Gear Review: Mountain Hardwear Alakazam Softshell

This breathable softshell combats weather like the best hardshells do.


Caught in a soaking sleet storm in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, our tester was glad to have the Alakazam, which, unlike traditional softshells, delivers total weather protection. The hybrid design incorporates breathable (yet waterproof) softshell fabric on the sides and underarms, and three-layer hardshell everywhere else. Result: “Not a hint of leakage, and in really cold conditions, I didn’t get steamy on climbs,” he reports. Pit zips offer additional ventilation, but the priority here is weatherproofing. The heavy fabrics intended for nuclear conditions and multiple pockets (six) slow moisture transfer through the Dry.Q Elite membrane. On mild days, testers said it felt “overbuilt.” The hood earned props for its extended brim, and a removable powder skirt and snug cuffs seal out snow. All those pockets gave our tester “plenty of places to stash stuff,” and the layout keeps them out of the way of harnesses, shoulder straps, and hipbelts. Bummer: Price. $550; 1 lb. 12 oz.; S-XXL;

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