James Parkinson tests out a versatile softshell jacket from Mountain Hardwear; the Super Chockstone Jacket.
Performance – *****
Durability – ****
Value – ****
Spring in the UK: warm, cool, windy, calm, showery, dry – who knows what the weather’s going to
do?! For most days out, you’ll need protection from the wind and maybe the odd shower but do
you want to be burdened with the weight and limited breathability of a hardshell? The Mountain
Hardwear Super Chockstone jacket can be thrown on in the morning and forgotten about.
The Super Chockstone is a very lightweight softshell made from MH’s own Chockstone™
Doubleweave fabric. I found the fabric to be pretty wind resistant and had no issues with it on some
very blustery days in the Llanberis Pass. A proper winter wind might find its way through but for
spring to autumn it works fine. This level of air permeability means that the jacket is very breathable
or those uphill walk-ins, a big plus at this time of year. I also found that the DWR finish on the fabric
dealt well with the odd light shower, with rain actually beading up on the face. After about three
months of regular wear this doesn’t seem to have lost its effectiveness. I did find however that some pilling developed on the inside of the arms after a while – maybe not a massive problem but something to note. The fabric also has an SPF 50 rating so it would be good for the high mountains in summer – no frying on the glacier!
The cut is described as Active Fit and I guess that means pretty close-fitting. I wouldn’t want much
more under it than a base layer or t-shirt but you could go up a size if you’d want to throw a fleece
underneath. That said, it would go very well under a shell as a light mid layer. The fabric is quite
stretchy, so what might feel like a relatively tight fit shouldn’t hinder your movement when actually
climbing. I found the jacket moved pretty well with me; no problems with high reaches!
There’s a low profile hood that fits well under a helmet but which I’ve not actually used on the
hill. I’d say it would work best as a second hood when using the Super Chockstone jacket under an
insulating belay jacket when the weather closes in and you want all the layers you can get as I’d
prefer a hood that just goes over everything.
The waist has an elastic draw string that can be adjusted with one hand but as the jacket is close
fitting anyway, I didn’t feel the need to have the string particularly tight. The cuffs have an elastic
strip on them but no other adjustability. I found this to be fine but you might struggle to get the
cuffs over a bulky glove in cold weather. There are three zipped pockets on the jacket; two hand
warmer and one chest. The chest pocket is interesting in that it is mounted on the right hand side
of the main zip, not the left as is usual with single chest pockets. Apparently the reason for this is to
allow you to have things in this pocket as well as in pockets on any other jacket you may wear over it
and not have them bang together. Not an issue I’ve ever encountered but nice to see the Mountain
Hardwear designers thinking outside the box!
The Super Chockstone Jacket comes in three colours – Shark (grey with orange zips, the colour I
had), Azul Blue and Fuse Green.
As an outer layer for spring to autumn in the UK or for summer alpinism, the Mountain Hardwear Super Chockstone jacket is very good. Layer it under a shell and it will even take you into the fourth
- RRP: £100
- For more information visit the Mountain Hardwear website.