mountain-hardwear-mens-exposure/2-paclite-jacketreview-dirtbagdreams.com

ProView – Mountain Hardwear Men’s Exposure/2 Gore-Tex Paclite Plus Jacket

The Mountain Hardwear Exposure/2 Gore-Tex Paclite Plus is an ideal wind and rain shell for shoulder season mountain running, scrambling, and ski tours. Weighing in at just 9.07 oz, the Exposure/2 is amazingly light, packs down small, and stands up to harsh wind and rain. The Paclite Plus material is surprisingly breathable for a waterproof fabric, allowing for breathability during high output activities such as running and scrambling. I put the Exposure/2 to the test in the harsh and wet environment of the Pacific Northwest in the Cascade mountains, on long runs, scrambles, and ski tours. The Exposure/2 is now my go-to shoulder season shell, especially for shorter day trips where minimizing weight is a major consideration.

Mountain Hardwear Men's Exposure/2 Gore-Tex Paclite Plus Jacket

Product Description: Staying dry is just the baseline—we look to the highest level of packability and weightlessness, and above all, the longest lifespan. So, when Gore-Tex engineered PACLITE® Plus, a lighter, even more compact material with the same durable, waterproof breathable technology we know and depend on, we wanted to be the first to feature this innovative fabric. If you're an ounce-counting connoisseur or just looking for the rainshell that'll outlast the decades, this innovation takes your expectations to a whole new level.

Offer price: $300 MSRP

  • Quality
    (5)
  • Features
    (4)
  • Fit
    (3)
  • Durability
    (5)
  • Eco-Friendly
    (5)

Summary

The Exposure/2 is a lightweight hiker, runner, and skier’s dream for high output activities in harsh and unsavory weather. The Exposure/2 was in my running vest, ski pack, and overnight scrambling pack for adventures in the Cascades where I aimed to move quickly, efficiently, and light.

Overall
4.4

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Wind resistance
  • Waist cinch
  • Helmet cinch
  • Cuff velcro

Cons

  • Runs large
  • Paclite Plus can wet out after extended exposure to heavy rain

The mountains of the Pacific Northwest are a harsh testing environment, in particular, due to their wet and windy nature. Starting in October, the Cascades begin to experience constant rain, wind, and snow; mountain runs become a battle of the elements, and a lightweight shell becomes a staple of many mountain runners’. 

As a mountain runner, hiker, mountaineer, and skier, I have used many hardshells over the years, from 3-layer Gore-Tex Pro to lightweight breathable fabrics that vary in their impermeability to the environment. Until the Exposure/2, I have struggled to find a shell that balanced wind resistance, water resistance, and weight appropriately. I have found full Gore-Tex fabrics to repel wind and rain well, but they often are bulky and sweaty for high output activities like running and scrambling. On the flip side, lightweight breathable fabrics, such as the Marmot NanoPro fabric, wet out quickly in constant rain. 

I took the Exposure/2 on long mountain runs, where I was moving for 6-8 hours constantly at high energy output. Breathability was important for these runs, where regulating my body heat was a key concern to avoid sweating and overheating on long uphill climbs. At the same time, I  needed a shell that would keep me protected from a variety of conditions, from snow to blustery winds to driving rain. 

mountain-hardwear-mens-exposure/2-paclite-jacketreview-dirtbagdreams.com

Fit/Comfort

My first impression of the Exposure/2 was that the jacket runs big; on the website when you prepare to check out, Mountain Hardwear advises that you size down. I agree; I normally wear a Men’s L and I sized down to a Men’s M in the Exposure/2. For reference, I stand 6’2’’ and weigh approximately 165 pounds. 

The Exposure/2 was a big baggy in the chest, which allows for layers underneath but when wearing just a baselayer is still baggy. The arms of the Exposure/2 are slightly more tapered but still have plenty of air space. This air space allows for breathability but decreases the warmth of the Exposure/2, just something to consider.

Tightening down the wrist velcro to make the Exposure/2 fit a bit tighter.

The Exposure/2 features a cinch on the waist and hood so that you can tighten those areas and a velcro strap on each wrist. These tightening mechanisms allow for the Exposure/2 to be “tightened” to the user’s frame, as needed. When running I would cinch down the hood when I was not wearing a helmet; I would also velcro the wrist to create a seal and cinch down the waist to prevent updrafts. The hood has plenty of space to fit a climbing helmet as well!

Overall, the Exposure/2 fit me well in the size Medium, especially when I had another layer underneath. Just make sure to size down!

Look/Style

The Exposure/2 is clean and simple, a design that I appreciate. I chose the Exposure/2 in black, which fit in with my quiver of jackets in all different colors. The Exposure/2 appears functional, with outlines of the zippers and chest pockets. Overall, a nice clean design that is not flashy or gaudy…well done Mountain Hardwear!

Features

The Exposure/2 is “thin” on features to minimize weight, including a chest pocket, two waist pockets, and the mentioned cinches and velcro. There is no interior jacket pocket, which is customary on heavier-duty hard shells. 

To be honest, I felt that the Exposure/2 had more than enough features for its intended use case: lightweight alpinism, hiking, and mountain running. When using the Exposure/2 I was not bringing much gear with me, usually a running vest or small pack with the essentials. 

The hood cinch works well in reducing the head volume when not wearing a helmet, and the wrist velcro functions well in closing off the arm cuff to the environment. Overall, the Exposure/2 has “just enough”, just enough features to store your snack, phone, Buff, etc., but just enough features not to weigh you down with additional zippers or material.

Weight/Packability

The most remarkable feature of the Exposure/2 is its weight and packability. The jacket weighs in at an amazing 9.07 oz., wonderful for lightweight activities like mountain running and scrambling. The Exposure/2 packs down into its own pocket, but to be honest, I just rolled up the Exposure/2 and kept it bundled up with a rubber band. It packs down so small it doesn’t matter how you pack it! 

mountain-hardwear-mens-exposure/2-paclite-jacketreview-dirtbagdreams.com

Function/Performance

I often am doubtful of “lightweight, breathable, waterproof” fabrics; normally you get one of those three features while sacrificing on the other two. The Exposure/2 is the best balance of those three features I have seen in a shell. The Exposure/2 features a 2.5-layer Gore-Tex Paclite Plus fabric, which is an innovation on the first-gen Gore-Tex Paclite fabric. The Paclite Plus fabric is optimized to be lightweight and packable; it is not designed as a bomber fabric, like a Gore-Tex Pro, which is much more robust and durable than the Paclite Plus. 

That said, the Exposure/2 held up to harsh rain and wind in extended exposure of 4-6 hours. I used the Exposure/2 on cold ski tours where winds exceeded 20 mph and temperatures dropped below 20 degrees; I wore the Exposure/2 on brisk scrambles through the snow where solar reflection was intense and I needed a jacket that could breathe, even during long uphill climbs. 

mountain-hardwear-mens-exposure/2-paclite-jacketreview-dirtbagdreams.com

I did not intend to use the Exposure/2 during day-long storms, where rains would exceed a few inches; the Exposure/2 is not intended to replace a traditional 3-layer, Gore-Tex Pro “bomber” hardshell. As a shoulder season, shorter-duration hardshell, the Exposure/2 performs wonderfully. I did not experience any wetting out of the Exposure/2 even after 4-6 hours of activity, but I would anticipate that beyond 8 hours of activity in constant rain will cause the Exposure/2 to saturate. Simply put, the Paclite Plus will perform as it is designed: to be lightweight, packable, and resistant to light-to-mild environmental conditions.

Durability/Construction

The Exposure/2 is heartily constructed with fully sealed seams and a 2.5 layer fabric construction. The outer fabric of the Exposure/2 is impressively abrasion-resistant. Here in the Cascades, almost all mountain scrambles involve a bushwhack of some sort. The Exposure/2 never snagged, ripped, or showed any wear, standing up to bush-bashing through alder, Devil’s Club, and other nasty Cascadian shrubs. 

The other elements of the Exposure/2 are also sturdy, particularly the zippers and pockets. I anticipate the Exposure/2 to last me a long time, which is saying a lot for how hard I rely on my gear!

mountain-hardwear-mens-exposure/2-paclite-jacketreview-dirtbagdreams.com

Friendliness to the Earth

I was not able to find any particular specifications about the Exposure/2’s “environmental sustainability”. It is not made of recycled fabrics. 

As a company, however, Mountain Hardwear keeps sustainability as a core mission of all their products: 

“We are committed to exploring innovative ways of doing business that will support a sustainable future. Our current focus is on putting in place industry leading systems and reporting mechanisms to enable efficient measurement of our social and environmental performance and to provide increased transparency into our practices.”

— Mountain Hardwear

The Final Word

The Exposure/2 is a lightweight hiker, runner, and skier’s dream for high output activities in harsh and unsavory weather. The Exposure/2 was in my running vest, ski pack, and overnight scrambling pack for adventures in the Cascades where I aimed to move quickly, efficiently, and light. 

I appreciated the Exposure/2’s feature-set of cinches, pockets, and seam-sealed zippers. What I most appreciated, though, was how lightweight and breathable the Exposure/2 was, weighing 9 ounces and moderating my body heat amazingly well for a water-impermeable fabric. The Exposure/2 never wet out on me, even on long runs of 4-6 hours where I was constantly on the move. 

mountain-hardwear-mens-exposure/2-paclite-jacketreview-dirtbagdreams.com

The Exposure/2 runs on the bigger side, so make sure to size down, but definitely add this jacket to your quiver for adventures where you need to minimize weight and maximize breathability. The Exposure/2 is perfect for your rainy-day run, your windy scramble, or your early- or late-season ski tour, where you need wind and rain protection that is less than “bomber”. The Exposure/2 still should not replace a heavier-duty hardshell for full-on winter trips, where sub-freezing temperatures and constant snow or rain are in the forecast. But for anything less than that, it is a perfect choice!

The Exposure/2 will be in my pack many more times, and with its durable design of 2.5-layer fabric and sealed seams, I am confident it will stand up to the test!

Shop the Mountain Hardwear Men’s Exposure/2 Gore-Tex Paclite Plus Jacket on Outdoor Prolink. Not a member? Apply today!

About the Gear Tester

Outdoor Prolink Pro
sam-chaneles
Sam Chaneles
Trip and Expedition Leader for ORGT ::

Sam Chaneles is currently a Mechanical Engineering student at Georgia Tech, where he is a Trip and Expedition Leader for the school’s Outdoor Recreation program (ORGT). He has led expeditions to New Zealand, Alaska, Corsica, France, and throughout the United States. When not leading trips for ORGT, Sam is an avid mountaineer and backpacker, climbing peaks in the Cascades, Mexico, Ecuador, and Africa, as well as hiking the John Muir Trail and off-trail routes in Colorado. He has climbed peaks such as Aconcagua, Mt. Rainier, Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, Kilimanjaro, and many more. You can follow Sam and his adventures on Instagram at @engineeredforadventure, or on his website at www.engineeredforadventure.com.

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