Mountain Hardwear Quasar Lite II ReviewJune 11, 2018
- Stretchy fabric didn’t constrict
- Great venting and breathability
- Hood provided lots of protection
- Glove friendly design
- Clammy next to bare skin
- A little heavy for this category
Built from a mid-weight version of Mountain Hardwear’s Dry Q Elite membrane, the Quasar Lite II jacket proved to be very waterproof. We tested it on the west coast of Vancouver Island, one of the wettest places in North America, and it never let us down. It blocked long soakers and howling winds. Designed for climbing, it also has a hood that was easy to adjust to fit with or without a helmet. Toggles under the chin provided perfect positioning and the brim was stiff and large, keeping drips off our face.
The Mountain Hardwear Quasar Lite II’s Dry Q Elite fabric is air permeable, meaning, unlike many 2.5 layer jackets, it starts breathing without having to create a temperature differential between the inside and outside of the jacket. Wearing it in a warm rain storm wasn’t as uncomfortable as we expected, especially after we opened the two mesh-backed hand pockets which dumped heat and helped flush the jacket with a cooling breeze.
As mentioned in breathability the hand pockets double as vents, which leads to the question: where do you put the stuff in your pockets? Mountain Hardwear thought of that, giving the Quasar Lite II two mesh pouches inside the jacket. When not used as vents the two front pockets are huge. They easily fit a pair of skins and goggles when we were backcountry skiing. The hood is a refuge from nasty weather. The front zip comes up high for hunkering and the hood cinches snug, creating a little pocket window to peek out from—it even manages to preserve some peripheral vision. Adjustment comes at the pull of two webbing toggles at the front—easy to grab even with gloves on—and an elastic strap at the back. Cuffs are adjustable. The jacket fabric has a bit of stretch. It never constricted on big reaches and dynamic movements. The drop tail helped keep our bum dry.
The 30 denier fabric used throughout is relatively burly for a 2.5 layer shell. The Quasar Lite II stood up to a chimney climb and the rugged descent out afterwards. All of the touchpoints feel solid and well made. The fabric is stretchy which helps buffer rips. Mountain Hardwear says it’s built for mountaineering, where a jacket could be lifesaving equipment. Our testing concures.
At almost 11 ounces the Quasar Lite II is a middle-weight in this category. But it packs up smaller than we expected thanks to minimal features and narrow gauge zippers on the pockets.