This summer, one of my goals has been to pick up rock climbing in a big way.  Learning the knots, reading up on procedures (nerd cred) and buying the gear to do it safely and in relative comfort.  One of the best pieces that I picked up this season is the Quasar Insulated Pullover from Mountain Hardwear.  Why are we reviewing an insulated piece during the middle of August?  Well, you know what it’s like to roll out of a sleeping bag at 10,000 feet at 6am, and the Quasar helps you get onto the rocks (or trail) faster.

Quasar Insulated Pullover Features:

  • Low profile, insulated, fully adjustable, helmet compatible hood
  • Deep, watertight zipper opening at neck for easy on/off and thermoregulation
  • Two internal stash pockets, sized to fit water bottles
  • Single hem drawcord for quick fit adjustment
  • Soft, “Butter Jersey” cuffs
  • 80g. of Thermal.Q synthetic insulation
  • 15D fabric
  • 1lb. 3oz. total weight
  • MSRP: $340

Mountain Hardwear Quasar Pullover Review

My Experience

Techy, techy, techy: that’s really what sums up the Quasar.  Mountain Hardwear loaded this critter up with a ton of top-notch technologies which compliment the performance-minded bend of the Quasar.  The 80 grams of Thermal.Q insulation gives the piece a pleasantly plush feel while not stepping into inconveniently puffy.  It’s not tremendously warm, and early mornings at high elevation definitely call for a fleece layer underneath the Quasar.  However, as we’ll get to later, the Quasar really shines in aerobic activity when it’s cold.

Mountain Hardwear loaded up the Quasar with their backless Dry.Q Elite laminate.  The Elite line is Hardwear’s premier backless laminate and, like its competition, it doesn’t require aerobic conditions to start breathing.  This means that the Quasar breathes remarkably well for an insulated piece, which compliments the hydrophobic nature of the Thermal.Q insulation.  Both of these technologies work together to give you a piece that stays warm and regulates sweat at a very high level of performance.  On the other side of the jacket, you can expect complete waterproofing from the Dry.Q laminate.  I wore the jacket during a tremendous 45 minute rain/hail/thunder storm at a compromised location on top of the 9003 foot Tooth of Time.  I was exposed the entire time since I was more concerned about lightning than getting wet, but moisture proved to be a non-issue as the Quasar kept me warm and dry during the storm.

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When you get out and climb with the jacket it’s clear that this product was designed for very specific pursuits.  There are no external pockets, so don’t think about buying this as an overpriced hoody to show your friends how outdoorsy you are.  The loose cut of the jacket, coupled with thumb holes in the cuffs, give the jacket all the range-of-motion that you’d need for most routes.  The jacket features two internal water bottle pockets which are most easily accessed through the sealed zipper.  The collar of the jacket has soft fleece to enhance comfort next to skin, and both the hood and hem are fully adjustable.

Mountain Hardwear built the Quasar to be light but warm, so they picked a light 15D nylon weave and used very narrow-gauge shock cord on the hood and hem.  They 15D nylon definitely tends to be light rather than strong, but since this is a climbing produce you can expect it to hold up well to abrasion and all kinds of well; in my testing, it proved to be a very robust fabric.

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The Good:

  • Thermal.Q and Dry.Q Elite technologies perform well and compliment each other
  • Roomy fit for range-of-motion and technical layering
  • Cuffs are soft and feature thumbholes
  • Sealed zip slides well while fleece keeps the collar area comfortable

The Bad:

  • Perhaps cut a little too roomy

The Bottom Line

It’s really pretty tough to say a bad thing about the Quasar.  It’s expensive, but that’s the price you pay for Dry.Q Elite’s top-tier performance.  As a backpacking piece, it’s highly packable and is much appreciated on cold mornings.  I love the Quasar for impromptu bouldering on my treks, and if you’re climbing early in the morning the Quasar is ideal to keep the warmth in your limbs.  On the whole I love the piece, and I recommend it without reservation to anyone who is interested in a purely performance-oriented pullover.

Buy now: Available from Backcountry.com

About Author

Kevin Glover is an outdoorsman living, climbing and biking in Spokane, WA. Originally from the Nevada high desert, he moved to the PNW for its mild winters and allergen-free summers. He has guided throughout the Cascades and Enchantments for Peak 7 Adventures.

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