Mountain Hardwear Brono Jacket
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $90
My ideal softshell.
- Fits well
- Extremely windproof
- Small is just a tad small, medium was too big
- Short in torso
I LOVE this jacket. Somehow, between REI clearance rack, friends and family 20% discount, and the remaining $15 of my dividend, I got this softshell for around $75. A steal when I look back on it. I was looking to replace a somewhat windproof fleece that I had used for several years for everything from casual wear to snowboarding. I found this and decided it was worth a shot based on the price and I liked the feel of the softshell fabric.
Of all the softshells I've ever laid my hands on, this is absolutely the best feeling from a durability and construstion feel. It's a bit stiffer than other materials, but bomproof, warm, supple, and comfortable. MH did an excellent job with the paneling as well. There torso and top of the arms are a thicker material, and the underarm area and sides of the torso are a more flexible, thinner, more breathable material. That material also has a fantastic feel and finish.
The jacket is absolutely windproof, windstopper really performs here, I've been riding 30 down a hill on my commuter bike into a 5 degree headwind, and felt comfortable all over my body, while my face and eyes burned and dried out in seconds. It works.
The fit of the jacket is nice. I prefer slim fitting garments, and this is definitely that. Others have complained about the armpits being too small, and digging into the armpit. I notice this a bit after wearing the jacket for a day, but nothing too terrible. I'm not extremely muscular, but not a twig either. It is a bit short in the back, I wish it were maybe an inch longer, but it fits nicely.
Durability is amazing. It will last for years.
Insulation on the inside is a soft thermal fleece with the little squares. It's grey and oh so comfortable. It's a shame they didn't run that insulation all the way up to the neck area, I prefer it to the anti chafe material found there, which is black and shows dry skin flakes quite easily (I get dry skin in the winter).
The piece is waterproof, although I haven't really tested it too much in rain/snow, as it doesn't have a hood. It will keep you dry in moderate rain/snow though, that much I have tested.
Overall, amazing jacket. I have considered picking up a second one, with windstopper, as MH changed to their proprietary windproofing the year after I bought it. Not that I don't trust the new stuff, but if it isn't broke, don't fix it. This softshell really turned me on to the advantages of softshell fabrics in general, and I won't go back
I bought this jacket to replace my Marmot ROM Jacket -- I did a review on that one too, which you can find here.
This is most definitely a superior jacket. As you'll see from my other review, I preferred the Mountain Hardwear Optimo — and in fact with a tent, fleece, down jacket, soft and hard shell, as well as pants from MH—I'm a bit of an addict and I really like their gear. But, I will try to be as objective as possible.
This jacket is a slim fit jacket--those of us who are in "excellent shape" (meaning round—hey, it's a shape!) might not want want to order this without trying it on first! I'm carrying a few extra pounds myself but I find this jacket comfortably snug (6'1 frame with 210 pounds on it). If I were much bigger I might shy away a bit. Don't let that scare you off of a great jacket though—try it on first is all.
High arm holes allow me to reach well above my head without the waist of the jacket lifting up which I think is a key feature in a comfortable jacket, the tradeoff usually being those jackets are hard to get on. This jacket however strikes an excellent balance. I can see this being great in any scrambling or even just about town work.
It's comfortable, warm enough (for a soft shell) and snug enough for a layering system. In fact, my MH hard shell fits comfortably over top, so it's easy to slip in if I get caught in a rainstorm.
The windbreaker functions rock—I cruise around topless in the jeep with this jacket on, and it's comfortable even in a chilly Canadian fall. I've also done the "shower test" and it worked fine—Sat in a cold shower for 10 minutes and I was dry as a bone.
Now, that is a temporary coating that needs to be reapplied; and I will say the Marmot passed this test too but the 6 month follow up it failed. As I've only had this jacket for a week, I cannot say how long the coating lasts. For 125 dollars, however, this was a great buy so far.
Looks good, keeps me dry.
Price Paid: warranty
For the longest time I lived and swore by the Mountain Hardwear Alchemy Jacket. People whom loved it, even after the purchase of MHW by Columbia Sportswear, such as Ed Viesters kept my confidence up about this brand and its products.
So imagine my disappointment when I had to warranty replace one of my Mountain Hardwear shells and could not get the Alchemy due to low inventory. Their warranty department was incredibly helpful and offered me credit for the original MSRP of my shell, giving me quite a bit of cash to work with towards an alternate product. I read the specs, liked the look, and sight unseen chose the Brono as an alternative.
This thing has been awesome! It truly feels fully windproof, as the densely knit side panels work almost as well as the Gore Wind stopper areas, and it traps in warmth without overheating the wearer. It uses a fleece lining that is very similar to their microgrid fleece, and sits close enough to the body to make this technology effective.
One thing to take into consideration is the cut. This has a very aggressive V shaped cut to it, meaning it has a narrow waist and broad shoulder / chest area. For this reason it may be a bit of a challenge for different body types to fit into it. But for those of us whom it does fit, it fits very well.