Gear Review: Wild Things Alpinist Hardshell Jacket

A super breathable hardshell that also offers great protection.

[breathable fortress]

Most jackets with worst-conditions protection sacrifice some breathability. Not the Alpinist. The breathability of the eVent fabric received the highest marks in the test for the three-layer category. On a trip to Baffin Island, one tester used the jacket while climbing Ottowa Peak, which rises 4,000 feet from the frozen ocean. Humping a 65-pound load of gear, cameras, and skis that was so awkward he didn’t dare readjust, he did the whole hike in a single push without taking off his pack. “The breathability and venting had to be perfect,” he says, “as there was no opportunity to switch it up or shed a layer.”

Long, four-way pit zips (each pit zip has four zipper heads, two in the middle and one at either end for fine-tuning the amount of air needed) helped him stay comfortable on the climb, but even with the zips closed, the fabric did the job. “When we were cross-country skiing, we were working up a lot of core heat, and the jacket did a great job of breathing even when I couldn’t unzip due to the weather.” Details are also dialed, like two chest pockets that are easily accessible while wearing a pack, and a substantial hood that’s constructed of 70-denier fabric for extra protection (alpine climbers loved it, others felt it was overbuilt). Minor ding: It’s “crackly and noisy.” $399; 1 lb. 4 oz.; m’s XS-XXL, w’s XS-XL; wildthingsgear.com