mountain-hardwear-womens-high-exposure-cknit-jacket-review-dirtbagdreams.com

ProView – Mountain Hardwear Women’s High Exposure Gore-Tex C-Knit Jacket

The fire crackles awake in the wood stove as ski boots shuffle across the aged wood floor. We pack our bags quietly as coffee brews in the pre-dawn hours. This story repeats itself time and time again every winter: put simply, I love to ski. 

From day trips in the backcountry of the San Juan mountains, to hut trips in the Sierra Nevada and beyond, to ride breaks at Squaw-Alpine where I volunteer as an adaptive ski instructor, the Mountain Hardwear High Exposure™ Gore-Tex® C-Knit jacket accompanied me, diligently, on many journeys in early winter 2019/2020.

Mountain Hardwear Women's High Exposure Gore-Tex C-Knit Jacket

Product Description: Our lightest 3L GORE-TEX ski shell for turn-earning women who like to go deep and ski off the beaten path, the High Exposure™ Jacket boasts an articulated and flattering full-zip construction and GORE-TEX C-Knit™—stretchy, durable and waterproof fabric with unparalleled breathability.

Offer price: MSRP: $550.00

  • Quality
    (5)
  • Features
    (4)
  • Fit
    (5)
  • Durability
    (4)

Summary

This articulated, stretchy, minimalist shell jacket works like a dream: in every possible combination of high winds, sleet, graupel, and wet-to-dry powder, the High Exposure shines. Ski tourers, snowshoers, and backcountry splitboarders will love this jacket for its feature-to-weight ratio. Recreationists looking for more resort-friendly features (i.e. pass pockets and insulation) will want to look elsewhere, though: this jacket was made to facilitate mountain movement in its purest form.

Overall
4.5

Pros

  • Extremely packable, soft, and lightweight
  • Does not “crinkle” or “crunch” like GORE-TEX® Pro 
  • Helmet-compatible hood
  • Deep torso pockets can double as passive venting (or radio/climbing skins stash pocket)
  • Pocket placement enables access even while wearing a backpack
  • Embedded RECCO® reflector
  • Stretchy, wind- and waterproof 3L GORE-TEX® fabrication
  • Sealed (unexposed) seams

Cons

  • No pit zips
  • Powder skirt does not have any attachments

This season, skiing and splitboarding three to five times per week isn’t just about me anymore, though:  growing my skills in the backcountry as a trip leader—potentially more—and delving into instruction with Achieve Tahoe means that I encounter a variety of conditions across the maritime and continental snowpacks. 

mountain-hardwear-womens-high-exposure-cknit-jacket-review-dirtbagdreams.com

Performance

Life in the backcountry isn’t all bluebird powder days and hut trips with your besties. In a perfect world, a right-side-up snowpack lets us focus on chasing powder. Realistically, though, the mountains more often offer up conditions that test our mettle, tenacity, and prudence. Six seasons romping through the backcountry of Chile, Argentina, the Pacific Northwest, and the Southwest have shown me many things, but one theme always rings true: get the right tool for the job, and it’ll be easier to focus on the task at hand.

This jacket, my new Swiss army knife, is my new tool for almost every Type 1 or 2 “job.” Whether skinning uphill, charging downhill, digging pits, or grooving at the ladies-only hut dance party, I was continually impressed at this shell’s range.

Fit, Style, and Comfort

This stylish jacket excelled regardless of the number of layers I wore or the mode of travel I used. I really appreciated that its torso pockets worked double-time: not only could I access their contents while wearing my touring pack (and corresponding hip belt), these pockets were also handy for stashing climbing skins or leaving open for passive ventilation.

mountain-hardwear-womens-high-exposure-cknit-jacket-review-dirtbagdreams.com

When skinning uphill—whether in shape or not—I usually sweat a lot. While learning to layer has been a craft in and of itself, finding a shell I can wear during a snowstorm or high winds has been a big challenge. After trying this jacket in conditions like this in the Sierra as well as in sub-zero temperatures in the San Juans, I’m confident that the jacket’s C-Knit fabrication made a world of difference in my comfort. 

Haunted by memories of sweating (and later shivering) in comparable conditions with other 2L and 3L jackets that use GORE-TEX® Pro, the High Exposure’s C-Knit is a welcome discovery. Its fabrication is so breathable that I didn’t even miss the pit zips (whose absence also saves on weight) while skinning/skiing in temps between 5° and 40°F.

mountain-hardwear-womens-high-exposure-cknit-jacket-review-dirtbagdreams.com

The articulated cut with slight drop tail hitting at the hips could easily flatter a range of body types: at 5’8”, with slim hips, my purposefully-oversized size large jacket afforded the boxier fit I like. The slight hip flare could show off wider hips too, but on me, it just felt a little extra stylish.

mountain-hardwear-womens-high-exposure-cknit-jacket-review-dirtbagdreams.com
mountain-hardwear-womens-high-exposure-cknit-jacket-review-dirtbagdreams.com

The color I chose, Gold Hour, flattered many skin tones as well. As a woman of color with a deep olive complexion, the tumeric tones seemed to bring out a little extra sheen when I reviewed photos from our trip to the Bradley Hut near Lake Tahoe. While the California sun and nipping breeze of the skintrack could also be contributing factors, I’ll take whatever I can get.

mountain-hardwear-womens-high-exposure-cknit-jacket-review-dirtbagdreams.com

Weight / Packability

Weighing just over 13.8 oz (that’s 2.2 oz less than a pound), this shell packs down nicely. The highly breathable yet waterproof C-Knit material is a 3L (that’s “layer” not “liter”) laminate that doesn’t make any sacrifices on breathability, waterproofing, or wind resistance. I loved the softness while wearing just a single base layer just as much as I loved the lack of crinkle when stuffing into my pack at the top of a windy ridge.

mountain-hardwear-womens-high-exposure-cknit-jacket-review-dirtbagdreams.com

Durability / Construction

Having used GORE-TEX® Pro and Active jackets in the past, I was pleasantly surprised by the C-Knit technology this jacket uses. Gore credits the second layer of the 3L construction, the ePFTE membrane, with providing “high tensile strength and UV resistance,” while the inner laminate, made from a circular nylon knit (ahem, “C-Knit”) gives the jacket a little stretch.

This jacket feels like the epitome of “bomber:” ready for the elements and with features to prevent its rapid destruction.

The Final Word

The Mountain Hardwear High Exposure GORE-TEX® C-Knit Jacket sets a new baseline for breathability and comfort in the backcountry—two key gear characteristics that define your day, whether this is your first or fiftieth season seeking wild snow.

mountain-hardwear-womens-high-exposure-cknit-jacket-review-dirtbagdreams.com

Unlike other ski touring and hybrid jackets that feature stiffer fabrication or body-mapped thermal regulation, I love the simplicity of this shell’s design. In my recreation and work, I appreciate top quality solutions with straightforward, purpose-built features. 

While C-Knit isn’t yet available in recycled material, I still think this jacket could shift your entire touring experience. Go forth, shred pow!

Shop the Mountain Hardwear Women’s High Exposure Gore-Tex C-Knit Jacket on Outdoor Prolink. Not a member? Apply today!

Dani Reyes-Acosta is a multilingual strategist and writer at her location-independent brand innovation firm, Nomad Creativa, as well as volunteer Adaptive Ski Instructor for Achieve Tahoe in California. When she’s not helping brands with next-generation initiatives, she can be found splitboarding, trail running, crack climbing, or organic farming in rural Colorado or elsewhere (in her van). Connect with her on Instagram and LinkedIn as @notlostjustdiscovering and @nomadcreativa.

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