Bushcraft Connoisseur just went on a trip to Scotland to camp and hike the highlands. The UK, Scotland in particular is well-known for their cloudy and rainy weather so it was paramount that we had good rain gear. The rain shell that I choose to bring with me was the Mountain Hardwear Plasmic Jacket. Bring on that H2O, this shell has you can covered.
Mountain Hardwear is a fantastic company that makes serious gear for outdoor athletes. Evidence of this is that loads of Mountaineers and big wall climbers routinely use their gear on their expeditions to Earth’s most unforgiving places. The Plasmic jacket lives up to the company’s reputation and namesake.
The Plasmic jacket is a lightweight, packable, fully waterproof hard shell. The difference between a hard shell and a soft shell is protection. Hard shells are fully waterproof while soft shells are water-resistant. It is a 2.5 layer shell, which refers to its construction where the innermost layer is bonded to the middle layer with a protective material, but technically it has three layers of fabric.
It uses Mountain Hardwear’s latest and greatest waterproofing and moisture wicking technology to keep you comfortable and protected in the worst rain. Dry.Q Evap technology combines breathable waterproofness with moisture wicking properties, making a jacket that keeps you dry outside and in, no matter your level of physical activity. Which is hugely important because it isn’t always the elements that get you wet outside, it’s often sweat.
Despite torrential downpours as we traveled through the Lochaber region of the highlands, I stayed perfectly dry and comfortable. This was all the while putting in miles and sweating doing it, but the moisture wicking Evap interior did exactly what it is intended to do wicking the sweat away from my skin, allowing it to evaporate keeping me from getting clammy inside the jacket, as is often the case with other rain shells.
The Mountain Hardwear Plasmic Jacket is very lightweight and packs down small as well. It only weighs 10.2 oz (289g), which compared to similar jackets from other industry players is a very competitive weight while still maintaining a very high level of performance. Fully packed down it would compare to the size of a small pack cover (you could fit this jacket inside of a Nalgene bottle). You can easily stash it in a day pack or bigger and have it ready to go in seconds.
I found the fit of the Plasmic jacket to be true to US sizing and I really like the way it is cut. It has enough room in joints and flex spots so that I never felt restricted in my ability to move freely. It includes cinch straps and Velcro straps around the waist and wrists so that you may lock down these openings to your body during the worst storms. The hood features a small brim and works well with a ball cap, although if I had one suggestion for Mountain Hardwear. In future versions of the jacket (as well as other hooded models) add a small clip of some kind in the brim of the hood so that it stays attached to the front of the brim of your hat. I find that during windy periods, often the case when raining, the hood has a tendency to pull back off of your hat exposing it, and your face, more directly to the elements. Although to clarify, when not wearing a ball cap the hood doesn’t blow back as much.
At $140 MSRP, this is a very high quality, lightweight and packable rain shell that provides full proof protection from even the worst rain. Even during heavy Scottish highland rain and wind I stayed dry and comfortable. At the prices that you can find this jacket, often under $100, it is an absolute steal piece of kit. Currently this is my “go to” rain shell, and as somebody with the worst luck with weather, that should say a lot. Seriously, if you ever go out with me you better bring this jacket or something comparable because your going to get wet! Whether your backpacking, fishing, paddling or just walking from your car to the grocery store this jacket is easily packed and ready to go when the skies get dark and stormy.