Mountain Hardwear Dry.Q Elite Test Drive
Thanks to a friend of mine (and gear rep) I got to demo one of the new Mountain Hardwear Dry.Q Elite jackets during the Michigan Ice Fest this year.
First impression: It feels really good. Like butter. I happen to have a jacket (the 2007 Arc’teryx Stingray) that has a soft-hand feel to it, but this one might be even nicer. Second impression: Eek! my shoulders are too big.
Seeing as this is just a demo piece, the sizes might still be a little off. I usually wear a women’s medium, which this was, and it was kinda tight. (But I do have huge shoulders…) Either way, I wanted to test the piece, and it was very slim fitting, not uncomfortable. It’s not quite at stretchy as the softshells that I am used to, but being snug, it was still pretty comfortable and allowed for a lot of movement. Plus, it has more stretch than most waterproof GORE-TEX shells. And its a waterproof softshell! If such a thing can exist.
Now for the tech details. Waterproof zippers: Check. Chest pocket: Check. Fully seam taped: Check. Inside pocket: Check. MONKEY THUMB CUFFS: Double check. This thing has stretchy inner cuffs with cut-outs for your opposable digit. Super awesome, helps keep the jackets sleeves down and the snow out.
Also, the Zahra Jacket has one of the most bomber helmet compatible hoods I’ve ever used. I tend to get cold, and when it’s windy, use my hood. Well, this one has a flexible brim that actually stays put (unlike my floppy Arc’teryx Gamma MX one). And of course, cinches down to whatever size you need.
Now… for the bad. Theres not much. I used this jacket for ice climbing, and I’m assuming its more of a snow piece. With a harness on the outside of the jacket the main pockets are just too low, and a pain to try and use. Also, its’ a little shorter in the torso than i’d like for climbing. It has an athletic cut, is longer in the back, and about hip length. Normally, perfect, but I guess I like ’em long.
I’ve heard some people are skeptical of the eVent-like Dry.Q material because it lacks the windproof-ness of Gore-Tex. I guess I didn’t seem to find that to be an issue at all. Climbing off the shore of Lake Superior its pretty darn windy. And I was getting snowed on. And stayed dry as a whistle and that chilly wind was pretty well blocked. I even had a 6 mile snowshoe adventure/ approach that day (3 there, 3 back), and the sweating I did never really affected me. Mountain Hardwear boasts that the Dry.Q jackets transport your bodys heat before you have liquid sweat to wick. I had capiline3 and Icebreaker250 as base-layers. They’re pretty good wicking layers. Add the Zahra to the mix, and you’ve got an approach where you don’t have to strip down to your skivvies keep dry. So far, it’s better than Gore.
In the end, yes, I would love to own one of these Jackets. The Mountain Hardwear Zahra is a waterproof/breathable, air-permeable DryQ Elite jacket that runs $340. For the quality of this piece, I think the price tag is pretty worth it.