User Review: Mountain Hardwear Men's Zonal Jacket
Price Paid: 160$Can
With the ice climbing season starting as early as December this year (2010), I found myself in dire needs of a synthetic belay jacket. One that I could use as an extra layer when skiing, walking around town and useful for spring camping. I wanted it to be more breathable than the average insulation jackets we usually find since, let’s be honest; I develop heat like an M1 Abram.
At first glance a lot of these synthetic layer look alike and feel alike, some have hoods, others don’t, each company puts in it little tweak here and there but basically they remain IMO a lot alike. Until this year, since the beginning or the season, we’ve seen the somewhat new (not really) hybrid jacket that combine fleece and synthetic insulation. Finally!!
The reasons for that are simple: comfort and breathability.
Back to the Zonal, first off the fit is great. The fleece is logically situated (both under-arms and it starts in the lower back) to be comfortable when carrying a backpack or under a harness. For me, extra large fit perfectly over the layers I wear for ice climbing witch are a thick merino shirt, a power stretch marmot zip up, and a Marmot Leadville soft shell. I had no restriction in the arms at all even with all those layers.
The fill of the jacket is MH own copy of whatever is hot right now, (Primaloft maybe?). In any case it’s hot when wet and compresses nicely. Now you’ll have to watch out in high wind conditions were exposure can be severe since the side don’t block wind at all. They are, after all, fleece. On the other hand that’s what makes it so breathable and un-restrictive.
In the end the jacket is perfect for what I use it for.
Best for: Layering system for active sports, when you need comfort and performance. As a belay jacket for climbing in the colder seasons (I use it from 15 to the upper 40 Fahrenheit’s).