Mountain Hardwear knows their climbing gear, and that’s a fact. They’ve never been afraid to blend technologies and chase innovation and their Hyaction jacket is a perfect example of this design philosophy.
Mountain Hardwear Hyaction Jacket Features:
- Dry.Q™ EVAP accelerates evaporation for more breathability and comfort
- Exposed water resistant Vislon Aquaguard center front zipper
- Reinforced abrasion areas for durability
- Pockets set high and out of the way from harness and pack straps
- Water resistant, harness compatible zip hand pockets
- Apparel Fit: Active
- Weight: 9 oz. / 255 g.
- MSRP: $350.00
Ultralight protection on the crag or glacier
This summer I’ve been working with a fantastic non-profit called Peak 7 Adventures. Peak 7 takes youth from the Pacific Northwest on backpacking and mountaineering trips including destinations like Sahale, Shuksan, Glacier Peak and Mt. Baker. Naturally I’ve been having a stellar time testing gear as I head out with new clients each week and the Hyaction from Mountain Hardwear was my companion on both Mt. Baker and Sahale Peak. Why did I choose it? It’s stupidly lightweight protection at just 9oz. Yes, there are several other ultralight shells on the market, but none of them offer the no-holds-barred protection of the Hyaction.
The jacket is a mixture of two fabric types which both have a high degree of abrasion resistance. Their Dry.Q EVAP fabric has a hydrophillic inner treatment that sucks your sweat up into the fabric for faster wicking. Meanwhile, the shoulders, hood and sleeves all have Hardwear’s Dry.Q Elite which is their premiere laminate. Unlike other ultralight shells, the Hyaction gives the impression that it can hold up to tons of abuse and abrasion – the fabric has a thicker handle and it’s the slippery sort of nylon that doesn’t tend to catch or snag.
As my jacket of choice for technical trips this summer, the Hyaction accompanied me into Mt. Baker’s crevasses as we taught our young clients how to prussik up a line. The Hyaction kept me protected from the ice and melt-off, but it left me with plenty of range of motion to clamber around and help them. And this, really, is the interesting thing about the Hyaction – its fabric doesn’t have very much inherent stretch, but it still manages to do a great job of moving with you.
It passes the ‘arms-above-head-but-body-doesn’t-move’ test with flying colors. So, where does this desirable trait come from? The answer is simply Mountain Hardwear’s fantastic tailoring, which accomplishes the feat just as well as a high-stretch fabric. I haven’t climbed any class V material in the Hyaction, but I felt perfectly comfortable on Sahale’s exposed class IV summit block in the Hyaction.
How about the performance of Dry.Q Evap?
Naturally the Hyaction is thoroughly waterproof and resistant to anything but a sustained Pacific Northwest downpour, in which case the fabric suffered more from my own perspiration than water leaking from the outside. All of the zippers are sealed and the flashy Vislon Aquaguard zipper (which we first saw in Hardwear’s Plasmic rain jacket) is just as waterproof as its more traditional peers.
Overall, there are definitely more breathable jackets on the market than the Hyaction. The Dry.Q Elite pulls its weight, but the bulk of the jacket body is Dry.Q EVAP which is a simple 2.5 layer laminate that simply doesn’t hold a candle to Dry.Q Elite’s performance. That said, the Hyaction’s $350 retail price sets it very competitively in the range of climbing jackets, so it’s tough to complain. And, besides, it’s bad form to huff and puff so much on a climb that your jacket is totally saturated by your sweat – if you manage layers properly, the jacket handles aerobic activities well enough to make this a moot point.
Mountain Hardwear took a few liberties to trim the Hyaction down to a slim 9 oz. For one, there are no dedicated cuff adjustments – rather, there are simply fabric sleeves that fit closely enough to seal out moisture. These work well enough I suppose, but they don’t interface as well with gloves as a traditional gusseted design. The designers chose an incredibly narrow gauge shock cord and positively ethereal pulltabs which, though lightweight, must certainly cut into long-term durability.
The fit of the jacket is athletic but not overly trim – it slides well underneath a harness but stays rooted to your body as you move. It’s cut generously in the shoulders and then fits moderately along the upper arms. I’m 5’11” and weigh 175lbs, so the Medium that I tested fit like a glove. Lastly, the helmet compatible hood was an invaluable tool anytime the wind sprung up – Mountain Hardwear’s two-way adjustment gave me an instant fit though I did wish for a little more peripheral vision.
- Superlight jacket that still manages to be very durable
- Dry.Q Elite is a stellar fabric – it works well where it’s placed
- Careful tailoring lets the Hyaction move very well
- Aquaguard zipper’s large teeth pull easily and resist breaking
- Shock cord pulls seem rather flimsy
- Unique cuff design is clever, but doesn’t work well with gloves
The Bottom Line
Words like ‘superlight’ and ‘durable’ aren’t often found in the same product review, but the Hyaction deserves both of those descriptors. For a 9oz shell it boasts a very durable handle that isn’t often found in this weight range, yet it’s the sort of thing that is necessary to hold up to the demands of a harness and ropework. I thoroughly enjoyed my time climbing with the Hyaction and it’s one of the best lightweight shell offerings in its price point.
Buy now: Available at Backcountry.com