The Seraction Jacket hits the sweet spot between a…
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps (Sample provided by Mountain Hardwear for testing and review)
The Seraction Jacket hits the sweet spot between a dedicated rain coat and an uber-light alpine climbing jacket. The sleeves will never ride up on you, whether you’ve got a trekking pole in your hand or an ice axe. Adjustments to the helmet-compatible hood are easy and intuitive, while the two quite tall Napoleon-style chest pockets hold your extra glove liners/socks, quads, or the like.
- Mountain Hardwear’s “Dry Q Elite” membrane—a proprietary version of the venerated eVent—is as breathable and waterproof as it gets
- Stretchy nylon panels under the arms and on the back of the hood effectively increase mobility while helping to keep the jacket from shifting during dynamic movement
- Fat strips of Velcro at the cuffs will last years of abuse
- The high quality two-way main zipper seals out water without the need for a storm flap, while being climbing harness-compatible
- Generous length in the torso and arms make it an actual, proper rain jacket when needed!
- Very light (12oz?) for the durability of the fabric and included features
- A wire-stiffened brim would be nice, and expected, for a jacket like this
- Bit of a bulky fit in the arms/shoulders/chest…cut more to fit a wrestler than a backpacker
- The zipper heads used on the pit-zips should be lower-profile in design, or just smaller
Thru-hikers, adventure racers, and anyone who expects their hard shell jacket to excel in multiple activities. Anyone with a long torso and/or really long arms, tired of other jackets coming up short. (See what I did there…)
I’m really quite impressed by the construction of the Seraction jacket; it has a very sculpted—if bulky—fit, employing more panels than I’m used to seeing in a hard shell. This allows the jacket to drape really well, as it contours nicely around the upper body.
The sleeves are done Jersey-style , keeping seams off the upper shoulder area where they might get prematurely worn by pack straps. The hood is wonderfully engineered, with all adjustment cords and cord locks hidden away where they won’t get snagged on brush.
Front of the Mountain Hardwear Seraction Jacket
All of the seams are top-notch and the seam tape is deftly applied under vacuum. Every zipper has generously-sized, brightly-colored, rubberized zipper pulls that are easily operated even with full-on winter gloves…and we’re talking metal YKK zipper heads all around, with water-resistant coils on the pockets/pit zips and a stout plastic-toothed track for the main zip.
Back of Seraction Jacket showing hood and stretchy panels
Many of the features on the Seraction are designed with weight savings in mind. The seam tape I mentioned above is of the “micro” variety: half as wide as most seam tape; the adjustment cords around the hood and waist are 1/16” in diameter, and are secured by micro cord locks. Pockets are minimal, with just the two vertical chest jobbies, and a very small, cell phone-sized, stretchy interior pocket over the left breast.
This stretchy material used for various bits on the jacket is very thin, lighter than the nylon used for the bulk of the jacket. As a final nod to the Spartan nature of this jacket, the logos are heat-transferred as opposed to embroidered. Perhaps also as a weight saving measure, MH decided not to use a wire-stiffened brim in the hood, a feature I always like to see in a jacket of this purpose.
Pockets, zippers, and logo detail
The length of both the torso and sleeves is very generous, and I’m a pretty tall SOB…It is obvious that Mountain Hardwear designed this jacket with people who understand what happens when you’re actually outside with water pouring down on you. The jacket can be worn under or over a climbing harness, as the two-way zipper allows easy harness access. On my 6’1”, 165lb frame, the medium size covers down to just past my derriere.
A waterproof-breathable—or WPB—membrane jacket needs to be done well, or frankly it can really suck to be inside one. Luckily Mountain Hardwear’s Dry Q Elite membrane is one of the best around…leaps and bounds ahead of even Gore-Tex Proshell, in this fool’s opinion.
Let me explain. See, any membrane can get the “waterproof” part right, the “breathable” part, not so much. Dry Q Elite, being a member of the eVent family, has “breathable” squarely in its wheelhouse. No other WPB I know of will dump that hot, humid fog that works up inside your hard shell as well as Dry Q Elite does. In fact it does it so well, that the fog isn’t even allowed to form in the first place.
Venting that moisture is crucial because if your membrane “wets out” (soaks through from the inside) you no longer have a waterproof jacket. Keeping that moisture from condensing on the inside of the shell is critical, and again, the Seraction employs the best membrane available for preventing such condensation. Also helping with this task are these stretchy panels, which also have the Dry Q Elite coating, and a set of pit zips.
The Seraction jacket is well suited to a wide variety of conditions. I would feel comfortable using it for all but the warmest summer rainstorms; a micro-fleece lining around the chin area belies its suitability in this regard. For a 12oz jacket it is more durable than it should be, noticeably stouter than something like Marmot’s “Precip” rain jacket—at the same weight!—though less so than their “Exum” alpine shell.
I mention these two jackets merely because I’ve personally owned both of them and can speak to their durability. The Seraction will stand up to off-trail bushwhacking, though if I was scrambling around on granite I’d choose something else.
Chin liner detail
I really like the sleeve cuffs on this jacket. They are thin, unobtrusive, and simple. A nice, ¾”-wide strip of Velcro seals out draughts when necessary, and will last years of regular use. I personally can’t stand it when, after one winter, the cuffs of my hard shell won’t stay cinched. There is no reason for this to happen, and I’m thrilled that Mountain Hardwear agrees with me.
Cuff Velcro detail
As I alluded to above, the Seraction sheds water like a duck’s back. It is also functionally windproof. What it isn’t, is warm, which is a good thing methinks; it means I can wear the Seraction on very warm days, over just a T-shirt, or even just by itself.
You might be recoiling in horror right now, as yes, I did just say that I occasionally wear my rain jackets by themselves…but that’s Southern Illinois weather for you. For such applications I really appreciate Dry Q Elite. It has a very soft hand, with almost like a brushed feel to it. Decidedly NOT plastic-y feeling, not clammy, and very comfortable next to the skin; even better than eVent in this regard.
Clean Up & Maintenance:
WPB membranes need to stay clean to work effectively, and the Dry Q Elite membrane used on the Seraction cleans easily with a soft nylon brush and a bit of laundry soap. In my experience the jacket does not have to be babied when cleaning it, and like almost all WPB jackets, benefits from an occasional toss in the dryer (as it re-distributes the surface DWR).
One issue I see potentially arising involves the circumferential cord adjustment on the hood. Should one of the shock cords break, or one of the cord locks, the fact that they are all routed inside the hood will make their replacement by the end user quite difficult indeed. At any rate, Mountain Hardwear would undoubtedly fix any such issues no questions asked and free of charge.
The Seraction is a fine offering by Mountain Hardwear: A unique jacket, combining the better aspects of both hard shell and softshell options without losing much in the process. This is not to say it doesn’t make compromises, for in order to be a jack-of-all-trades bit of kit, it can be master of none. But hey, for the weight of a 3-season rain jacket, you get a very capable alpine shell as well, and that’s not a bad deal.
Location: Shawnee National Forest, Giant City State Park, Fern Clyffe State Park, all in the beautiful Shawnee Hills of Southern Illinois.
Late Summer and Fall temps ranging somewhere between 70-45F in the day and 60-35F at night.
About the Author:
Vince Contreras has been working as a professional Forester and Ranger for various federal land management agencies since graduating with a Bachelors Degree in Forestry from Southern Illinois University in 2010. He enjoys rock climbing, backpacking, and German Idealism. Other hobbies include leatherworking, bushcraft, and really, just creating original things.