jacket, pit zips under each arm, and a hood with a small bill that rolls up and stows under a tab inside the collar.  There are one handed pulls to snug the bottom of the jacket, and a one handed pull at the back of the hood to draw it closer to the face.   The sleeves are adjusted with velcro tabs.  The exterior is a distinct orange color ripstop nylon fabric patterned with maroon and black accents.  The interior  is very smooth, with the Mountain Hardwear nut logo printed repeatedly on the fabric.  All of the seams are neatly seam taped with a clear tape.  I ordered a size large jacket, and the fit is as I expected, with enough room for a light-insulating layer underneath.

napoleon pocket and exterior fabricdetail of the sleeve
Detail of napoleon pocket and exterior fabric
Sleeve with Velcro closure

    This jacket has held up well in the 11-months I have owned it. It still looks virtually new after being compressed and stuffed in my pack, pulled out, worn while crawling through brush and rain, and then stuffed wet back into my pack on numerous occasions.   All of the zippers and accessories function as they did when new, and the fabric is still waterproof after a few cleanings.  I have not yet found the need to reapply a DWR treatment despite the manufacturer's recommendation of doing this before a rainy season, and once mid-season.  

    The Epic jacket has kept me dry during all the precipitation I have encountered, and served as an effective wind shirt in the cold dry windy conditions of the Anza-Borrego Desert in the winter.  The jacket is not ultra-light at 15oz (425 G), but the features it provides help justify the weight.  One of the most important features is a host of ventilation options when performing aerobic activities.   The pit zips and mesh-lined pockets provide me with a large number of configurations to regulate body temperature.   The fabric seems to breathe well, as I have not experienced any moisture problems in any of the situations I have worn it.  I do have one issue with the mesh-lined pockets.   In order for them to function as vents, they were designed to run almost the entire length of the jacket.   The zipper is closed when it is at the top of the pocket, which renders them useless as hand warmers unless they are wide open.   The inclusion of a second zipper pull that opens from the bottom would rectify this situation, and allow the use of the pockets in colder weather.

chest vents/handwarmer pockets
Detail of chest vents/hand warmer pockets

The hood is very large, and will fit over a helmet, or a hat.   I have found that the large size cuts off peripheral vision, and has a tendency to flop in my face unless tensioned down closely. I believe a slightly stiffer bill on the hood may rectify the problem. I also have found that rolling up the hood into the provided tab in the collar makes the collar very bulky and uncomfortable.  I prefer to leave the hood draped down my back when not in use. 



The Mountain Hardwear Epic jacket is an outstanding full-featured rain shell.  It has functioned admirably for me during the last 11-months of use in a wide variety of conditions.  It has proved itself to be waterproof, breathable and durable.   It has a great number of features built into the jacket that makes it a great choice for an all around rain jacket, and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for a jacket in this category. What follows is a list of pro and cons I have found using the jacket:


• Waterproof

• Breathable

• Durable

• Attractive styling

• Easy to regulate body temperature in the jacket


• Floppy hood limits vision

• Mesh side pockets are not useful as hand warmer pockets in cold weather

• Bulky uncomfortable collar when hood is rolled into it.


Read more gear reviews by Peter Spiller

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets and Vests > Mountain Hardwear Epic Jacket > Owner Review by Peter Spiller

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