Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

OR- Mountain Hardwear Alchemy Jacket - Ray Estrella

Expand Messages
  • rayestrella1
    I finished this on the plane this afternoon coming home. HTML may be found here; http://tinyurl.com/32gv8c MOUNTAIN HARDWEAR ALCHEMY JACKET BY RAYMOND ESTRELLA
    Message 1 of 5 , Mar 5, 2007
    • 0 Attachment
      I finished this on the plane this afternoon coming home. HTML may be
      found here;

      http://tinyurl.com/32gv8c

      MOUNTAIN HARDWEAR ALCHEMY JACKET
      BY RAYMOND ESTRELLA
      OR
      March 05, 2007

      TESTER INFORMATION

      NAME: Raymond Estrella
      EMAIL: rayestrella@...
      AGE: 46
      LOCATION: Huntington Beach California USA
      GENDER: M
      HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
      WEIGHT: 210 lb (95.30 kg)

      I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over the state of
      California, and also in Washington, Minnesota, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho
      and Utah. I hike year-round, mostly in the Sierra Nevada, and average
      500+ miles (800+ km) per year. As I start my 4th decade of
      backpacking I am making the move to lightweight gear, and smaller
      volume packs. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the
      afternoons exploring. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy
      hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my brother-
      in-law Dave or fiancé Jenn.

      The Product

      Manufacturer: Mountain Hardwear
      Web site: www.mountainhardwear.com
      Product: Alchemy Jacket
      Size: X-Large (also available in Sm, Med, Lg, & XXL)
      Year manufactured: 2005
      MSRP: $ 240.00 (US).
      Weight listed: 21 oz (622 g) Actual weight oz ( g)
      Color reviewed: Stout/Shark (available in 2005 & 06)
      Colors available (2007): Black/Titanium, Stout/Titanium,
      Lava/Titanium and Sapphire/Titanium
      Warranty: (from company web site), "Mountain Hardwear guarantees that
      the materials and workmanship in every product we make will stand up
      to the use for which it was designed. This warranty does not cover
      damages caused by improper care, accidents or the natural breakdown
      of materials over extended time and use."

      Product Description

      The Mountain Hardwear Alchemy Jacket (hereafter called the Alchemy or
      jacket) is a softshell jacket, that at the time of my purchase was at
      the top of the company's soft shell line. They position its use for
      climbing and high-altitude sports.

      The jacket is made of "Alchemy Stretch Nylon" with Gore Windstopper
      fabric sandwiched between it and a very soft fleece lining. The
      Windstopper fabric claims to be totally wind-proof and highly
      breathable. The outer shell is treated with a DWR (durable water
      repellent) and is tout as being very water resistant. The body is a
      very dark blackish brown color they call Stout with dark and light
      grey accents.

      The Alchemy has a stand-up type cadet collar that is lined in the
      same fleece as the inside of the jacket. The fleece folds over at the
      top of the collar to form a pocket for a drawcord that exits at the
      back center through a metal grommet and a cord lock. Pulling the
      drawstring through the lock results it the collar being able to be
      snugged very tight around the neck. Just below the drawstring is the
      Mountain Hardwear nut logo embroidered in silver and yellow thread.
      This same embroidered logo is on the right chest too.

      The body of the Alchemy employs a close-fitting athletic cut. It also
      uses gusseted construction to achieve a greater range of motion
      without binding. The fabric combination is quite stretchy in all
      directions. At the bottom of the Alchemy's body to either side are
      hem drawcords that run through tethered cord locks allowing one-
      handed adjustment. This allows the elements to be cut off from
      accessing the inside of the jacket to a large degree.

      It has vertical pockets on either side that are accessed by zippers
      that have been sewn backwards, or inside out of what is normally
      done. This gives the zippers a very flat look. A nylon cord has been
      tied to the pulls to facilitate opening with gloves or mittens on.
      The inside of the pocket is actually just the entire space between
      the front zipper and the side seam, from the bottom of the jacket all
      the way to the shoulders. It has no true "pocket: sewn into it. It
      utilizes the interior ling as the pocket. So I can actually shove a
      lot of stuff into it if I wanted to.

      On the left side of the chest area is a welded chest pocket made from
      Schoeller Dynamic fabric. It has a vertical inside-out zipper too.
      The main front zipper is a nylon YKK that runs to the top of the
      collar. A zipper guard/draft stop sits behind this zipper, and rolls
      over the top and is stitched to the side of the zipper to create a
      zipper-garage when it is fully closed.

      The articulated sleeves have a rolled-over built-up cuff, with an
      interior "Hidden PowerStretch cuff". The hidden cuff acts like a soft
      gasket around my wrist to seal out the elements.

      Inside of the jacket at the right chest is an inner zippered pocket.
      (This one is sewn right-side-out.) It is roomy enough to hold a pair
      of liner gloves, a sandwich, or a few energy bars. Behind the neck
      are a couple of tags and a hang loop. Down lower on the side is
      another tag with materials content and washing instructions in
      English and French. Instructions are as follows; machine wash cold,
      gentle cycle, mild soap. Tumble dry, air only. Do not dry clean, iron
      or use bleach or fabric softeners. (Ha, me?)

      Field Conditions

      I have worn the Alchemy all over California, using it as an around
      town jacket in the winter and hiking in the mountains in winter,
      spring and late fall. Temperatures ranged from 20 to 50 F (-7 to 10
      C) at elevations to 10000 ft (3000 m) It has been used in light rain
      snow and blowing wind. Above is a picture taken on the way up to
      Mount San Jacinto.

      I used it on three trips to Utah that saw temps down to 5 F (- 15 C),
      elevations to 9000 ft ( m) and a lot of snow.

      I wore the Alchemy jacket in Minnesota and North Dakota quite a bit,
      including snowshoeing at Buffalo River State Park. Temps encountered
      in MN ranged from 0 to 50 F (-18 to 10 C). In MN it has seen some
      very heavy winds that blow across the prairie. Here is a picture from
      Buffalo.


      Observations

      I bought the Alchemy to see what all the hoopla was about concerning
      softshells. I have always used down or fleece with a hard shell over
      it for wind or water protection. As I had heard good things about the
      Alchemy, I bought one when it was on sale.

      I really liked the cut of the jacket. I have to buy an extra large to
      accommodate the length of my arms. I use the extra volume for
      layering when needed. Even with nothing more than a base layer the
      cut is slim enough to not look baggy. The gusseted sleeves and side
      panels are very comfortable at all activity levels. The stretchy
      nature of the fabric is really nice. I left it with my fiancé for a
      month as she wanted to try a softshell too. Even though it was way
      too big for her, after wearing it a couple of times cross country
      skiing and snowshoeing, she liked it so much that she ordered a
      Women's Alchemy. Here is a picture of both of them on the deck at
      Alta ski resort.

      It blocks the wind very well. I walked four miles (6.5 km) head on
      into a 20 mph (32 km/h) in 30 F (-1 C) temps and did not feel the
      wind coming through the Gore Windstopper material. In fact I had to
      open the zipper to vent the jacket as I was getting too hot as I was
      doing some brisk walking.

      In fact venting has been my only problem with the Alchemy. I have a
      hot-burning core, and over-heat easily. I would love to see this
      jacket made with pit-zips under the arms to allow me to vent better
      than using the pockets (that do not work that well for me) or the
      front zipper, which leaves my chest cold if it is too far down. I had
      the same problem with my Marmot Flurry for the same reasons.

      I really like the looks of the Alchemy too. I wore it out a few times
      dressed casual-nice and felt that it did not detract as much as all
      of my other hiking specific outerwear would have. (My girlfriend may
      have thought otherwise…)

      The gasket cuffs (PowerStretch) work great. They are soft enough to
      not drive me nuts. I do not care for gathered elastic around my
      wrists. And they are inset from the end of the sleeve enough that
      they do not hinder glove use. They are the best example of this type
      of application of all of my outerwear.

      It does not compress a bit. Unlike my down jackets, the Primaloft
      filled Flurry, and even to some extent my fleece wear, the Alchemy is
      not going to get any smaller packing it in my backpack.

      Because of the lack of adequate venting for my style of backpacking,
      the Alchemy is not going to see a lot of miles in the back country.
      But its comfort and styling will keep it a favorite for limited use
      and travel to bad-weather locations that a bit of good looks are nice
      to have along.

      Pros

      Good looks
      Great cut and fit


      Cons

      No compression
      Not enough venting options
    • chcoa
      Added to the queue. THank you RAy. Good to hear your OOP went well. jamie
      Message 2 of 5 , Mar 5, 2007
      • 0 Attachment
        Added to the queue. THank you RAy. Good to hear your OOP went well.

        jamie
      • edwardripleyduggan
        Hi Ray, Oh, first of all congrats to you and Jenn. This may be old news, for all I know, but I think it was the first of it I had seen. Interesting jacket.
        Message 3 of 5 , Mar 7, 2007
        • 0 Attachment
          Hi Ray,

          Oh, first of all congrats to you and Jenn. This may be old news, for
          all I know, but I think it was the first of it I had seen.

          Interesting jacket. Still, as a general rule I dislike those that
          don't have vents, unless they are pure insulation pieces for wearing
          around camp or in an emergency.

          Edits follow. When completed, please upload to

          http://tinyurl.com/yuxalq


          Very best,

          Ted.




          > I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over the state of
          > California, and also in Washington, Minnesota, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho
          > and Utah. I hike year-round, mostly in the Sierra Nevada, and average
          > 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. As I start my 4th decade of
          > backpacking I am making the move to lightweight gear, and smaller
          > volume packs. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the
          > afternoons exploring. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy
          > hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my brother-
          > in-law Dave or fiancé

          ### EDIT: properly, that's fiancée [fem.]


          Jenn.
          >
          > The Product
          >
          > Manufacturer: Mountain Hardwear
          > Web site: www.mountainhardwear.com
          > Product: Alchemy Jacket
          > Size: X-Large (also available in Sm, Med, Lg, & XXL)
          > Year manufactured: 2005
          > MSRP: $ 240.00 (US).
          > Weight listed: 21 oz (622 g) Actual weight oz ( g)

          ### EDIT: something missing above!


          >
          > The jacket is made of "Alchemy Stretch Nylon" with Gore Windstopper
          > fabric sandwiched between it and a very soft fleece lining. The
          > Windstopper fabric claims to be totally wind-proof and highly
          > breathable. The outer shell is treated with a DWR (durable water
          > repellent) and is tout

          ### EDIT: touted

          as being very water resistant. The body is a
          > very dark blackish brown color they call Stout with dark and light
          > grey accents.
          >
          > The Alchemy has a stand-up type cadet collar that is lined in the
          > same fleece as the inside of the jacket. The fleece folds over at the
          > top of the collar to form a pocket for a drawcord that exits at the
          > back center through a metal grommet and a cord lock. Pulling the
          > drawstring through the lock results it

          ### EDIT: in

          the collar being able to be
          > snugged very tight around the neck. Just below the drawstring is the
          > Mountain Hardwear nut logo embroidered in silver and yellow thread.
          > This same embroidered logo is on the right chest too.

          >
          > It has vertical pockets on either side that are accessed by zippers
          > that have been sewn backwards, or inside out of

          ### EDIT: from (or to)

          what is normally
          > done. This gives the zippers a very flat look. A nylon cord has been
          > tied to the pulls to facilitate opening with gloves or mittens on.

          >
          > It blocks the wind very well. I walked four miles (6.5 km) head on
          > into a 20 mph (32 km/h)

          ### EDIT: wind


          in 30 F (-1 C) temps and did not feel the
          > wind coming through the Gore Windstopper material. In fact I had to
          > open the zipper to vent the jacket as I was getting too hot as I was
          > doing some brisk walking.
          >
          >
          > The gasket cuffs (PowerStretch) work great. They are soft enough to
          > not drive me nuts. I do not care for gathered elastic around my
          > wrists. And they are inset from the end of the sleeve enough that
          > they do not hinder glove use. They are the best example of this type
          > of application of all of my outerwear.

          ### COMMENT: Not sure about that last sentence... Maybe "construction"
          rather than "application?"

          >
          > It does not compress a bit. Unlike my down jackets, the Primaloft
          > filled Flurry, and even to some extent my fleece wear, the Alchemy is
          > not going to get any smaller packing it in my backpack.
          >
        • André Corterier
          ... Only by a couple of minutes. His Snowshoe LTR on the backpackgeartesters list mentioned it a few minutes earlier. But I see you beat me to congratulating
          Message 4 of 5 , Mar 7, 2007
          • 0 Attachment
            --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "edwardripleyduggan" <erd@...>
            wrote:
            >
            > Hi Ray,
            >
            > Oh, first of all congrats to you and Jenn. This may be old news, for
            > all I know, but I think it was the first of it I had seen.

            Only by a couple of minutes. His Snowshoe LTR on the
            backpackgeartesters list mentioned it a few minutes earlier. But I see
            you beat me to congratulating them first, and by several hours - though
            only because I was offline for a couple of days.
            8-)

            André

            P.S.: Nice catch on the "fiancée".
          • rayestrella1
            Hi Ted, Thanks as always for the help. I wrote that on the plane and was rushing it as I was using it to out us.(As you know now.) I told Jenn that I expected
            Message 5 of 5 , Mar 7, 2007
            • 0 Attachment
              Hi Ted,

              Thanks as always for the help. I wrote that on the plane and was
              rushing it as I was using it to out us.(As you know now.)

              I told Jenn that I expected you, Pam or Gail to be the first to catch
              it. Gail got it yesterday morning, Pam yesterday evening, and you
              today. I know my BGTers, eh? (It looks like I have to account for Andre
              though...)

              Ray
            Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.