Blackyak is a relative newcomer to the American Market and their Hariana won an ISPO award in 2018. The Hariana is as close to being a hardshell as you can get without being one.
Blackyak uses seam taped Gore Windstopper laminated to ripstop Cordura nylon, and although it cannot carry the Gore waterproof rating, the Hariana never leaked a droplet of water or wetted out, even in torrential rains and blocked wind extremely well. The downside of all this protection is a relatively low level of breathability.
The Hariana fits my frame well; the sleeves are plenty long for overhead reaches and the torso length keeps the waist covered in all but deepest bends. The torso has just enough room for a medium weight mid layer to fit without binding.
The jacket’s feature list is long; water-resistant zippers, two-way main zipper, pit zips, a left zipped sleeve pocket, an interior zipped chest pocket, removable powder skirt, an elastic drawcord lower hem, and a dually adjustable helmet compatible hood. There are two long exterior chest pockets with a unique construction that limits water entry when the pockets are open. Minor ding: the sleeves have Velcro adjustable cuffs, but the stiff polymer closure tab can get hung up on both natural features and outer layers like belay parkas.
The Hariana weighs a verified one pound in a men’s medium and is also available in a women’s version. The MSRP is $450 at blackyak.com. A matching pant is also available for an MSRP of $400.
Mammut Ultimate V
The Mammut Ultimate V is a soft, comfortable and fully featured Gore Windstopper softshell that was versatile for shoulder season activities. The exclusive Gore Windstopper material has an extremely soft feel, matched on the interior with a three-dimensional knit polyester liner. The liner added noticeable warmth compared to other softshells and aided in wicking moisture. The Ultimate V also draped extremely well, adding to the impressive comfort.
The Ultimate V has an athletic cut, hugging the contours of my body. The amount of stretch allowed for unhindered movement and the use of a light mid layer. The sleeve length and elastic paneled cuffs with thumb holes kept wrists covered in all positions. Torso length was just long enough to keep the waist covered when bending at the waist. The Windstopper fabric blocked wind well, but anything more than light precipitation required a rain shell.
The features of the Ultimate V: single adjustable hood, single zipped exterior chest pocket, highly positioned zipped handwarmer pockets, partially elasticized lower hem, and full double pull side zips that run from the underarms to the lower hem (can act as pit zips).
The Mammut Ultimate V weighs a verified 1 pound in men’s large and is also available in a women’s version. MSRP is $279 at mammut.com.
The Marmot ROM features hybrid construction; seam taped Gore Windstopper comprises the upper torso and shoulders, while Marmot’s M2 softshell makes up the lower torso and sleeves. This mix of fabrics creates a jacket that protects critical areas while improving breathability in others. The ROM felt ideal for moderate activity levels in the shoulder seasons and general use.
The ROM fits slim. The torso has just enough volume to accommodate a thin mid layer, and I have a trim trunk. The shoulders and sleeves have a correspondingly trim fit; the moderate stretch allowed all arm movements but there was a touch of underarm tension when reaching high. The Windstopper portions of the ROM resisted moderate precipitation well, but the areas comprised of M2 wetted out in anything other than light precipitation.
The ROM’s feature list includes a mesh liner, a single adjustable hood, zipped backpack compatible handwarmer pockets, a zipped exterior chest pocket, Velcro adjustable cuffs, an interior zipped chest pocket, and an elastic drawcord hem. The ROM’s understated looks also bode well for urban environments.
The Marmot ROM weighs a verified one pound, one ounce in a men’s medium and is also available in a women’s version at an MSRP of $190 at marmot.com.
Mountain Hardware Touren Hooded Jacket
The Touren Hooded Jacket is a close fitting and breathable softshell with attributes that suit alpine environments well. The Polartec Power Shield provided good breathability and windproofing for high output activities in frigid conditions.
The Touren has one of the best body contouring fits I have experienced in a softshell and combined with the elasticity of Polartec Power Shield, it begged to go out on more athletic pursuits. The slim dimensions only allowed for a light mid layer. The decidedly low volume cut combined with trim sleeves with simply hemmed cuffs allowed the Touren to layer well underneath belay jackets and hard shells. The exterior texture glided well against outer layers and defended against abrasion better than others, but the Power Shield wetted out in heavy rain. The torso and sleeve lengths are generous, easily keeping the waist and wrists covered regardless of position.
The Mountain Hardwear Touren feature set is alpine all the way; dually adjustable helmet compatible hood, two-way main zipper, two high handwarmer pockets, and two high exterior chest pockets that vent, a pair of interior mesh dump pockets, and an elastic drawcord lower hem.
The Touren Hooded Jacket weighs a verified one pound, four ounces in a men’s medium and is available in a women’s version as well for an MSRP of $350 at mountainhardwear.com. Matching pants are also available for MSRP $200.
The North Face Summit L4 Windstopper Softshell Hoodie
The North Face L4 Windstopper Softshell Hoodie has climbing specific features and fit is lighter and packs down smaller than most, making it a great always-packed option for those seeking vertically oriented adventures.
The L4 Windstopper Softshell Hoodie is on the thinner and softer side of Windstopper shells, its trim dimensions draping well. There was enough room for only a light mid layer, but the trim dimensions and simple elasticized cuffs allowed the jacket to layer well underneath shells and puffies. The sleeve length kept wrists covered when reaching high, while a thinner material at the waist (the same material is on the forearms) and long torso length kept it comfortably tucked into the harness. The slender dimensions combined with the fabric’s stretch made the L4 Softshell Hoodie feel like a natural for climbing and other adventures that stress mobility. The jacket blocked cold winds well, but the Windstopper fabric wetted out in moderate rain.
The moderate feature set includes vented handwarmer pockets in the high position, a single zipped chest pocket, low-profile bonded seams, a vented liner on the front torso, elastic drawcord lower hem, and a stretchy, inside of the helmet hood.
The North Face L4 Windstopper Softshell Hoodie weighs a verified 14 ounces in a men’s medium and is also available in a women’s version. The MSRP is $200 and there are matching pants at MSRP $235 at thenorthface.com.