It's fun, it's funky and being a Mountain Hardwear product it's functional as well.
The women's Super Chockstone Jacket is a versatile little number and here's why. Mountain Hardwear have a mission, to 'create performance apparel and equipment to empower outdoor athletes to live boldly.' In a nutshell they aim make top-end technical products, not diluted versions for the mass market.
The Women's Super Chockstone Jacket is certainly a high performance piece of kit and is the most lightweight of Mountain Hardwear's softshells.
What is it designed for? To be a second layer for alpine climbing and activities.
What makes it technical (and not just nice looking.....)? It's made of double weave, lightweight, wind-resistant yet breathable fabric. It weighs 332g. There's a UPF 50 to protect from the sun. A low-profile hood. A water repellent finish. An elastic cinch on hem. And one internal and two external zipped pockets.
Ok, I am sure you've had enough of the specs... let's get down to it. This is what I found: I climbed winter alpine routes in it; I went scrambling in it; I went running in it; I went skiing in it; I went ski-touring in it; I hiked in it; I bouldered in it; I went to the pub in it. Is there anything alpine I didn't do in it? That only depends on what you include on your list of alpine sports!
It's a flexible number and across the board it performed very well. The cut is excellent to give a very flattering and snug fit, yet the fabric is stretchy enough that you don't feel hemmed in or constrained.
For every activity I had full freedom of movemen t- even with the hood up under my helmet I could move my head with no resistance from the jacket at all. It fitted under a harness well without riding up and has a good sleeve length, fully covering the wrists. I am a fan of hoods and found this one to be very handy, popping it up when it got windy and liking its low-profile fit.
Whether used as an external layer, middle layer or second layer under various warmer pieces I was comfy. It is wind resistant and water-repellant to a point, so it was great on high-mountain runs and scrambling.
Being a soft shell there is a limit to this, so when conditions are wilder you do need a hard shell over the top, which is no problem given how snuggly the Chockstone Jacket fits. I even tried it as a replacement for a second layer on some very cold mountain days, with a Primaloft and a hard shell over the top. The verdict: it performed excellently and sweat was able to breathe out rapidly.
There are a few pros I particularly liked: The jacket comes in three colours, and the red hibiscus is brilliant, very attractive and a real stand-out option. I kept getting compliments when wearing it and compliments on your kit are always welcome! The binding around the cuffs and hood is simple but good quality, giving a nice fit in both areas. There is a softer micro-fabric section at the chin area so you don't get rubbed when the jacket is zipped up. Though lightweight it still feels sturdy and can withstand some rough abrasion against rock.
And the cons? Yes I found some: The external pockets sat in exactly the same place as my harness waistband, making them somewhat awkward to use at times. I found the cutting over the forearms tight, though the rest of the jacket fitted excellently. Perhaps I have more muscly arms than the average! It's something to look out for when finding your size. It is a lightweight jacket so as such offers almost no thermal protection.
Value for money? Most soft-shells on the market are heavier than the Chockstone, though there are a few good comparables at round the £120 mark so at £100 this jacket is well priced, especially considering its performance. Mountain Hardwear also offer the jacket without a hood, so for those non-hood-fans this jacket is still suitable for you.
What Mountain Hardwear Say:
Lightweight, wind-resistant alpine and rock-climbing jacket with UPF 50. The double-weave fabric is light, stretchy, and offers excellent mobility. Boasting UPF 50 for sun protection and a waist cinch that’s single-hand adjustable, the Super Chockstone Jacket makes a great second layer for most alpine pursuits.
More Information: Mountain Hardwear Website
About Heather Swift:
Climbing and the mountains have shaped Heather's adult life. From childhood on a Derbyshire hill farm to living in Chamonix France, South America to Nepal, the outdoors have never been far away.
Things have moved on from those early years on the Peak's gritstone edges: bouldering, trad, sport climbing, everything Alpine, north faces and ski-mountaineering.
You can read more about Heather on her Website: Heather-Swift.com